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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

Dr. Seuss- Gosh Do I Look As Old As All That

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Say what you mean and act how you feel,

because those who matter don’t mind,

and those who mind don’t matter.

Dr. Seuss

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I think these words about sincerity from the wonderful and wise Dr. Seuss are good advice for just about anybody.  For myself, I pass this advice on to young artists. Make your own meaning and feeling the focus of your work…

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I ran the short post above several years ago and it resonated with me again this morning. For one thing, it reminded me of how much the imagery and messaging of Dr. Seuss influenced and informed my own perspectives and art. I never thought about it at the time I started drawing and painting but his way of representing the landscapes of his worlds very much infiltrated my own way of looking at my own inner worlds. I see the bendy curves of his trees and smile because I see them in many of my own Red Trees.

The other reason this older post resonated with me were his simple words about honestly saying what you mean and acting how you feel. There are many days when I am trying to write this blog and I feel inhibited by not wanting to offend anyone with my own personal views. I have many times set aside posts that I deemed potentially too offensive. But more and more, I am less shy about sharing my honest opinions for just the reasons that the good Dr. points out: those that matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

And that also translates to my work. I am also less shy in sharing work that moves outside my comfort zones for this same simple reason. I figure if I am being honest and sincere in my work and in my opinions, what do I have to fear from the opinions of others?

So, thanks for that Dr. Seuss, wherever you may be. Your words and art and storytelling have changed the worlds of many, myself included.

Here are a few more of his paintings that weren’t in the original post:

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Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.

–Dr. Seuss
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Feeling a little Dr. Seuss-y this morning. It has been my experience– a lifelong one, at that– that when I am flummoxed by this world, a little Dr. Seuss often provides a positive way forward. After reading an article about the influence of the late economist James Buchanan on current events, I needed a pick me up.
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I am not going to go into detail here about his theories and how they have been behind many of the economic and political moves that have brought us the vast economic inequality and burgeoning corporate oligarchy present today.  I will say that it definitely made me see things as  being out of whack and I had a real need for some Dr. Seuss style humor and nonsense.
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I believe he is correct in saying that nonsense wakes up the brain cells. Just the imagining of absurdity causes one to take different perspectives, to try to see things in different lights. That is the basis for empathy and altruism, things that are in short supply in world that seems to be more and more running according to Buchanan’s theories.
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Give me The Lorax or  Green Eggs and Ham any day. Then maybe I can see the world back in whack.

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Dr. Seuss Slaying "America First" 1941

Dr. Seuss Slaying “America First” 1941

I don’t fear the dark.

I don’t fear the forest or the city.

I don’t fear being alone.

I don’t fear losing everything or being without.

I do not fear the rain or snow or wind.

I do not fear god.

And I don’t fear terrorists.

And I don’t fear criminals.

And I don’t fear missiles raining down from the sky.

And I don’t fear foreign nations invading this country.

And I sure as hell don’t fear any child or mother or father who flees to this nation to escape war and death.

But what I do fear is your fear.

I fear your cowardice and indifference.

I fear your apathy and distraction.

I fear your tiny attention span and your short-sightedness.

I fear your willingness to accept an evil done in your name.

I fear your preference for dividing people into us and them.

I fear your lack of empathy and compassion.

I fear how you mask your prejudices.

I fear the cruelty of your greed.

I fear your ignorance of your civic responsibilities.

I fear your sense of entitlement.

I fear your indifference to education, history or knowledge.

I fear the blatant stupidity and gullibility you proudly display like a new tattoo.

Don’t mistake this as attack on others– I am as much the you in this as anyone else.

And that is to my great shame.

Our great shame.

Enough is Enough.

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No more to say.  For this Sunday morning music I am carrying the tone of the above right into the song.  It’s some late Johnny Cash, from his American Recordings period when his scarred voice carried his age and emotion so eloquently.  It’s his cover of I See a Darkness from Bonnie “Prince” Billy  aka Will Oldham with the following as part of its chorus:

Oh, no, I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you?
Is a hope that somehow you,
Can save me from this darkness.

Have a day.

 

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dr-seuss-new-years-day-cover-1931I thought that the image from this cover painted by Dr. Seuss for Judge magazine for its first issue of 1931 might fit today’s situation here in the USA, at least in the view of many folks.  It shows a New Year’s reveler waking up to find a creature in his bed.  The prior night–the year before– it had looked pretty good.  Lots of fun and lots of promises of all the things it would do for him. But here in the bright light of the New Year he realizes that the party is over now and he is left with a monster on his hands — and little idea of what to do with it.

What comes next with this strange creature we have found in our bed?

I also thought long and hard about what music I wanted to use for this first Sunday Morning Music of 2017.  I wanted it to be as optimistic as possible given the circumstances of having a strange critter in our bed.  I thought that the first version of Singin’ in the Rain might fit the bill just perfectly.

It was from 1929 and was a number one hit for performer Cliff Edwards, better known as Ukelele Ike, who had a number of hits through the 20’s and 30’s.  While the name Ukelele Ike may not seem familiar in any way I have no doubt you have heard his voice at some point.  He was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio and is the voice of the song When You Wish Upon a Star.

This version is from one of the first musicals from MGM in the talkie era, The Hollywood Revue of 1929.  You most likely know the song from the later and great musical of the same name ( which featured the recently passed Debbie Reynolds) but this is a great version.  It has a forward looking outlook despite the wet and dreary circumstances of the moment.  Just what people would be needing in the years after 1929.

And 2017.

Remember that it’s an old piece of film and try to look past the somewhat crude production values of the time.  It was cutting edge back then.  And it’s still a great piece of film now.

Oh, I also enclosed another Ukelele Ike number from a 1935 film, Starlit Days at the Lido.  It’s an early Technicolor film so it looks worlds different than the first film.  The song is Hang on to Me which is also a great song for the moment.

Enjoy! Take a look then let’s get to work and get that thing out of our bed!

 

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Dr. Seuss-  Gosh Do I Look As Old As All ThatSay what you mean and act how you feel,

because those who matter don’t mind,

and those who mind don’t matter.

Dr. Seuss

*************

I think these words about sincerity from the wonderful and wise Dr. Seuss are good advice for just about anybody.  For myself, I pass this advice on to young artists.  Your own meaning and feeling– make that the focus of your work…

Read Full Post »

I don’t want to get into the habit of revisiting past blogposts here, as I did the other day when I reposted a blog on the similarity between a painting of mine and the trees from Dr. Seuss’ Lorax.  But there is a painting that I wrote about back in March of 2009 called Endless Time that I really wanted to revisit today.  It’s a personal favorite and one that hangs in my studio, always giving me pause when I let my eyes rest upon it, as it did in the very early hours of this morning.   It has dwelt here for a couple of years now and remains special for me, always making me think. 

Or better yet, not think.

   There is something in it that is as definitive of all that  I desire from this world and of myself as anything I have ever painted.  It makes no overt appeal to the viewer, like nature, not giving a whit if you enter or not.   It has gifts to offer for those who make the effort to enter but there is no path inviting them in.  No beckoning tree or clusters of humble homes.  It simply is. 

Here is what I wrote back in March of 2009:

I wanted to talk a little about the piece shown here, Endless Time, which is a 24″ X 30″ canvas. This is what I consider a performance piecemeaning that I have performed several paintings that have a similar palette and composition in different sizes.

Each piece has its own character and feel, distinguished by differing color intensities and textures. The colors of each are similar but have their own peculiar colors due to the factors that make my color palette differ from day to day. Things like humidity and temperature, different gessoes that I use with differing absorption rates and my own lack of consistency in mixing color.

I call these performance pieces because I equate painting them to a musician performing their own composition. The musician may often change bits of their own compositions, changing things like tempo or intensity. Changing the coloration of the notes and how they’re played. The composition is intact and is identifiable but each individual performance has its own character, its own wealth.

You may notice something quite different in this piece as well.

No tree. No red tree. Nothing…

This is really a direct descendent from my earliest work that focused on open spaces and blocks of color, work that was meant to be spare and quiet. The weight of the piece is carried by the abstract qualities of the landscape and the intensity of the colors.

With this piece, I have chosen to forego the kinship that the red tree often fosters with the viewer, acting as a greeter inviting them to enter and feel comfortable within the picture plane. In Endless Time the viewer is left to their own devices when they enter the picture. There is no place to hide, no cover. They are exposed to the weight of the sky and the roll of the landscape. They are alone with not a sound nor distraction.

It becomes, at this point, a meditation. One is not merely looking at a landscape. To go into this painting one must be willing to look inside themselves as well.

And I think that is where the strength of this piece dwells. I hope this is evident to some viewers and they feel welcome to enter this quiet space…

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 With the recent release of The Lorax, an animated film based on the environmentally centered Dr. Seuss book and the continued popularity of his books (I think there are 6 in the top 100 of the NY Times bestsellers list), I thought I would reblog this post from back in August of 2010. 

Yesterday’s post about the 50th anniversary of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss made me think about a piece that I’ve had hanging around my studio for the past decade. It’s a painting that I did in 2001 that I call Red, Hot and Blue. It’s an oil on panel piece that is pretty big, almost 5 1/2′ tall in its frame. It could be a small door. It showed in a few galleries after it was first painted and never found a home so it retired to my studio, to keep me company.

I mention it because it was been called the “Dr. Seuss painting” by several people who saw it when it was hanging in the galleries. They saw something in the way the trees were shaped and colored that gave them the appearance of a Seuss character. I had no thought of Seuss when I painted the piece but when I heard these comments I began to see it.

The expressive sway of the trees as though they were dancing. The bright primary colors- the red of the foliage and the bright blue of the trunk. Even the two trees in the background added to the Seuss-y feel.

The foliage actually looked like the endangered Truffala trees from Seuss’ cautionary fable about the environment, The Lorax.

It was not intended but it made sense. Seuss’ books were about communicating by giving strange creatures and things we often see as objects, such as trees and flowers, human qualities. His characters moved with a rhythm that made them feel alive. Just what I was trying to do with my painting. I’ve often felt that we best see and better understand things that possess human qualitities. I remember being taught that the Native American tribes in the area where I grew up gave names to local hills based on the human qualities they had. It made an impression and started me looking for the human form in all things.

The curve of a tree trunk. The roll of the land. The fingers of clouds in the sky.

To communicate.

So, while it was never intentional, this painting was very much a product of the influence of Dr. Seuss and others. When I look at it today, I don’t see the name I gave it. I see it as that “Dr. Seuss painting”.

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Yesterday’s post about the 50th  anniversary of Green Eggs and Ham  by Dr. Seuss made me think about a piece that I’ve had hanging around my studio for the past decade.  It’s a painting that I did in 2001 that I call Red, Hot and Blue.  It’s an oil on panel piece that is pretty big, almost 5 1/2′ tall in its frame.  It could be a small door.  It showed in a few galleries after it was first painted and never found a home so it retired to my studio, to keep me company.

I mention it  because it was been called the “Dr. Seuss painting”  by several people who saw it when it was hanging in the galleries.  They saw something in the way the trees were shaped and colored  that gave them the appearance of a Seuss character.  I had no thought of Seuss when I painted the piece but when I heard these comments I began to see it. 

The expressive sway of the trees as though they were dancing.  The bright primary colors- the red of the foliage and the bright blue of the trunk.  Even the two trees in the background added to the Seuss-y feel.

The foliage actually looked like the endangered Truffala trees from Seuss’ cautionary fable about the environment, The Lorax

It was not intended but it made sense.  Seuss’ books were about communicating by giving strange creatures and things we often see as objects, such as trees and flowers, human qualities.  His characters moved  with a rhythm that made them feel alive. Just what I was trying to do with my painting.  I’ve often  felt that we best see and better understand things that possess human qualitities.  I remember being taught that the Native American tribes in the area where I grew up gave names to local hills based on the human qualities they had.  It made an impression and started me looking for the human form in all things. 

The curve of a tree trunk. The roll of the land.  The fingers of clouds in the sky.

To communicate.

So, while it was never intentional, this painting was very much a product of the influence of Dr. Seuss and others.  When I look at it today, I don’t see the name I gave it.  I see it as that “Dr. Seuss painting”.

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Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of the classic children’s book  Green Eggs and Ham from Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

  I grew up in the heyday of  Dr. Seuss in the 1960’s and his strange characters and clever wordplay seem as familiar as breathing, so ingrained were they in the popular culture of the time.  Everyone knew the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat but the sheer simplicity and rhythm of Green Eggs and Ham always made it my favorite.

Using only fifty words with all but one being monosyllabic, Geisel created a book that is not really a story so much as a mantra of sound and rhythm.  There is some strange human element, an allure,  in it that I can’t put my finger on.  Whatever the case, I have a huge place in my heart for the simple words of this book.  Fifty years dosen’t seem like too long a time for the timeless.

Perhaps one of the best readings from the book came on Saturday Night Live in 1991.  It was the week after Dr. Seuss died and in tribute the Rev. Jesse Jackson did a dramatic reading .  It is a classic…

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