Saturday, May 28, 2011

Visual Reality

I'm working on a wonderful painting - two little girls, sisters, holding hands, in a field of flowers. Whenever I paint people, I'm always amazed by one very profound fact: if I paint a person exactly they way the look, it will never look like that person. I know. It's very strange. I've examined this anomaly from a variety of perspectives. I can line up a building from graphs and copy it exactly and it looks exactly like the exact same building. I can line a person up from a graph and copy it exactly and it looks like a deformed freak.

Whaddup with that? To paint a person who looks like a person, this specific person, I have to draw not just that person, but that which is not that person. The girls' faces take shape by painting the sky behind them, not just the shape of their features. It's not a matter of painting precisely they way they stand, or the tilt of the head, but the imprecision of it - there is a spirit there that colors a person that is beyond the reach of physical technicalities.

The smile is dead on exactly the smile on the girl's face, but it's totally wrong until the sky behind her open mouth fills in and then the smile takes a substance it hadn't felt before. There is no obvious pink right there on her cheek in the photograph and no blatant highlight in the middle of it, but it is there and she doesn't look at all like her self until that is added.

I always surprise myself regardless of what I paint. I learn something about the subject. I learn something about myself. I learn something about God. In landscapes, in animals, in people, in every living thing, there is something more than the physical parameters of the thing. If you only capture the image, it will look all wrong - only when you reach in deeply to capture the spirit will it look anything like itself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Help Me, Jesus!

This is a link to a book that promises to teach me all I need to know to market my own art for worldwide sales and big time money. So, does this artist really make the money marketing her art or does she make money selling her book to slobs like me who haven't figured out anything better than art by extortion - ie, I paint a lovely picture of YOUR grandchild which you then want so desperately you'll pay (nearly) anything for it. And like, what do I want with a portrait of your grandchild anyway? See, art by emotional blackmail! so, look in the column to the right and click on the donate button so I can buy the book, or leave a message as to why you think this book (and its ilk) is a total ripoff not worth my time, and keep up the blackmail art (please include photo of child, grandchild, dog, granddog, cat, etc.)! Thank you for your support.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Happy

I heard a commercial on the radio today. You've probably heard it too. It's for one of those over prices under perform health care plans. It said, in a sincere, perky, female voice "Happy people are healthy people." I've heard this before. It wasn't the first time. It was the first time I had excess time on hands in which to really consider the theory. Since the ad admonished me to be happy so I could be healthy, well, I had to consider what all that entails.

Here's what I concluded: Happy people are healthy because THEY AREN'T SICK. Sure, I know that's easy to say, but let's face it. More and more body parts hurt every day. This does NOT make me happy. It isn't ruining my life just now, but it is working my nerves. Worked nerves don't lead to happiness. Chronic pain doesn't either. Unemployment is also a super big downer. Unemployed people low on money and resources with chronic increasing pain are usually not classified as 'happy people' although they aren't always necessarily unhappy.

What, exactly is a happy person? Right off the bat, I think of the basics: meaningful work, good enough pay, friends, family, balance of work, fun, hope, faith, feeling good. This happy person has a job, or at least a meaningful, reliable cash source. This happy person also has health care, regular, reliable, care that includes dentistry every 6 months, wellness checks for all those things you want to catch early so the don't make you sick. Happy person has a significant other with whom to share all this good, basic happy stuff. Then again, some studies suggest that only men are really happy with that significant other and heterosexual women are usually happier over 50 and not married. I haven't read any lesbian studies, but from what I can tell it's about 50/50 for who's happy and who isn't. Finally, ant it's certainly not official, but I bet hard cash that happy people don't gain weight as easily as the rest of us either.

The fact is, the things that lead to good health, are the same things that lead to happiness. The things that lead to happiness, take you straight toward good health. At least for a while. Age is bound to play some dirty tricks. so, while we're legislating taxation and fines for Coke vs Diet Coke, arguing in favor of healthy food legislation and banning tobacco, drugs and other 'unhealthy lifestyles' and shunning those not so inclined, perhaps we might want to consider demanding those tings really do lead to good health. Happiness. It's not just for rich people any more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Life's Messy

Life is messy. Pay attention, all you neat freaks, you tidiness junkies. Some days, you just can't get around it. There will be mud. Muck will invade your order on every level. Crap will mate, reproduce and explode all over your psyche. It just will. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can run, but you cannot hide. Life will hunt you down and find you out.

We all do try to avoid those places in life. We would rather have order. Clean is the preferred state of things. We dust, scrub, tidy, clean, vacuum. But, nature (and dogs) abhor a vacuum. Some days, you just can't keep it clean.

Some days, the phone rings with the call you don't want. The doctor gives you that look as she walks the long hall to where you are. It can be as simple as a devoted pet in the last throes of life on the new carpet, or a life long companion in a nursing home. Sometimes you see it coming straight for you, but more often it will blindside you on a Tuesday afternoon. Even when you know it's coming, it's final reality will jump up out of the shadows and knock you down.

There is great life in death. There is much gained in loss. Letting go is not easy, it's dirty, it's complicated, it's painful, but in those moments holding a hand, wiping up messes, screaming at God, absolutely hating where you are and what you are doing, there is great living.

Whatever you do or don't do in life, don't miss out on the messy parts. That's where the life is.