Randy Pausch

July 30, 2008

I was following some links in a roundabout way and ended up at The Power of Mortality, Patrick Mathieu’s site. And it is there this morning that I heard that Randy Pausch had died. 

I’d been checking once in awhile to see how he was doing and was a little worried because on the information site about his ongoing life and health, there had been a month’s silence. The next to last  message said that he was a lot sicker than he’d been to date, and the next sentence was that he was in hospice care. The next day’s entry was that he’d died.

I’m grateful that he didn’t have a long drawn out end game. And I am very sad he is gone so soon. He was a wonderful presence in so many ways. I learned a lot from what he had to say and how he lived his life. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

One for Beauty

July 27, 2008

Carrying on from the last post:  a fellow artist was telling me how she had been feeling badly and she put on some music and it lifted her spirits right up. And she realized more strongly than ever how important beauty is in our lives as a counterweight to all the conflict and ugliness we are exposed to daily. People need beautiful things around them.   This is as good a reason as any to keep making art.

It vindicated me, because I tend to work more decoratively and am aesthetically oriented than many of my more edgy colleagues. And I realized that is just fine. There is a place for all of it.

Ted Orland and David Bayles in ‘Art & Fear’, said, ‘ It has been a tough century for modesty, craftsmanship and tenderness’. I’d add ‘beauty’ to this list.

The question up for me in relation to making art is this: how do I find a way to sell or give away my work that makes sense to me.

It disturbs me that the accepted ways, (galleries, e-bay, selling from own showroom)  don’t speak to me. But I have tried many over the years and have not succeeded in selling more than a few paintings or drawings at at time. The energy investment has always far outweighed the financial return. Plus my heart was never in it-
as anyone who has been reading this blog can figure out.

I don’t miind seeing art as a product so much, that isn’t my main gripe. Many artists manage to keep their integrity and sell. And we all need money to live and eat.

My gripe, I realized in part, is the separation between life and art. It feels so artificial: I paint a picture and it has to go somewhere and be labelled in a certain way to determine its value( the right review, the right gallery the current trend, etc). Then my buyers have to schedule a time to go somewhere and visit the piece and then buy it.  It is ‘art’, it is not at home, it is somewhere and something outside of the ordinary arc of a day.

I realized this when I verbalized to someone what it is I like so much about what Keri Smith is saying and doing, and why it is so revolutionary. She has tapped into and embodied the movement that is bringing art into the homes, streets, and centers of our daily lives.

That is the way I approach art as well. But it doesn’t solve the question of how to move on the hundreds of pieces of artwork I have stacked up here at home.  Art that was done within the old paradigm of ‘being an exhibiting artist’.

So far this is just a theory to me, (see title) but Lynne Twist in , ‘Soul of Money’ makes a very good case for it.

She sees money as simply another resource, not necessarily more important than enthusiasm, commitment, and hard work. All these are needed to realize projects, and money is just one of them.

She gave the example of some old Ethiopian women who wanted to run a teahouse on the side of a much used path. They had already built a round hut but needed teacups, saucers a kettle, etc. Some Western women with the Hunger Project were invited to a meeting of these women and volunteered financial support to be partners in this teahouse venture.

‘It was such a perfect collaboration, and I remember thinking that we were all just women putting in our piece of a larger picture to make something extraordinary and important happen. It was such a joyful, beautiful experience. We weren’t giving these ‘poor old women’ money. We were all collaborating in service of them and of everyone who walks on this path to the market- and our desire to make a difference. ….I call this ‘real’ investment and it creates no recipient’.

 Later she says:

‘Philanthropy is not just for rich people who feel magnanimous, guilty or embarassed about having more than they need…

We have an opportunity now to retire traditional charity as we’ve known it, and in its place create partnerships in which a shared vision is realized through solidarity and the collaboration of know-how, hard work, and cash resources. This is the new philanthropy, contribution and service in collaboration. When you are in that space, that place, problems dissolve, miracles abound.’

I love it. When can I start?


Plums, pastel
(I just thought I’d insert a piece of artwork I did last year, it isn’t directly relevant to this post).

I’m working through Julia Cameron’s’, ‘Vein of Gold’, and am doing one of the tasks which involves making cards of inspiring quotes.

The one I like best right now is from ‘Soul of Money’ by Lynne Twist:

‘Commit to being the kind of person who would make your vision real’.  

A deep one, this. The context was a gathering in Bangladesh where the Bangladeshi men and women confronted their feelings of powerlessness, fear and inadequacy to change their situation.  Through the workshop given by the Hunger Project, a new vision of what these people could be and acheive was offered.

People were very moved and after this visioning meditation shared the visions they had seen for their village, family, school, etc. The vision became tangible, real. The next step was to ask them to commmit to being the people who would make that vision real:

‘You could see them drop their anxiety and fear, letting go of their sense of lack and inadequacy, and step up to their own creation and commit to it. …’,
(paraphrased), …they designed practical, local, doable actions in alignment with their new commitment.

‘People seemed to resee themselves, their family, their village and their country as able, resourceful, and potent- self reliant and self-sufficient’.

Commiting to your vision isn’t enough, you have to , ‘step up to your creation’ and become the sort of person who can realize it! Oops, that means changing habits! Uncomfortable!  And most importantly, you have to start internally, first . With your own self-respect and self-reliance.

Message in a bottle

July 22, 2008

A low key time. So I’m writing from the doldrums, sending out a message in a bottle and hoping for a breeze. Navigating still waters is part of being a creative too.

My oil painting, inspired by Krabbé’s show, shipwrecked. There was no inner drive to push forward. Not now at least. 

I gave a pleasurable and I hope informative workshop for the local ALzheimer’s café on creativity. People pounced on the delicious materials I had laid out and created beautiful things. The atmosphere was of possibilities, which is so important since discussions about dementia here tend to focus on limitations.

The things that are inspiring me now are developing an innovative educational tool for people who work with  Alzheimers patients, and writing a book on creativity and dementia.

The artist inspiring me now is once again Keri Smith. Her new book out in the fall goes straight to the core of things that I also have been thinking about and that matter to me.

I’ve painted our front hallway all ready to receive customers in my mini-gallery,   only to find out that I really don’t want to do this. So I am staying with this resistance and trying to trust what it might be trying to tell me.

Basically after years of soloing, I really am more interested in collaboration. I enjoy being connected to the community and area, and to other networks of creatives.

This is evidently a period of sitting tight and holding still. Waiting in alertness rather than initiating something just to feel busy or effective.