| 23 November, 2012 16:23
OKAY. SO OUR ART GETS REJECTED SOMETIMES, AND WE FEEL BAD. BUT HANG ON! NOT LONG AGO I HEARD OF THIS ONE: JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, yes, THE Bach, at one time wrote THE SIX "BRANDENBERG CONCERTOS", which we now view as delightful masterworks, and sent them to THE MARGRAVE OF BRANDENBERG, as a request to be hired to compose for his court. GUESS WHAT? THE MARGRAVE NEVER EVEN ACKNOWLEDGED RECEIVING THEM, AND NEVER ANSWERED J.S.BACH AT ALL.
WHEW. THAT MIGHT HAVE HURT. This may really have been the worst job rejection in history. So Bach then went on, moving to Leipzig, composing there for the rest of his life. Another tough period toward the end of his life came when his sons merged with the new style of the time, that is, in writing music that was based upon a VERTICAL harmony, rather then the HORIZONTAL harmonies of PAPA BACH, busy writing THE ART OF THE FUGUE. The "Vertical" style puts the chord structure below the thematic progressions, in the way most music was written until the 19th century contemporary musical experimentation began to predominate. SO.PAPA BACH tried his hand at writing in the new style, and we have THE ITALIAN CONCERTO to show for it. A WINNER, TOO. Still, time moved on and J.S. Bach was ....can you believe it?....FORGOTTEN. \
Some years later it was FELIX MENDELSSOHN who rediscovered J.S. Bach and was in a position to reintroduce his music, many years after Bach's death, to the musical public. So, though Johann Sebastian never knew it, he is now cosidered one of the greatest composters of all time.
WE ALL EXPERIENCE REJECTION OF OUR ARTWORK AT SOME TIME OR OTHER. There are other stories like this throughout art history....Van Gogh....etc. etc. So when we are omitted from a juried exhibition or other event, we must "JUST CONTINUE". AS MERCE CUNNINGHAM ONCE WROTE TO ME....After he was turned down for a concert at a Mid-Western university of note, "Because he wouldn't look well in the Chancellor's drawing room. FEEL BETTER NOW? (JHG)
| 30 October, 2012 16:20
TOO OFTEN FOR MY WISHES, SOMEONE VIEWING A WORK OF ABSTRACT ART SAYS TO ME: "I SEE A FACE!" Oh dear. I try to be kind, since this comment usually means that the person, well-meaning enough, doesn't really know how to EXPERIENCE an abstract painting. Sometimes in a less understanding moment, I might say, "IT WOULD BE BETTER IF YOU DIDN'T." But in my more understanding moments I just let it go, saying, cheerfully, "DO YOU?" But the teacher in me sometimes takes over, depending upon the viewer, and I may try a little talk about the fact that after all, ABSTRACT ART is more about FEELING and SPIRIT (for me, at least), and not about REPRESENTING a real thing, one that can be identified and described in words. TO MY MIND, the best way to look at a work of abstract (non-objective) art, is to view it not through the eyes and labeling-brain, but through the HEART AND SOLAR PLEXIS. In other words, just to be totally open to the work with what is sometimes called, "THE OTHER BRAIN.....i.e. THE HEART. We could talk about all the elements that an artist uses to make an abstract work....but they are much the same as the ones every artist uses, in any kind of art. Contrast, Repetition, Color, Balance....etc..But.this kind of analysis is really pretty irrelevant to anyone but the artist, will kill the animal and destroy its deeper meaning for the viewer. OPENNESS, as with so many other things in life, is the way to feeling, and to so much else in life. A DEEPLY MEANINGFUL ART EXPERIENCE is practically ON A CELLULAR LEVEL! You can awaken to a full connection by OPENING TO WHAT THE ARTIST HAS PRESENTED. This is the total WORK OF ART: THE FULL CIRCLE, of COMMUNICATION between the artist, the artwork, and the viewer. NO ARTWORK IS COMPLETE WITHOUT THIS FULL CIRCLE.
| 12 October, 2012 16:22
ONE OF MY MOST RESPECTED TEACHERS says that one of her favorite bumper stickers seen said, "DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK." Now, isn't this a MIND BENDER! We are so quick to form opinions about things and forget to hold an open mind. THIS COMMENT....the bumper sticker....really covers it all and is an invitation to be (not to TRY to be) FREE. When I paint, I WAIT to empty myself, especially at the start, since that is the time when I need to be simply RECEPTIVE, to all of whatever is around me. I want to have NO preconceived IDEAS at that time, in order to be the MOST CREATIVE. I paint ABSTRACTIONS. If I were painting REALISTICALLY (which I can do reasonably well) I would, of course, want to follow some kind of subject matter, and would plan things out, maybe even quite meticulously. BUT EVEN THEN, I would need to be careful to OBSERVE WHAT WAS REALLY BEFORE ME, NOT WHAT I KNEW OR THOUGHT WAS THERE. SO, "Don't Believe Everything You Think" is still good advice. It goes everywhere, into every part of your life. (More)
| 01 October, 2012 17:05
MEDITATION CAN HELP YOU WITH WHATEVER YOU DO, INCLUDING DOING ART. I KNOW THAT MANY ARTISTS DO MEDITATE, AND SOME DO SO JUST BEFORE PAINTING. It can calm all those MICE that run around in your head, and allow you to confront your art OR your housework, office files, meetings, or anything else you do WITH CALMNESS. It can help you remove ALL KINDS OF THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOURS THAT ARE ONLY CONDITIONED FROM THE PAST, AND WHICH MAY NOT REALLY BE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR PRESENT TASKS. AND IT IS CUMULATIVE. The more you do it regularly, the longer the calmness stays with you and allows you to act more simply, appropriately, and directly. It makes it easier to live with others. If they are also meditating, of course, it is even more helpful.
AS IT HAPPENS, I also find that it helps me make art that comes from a deeper place inside me, more calm in focus, empty, and ready to receive,but still with the enhanced possibility of power, energy and passion, if that is what I want in a particular work. EVERYONE CAN DO IT, EVEN CHILDREN. It requires no particular "belief system," and can be done in different ways. MAYBE YOU CAN FIND YOUR WAY, or simply.......follow your breath. (JHG)
| 01 October, 2012 17:00
... (Original Post)
| 24 September, 2012 17:00
IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE i'VE WRITTEN HERE. THIS IS BECAUSE I FELL ON UNEVEN GROUND OUTSIDE AND FELL FLAT ON MY FACE! whoopee! that was fun! Let's do it again! FORTUNATELY I didn't break my nose, but it sure looked like it at the time. A trip to the ER and later to an ENT doctor proved that I was okay, except that LATER a couple of front teeth fell out. So currently I have the SMILE OF ABOUT A 7-YEAR OLD. REMEMBER THOSE GAPS IN YOUR TEETH? I guess one might expect to be a little upset, but I WASN'T, I was very calm through it all. This calmness I attribute to our regular MEDITATION PRACTICE. It is cumulative, and over time, simply removes the "SOMETHING EXTRA" of feeling or agitation that can wreck your day.....for no reason. It simply leaves you with whatever you need to be able to deal with the real problem at hand, and in a much more effifcient way. MY HUSBAND AND I MEDITATATE EVERY DAY in the mornings, and we do it in all kinds of other places: THE DENTIST'S CHAIR, (Very helpful now!, waiting for anything, anywhere, and once, for me, when I was having a BRAIN SCAN....which was noisy, and when I didn't RESIST the sound, struck me as VERY FUNNY! The machine made such ridiculour noises! I had to giggle throughout, and I imagine that the technition thought I was nuts! I was simply separating the sound from any possible anxiety I might otherwise have had, and which I didn't have to feel.
I attribute the calmness I feel to our regular MEDITATION PRACTICE. In the way we were taught at our Zen Center, We simply sit upright, with eyes nearly closed, and observe our breath. We don't try to do anything with it, but only NOTICE what it does. If thoughts come, as they will, we simply return to noticing the breath as soon as we realize our minds have wantered. As a Zen aphorism says, "Try without trying." (Nore later......)
| 01 September, 2012 16:29
| 22 August, 2012 15:52
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU FEAR? SOME ARTISTS SAY THEY FEAR THE BLANK CANVAS, others say they fear other things., ALTHOUGH I AM NEVER NOW AFRAID OF THE BLANK CANVAS, I HAVE OFTEN, IN MY LIFETIME, FEARED SOMETHING. Most often it has been fear of starting something new. IN FACT, I can say that I've BEEN AFRAID OF EVERYTHING I'VE EVER BEGUN, BUT I WENT AHEAD AND DID IT ANYHOW.
There have even been times when I suffered anxiety, or "panic" attacks. The word, "PANIC" comes from the unpredictable god, PAN, and his influences. IN THESE CASES, I found I could COUNTER AND DISPELL those feelings that came for no reason, by using what I understood as THE LION'S ROAR, that is, rather than letting PANIC attack me, I could turn and COUNTERATTACK that NEGATIVE ENERGY attacking me, by summoning MY OWN, GREATER ENERGY, just as if I were an ANGRY LION, ROARING, and chasing away the actually WEAKER sense of panic. IT NEVER FAILED, and in only a few months I was able to banish the Panic forever.
But of FEAR of something new, there is still more to be said. I have always enjoyed beginning new things. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! (all that CHAOS!) EVERY TIME I'VE BEGUN SOMETHING NEW, I WAS SCARED TO DEATH, BUT I WENT AHEAD AND DID IT, ANYHOW. And if it is a POSITIVE THING, I go in with THE LION'S ROAR.....with that great store of energy that we all have, and JUST DO IT. Whether it is a large stroke of paint with a big brush, or a COMPLETE CHANGE OF FIELD, we have to summon up that PASSION that is ENERGY, and MAKE MISTAKES OR NOT, have enough confidence in our own, TRAINED SKILL, to RISK IT ALL in the name of DISCOVERY.
| 18 August, 2012 16:17
YOU SHOULD SEE MY STUDIO. OR MAYBE NOT. It does strike some people
as "CHAOTIC." I SEE IT AS FULL OF POSSIBILITIES. I collect photos of the
studios of famous artists. Most of them are messy, chaotic. Once at a week long calligraphy symposium, those of us who were teachers were asked to send the organizers a photograph of our studios. At the time, I was doing only calligraphy, and my husband often brought me flowers. My neat work table and the flowers were in the photo. When we teachers were introduced at the opening slide show, these slides were shown......and when my slide was shown, the over 600 voices in the theater roared in derision at me...."OHHH, COME ON, JENNY! NO FAIR! NOBODY'S STUDIO LOOKS LIKE THAT!" I could barely live it down! NOW THAT I'M PAINTING THINGS HAVE CHANGED! HERE IS A COMFORTABLE CHAOS!
i REMEMBER A LONG AGO COMMENT OF PICASSO'S, saying that his space (MUCH larger than mine!) looked chaotic, with things stacked willy-nilly against each other. BUT, he said, these random juxtapositions gave him ideas, and seeing things that he would never have thought of piled next to or on top of each other GAVE HIM IDEAS!
OH YES, people try to help me sometimes, but they always end up losing things for me, bless their hearts.....no one else can really help with this. I do try, too, occasionally (time away from PAINTING!) to make things neater, but when I pick some thing up it is an idea, a project, a scrap of inspiration that just cannot be thrown away. AND NEATNESS just can't take priority, or I lose my place. THERE ARE IDEAS EVERYWHERE...and I probably won't live long enough to fulfill them all, but sometimes they also get used in other ways. As long as this mess is around me (and all kinds of materials, too) I'm happy. THEN, TOO, husband PETE SAYS, "People don't look at the mess. WHEN THEY COME UP TO THE STUDIO THEY SEE THE PAINTINGS! So the CHAOS TAKES CARE OF ME, and I BLOSSOM in it. (JHG)
| 06 August, 2012 17:16
ONCE, QUITE A FEW YEARS AGO, I SENT SOME SLIDES OF SOME OF MY ABSTRACT PAINTINGS TO A MUSEUM OR A GALLERY (I forget which), AND THE SLIDES WERE RETURNED WITH THE COMMENT, "THERE ISN'T ENOUGH MEANING IN THESE." I've been thinking about this ever since. I wasn't bothered either then or now by the rejection, but the comment has been tickling my brain ever since. BECAUSE I TRULY BELIEVE that THERE IS NO HUMAN MARK (or perhaps any at all) WITHOUT MEANING.What matters is WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY"MEANING?" Surely the curator and I were not on the same wave length! BUT THINK ABOUT IT. She MUST have been thinking only about REPRESENTATIONAL MEANING, and couldn't see meaning in ABSTRACTION.
Leaving aside reference now to that particular event, in which my work simply may not have fit into the exhibition she was planning. That happens often enough everywhere. But it has brought me to consider this GREATER QUESTION: CAN THERE BE A MARK IN ART or otherwise WITHOUT MEANING? In any artwork, in particular, we can make marks that are FAST, SLOW, SURE, UNCERTAIN, BOLD OR TIMID...etc. etc. and these become the communication of an artwork. I try to paint with some purpose...ususlly I want to give SURENESS in my marks, whether they are STRONG or DELICATE. I think that if we can't make our marks with purpose they still reveal our own strengths and weaknesses, whether we LIKE IT OR NOT.
| 31 July, 2012 16:50
ONE OF THE BEST TEACHERS (OF ANYTHING) THAT I EVER HAD, PROFESSOR LLOYD J. REYNOLDS of Reed College, Portland Oregon,Once said: "IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOOK AT A PAINTING, TRY JUST SITTING STILL AND LETTING IT LOOK AT YOU FOR AWHILE."
I heard that back in the 60's, when I first studied calligraphy with Lloyd, but because I thought I KNEW how to look at a painting, I didn't really put this suggestion to its full use...until recently. Then WOW. I now realize what an amazing experience that is! When I sat one day, looking at one of MY OWN paintings, not thinking it had still more to offer me (since, of course, I had MADE it, for heavens' sake), I was astonished at what happened. Suddenly the painting BEGAN THROWING MASSES OF THINGS AT ME! Amazing! "What, kinds of things,?" you ask. EVERYTHING THE PAINTING CONTAINS! Once you stop being the active one, the outside viewer looking at the artwork, and YOU become the ONE RECEIVING IMPRESSIONS, it is remarkable what can happen. Suddenly the movement in the painting starts swimming around in 3-D in the space between you; the VALUES, light and darks advance and receed, the forms dance.....OH, YOU JUST HAVE TO TRY IT FOR YOURSELF! I think that once you do, you'll want to do this every time. I don't know whether it only happens with abstractions, but anyhow, these are the works folks most often question. SO DO TRY IT. It may be a LIFE CHANGER.
| 26 July, 2012 16:33
I ONCE TAUGHT A WEEK-LONG, RESIDENCY WORKSHOP BY THIS NAME. It happened to be for calligraphers, at a week-long residency class I taught in 1980 at Green Gulch Zen Center (under my own sponsorship).It was on techniques with the western alphabet's uses of the pointed brush. (FYI: the Asian characters are done with pointed brush, but our usual, western alphabet has no historic forms for this tool, and we must re-invent them.). THIS CLASS was for calligraphers, as I've said, but it could just as easily be for ANY ART, or for that matter, SIMPLY FOR EVERYDAY ACTIVITY OR LIFE.
IN ANY CASE, I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE MOST CREATIVE FRAME OF MIND. In my own work I have been able to work in this way, with a really balanced partnership between the unconscious and the conscious mind, and have now and then come out of this VERY INTENSE EXPERIENCE of work, as if coming out of a trance, and saying, even out loud, "WOW! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" And always, it has produced my best work. It might well be that the conscious, KNOWING or educated mind might go back into the work later to make its own understanding known by means of a quick dash or dab of its own, for the good of the whole, but it has to be sure not to destroy the DEEPER KNOWLEDGE of the UNCONSCIOUS that has opened up its gifts TO THE LISTENING HEART. Be sure to try it.... (JHG)
| 22 July, 2012 16:24
GERTRUDE STEIN ONCE SAID, "WHAT HAS PASSION TO DO WITH A WORK OF ART?"
and then she answered her own question: "EVERYTHING!"
BUT....WHAT DOES "PASSION" MEAN? The literal meaning is....."SUFFERING." Well, we do often hear about the "Suffering Artist," but while that may have some truth in it, especially where finances are concerned, let's pursue this further. In the sense of STEIN'S quotation, she means that an artist must have the kind of drive that won't leave us alone. We HAVE to make our art and cannot do without it. This kind of energy is like having an extra lung. Well, maybe that IS a KIND of SUFFERING. JAMES CASTLE comes to mind. I hope you have seen some of his work, or will look him up on Google. He was born deaf and mute, on a remote farm, in the middle of the U.S. He refused to learn sign language, and lived in a little cabin of his own, away from the family home. He had NO resources with which to make art, only scraps of found paper, burnt matches moistened with his own saliva, and whatever else he could scrabble together. Yet he made incredible drawings of his surroundings: the fences, houses, roads, fields, telephone poles, and all he could see. With NO ART EDUCATION he INVENTED good perspective lines on his own. This is the kind of PASSION an artist must have. He has died now, but many museums have by now given exhibitions of these remarkable works, from an artist who simply HAD to make art IF AN "ARTIST" DOESN'T HAVE THIS, THERE IS NO ARTIST PRESENT.
BUT FURTHER, PERHAPS CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, "COMPASSION" MEANS "TO FEEL WITH." This requires little explanation, I think. BUT IN TERMS OF ART, ISN'T THIS A BEAUTIFUL CLOSING OF THE CIRCLE! Here is what is needed from the view of a work of art. The viewer must be able to ENTER INTO the work with FEELING, and to try to "feel with" the artist what went into the work. As we FEEL WITH other events in our lives, including the grief of Aurora Colorado, in these weeks, so too might we enter a work of art. We certainly can be amazed at the work of JAMES CASTLE, forits PASSION TO CREATE. (JHG)
| 18 July, 2012 15:41
WE HAVE RESIDENT DEER ON OUR 1 ACRE PROPERTY. We have always felt that they had as much, or more right to be here as we do. So, we take carewith them, and have watched generations come and go. They've had theirbabies here, slept under our house, and have died here sometimes. They are not fearful of us, and just ignore us while we walk by (to and from my studio), hardly even looking up. We don't try to tame them further, since we want them to remain somewhat wary of humans, as is healthy for them.
THIS YEAR A DOE HAD TWO FAWNS, AND HAS OFTEN BROUGHT THEM DOWN FROM THE HILLS, across our propery, and down to the creek below. But sadly, first one, then weeks later, the other fawn had accidents, and died by the creek.We felt very sad. The poor doe! Both babies gone. But then we saw her feeding peacefully on our white clover, and it seemed that she had accepted life as it had come, and would simply continue with her own life.
THE FAWN....we decided to simply let nature take its course, so we moved it to a very private place near the creek on one corner of our property. And...WE WATCHED what happened from day to day. IN A FEW DAYS the racoons hadfound her, and that was the beginning. PROCESS.
FIRST THE RACOONS, then a lone vulture, and gradually, from night to night, we have seen her bones revealed, and have also seen various members of the "CLEANUP COMMITTEE" extend their own lives by taking what they needed from her remains, now no longer useful to her. WE HAVEFOUND THIS somehow PEACEFUL and consoling.
LIFE LIVES ON LIFE, and now creatures I never even knew existed have claimed their own rights to life. Even the bones will be cleansed.
SO, LIKE LIFE, ITSELF, in which birth begins a span that must eventually end, THE ART PROCESS also shows us a span. WE START A WORK, bring it to life, and as our egos are overcome by the needs of the work, itself, WE SHOULD DIE in the work, so that the work may live. A PAINTING SHOULD BE MORE THAN OURSELVES. Later, even it may deterioate, and for that reason we use the best, most lasting materials, but should also feel deeply AT PEACE WITH THE WHOLE PROCESS. It is the natural thing, and we, too, are NATURE.
| 15 July, 2012 14:36
FOR MANY YEARS, IN EACH OF MY ARTS, I TAUGHT. THIS IS ESPECIALLY
REWARDING IN THE ARTS, since now, many, many years later, FORMER STUDENTS can look me up by Googling me. I never before realized that this would happen, but it has. Since I have always been an artist, former students who have lost track of me, figure that they might find me online because I MIGHT still be doing art. THEY ARE RIGHT. There have been several JOYFUL REUNIONS as we rediscover each other, and some of these sweet people even now plan to visit me in my new life, bringing delight to this aging artist. ONE IN PARTICULAR has recently contacted me,one whom I haven't seen nor heard from for over 40 years. She did "Google" me,and we will see each other sometime this summer. So, all who read this, if you had art teachers that you liked, even those many years ago, DO TRY TO FIND THEM.You will bring them joy, I KNOW. And maybe find joy, yourself. (J.)