Being a good artist or good designer isn’t just knowing how to use the tools you have, although it does help. The greatest artist can work with the most minimal of tools and come up with something of greatness that surpasses those who are still arguing about which paint brush or protractor is superior.
To be a great artist is to be able to see the relationships between things- lines to circles, squares to triangles. To understand the flow of information. To be able to take an idea and assimilate it into a composition that captures not only it’s essence but also it’s possibilities. No work of art truly ever fully expresses the artists vision. The human mind contains colors and palettes, shapes and distortions that the human hand can only draw close approximations of. So a work of art must suggest. It must draw ones imagination onwards. It must go as fully into it’s concept as possible, leave no stone unturned, and grasp the every possible tangent and assimilate these into itself. A great work of art embraces it’s possibilities in that it not only expresses what it is, but it also expresses as close as possible what it could be.
This is not to say that it should leave the viewer wanting, wondering why the piece is unfinished or poorly executed. The true artist executes the vision to the fullest of it’s potential. Only when every angle as been exhausted, every ounce of creativity drawn forth and exploited to it fullest, every door opened and every window thrown wide, can the artist say his work is completed.
And so the artist must see the relationships between the objects and symbols he/she chooses to represent the vision. Then the artist must find, in those spaces of relationship, other elements, even if it is merely the space itself. Even that space must be accounted for. It is an exacting procedure but not without it’s rewards. In this way, all of the possible tangents are explored, the possible options and outcomes accounted for and the definitive future can be achieved.
Life: so many choices, so many decisions, so many relationships between things, people, objects, elements. So many possible futures and outcomes with every choice we make or fail to make. The true artist lives their lives in such a way that the possibilities are explored, the tangents accounted for, and the true Path led, lived and loved to it’s fullest extent. In this way, the vision finds firm footing in the world and the space of the canvas becomes not a window to another world but a vision of this one- clarity, love, understanding, compassion, honesty, fullness, emptiness, being.
two little boys with their father looking at my artwork. The boys are four (and Marcus actually let’s me know that he is four and a half which is rather important when you figure that other half is a significant portion of his life. Relatively speaking, that other half a year to him is equal to 3.3 years of my own life. That’s a big chunk of time. The two are about two and a half feet tall each and dressed similarly in plaid shirts and short little pants and little bowl haircuts. They stand in front of the eight foot tall Om Mani Padme Hum banner, looking diminutive in relation to the banners height. the father says “they were wondering how you come up with your paintings- do you draw them out first or just go at it?”
I turn to the two boys whose names are marcus and wilson. “Well,” I begin, “I kind of know where I want to go but don’t always know the details, you know? Like on a road map, you see the point on it where you’re going to go, like New York City or something, but you don’t always know all the scenery that you are going to pass on your way there, or even what all the details are going to look like.”
The boys both nod their little melon heads in agreement. they know all about wanting to go somewhere but having no idea what it is going to look like, since they have, at the age of four been to so few places.
“So, likewise, with the painting- I have this place I want to go explore, some emotion or something- love or anger or something, and I have ideas of what it might look like, you know, a basic road map, but the process of going there is the creation of the painting. And on the way, I see all these other little things, the details come out, the colors find their relationships. You know, the painting gets painted.”
They totally understood. I put out my hand and he slapped me five. Then the other kid did too. “that’s how kids shake hands,” I said. Then I shook the father’s hand. “And this,” I said to the two boys, ‘is how adults end up shaking hands. Not always as much fun…”
We had a little light come into our lives in the form of a little bundle of feathers.
Violet had found him one evening as he darted about under the broad leaves of the sunflowers and squashes in the backyard. His parents chirped and squacked overhead while the little guy tried to fly but alas, found his body to be too heavy for his little wings. Flew the coop too soon!
After Violet decided we would have to keep him and take care of him, lest the cat eat him up, I went out to the pet store and got a little cage for him and the dude who had heard enough people coming in and taking care of little birds, told us to feed him cat food. High protein, he said.
Violet fed him with a toothpick and put a dark cloth over his cage in the evening. In the morning she was up early with him and had him back outside where is mom and dad would come and give him good through the day. Mockingbird parents are very protective of their young and will continue to feed them even if they are not in the nest.
Through the day the parents frequently land atop his little cage that hangs from the eave of the house. I can see their shadows upon the patio outside from my studio windows as they bring worms, seeds, bugs, shells left over by moths or butterflies.
That night we have him on my desk and he is perched on Violet’s finger and she feeds him by hand with him cheeping and opening his mouth wide to receive his food. He’s puffed his feathers all out and he looks like a little plump grey ball of down. He seems to smile and likes hanging out with us. Finally we put him in the cage and say good night to him…
The next day he is back outside… We decide that night to light the grill and bar-b-que some chicken, some vegetables… a delicious meal. Violet makes some potato salad. We have the grill lit, the chicken on, the afternoon is gorgeous…
After our meal, we sit in the evening sun, enjoying our wine, listening to the dusk sounds and then decide to go and check out the garden, see how the squashes and tomatoes and numerous other veggies, herbs, flowers are doing.
I climb the ladder up to Little’s cage to check on him and he is crouched on the floor of his cage, his tail in the water… not looking so good.
I take him down. We take him out of his cage. He is looking sick. what did we do? Did he drink his water wrong? Did he eat something bad? What happened….?
For the next three or four hours Violet held him in her hands as he shuddered, tried to breathe, convulsed every so often with his little black eyes going wide. She had tears streaming down her face as he died in her hands. We tried to give him the most comfortable death, the most peaceful, soft spot from which to leave the planet…
From much googling, I found that BIRDS ARE MADLY SENSITIVE TO SMOKE. So he died from smoke inhalation. What makes it so hard to take is that, when we sit with it, we realize that we killed him. Birds, especially baby birds, are highly sensitive to toxins in the air, hence the canary in the coal mine…
We buried him in the tomatoes next to his brother whom Fi had brought a day or two before and left a candle lit up on his little grave…
Suddenly, the house seemed a little emptier… Little may have just been a little stay bird fallen from a nest, but he was a living being, a piece of the divine in an animated fuzzily feathered form…
whatever you do, take care of your shoes.
Last line of a Phish song, that line. A fairly rocking song too that they might end or being their set with. As an ender: imagine, all these kids, a few, in a fit of ecstatic letting go, took off their shoes. O shit! Where’s the shoes now…
Well, the reason I bring it up is that- well – Someone stole my shoes! Gone! We were at Lightening in a Bottle where we had a booth set up and all was well. I was wearing my Chacos most of the time. I will not go on about the miracle that is Chaco sandal, that is another story entirely. In any case, we were camped behind our booth as it created the greatest ease of operation. However, we had some of our things back there and I’d left my shoes out next to the tent. I’m used to our full moon gatherings where people leave all kinds of stuff out. No one steals anything. They are respectful of each other and each others goods. It’s a comforting thing.
On the other hand, here we are, and my shoes are gone when I get home. And I looked everywhere, dug through everything before ending on this thought, that they are now gone, stolen, the five-finger discount. They were, still are, a nice pair of Merrills. You know, the day hiker type. Perfect shoes for desert/hot weather hiking.
Now they are gone and well, I’m not the kind of guy who has a lot of shoes. It’s just like that. I have a pair of Chacos. Great sandals. Not good shoes. I have a pair of dirty old sneakers that are dubbed as such for a reason. I have a pair of cowboy boots. Good boots. Not so useful for anything but looking good in. And I’ve got a pair of running shoes that I never wear cause I don’t run. They are brilliant white New Balance shoes. Can I wear those to a club? Can I wear them to a restaurant? Can I wear them anywhere? Not really….
So there you have it- when you take someone’s shoes you are actually committing a grave crime whereby the owner of the shoes NO LONGER HAS ANY SHOES TO WEAR! ahem. Play it safe. Trust in Allah but lock your shoes.
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