Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Power of the Human Mind

Much of my art these last few years has been about a personal discovery of sorts - and that is regarding the power of the human mind.  Of course we've always known there are many people out there with great minds doing incredible things.  And, if you're like me, you may wonder how do some people do so many amazing things - and why does it seem so easy for some and so difficult for others.  My personal experience had been wondering why it's been so difficult to reach my childhood dream of being a full time artist.  It's funny seeing my son collect baseball cards or follow the careers of soccer players and I realize when I was his age I would idolize Van Gogh, think about why Picasso painted the way he did - when I was at museums all I wanted to do was get as close as I could to a painting to see how it was made and would imagine myself doing the brush strokes.  I mean, of course like my son, I would do the old 'here I am, at the plate, two on, two outs, bottom of the ninth, count is full - oh my, there it is - a three run homer!'  But I realize also how I would imagine making paintings just as vividly.  Yet many years had gone by and still even though I had worked very hard I was not at my dream.  At the nadir of my frustration I had stumbled upon the work of Napoleon Hill offered by Nightingale-Conant and I started to realize that any 'perceived' limits were largely some function of how I 'thought' about those limits.  If you are an artist you might relate to the these thoughts 'They only take young artists for their shows,' 'They only take artists with degrees from Yale,' 'Only artists who sacrifice everything make it anywhere,' 'An artist's life is a one of suffering,' 'You can't raise a family and be an artist' - or fill in the blanks - and I realized also how many times the word 'they' would come up in my thoughts - and, if you're like me, you realize you don't really know who 'they' are but isn't it funny how much we know about how 'they' think?  This personal discovery was really a turning point for me and that was about two years ago -  and each day I continue to use the things I learned from the material on actually 'using' my mind in a proactive, positively visualizing way.  I am very excited to put two of the cd's (of the many I have listened to over the last two years) - The Science of Personal Achievement and The Einstein Factor - as links on my website (check to the right and scroll down).  If you've ever felt frustration or that life could and should be more - check this out.   

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Desert Bloom

I have seen footage of desert flowers blooming quickly after a brief and rare rain - and I got to experience such a feeling just yesterday.  We had a 'gallery walk' at Artworks in Trenton for the Trenton Artists' Workshop Association presentation of 'past, present, Forward.'   We were very fortunate to have Mel Leipzig attend and we walked around and discussed many of his students' work as well as others.  I have known Mel for many years now and the one thing that always impresses me about him is his genuine, child like, expressions of joy at the world around him.  I think that is one quality I really admire in people is when they can 'experience' the world in a new way each and every day.  After the show, my wife, sister and friend and all of our children ran over to check out the TAWA show that is currently running at the Trenton City Museum - Ellarslie - called 'Inside / Out' and as I was walking out of the museum, again I see Mel coming up the walkway - he was on his way to check out his students in that show as well - he's touched many lives through his teaching and his art - that's another trait in people I admire, they are constantly trying to share as much as they can.  So, continuing the story - I was by myself and he said 'Oh, Rob', as only Mel can do - for anyone who has ever met him, he brings his hand to his forehead like he is thinking both of saying hello and trying to remember something incredibly important - 'Oh, Rob, I'm glad I saw you - I forgot to ask you if you had brought the article about the last show at Ellarslie - you know, the one that mentions my wife.' (TAWA had dedicated the show to her memory)  I told him I had and to follow me.  We went to the car and I pulled out the article, handing it to him - he quickly scanned it to find comfort in those two small words - Mary Jo - and for a brief moment had a sad and loving smile.  We made our way back to the museum and he was lost in thought when all of a sudden all of the children I had mentioned earlier swept into view.  The path at Ellarslie is made of the small stone shale - dusty and dry and nothing much can grow in it - but all of a sudden, there was Meg and Harry and Emma, Fabiola, Francesca and Michael and Kim and my sister and wife and all of their faces where beaming with smiles and Mel woke from his reverie.  'Oh my,' he said, 'Who are all these children?' as a huge smile moved across his face and his eyes lit up at the sight of this desert bloom - I introduced them all and with an artists eye he scanned each of their faces and took in the joy of the moment.  As we left, he took a moment to mention to my nephew that his girlfriend Kim was 'quite pretty' - and everyone smiled at that and then we made our way to our cars and drove off. Magical things happen at museums. I hope you have a moment to find joy and beauty and abundance today.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Eclectic and Loving It!

If you've been following my blog so far - you may notice I have a small problem - I'm very eclectic :) - But, I've learned to embrace it.  It fits well with my 'dream' theme in a way - you know, you can't really plan your dreams to any great extent.  Actually, if you practice, and just before you go to sleep, state with intention what you plan on dreaming about - you can have some influence.  But the exact details, and where your dreams go - well, that is just a ride :)  This is a bust portrait of my son Harry.  It is still in clay - called plastilina - which is an oil based clay and, in this form, it will never dry.  The next step is to cast it by creating a mold around it, pealing the mold off and then pouring whatever material I would like to have the final piece cast as.  I would then mount it on a nice piece of marble to set it off.  My children like to pose for me sometimes, but not for very long and so I must work quickly :)

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

See The Children Run

Another piece I am currently working on is 'See The Children Run' - this is from one of my favorite songs - 'Fields of Gold' by Sting, and there is also a beautiful version by Eva Cassidy.  Anyway, like many of my other pieces - I spend a lot of time 'working' on pieces in my mind, and this one is no different.  I find this song evokes many beautiful images and one of the ones I saw - from this particular line:

Many years have passed since those summer days,
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
As you lie in fields of gold

Is represented in this digital sketch - which I took yesterday out in the sod field on the farm where I grew up.  The setting sun, the deep green grass, the children (my nephew and my three children) running, playing - each character in a dream is a different part of you, and in a painting - which for me is 'dreaming' on canvas - each character 'plays' to create the whole of life - my nephew, passing into manhood - my daughter racing to 'catch up' - leaving behind their young brother and sister.  When I 'dream' and work on these pieces I also think a lot about the material I will use and for this piece, I think I will use a wood panel but I am considering combining acrylic, tape and fifty coat altogether - When it is finished, I hope to capture the deep, deep green and the figures in shadow - 

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


Who you are, and what you will be - exists right now -

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Wish I Was A Sci-Fi Writer

I put links off to the right of what I think are interesting articles on art and science. The 'invisibility' articles I find fascinating because it ties into thoughts about being energy - which I refer to in my 'Curious Color' e-book. This latest link on 'invisibility' really intrigues me - as it gives some insight into the nature of fear: --- if the thing you fear most, can't see you, will you still be afraid? If all fear, and all conflict, is ultimately internal - will cloaking yourself work? But here's the sci-fi story I'd love to write - Scientists finally perfect the cloaking tool and the military takes this technology and applies it - contractors sell it to all the conflicting contries to perpetuate war - all of these countries happily apply their new technology thinking it will give them another leg up in the cycle of endless conflict - but what we don't realize is the cloaking tool only works in the visible spectrum - 400 to 700nm - but instantly makes us a beacon to a much more aggressive alien race - over the millenium, we have adapted to seeing and being seen in the 400 to 700 nm spectrum because it protects us from this - 'other' race. As soon as we employ the cloaking device, we become a target from the far reaches of the galaxy - a sort of 'War of the Worlds' if you will. Anyone want to build on that story ? :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Outside The Realm

I love painting.  I love art.  I love life.  Life itself is a vessel - it holds every emotion we hold dear, even the bitter tough ones of struggle.  Please don't forget that struggle itself, is a beautiful, passionate, life affirming emotion.  But I digress - the point of this particular post is to discuss being 'outside the realm'.  When I speak about that, I am talking about digital or even traditional film based SLR cameras.  They are wonderful tools to create an approximation of an image - but they are sooooo incredibly removed from what the eye/brain does that it is really kind of amusing.  Really.  I mean, the only reason an image from a digital camera looks 'ok' is because of the amazing things the mind does with visual data.  Did you know that light falls off at the square of the distance?  What, you might ask, does that mean?  OK, fair enough - if you are two feet from a light source, the energy is four times less (2 to the second  power) - if you are four feet from a light source, the energy is 16 times less (four to the second power) - if you are 8 feet from a light source the energy is 64 times less (8 to the second power) - hmmm, a fun term - ok, you're in a water slide (well, this is an 'inverse' example) and it drops off very quickly, you gain speed rapidly - at an accelerated pace - that is how quickly light is dropping off - but you look at a wall or a scene and you don't 'see' this drop off - what is happening?  The mind is compensating - light energy is in fact dropping off but not in perception, the mind knows this and creates an 'inverse gradient' - because it 'knows' the color of a wall is all one -a camera does not know this - that is why the photographer struggles with 'even' illumination - but a painter knows this.  There are other, crazier things regarding color.  In my e-book on Curious Color I mention that one color can appear another - in fact, grey can 'appear' yellow or blue or any other color - and an artist captures this but a camera does not - because it is 'Outside The Realm'. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Dreaded No's

How many times a day do you think about what I call the 'little no's' and build the 'can't, shouldn't, couldn't, won't wall' between yourself and something positive that you've always wanted to do or be? I've been studying 'positive visualization' for quite a while now and one of the things that I think I'm beginning to understand most is it's not the great big things like completing a marathon or winning an oscar or getting into an important museum that you think, no never, not me, not good enough - it's the tiny, daily things. One of the lines I love from Guy Finley is - 'plant a fear seed and you grow a fear tree' - well, I like to think of that in terms of little 'no's' we tell ourselves almost regularly. Plant little no's to little things and great big no's will grow to the great big dreams we all have. What does my piece 'Dream Structure 2' shown here have to do with that? (leaves, fifty coat and calk showing at TAWA's Inside / Out along with Source of All Limits). Well, I dreamed about sitting under a tree and looking up at the branches and what I saw were the leaves crystalized like they were caught in ice. They were beautiful and I thought I should make that - but then I thought, no, nobody will get it, it's silly, why bother. The next thing I had to do was learn how to 'fix' the leaves, so then I researched that and I had to get glycerin and going to the store I thought, no, this is silly. Then I had to get the leaves - it was fall and the leaves were perfect - if I waited any longer they would be dried and shriveled and not their beautiful color - but I was very busy and thought, no I shouldn't take time away from other things - but then I decided to make it fun and my children and I ran out to gather leaves - Ever notice how the smaller the child, the less they build the 'no, shouldn't, wouldn't, couldn't' wall? The sheer joy of collecting leaves for no other reason than loving life. So then I had the leaves - and so on, right up to the very last minute of thinking I shouldn't try to get it into the show - this is what I try and practice, not listening to what I think of as the 'little' no's. Let them pass, and then do it anyway. Do you have 'little no's' - like, I shouldn't comment on this post because... fill in the blanks - or I shouldn't try that ... fill in the blank because I'm too old or too young or too this or too that? I'd love to here what happens when you give this little gift to yourself of not listening to the little no's.

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