Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's all Good, and other Illusions

It's January 6th and I'm beginning to experience the joy and possibilities of the New Year.

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine
2012 was a trying year in many ways.  Artistically, it was all good - the year that is. 

Still there were moments.   As a result of my last post in which I described a kind of art identity crisis, you all came to my rescue - my internet artist friends rallied to my aid.  It was a gathering.  It was therapy.  It was an intervention! 

If you haven't done so already, read the post for the context, so that you can read all of the wonderful comments - they are the longest, most comprehensive, well-considered comment-essays I have ever received in response to a post since the inception of this blog.

To those that commented, thank you.  I owe you more than I can say.  Now, as a result of your help, I am only slightly unbalanced.

I do not blame the Miami artists.  I think they unintentionally laid bare my own underlying dissatisfaction with the state (or stage?) of my own work.  It takes time to develop, I know.  I am under no illusions.  Or at least my illusions are few.  Or less than many.  Well, let's put it this way, I have less illusions than a kid at an American Idol try out.  And that will have to do.  So you can expect more experimentation in 2013.  And more desperate efforts to develop my skills.  (Did I say desperate?)

4" x 6" ink and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough paper
There were some marvelous silver linings in the dark cloud of 2012 - examples of dreams fulfilled that help define the possibilities of 2013.

At the Miami Book Fair International, the shining moment for me was seeing Anne Lamott speak.  I sketched her (above) as she shared her wit, wisdom and humor to a full auditorium.  (Anne:  I just colored the drawing yesterday.  This is the reason why your blouse is rose, rather than blue or green or whatever.)  (Dear reader:  Of course she is going to read this!)  [Editors note:  See the above paragraph about illusions.]

Anne Lamott is an author whose road was harder than many.  She is a recovered alcoholic-turned-successful author and she is an inspiration - a fun inspiration. Bird by Bird is the book by her that I have read, (why on earth have I read only one? Another new year's resolution..) and it is by far my favorite book on how to write, and I have read many.  [Editor's note:  For the definition of "many", see the above paragraph about illusions].   In that book, for example, she gives the following advice which can easily be applied to art or to any creative endeavor:

"Your day's work might turn out to have been a mess.  So what?  Vonnegut said, 'When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth.'  So go ahead and make big scrawls and mistakes.  Use up lots of paper.  Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend.  What people somehow (inadvertently, I'm sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here -- and, by extension, what we're supposed to be writing."

I am inspired.  I have a laundry list of resolutions for 2013.  When I shared the concept of a resolution with my autistic son Matthew, he thought I said "revolutions".  That's a much better name for it, don't you think?  So I now have revolutions.  If I fail, it's a circle, and I can try to succeed the next time - during the entire new year.

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine
Two more South Florida dreams fulfilled:

George Sukeji Morikami, the only remaining settler in a Japanese colony from the turn of the 20th century, dreamed of gardens that bridge the distance between his two homelands.  A successful farmer and fruit and vegetable wholesaler, he ultimately donated his land.  So now the the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens exist in Boca Raton, Florida.   When I visited the gardens I sketched and painted the waterfalls above with a water brush on site ( I haven't done that in a long time).

And at what has got to be one of the most beautiful man-created spaces on earth, the expansive Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami is also the fulfillment of a dream. David Fairchild and Robert Montgomery shared a passion for plant collecting that has become an 83-acre botanical garden containing plants and trees from all over the world.  It is a joy to experience.  On December 31st, when I last visited the gardens, I sketched and painted in the rain forest section.


There you are.  Three examples of visions fulfilled.  It can happen.  It really can.  So follow your dreams in 2013..

Happy New Year!

29 comments:

  1. Hope 2013 brings you everything you wish,we'll be watching your progress :) Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you so much Cathy - and I'll be watching yours. That is my new year's resolution - Progress! Happy New Year to you too.

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  2. Dan, your posts are a breath of fresh air.

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    1. Thanks Phil - I am glad you enjoy them. :)

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  3. I LOVE that quote from Anne... I must find her book... making messes... YES... that's a wonderful 'revolution' for 2013. Happy New Year Dan.

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    1. Captain I never should have put that quote in here, because ever since that's all I have been doing in my art! lol. Happy New Year to you!

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  4. Me too. Bird by Bird sounds like something I should read. And I love your drawing of her. You are a man of many styles, this one is particularly interesting to me. It's what drew my attention to you in the first place. It's you. It's unique. While I have many styles myself, that's not one of them. BTW, your ability in multiple styles is why you think you have to hon your skills. You think you're all over the place I suspect. You are a plenty skilled guy Dan. Live with it. Enjoy it. It's Joseph's many colored dream coat. Wear it with pride. I think we may be cut from the same cloth.

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    1. My wife and some others have told me that their favorite work is my ink and watercolor people. That's great but I want more. And you are oh so right that I think I am all over the place. It's kind of frustrating because I left music and writing to concentrate solely on art, never realizing that art was so multifaceted that I would be pulled several ways within that category too! You have certainly couched my dilemma in the most wonderful way possible. Thank you! We are certainly cut from the same cloth, buttons and all!

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  5. Oh wow, I love the last painting, brilliant colours and lines, really great piece {all of them}. Yet again a very interesting and exciting post Dan, and I also like the quote from Anne. I cant wait to be able to go crazy and make a mess with all my paints, and after been feeling a bit under the artsy blues I love reading how you work and this gives me a huge inspiration to crawl back again...
    Heres to a lovely mess!!

    Happy, Happy New Years!!!! Gott Nytt Ar!!!!

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    1. Gott Nytt Ar to you, Mari! I have been having a bit of the artsy blues myself, and all I have been making have been messes lately. But it is wonderful to be able to make messes. I am glad I have been some help to inspire.

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  6. Thank you for introducing me to the lovely gardens:)

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  7. wow...what great watercolors! I think plein air watercolor is definitely your strong suit. Love the Anne Lamont drawing too. (I love being inspired by talented people who know how to give a great speech!) Often painters like you (us) feel uncertain ---but your work really belies those insecurities. I think many of your paintings are as good, if not better, than any I've seen. These gardens are first rate. The viewer gets a sense of being there with you. They could not be better.

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    1. Celeste - You really blow my mind sometimes. For you to say that many of my paintings are as good, if not better than any you've seen. Thank you so much!! Wow. You have made my day!

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  8. Look, I don't paint, so take Celeste's word for it [that you can] because she can, which means you can...'cos she and Linda said it, and Linda can too, so that's a double 'you can'... so you can ... but I can't...BUT... comes the revolution!!!!

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    1. I didn't know you know the can-can! John, you don't need to paint! You are the most magnificent pen and ink artist ever! Don't revolve unless it's to evolve!

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  9. Happy New Year Dan. The paintings are beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Alex! Happy New Year to you! Don't work too hard..

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  10. I think Annie Lamott would love this fantastic drawing. Bird by Bird is on my bookshelf and I've enjoyed some of her later works--they're inspiring and not at all "preachy."

    You are off to a great start here in 2013--follow that dream.

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    1. She was the same way at the fair. So down-to-earth and funny without trying. Thanks for the encouragement, I will. And you too!

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  11. Hi Dan! Bravo to circular resolutions that are revolutions! Messes are cool or at least can be... I like that idea. It's fun reading about your dreams and seeing your work. It's
    All good :)

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  12. Hi, Dan,
    Your drawings and the post are really lovely. Also, please be kind to yourself. Also, you're the boss. Furthermore, we do not need to be someone, but ourselves. Take care. Please pass my best wishes and happy new year to your son, Matthew.
    Best wishes and warm cheers, Sadami

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    1. Many folks have given me the same advise in the last few weeks. Thank you. You have shown that you really know this well. Best wishes to you!

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  13. Revolutions throughout the year. Perfect!

    Love your last sketch of the year!!!! Hope there are many more like that to come in this new year.

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  14. I love Anne Lamott's writings! And I'm reading Bird by Bird now! And I love the idea of " revolutions". Beautiful drawings Dan. Happy New Year!

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