My friend Joe Blodgett says, “There’s two ways to walk this path — one for the path and one for the spirit.” It’s a cathedral of Douglas fir and alder, blown twigs from the night’s storm, a carpet of autumn. He’s crouching down, watching the steady miracle of a spotted woodland slug.
Joe feels an artistic moment coming on. He thinks he’s surrendering to the need to make something; a guilt or a work-ethic thing. I think he’s a guy in tune with “tuning in.” Joe works with water-soluble marker-pens which he augments with watercolor washes — a technique which diffuses lines not held with fixative. The fixative can sticks out of his jacket pocket. The method’s fast and loose. After only a few minutes, he moves on.
The artistic mind, flowing properly, sees the world differently. Call it what you will — a Celestine moment, synchronicity, serendipity. There’s a higher harmonic. It’s got to do with receptiveness and alertness. Those who expect, receive. We can leave it to the gods where it comes from. The important thing is to give in to it — allow this dream mind to run free. My friend is a living example of one who trusts dreams, hunches, intuition. Joe’s not a child, he’s just curious. On the side he’s a good businessman, father, bookkeeper, track-keeper. It’s not a pose — it’s a desirable and natural state of being. On the path he has wandering eyes. On the path his hand becomes busy because it has to. T.S. Eliot suggested that the paths we walk are made of hints and guesses. The artist says; “What can I make of this?”
“God is only another artist — like me.” (Salvador Dali)
by James McLaren
Photographers will know exactly what you are talking about. For us it has a lot to do with self training in the art of anticipation. I recently photographed a vintage tugboat rally. There were several things I was watching for — when the leading tug blew its whistle and steam came out. When the well-decorated Commodore was rowed out in a vintage clinker pinnace, and when a 1940’s N3N–3 Navy trainer made a low-level hammerhead flypast. Eventually, though “false alarm film” was blown, everything happened at once and I got the shot I wanted — the aircraft cutting through the steam directly above the tug, the foreground Commodore saluting.
A bundle of resonance
Living fully in this moment, my life takes on a brighter artistic and magical quality. (Bobbi Snope, Coeurd’Alene, Idaho)
You are talking about “inbetween” moments! Those who expect, receive — because they are everywhere, ready to be revealed to the spiritually discerning eye. (Bonnie Kelley Kaback, Calif)
Expectancy is the operative. Think of the delicious expectancy of sex, success, creative joy. Knowledgeable expecting—means it will happen. (D P Davis, Wales)
An artist, if he or she is in a fully-realized state, is in tune with those elements that interest and excite him or her. The elements feed and nourish, and if he or she cannot anymore arouse them, the artist sadly becomes bitter and dies slowly from within. (Jali Pandar)
by Elle Fagan
The Dali quote made me giggle… Dali was a Leo and leonine in personality… major pride, and humor about his own ego… and mind-games with the English language: He compares himself favorably with God, an equal power… :-) We are taught that we are made in His image and likeness, and that developing right-minded power of the spirit is what it is about… and stay modest while doing it… neat trick!
Doing my anti-wrinkle beautywash, I gave myself a portraiture surprize!… one draws the massage up along either side of the nose, across the brow, then just under the cheekbones to the jaws… it occurred to me, discovery-fashion that I’d drawn a star!
The Artist’s way
by Lin Souliere, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
My path includes hiking the woods and escarpment rock near my studio and home. I feel blessed to live and work in such natural inspiration. One fall day when my husband and fellow artist and I were hiking the Bruce Trail on Flowerpot Island on Georgian Bay. We had stopped to watch a pair of yellow ribbon snakes sunning themselves on a decaying cedar log. We photographed, sketched and enjoyed the moment offered by the groggy snakes. They cared only in the warmth of the sun. They watched us as we watched them, content that there was no need to fear us. Behind us on the trail, we heard loud noisy tourists approaching. These same people had irritated us on the boat ride to the Island and at the dock. Now they were approaching us with loud curious comments as to what we had found on the trail that was so interesting. We quietly moved aside and headed further up the trail. We hoped the tourists would not see the camouflaged snakes and leave them alone. Within minutes, we heard screaming and shouting and could only imagine the ribbon snakes sliding quickly away while the tourists stomped the trail as if they had encountered Massassaga Rattlers instead of innocent ribbons. It struck us, as we veered onto a side trail much too wild for tourists to even dare venture down, that people see with very different eyes. We saw the quiet beauty of God’s creatures willing to share a few moments in our company… no fear, no animosity, only peaceful acceptance of each other. A special moment in time when wilderness and man can look into each other’s eyes and know we are all creatures of God. The tourists saw… well, I’m not sure even what to call their insight. After all, how dangerous can 2 skinny snakes be? But the tourists’ screams and reaction verberated throughout the woods on the island. Like a knife cutting into nature’s throat, it disturbed the trust within energy of the woods. Perhaps artists, with our curiosity and need to study the world around us, have a gift to give. We simply take the time to stop and look… and to respect what we see. And record such special moments with paint, ink and paper. That is what calls us to turn at the fork of the trail and take the wilder path.
by Lili London, Highlands, NJ, USA
Yesterday my office received a portfolio from an artist seeking to exhibit here in our galleries at AT&T Labs. Her bio claimed she was internationally known (?) and she had a large number of professionally created note cards enclosed as examples. I found the work appallingly trite and childishly executed. I never know what to say. Except what my mother used to say to me, “De gustibus non desputandum est,” which she loosely translated from the Latin as “Everyone to his own taste, said the old lady as she kissed the cow.” Who am I to judge? I can only control what I hang on my own walls or those over which I have jurisdiction. There is a market out there for all kinds of “art.” Here in AT&T’s permanent collection, we have some “modern” pieces from the 50’s and 60’s that make me giggle, knowing that some high level management persons spent enormous amounts of money on now obscure questionable work. At a conference recently, a message desk was set up in front of a huge canvas which was 95% solid brown and 15 feet square. The desk personnel were tempted to use it as a bulletin board. What we all can do is keep painting. The more work that is put out there, the more choices there are for galleries and curators to exhibit wonderful things.
The Writer’s way
by Sue Legault, Vancouver, BC, Canada
In September I joined some writing colleagues in a Continuing Education Creative Writing class called “Walk Like a Writer.” After meeting and discussing the agenda for the class, we left the building and walked a wooded trail individually so as to be able to clear our minds of any distractions. I found myself eagerly taking mental note of the little groups of bright yellow toadstools at the base of a tree, the way the Spanish moss hung from the branches as they arched over the trail, the smell of damp leaves being trampled into the earth, and the way the sun broke through the clouds just as we entered an open area by the lake. When we got to the park which was our ultimate destination, we were let loose for a half hour of exploring and writing. I had taken my camera expecting to generate some images to use for inspiration later, but never took any shots. I was too busy trying to capture the textures, smells, and colours around me, and trying to create a vision in words. When we returned to the classroom and read out our writings, I was quite surprised to find that, though they had been inspired by the things around us in the park, no one had actually written about what they saw. To one writer the sounds of water trickling through a culvert under a bridge brought up an image of depth, coldness, and being alone in a bed. To another the ducks swimming on the lake brought up a poem about parents and children. Still another wrote a conversation with a spirit about man’s interaction with nature. No one created an image from what was seen. I can come to only one conclusion: though they may be in the same places, writers and artists walk different paths.
by Susan Pitt
Which materials does he use?
(RG note) Joe works with a waterbased Itoya or Staedtler doubleheader (sepia or black) on various papers. His favorite is rough mounted Whatman — that is watercolor paper mounted on a board. Also watercolor books with a smoother paper. Generally he doesn’t add the watercolor until he gets home. He sometimes fixes it partly on location, then works it out with a watercolor brush and clear water. These markers are acid free, have no odor, and are relatiively light-fast. Some of the so-called permanent markers are actually fugitive.
You may be interested to know that artists from 70 countries have visited these sites since October 31, 2000.
That includes Ilana Raviv of Tel Aviv, Israel; Menahem Erez of NY, NY; Nordine Yahyaoui from I wish I knew where, and Aguila Lasoberana from somewhere else, who says, “All artists can grow into a big art community, sharing ideas and opportunities with each other.”