Letters scott-adams_dilbert2
7

A few years ago while working, Scott Adams felt a spasm in the pinky finger of his drawing hand. He was diagnosed with focal dystonia — a neurological disorder where misfiring neurons in the brain cause unwelcome contractions in task-specific muscles. Musicians call it “musician’s dystonia”; archers “target panic”; and, in other sports, it’s called the “yips.” While the causes aren’t well understood, it’s thought to come from excessive overuse of fine motor muscles, and doctors say it’s incurable.

Letters cezanne_the-card-players
19

It has recently been discovered that the works of William Shakespeare were actually written by another person with the same name. And lately, around this studio, there’ve been a few anonymous letters like this one: “If I look for my name on the Internet, up comes an artist with my exact name and spelling who is not me. Even worse, the subject matter this person deals in is nothing with which I want to be associated. I’m considering using another name and maybe even one with the other gender. I’m thinking of continuing to use my real name as well but only for paintings that would go to people in my area. What do you think?”

Letters Joan-Mitchell-1953
19

London art lecturer and freelance critic Estelle Lovatt posted her son’s abstracts on Saatchi Art, wondering if the art world would encourage an unknown artist. On the site, she described him as a person devoted to art, who frequented major exhibitions and who’d steadily progressed in his influences and techniques, including drawing from nature, plein air, mid-century American Abstract Expressionism and Japanese calligraphy. She also mentioned that her son’s paintings had evolved to employ more archival materials, like acrylic, following a period where he’d worked almost exclusively in tomato ketchup.

Letters emily-carr_shoreline
33

From time to time I do workshops and demonstrations for art clubs in my community. At the beginning I generally ask some questions: “How many paint in oils, how many in watercolor, how many in acrylic?” Here I look clearly into the faces of those who have given up an evening to try to pick up a new technique or two. Generally, eight out of ten will be women. Often these women will be in the process of switching gears from previous identities as wives or mothers. Some will have taken up painting the way others take up golf or bridge.

Letters pablo-picasso_dancing-in-his-studio
17

Physicians are at odds regarding the possible dangers to the still-forming skeletons of young gymnasts. Until 1981, the minimum age to compete in senior events — including the Olympics — was 14. By 1997 the requirement had been raised to 16, with experts arguing that intense practice at the elite level was too hard on developing bodies, causing hormonal imbalance and putting unsustainable strain on prepubescent bones. Other studies, however, have suggested that younger gymnasts may have a physical and psychological advantage over their elders.

Letters edgar-payne_Breton-tuna-boats-at-anchor
24

A subscriber wrote, “I grew up in an environment that did not stimulate creative development. Nevertheless, in adolescence I was a prolific writer. But suddenly I stopped. I remember thinking that what I wrote wasn’t any good, and that I shouldn’t write any more. I put everything I wrote into the garbage. I don’t know why. Now ten years have passed and I haven’t written anything. What I find curious is that I still remember the pleasure the writing gave me, and being frequently in a state of ‘flow.’ I would like to recapture that same pleasure, the creativity that I had, and begin writing again. I don’t know exactly where to start and don’t have a clue if I’m on the right path. Any suggestions or advice?”

Letters
13

An emerging art photographer wrote, “An author has asked to use one of my images for the cover of her e-book and for exclusive rights. She would also like to have a custom shoot (with a model), where she’ll have exclusive rights to the new images to use in advertisements for the book. I’m unsure as to what would be a fair price to charge for this.”

The Berne Convention of 1886 protects an artist’s copyright from the moment the work is “fixed” — that is, from the moment you make it.

Letters Electric-LOTW_Robert-Genn
17

I guess there’s about a billion paintings of sky, mountains, trees and water. Beneath these basic and universal elements lie symbols that may empower our work.

For example, the sky may represent infinity, eternity, immortality, transcendence or inspiration. As the traditional residence of gods, the sky may suggest omnipotence. The sky may also be symbolic of order in the universe.

Mountains are thought to contain divine inspiration, and are the focus of pilgrimages of transcendence and spiritual elevation. Mountains surpass ordinary humanity and extend toward the heavens.

Letters neural-activity_brainMRI
29

While learning the springs at my local Pilates studio recently, I noticed a sign above the cubbies: “You are only one workout away from a good mood.” I thought of a friend — a marathoner, hyper as a junkie, her “runner’s high” streaming with endorphins day after day. These endogenous opioid neuropeptides are pumped out by the central nervous system and pituitary gland to counteract the transmission of pain signals — a side effect is often euphoria. In lieu of a marathon, you can release them by laughing or getting a tattoo — but what about painting?

Letters Mary-Cassatt_Breakfast-in-Bed_1897
20

Termites, dormant over the winter, issue from a small hole in the corner of my studio ceiling. When I “Raid” them, they withdraw momentarily. Today, apart from the perennial easel-struggle, this is the main distraction. Rain streams on the windowpane and distant, silent lightning can be seen on the horizon. Here, all is quiet, save Mozart, and this studioscape is blessed with peace.

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