Author ShawnA

Letters Picasso_Woman-with-High-Arms_1936

Some people think she’s crazy. She’s a bronco-busting, motorcycle-riding, video-making, sky-diving, giant-picture-painting kind of girl. She makes loud noises in social situations. “Man, look at that tree,” she shouts. She can laugh like a logger and giggle like a baby. She disappears from view for long periods of time — nobody knows where she is.

Letters cathy-allen_nurp1

At the top edge of Joshua Tree National Park and skirting the edge of the Mojave Desert is a place called Wonder Valley. In 1938, the U.S. Congress put forward the Small Tract Act, encouraging homesteaders — mostly World War I servicemen — to lease five-acre federal land parcels to convert to private ownership if they built structures, businesses or recreational facilities there. By the ’50s, thousands of cabins had been built but, after infrastructure like roads, water, power and schools failed to appear, were later abandoned.

Letters Ivan-Aivazovsky_The-Ninth-Wave

The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell makes some startling claims. By listening to Mozart you might just turn out to be more creative, productive and healthier.

This book is full of scientific studies and lots of anecdotal evidence. For example, premature triplets were separately incubated; one was fed Mozart, one silence, and one Rock. Guess what? The Mozart-fed kid gained weight faster, didn’t fuss, was smarter, and did more with his life. That sort of thing.

Letters alex-katz_snow-scene-3_2014

A subscriber wrote, “Do you ever hear from collectors asking if you’d like to buy back a painting? Do you ever buy back? There are paintings I wish I’d never sold — I feel they are my best and I should have kept them. If given the chance to buy them back, I would. What do you think?”

Letters brice_marden_drawing

Mist rises on a mile-long white sand beach. It’s an island — almost deserted. There’s dazzle: puddle-jumping, tide pools, crabs crawling, seaweed and sun-bleached, haphazard logs. Behind, the dark forest looms: salal, spring flowers poking. Gulls call. Eagles watch. I’m on a search.

We artists have an environment in common: we search through it, we dig in it. We look here and there for subjects, ideas, better work, deeper meaning, farther sight, creative joy.

Letters madison-tyrell_1

A private message arrived through social media: “I am a recent grad from the BFA program at Queen’s. I have just moved to Vancouver after a year travelling and attending a residency in Berlin. I was told by Jan and Otis that you would be a great person for me to contact about getting some information on the art scene in Vancouver. It would be great to meet an established artist who could give me a few pointers on where to start out.” Attached was a link to a clean and concise, create-your-own website showing work from the last two years.

Letters edgar-degas_dancer-adjusting-her-slipper

In looking at quotes, you have to ask two questions: “Is it true?” and “Is it true for me?” You have to be careful in this quotation game. Take, for example, this quote of Claude Monet from a letter to Gustav Geffroy: “No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.”

Letters joaquin-sorolla_artists-patio-cafe_1915

My dad had a close friend, a titan in business who also shared a love of art. Even more striking than this friend’s achievements were his understatement, sincerity, fairness and friendship. Everyone he knew felt enriched for knowing him. After quizzing him on his secret, Dad’s friend said merely, “Life is relationships.”

My dad soon passed along a purpose-built advice-nugget to me. “Like life,” he said, “art is loving and connecting with others.”

Letters John-Ruskin_perspective-study

I’m frequently asked whether it’s best to go back to school or back to work. I’ve been on the board of directors of a prominent art college, and I’ve also been an advocate of do-it-yourself for life — so I’m coming from both sides of the fence. Fact is, even if you attend what you think is the best art school in the world (like I did — Art Center) it doesn’t make you into an artist. You’re the one who has to do that.

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