Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) was the son of a celebrated furniture designer of Nancy, France. Suffering from heart problems, he came to Marrekesh for his health in 1919 and immediately saw the painterly potential of southern Morocco. In 1924 he acquired land, called himself a “gardenist” as well as an “artist” and began the lifelong project of creating a unique botanical expression around his studio. He opened his garden to the public in 1947. Upon his death in a car accident the property fell into disorder — until it was rediscovered by couturier Yves Saint-Laurent and his artist-friend, Pierre Berge. Majorelle’s Art-Deco-inspired studio, painted the original bright blue, is now a museum and gallery of Majorelle’s work. Travelers wander among exotic plants and spectacular cacti.
In 1967, two aspiring teenaged songwriters named Bernie and Reginald answered the same newspaper ad placed by a UK record label. Unknown to each other, they were matched when Liberty Records A&R Head Ray Williams handed Reg a stack of Bernie’s lyrics on the way out of his failed audition. Reg took them home, put them to music and mailed them back to Bernie.
The other night I was hobnobbing with some of my fellow wizards. As usual we were looking for any of the art genes that might hang out in our collective DNA. This time we were wondering just how our feelings of being in control might affect our growth, success and personal happiness.
When an artist looks back she often discovers that what drew her into art in the first place was a need to simply have her way with something — anything. This need, we concluded, is not necessarily common in the greater population — like worker bees they may simply follow…
Upon analyzing more than six decades of creativity-related papers, English scholars have isolated some recurring themes. Kent University computational scientist Anna Jordanous and Sussex University linguist Bill Keller suggest that fourteen interdependent components can be identified as the building blocks of creativity. As artists, we know them collectively as “the Muse” and, at the risk of spoiling our mystery, here they are:
I’m at the corner of Hoohu and Pee Rd. in Poipu, Kauai. The trees here are Koa, Pandanus, Ohia-lehua and Fig. To the eyes of a guy from up north, some of these trees look like they were designed over the phone. If I were to paint the sea that colour, they wouldn’t believe me. That cardinal over there requires a red I’m not sure I can make.
Rolf Reichert of North Vancouver, B.C. wrote, “I am a hobby artist and would like to exhibit my art work at sometime or another, but don’t know what I should price it at. I don’t expect a fortune for my work, but maybe just my material cost and a little profit for my time would be fair. Is there a formula that I could follow to take the guesswork out of my head? Or should I look at other artists’ paintings and gauge mine from there? If you could give me a rough idea how I could go about pricing my paintings, I would be grateful.”
These days there’s a growth industry in what has been called the “modern epidemic.” Stress-related disorders affect 80% of the population. Funny, you’d think that there might have been more stress in the old days when folks were regularly eaten by wolves. Apparently not. Nowadays we are cooking up our own stress. “Stress is the body’s automatic default reaction to perceived threat,” says stress management guru Eli Bay. His Relaxation Response Institute in Toronto, Canada, offers deep breathing, nose-breathing focus, positive affirmations and other techniques to bring the body and mind into a state of calm. “You don’t have to believe in it,” says Bay, “You just have to do it. What’s real is what you experience.” Eli and other therapists offer what sounds like an artist’s wish list: More energy, calmer disposition, more control, clearer thinking, improved memory, increased productivity, enhanced creativity.
A subscriber wrote, “Many online galleries these days have a money-back guarantee. I recall your father mentioning that if a buyer didn’t like a painting and wanted to return it, he would gladly take it back in exchange for another. When I think of business practices, this great customer service ranks at the top of the list. On pricing, if an artist has work showing in an online gallery and that gallery takes 40%, and she/he has work hanging in a local gallery at a 50% split, and then they also have work for sale on their own website, how does the pricing work for all those different venues?”
A subscriber wrote, “In judging an art fair this weekend, I found myself utterly affected by the input of a fellow juror. Suddenly my picks seemed wooden and overworked. He was looking for spark. I was seeking mastery. In my search, I lost my yen for a purity of expression. He brought it back again by describing his delight in seeing a single line applied with élan! I’ve been changed by this occurrence. I can see that my own future work will grow from the exchange.”
Patterns jump out of glaciers and fill snow patches, as interlocking warm and cool greys zip through scree and shale. Light moves across a thicket of evergreens. The first time Dad and I went up the mountain, I came face to face with the origins of abstraction. Yoho National Park and its jewel, Lake O’Hara, are nestled in the western slope of the continental divide in southeastern British Columbia. At the end of our first day, Dad and I hammered a few more presentation nails into the log walls of cabin 3 and climbed into our beds for a friendly crit. “That one’s a little bit potato-like,” he tendered, eyeballing a blobby mass on one of my canvases. “We might eschew form altogether, or try to get things more or less right.” I stared at my potato, now blurry through a tear of acquiescence to the cliff of learning ahead.