Getting ready for Armageddon

Dear Artist, With the Mayan “Long Count” calendar turning 5,125 years on December 21, 2012, folks have been getting ready for the big day. One group in Britain put in dried foods that will last for twenty-five years. A group in the Yucatan has been told to sell all their worldly possessions: homes, cars, etc. and give the money (for safekeeping) to the head guru. The French village of Bugarach, reported by some to be the only safe place on earth, has become host to hundreds of camped-out end-timers. The locals got into the game by selling bottled water at four times the regular price. Vichy Water is even more. Not wanting to miss out, I decided to get a few things. Walter Klak, the guy who stretches my canvas, made me hundreds in all my favourite sizes. I had to take my van to pick them up. Walter said he was surprised more painters weren’t stocking up. It looks to me like not everyone is doing the intelligent thing. Regarding paint, I got myself ten large tubes of Titanium white. I find I use quite a bit of white. I also got three each of all my favourite colours in the regular tubes, plus yellow ochre. Regarding brushes, in the new dispensation I want to try some filberts. I picked up two complete sets in all sizes from 0 to 24. I noticed Dick Blick hadn’t run the prices up — as a matter of fact his prices seem to have come down. Is Dick not aware of what’s happening? Regarding food, I got in two cases of Glenlivet, two cases of Aberlour and three cases of Glenfiddich (21 years old). I also bought two cases of Bombay Gin. We think we might need martinis in the new era. We already have the pimento-type olives. A lot of people think I’m stupid, but it’s not true. My year end is the end of the year, so I’m holding all my December cheques until January and spending everything I can in December. I need as many expenses as I can get. When you’re an artist, pretty well everything is deductible. At least it was. By the way, if you don’t get a letter from me next Tuesday (Christmas Eve), Merry Christmas anyway, and thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been fun. Best regards, Robert PS: “The third Antichrist soon annihilates everything, twenty-seven years of blood his war will last. The unbelievers dead, captive, exiled with blood, human bodies, water and red hail covering the earth.” (Nostradamus, 1503-1566, CVIII Q72) Esoterica: Whether it’s end times or not, it’s a good time to stock up. While occasional trips to the art materials store throughout the year can be a welcome diversion, anticipating your needs now, tracking the stuff down and getting things into the studio is just plain providential. If there is a Boxing Day this year, you can bet your bottom amulet there will be discounts. And when the trumpet of the great god “Muse” sounds up yonder, you’ll have your stuff at hand.   Art will find a way by Paula Wallace, Omaha, NB, USA  

“Ladder to the moon”
oil painting
by Paula Wallace

Armageddon or not, how lucky we are to be able to envision something beyond this “now” and to reach, reach, reach for something more. Even if we have not “stocked up,” artists worth their salt will find whatever lays at hand – stones, dust, fragments of memory — to start again. Therein lies our hope, our laughter, and all that is possible. “Art is not just about what’s great or expensive or scandalous or famous. It’s a mirror we hold up that looks different to everyone who sees it, and whose beauty lies as much in us, and our capacity to dream…” (Michael Kimmelman) Thank you for sharing your insights and observations, good humor and hope, all the year through.   There is 1 comment for Art will find a way by Paula Wallace
From: Michael McDevitt — Dec 25, 2012

Painters should not encourage others to: run with scissors; skydive after a heavy meal; step above the third wrung from the top, and other scary stuff.

  I’ll meet you in Bugarach by Marinus Verhagen, Dongen, Netherlands  

“The Zenith’s Passion of Jesslynn”
by Marinus Verhagen

Let’s all go to Bugarach Peak in southern France. Not to be saved, but to paint it! It’s such a beautiful place. (RG note) Thanks, Marinus. On two occasions we’ve rented a place called Mas Pechonnier which is about a 20 minute drive from Bugarach. I noted the peculiar mountain which is reminiscent of the mountain in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The whole area has a magical mediaeval feel with its caves and grottos, Templar villages, religious pilgrimages and mountaintop Cathar castles. I painted the various locations but apparently failed to fully appreciate all the magical stuff. Between visits I stored my Alfa Romeo in the basement garage at Mas Pechonnier for two years. After a battery boost by flashlight I fired the car up only to be blown in the face by a lot of little brown pellets. The third Antichrist had allowed French mice to set up housekeeping in my car’s heater. That was when I converted from skeptic to believer.   Last one out — turn out the lights by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA  

“Light under the door”
oil painting
by Rick Rotante

Alas the end is near and once again I am unprepared. I have to assume I am writing this to myself since it won’t be delivered. With the end looming, all communications will be disrupted and, naturally, there will be no one there to receive it. So, I would like to take an opportunity to make amends: George remember that money I owe you? Sorry I never paid you back! Harriet, I still deny the child is mine regardless of the DNA! Joe I swear that I was rear ended and the drinking I did earlier in the day had absolutely nothing to do with wrecking your car. To my Mortgage company — Eat it! I thank all those who bought my work through the years. The canvases you purchased have so many underpaintings you can use them to fill the cracks and keep out the poison gas- if there is any. So, in closing, if there are any survivors, remember that I was one of the greatest artists ever to live and if y o u…. w-0==-=- 231 oh oh see m to bbbbbbeeee loosssinn—-gg Click! There are 3 comments for Last one out — turn out the lights by Rick Rotante
From: caroline — Dec 25, 2012

hilarious! thoroughly enjoyed this. thanks

From: Shirley Erskine — Dec 25, 2012

Love this one. So many people create their own armageddon with their negativity, that this is sooo refreshing. Nice one Rick Rotante!

From: Michael McDevitt — Dec 25, 2012

Tough pose (foreshortening, etc.). Very impressive work — as usual.

  Going out in style by Bill Hibberd, Summerland, BC, Canada  

“Early Memory”
oil painting
Bill Hibberd

While the current deluded paranoia about last days is just more nonsense, your reactionary spending spree may result in more and better work. I’m imagining the lineup of tubes, brushes and canvases spread out before you on the day after. I love the freedom that comes with plenty of materials. As my supplies dwindle down I get downright frugal, painting smaller, using less and operating in full on waste avoidance mode. I am in the middle of gessoing the last of my salvaged Masonite cutoffs, measuring twice and sanding light. Only last week I was painting on linen and 22 karat gold leaf. What I take away from all this doomsday foolishness is to keep focused and diligent, avoid chasing after distractions, breathe deeply and do what is most important. Tomorrow may not come for some of us but for today let us paint with new filberts on linen and gold.   Suspicion as deterrent to creativity by Nikki Coulombe, Lewisville, TX, USA  

replica Mayan bowl

Like unfinished paintings when artists die prematurely, an updated Mayan calendar was not created, or perhaps never found. I think that anything we humans create, including calendars, help us to establish order in the phenomena around us, improve our well-being somehow, help us find security, safety, and something tangible to believe. It’s not too amazing that we were so clever 1500, or even or 10,000 years ago, because we still basically have the same questions; we’re curious to find meaning in recurring natural patterns, and in that which we may never know. The end of cycles, such as seasons and our Western calendar, seems to naturally be a time for reflection and celebrating renewal. It was so then, and it is so now. And we are evolving and moving forward! We have found some answers, acknowledging and expressing our more subtle qualities like emotions, even sometimes choosing them over logic (and the twain shall meet, in the Arts!). I have so much respect for those who passed before us, and I’m fascinated and incredibly inspired by the things they created, but regard their general suspicion as something no longer necessary — it’s a deterrent to creativity.   Still sunlight on the Blue Ridge Mountains by Gerda Hook, Columbus, NC, USA  
LIFE CLASS ll Watercolor 30x22

Kanuga Watermedia Workshops 2013
Hendersonville, NC
by Ken Goldman

Today is my 70th birthday. Earlier this year when I first heard that the Mayans thought the world would end on this date, I thought that sounded about right: Fifty was a snap, 60 was nothing at all, but this one loomed especially large. About half-way through my sixties I was diagnosed with an aggressive disease that made getting to 70 very iffy. It seemed reasonable that stopping there ought to be enough. Yet when I awoke this morning I was delighted to see the sunlight slanting across the Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I had some shopping to do in Asheville (west of where we live and at a higher altitude). It was snowing there! Pure magic. My husband’s Christmas present to me is a water media workshop in nearby Hendersonville in early April. I registered for it yesterday. So, the world had better not end today. I’m just getting starting on learning how to see and how to paint. I save every one of your letters. They are remarkable in their depth and breadth. Thank you. (RG note) Thanks, Gerda. Happy Birthday! We are all happy today. We’re still above the mole traps. As the pilot said, “Any landing you can walk away from is considered a good landing.” There is 1 comment for Still sunlight on the Blue Ridge Mountains by Gerda Hook
From: Ginny in Florida — Dec 25, 2012

Happy birthday Gerda. I did the 70 thing three years ago and am still buying green bananas. Don’t give up hope. If we can keep ourselves healthy (and that is the trick) we have a lot of paintings still ahead of us! And I got two workshops for Christmas too…both at Dillmans in Wisconsin in May and June. Joan Hicks and Brenda Swenson (watercolor) OH heavenly day! And Merry Christmas too. I know North Carolina and your area well but never seen it under snow. It must be amazing!

  Stretched canvases by Ellen Petrey, Eugene, OR, USA   I was very interested (as opposed to astounded by how prolific and really interesting your writings are!) in your mention of having your canvases stretched by someone else! What type of person does this? Is he in a frame shop or something like that? Or an individual you found? What a timesaver! Thank you so much for your writings — facts, insights, issues, etc.! (RG note) Thanks, Ellen. Walter’s shop is Northwest Artists’ Canvas, 109-5910 No. 6 Rd, Richmond, B. C. Canada V6V 1Z1, tel 604 270 4644, but that probably won’t do you much good. In my experience many areas have one-man operations like his where you can specify the quality and type of canvas, expect proper stretching and all manner of custom work. This is important if you believe in quality. Professional stretchers like Walter have tailor made jigs to keep things square and get the right tension. Mass produced canvases are often built down to a price, and the Chinese imports by and large make artists weep.   Student acrylics by Michel Ruest, Canada   I paint in acrylics and was wondering which brand of acrylic paints you use? I use combinations of Liquitex, Winsor & Newton and Golden which are all great. My issue is I would like to start working on larger canvases and was wondering if you know of any less expensive acrylics that still produce professional results and permanence? I’m not reading good reviews on “Student” grade acrylics so I am not sure if there are any others out there. (RG note) Thanks, Michel. I use mainly Golden and while their paints and media are truly excellent I’m not totally loyal to that firm. Earlier this year when I was in Argentina I switched to Alba, an excellent home grown brand. While in Italy I used a lot of their Maimeri products. Curiosity breeds experimentation. Regarding “Student” and other budget products, I find they can sometimes be safely admixed in reasonable quantities, particularly where more body is needed. The cheaper the product, the more “extenders” will be in there. Cheaper products tend to have less vivid colours because of these fillers — this is not always a bad thing. If you do use cheap paints, it’s best, in my opinion, to stick to the non-fugitive pigments. In all cases in acrylics it’s important to use a lot of medium. I would keep the acrylic medium “brand consistent” as molecule configurations may vary between brands. A student brand I’ve found to be satisfactory as an adjunct in professional work is Winsor and Newton’s “Galleria.” In stocking up for my post-Armageddon activities, I purchased a bunch of “Amsterdam Acrylics” — a low priced brand by Talens. This brand, like some others, offers a variety of rather delicious pre-mixed hues that might be fun. I trust the Dutch. There is 1 comment for Student acrylics by Michel Ruest
From: Sally Pollard — Dec 25, 2012

I am glad to hear you found something to trust with the Dutch as far as their long history and love of painting. I read that their Queen Beatrice is one of the illuminati out to control the world and enslave most of us. These end times are supposed to be about overthrowing these dark forces. So Paint away! Paint away the dark cabal and their illuminati queens! Let the truth and love of art shines through.

  No soap box here by Jackie Fyers, Sussex, England   It is that time again. When, after receiving your emails twice a week, every week, all year, I put my virtual pen to cyber paper to thank you. If ever you should wonder whether your missives are floating unnoticed on a ‘cloud’ or lost in the Wi-Fi ether, let me assure you, this is not the case. I suspect I speak for many of us when I say that your letters go straight to our heads and hearts. Your varied subject matter gets our brains working in directions we may not have taken. You don’t step up on your soap box but merely invite mental exploration of a star-burst of topics, a gift to those of us in our garrets who enjoy mental stimulus and fresh blood pulsing through the grey matter. Maybe more importantly, you nudge us to remember we are part of a great brother and sisterhood, diverse and extraordinary and all of us bound together by our artistic passion and your wonderful letters. Thank you, Robert. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a Very Happy New Year. (RG note) Thanks, Jackie. And thanks to the thousands of you who took the time to send emails of Christmas and other seasonal cheer to myself and the others who frequently add inspired and informative material to these clickbacks. It makes me wish we could all share a small glass of cheer. I’ve got quite a bit of it around here. Merry Christmas to all. There is 1 comment for No soap box here by Jackie Fyers
From: caroline — Dec 25, 2012

yes thank you Bob, always interesting and helpful and insightful letters, you definitely are a writer too. hope you have a cozy time with your family.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Getting ready for Armageddon

From: Kate Beetle — Dec 20, 2012
From: Allan Proctor — Dec 21, 2012

I just Googled “Armageddon December 21, 2012 anything yet?” and a live feed came back: “Nothing yet.” But it’s a bit early I guess.

From: Joel Posson — Dec 21, 2012

Just wanted to report that there’s amazingly good Internet connectivity way up here in this saucer.

From: Elisa Choi — Dec 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Robert! I adore your letters always. Thank you! Hear from you soon! Cheers!

From: Phyllis Lasche — Dec 21, 2012

Tell me you are kidding…please. This nonsense about the end-times is promoted (apparently very well!) by fear-mongering opportunists preying on the neurotic and anxious among us and is not worthy of being repeated by sensible and/or well-respected people. “See” you in the new year…

From: Kimberly Blackstock — Dec 21, 2012

Just thought I’d mention I truly enjoyed this e-mail. And since it is the holiday season, I thought it would be nice to say THANK YOU for all the emails you sent out this year. Very enjoyable.

Keep on Paintin’ right through Armageddon.
From: Cale Kropotkin — Dec 21, 2012

Moscow, Russia (2:00 a.m; 5:00 p.m. ET; GMT +4) UPDATE: ABC’s Kirit Radia reports: “revelers are celebrating at a luxury “End of the World Party” in an underground Soviet bunker in Moscow for a chance to dance into the apocalypse. So far it looks like they’ll wake up on Friday, albeit perhaps with at hangover that feels like brimstone and fire. But all is not lost. Organizers plan to give everyone a 50 percent refund if the Mayans got it wrong.” The world there still has not ended.

From: Sarah Clegg — Dec 21, 2012

Oh joy!!! Can one really put the Bombay Sapphire down as a legitimate business expense? Or is that just in Canada? I may consider emigrating…

From: ReneW — Dec 21, 2012

Great excuse for stocking up, Robert. It’s also a good time to re-balance your supplies as well. What I mean is – getting rid of the old and bring in the new. That’s why we have a “New Year”. This morning I woke up and saw the sun come up. I guess the world did not end. Or is everything just an illusion?

From: Janie Koch — Dec 21, 2012

What a disappointment. Here I’ve been writing checks thinking no one would be around to cash them. Oh well, guess I’ll have to make good on them. Just kidding. I didn’t prepare at all. I knew nothing was going to happen. We are not to know the end remember. Like a thief in the night. Merry Christmas Robert. I enjoy your letters immensely.

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — Dec 21, 2012

It’s already Sunday 22 December in Australia and New Zealand, so I reckon we are safe … er … has anyone heard anything from the Pacific rim countries in the last few hours? ;-)

Robert, even you must surely take a break over Christmas, so may I take this opportunity for heartfelt thanks for your very precious letters. Tuesday’s was particularly meaningful, as were the many comments sent in by readers. Thank you all, and may 2013 be the year the whole world stops and thinks about what we are doing to ourselves. One can dream…
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Dec 21, 2012

Is scotch a solvent? Oh that’s right, you paint with acrylics! Happy New Year. You enriched the old year and thanks.

From: Denise de Sa — Dec 21, 2012

What I find so difficult to understand is why people who spend their lives making errors of judgement 99 percent of the time, believe what some equally imperfect individual or individuals have to say about Armageddon.

From: Gavin Logan — Dec 21, 2012

If I was going to run a doomsday cult I would have one of the type that says we don’t know when our time will come. I would still tend to look a bit foolish, but not as foolish as those who run cults and lay down an exact time. Happy Gzonkaplonka!

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 21, 2012

I’d like to join others here and say THANK YOU, Robert, for all your contributions to our lives. As reliable as night and day, your letter is always there every Tuesday and Friday, and I look forward to reading it and the comments with it. Here’s to a wonderful year next year, and …..take it easy on the scotch…..

From: Trish — Dec 21, 2012

“…I’m holding all my December cheques until January and spending everything I can in December. I need as many expenses as I can get. “

I’m doing the opposite. Due to the “payroll tax holiday” expiring in the US, if you are self-employed, your self-employment taxes are going up 2% next year (from 13.3% to 15.3%). So I’m moving as much income as I can into December (where I’m taxed 2% less), and pushing as many expenses as possible into January (when I’ll save 2%). No matter what else happens with the fiscal cliff negotiations, it doesn’t look like the “payroll tax holiday” will be extended.
From: Michele — Dec 21, 2012

Actually, it’s more likely that tomorrow we’ll see a lot of Mayans out there doing last minute Christmas shopping…

From: Roy C. Brown — Dec 21, 2012

I wondered about the Mayans, when they wanted high rises, they built Chichen Itza! Have finished off (and refinished) a number of studio works. Don’t want to end the old year with left-overs. All the best in the coming year of mixing and dabbing. On to the next 5,125.

From: Melissa Jean — Dec 21, 2012

This is hilarious, great letter, Bob. I too will heed your advice and stock up, for the day of the muse. Heaven forbid I run out when the fire’s hot in the studio, and the roads are too icy to be driven on! Happy Winter Solstice, and here’s to a new era, where anything’s possible. Kenora, Ontario

From: Ken Paul — Dec 21, 2012

Filberts don’t grow on trees, ya know. Oh, wait, they DO! Right here in the Willamette Valley, in fact. (aka: hazelnuts) Eugene OR

From: Damien Swift — Dec 21, 2012

Nuts are quite commonplace all over the world, especially these days.

From: Kitty Wallis — Dec 21, 2012

I smiled the whole way thru your letter. Thanks for that. I wish I had thought to do that. What a wonderful, content ready-for-anything feeling you must feel. Portland OR

From: John Burk — Dec 21, 2012

I’ll be right over. Anything else you need? Gesso? Varnish?

From: Chris Chown — Dec 21, 2012

Hi Robert…..I remember a day on Saltspring Island when a gal lent you her watercolour supplies to do a demo we asked for. Then she asked for the result be given back to her, signed please! Do you remember? So funny, the stuff we keep in our heads. Anyway, I want to say thanks for your constant wit, and super abilities at making us THINK about what we are doing, and the world about us. You are pretty special, and as I always remember, extremely generous in your sharing.

From: Robert Erskine. — Dec 21, 2012

Seasons greetings and all good wishes for the New Year to you and your family. I have really enjoyed reading your twice weekly letters. Often they hit the right high note just as I am off to my studio to have fun and do battle. Long may they continue. (London, UK)

From: Rodney Cobb — Dec 21, 2012

I look forward to hearing from you next week Robert. Merry Christmas!

From: Andrea Tiffany — Dec 21, 2012

That’s the spirit, I went out and spent $500 on an outfit to wear over the holidays, my step in faith.

From: Doris Osbahr — Dec 21, 2012

Merry Christmas, dear Robert. Thank you for cheering us up the entire year. Regards from Caracas, Venezuela.

From: Ursula Yanchak — Dec 21, 2012

I’m still laughing at your very funny letter. Happy doomsday!!!!

From: Adele Galgut — Dec 21, 2012

Thank you for your inimitable style of information and humour.

Your newsletter recipients value being “on board” and along for the ride. Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2013. Sea Point, South Africa
From: Jackie Knott — Dec 22, 2012

Ah, something lighthearted!

As to brushes, one can’t ever have enough filberts. Wonderfully versatile brush. And then with food, the aforementioned two cases …. my choice would be wine. I think the Mayans simply got tired of projecting a calendar … like taking pi out to the “inth” degree. The only reputable prophets these days are meteorologists. Thank the Lord for science!
From: Tony Angell — Dec 22, 2012

Good advice and along those end of the world lines and I’ve put up sixty five pounds of wild duck (six different species) that have come to me from hunting friends who don’t eat duck. I’ll smoke it (in a smoker), jerk it (jerky style) and brine all of it before roasting, sauteed and baked. I’m still waiting for the darkness to descend, but then again it’s the longest night of the year so I shouldn’t be worried. Seattle.

From: Reveille Kennedy — Dec 22, 2012

I don’t stockpile much. My dad always taught me that every day should be a celebration and so as I celebrate the end, I will also celebrate a new beginning. Kind of like you, but different.

Still looking forward…maybe someone will gift me a new brush…if I am here! (Believe I will be.) Bye, Reveille
From: Sharon Edwards — Dec 22, 2012

Does anyone know how many end of the world predictions there have been since the beginning of the world?

From: Marnie (McKay) Crowe — Dec 22, 2012

I’ve taken a leaf out of your book and stocked up on Grey Goose and J & B. If we do get through this, we will be dining out at what could be the closest restaurant that features Mayan Food (Carlos Cantina in Sidney BC. Mexican Food) and celebrating that we have more good years ahead. If the world comes to an end . . . I’ll say, so long it’s been good to know you . . . Merry Christmas in advance.

From: Hunter Calder — Dec 22, 2012

Can report that Australia is still functional. I stocked up on Laphroiag and Hunter Valley reds. Will try to contact brother Bill in White Rock to see if he has dug himself out of his bomb shelter!!! Glad you survived.

From: Joy taylor — Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Robert , and to your family. I have been receiveing your letter since it was started, got onto it from a mutual friend Minaz.You have been an inspiration to me and I love your sence of humour. I enjoyed having a short chat with you when I bought your book at Black bond books some years ago.At that time you said I should write in and I mentioned that I was not good wth words, but I do enjoy others letters and their ability to express with words as well as art.I have donw over 100 paintings and still going strong.

Regards, Joy Taylor Regards,
From: betty j. brooks — Dec 24, 2012

My idea of what it’s all about is to live phoenix like. I crash and burn on a daily basis accompanied by a rise from the ashes. I call this my ArmaGITiton. I have little fear of flying or falling (failing). What I don’t like is that mountain of ashes I’ve created.

From: Frank Nicholas — Dec 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Robert, and helpers! Well, I knew the the date from the pagans would never work because the Bible clearly states, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen. God alone. Matthew 24 holds a lot of content that troubles people about the end. Being a Christian man, I hold these passages as truth, and believe these things will eventually take place. But, God also made me an artist, so I will paint and teach to the best of my ability and gifts to give glory to Him. The events of this world lead me to believe that the time is surely short. I’ll paint and keep looking up.

Blessings, – Frank
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Coming into the open

mixed media painting, 48 x 48 inches by Hugh Rice, Ireland

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Helen Opie of Granville Ferry, NS, Canada, who wrote, “Don’t rest yet! There aren’t any 2015 calendars on the market, and only small 2014s tucked into 2013 calendars. So the world is still about to come to an end… or does the perpetual calendar that used to be in phone books count as a forever calendar?” And also Andrea Katharina of Paris, France, who wrote, “I always read your wise and funny posts! Just this: at the end (which means until today:) the hundreds or thousands of people expected in Bugarach for the 21st didn’t show up! At least not until now. Police, military and journalists are looking in each others’ eyes and wondering what happened. Just wanted to let you know :)” And also Richard Mason of Howell, NJ, USA, who drew our attention to this: 122512_richard-mason