The basket list

Dear Artist, You’ve probably heard of the “bucket list.” It’s the list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. One of mine is painting a couple of peaks in the Argentine Andes from the Patagonian pampas at magic hour. I have other, more problematical items, including a short visit and few brief words with Paul Cezanne. But what I’m talking about here is the “basket list” — often made on the run in a little notebook. It’s a list of things we need to try in our work. My own lists are most often of newish observations made in nature, or painterly ideas, but they can also include motifs and techniques noted in the work of others. I call it a basket list because if I don’t keep adding possibilities I might become a basket case. Several friends have kindly pointed out I already am. In the full knowledge that we all have to create our own lists, here are a few items from recent sorties: — Wheel tracks in snow with cast shadows of spindly trees lying across them. Three degrees of shadow. — Foreground snow interspersed with patches of bare ground with green shoots sprouting. High-key green. — A moldering, stone-based barn with horizontal and vertical boards in a variety of grays. Texture and impasto. — The casual use of scumble to add freshness and “think-on-your-feet” sincerity. Be Velasquez. — Truth imposed onto fantasy by a specific, abstract and unusual shape of shard ice. Strong gradation. — Humble dwellings, trailer-park homes, with perplexed, uniquely twisted, grumbling personalities. Anthropomorphic. While words are useful because they avoid specific copying and stimulate the imagination, a quick drawing is often necessary. FYI, we’ve put a few drawing examples at the bottom of this letter. Each one of us looks out into the world and sees our next step. No matter how pedestrian the observations seem, we need to make them our own. It’s one of the great principles of making art: “Name it and claim it.” Best regards, Robert PS: “I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds.” (Egon Schiele) Esoterica: Inspiration is not something that floats in the air like some radical gas to be collected in fairy nets; it is more effectively generated by a basket of practical ploys. Further, for flawed individuals like ourselves, it’s easy to see something, have a vague idea that it’s something special, then pass by and forget it. The written list and the quick sketch nail fleeting wisdom to the intransigent brain. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” (Jack London)   In today’s basket by James Keith Lanier, Los Angeles, CA, USA   At the top of my creative basket list is the desire to knock myself and others off their professed center and to disarm their self righteousness. Surprise and disarm constantly. As soon as a character thinks he “knows” something, strip it away, stomp it to dust. At least that’s my thought today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll expose beauty in unlikely places. Chasing it out of the dark with a stick! Luv the thoughts!   No notes in this basket by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada  

“Mirror Lake, Lake Louise”
acrylic painting
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

I am not claiming that I am not a basket case, but I don’t make lists, notes and journals. I get overwhelmed with the very thought of having to do that. I understand that this works for many people and I have admired some beautiful artist’s notebooks, but I can’t do it. I get my ideas from visual images and I can only let them evolve (or not) in my mind to the point when I start to create the actual work. I probably lose some ideas, but I trust that there are many more where those came from and that the best ones get etched in my mind. I just have to make sure that I always have a lot of imagery available, from nature or photographs. I guess, there are all kinds of basket cases?   A basket of fun by Gwen Fox, Colorado Springs, CO, USA  

original painting
by Gwen Fox

I am sure we all have our list and my list seems to get longer and longer —  so many things to paint and so many things to learn. Last week I was looking at my list and I noticed there was one thing that kept screaming to be born so I decided to give it a try. What was it? It was to have fun and do chairs, yes, chairs! I love chairs and since I normally do abstracts, chairs seemed to be on the other end of the spectrum. The most important thing about this exercise was to have fun! Not only can our basket list include observations, items and technique but it definitely should include fun. I call it the “Art of Playing” and to me having fun with our creativity makes us a better artist and a better person. I smiled the whole time I was painting these chairs. There are 8 comments for A basket of fun by Gwen Fox
From: Karen R. Phinney — Apr 01, 2011

I love chairs, too, and I love these ones! The colours are eye-popping and the shapes make a lovely pattern! And they are fun, also!

From: Connie — Apr 01, 2011

I agree with Karen. I really like this picture. Every chair seems to have a story it can’t wait to tell. Have you ever thought of doing children’s book illustrations?

From: Anonymous — Apr 01, 2011

Nice job! They are a lot of fun! And, I too love the colors. Laura

From: Loretta West — Apr 01, 2011

Love the chairs! Yes, having FUN is really what it’s all about in the end. While I paint I like to continually ask the question, “Is this fun?” It keeps my head outa my ass.

From: caroline Jobe — Apr 01, 2011

lovely and i love your idea about the art of playing. it is the only way i can even get started otherwise my mind gets in the way. thanks, beautiful palette and to think chairs rarely get there due attention.

From: Anonymous — Apr 02, 2011

Wonderful image. The colours have them appear warm and comfortable, to me.

From: Anonymous — Apr 02, 2011

Your chairs look inviting. Would like to curl up in one for a nap. viewing some of your glorious artwork has been the highlight to my day. I will come back. The best to you, Anne-Elizabeth Whiteway

From: Jill Ogilvy — Apr 03, 2011

I really love this painting. I can see you had fun with it as it shows your playfulness with shape and colour…..and we can all relate to chairs!

  Perils of evaporating wisdom by Darney Willis, Siloam Springs, AR, USA   King Solomon said wisdom is worth more than rubies. I too have learned when inspiration comes, whether ideas for painting, lyrics or music for a song or solutions for the deepest problems of the universe, it is wise to jot them down quickly or they will evaporate. However, sometimes the “jotting” becomes the problem. Why do lyrics like to show up when you’re driving down the highway? Years ago I thought I had a solution for capturing the music muse on the spot. When a tune came to me I would quickly find some simple recording device like a cheap boom box, plug in a tape and start singing. Once when I was following this simple procedure to capture an unusual tune that came into my head I inserted the tape, turned it on and another tune began to play and completely wiped the new tune from my mind.   Adding trust to the basket by Linda Saccoccio, Santa Barbara, CA, USA  

oil painting
by Linda Saccoccio

Perhaps one needs a combination of notes and sketches with trust that what you have in your consciousness can be accessed and entered into your field of creation at any time. This is mostly the way I operate. Of course when it comes to painting abstractly, that works pretty well. When I did more literal, expressive paintings of people who I knew, I would take notes when ideas arose or photograph something to get details I needed. Painting abstractly is about inventing things or approaches to express more of the unseen, what is underlying all experiences, and often that is tapped into with a quieting of the mind. I am gathering visual inspiration constantly and know it is showing up in my work often as a surprise element. I would say add the trust element to the basket along with all your beautiful notes.     Watercolors on the go by Erik Speyer, Miami, FL, USA  

watercolour painting
by Erik Speyer

Written notes don’t work for me. Instead, I carry a small watercolor palette, one brush, a collapsible cup, small water bottle, and a small w/c pad to capture a scene or even a moment. I made such notes last year in Alaska (from a moving cruise ship), in southern France (sitting quite still), and in New Mexico. I teach a watercolor class on just this subject: how to paint quickly while you are traveling with a minimum of fuss. The trick, of course, is to find a place to sit, or a wall to put your stuff on while you paint standing up. Painting sitting on rocks or other such surfaces makes you paint faster – and probably better. I painted a walled city scene near Siena standing in a muddy field, the water cup in my front pocket. There are 2 comments for Watercolors on the go by Erik Speyer
From: Darrell Baschak — Apr 01, 2011

This is a great idea for people who are so inclined. I recently discovered felt markers in various values of warm and cool greys and quickly filled up a small sketch book doing plein air sketches! Very portable.

From: Anonymous — Apr 01, 2011

I am going on a trip this month and love the idea of the grey markers. Off I go to Opus!

  Stop, back up! by Bev Searle-Freeman, Savona, BC, Canada  

“My flowers”
original painting
by Bev Searle-Freeman

Words are powerful for the imagination. Like reading a well-loved book through the descriptions of the characters, the places, the seasons, the smells our imaginations create, our own vision. It’s a unique experience for everyone. The same for painting. Each of us has our own unique way of portraying what we see. I use my digital camera instead of sketches to capture those things, benign to some, that stop me in my tracks. My husband has got used to me yelling, “Stop, back up!” when driving down a country road because I’ve seen something that caught my eye that I just have to take a photo of. It may just be a stream with reflected light, but it’s magical. I’m not sure I’d ever find the right words to describe what I see, though it might be an interesting process.     There are 2 comments for Stop, back up! by Bev Searle-Freeman
From: Carol Reynolds — Mar 31, 2011

What a delightful painting! The shadows on the petals are pure perfection. I totally agree that words have power but, except for my blog writing, I prefer to express myself through my painting and spend valuable time taking reference photos instead of sketching. I sketch directly on the canvas with paint without preliminary pencil studies or written notes. From your comments, you must find photography almost as enjoyable as the painting process.

From: Bev Searle-Freeman — Apr 01, 2011

Yes, Carol, I never go anywhere without my camera … my artwork & photography go hand in hand … except for my abstract work which comes from some strange depth of my cerebral cortex :)

  Distracted by commissions by Kat Corrigan, Minneapolis, MN, USA  

“Snow poodle”
original painting
by Kat Corrigan

I have always identified strongly with Egon Schiele since first encountering his electric vibrating paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts while working as a guard there in the early ’90s. Looking for inspiration has not been difficult for me. I love painting what I see, and I dearly love animals, always have. I was a geeky quirky kid when that wasn’t cool and found more in common with animals than I did with humans. I have since been fortunate enough to find a huge pile of geeky quirky people in Minneapolis who are immensely supportive and inspirational, and I feel I am moving in the right directions. I do have somewhat of a question about inspiration, or rather, subject matter. It is hard to feel I am a serious painter when my favorite subjects are animals. However, I do love painting shadows and light, and your “basket list” of snow and shadows is precisely what I have been after lately. I guess I am hanging at that edge of doing commissions for money and getting sort of good at that, and still enjoying it, but how do I move it all up a notch and move from commissions to hanging work in a gallery? I do have time to paint some of my own work as well as the commissions, but they are small pieces. I want to paint larger, but that would take time away from the money-making commissions. So I guess my question is more about that cross-section of commission/gallery work. Is one separate from the other? (RG note) Thanks, Kat. Commissions test your broader capabilities while pushing you further away from your self-directed vision. Take commissions with care and try to wean yourself from their promise of guaranteed cash. There are 3 comments for Distracted by commissions by Kat Corrigan
From: LD — Apr 01, 2011

How refreshing…someone complaining about making money with their art interfering with their art-felt muses…lol. I am sure many here would beg to be in this position! “wean” himself from them?hmmmm

From: Anonymous — Apr 01, 2011

When you’re working for someone else via a commission, your own vision can be pushed aside. That is why weaning away from guaranteed money is sometimes necessary, so your own vision does not get totally lost in the quest for income.

From: Anonymous — Apr 02, 2011

There is nothing about this “animal portrait” that seems cliched or hampered. My response was, wow, a really personal viewpoint about an oft painted subject! Thanks for shedding some fresh light! Harriet

  Collage as fine art by Laura Lein-Svencner, IL, USA  

“Life’s Lessons”
mixed media
by Laura Lein-Svencner

Recently, I was sharing with someone about the medium of collage and they said they couldn’t find any books in the art section of the books store listed under collage, they had to go to the craft section. The National Collage Society in Ohio, which I am a member, will be celebrating 100 years as a fine art. Compared to oils and other mediums which have been around for much longer, this is a short period of time but people have been cutting, tearing and pasting papers to other surfaces for longer than that. So my question to our fellow artists is how does one help others see it as an art form? I also belong to the Midwest Collage Society and our mission as a group is to exhibit our work and educate our members about collage as a fine art. I really wish it would be taken more seriously in the world as a fine art. It’s everywhere these days but its reputation is so skewed it kind of nicks itself out. There are some of us that put a lot of extra into the work so it doesn’t look crafty and also teach it as an art form. There are 9 comments for Collage as fine art by Laura Lein-Svencner
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Mar 31, 2011

Laura- let me help you do a 180! WOW! 100 YEARS! Textiles as a base fiber medium have only barely been recognized as legitimate since 1970- only 40 years at best- and even craftier than collage! That damn art/craft split is alive and well- isn’t it?! You lucky artist! 100 years and counting!!!

From: Virginia Wieringa — Apr 01, 2011

Gorgeous collage and beautiful abstraction!

From: Delores Hamilton — Apr 01, 2011

As J. Bruce points out, fabric art has the same problem as paper art in being accepted into fine-art exhibits. Usually, art quilters have to mount their work on canvas or mat and frame it under glass before it stands a chance of being accepted. I find that “presentation” is sometimes half the battle in getting our work accepted or purchased. This certainly fits into the theme of your wonderful collage.

From: Ron Ruble — Apr 01, 2011

Take a long look at Raushenberg “Combines”. If the question of collage being fine art crossed his mind, he didn’t let it stop him from ploughing ahead. Just do it, bigger and better. Change the world.

From: Gwen Fox — Apr 01, 2011

Laura….I understand your frustration about Collage not necessarily being seen as Fine Art. Collage is fine art and has been for many years. I teach workshops on Collage and I have always named them “Fine Art Collage” so artists would know it is not a craft workshop but a serious form of art. Keep doing your wonderful collages and enter shows so others can understand that collage is truly fine art.

From: Kathy Connelly – April 1, 2011 — Apr 01, 2011

I marvel at your collage and I enjoy the idea of using your imagination when doing collage. It challenges you and helps when you are doing other mediums. I also find people don’t appreciate it as much as other mediums and selling it is even harder. If there were good outlets for collage there may be more interest generated. I have found many books on collage especially being put to use with Altered Books. I agree with everything you say and I hope you keep on doing what you are doing. You are an inspiration.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 01, 2011

Hi Delores- I have to say this- for more than 30 years I’ve entered my textile/fiber work into every all-media show I possibly could- forcing the jurors to look at it as a fine art. And my presentation is what it is. I have not since 1990- been stretching or framing it because that complicated shipping it all over the country. And time and time again I got my work accepted into all-media shows. The last- the Colorado Art Open- a show I’ve gotten into 4 of the 5 times I’ve entered. It was a fabulous show too- in May of 2010- at the Foothills Art Center in Golden CO. 529 Colorado artists entered over 1500 pieces- and the jurors picked 96. The jurors were Michael Chavez- current FAC Curator and Christoph Heinrich- then Curator of Contemporary Art at the Denver Art Museum- now Director of the the whole museum. It was great! You just have to do it! But how serious you are taking your own work shows! And jurors can see that!

From: P. Y. Duthie — Apr 01, 2011

I do not care for collage when the items are not integrated. Thanks for mentioning Raushenberg “Combines.” I looked him up and was amazed to see some of his work from the fifties. He created his own path.

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — Apr 05, 2011

It is years since I’ve done collage, but your beautiful piece has inspired me to get out those boxes of papers I’ve been collecting! Bruce’s comments resonate with me – I first started in fibre art in the mid seventies, in South Africa. Even though it is flourishing there as an art form as well as a craft, a mere handful of the public recognise it as art. They still see quilts as cheap bed covers! For anyone who might be in South Africa in early July, the Good Hope Quilters’ Guild is hosting this year’s South African National Quilt Festival, in the beautiful little university town of Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. If past experience plus what they’re offering on their website is anything to go by, visiting the exhibition alone would be well worth it:

    Vicarious travels by Virginia Wieringa, Grand Rapids, MI, USA  

“Onekama wildflowers”
original painting
by Virginia Wieringa

I’ve enjoyed my vicarious travels with you and had the opportunity do some of my own last fall. I had a little one-on-one time in the studio of our friend Cezanne, in Aix en Provence last October. Photos weren’t allowed inside the studio, but his presence was deeply felt and seeing the many props I recognized from his still life work right there was very moving, as was time spent on a side trip looking at Mt. St. Victoire. Thanks for sharing your basket list and your sketches. I love the opportunity to look over your shoulder!    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The basket list

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Mar 28, 2011

Hi Robert, after 10 days I’m into chapter 8 of a book I’ve begun writing on my experiences as an artist, but also a healer and a shaman, and I am constantly jotting down thoughts so as to not forget them when I pull the program back up and do more actual writing. I’d refer to it as scraps of paper and envelopes and napkins and notepads if I happen to have remembered to bring one. Writing ON a basket probably isn’t going to very effective! But I have to slightly disagree with Jack London- The term inspiration breaks down into IN SPIRIT- and Spirit does in fact float around in the air, connecting us all together. So inspiration can be picked up by more than one person and it’s best to act on it if you get a really good hit. I’m very proactive, always looking for inspiration everywhere in everything, but all I really have to do to get it is to be open to receive it. Going after it with a club is so caveman-like, masculine overkill so to speak. I’m a male obviously, but I’m directly connected to my feminine nature as well, and therefore not closed down to just receiving that inspiration directly! It’s pretty easy to be this open. As much as I’m WRITING a book, parts of it I’m just channeling.

From: Dwight — Mar 29, 2011

Actually, I tend to agree with London. Years and years ago I had a high school art teacher, Miss Flora Wright bless her memory, who would not let us sit long merely contemplating. “Get moving”, she’d say, “action brings inspiration.” Works for me, as we say. For more than forty years making a living at art, it’s action that gets thoughts moving.

From: Wilson Elderkind — Mar 29, 2011

When I am positively drunk on inspiration I often sober up to a mediocre canvas. I try not to let inspiration get in the way of perspiration (to revise the old chestnut). Sometimes, when I’m in my cups, I’ll take an old scraped down panel and throw a lot of stuff at it as fast as I can, to get it all out of my system. It’s fun, but usually it’s just therapeutic. After one of those sessions I can get back down to the act of making art.

From: Maris Sherwood — Mar 29, 2011

You read my mind – I just created my own Bucket List on Sunday, for the projects I want to do in the next few months. Great minds….

From: James Keith Lanier — Mar 29, 2011

At the top of my creative basket list is knock myself and others people of their professed center, disarm self righteousness. Surprise and disarm constantly. Soon as a character thinks he “knows” something. Strip it away, stomp it to dust. At least that’s my thought today. Maybe, tomorrow I’ll expose beauty in unlikely places. Chasing it out of the dark with a stick! Luv the thoughts!

From: Sandie Halyk — Mar 29, 2011

I enjoy all the ones you send but this one struck a particular cord. What a great idea. There are many things I see that when I see them, I think I’d love to paint that. Then you carry on driving or walking and forget about them. I’m going to start making a list. I paint for my own enjoyment when I can get some time but always read and enjoy your articles.

From: R Knox — Mar 29, 2011

I like that statement going after inspiration with a club. I get so tired of my artist friends who say they are not inspired to paint lately and so avoid coming out regularly to our local art club. I find inspiration everywhere I look but now I will take out my little memo book and jot them down thanks. One question though what are 3 degrees of shadow? If you are in Prince Rupert again stop by and see the Easel Weasels……

From: Dr. Peter Gluck — Mar 29, 2011
From: Judy Hinton — Mar 29, 2011

Oh, I love this! So true~ and inspired my remembrance of an anthropomorphic sense about an Airstream — quite the opposite of grumbly…joyful, instead — that I saw behind Shady Grove in Austin, TX.

From: Sharon Gray — Mar 29, 2011

One more time, after many other times, you have inspired me. Now I am determined to go back into my studio and experiment again, hoping for a painting I can say, “YES!” to.

From: Nancy Ness — Mar 29, 2011

Love those little drawings on lined paper. They look so fresh. Wonder if you should do an oil of the little drawings as they are on the paper with the funny edges.

From: Laura Priebe — Mar 29, 2011

Love this tactile wish list.

From: Beatrice Gush — Mar 29, 2011

Although you must surely receive thousands of appreciative letters from around the world, I do want to add mine to your pile. I live in Sunny South Africa and do painting as a very hesitant new hobby now that I’m 70, but I have always enjoyed the many facets of creativity in my life. So I love the way you touch on general creative ideas in your letters. Your English is such a pleasure to read and your comments and stories are inspiring to me. Thank you for your generosity and the pleasure you give to so many people twice every week. I think you are a genius!

From: Debra Rexroat — Mar 29, 2011

I must master the color you see when you peer into a glacial crevasse — that luminous aquamarine-into-ultramarine that glows from within. It is that same hue you see in the most exquisite ice bergs.

From: Ignacio Rosenberg — Mar 29, 2011

You’re welcome to go to Argentina, that’s where I am from originally. Let me know if you ever make it, my family owns 2 rather big farms in Buenos Aires you can go and paint from I’m sure!

From: Doris Weed — Mar 29, 2011

Gad..I finally got to draw from a model and proceeded to put face on canvas two days later! This sure inspired me again. Just one of a list of new things to add to the basket list. Thanks..I love you..

From: Charles Wolfe — Mar 29, 2011

The poetic quality of the notes in the basket list as proposed by Robert serves to make them a little “art form” in themselves, and worthy of reading and re reading. They appear to be thought out and nurtured into shape, a characteristic not far from the creation of visual art.

From: Catherine Vines — Mar 30, 2011

Your basket list is perfect! Words open the mind to possibilities limited only by the imagination. Yea! And thank you for a elegant solution to all the messiness of being exposed to the internet age of art.

From: Frank Bales — Mar 30, 2011

I have gotten away from being creative. I have “back issues” of your letters in my inbox. I always planned to read them. I always planned to do more creatively. I’ve had some health issues that I have blamed for my inactivity, but in reality it’s mostly just an excuse. However, the desire to be creative has always burned in me — sometimes just a candle flame, but it has never burned out. I’m 62 now, and feel very unfulfilled creatively. I have made up my mind recently that this has to change. I haven’t touched a pencil or brush in months. I want to touch them, use them, and wear them out. So I’ve made three immediate goals: 1. Change the focal point of my life to life. Sad to say I’ve allowed myself to become the dreaded couch potato, or chair potato in my case. I’ve been missing out on so much, but I’m going to make the next 25-30 years different. 2. Read your letters. This made the list because they always pump me up creatively. They make me want to do. There is so much in them to savor intellectually and creatively. I’d kind of forgotten that. 3. Get my studio in order and get to work (which will take some doin’). So why am I writing this to you? I don’t really know, unless it’s to get these commitments down, and for someone else to see them. I am very grateful for the work you put forth in making so much of yourself available to other artists in such a positive way. Thank you. Montgomery, AL

From: Andrew S. — Mar 30, 2011

I’ve often seen brilliance as the one on a cliff’s edge looking out at the sun set far beyond the mountains and saying to them self… one more step and I’m going to fall for you. Thanks for the tutorial — I read it like eating cornflakes on a dreary morning. …shards of glass, interesting — strong gradation, yes….

From: Peter Kiidumae — Mar 30, 2011

So Bruce Wicox says “Spirit does in fact float around in the air”. I always thought a fact was, in fact, a fact, not a figment of the imagination. The two should not be confused with each other.

From: Donald Fox — Mar 30, 2011

I’ve always thought a notebook was a useful place for notes. A sketchbook serves that purpose as well. Doesn’t really matter what we call the entries. The point is to note the thoughts when they occur so they’re available for future reference and use.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 30, 2011

I’ve never been a list maker. My wife likes to make lists and I chide her one this and she gets even with me when I forget to purchase something. Lists have an ominous connotation with me. I can imagine going into cardiac arrest if I don’t accomplish the things on my list. I have enough psychoses without adding to them with lists of things I never get to. Lists also suggest a routine and even thought my life is routine, I balk at routine inside. I like my painting ideas to be spontaneous. I like the idea of seeing something and responding to it with a fresh approach. Although I’m beginning to mellow a bit and repaint works at a later date that need some extra touches. Lists for me are a constant reminder that I am not painting enough or that I don’t have time enough to paint all I would like. I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on a list that I could have spent on painting. I guess if it works for you, do what works.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Mar 30, 2011

I hate to break it to you Peter, but not only are you Spirit- you are floating around in it too. It is in you, recognized or not, and you are in it. It is IN FACT- all there is. There isn’t anything else. You exist in a state of separation from recognizing you are spirit, but that’s an illusion. It’s not real. However, holding on to thinking it’s real keeps your state of separation in place. You could, if you chose, do you own necessary work to come to this realization, to become Self-Realized. Then you’d Know too. Until then you can remain unenlightened. I couldn’t care less! There are however, a whole lot of us human beings who both already have, and are, moving into a new level of conscious understanding. I regularly speak FROM THERE because I can. So do yourself a favor and don’t be so foolish as to suggest I’m the only one. Look around. Google works as well for consciousness information as it does for porn, or even art…

From: Anon — Mar 31, 2011

Is Google an illusion or is it real?

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Mar 31, 2011
From: Barbara Snapp — Mar 31, 2011

Interesting the two of your “basket list” are also on mine. The wheel tracks in snow still languishes there after an aborted attempt to portray it by weaving paper. The other one (abstract and unusual shards of ice) has become both a photo and a pastel. So that one made it out i=of the idea basket. Not sure whether either rendition is headed for another kind of basket. Enjoy your letters a lot. The ideas creep into my practice willy nilly.

From: Philip Mix — Mar 31, 2011

I recently wrote this piece about inspiration, perhaps a different take then what you expressed, but I too jot down notes to get a grip on my wandering thoughts that take no heed of time.Thanks for the reminder that it gives life a full circle. I am often asked where my inspiration comes from and I usually respond duly, diligence and determination, but this question perhaps, deserves a more thoughtful answer. Many artists wish to respond to the beauty, or conversely, the anguish of the world, or use their art as a sort of spiritual threshing floor to sift through an emotional journey. It seems to me that almost all art accomplishes one extraordinary thing; it connects mankind to his ancestry. It is true that we seldom think of it this way, but art is relevant because it either sees our present or it expresses our past. This doesn’t mean each individual can identify with all art. If someone says they appreciate all forms of music, they probably never really listen to any of it. So what part does ancestry play in inspiration? Well usually that is the second question I am asked, who are your influences? I can site a litany of them. Anyone who really wants to grapple with paint should have a long list, so as to know whom to blame for their current intoxication. Inspiration is a conspiracy. It is the blatant act of mimicking our hero’s and the heroic act of having the audacity to call it our own. It is this later display of mutinous courage that marks a composition as original. It is what makes it threatening and exciting, at least briefly, until it is consumed by the conflagration of imitations it sparks. That would be about the end of it, if did not resonate with some one whom, in another generation, rediscovers it, and is inspired to call it their own

From: Jo Ann Davis — Mar 31, 2011

This letter is easily utilized with any artistic media.

From: Misty — Mar 31, 2011

Wow! There are some incredible artists here for sure! Kudos to you all! However, I find some to be very self-centred, maybe marketed in the BIG CITY??? I am from a very small village and I don’t think I am less talented than you, but you must keep your egos intact people…holy cow! Yes, the rich will buy from you because they are told, but from me? HA! Not a chance till it’s sold!!!

From: Daniela — Mar 31, 2011

Hi, reading about Robert Dublac….has he thought of the never ending changing of style and mediums an artist can get into?! I painted in oils (Oh, yes, the ‘true’ medium….) and would not bend, as much as I love it that I learnt the techniques, but then I found oil pastels, collage with ink and gouche, charcoal in all sorts of unconventional settings…. and, after learning anatomical drawing and all the jazz, ‘doing it properly’, I now draw as I would play because I LOVE it and peculiarly, THIS is the stuff everyone loves!

From: Carol Reynolds — Apr 01, 2011
From: Dan Spahn — Apr 01, 2011

Sorry that Non-Objective Robert has such an ego that he doesn’t realize that art is a commodity. The train left long ago for that non-representational grad school imagery. I sold well with a certain style in the ’90’s, and technological innovations have dried that market up. I moved on. Most people don’t realize how rarefied the place of known artists. We now compete in the global market. There are many small regional galleries cater to the people who live near them. They get plenty of ” ‘atta boys “. If you have been producing since the ’70s, them you should be in the mature part of your career and should be mentoring anyway.

From: William Barth Osmundsen — Apr 01, 2011

I find Robert’s work rather dated and caught in the 1960’s abstract trap. I am glad that there is a renaissance of realistic work. Now living in Greenwich Village, NY I recently saw some stunning work in NOHO of that ilk. There is a place for non-objective and very experimental work. But once it is done it’s hard for me to get real excited about another white-on-white. A wonderful thing about living in this time is the acceptance of a wide range of styles and materials. Hats off to all those pioneers who pushed art to the limit but the study of historic styles whether it is Impressionistic, Classic, Modern or even Baroque is now an option and prerogative for the modern artist. All of that makes the making of art much more interesting to me.

From: J. R. Baldini, IPAP — Apr 01, 2011

I’ve never had a bucket list. I pretty much have had the universe give me what I am passionate about because focus = action = effect. I’ve never said ‘someday’, I’m going to…? because what’s missing is the focus and the action. I like Robert’s basket list better. When people ask,’how do you get to do (whatever it is I’m into), I politely ask what’s holding them back ? I had a workshop participant last year tell me I was on their bucket list. I was stunned for a second, even a bit embarrassed. Then smiled to myself as I realized I’ve always had an ‘anything but a bucket’ list…

From: Marlene F. — Apr 01, 2011

I love the light in Robert’s paintings! Reminds me a bit of a decidedly non-abstract painter, Mary Pratt. I like Robert’s work very much.

From: Eloise Lovell — Apr 01, 2011

I have felt that doing the work of art that is your style, your heart, your passion is this inner side of YOU. No one else has this “specialness”, only you. I may be different…or my style may be different, and that’s OK. So what. So, your art doesn’t sell and doesn’t seem to be recognized. Many artists aren’t recognized. Just follow your passion, do the art that’s in your heart. Keep knocking on doors and one will open—just because it’s you!

From: Jackie — Apr 01, 2011

I know what you mean. My work, for the most part, is AE. But if you don’t do what you feel, your work won’t be authentic. It just won’t feel right, and probably won’t work.

From: G. Thornhill — Apr 01, 2011

I love these—particularly Thompson’s Field, Augosto, and Essex. I hope you keep making them as art world fashions come and go!

From: Sheila D. — Apr 01, 2011

I don’t do lists and I don’t do sketches. If I did, like Dr. Bridlington, that is as far as I would get. I have lots of photos, though, and no shortage of inspiration – just have to act upon it. Thanks to Frank Bales for his list – it saves me making my own. Re his # 2, I do welcome and read your letters the first thing in the morning, and i really enjoy viewing the works of other artists. (P.S. – Found your response to Robert Dublac interesting. I came to my “creative space” much later in life; perhaps that is why I lack his sense of entitlement.)

From: Jo Bain — Apr 01, 2011

I will read and re-read the powerful information you have sent today. I will get a “basket list” going. Since I am a mature (I like to think “painter”) I will need to paint a little faster. I dream some of the paintings I don’t have on canvas as yet!

From: Aline — Apr 01, 2011

the photographic images are arresting, but it was impossible to figure out where the painting edges were. It looked as if the paintings might still be on the easel so that the easel became part of the painting. Maybe that’s the idea. I only suspected that the photograph included more than the painting because some of the verticals seemed tilted.

From: — Apr 02, 2011

Ideas seem to float in the realm of imagination .They appear to one artist and, if not created , float into another artist’s vision until they are “birthed”. I have seen paintings that I thought of creating and never brought to reality, done years later by someone else.

From: Alfonsina Bozzano — Apr 02, 2011

Astounding !! Loved these pictures..

From: Dean Wilson — Apr 02, 2011

I very much like Robert Dublacs work, sadly, I have no money.

From: Ed Stensby — Apr 02, 2011

I have money, but I golf.

From: Stephanie Vagvolgyi — Apr 02, 2011

I love Robert Dublac’s works you have posted. Don’t be discouraged, Robert. This is quality work and bound to be recognized as such sooner or later.Stay with your muse.

From: Stephen Kovash — Apr 04, 2011

I am a galleriest and show a lot of abstracts. It feels like Mr. Dublac’s work lacks emotion. He may want to revisit his committment.

     Featured Workshop: Stuart Shils
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'Blue Umbrellas by Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon, ON, Canada

Blue Umbrellas

acrylic painting, 36 x 40 inches by Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon, ON, Canada

  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 Pesach Ben Levi of Fayetteville, NY, USA, who wrote, “Trying to remember a good idea is like trying to catch a pollywog in a windstorm.” And also Jane Sanford Harrison of Eugene, OR, USA, who wrote, “I just heard from my sketchbook mentor with a hot tip of the day, but I told him I could only handle about one tip a month.” And also Dr. N. W. Bridlington of London, UK, who wrote, “If I do sketches, that is as far as my art goes — just sketches.”    

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