Birth notice

Dear Artist, Some recent items in my inbox: “I’ve been busy this past month and not doing much painting.” “My work had to wait.” “Sometimes I’ll sneak in an hour or two.” “These days I can’t paint.” “I have wrung myself dry.” Sometimes my inbox is so full of this sort of stuff I fear people will unite, rent buses and march around our circular driveway with placards reading, “Can’t paint,” “Won’t paint,” and “Don’t paint.” It’s been my experience that telling people what you’re going to do can steal the thunder of doing it. It stands to reason that telling people what you’re not doing is even more deadly. As an antidote, how’s about those birth notices you see in the classifieds: “Aidan James Wyatt, seven pounds eight ounces, 2.15 am, March 28, 2010, to Scott and Marion Wyatt of Plattsville.” Just the facts. It’s a notice of accomplishment with no mention of the problematical conception or the current jaundice. No invitation for criticism either. Little Aidan has merely been announced and welcomed into our world. Consider something similar for the birthing of your art: “Morning, Wiggins’ farm, 11″ x 14″, March 28, 2010, oil on canvas, by Bill Buckley, Plattsville.” Just the facts. Accomplishment. Twitter with words to spare. Or post it on Facebook for the eyes of the non-busy. Illustratable, too, if you feel like it. Thousands of “daily painters” know all about this and publish online while the paint is still wet. For those of you who are less exhibitionistic, archive it on your computer, print it out for your own album or journal, or quietly send it off to a friend. The buddy system is as good as any. When two close friends mutually announce their accomplishments, progress speeds up and negative placards get dropped. As kids, we leave our stuff lying about for parents and grandparents to find and register. An approving nod may be all that’s needed. For folks who start early, accomplishment becomes natural. Late starters need to consciously build the habit of publishing at birth rather than agonizing the labour. With the buddy system you can also confide personal baggage and perceived impedimenta, if any. These confidences are best made orally, in person. That’s what friends are for. A good friend for free is greater than two psychiatrists paid. Birth notices need to be in writing — evidence of effort and the demonstrated ability to complete. May you print lots of them. Send ’em to me if you want.

Like a lot of painters, Zoe was not sure when she was overworking, and needed friendly advice when to back off and move to another area.

Best regards, Robert PS: “I don’t know what’s come over me lately. I can’t seem to get going. What’s wrong with me?” (Subscriber) Esoterica: Speaking of starting early, we’ve posted a few shots of our granddaughter Zoe at the top of the current clickback. The Painter’s Keys site is family friendly. On Saturday, Zoe and I had a creative afternoon. We had a great discussion while we were at it, and while she has a few English words like “dada” and “papa,” most of our conversation was in something like Armenian. As art discussions go, she made a lot of sense. Nothing negative.   Birth notice

Zoe’s easel is a little unit I concocted myself. It fastens to the front of the highchair and turned out to be remarkably stable.


Set up with the same palette and brush, Zoe was quiet at first, taking in the situation. Then she gently took the brush and laid a goober on the canvas.


From time to time she had quite a bit to say, and while it was in no known language, it was enthusiastic and made a lot of sense.


While only a year and a half old, Zoe is a remarkably intuitive and kinesthetic brush holder, putting her whole body into her work.


Like a lot of painters, Zoe was not sure when she was overworking, and needed friendly advice when to back off and move to another area.


“Composition No 1”
acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 inches
March 27, 2010
by Zoe Genn

              Fallen off the wagon again by Duncan Long, Manhattan, KS, USA  

original painting
by Duncan Long

I seem to have the opposite problem. The yard goes unmowed too long, I fail to exercise, I put off answering emails… I don’t do a lot of chores that need to be done — instead stealing this time to create new artwork. I find that not creating is a terrifying prospect and many other things I care a little less for go untended. I suppose from the standpoint of creating art, this is a good thing. But it can become a problem not too dissimilar to alcoholism. “Duncan has fallen off the wagon again and is busy creating art in his studio.”     There are 2 comments for Fallen off the wagon again by Duncan Long
From: Mary B — Apr 01, 2010

Now, that is a painting I could hang on my wall. Thank You for bringing it to sight.

From: Marilyn Patterson South Africa — Apr 02, 2010

Absolutely relate, Duncan – it’s just that my children’s whining and yelling puts forward a compelling argument, for the sake of my hearing and the bit of cerebellum left! :-) I love, love, love your painting and agree with Mary B, definately something I could live and live with. Love Marilyn

  Be careful what you say by Dorenda Watson, Columbus, OH, USA  

original painting
by Dorenda Watson

This is the precise reason that my students are not allowed to say the word “can’t” in the classroom… “I CAN’T do this” most certainly leads to “I WON’T do this, and I’m not even going to try!” I have always believed this has more to do with fear of the unknown, fear of criticism from peers, or fear of success, rather than actual skill inability. My response when they say “I can’t” is to kindly and sympathetically say, “You’re probably right,” pat them on the shoulder, and walk away… this leaves them quite puzzled, but it starts a little fire burning and the creative engines slowly start chugging… if nothing else, to prove me wrong! They like the fact that they might be “right” but hate the idea that it is a negative “right.” Eventually they will “birth” a work and I always go back to them and say teasingly, “Oh, I guess I was MISTAKEN… and apparently, SO WERE YOU! We laugh, the barrier is broken, and they can continue the creative process minus fear. What you say about yourself, more often than not, is true… so be very careful (and kind) when talking to yourself!   The secret’s in ‘laying down the tracks’ by Margie Cohen  

“A Child’s Garden”
original painting, 7.5 x 7.5 inches
by Margie Cohen

Letters to A Young Artist: Building a Life in Art by Julia Cameron talks about “laying a bit of track” everyday. Even if you are blocked, go into your studio and organize, or clean brushes. Make a couple of sketches. Just “show up” everyday for a while. Some days I have done that and only stayed for an hour or so then wander off again, but other days I find I get engaged, I look up later and realize the sun has gone down or my husband is arriving home from work… hours and hours later… and I was never aware of the time passing as I worked… laying my own tracks. Another thing I notice is, that when I have a tight deadline, like a show coming up…. boy, oh boy, can I lay track then. So… book a show even if it is a tiny local art gallery hungry for new work… even if it is in your own living room for family and friends. Put a little pressure on yourself. Not stress, pressure, there is a fine line of difference. I keep remembering raising kids, I used to say, “They won’t grow unless you stretch them a little.” Just a little gentle pressure in the right place at the right time makes a person reach a little farther, keep at it a bit longer, dig a little deeper. There are 3 comments for The secret’s in ‘laying down the tracks’ by Margie Cohen
From: Debra LePage — Apr 02, 2010

I absolutely agree with Margie-This, too, is my strategy. Some days in the studio are also spent reading art related materials or researching new exhibit opportunities. Before long, I’m back at it!

From: Judy Gosz — Apr 03, 2010

Bravo! Both on your lovely, tender low-key rendering and your sage advice. . .just stretch and become what you were meant to be. . .go to the studio every day . . .the possibilities are waiting!

From: Chris Bolmeier — Apr 04, 2010

Margie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Just starting on anything related to my studio, there is always something to do and I have found that it is much like my appetite. If I eat breakfast I’m usually hungry at the appropriate times during the day. If I forgo my breakfast I’m not very hungry. I love to paint in the morning and find if I keep a schedule it carries me through the day.

  The value of quick smalls by Kathy Weber, RI, USA  

“Window, South Main St.”
original painting
by Kathy Weber

I’ve been plugging along since I graduated from art school, making a living first as a commercial artist, now painting and teaching. It’s a struggle, but it’s what I’ve chosen to do. I have a number of friends who were also painting majors, and I’m so tired of hearing them say, “Oh, I wish I had time to paint” or “You’re so lucky you have time to paint” as they head to the bank to cash that paycheck they get regularly. For those who really feel stuck getting started, my suggestion is paint small (6 x 8 or so), something that doesn’t require a huge investment of time. Paint a piece of fruit, if you can’t think of anything else.   There are 4 comments for The value of quick smalls by Kathy Weber
From: Anonymous — Apr 01, 2010

When you get stuck at feeling you are doing, back away and go and do something completely brainless, where you cannot possibly fail. Keep at the brainless tasks you usually avoid until your brain screams out to ‘birth’ a work. Change mediums. Have a repertoire of creative skills and keep building it. Each creative work is already in the materials. The job of the artist is to help the medium used to fully realize the creative process. Relax. Put on music you want to hear before even deciding whether to continue a painting in progress or start a new one. Sing along while arranging the day’s choice of materials and tools. Singing helps to increase oxygenation of the blood and endorphins. If you are temporarily incubating/percolating new ideas that are not ready to burst out, teach someone else some of your techniques or find a painting buddy. Write. Anything. Sharon

From: Cristina Monier — Apr 02, 2010

Dear Kathy, I loved your work, it remainded me of Edward Hopper, one of my favorite american painters. Keep omn painting, please.

From: don — Apr 02, 2010

……and paint fruit, flowers, beach pails, waiters, street people, and anything else that might seem ordinary….this is what Kathy does wonderfully. It’s obvious that it keeps her work fresh and exciting, even if the subject might just seem too ordinary for most of us….great window painting!

From: Jim Oberst — Apr 02, 2010
  The joy of many possibilities by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

Artist’s studio: The chook on the palace floor, a laborious piece in the early stages — on the wall and well, everywhere, an archive of ‘ideas’

Oh my, what is wrong with me? I cannot seem to stop the plethora of ideas “coming through.” Full immersion in the work process opens lots of tiny doors in my head, giving me vistas of what may be. At the end of the day, somewhat fatigued of working on, say, a chook scuttling across a floor composed of a multitude of stone shards, I grab one of the gessoed panels awaiting such an occasion and slap down an idea that has been fluttering around in my brain. Anybody can have a great idea, but all depends on execution. I am preyed upon by ideas, by possibilities, and need to see which of those contain “life.” Even then there’s no guarantee. “Don’t tell me about it, show me.” Don’t disparage the hour or two snuck in between other activities, it might produce unexpected treasure!   Sharing on Facebook by Dr. L. Anne McClelland, Mountain View, AB, Canada   I’ve been in the practice of emailing out ‘birth announcements’ for the past couple of years and I also post on Facebook. I have a growing mailing list and I think it’s one of the smartest things I ever did. I keep it simple (size, medium) but also try to include some brief background about the origins of the image — devoid of artspeak or apology — just a personal note or experience or reference. I’ve had really positive feedback about the ‘blurbs’ from 98% of the responding recipients — only a couple have asked for ‘no commentary’ to accompany the image. Although I earn my living by producing these images (reason enough to keep going) I find that the regular emailing helps to propel me into the next image. I know that people are waiting to see what comes next. I also started a Facebook album called “Over my shoulder” which allows visitors to see each day’s progress on the pieces. When a painting is done it is emailed out, loaded into the finished work section of my Facebook albums and I clear out the “Over my shoulder” album and begin again with the new painting. I was surprised how many people follow the works in progress and LIKE to see how an image comes into being.   The doable ‘daily painting’ by Gaye Adams, Sorrento, BC, Canada  

“Ruby red study”
oil painting, 6 x 8 inches
by Gaye Adams

Daily painting! What an epiphany this has been for my development and productivity! Very small canvas, limited amount of time, painting from life. Difficult, but highly engaging. It’s also wonderful on a day that as a painter, one feels scared or overwhelmed. The small canvas (6×6 or 6×8 inches) gives you a sense of the thing being “doable,” even if you get a late start or if your energy is low. The painting isn’t as precious because of the lower time commitment, so if it’s not going well, wipe it off and try again. Of course, working from life is hugely beneficial for sharpening one’s eye. Also, it is wonderful for honing design skills. It also seems easier to spot design flaws on a small piece, and a sense of play can develop around it. Although I don’t get one done every day, I am doing them frequently. I would highly recommend this approach to any artist suffering from “failure to launch” syndrome. It’s a wonderful balance to doing photo reference based larger studio paintings. There are 3 comments for The doable ‘daily painting’ by Gaye Adams
From: tom — Apr 02, 2010

good work gaye!! nice value relationships..great refreshing.. thanks for sharing

From: Cristina Monier — Apr 02, 2010
From: Paddycake — Apr 03, 2010

Wow! Seeing your website has inspired me to get moving. I am going into my studio right now! Thanks.

  Kicking self in butt by Ron Gang, Kibbutz Urim, Israel   Imagine one saying, “Well, I just couldn’t get myself to go to work the last two weeks.” Of course he/she would be fired and unemployed. It’s the same with painting, just that no one’s clocking you. So no matter how tired, “uninspired,” lazy, whatever you feel, you just got to get out there and start painting. It’s often that same struggle for me, so I just have to bend over backwards as it were and give myself a good kick in the butt and get going. The experience is that with this self-kick start, not long after the brush picks up some paint and starts scouting around on the canvas, the creative mode takes over, and you’re “on the road again.” Then, you can’t imagine what the problem was. No room for indulging oneself in the inertia of non-action. There is 1 comment for Kicking self in butt by Ron Gang
From: Cristina Monier — Apr 02, 2010

I totally agree with you. One of my teachers, Guillermo Roux, an argentine painter of international renoun still works 8 hours a day from monday to friday, he just turned 81.

  Sharing, sharing, sharing by Cory Trepanier, Caledon, ON, Canada  

oil painting
by Cory Trepanier

I am focused on painting landscapes, mostly wilderness. I’m presently doing a multi-year project painting the Canadian Arctic called INTO THE ARCTIC: An Artist’s Journey To The North. My 3rd arctic painting trek of the project was last summer’s 7 weeks, mostly in the high arctic (northern part of Ellesmere for a month). Now have about 50 paintings in this new collection, a number finished, and a bunch at various stages that will keep me busy for another year or two in the studio. In addition to painting a part of Canada that amazes me, I have also been using this project as a means to share my experiences as an artist traveling the north through a film, video journals, photos, stories and more. A new video journal is being every month as I continue to complete my paintings (over 1/4 million views so far). The sharing of my stories in other mediums has also opened the door to gaining the confidence of many sponsors, and I am able to expose their brand to a large audience in the context of what I am doing. There is 1 comment for Sharing, sharing, sharing by Cory Trepanier
From: isabel Benson — Apr 02, 2010

Wonderful painting. Of course it has to be oil. No other medium could do it.

  Birth notice by Frank Messa, Long Beach, CA, USA  

acrylic painting, 36 in x 48 inches
by Frank Messa

I have been painting seriously for over thirty-five years, through good days and bad, for the Joy of the creative act and to discover what is behind the veil. I share my knowledge with all who are responsive, for the love of Humanity. (RG note) Thanks, Frank. And thanks to all who, out of the blue, sent birth notices, many of which were born on the very day they arrived here. Some, like Frank’s, were big ones. We’ll certainly archive them. We have a huge capacity. Keep ’em coming. I love collecting things.     [fbcomments url=””]    woa  

Horses in the Basilica

oil painting by Shirley Peters

  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 George Alles who wrote, “I have reached the conclusion that my computer and its Internet connection with all that it has to offer is the single greatest impediment to actually painting.” And also Kate Pethoud of Modesto, CA, USA, who asked, “May I use this line: ‘A good friend for free is greater than two psychiatrists paid.’ ” (RG note) Thanks, Kate. Yes, and everyone else who asked. We may have to territorialize the line and designate that certain people can own it for certain geographical areas. Los Angeles is proving to be a problem. We have one for Beverly Hills, one for Van Nuys and one for Watts. But then again there are a lot of psychiatrists in the area.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Birth notice

From: Marilyn Patterson — Mar 30, 2010

Thank you, Robert!! I love that Zoe get’s to experience such amazing acceptance and encouragement of her innate positivity and creativity. Yes, yes, yes, let’s seize that spirit of immersement in our joy and messy-ness! Life’s like that – not clean and squeaky, rather smelly and often muddy and over-worked… but boy do I come alive when I smell the turps and sight the grubby pallette just calling me to dip my fingers in! Been putting off starting a commission, thinking (yes, I’m afraid I do…) ‘why did I tell them I could do it anyway?!’ So, finally tired of the drama of my fears, and certainly not wanting to return the deposit, there was no other way than forward. I linked in only to that part of me (albeit in my small toe) that knows I can, that knows I want to, and started! What joy in the simplicity of concentrating on the negative spaces, of being one with the relationship of shape on shape, of becoming the shadow that defines the light, of weaving the line that connects the threads…. What silly self-torture is not-painting! All love, Marilyn Ps Have sent a birth notice too!!

From: Rick Woods — Mar 30, 2010

Less is more. A painting a day, more or less. This is #37: “Seining the shore, Kodiak” watercolor, 5×8, by Rick Woods, 3/29/10. I’ll have an image up tomorrow when I have the light to take a decent photo.

From: Howard Bliss — Mar 30, 2010

Thank you, Robert. I love your letters – so down to earth. I have a granddaughter who is getting into art, too. Great pictures of Zoe. I have an art teacher that inspires me to keep painting.

From: Jenny B. — Mar 30, 2010

The buddy system is a great idea. A small group, where if one drops out for a rest, the group keeps going, even better. A group is especially helpful when plein air painting, for safety and motivation. I used to attend painting classes for the comraderie and to have a place and time were I had to paint. I produced more in the duration of the course (a painting per evening) than when left on my own. Artisic companionship is essential, seek as much as you can tolerate. And, just keep painting!

From: J.McDowell ..creston bc — Mar 30, 2010

I really enjoyed your letter this time.especially about not making a big announcement about what your creating. at least not until you have something to show. i recently did a series of paintings ,and refused to disclose to anyone ( even close friends ), what my new work was about. you can imagine the amount of excitement that built up for the few weeks prior to my opening. At my opening there was about the usual 50-60 people and i got comments like “we had no idea” and “i really love this new direction you,ve gone ” ……I really don’t think telling anyone what you’re doing is a good idea either,at least not until your past the vulnerable creative stage ….after that ,you can brag all you want…

From: Dave C — Mar 30, 2010

That’s what all of us need I think. Someone that will watch us paint and that thinks that no matter what we do, it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen.

From: PatriciaG — Mar 30, 2010

I found that I would get depressed when I wasn’t creating any art and would magnify the length of fallow time. Since I started scanning and photographing each piece, printing out a copy and putting it in a “portfolio” this no longer happens. I can see that I am productive and I can see that when I’m not it’s only for short periods of time. Kind of anal but it has erased any self-doubt in that area.

From: tatjana — Mar 30, 2010

Dave C, I know what you mean. There is no “silenter” silence than when someone walks by my easel and doesn’t say anything. Although, once they do, I wish they didn’t – LOL!

From: Virginia Wieringa — Mar 30, 2010

Obviously Zoe is not lost in angst about her paint. She’s digging the colors and smearing the paint. (Great photos of her and her mentor!) The “can’t, don’t, won’t” folks should just start putting some marks on a surface (even if it’s in 5 minute intervals), enjoy the results and stop thinking so much! PLAY!

From: Kate Pethoud — Mar 30, 2010

Nothing real neurotic, just stating an observation. And like you said, or sort of like you said, a good couple of friends (and a paint brush) are better than two shrinks in a bag. Hmmm……maybe I’ll use mine after all.

From: Shirley White — Mar 30, 2010

I really related to this. Been there done that, often, so I promptly took your advice and sent out photos of three brand new fibre/fabric art pieces. Felt GOOD!!!!

From: Tania Garner-Tomas — Mar 30, 2010

Robert, those pictures of you and Zoe are gorgeous! This little artist is really well started. Very touching. You are for sure a shining star in her heart

From: Jan Ross — Mar 30, 2010

The images of you and your adorable granddaughter, Zoe, MADE my day! The narrative couldn’t have been better. I noticed Zoe used a limited palette, or did you only provide pink/green? Can’t wait for more of these types of messages and to see Zoe’s growth as an artist. What a lucky girl to have such a super grandpapa, and you to have her to enjoy/mentor! Kennesaw, GA

From: Cathy Harville — Mar 30, 2010

I absolutely loved the story board with you and Zoe. I read it and looked at it many times before I wrote this e-mail. I can’t wait to look at it again! I just love your sense of humor. My daughter used to make up words when the correct pronunciation was too advanced for her little golden pipes. We still use those words today – the for-sis-see-a is in bloom! It looks like Zoe has great potential! I bet if you sent her painting to a gallery, it would sell. Perhaps it would be better to keep as a treasured remembrance. And, I like the birth announcement idea. I have found that people like stories, too. But when I just put an announcement on the card, people want to know more about the painting – where was the scene? Why did I paint it? How did I get the water to look like that? What is in the background? (That part, I make up.) Why did I use those colors? Was the water really that color?

From: Brigitte Nowak — Mar 30, 2010

The pictures of you and Zoe painting together were absolutely priceless: thank you for illustrating the essence of painting: joy, creativity, aspiration, focus, sharing and achievement. And in your column, you’ve managed to combine gentle chiding with an insightful solution to the “can’t paint” syndrome. You are a treasure and an inspiration.

From: Dianne Harrison — Mar 30, 2010

I loved this analogy. I had the great pleasure of spending a weekend with my grand-niece who just turned one and began walking. Watching her “toddle” for two days wore me out BUT, it was so instructive about how we learn. She must have flopped down a thousand times and hopped right back up and toddled off again. Hurray for “toddling” ! We learn by failing and trying again. Wonderful lesson. Love the pictures of your ZOE. Roswell,Georgia

From: Richard Brown. — Mar 30, 2010

I love Childrens’ art they have a way of hitting the subject head on, so uninhibited. Zoe certainly has some strong brush strokes, nice lines and wonderful colour choice. Is it a little early in the game to suggest that she has a great colour sense. Her first work is truly an abstract keeper. Zoe you have a fine teacher keep up the good work. Arbutus Richard Brown. Not the Midland Ontario Richard Brown

From: Clayton Peterson — Mar 30, 2010

Thanks, Robert. I like that idea of simple birth notices, of just stating the facts, of working daily and putting it out there. It’s too easy to believe that no one is interested in what is created, but when it is made available for others to see, there truly are many, many people who want to see what we do.

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Mar 30, 2010

I’ve been part of can’t/don’t/haven’t crowd the past year or two and wondered if my painting days are over or just in hibernation. I’ve posted quite a lot of my work if i like it. Online, on walls, on just about anything not moving. But sometimes i just don’t care if anyone looks at it or not. Some pieces just needed to be done and that’s all. I’m not sure what the universe wanted with it but there it is. Maybe for another time. And at these un-artsy times, I realize that there are other ways creativity is seeping outta me – in writing, in house arranging, in work even. Gardening, too. So I’m only getting on my case for not staying disciplined, but I don’t for not producing. Being creative is not all about production. Especially in transitional times, I think. What a cute, cute way to share some time with the grandkid.

From: Kathryn Townsend — Mar 30, 2010

The daily blog has sort of become my new best friend. Its like a friend I can count on to be there every day, encouraging me to keep going. If sometimes I can’t quite remember why I joined up with this friend, I accept that the journey is more than just an exercise in self discipline. Its about trying to become a better painter.

From: Raynald Murphy — Mar 31, 2010

I tell my students …”Busy, baloney!” – Instead complaining – I’d say: “Do art and stop complaining about no time for art and make time by finding time”. For example, tonight on my way downtown to the two hour life drawing session I drew for about 30 min in the subway in my little sketch book portraits of passengers. Back home I drew for an hour the singers on American Idol from the TV. Every few minutes adds up to hours of practice and increased expertise. If art is a priority in one’s life, one can find time to paint and draw in numerous “waiting” situations for example … waiting for the bus, waiting for your wife/husband to come back to the car, waiting in the doctor’s office etc. etc. Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From: Claire Holcomb — Mar 31, 2010

Excellent idea. Good letter. Good photos. I can’t enter the competition. No finished product.

From: M. E Whitehill — Mar 31, 2010

The real riches of this world are not material things. They are the multifaceted jewels of the personalities that make life. fascinating. Each friend is like a precious jewel that glitters and lights up my life.

From: Eleanor Blair — Mar 31, 2010

I committed to regular ‘open studio’ hours a few years ago, so, Tuesday through Saturday I’m usually here between 4 and 7pm. I don’t expect to get any real painting done, because I get a lot of visitors during open hours. Still, I find the time useful for planning, deciding what images to paint, printing out photos, choosing sizes, and so on. Then, when a few days open up for me, the runway has already been built, and I can easily achieve lift off.

From: Nev Sagiba — Mar 31, 2010

When we try too hard, inspiration stops. When we’re tired we may simply need a break. When we’ve overdone it we tend to go sour. Often we expend 10 times the energy avoid a job than simply doing it. Creative energy is like sex. Sometime you just need a rest. Go with the flow. The world won’t end or anything.

From: Glynis Mary McManamon — Mar 31, 2010

There are many aspects to the business and craft of art. I tend to want to do what is fun, and avoid what feels like work. When I “can’t paint,” I look at what I’ve been avoiding doing – sometimes that is the source of the blockage: Is the billing current? How has my networking been? Does the studio floor need sweeping? Is there someone I am avoiding calling?

From: Mike Holland — Mar 31, 2010

I looked at the pictures of Zoe painting. Over and over. Fabulous.

From: Archangel — Mar 31, 2010

To work, the buddy system depends on the attitudes and commitments of the buddies. They can be mentor-mentee, or the intimate conspiracy of equals. The husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend situations, with all of their potential pitfalls, are worth developing.

From: Anthony Wetherington — Apr 01, 2010

I’ve been reading your letters for years. They’ve never stopped providing me inspiration. Life is a journey.. thank you so very much for your time and effort.. I hope I can truly get back to my painting and work.

From: nisla — Apr 01, 2010

Great idea about the birth announcement! Sometimes it truly DOES feel like a labor and delivery . . . and I’ve got the stretch marks to prove it! I just announced my newest arrival on both Tritter and Facebook. Thanks for always providing food for thought, sources of inspiration and keeping it fun.

From: Dee Banta — Apr 01, 2010

Zoe, I really love your little sailboat sailing into the wind on the left side of your masterpiece. Thata way to go girl! I see great potential under Papa’s guidance. Robert I am taking your Birth Notice advice to heart. Excellent. USA

From: Melanie Peter — Apr 01, 2010

My solution was “unit construction.” Less than a year ago I decided to paint a hundred 8” x 10” canvases with a theme (night pictures.) The idea was to cull the hundred paintings down to the fifty that best suited me and the theme. The fifty would become a mosaic of images- a single work. I was able to paint without pressure, knowing that every painting could not make it to the final cut. Early on, a friend asked, “What happens when you get to 100?” I said, “I’ll keep painting them.” As it turned out, I’ve painted nearly 150 of them and selected the intended 50 for the mosaic. The rest will be sold separately or destroyed. My theme has refined itself. I’m painting other sizes and shapes. I’m making diptychs, triptychs and tetraptychs. I attribute this creative energy to 1. Finding a theme that could sustain me long-term, and 2. “Unit Construction.”

From: Joy Hanser — Apr 01, 2010

Yesterday I let out a bunch of negative stuff about never having “made it” as a recognized artist to a friend, and was reminded about ANTS – Another Negative Thought. When expressed visually like that, it is easier to get out the ANT traps and proceed with business as usual.

From: Nancy Underwood — Apr 01, 2010

After spending most of the winter not working on anything, not having the ambition to even think about a painting….I signed up for a 3 class session with a local artist to do collage…which was all of the momentum I needed to dig out materials, canvas and get the momentum going to get something done. I have always been shy about sharing my artwork, it has always been a more of a hobby, but the piece I just finished, in collage and acrylics is one of the best I have ever done.

From: George Kubac — Apr 01, 2010

Keep her at the canvas!

From: Loraine Wellman — Apr 01, 2010

I love the pictures of Zoe. My grandchildren have four legs, are covered in fur, meow frequently – but refuse to take up painting.

From: Amanda Jones — Apr 01, 2010

I think this publishing accomplishments is a good thing. I have a website where I can post a new painting. Lately, though I am enjoying blogging. I recently created a new blog and I am able to post an image as soon as I have finished and I can talk about it, and even get some feedback if anyone is inclined. The thing is I am motivated to have something new to post and discuss rather than just talking about what I coulda, shoulda woulda been doing. It has also led me to other excellent art blog sites. I think that this has spurred me on to have better stuff to put out there. I have found the whole experience to be very positive.

From: Iskra Johnson — Apr 01, 2010

I take today’s piece about giving birth very much to heart. I started a project a few weeks ago of “relearning how to draw.” Partly due to far too much time spent on the internet and email and reading every breaking report of how terrible things are in the world my concentration has become fractured. I have been missing the mesmerizing focus that used to be my main reason for doing art.

From: Loretta West — Apr 01, 2010

I know one thing for sure, the best way to get into the creative mode is simply to begin and eventually I get into the groove again. Spokane, WA

From: Debra McGuire — Apr 01, 2010

In my experience, when miracles of birth are happening, something is trying to tell you to take an important break…we all need one! Enjoy it! And enjoy the miracle of birth…that alone, in my experience is inspiring!

From: Greg Winchester — Apr 01, 2010

This concept of “registering accomplishments” changes the dynamics of work. It rewards the act of finishing rather than that of putting in time or analyzing labor. There are many workers who would profit by being paid for piecework than by the clock-watched hour. Derby, UK

From: Joan Lippman — Apr 01, 2010

I loved your special pictures of you with Zoe! Absolutely priceless! Happy times:).

From: Alexander Atza Visnic — Apr 01, 2010

I read your newsletter on a constant basis. I think it’s a strongest proof of Art healing powers and how Art is helping us grow and develop as a human race. Through your guidance and interaction of art community on your website, only conclusion I feel is: there is a future for all of us; Future of loving communities everywhere, in the virtual and living world coming together through inspiration and creativity. I thank you, for you being you. I recently started with a blog that is pulling me forward on the creative path. It was a big difference when I presented my work and aspirations on the web to my friends. I felt different not only because of the feedback, but because of my commitment I set up for myself. Expressing myself on that level started to have cleansing power in my life and what I think I am. I am continuing with a blog through changes in my art and thoughts. I can’t wait to see what is next about. I love it.

From: Pierre Jourdain — Apr 01, 2010

I received your (Complete Letters) book today. It is a masterpiece. I shall read it starting tonight. I love the ribbon book-marker. Paris, France

From: Janice A Mancey — Apr 01, 2010

Though I cannot express how tremendously I enjoyed your letter (I did), I have to tell you that the photos of you and your granddaughter Zoe just completely made my day start off on the right foot!

From: Barbara MacInnes — Apr 01, 2010

Zoe is magnificent. She is a delightful antidote to today’s weather forecast for the Washington DC area “Dreary dose of spring showers. “

From: Sue Rowe — Apr 02, 2010

Yesterday was my 56th birthday – no foolin’ – and although I draw and paint “bears” full-time I decided to draw 56 bears after dinner. At 7:20 PM I grabbed a large Sharpie marker, some pastel pencils, and a pile of assorted papers from the large box of assorted papers. No rules. Whatever happens. What happened was a bunch of new bears – most in black-and-white, a few in color, some with words, some probably not worth saving, a phone call from Mom, two cups of tea, and a speedy evening of goofing off fun. By 9:30 the last bear appeared. I now have a special momento of turning 56, a few new ideas, and the will to keep working. On to the next grand adventure! Thanks for sharing Zoe and her painting. Young pups with art supplies are a magical mix!

From: Loretta Puckrin — Apr 03, 2010

I am tired of the people who complain about not having time to create – it is a choice. If they are not creating they have chosen not to create – quit blaming it on someone and something else. When it becomes a priority again, you will paint again. If not, then the time has passed for you and hopefully you will have something else that will fill that niche in your life. I am busy as well – working 2 jobs, have a terminally ill husband, have house guests around 50% of the time and in the process of rebuilding the house. None of it keeps me from painting – even if I have to get up early or stay up late to fit in some time. It is a part of my life that I could not live without. As to inspiration – there is no way you can have painted everything, in every medium, in every style so go out and find inspiration with another group of people, by trashing all those old canvases that havent found a home – whatever it takes to clear a space in your house and mind to get you back into your creative space.

From: Joan Katis — Apr 04, 2010

Roberta Henry, my friend who lives in Mexico, and I exchanged birth notices. Terrific idea. She gave birth to something a bit wild. Your emails are definitely thought provoking and inspirational. Thank you a lot.

From: Wynne Demers — Apr 06, 2010

I go in cycles. I paint extremely well between Feb. and Aug. I am so full of ideas I can’t paint fast enough. Then come Sept. and I come to a complete stop. I believe its the seasonal effect. I love spring and the new of everything and fall brings on the decline and depression of winter coming. So right now, I have 7 paintings going and thinking ahead constantly, not wanting to waste a moment of painting time. Maybe I should move to Hawaii…..

From: Cindy MAWLE — Apr 09, 2010

What kind of paint was Zoe using? I have a year old grandaughter and can hardely wait to get her painting! Right now we create in Berry juice or ketchup on her highchair tray.


Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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