Dear Artist,

At my easel this morning I realized that the way I’m working right now contradicts the way I was doing it a couple of weeks ago. Even in the literature it seems that eminent instructors and much-published writers have widely ranging opinions and methodology when it comes to the making of art. There seems to be more than one way to Rome. There’s no universal way to prime a canvas, lay down a wash, frame a painting, or get inspired. As well as the findings and experience of others our own particular spin is based on what we did and learned before. It’s like those five blind guys feeling various parts of an elephant and trying to describe the beast. Would we really want it any other way?

In art, contradiction is a principle.

When the penny drops that your way is the right way — providing the results will physically hold up — the Magic Kingdom opens its doors. Here’s a few of the principles:

Choose your influences, mentors and instructors carefully. Having lots of books at hand gives you an overview. It may still allow you to run off with the boy next door.

Be honest with your true self. “Know thyself” is inscribed in stone at the Delphic Oracle. Maintain your personal dignity by not suffering fools — and don’t participate in what you consider a sham. Think it out and you’ll be able to live with it, even if it’s contradictory to what others are doing.

Test the systems. “Hands on” lets you know whether you can get your mind and abilities around your dreams. We think more inventively and originally when we’re up to our elbows in the muck of our passion.


“Lucie Leon at the Piano”
by Berthe Morisot

Best regards,


PS: “I went to the library. They gave you books for nothing. You had to bring them back, but when you did, they let you take others.” (Barbara Cohen)

Esoterica: George Santayana (1863-1952) who noted that England was a paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies and humours, said, “Even our world is a contradiction of what it is trying to be.”

If you would like to comment on the above letter or pass along your own experience or advice, please do so. Your letter will most likely appear in a couple of days. Your geographical location is appreciated but optional. If your letter is not for publication please let me know. Thank you for writing.


Substitute Teacher
by Bev, Fresno, CA, USA

There’s no universal way to prime a canvas, lay down a wash, frame a painting, or get inspired. Our art class had a substitute teacher for the past few weeks. I am very open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, but as I listened and watched this new teacher it seemed to me that she felt her way was the only way and to even consider something different was out of the question. If her way is the only way, why even paint or be an artist? Wouldn’t it be boring? Just looking at the many artist’s internet pages given to us through Aquanet has shown me so many styles and it has been so interesting and educational to me. I would hate for us all to see things the same way or for all of our paintings to look the same. That is another thing I enjoy about an art class — although there is one subject that the students may be painting, all the paintings have a different look and how fascinating!


The Point
by Fernando Naxcimento, Rio de Janeiro

Would we really want it any other way? Contradiction is the point we must establish…


Know Thyself
by Anon

As you say, “Choose your influences, mentors and instructors carefully” … “Know thyself” …


Source of our creation
by Peca

It is true that there is more than one way to Rome, it is even truer that only one is the best at the moment, and that will be determined by your position. There are ways to prime a canvas, but, based on our experience, only one is the best. Tomorrow, this might be another one. Challenge in contradiction (contrast) is always welcome, since this is an eternal source of our creation.


by J Michel, Montreal

Some might disagree that humans have advanced over thousands of years but isn’t monumental experimentation fundamentally a contradiction of what exists? Art and science share the same pursuit of pushing through barriers. In both cases there are a lot of failures but each one is a success in its attempt to change.


You may be interested to know that artists from 69 countries have visited these sites since March 30, 2000.

That doesn’t include hundreds with Hotmail accounts who could be at work anywhere. Hi!



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