Holiday fun


Dear Artist,

For the past while our good friends Gil and Marion Dyck needed a medium sized abstract to go at the top of the stairs in the entrance to their new home. Over the past two days Gil and I got together and made one. Gil is a medical doctor who works in emergency in the local hospital and had no previous experience in painting. While both he and his wife are well informed about art, and are serious collectors, he doubted his potential contribution as a co-painter. But when he got the brush in his hand he began to see the possibilities.


Gil Dyck starts things off with a roller to get the ‘big picture.’ Timid at first, he got more confident with time.

The Dycks had in mind a strong-impact vertical 36 x 48 inch acrylic. We decided on a 2-inch stretcher gallery canvas so the work could hang unframed. After a grey primer the early strokes were augmented with a roller. A dark tone was chosen to give spotted and blended effects and a strong vertical presence.


Consultation was required to make ‘artistic’ decisions. Colour propels audacity as the motif begins to appear.

Various brushes and cardboard spreaders were used to add serendipitous colours and shapes. Paint squeezed directly from the tube was scraped and formed to add significant texture. Without too much planning, a motif began to form. Gil and I alternated work on the canvas.


A variety of applicators, such as this cardboard scraper, lend variety, texture and mystery to the surface.

The next day the paint was dry enough to tone down with a glaze. Then we scumbled here and there to add casualness and mystery. We worked more patches of colour back into the motif. Decisions were made to cover the less desirable passages and to leave those of greater interest exposed. While individual gestures and motifs were somewhat arbitrary, we found these decisions were often difficult to make. We agreed that toned-down surrounds were needed to play against higher-key centers of interest. We tried to avoid specific detail and went for overall graphic soundness. Including interspersed acrylic isolation coats and slightly forced drying the second working lasted about an hour.


Under a new light, more decisions. As it was a co-project, we had to balance discussion with personal intuition.

We discussed several titles. As the work had evolved into a sort of enigmatic monument, we decided to call it “Totemic rise.” As the effort was a co-project we signed “Gennovese Van Dyck.”

The work was shortly on their wall. After a few days we’ll put on a coat of final varnish to make sure our efforts stick around.



On the second day, it snowed, we toned everything down with a blue glaze and then went in with high-key touches.

Best regards,


PS: “Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others.” (Alain de Botton)

Wikipedia entry: Van Dyck, Gennovese, b. 1948 in the Occupied Territories to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. Moved to The Netherlands, 1986. Van Dyck is a popular Dutch Neo-Renaissance abstract painter and bulb grower. Noted for never selling, always giving (some 18,000 paintings to date), Van Dyck is totally supported by his bulbs. Family motto (roughly translated) “It’s better to give than to receive.” Married to Virginia (nee Putz), home economist. The Van Dycks have three boys, Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph.

Painting co-project


Picasso said, “To be an artist you need to know how to paint and when to stop.” Getting it stopped was difficult.


Time to go have some Christmas cheer while she dries. Gil is now giving up medicine and planning a career in art.


Gil and Marion Dyck. I’ve seen that look in people’s eyes before. Gil is thinking, ‘I can do this.’








Soul-deep satisfaction
by Paula Christen, Winthrop, WA, USA


“Checking In”
watercolour, 17 x 23 inches
by Paula Christen

Welcome to our world, Gil! (Now you know the reason behind the artist’s smiles.) When you birth something from your heart and your eye to canvas or paper, then stand back to take it in, it is a soul-deep satisfaction. Thanks for sharing your co-op adventure.




There is 1 comment for Soul-deep satisfaction by Paula Christen

From: Jérémie Giles — Dec 30, 2008

Dear Robert,
If some professional Artists, be it representational or non-representational are upset or react negatively at the idea that a co-project such as “Totemic-Rite” can be appealing and enjoyed for its sense of composition and its vibrant forms and colours, I suspect they have forgotten the very purpose of Visual Arts. This form of Art is all about the emotions it creates to the onlooker and nothing else. As a so-called active PROFESSIONAL ARTIST, (age 82) who paints and sculptures both figurative and non figurative works, I find your co-project refreshing and no doubt very appealing in the right setting. CHAPEAU!!! ROBERT .



Can anyone do this?
by Susan Avishai, Toronto, ON, Canada


“Luminous morning”
oil stick on canvas, 48 x 46 inches
by Susan Avishai

Am I the only one offended by this letter? Are we to assume, Robert, that anyone can produce their own “abstract” painting if given the materials and a helping hand by a pro? (As though abstraction means ya don’t hafta draw so great) To be a good teacher is one thing, a noble calling indeed, but this seems to be a one-time class to produce a finished piece for a specific wall in the “student’s” home, and that’s that. I daresay the reason Gil might now considering a career in art is because it’s so much easier than medicine! Hmm. Maybe the next time I need a doctor for my kid I’ll call Gil and he can hold my hand while I stitch up a laceration or diagnose a disease. What the hell — I can do this!


There are 5 comments for Can anyone do this? by Susan Avishai

From: Ken Flitton — Dec 30, 2008

Susan: Don’t take it all too seriously. Gil does not intend to start an art “career”, but if he does it will take him a long time to develop. Believe it, abstract art in the hands of many is not rocket science and certainly far below medicine. Relax, it’s intended to be funny.

From: Anonymous — Dec 30, 2008

I feel your pain. But, Rob Ross also brings a lot of joy to people that want to learn how to paint ‘happy clouds’. There we always be a place for art that is therapeutic and a pursuit for the hobbyist. I think there is some value in the joy that kind of art can bring to people. But, it is one of the few fields where amateurs are allowed to “practice” right along with the pros! That’s the dismal truth of it, and many out there looking don’t know the difference!

From: Kirsten — Dec 30, 2008

Susan — Do you call a doctor for every bump and scrape? If your child has a stuffy nose do you take him to the emergency room?

This painting was a gift from one friend to another. We were privileged to watch the exchange.

From: Alice Saltiel-Marshall — Dec 30, 2008

Tch, tch, why so sensitive? How liberating it had to have been for a medical professional to make marks on canvas and enjoy the collaboration. Truth be known it would help the world greatly if everyone could lift a brush and have some joy in creating ‘an abstract’ or anything!

From: Ni — Dec 30, 2008

As a person with Lyme Disease…I hate to see a doctor retire, however having worked in ER, I know eventually reality seams to be only consistent with a small slice of the world which is in pain and suffering. Creating seems to be the half that one needs in order to expand on the limiting of life and death in the ER. Sometimes the real world fades completely and we are left with photos in our heads that need to be erased somehow. Oil stick seems to be something I would like to try…it is more biologically smooth. Ni


Greater appreciation through participation
by David J. Veres, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


“A Long Way From Spain”
acrylic on board, 11 x 29 inches
by David J. Veres

From time to time I will have people in the studio who insist they have little creativity. Recently, my brother was invited over to create an abstract for his home. After a long career as a Treasurer, he had not ventured far off the analytical path in life. One way to guide someone to mentally leap across the left/right brain barrier is for them to have lots of fun. Of course you may find yourself tidying up the piece at some point. As an abstract painter, I have some serious play time in the beginning, yet there is a point where all elements must come together to “formally coordinate” — just as in any well painted landscape! Doing one is fun, getting really good takes a lot of time and dedication. I find anyone who participates in the process, goes away with a greater appreciation for my abstract art and this genre as well.


Imitation painting
by Abby Goell


“Newton’s God”
oil/acrylic on canvas, 72 x 65 inches
by Abby Goell

Your “imitation” abstract painting is very familiar. I’ve seen variations on that cruciform image for decades, on one restaurant or apartment wall or another, occasionally in a bad gallery group show. If the point of the exercise is to prove that it takes less technical ability to make a poor abstract work than a poor realistic work, you have certainly succeeded. But it is still an “imitation” work and has nothing to do with original art. The fact that you would bother with this elaborate joke indicates that your grasp of art issues, ideas, history are tenuous to non-existent. I enjoy your newsletter. I think you write well about matters of materials, studio practices, marketplace, etc. They are worth reading, but they don’t ask, let alone answer ,aesthetic questions; imagery, style, how a visual idea translates to paint, how to develop an original voice, the relationship of color, texture, form to each other, to scale, techniques, etc.

There is 1 comment for Imitation painting by Abby Goell

From: Anonymous — Dec 30, 2008

Those who criticize this shared “art play” among friends, must not be very secure in their own work that they seemed to be so threatened by the end results. Lighten up, I often sponsor free “Art Try Its” for non artists so they can enjoy the feel of art materials.. end result is for them to remember the experience… not try to be the next famous artist.


Formulaic creativity
by Georges Nolte, Nimes, France

While there is certainly something to be said for “spirit” in all its varying forms, this co-painting exercise gives an insight into the formulaic aspect of creativity. There are abstracts and there are abstracts. The world is full of abstracts where there is little or no formula evident, or if there are formulas they are so basic as to make the resulting works trivial, no matter how the experts gush about them. The twice weekly letter mentions “decisions,” — some of them “difficult.” I’m surmising that Mr Genn, an experienced and capable painter in several forms, made many of the difficult decisions for the good doctor. Thus we have the production taking place under the surveillance and encouragement of an inspired eye. The actual brushing and scraping may be of minor importance. Also, the result may in some ways be “derivative,” and something we have all seen before, but the same would be true if Gil and Marion “needed” a painting of a babbling brook or an old mill. The result produced by these two friends working together with a kind of sophisticated innocence and obvious joy is decidedly above average for the genre, and I’m sure in Mr. Genn’s mind it’s just another opportunity to shine a light into the great mystery of human creativity.

There is 1 comment for Formulaic creativity by Georges Nolte

From: Sarah — Dec 31, 2008

Bien dit!


The decorator trap
by Terry Rempel-Mroz, Ottawa, ON, Canada


“Storm front”
original painting
by Terry Rempel-Mroz

I subscribed to your newsletter a few years ago, and have for the most part been entertained and enlightened by both your viewpoint and readers’ comments. Generally it seems to me you espouse hard work, training, and practice-practice-practice as the road to artistic success and ability. Given some of your comments on mastery (“…when I look at what I consider to be masterful abstraction, I also see an underlying understanding of conventional academics — in other words, a hard-won grasp of the basics. ” from Back to the Basics, September 26, 2008), imagine my surprise when I see that you have fallen into TV land’s decorator trap — “anyone can make an abstract with a roller, some paint and cardboard” mindset. Unfortunately the proliferation of decorating shows and do-it-yourself specials has created an excess of false mastery — and what better way than to do abstract art — after all, if you can’t recognize it, it must be good.

Many of the world’s best known abstractionists had traditional training in realism — and both their realistic works and later abstractions can be seen on the web. Their work evolved from realistic to abstract. Examples — Picasso, Kandinsky, Lawren Harris to name a few. Abstract art is an ART — just like realism — and has both good and bad practitioners. Guillaume Appolinaire described the evolution of cubist art into abstract as “the art of painting new structures out of elements that have not been borrowed from the visual sphere, but had been created entirely by the artist… it is a pure art.” Would you have done the same thing if your friend had asked for a large landscape — paint-roller fields and cardboard scraper mountains?

There is 1 comment for The decorator trap by Terry Rempel-Mroz

From: Ken Flitton — Dec 30, 2008

Don’t take it all too seriously. Nobody said Gil had produced a wonderful piece of art.


Something missing
by Nina Meledandri, New York, NY, USA


“trying to HEAL”
mixed media
by Nina Meledandri

I honestly have to say I don’t know how to respond to this letter. The subject “Holiday fun” is not lost on me and I am a huge fan of the DIY approach to home decor but I am not sure what is being said here about abstract art. I suppose it is the line between decoration and art that has become blurred and I am not sure which of those things this exercise was meant to address. This is particularly confusing because the Dyck’s are described as serious collectors which implies commitment to and respect for the role art plays in our cultural and spiritual development as well as an appreciation of the dedication that is necessary to make meaningful work in any genre.

The description of the process shows that certain basics tenets of painting were observed: a concern for balance and composition, evaluation of color, consideration of texture and a nod to preservation, all which are dutifully recorded. Yet, a crucial element, one especially integral to abstract expressionist art is completely missing: the desire to evoke emotion and/or to create an expression of the human experience. These things reside deeply in the base of most abstract painting and yet the project as you describe it seems to have been conducted without any concern for the very thing that separates abstract work from the notion that “my child could have done that.”

In faithful representational painting, skill of draftsmanship, mastery of technique, control of light can all be easily evaluated and a skilled painter can often compensate for a lack of emotional content if their technique is sufficiently refined. Expressionistic work involves a leap of faith and a willingness to balance a seeming lack of representational qualities with the benefits of an emotive response, but abstract work is at the other end of the spectrum and its power lies in its ability to seduce the viewer into abandoning concepts of the world as it is perceived it to be in order to venture into a deep, rich, collective unconscious of emotions, fears, dreams and visions. I find it unfortunate that what a “well informed” collector “needs” in a medium sized abstract is a work that seems more about functioning as a pleasing surface than the experience of having access to a doorway that opens into the mysteries of life.

In all fairness you have refrained from defining what was made (art/decoration/whatever) and I can imagine that the thrill and joy of creating this piece will bring much happiness and light into the Dyck’s home. But, while I am sure Gil “can do this” I hope there is some understanding that it might take as much time and effort to achieve genuine proficiency as it would for me to become a medical doctor in the ER.

There are 5 comments for Something missing by Nina Meledandri

From: Ken Flitton — Dec 30, 2008

How seriously serious can you get? Take Bob Genn’s humour with a tablespoon of fun.

From: Anonymous — Dec 30, 2008

It is hard sometimes to see the humor, Ken, when someone is appearing to make a mockery of something we take very seriously and have devoted years of study and practice to. It is poking at a pretty sore spot.

I understand he was just having a little fun, and I am certain he realized the button he was pushing.

From: Anonymous — Dec 30, 2008

Wow! I am surprised at the reactions from those who practice non representational art. For many years, the very same people have made fun of those who do practice representational art using words like decoration.

Tables are turned and it doesn’t feel good. Sad….

From: Jennifer Bellinger — Dec 30, 2008

I would bet that Gil Dyck has a new appreciation for the creative process and will look at all art in a different light.

From: anonymous — Dec 30, 2008

I’m surprised at the negative responses to this project also. When I look at the photos of the process, I see intent in the artist. Just looking at the finished piece, I am again surprised that emotion and human experience, although not mentioned, aren’t seen by the doubters. I think that the doctor, as most of us would, was tapping into years of experience when choosing shapes and colors. Is it gallery quality art? Who cares. It was a great beginning if the doctor wants to continue learning. What a nice experience for the two friends.



Painting to avoid the soup
by Molly Mooney

I love this painting! I have one in similar colors, maybe a little wilder with footprints walking across it, and a little larger. It was done by my Mother and her friend, both artists. I am contemplating putting it in my dining room on a large wall. Can’t decide if that is an appropriate place, but it would keep people from falling asleep in their soup.

There is 1 comment for Painting to avoid the soup by Molly Mooney

From: Grace cowling — Dec 30, 2008

Molly, I hope your soups aren’t conducive to sleeping. Soups are also an art form. My husband (at 85) is a food person from away back and has always said you can assess fine dining from the soup.



Soooo derivative
by Pepper Hume, Spring, TX, USA


“Stepping Out”
by Pepper Hume

Here’s yet another unworthy descendant trading on a great ancestor’s name. Remember PDQ Bach, the last and oddest of Bach’s twenty odd children? Soooo derivative. This thinly disguised reworking of the tired old “Boy Walking His Dog” is saved only by Gennovese’s exquisite drawing skills. Tell him to stop slavishly copying old masters and do something original… say, something nonrepresentational. He needs to just slog some color around, let himself go. Give those fine sons something to be proud of.

(RG note) Thanks, Pepper. Gennovese (with spelling liberties) was actually the name of a great American Mafia family. The last Genovese to be locked up drew twenty years. It was the feds that were proud.



Anything is possible
by Paula Timpson

When the expectations of others cross over our initial ideals we find grace bestowed upon us all as we lift a hand to paint silently in the darkness, touch others through pure gift of music or engage the dreams we see awaken in life. It is how we live, not what we have. In stillness hearts dance and flame. In purity of breath we give energy and joy. Receiving happiness is when the expectations of others meet ours. We hold hands and waltz through scent of lavender fields, winters soft hush in whiteness, in the light all comes clear, life moves into rhythm of song, soul opens up, lifts toward freedom anew.

There are 3 comments for Anything is possible by Paula Timpson

From: Darrell Baschak — Dec 30, 2008

Paula, what wonderful imagery you evoke with your writing, there are many pieces of Art waiting to be created simply by taking your words to heart! Best wishes for the moment, and the New Year.

From: D.C. — Dec 30, 2008

These responses prove to me a lesson I learned years ago by being active in an artist’s co-op gallery. The meetings were filled with very strong opinions. I realized then, that’s part of the artist’s makeup, to know what’s right for them and stick to it through thick and thin. There’s no soft opinions in this clickback. And maybe all are right, at least to a point!

From: C. Keith Jones — Dec 30, 2008

I too, in the midst of this crazy world, have been touched by the words you have so eloquently inscribed. You are a true artist. Thank you.


Red cape and all
by Nonny Kudelka, NC, USA


“Princess of the Realm”
colored pencils
8 x 10 inches
by Nonny Kudelka

LOLOLOL Thanks for the best laugh of the day. I loved the Wikipedia bio!! See? Making art and enjoying it needn’t be all toil. Art can be fun! (Can I tell you what I see?) It’s a little Hippo Super Hero, red cape and all, standing in the “superhero stance,” cape blowing out to our right, his super powers belt not around his middle, but hanging over his shoulder.

(RG note) Thanks Kordelia, and thanks to everyone who wrote to tell us what they thought the painting was all about.





Instilling confidence in others
by Courtney Lurie, Austin, TX, USA


“Fuego 2”
mixed media
by Courtney Lurie

I have been receiving your emails for several months now. I just wanted to let you know that I think your writings are fantastic. When I do choose to embrace them at the moment I receive them, I’m always surprisingly enlightened and moved and often find a chuckle in there somewhere too. I just wanted to let you know that as a fellow artist, I so appreciate dialogue with other artist folk as we blaze the unknown terrain of daily creation. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts and presenting such vivid and insightful prose.

Also… I love the new abstract. Nice work instilling your doctor friend with enough confidence to approach a blank canvas. That is a tall order.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Holiday fun



From: Gene Martin — Dec 26, 2008

Great fun Robert. May you continue to grow younger.

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 26, 2008

Robert, can we hope to see more abstract art from you in the new year?

Abstract is probably still the leading seller in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles.

From: Lyn Cherry — Dec 26, 2008

What fun! And you picked a great title for the piece.

From: Carol Nelson — Dec 26, 2008

What a cool thing to do with your friend, the physician. You guided him, but he did most of the work.

From: Gayle Hartman — Dec 26, 2008

While it was great that you and your friend created a painting, in the “real” world we need your friend to continue to practice medicine.

This country is in serious need of medical doctors,and young people to fill medical related jobs.

From: Richard Hellman — Dec 26, 2008

I am glad that you had fun, and I also hope that your friend understands that a real understanding of good abstraction comes with training in design, color and analysis of structure.

For someone like myself, who has made a life’s work of abstract art, I find the attitude of “anyone can do this” pretty silly.

From: Ignacio Rosenberg — Dec 26, 2008

In a way I agree with Richard, but at the same time, what is art but an expression of emotions? I think at a certain point if it’s fun and expresses something it must be valuable and valid, from a purely non-technical point of view. Anyone can do art, the difference is whether anyone will like it!

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 27, 2008

I totally agree with Richard, abstract art is the artists art, but Gil had Robert helping and advising him. Looking at the finished piece it has several good design, color and structure principles.

I think Robert should think about some abstract work in the new year.

From: What the! — Dec 27, 2008

Well if we are going to start agreeing with people I pick Ignacio’s finishing comment “Anyone can do art, the difference is whether anyone will like it!” I have seen some pretty atrocious abstracts done by artists who have had years of art training but not an ounce of good taste. I have also seen art in preschools that has a lot more appeal. And although I agree that there is definitely an art to a good abstract, I find it distasteful when an abstract artist informs us that without that skills he has acquired you are just “pretty silly”.

From: James Gould — Dec 27, 2008

It may be “pretty silly” to some, but it covers the basics of any well-formed abstracts — strong design, suggestive pattern and enough complexity to invite a further look. It’s going to be an excellent addition to the Dr.’s walls, and a conversation piece to boot. I say “thumbs up.”

From: Peter Bell, London, UK — Dec 27, 2008
From: Jung Chow, Hong Kong — Dec 28, 2008

This letter is going to make the abstract purists squirm.

From: Nick — Dec 28, 2008

What a wonderful project and a great leveller to all those who take themselves too seriously as artists. You obviously had real fun in the process and your friend’s ability to access the “inner child” is inspirational. I am sure they will treasure this memento to love, joy and life. Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year.

From: Ned — Dec 28, 2008

I think a house painter with enough colors could create a good abstract. An abstract painter is a painter with no drawing skills.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 29, 2008

I think it a striking piece. I’m not sure how much was Robert’s influence. If most was the Mr Dyck’s, he should consider doing more. It borders on being recognizable while remaining mysterious.

Good Job.

From: Walter Hawn — Dec 29, 2008

Fact is, “Anyone _can_ do this.” Not silly at all. Study not required. Some vari-colored paints, and a bit of an eye, and you’ve got it. Witness the painting elephant of a few years ago. As Picasso observed, six-year-olds do it all the time. Now, to do a Mondrian, THAT takes some skill! One must be able to draw a straight line, and paint within the borders!

From: Margot Hattingh — Dec 29, 2008

It looks to me that Mr Dyck had a lot of fun playing with colour and texture, and Robert put in the structure to pull it all together. It looks like a blown up detail of a Native American totem that Robert sometimes puts in his paintings. A lot of fun and perhaps a lesson to be learned about a different way of working. First joyous play with materials over and under a vague compositional plan then a smidgeon of control right at the end to hint at the subject matter. Very well done. I also think it is very much something Robert could explore in future work.

From: Bob — Dec 30, 2008

Unless one paints in a perfect, realistic style, then their work will be abstract. It’s just a matter of degree. When one designs a composition of lines, shapes or colours which have no resemblance to anything recognizable, they are doing work which should be referred to as ‘ non-objective ‘. Perfectly valid. It may be ‘art ‘, or maybe not. Those who copy photographs of whatever subject, are at the best, good draftspersons, not artists.

From: Lauren Everett Finn — Dec 30, 2008

I think this is just a lot of fun…. You both obviously enjoyed yourselves. The process is so important to the outcome of any work of art… The painting will be enjoyed by the Dr so much more because he will be able to recall the joy of the process every time the climbs the stairs!

From: Brad Greek — Dec 30, 2008

I think it was a great painting and enjoyed seeing the excitement that Gil and Robert had in doing this project. Great job and thanks for sharing it!

I’ve taken classes and I have to say, abstracts are one of the hardest styles of paintings that I’ve ever tried to produce. Like everything, it takes practice to find your own style. But you must also have the passion for it. Without it, it’s just a bunch of colors and shapes. I’m no abstract artist, yet.

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 30, 2008

My very best teacher called abstract the artists art.

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 30, 2008

Anyone can put paint on a canvas and produce a painting, whether landscape, still life or abstract. Especially with the help, guidance and co-operation of a pro. Will it be any good? It really doesn’t matter; it’s done for the joy of it, for the experience, for the great feeling of looking at the finished product and saying ‘I did that’. If the artist likes it, that’s all that matters. What’s everybody getting so bent out of shape for??

From: Marie B. Pinschmidt — Dec 30, 2008

As the wife of a physician, I’d like to make a comment. I’ve been a painter for many years and my husband had taken a few art lessons in college before the desire to save lives took over. One evening, after dinner, our four-year-old daughter asked her father to do a painting (brought on after a discussion of my latest creative effort). He taught us all a lesson: Art can be fun!

His masterpiece contained not only paint, but various items taken from the kitchen shelves. Following much hilarity, a masterpiece in oils and happiness was born. The finishing touch was a much-used colorful lure from his tackle box. The finished product was a self-portrait of my husband’s personality. Alas, I’m afraid my efforts took a backseat to the hour of pure unadulterated fun and creativity. We not only make art – we make memories.

From: L. Lemay — Dec 30, 2008

Good morning, just finished reading most of the comments about “Holiday Fun”. The negative comments suggested some sort of snobbery. That is sad. There are many self-taught artists who have “made it”. Remember Grandma Moses? To work with someone who has convinced herself that she has no talent for art and watch that person change; connect to her inner child and have fun is a privilege that is priceless. Autodidacticism on Google (Wiki) will bring an impressive list of historical figures in all walks of life. Creativity is not a country club.

From: Ib — Dec 30, 2008

Ned, de Kooning was a house painter!!

From: Elaine Twigg, Hamilton, Ontario — Dec 30, 2008

Hey, art snobs of the world, give it up! Isn’t the purpose of art to put a bit of one’s heart and soul onto a canvas of some sort in a manner that is pleasing and satisfying to the artist? Never did Gil Dyck ask for help in creating a masterpiece. He was open about needing a bold and creative statement for his home. With some help, he accomplished his aim and is more than happy with the results. I bet it won’t be his last. Who are the rest of us to sit in judgment of his aim or his product!

From: Lyn Cherry — Dec 31, 2008

Robert, it was a joy to see that someone can have fun in this very down atmosphere of doom and gloom. Keep your sense of humor and please, continue to share it with us!

From: ned — Dec 31, 2008

Ib, my point exactly

From: Anonymous — Dec 31, 2008

Looks like you guys had fun! So…the very first painting a person makes isn’t real art, maybe, according to some? What if they keep on painting? At what point does a Pinnochio become a real Person?

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 31, 2008

You can’t knock education, even in art.

Its somewhat of a oxymoron, every artist is self-taught, and no artist is self-taught.

The proclaimed self-taught artists have used books, pictures, others art, etcetra, maybe they are home school artists.

The artists that are fortunate enough to have a formal education still have to self teach themselves to pick up a brush, alone.

I imagine most of the artists here became artists in about the first grade.

From: Joyce Goden — Jan 01, 2009
From: Frank Ansley — Jan 01, 2009

I don’t believe for a minute that Dr. Dyck is considering quitting medicine and take up painting full time. Hah! But you sure got some flak for having fun with your friend on a cool and useful art project and writing about it. I loved it.

From: Dorothy — Jan 01, 2009
From: Angela Shogren — Jan 02, 2009

I was surprised to hear so much snobbery from so many of the artists out there! As to collaborations, I commend you for taking the time to share your passion with your friend — especially considering his stressful profession, I’m sure you inspired him in something that could enhance life — but don’t you find that you, also, learn and find new creative inspiration in a collaboration?

Once in awhile my very non-artistic husband will ‘play’ with me when I receive new paints or a new brush — he doodles something, I build on that, he has an opinion on that and does something else of his own and so on — and I come away from it with new doors opened (and usually a piece of art that I am very happy with – for personal and aesthetic reasons — best of both worlds!).>/p>

From: Vadim Luban — Jan 06, 2009

I do understand and appreciate the joy of mentoring somebody in the process of becoming an “artist”. My question is: Do we REALLY need another amateur artist (and an “abstract” artist at that)? Wouldn’t it be better to let this doctor friend of yours stay an “above average” collector rather than helping him become a “below average” artist? I speak from personal observations of taking art classes together with people of no talent and no hope whatsoever. Sorry if I sound snobbish. You may say: “What about you?” My reply would be: 1st — the artist has to have passion for art and 2nd — quality of his art has to be recognized by others (preferably in monetary equivalent). Since I have both (I’ve sold multiple pieces, though not as many as I’d like to), I consider myself a semi-professional artist or at least an amateur on the “above average amateur level”. Nowadays it seems that there’s an overabundance of artists and thus a very short supply of collectors. People that in older days wouldn’t even think of picking up a brush, but would be faithful buyers, are now proudly displaying their own “art”. With economy going sour it will only get worse. I don’t think we need to push people to “try art.” People with passion for art creation can’t help but create! Sometimes I get discouraged and stop for a couple of weeks, but then something pulls me back to the studio. I can’t help it! People like I don’t need any pushing. So my suggestion is: Let’s celebrate the COLLECTOR for he’s a rare kind especially here in the province! Let doctors, lawyers and businessmen BUY art!

Isolated in Indiana.





Abandoned Passion
oil painting
by Adrian Gottlieb, Elysian Valley, CA, USA


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 Chris Darlington who wrote, “I was thrilled with the results or your collaboration with Gil. Thanks for sending out inspiring and motivating creative energy.”

And also Marge Rood who wrote, “This will be the most prized painting in the Dr’s collection.”

And also Paul and Katherine Hough who wrote, “We have now finished our house on the bluff. Would it be more cost effective to have Gil whip something up for our entry — or could you be competitive? Happy New Year!”

And also Elizabeth Keizer who wrote, “Please tell Gil not to give up his day job.”




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