Religious journeys


Dear Artist,

My most recent transgression, two weeks ago, happened when I used an ATV to seek a painting opportunity. This event, disclosed in one small paragraph in a previous letter, caused more than two hundred purists to unsubscribe. I count this as a good thing, actually, because it indicates that we Earthlings are greening up. I’ll miss those subscribers, though, and I know that any amount of protest on my part that it was just an isolated, one-time sin will not bring them back. They’ve had it with me.

I do, however, continue to believe that sport-painting has the least impact on the environment — way less than sports such as hunting and fishing. In painting, you take from the environment without taking anything from it. That being said, I’m currently on a fishing trip. I’m just not fishing that much. I’m trying to get control of other tendencies:


“I feel a sense of story.” (Robert Genn)

Thou shalt not spill paint around in the bush.

Thou shalt not work on poorly prepared grounds.

Thou shalt not be shabby in thy looking and seeing.

Thou shalt not fight, torture or avoid thy work.

Thou shalt not take thy personal passion lightly.

Thou shalt not repeat thyself too frequently.

Thou shalt paint to please thyself.

Thou shalt be hard to please.

“The spiritual,” said Thomas Carlyle, “is the parent of the practical.” Many years ago I wrote myself a private prayer. I’ve repeated it in a couple of books and tacked it on the wall of my studio. Here, under the dripping cedar-boughs of a Queen Charlotte’s forest cathedral, I find my prayer again on a folded paper down in the sticky part of a much-travelled paintbox. It contains the sort of innocent zeal found in many youthful conversions, but it’s still welcome:

The world’s engagement of beauty is my bible,

And Art is my religion.

I come to it as a child.

I add all the grown wisdom I can gather.

Creativity is my salvation.

My easel is the altar.

My paints are the sacraments.

My brush is my soul’s movement,

and to do poorly, or not to work, is a sin.

Best regards,


PS: “My hand is the implement of a distant sphere. It is not my head that functions but something else, something higher, something somewhere remote. I must have great friends there, dark as well as bright. (Paul Klee)

Esoterica: The dinner conversation at a fishing lodge is laced with tales of success as well as failure. Eyes grow misty as we speak of the big ones that got away. Out on the water, sea lions, Orcas and Humpback whales are the competition. Fishers thrive on competition. When the bite is on, macho passion focuses our minds. In a lull, I mention that painting is just as exciting as coaxing Tyee out of the North Pacific. But we quickly revert to the religion of fishing, and once again I marvel at the diversity of the human species. “Whatever is received is received according to the nature of the recipient.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)


Covering our trail
by Richard Mason, Howell, NJ, USA


original painting
by Richard Mason

Rather than leave they should have stayed and tried to make you aware of the error of your ways. Your transgression in their opinion – might have led to another blog. I personally feel that attitude is extreme and is totally unnecessary, I have 4 wheeled in the past I admit with eyes downcast and great sorrow in my heart, not. Use your four-wheeler to get in to paint and hold your head high. Those are the people who would make the world off limits and deny its beauty to all but the chosen few who can still hike. Nature has a way of covering any tracks we might make.




Following the path
by Ellen Kirk, Long Beach, CA, USA

I’m no ATV fan, but sure do love the time and sketches I get when we go off canoe camping. Since we portage a lot, I have an ultra compact set-up and to be good to the world, I use non-toxic water color paints. I would suggest that there are some shades of grey when it comes to using ATVs. Cutting trails in pristine landscapes would be a big no-no, but using existing trails, keeping your speed and noise down, come on, it is reasonable!


Mind your own business
by Cynthia Nelms-Byrne, Dubuque, IA, USA


“New friends”
oil painting
by Cynthia Nelms-Byrne

The fact that so many subscribers quit on the basis that you used an ATV to go exploring is kind of indicative of the US climate now. There’s zero tolerance of anyone or anything who doesn’t agree with you on every single point of existence. While I wouldn’t choose an ATV to go exploring (I’m kind of afraid of them), I acknowledge your right to do so. I am thinking of starting a new political/philosophical party called the “Mind Your Own Business” party, where people don’t judge others so harshly. Of course, that would probably cause an argument over what the word “harshly” means. Anyway, I congratulate you on your outdoor ventures and wish I were painting in the wilds as you are. I’d take my Mazda Miata to do so, hoping that is politically correct enough for everyone!

There are 5 comments for Mind your own business by Cynthia Nelms-Byrne

From: Heather King — Jul 10, 2008

Good for Cynthia and her remarks about the terminally politically correct self appointed saints and judges in the USA today. I always thought artists would have both a sense of proportion, and even possibly of tolerance, far less humour! too bad; without your newsletter for inspiration and balance I have little hope for for their maintaining and nourishing any of those gifts.

From: Todd Bonita — Jul 11, 2008

Count me in the party.

From: Dottie Dracos — Jul 11, 2008

Right on, Cynthia! You’ve got my vote when you run!

From: Marsha Cundiff, Charlotte, NC — Jul 11, 2008

Amen to Cynthia Nelms-Byrne’s remarks. I would be a charter memmber of her “Mind Your Own Business” Party.

From: Patty O’Connor — Jul 12, 2008

You could count me in on that party too.


ATV a necessity
by Walter Hawn, Casper, WY, USA


“House on the hill”
original painting
by Walter Hawn

I actually bought an ATV last year. My knees dictate that I can no longer hike the 20 or so miles I sometimes need to get close to a place. My top now-days is about six miles, out and back, so an ATV is a necessity for me. And, I’ve discovered a whole world of responsible ATV riders, who far outnumber, but are far less visible than, the dreaded *sses who annoy so many. It’s possible to quiet the machines a lot below the stock noise levels. It’s not necessary to run over hikers on the trails (muscle-powered bikers are, I think, guilty of this more often), and it’s certainly not necessary to be an obnoxious pest.

For me, an ATV is a tool, just as my lenses and tripod, and I use it the same way.

There is 1 comment for ATV a necessity by Walter Hawn

From: Diana Harris — Jul 11, 2008

I totally agree with you that ATVs are tools in the right hands. I no longer do well on even a short walk…. I have disorder that few have even heard about and it has disabled me …. closing many doors I used to run through with out even noticing the door/opportunity/etc was there! Now, looking for something similar to an ATV (that would be too expensive of an option right now..or ever really!) I too , need to find an appropriate tool to allow me to get back out there!

Thanks for sharing your view! I agree totally!



Living free
by Joann DeCosta, Plymouth, NH, USA

Seems to me that those so called “purists” could use a little of God’s grace. I find it hard to believe that so many unsubscribed, how utterly sad. I do not consider limiting ourselves to nature truly greening up, but drying up. It’s not like you left litter on your ride, or polluted a puddle. I am a dog walker and pet sitter. I walk nature and recreation trails everyday, then run home to sort my tiles in mosaic trees, clouds and streams, that catch my eye as so beautiful. Snow mobile, ATVs, mountain bikers, cross country skiers, dog walkers, hikers, man and nature have a unique harmony here, where most people realize you cannot legislate or religion up God’s creation. As a dog walker, I deal with some ‘purist’ types that believe dogs do not belong in homes, or as pets with collars around their necks, but these wonderful creatures teach us (if we let them) what grace really is on a daily basis, and I truly believe they are a gift from God to reflect what kind of love He has for us humans — unconditional, unmerited, as a gift for believers in grace.

There is 1 comment for Living free by Joann DeCosta

From: Tina Steele Lindsey — Jul 11, 2008

I appreciate the God’s grace comment.


Wild man
by Saundra Hodge, Jefferson City, MO, USA

“My most recent transgression, two weeks ago, happened when I used an ATV to seek a painting opportunity. This event, disclosed in one small paragraph in a previous letter, caused more than two hundred purists to unsubscribe….” said Robert Genn in Religious journeys.

You have got to be kidding!!! Talk about being judgmental, particularly to someone who has been so giving for so long as you have been with your knowledge and advice. I don’t know how old you are but for someone who has been lugging heavy painting supplies around over the years, as much as you have, the knees and back tend to wear out and cause considerable discomfort… and a bicycle doesn’t always work in some places. And not even giving you credit in knowing that you would not go tearing through the woods like some wild man… people like that ‘need not to be missed.’


Negativity is overwhelming
by Hap Hagood, Clover, VA, USA


“Lord of the Arctic”
Italian marble
by Hap Hagood

While I am very much opposed to ATV use in the wilds, and stated such in my response to that particular letter, I find it disappointing to learn that you lost 200 plus subscribers because of your ATV use. To do that never entered my mind, as I find your twice-weekly, philosophical letters inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable. With the exception of the one on ATV use, I find I can relate to many of your letters. I also believe we have much in common; a genuine love of art, the outdoors, fishing, belief in the Zen of Art, etc. I just can’t see basing a drastic decision on one negative in a world of positives.




by Steve Taylor, MO, USA

People who would leave (in a huff, I suspect) over one comment are more invested in the emotional than the artistic or the natural. I wonder how many of the departed fire up the SUV to drive 300 miles to a spot where they can walk in one mile. 200 thoughtful and kind emails, asking me to rethink using an ATV in the wilderness, I’d consider worthy of thought. Even more so would be the ones that recognize that my age or infirmity might be modifying factors. So keep your ATV. It is a tool that can be used or abused, like any other tool. If it helps you paint, even in transportation to inspiration, it is serving well. It is your misguided critics who have missed the point. The good news is that they will now move on to correct another of the world’s ills by leaving it, too. If only they knew how much joy and peace they bring to the world — when they leave.


Butterfly nets
by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA


“Troy’s walk”
pastel painting
by Paul deMarrais

Being a purist can stunt your growth in many ways. I don’t own an ATV or like much about them but to judge and condemn everyone who owns or rides on them is a big waste of energy. It is the same way in painting, to condemn those artists who have become commercially successful or famous, or paint in a different style than you do robs you of the focus you need to have on your own work. It is like collecting butterflies which is a strictly forbidden activity these days. You are supposed to only stare through binoculars or photograph them with some expensive camera. When I was a kid I had a butterfly net going at all times and it was my passion. I am sure I killed a few hundred butterflies in those years. I mounted them and wrote little tiny labels describing all the scientific data I could. I walked in hundreds of fields and meadows learned a lot about the specific habitats and habits of dozens of species. Now I have no interest in collecting and raise butterflies for fun and release them. I maintain, however, that the collecting is what gave me the knowledge base I have about butterflies. The present day purists would condemn my callous killing spree but my knowledge will ultimately save a thousand times the amount of butterflies I killed. The binocular crowd will never even begin to approach the knowledge of even a beginning collector. I find all these legalistic folks who restrict, monitor, censure and formulate correct behaviors are ultimately an anathema to the creative spirit. To create is a ‘religious’ experience that demands openness and tolerance. Artists should embrace these values and avoid the slippery slope of judgment and condemnation.

There is 1 comment for Butterfly nets by Paul deMarrais

From: Anonymous — Jul 12, 2008

Very well said! And I love your pastel, “Troy’s Walk”.


by Mary Carter

I am sorry that you lost some subscribers, but it is their loss. We must take care of the earth, it is our home. However, this can be carried so far that it loses sight that humans are part of this earth. After watching “Zero Population” on TV the other night I was left with the feeling that the earth would be better off without us homo sapiens, but who would be left to appreciate it? Some of my zealous “green” friends would sacrifice their friends and family to the altar of green.


Forgive me
by Eleanor Blair, Gainesville, FL, USA


“Archie Carr’s Cabin in the Ocala National Forest”
oil painting, 16 x 20 inches
by Eleanor Blair

Although ATVs do plenty of damage around here in Central Florida, it’s airboats that most purists hate. I’ve turned down rides offered in the past, on principle. But when Ray Willis, an Ocala National Forest archeologist, invited me to accompany him and a couple of biologists on a tour of their favorite places in the forest, accessible only by airboat, how could I refuse? It was an amazing day, visiting secret springs and hidden bridges and palm grottoes; inspiring images that I’ll never forget. Still, as we roared up the St. John’s River from Alexander Springs to Lake George shattering the silence, all I could think was “forgive me, forgive me…”


Tracks, footprints and tires
by Richard Pauli, WA, USA

I invite you to suspect there is an important message you are missing. It is not that you have miffed the green PC people; rather you have revealed your ignorance of the most serious problem of our time. Most all scientists think the global climate disruption is radically under described and unfolding faster than their studies have predicted. Indeed most scientists now think human life depends on political will power to make changes. If you look carefully, you will see some very disturbing scenarios. You might be able to redeem your place with your audience by looking into the carbon footprint of the materials you use. Bicycle next time.

(RG note) Thanks, Richard. I take it you are mainly referring to Global Warming. In our family we are concerned with the problem. We walk and bike frequently, and when we have to drive somewhere we go in one of two hybrids. I have put all my V8s in storage, stopped smoking cigars and don’t burn bad paintings outdoors anymore. I’ve also just finished reading Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming by Bjorn Lomborg. Not a Warming denier by any means, Lomborg sheds light on the current enthusiasm for doing something fast. For those who might like to learn more about the phenomenon, it’s short, crisp, and worth a read.

There is 1 comment for Tracks, footprints and tires by Richard Pauli

From: Lyn Cherry — Jul 11, 2008


Reasons to boycott
by Claudia Lorenz, Saanich, BC, Canada


Clay bowls

Do we suppose these two hundred purists also abstain from buying cotton canvas (grown in Asia with tons of water and equivalent volumes of pesticides) or refrain from using titanium white and cadmium red (metals mined and refined in industrial quantities with countless tons of toxic effluent dumped in rivers and ground waters)? Sure we are only small time users of industrial chemistry’s products, but we do use them and are (generally) blissfully unaware of the monster whose tail we’re riding. Come on people, find something more virulent to boycott than an artist who spends so much time helping people connect with the many ways of staying creative.

There is 1 comment for Reasons to boycott by Claudia Lorenz

From: Collette Lacey — Jul 11, 2008

How sad that so many chose to remove their names from your letter. I am constantly blessed by the beauty you portray of places that I have no time to get to. My husband and I admire the fact that you have ingeniously devised so many ways to just go and paint, anywhere. You open vistas to the beauty of our world. You inspire, and encourage. Good for you! There will always be those who take themselves far too seriously.


The green way
by Steven Sweeney, Austin, TX, USA

It’s probably the first “stand” most of them have ever taken. Some will ride in their Escalades to work in the morning, listening to the radio for reports of their contribution to the green cause. Others from another philosophical bent will be troubled or agitated for other reasons. The endorphins will be wasted, as they won’t make their carriers happier.

Do your own work. Get to your locations in whatever manner is required or convenient. Why should a difficult pursuit such as painting be made more difficult by arbitrary and non-artistic rules about decorum, transportation, and artificially imposed impediments to “pure” access to location? It’s not limited to art. I belong to a very large and active group of outdoor recreationalists, but I draw the line at the one-way practitioners. They are interested neither in recreation nor in art. Their heads are in other clouds.


Get a life
by Peggy Guichu, Phoenix, AZ, USA


“One Step Up From Third”
oil painting, 36 x 48 inches
by Peggy Guichu

I am always so amazed at the energy exerted by those of an obsessive/compulsive personality. For me, it is more important to keep a balance. I agree that ATVs tear up the environment when used to race around hysterically, throwing up dust and plant life, not to mention the utter horror to the wildlife in the area. To most, that is the reason why ATVs were developed. On the other hand, what a wonderful invention for those of us who aren’t in triathlon training to be witness to the isolation and quiet of the deep forest. Having been married to a man who spent endless hours pulling out the see-through windows on envelopes in order to recycle correctly, I say to those who feel you have crossed the line, get a life.

There is 1 comment for Get a life by Peggy Guichu

From: Danielle Smith — Jul 15, 2008

Amen! In regards to all those people who unsubscribed; it’s their loss. I’m sure they don’t use any electricity with their computers, or use any gasoline to get around, and only eat out of their own gardens and don’t heat or cool their homes or offices. There is a difference between abusing the environment and living in it while doing the least damage possible, leaving a smaller footprint as they say. What is it they say about judging others??!! Life is full of fine lines.


Do what it takes
by Wayne Cooper, Noelville, ON, Canada

Re: your ‘transgression’… let me first say that I live in Northern Ontario… Canada and many people up here virtually ‘live’ on their ATVs… or quads as they are more often referred to.

The country up here does not otherwise lend itself to ‘exploration’ without them.

Whatever it takes for the artist to ‘see’ what they need to see is always going to be accepted by some and rejected by some… ultimately it is your decision alone.

Rejecting, out of hand, a tool that would permit you to go to places otherwise unreachable is beyond my comprehension. One might as well object to the use of a jet to carry you to a foreign country. In the end however, thankfully, even the narrow of mind have the right to their opinion. If I may, let me quote something that might give you comfort… it certainly has done so for me.

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” (Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.)


by Janet Vanderhoof, Morgan Hill, CA, USA


“The valley”
oil painting
by Janet Vanderhoof

I have been painting for the last 18 years and many times I want to quit. I realize the value that my art has in my life to keep me whole and sane. Sometimes I find it such a challenge to keep moving forward and when I do well I also start to sabotage myself or second guess my work. I guess the bottom line is that we essentially are just channeling the gift and when we think we have created the work on our own we are fooling ourselves. Then I remind myself of the letter Nelson Mandela wrote in jail and it gives me strength to keep on painting. “Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God: your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

There is 1 comment for Liberation by Janet Vanderhoof

From: Cedar Lee — Jul 10, 2008



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Religious journeys



From: Jennifer Horsley — Jul 07, 2008

Robert, Robert, Robert…I forgive you for the ATV transgression. How can I not when I, myself, am guilty of my own eco-transgressions. I have thrown my paint rags and even old tubes of oil paints out with the regular trash. I even love the smell of real turpentine. There’s nothing like opening my grandfather’s old paint box — the scent of oils, brushes and old rags — puts me in a Zen-like state just thinking about it!

From: L. M. Brearley — Jul 07, 2008

Sport Painting. There, I finally figured it out. You just go out there and do it like any other fun activity. And yes, there is competition. Brilliant!

From: Evan Wappel — Jul 07, 2008

Robert, I totally support you in the ATV adventure. Global warming looks good as presented by Al Gore, but we also need to remember that everything that comes from the earth is natural, oil included. OK, I don’t like pollution, either, but in my opinion the atmosphere can deal with the gases just like it deals with any other incoming meteorite or cosmic material. I wouldn’t worry about it. Sure, someday we could all be on solar panels with no pollution, but that’s no reason to stop everything and quit driving today! Thanks for sharing your adventures! They rock.

From: Bobbo Goldberg — Jul 07, 2008

200 unsubs over a difference in values concerning ATVs? Well, Robert, I suspect it may have been a natural sloughing. I started by thinking, “well, talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.” But then I realized that such a reaction was contrary to the spirit of so many TWLs, which invite openness, cooperation with nature or the inner spirit. If they were still around, I’d invite your unsubbers to look within themselves to find the source of anger, controlling, self-righteousness… but it would be pointless. The two hundred people who are no longer reading your TWLs are those who may not have understood the point in the first place.

Finally, if I may, a belated but heartfelt thank you for the copy of LOVE LETTERS TO ART you sent me when my letter was chosen for that honor. It’s also a love letter to writing, as one might expect. Truly a treasure, Robert.

From: Robert Bissett — Jul 07, 2008

We now have a refuge far from the sanctimoneous enviros? Art is real, global warming is a myth.

From: Suchin Rai — Jul 08, 2008

Robert, I agree with Jennifer’s post. None of us is “pure”, and this seems an overreaction to me. Know that the rest of us still wait eagerly for your letters, and they are high points in our day or week. Plus, I don’t think it’s you on your ATV with your gear that’s the problem as much as it is gangs of thrill riders on them that menace. Keep painting and writing in peace.

From: Consuelo — Jul 08, 2008

Your letters are addictive and betcha some of these 200 purists take a peek at your future letters from time-to-time.

From: Lyn Cherry — Jul 08, 2008

While I raised my eyebrows at you, of all people, taking an ATV into the wilderness, I don’t know what you would have to say or do to keep me from reading your wonderful letters! I don’t always agree with you; but you always open my eyes and mind. Thank you.

From: Debi Rice — Jul 08, 2008

The unsubscribers are going to miss out on many great adventures in life…if they continue to react so “purely”. However, the anger they carry is quite a burden on purity, in my opinion… Please do continue on your life adventures, sharing and caring as you have in the past!

From: John Mullenger — Jul 08, 2008

I was once an environmentalist, but it’s people like these un-subscribers who have made me back-track. I still do my part, but cannot overlook their over-reactions. These pseudo-naturalists probably all live in an urban “environment.”

When you “off-road” it to your painting destination, the only downside is it takes time to get into the Zen of the place where you stop – you must shut off the engine and just sit for an hour. Walking to the same destination will certainly get you into the place, but it is also impractical if you’re on a tight schedule (like the majority of us).

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Jul 08, 2008

First you wreck the Wilderness, and now you’re torturing poor little fishies. Oh, my.

Thank you for such fine discussions. And thank you for quotes like the one by Paul Klee, I have his same experience.

Do you sell (get rid of) your paintings as fast as you can, or do you save back some? Like a savings account.

From: Steven — Jul 08, 2008

I wouldn’t worry too much about the loss of the 200+. There’s idiocy on the fringes of ANY issue.

From: Hank Zauderer — Jul 08, 2008


Just keep painting and writing these great letters!

I loved the quote from Klee!

for those of your readers that do not travel too far from home to look for painting sites, I hear that Nissan will introduce an electric car in 2010…

From: Sandra Bos — Jul 08, 2008

It’s ok to have opinion’s about ATV’s and other ‘stuff’, like that, and if one has a need to inlighten others, that’s great!, but hey, this is ridiculous! (like throwing the baby out with the bath water!)

Like Jennifer,I too throw my paint rags in the trash, and other ‘sins’, like that. All these things can be forgiven if we make ‘Art’ (with a big “A”) and bring joy, and love, and beauty to this planet.we could use alot more of that!?

These purists are “bowing down to the banana”. They don’t ‘get it.

So, anyway, thank you for your letters, and please keep them coming! (all of us ‘sinners’ are still here and love them ~:)

From: Kim Overall — Jul 08, 2008

Robert, good riddance to all those who unsubscribed if their reasonings were based upon an ATV to take you to do your art. You’ve got so much to offer in your writings, they are pearls before swine for those who do appreciate your words.

From: Brad Greek — Jul 08, 2008

As a recovered alcoholic I try to live my life by the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the Serenity to except the things I can not change. Courage to change those things I can. And the Wisdom to know the difference. I try to bring that to my art as well.

Those that unsubscribed forgot how they enjoyed the comforts of everyday life and the eco destructions that are created to bring them their comforts. These types of do-gooders don’t deserve the fresh air that your letters bring us all everyday. Thanks Robert

From: Chris Everest — Jul 08, 2008

Basically Robert … you are forgiven by nearly all of us. Whoever is without sin may cast the first brickbat.

Having said that the real list of transgressors; the governments (good & bad), the world of business, the military and the speculators of food, fashion and finance – THEY ARE NOT FORGIVEN FOR THEIR CRIMES.

From: Robert Redus — Jul 08, 2008

An ATV adventure with palette and paint involved…how can that be seen as anything but exciting. The loss of a few certainly should be expected. As an avid outdoor painter there are unwritten rules that go along with the process of expanding our experiences in the wild…I support your future ATV experiences…promise me though you won’t listen to Ted Nugent while manuvering the trail….

From: Ursula Salemink-roos — Jul 08, 2008

Thank you for your prayer. It will find it’s way into my studio.

I have learned much from you over the years. I just wanted to say: THANKS!

From: Nick Stone — Jul 08, 2008

After the fuss over ATV’s the temptation to censor yourself must be strong. I hope you don’t. I like you better for being able to disagree with you sometimes.

From: Nancy Stephenson — Jul 08, 2008

I find it interesting that so many artists are wild about the wild places or are outright environmentalists. Some of the connection is obviously the delights of the out-of-doors as inspiration – but many if not most of the artists I know are gardeners/environmentalists/preservationists/birdwatchers/nature observers. Any views on these connections and why we are so drawn (pardon the pun) to nature?

From: All For Art — Jul 08, 2008

I’m surprised all those people were against the ATV ride. Seriously. Seeing an old man do such a thing is amazing, and your dedication as an artist was impressive by how far you’d go to paint something nobody else would! Yet, those same types of people drive their cars a few blocks to the corner market for the candy bar, and they insist on perfectly paved roads and hiking trails. Like either of those are good for the environment. Go figure.

From: Eleanor — Jul 08, 2008

Well. At 70 years of age and as a supporter of protecting the ground we walk on and the air we breath, I am simply amused by the response of the life style police who’ve departed the site due to use of an ATV in the bush. Where else would one use them? Really. There are a lot of the above mentioned life style police living and breathing the same air I am and I have seen a fine and famous painting (to bring us back to art) of their grand or perhaps gr gr gr gr grandparents in American Gothic. They’re a cold, skinny lot.

I’ve considered leaving too at times but my motives weren’t so lofty or so spiky. And to turn art into a political tool has been tried in the past – generally by dictators famous for personal insecurities and a heavy hand.

Unhappily I’d not be able to get myself off the beaten track if it weren’t for my neighbours generous trips with me on the “backseat” of their ATV. It’s taken me into some wonderful places I’d likely never have seen. So I look, explore, sketch a little sometimes and do my best to do no harm.

From: Linden Morris — Jul 08, 2008

Well, I guess I disagree with most on this. “Unsubscribing” would be a statement on the strong feelings people have regarding this issue.

My two cents? and a guess at why people are so upset about the ATV thing?

Robert, you are a peer and a role model. If the Queen of England decides to deficate on the heads of people; who could blame the populace for doing the same? I do not know about you but I do not want to listen to the drone, hum, smell of engines etc when I am out in the wilderness. That is not to say I wouldn’t ATV if I had the means. Although, so far I don’t and I have not. I HAVE done alot of hiking to get to where I want to go. I think we can respect where you are coming from and I think if you think about it, you can respect where “they,” the fundamental eco environmentalist freaks” are coming from as well. Their position is not entirely my position but, just because you are making damn good art does not give you anymore right than a huge oil company to pervert the environment..does it? Last time I looked we were all created equal and accountable. Even more so if one has privilege and talent; which you do. Sharing that info with your readers was a mistake if you did not want any fall out. Since you did, take it on the chin dude. :-)

From: Steven — Jul 08, 2008

BTW – If you’re feeling pangs of guilt about the ATV thing, just buy a few “carbon offsets”. That should even things out.

From: Bob Posliff — Jul 08, 2008

” To angle is to live in hope “. Kingwell

From: Michael L Brown — Jul 08, 2008

Some people should get a life!

From: Gail Harper — Jul 08, 2008

re: the 200….consider the source and go on your way rejoicing

From: Gene Black — Jul 09, 2008

The un-subs over the ATV strike me as hypocritical. These same people are using computers and unless they are using solar energy to power the computer and growing their own food then they too transgress daily. (That food comes in on trucks you know and they pollute)

Art is a spiritual thing, although the artist may not even realize it. My true belief is that man is/was created in the image of the creator. As a created being we are driven to create. The most unhappy people I know are those who consume and never create. When I am creating, I am at my best, my happiest and in touch with the universe.

From: Deborah Bucci — Jul 09, 2008
From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jul 09, 2008

I was at a social event last night and caught myself looking closely at the curls on a child’s head and the curve of her nose. While someone is talking to me I am noticing the shape of their eyes or the color of a distant landscape. To me, art is not something to live by; as a religion, but a part of me, like my blue eyes or right arm.

There was a time in my life when I was raising children, working full time and did not paint for 15 years or so. During that time, I had very vivid dreams of painting. For the first six months after I started painting again, the paintings poured out of me as though back-logged for years. I have a good friend, Fran, who says,”I will die with a pencil in my hand.” I know this feeling; I will never stop painting again as long as I am able to.

From: Gavin Calf — Jul 09, 2008

Offense is taken far more than it is given, this is true. I’m sorry for your lost subscribers. They are missing a lot for their convictions but that’s how it is.

If you remember I was summarily ‘cut off’ from Robert Genn because I unwittingly transgressed one of your ten commandments. It took a friend I had introduced to your site to plead with you to take me back in from the cold which you graciously did.

So thanks for being forgiving. I hope the anti ATV purists also show some compassion, a quality very much needed in artists.

From: Teri Peterson — Jul 09, 2008

I am startled by the report in the letter titled “Religious Journeys” whereas 200 people unsubscribed due to mention of using an ATV to a painting location. I can’t help wonder if I missed additional information which would explain so many people to mobilize into taking action?

If only it took mere mention of critical life factors to simultaneously activate 200 people into action we would all live in a tremendously improved world environment. Now that is something to pray for.

My guess, this has been an interesting experience for you to realize the power of the keyboard. Personally, I think you use it well and I appreciate it!

From: Susan Volk Stanley — Jul 09, 2008

Honestly…………those purists, naysayers,complainers, and those that sit in judgment of other painters and their practices do more to discourage people from taking this on full time then the inner voice that questions our commitment to do so. As a woman and a landscape painter I found myself drifting back towards still life because the thought of back packing to the summit of some distant mountain range and painting anywhere the wind blows just didn’t suit my life as a busy mom with the question of safety looming large. The more I convinced myself that the distant road less traveled was the only place to paint the less I did and I missed it. It wasn’t until a gallery owner told me not to worry about painting landscapes because it was a “guy thing” that I started to feel challenged and thought perhaps there might be something more accessible to me that I could capture. There are enough obstacles all around us to keep us from doing what we are called or compelled to do. So I say paint….. whether you use an ATV or pack mule. I dare say an ATV might be more cooperative! How do you think Matt Smith gets so deeply into the box canyons he so skillfully paints. It was Scott Christensen who showed me how he paints from the back hatch of his Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s hatch when opened even provided shade from the elements overhead. Sacrilege?! I don’t think so. You don’t have to be dropped by a helicopter to find and express the beauty in nature but if you want to share a view of the world untouched by encroaching development sometimes you need to use a little manmade power to aid and assist. I don’t think I have ever met a landscape painter that wasn’t in awe of nature’s wonder and deeply respectful of it. If the purists want to spend their time grinding pigments and suffering over the ways, codes and practices of the past so be it. I like to think of it more as “guidelines” and for God’s sake just paint. There are no road blocks greater then those we create in our minds.

From: Gretchen Anderson — Jul 09, 2008

Even scientists must use ATV’s to get to the animals and ecosystems they are trying to save. That isn’t the problem it’s all of the bozos using them to get to work on freeways in America. No sweat from me. I say paint it and paint it well so those of us who cannot travel can appreciate the pristine beauty of this worlds hard to reach places and endangered animals.

But on that line…………

I am wondering if there will be a movement to make art supplies and materials able to be recycled or at least reused? I only paint with waterbased nontoxic oils because I think of my eco footprint as well as my daughter touching my supplies. I am also into painting with my hands alot which probably isn’t good with most materials. It may be hard to do, but you know, I wish it would happen in my life time.

From: Norma — Jul 09, 2008

I too, noticed with some surprise, your reference to ATV use, but to unsubscribe from your letter, seems not only excessive, but unproductive and self-punishing — a perfect example of “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.” Hopefully most of those subscribers, having duly registered their disapproval, will see fit to return once they’ve had time to reflect and cool off.

From: John Bonanno — Jul 09, 2008

There are fundamentalists of all kinds who would be ashamed if their lives were weighed in the scales. Putting out twice weekly letters for years, you must eventually piss someone off. No artist can aspire to avoid that.

From: Sheryl Hinger — Jul 09, 2008

Thanks for all the information you pass on so freely! You are a gem! I have a small question about those 200 or so purists that unsubscribed to your amazing letters because of your heinous crime of using an ATV. Do you happen to know what percentage drive an SUV? Or even a sedan? Everyday? :) Just a thought I had. I once asked a man that was ranting on about the use furs in high fashion if his quite leather looking shoes were indeed leather. They were. He did not get it. There are some people that never do.

From: Sequest — Jul 09, 2008

Please don’t let the unsubscriptions hurt too much: ATVs are a fact of life unless you what to ride a horse/mule/burro/pony into the outback, all with mighty carbon footprints. The purests may miss you, but the work and learning will remain, without which we would all lose. Work and learning requires some compromises . . . I just don’t like the ATV noise when not a participant!

From: Sarah Hessinger — Jul 09, 2008

I enjoy your weekly letters :) no worries about the purists, I think in some ways its about going green, which I am a huge advocate of, but really I think its about their disruption of the holy pilgrimage as they see it to the sacred spot where we pick a spot and vuala! inspiration. THey see it as such a time honored necessary sweat marked path to that inspiration I think. Seems odd to think of it as a *green* issue, when I’m sure all of them drive cars that are not green… And I’m guessing, that if you took an atv up there, it was no bunny trail, but a fire road or other access dirt road, hence no further damage to the area, that wont be wrought by the occasional bush clearing team that goes up there anyways.

no worries in other words, cant please everyone all the time, and shouldn’t try to.

From: Dean Rhoads — Jul 09, 2008

I am a photographer, my two sons are painters.

My vision was to get away from business and get a van, fill it with my paraphernalia, and go out and travel to where I have dreamed of going for years. I am retired and am having a great experience. More places to go and see than I have years left to accomplish. Just returned from a 7000 mile trip where I photographed 1000 images of Icebergs in Newfoundland. These have been weeded out to 120 and will be cut to 6 with the best one used as my Christmas Card this year. I print 2000 Christmas cards and print them on my Epson 4800 printer. Each card is printed on archival stock with archival ink. Many of my friends have framed these over the years, and it has bonded me with those friends who have come into my life.

I print all 2000 Christmas card, I do not send them out for printing or mailing, I print away while I am working at my desk. Every one I meet gets on my Christmas Card list, they can not get off as long as I live. This has helped me develop wonderful friendships that now extent to up to three family generation. This is the only gift I can give 2000 people that I have made myself, so they get part of me, each year.

send me your address by e mail and I will add you to my list.

My neighbor saw my new van, and said I want to do what you are doing,

except that I have wanted to travel and paint. he is a talented painter.

he bought a van like mine (sprinter) and loaded up his painting supplies, and is going forth to paint.

Neither of us will sell our paintings, or photography, we will give these to charitable auctions, our family and friends.

I wanted to thank you for your letter, which I find quite useful many of my artist friends now subscribe.

Just wanted you to know there are enthusiast like me, and more that could be, if they could envision the joy of creating.

From: Amy Fremgen — Jul 09, 2008

200 people unsubscribed. It reminds me of that famous saying, “Those of you without sin cast the first stone.”

From: Kathleen — Jul 09, 2008

My goodness, I can’t believe how “reactive” people are about your use of an ATV – unsubscribing from such a fantastic newsletter. But I agree its good to see people going green.

Perhaps you could use this experience for a discussion about the “planful” and “reactive” nature of painting. For example, I paint from three perspectives gathering information about a subject (then I take a photo too reacting emotional to a subject then I try to fuse the two in the final piece – with the hope that the emotional aspect will shine through. After all I am a representational artist – not a realist.

From: Bev — Jul 09, 2008

I am a watercolorist and keep trying to do better at it all the time. I so enjoy it and it lets me see the world so much closer and I am constantly awed by it. So many things and so many varieties of things and on and on.

I am sorry some people are no longer subscribers. They are the ones that will be missing out on a lot. I also feel sorry for people who don’t go ahead and listen to others just because there is some idea that they don’t like about that person’s views. People have to realize that there are many ideas and many different ways to do things and thank God – wouldn’t it be boring if we were stamped out beings – like an assembly line. Each one is different and each one contributes differently.

I do at this time have to say that I am sorry that your religion is art, if it truly is. The Ten Commandments say for one thing – Thou shall have no other Gods before me. I hope that you are not sincere in that. I hope that you believe in God and Jesus Christ. I attribute all creation to God’s creating and I do not believe that we evolved from monkeys. I will agree that people do change over the years in looks and attitudes, but I think we did not evolve from apes. I believe in the Bible and I also believe in prayer.I also believe that no one is perfect – all have done things wrong that God does not like, but God has provided a way for us – his Son, who died on the cross for us and took our sins upon himself, if you confess your sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and strength to keep from sinning again. Many artists have helped people to understand God and Jesus better by what they have painted. Artists help to show the creations made by God to others.

I do not know how I would have gotten through many things that have happened in my life and my family’s lives without the Lord. He has comforted me and made it possible for me to go on after bad situations that have come into my life. He has helped the healing process of my many surgeries and sorrows – I am thankful that God has given doctors the wisdom to diagnose and perform operations, etc. And I also believe that God helps heal the person. I also believe that sometimes I sure don’t like what happens in this world, but I know that God is still in charge and thank God for that.

I truly hope that you do believe in God and if you don’t that you will go to a church of your choice and try to find out more about Him and Jesus. I feel that you are a special friend in art and I wouldn’t want you to not believe in God.

So now that is off my chest or I should say from the heart to you – because I care about you. God created us all because he loves us and wants us for his companion. He also has purposes for our lives, each one of us.

From: Todd Plough — Jul 09, 2008

Painting landscape and the beauty of creation HELPS preserve it , it is unfortunate some short sighted individuals cannot see beyond their hypocritical noses. I am however, quite certain, that they immediately went out and sold their cars and have since boycotted any fossil fuel transportation modes. Doubtless their computers themselves are made or recycled rock from the goodwill store utilizing no plastics or metals.

Please help me convert to their most holy religion -it is better than anything I know of. What are the names of these saints ?

No great man has ever been without enemies -even Picasso and Van Gogh carried pistols. Would these ship jumpers abandon their work ( P & VG) and ideas too because they support gun control ? Those who look for perfection in everything find it in nothing.

From: Anne West — Jul 09, 2008

An ATV??!! Shame on you! Of course, I am being sarcastic. Who among us has yet to commit at least one little sin against our environment? Those who take such extreme offense, I doubt, are without sin themselves. Take, for example, those outside a prison protesting against the death penalty. I’ll bet if you do a casual survey you will find but few vegans. Just like Christians who love to quote the Bible only when convenient, yet fail to live by it completely, I find many an environmentalist who fails to walk gently in every moment. I say “live and let live!” We all have our missions here on Earth, and that is to simply live and learn. What are we supposed to learn, exactly? How to live this one little life in whatever way makes us the happiest. To those who have left, feeling ‘holier than thou’ and holding onto resentment must be part of their lesson. And your little foray into the woods on an ATV was one of yours. What you learn from it and decide to use to in your life is your own business and no one else’s. I, for one, feel that someone who is inspired and driven to capture the beauty of our natural surroundings is by default an environmentalist. Everything is a process. Keep on keeping on!

From: Judy Reinsma — Jul 09, 2008

It is so sad that people can be uneducated about a subject to the extent that your using an ATV to reach a painting spot could cause them to un-subscribe. An ATV is just a mode of transportation. If it is used as such and not as a revved up hot rod land destroyer it is no more anti-environment than any other motorized vehicle. I write as a long time, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Assn. member.

I would propose that these people are hypocrites or else how do they get to the sites they paint? Surely, they do not all walk or bike everywhere, and I have yet to figure out how to easily take my painting supplies out into the mountains on my horse (I do take my camera, though). Airplanes spew pollutants into the atmosphere, ergo no more trips to Europe to paint. Steamships pollute the air and the oceans, so no more cruises. I guess we must all stay home and paint only places we can walk to.

So ride your ATV, paint the places it takes you and pity the poor people who are so judgmental that they would remove your great Weekly Letters from their lives. It is their loss.

From: Jennifer Horsley — Jul 09, 2008

The un-subs will probably still come back and read at The Painter’s Keys. It’s an addiction.

From: Rick — Jul 10, 2008

Robert -I’m actually surprised you didn’t see this one coming. It’s a wonder no one has asked for a chemical breakdown of the paint you use to guarantee non-polution of the invironment. tsk, tsk.

“you” can’t do anything today without fear of offending someone.

From: Alma Pancir — Jul 10, 2008

I’m so sorry that you have totally ignored the “Creator” of all the beauty that you worship. Please give credit to the One who created all the nature and splendor that has given us the opportunity to paint.

Your ten commandments are really nice, but certainly fall short of the religious journey that we are all on.

I too enjoy my easel, painting, nature, fresh air, walking to the site, etc, but I give all the glory to God who is the author and master who gave us this gift.

Thank you for allowing me to speak freely to a fellow artist. As a postscript to this comment, I commend Bev for her little message. Please don’t take offense to what I said, but when I am looking up at the sky and see the beauty, I can only say: Thank you Lord!

From: Anonymous — Jul 10, 2008

Bev & Alma – lighten up. It was “again” an analogy. 1

From: Martha Griffith — Jul 10, 2008

RE- your recent news letters- was wondering – if you have been on some kind of “retreat” trip- you sound different than usual- that’s probably why those “dummys” have unsubscribed! Can’t follow your thinking- but they will be back- just can’t take critisisim- I always say if one can’t -it’s time to quit painting.So- keep up the good work-the rest of us look forward to your letters.

From: Adonica — Jul 10, 2008

Well, at least you know there are at least 200 jerks in the world. How peculiar that the ones preaching tolerance are the most intolerable. Their agenda of protecting the environment is really just an excuse for slacking. There is no proof the earth is in danger and if you think it might be try stopping weeds from growing in your yard. The planet doesn’t die as all humans eventually do, so whose winning? The planet will only take 10,000 years to undo the “damage” done by the millions of years of civilization. Besides, ATV’s are fun and you have every right to one without the judgement of others. I hope you take up smoking and eating venison as well. Salut!

From: Patricia A. Anderrson — Jul 11, 2008

I’m not a painter, but an aspiring art quilter and your letters have often inspired me. We’ve been going “green” since 1967, but can’t imagine why the 200 left. Definitely their loss.

From: Nick Stone, Suffolk England — Jul 11, 2008

I noticed in one of your posted images that you use glasses. Could you say a little about how you use them when you paint? I have to look at the world over the top of mine and then use them to paint. Then I stand back to look at the work without them. I am often confused as to which is the REAL image.

From: Dar Hosta — Jul 11, 2008

While hypocrisy surely abounds when it comes to environmentalism, conversations such as this one are sure to get some people asking themselves the important question, “how does what I do affect the planet?” What a good thing! Be it plastic bags, leather shoes, ATVs or whatever, I think we can all ask ourself this question and come up with one little change that we can make without changing who we are, what we do, or how much fun we have and, thereby, making a collective, positive change that is good for the planet and good for humanity. I, personally, would have to disagree with anyone who says that our individual impact on the planet is small. Indeed, Robert is only one person and his impact on the planet is anything but small. In 1966, at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, Bobby Kennedy said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation.” If these types of disagreements cause people to THINK and if this thinking leads to small acts, then I say yes! There really is no such thing as a total purist anyway…just bunches and bunches of small acts.

From: Karen R. Phinney — Jul 11, 2008

I am pleased and touched that so many came to your defence, Robert, over the ATV fracas. I agree, they can be destructive, but you hardly are in the category of abusive rider! I agree with the majority of writers, and feel that the good you do far outweighs anything that can be criticized, at least so harshly that the person unsubscribes. Many, many of us faithful readers find some gem in most every letter, that helps to move us forward in our pursuit of our art, and consequently, of our bliss. Roll on, Robert!

From: Theresa Bayer — Jul 11, 2008

Wow Robert, what a tempest! Re. ATV, although I personally don’t care for them, I can see how they are useful in some circumstances. So if you use it, that’s your business.

Let them who have never polluted cast the first tube of paint.

From: Scharolette Chappell — Jul 11, 2008

Another perspective: Nature can blast in an instant, a whole mountain, forests, so called devastation can occur and does occur. Nothing really leaves the planet, nature moves things around, are we not nature? It’s a constant shifting of what is. These shifts bring forth life in one way or another, we don’t tax mother nature for sending fumes (polluting the air) yet we label ourselves evil doers to the planet it’s a false belief system that we have separated ourselves from being nature. We say it’s a small world, not so, it’s bigger than we think.

From: Isis Charest — Jul 11, 2008

I loved your artist prayer and of course related to all the shall nots, however after coming back from camping and rereading it, I couldn’t get past the sin of not painting in the last line! Come on now, you know how we all like to sin!!!!

From: Anonymous — Jul 11, 2008

I learned to appreciate many years ago that bikers, atvers, hunters, etc help keep wilderness areas open and available for all of us. If it were only walkers, of which I am one, who were advocating for wild areas, there would be far less preserved for us to enjoy.

From: Howard Goldberg — Jul 11, 2008

When the kudzu has enveloped their home and nature has reclaimed the roads and towns (Cities will be gone by then) will these 200, or so, idiots be pleased? For that is the underlying desire and the ultimate result of their unreasoned passion. Who will make their paints or catch the hogs to provide bristles for their brushes or god forbid drill for the oil necessary for those horrible chemical plants necessary to make the plastic for their synthetic brushes. From whence will come the canvas and paper to support their media.

Man is the ultimate toolmaker and how he uses them determines the fate of civilization.

Access to the woods and wilderness, which ATVs provide for those unable to hike and others, provides the incentive to preserve them. Duck hunters kill ducks but without their efforts and money to preserve the duck habitat there would be far fewer ducks. Dropping their subscription only reveals their unreasoned zeal and we are well rid of them. But don’t turn your back!

From: Bev Searle-Freeman — Jul 11, 2008

What on earth is wrong with using an ATV !! … if you use it responsibly what does it matter. There’s a STAGGERING amount of other stuff out there that pollutes the world — if people want to boycott something … hone in on those mega polluters of the world. Robert … enjoy your ATV and keep painting :)

From: Dawn Cosmos — Jul 11, 2008

The response from your readers give me hope for the state of affairs on this planet. Your letters are the best thing in my mailbox. Thank you Robert Genn; write on!

From: Gene Martin — Jul 11, 2008

Global warming is a hoax. The sun has been warming for the last hundred years. No? Why else would the polar icecaps of pluto and surrounding planets be melting?

From: Mishcka O’Connor — Jul 11, 2008

There are a lot of people here who justify your ATV riding.

I used to live in the country and loved the sound of the wind in the trees and the wild animals that almost came to the door of the cabin. But then the town ya-hoos would blast through on their ATVs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. We hated them. Now I live in the city and it’s the same thing. The jerk next door blasts his car radio while he washes his car and I have to close windows or listen to his “music”. I think it shows a lack of decency and respect for ones fellow man. You who say those who object are judgmental and hypocritical, how are you any different. How about respecting a different point of view from your own. Robert’s obtuseness does not take away from his writing.

From: Helen Zapata — Jul 12, 2008

Hi Robert, no time to read all the comments… but as long as you don’t bring a radio to the beach, I’ll stick with you.

From: David Benjamin — Jul 12, 2008

It is not whether you use an ATV but what you use it for. To access a site for painting is one thing. To roar through the forest, off trail, just to see how fast you can go and not stopping to see what is around you is where the harm is done. I love your letters and you would have to go a lot further than using an ATV to get me to sign off.

From: Gregory Rapier — Jul 12, 2008

If this world dosn’t change it will die. The people that have goten so upset over your use of a ATV have that right. It is not my view of this use of ATVs. I don’t have an ATV although I did have a dirt bike years a go (till 1989) and have alway been puzzled as to how people can think that their view of how I should live my life is better for me than my own. I don’t know how they can think that that they have the right to tell me how to live my life or anyone else. If so then I have the right to tell them they need to live their lifes the way I think they should. If I think it’s wrong to be gay should shop that life still because it’s a sin. If they have spiked hair thats wrong and should look like me. If they have tattos that wrong they should get them removed. If they wear strange cloths then they should wear cloths like nomal people. I don’t think I have the right to tell people how to dress or what to drive or eat or anyother way to live their lives. I may not like the way someone looks. It may seem strange to me but it’s their right to live that way. I live my life the way that works for me you live your life the way that you want. I will respect you and your right to live your life your way but you must respect me and the way I chose to live my life.

From: Bev Bunker — Jul 13, 2008

So, too bad for those who unsubscribed. So, too bad for them – its their loss. So what? I think this is one of those types of things that happens to successful people when idealization of the individual is projected. In this case, you, Robert, have been, in my opinion, idealized and fantasized as being something other than what you really are. I don’t know you personally, however I very much appreciate the raw candor in which you bare your own inner stuff, your challenges, your joys, etc. as a working artist. Many times I am in that same place at the same time as you. However, what I most respond to in these letters is the quality of genuine concern for your own process that you share and which personally touches my own experiences. There’s no way you would know that about me. But I could hug you when I recognize the me in you and the you in me! My journey as an artist is not as exposed as what you have allowed to happen with your letters. This is what is too bad about those who have chosen to leave. What a rich treasure they are leaving behind; that of a person being real about a heart-felt passion and being willing to share it with all those who also love to learn from that – no matter how unlovely it might look or sound. All is well, and all will continue to be well. Thanks for being exactly who you are.

From: Gregory Little — Jul 14, 2008

So I read this letter just today and am happily reminded of what I have had stuck on my refrigerator door for so many years now, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape”.

From: Giorgio — Jul 15, 2008

Global warming is a hoax and so is shortage of oil. There is plenty of oil, but it’s getting more expensive to dig and the oil companies don’t want to absorb the cost. If we believe that further digging for oil is doom for the planet, we will agree to play with alternative energy sources while paying top bucks for gas.

From: Ralph Wilson, Vermont — Jul 20, 2008

We are far more offensive to Mother Earth when we fly around in planes above Her.

From: Janice Bloxom — Apr 12, 2010

Well Robert, what a bunch of ruffled feathers from the Holier than thou group. Not one of us are innocent in leaving a carbon footprint but it seems ridiculous for you to miss a golden opportunity to paint or sketch in an area that is too difficult or easily available because you are two much of a goody two shoe to use an ATV! I have watched the purists condemn ATV ‘s or any motorized conveyance in remote areas for years and I just shake my head. My favorite choise of conveyance is my horse. She has opened up areas that I would never of seen . I have travelled on Trails all over Ontario from Peterborough, Guelph, Barrie and Northern Ontario for many years. I have even done parts of the Bruce Trail by Flesherton and the Awenda Park near Penetang. Okay , Horses are nature friendly but they leave a carbon footprint as well. Whether it snatches a leaf from a tree, or nibbles on a blade of grass and lets not talk about the horse apples they leave on the trail. So, do the greenies condemn the use of electric scooters and wheelchairs as well? Not everyone is physically able to do miles of hiking and canoeing so are we reserving the best things in life for only the purists? I do not think that the Great Creator would wish to restrict people from enjoying his greatest landscapes.

So, Robert my advice is to continue getting out there any way you can and enjoy what he created for us. LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING!!!






At Thirty Five

oil painting
by Gavin Calf, Cape Town, South Africa


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 Kate Landishaw of the USA who wrote, “I’ll just have to keep receiving your missives to find out in what other ways you’re such an awful person.”

And also Susan Moger of Maryland, USA who wrote, “I guess when it’s transportation for an artist it’s a lot different from ATV-ing for the hell of it.”

And also Linda Tindall of Placitas, NM, USA who wrote, “Sorry, so many people objected to your ATV. You’ll not find me objecting.”

And also Shari Jones who wrote, “One comment to your critics, ‘To err is human, to forgive divine.’ Their loss!”

And also Delilah Smith of Onsted, MI, USA who wrote, “How about thou shall not get Cadmium Yellow all over one’s self no matter how many times the wind blows the easel over.”

And also Shirley Hayes Shields of Delta, BC, Canada who wrote, “Let the purists eat cake. Their loss.”

And also Carole Macrury of Pt. Roberts, WA, USA who wrote, “Why would you care about 200 unforgiving ‘green’ subscribers who apparently only see things in black or white?”

And also Claudia Meades of Alaska, USA who wrote, “Please do not stop what you do… I don’t think you will, but I ask anyway. I am not your typical artist so my request may mean little. But, it HAS to be more than those who protest. I have never been a purist; hopefully never will be.”

And also Alex Nodopaka who wrote, “I would add to your list of Shalts the following most important sacrament: Thou Shalt not torture the fish you catch.”

And also Dave Wolfe of Canon City, CO, USA who wrote, “Tell your purist “ex-subscribers” to go paint the nearest land fill.”

And also Selwyn Owen of Toronto, ON, Canada who wrote, “Well good for the purists! Leaving you at the top of the mountain with all the viewpoints, I am sure that their point of marshlands and lowlands in the shadows has some merit. I am also sure that you get off your ATV as I do and allow the moose to walk freely and closer to your area of work.”

And also Lambert McLaurin of Valle Crucis, NC, USA who wrote, “How can art occur if we all think alike?”

And also Carlana of MS, USA who wrote, “I think this reaction is actually hilarious… wish we could see how those unsubscribers pollute their environments.”




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