A return to awareness

Dear Artist, These weeks have brought thousands of letters from artists worldwide, offering encouragement, experience and information regarding Dad’s predicament. Within the messages have been recommendations for special doctors, special procedures, special mushrooms, special air, and special attitudes. Among the latter is a thing called Gestalt Therapy, which encourages personal responsibility by focusing on current experiences and being in the present moment.

“Red and Ochre”
acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 inches
by Robert Genn
The horizontal system seems to work best for small works. The painting is held with the left hand while resting on the stomach.

Last January, while in Melbourne, Australia, I had the experience of many who travel to new places. It’s called “a return to awareness.” New surroundings have a way of returning attention to areas that may have become rote. For example, in Melbourne I must remember to look in the opposite direction when crossing the road. Crossing the road, even though it requires alertness, becomes an almost unconscious act where I live in New York. Have you ever driven home and then wondered how you got there? Do you remember the sequence in which you brushed your teeth this morning? Things we do regularly become buried with habits, and we lose the ability to extract their powers to inspire. In the antipodean summer, there’s a delightful upside-down-ness to things. New creatures are seen wearing coloured helmets, or their own front pockets, or are heard munching in foreign accents from the branch of a squeaky Gum. Ideas bubble differently when we’re forced to inquire about the obvious. To return to awareness is to notice this new world with baby-eyes, and to appreciate her strangeness. Perhaps being sick is another way of travelling. Old tasks bring new tasks with new styling. This week Dad started painting from a lying-down position. He settled on the studio sofa, nestled among his papers, books and Dorothy. He tilted the canvas on his knee. I squeezed his colours, and brought and took what was needed. He entered his zone and drifted into the quiet rhythm of the dips and dabs of his sable.

After a few hours of total bliss, we took a look at his lying-down-paintings. There’s comfort in knowing that even when things are being taken away from us, a new world waits, to be discovered, in an upside-down place.

“November, Clearwater Bay, LOTW”
acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches
by Robert Genn

Sincerely, Sara P.S. “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware — joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” (Henry Miller) “Work cures everything.” (Henri Matisse) Esoterica: There’s a Michael Moore-style documentary to be made about the phenomenon known as “cancer treatment.” This pandemic disease, which interrupts the lives of so many, bamboozles all but its most devoted students. Uber-specialized oncologists and their passionate outriggers in alternative medicine vie for disciples, with data and hope. Our movie would be full of exam-room Q and A’s conducted by Dad — the explorer, humourist and patient. When the Doc leaves the room Dad cracks a smile and says, “There’s a letter in this.”   Prayerful support by Peter Lloyd, Blacker Hill, England  

“Loch Bea South Uist”
original painting
by Peter Lloyd

I’m not religious, but nevertheless (after all, I just might be wrong!) I will pray for you — what are principles compared with support for someone I have admired for so long? And one who thoroughly deserves a miracle for all the help and pleasure he has brought so many over the years. Lacking miracles, a bloody good doctor — they do exist, for one has just enabled me to ramble freely over the Yorkshire moors again after three years deterioration, ending in being housebound and virtually immobile for the winter and spring of this year and being advised to choose a palliative care home in which to spend my last days! My very best wishes, my thoughts are with you, small sparks among the blaze of the support from the thousands of your correspondents. There are 2 comments for Prayerful support by Peter Lloyd
From: Anonymous — Dec 13, 2013

Wonderful painting.

From: PKW — Dec 14, 2013

Your painting reflects your beautiful thoughts. I really, really like your painting. You inspire me. May you and Robert be happy right up to your final moments.

  The lessons of change by Mary Susan Vaughn, Charlotte, NC, USA  

“The Lakota: Children of the Prairie”
oil painting, 20 x 36 inches
by Mary Susan Vaughn

There is a lesson in change — albeit one that we would prefer not to face. Like Renoir, who continued to paint regardless of his failing health, confinement to a wheel chair, and crippling arthritis… he had his family tape the brushes to his hand and help him with his painting and mixing, right up to the end of his life. It is a beautiful place we artists go to when we are in the “zone.” It is a place all our own. For your father, no doubt, even in a reclined position — reaching that place of joy, the “zone,” is the one place he can go that will place him firmly in the “present” where there is no illness, no problems, no worries, no stress. His “zone” is his life in perfect balance with nature, family, and this world. By learning to adjust to his new circumstance, he is learning to find grace in the upside-downness of his canvas and the new view from below his painting. I applaud you, Sara, for continuing in your father’s legacy. It is obvious, at least to me, that you are your father’s daughter. Your father continues to “give” so much to this world we live in. His legacy will live on, long after we have all found new ways to return to awareness. There are 3 comments for The lessons of change by Mary Susan Vaughn
From: allan dunfield — Dec 13, 2013

thank you Mary , your words say what a lot of us feel .

From: andre satie — Dec 13, 2013

I am in agreement with you, Mary Susan and Alan. Just … Yes!

From: jean roberts — Dec 15, 2013

painting took me through a very bad period, the loss of my husband. Sara may you and your Dad continue to find this peace.

  Living a love story by Helen House, Marquette, MI, USA   Ever since a near death experience I had a few years ago, I’ve been playing with this idea that Birth and Death are lovers in a long-distance relationship. Sometimes they live closer… other times further apart… yet no matter the distance from one to the other, we are the living correspondence they write back and forth. When I read today’s letter and the previous one, ‘The Bomb,’ I got a flash that we artists are the illustrators and interpreters of that correspondence for those who don’t know they’re living a love story. You have illustrated and interpreted this life beautifully — through your letters, art, and generous spirit. Thank you for how you’ve nourished the artist within us all. May the potency of this time enhance the sweetness of every moment, whatever the outcome. Live well. There are 2 comments for Living a love story by Helen House
From: Susan Avishai — Dec 13, 2013

This is beautiful, Helen. I also read somewhere that we ought to think of the time after death as similar to the time before birth. We were never afraid of the latter, so why fear the former?

From: Karen R. Phinney — Dec 13, 2013

What a beautiful way to put it, Helen! I think that we as artists sometimes get glimpses of the numinous world just beyond our senses. We may capture it in paint or other means of expression. And we are grateful for Robert’s contribution, he has been a huge support to many artists over the years…. words to urge and inspire, and direct….now Sara is taking on the legacy. Cheers!

  Art triumphs by Tiziana Manierka, Glen Williams (Halton Hills), ON, Canada  

original painting
by Tiziana Manierka

I am so inspired by the courage and grace with which your father and yourself are facing and dealing with this terrible disease. Thank you so much for sharing those lovely little paintings too. A quiet, noble battle depicted in colourful serenity. Shakespeare was right about art (literary or visual) being triumphant over death (and disease). “As long as men can breathe and eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Thank you for touching me so deeply.     Start dancing now by Karen Blanchet, Legal, AB, Canada  

“Cascade Lakes, Banff”
watercolour painting, 11 x 15 inches
by Karen Blanchet

It is a delight to know this present moment is filled with so much joy. Awareness is crucial. Occasionally, when I come out from the swimming pool in the morning, I am confronted with the magnificence of creation, even in a city parking lot. Sunrises take my breath away. I start dancing and invite everyone around me to rejoice. So few respond. Life is good.     There is 1 comment for Start dancing now by Karen Blanchet
From: Gentlehawk — Dec 12, 2013

yes, awareness and perspective are vital and wonderful…..I have heard it said by a master after watching the “Hobbit,part I”, the scene where the group is singing before they leave on their quest, that: Life is “TABAA”…. which means “Tis all but an adventure”….Life IS good !!

  Tips for horizontal workers by Connie Cuthbertson, Fort Frances, ON, Canada  

“Bugaboo — in progress”
original painting
by Connie Cuthbertson

After reading your latest letter it brought back memories I had forgotten about. Laying down painting was something I also did when I had cancer. I have a lazy boy chair and had it in full recline on my off days… it was known as my throne. :) On days I couldn’t sit/stand in front of my easel I could be found surrounded by heaps of brushes, paints and sketches. I worked mostly from the sketches I did from Rhodes as I had recently returned from there when diagnosed. Something that also helped me was taking pictures of my painting in progress. On the viewfinder I could easily see the values and structure when the image was smaller. I couldn’t get up often for proper viewing so this really helped. I am a floor walker when painting and like the back and forth rhythm of viewing my work in progress from a distance. There is so much to learn in this life. Not only about art, but of life too. Actually, for me the two are so intertwined — I now see art in everything I do and see life in everything I paint. There is 1 comment for Tips for horizontal workers by Connie Cuthbertson
From: J.Paris Rody — Dec 14, 2013

Connie, your message this day is so precious… a taste of life and art joined so much so, as to be indistinguishable one from the other. When I can’t speak; when I can’t think of words, I paint. And as I get older, I paint more, to express my appreciation for the beauty of life!

  Don’t burn them this time by Warren Criswell, Benton, AR, USA  

Drawings from the lower back
ball point pen on paper
by Warren Criswell

I love the backlighting in second one. Who was the artist who painted in bed? He had large canvases hoisted up over him and lowered close enough for him to reach with his brushes while lying down. I thought it was Matisse… but that doesn’t google. Robert probably knows — unless, like me, he can’t remember names. We are the same age, after all. But it’s strange how creativity can overcome illness, or if not overcome it, at least continue to animate us, sometimes forcing us to discover new subjects or techniques. As long as we’re making something, we know we’re still alive! While I was laid up with back problems a couple of years ago I filled up a book with ballpoint pen drawings — I mean a printed book! (The Painter’s Workshop by W. G. Constable, a paperback that happened to be within reach). I called it Drawings From the Lower Back. I hope Robert will turn out a truckload of those horizontal gems — and please don’t burn them! There are 3 comments for Don’t burn them this time by Warren Criswell
From: Laurel Alanna McBrine — Dec 12, 2013
From: caroline — Dec 12, 2013

beautiful drawings and love what happens when one draws over text. very inspiring!

From: Another Bob — Dec 13, 2013

Matisse’s art spirit led him to great work despite declining health and strength. He designed his masterpiece, the Vence chapel, mostly from his bed using long sticks with charcoal and paintbrushes. He also improvised his famous cutouts from bed. Weak and bedridden from stomach cancer and other problems, his work changed but remained exceptional. Power, peace and continued inspiration to Robert Genn!

  Horizontal technique by Fredda Williams, Fredericksburg, TX, USA   I cried from the first letter I ever received from you. They were happy tears. It was so wonderful to read things that I felt about art but did not know how to express. Thank you, thank you. I cry a lot now because I do not know if my biopsy will be positive or not. I do it quietly because it makes my family so sad. I do not want to spend my days this way. How do you do it? When you paint lying down where do you keep you paints so you can get to them? Think I will try this before I need to do it. I loved you from your first letter. (RG note) Thanks, Fredda. I’m right-handed. With smaller paintings the ideal is to recline on a narrow couch with the palette beside on a low table at about hip distance. I have the medium and swizzle water on the floor a little closer. It definitely helps to keep busy. I wish you the very best of good luck with your biopsy. If you share with your family they will rally and make it easier and actually quite fun.  

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for A return to awareness

From: Warren Thompson — Dec 09, 2013

“There’s comfort in knowing that even when things are being taken away from us, a new world waits, to be discovered, in an upside-down place.” Thanks Sara. I hang on yours and Roberts thoughts, words and beauty.

From: Ann Domingue — Dec 09, 2013

I really like the freshness of the “couch series”. Wishing you all the best through these difficult times. Glad you can still maintain your sense of humor–a lesson for us all.

From: Kathleen Turnbull — Dec 09, 2013

Dear Robert: enjoyed meeting you & Dorothy about 2 years ago on Gabriola Island during an FCA workshop. The workshop sucked but my husband & I had the opportunity of visiting with you & Dorothy on the beach…great memory! Stay surrounded with the love of your family. Thoughts are with you!!

From: Theresa Grillo Laird — Dec 09, 2013

I agree with Ann. The clarity of the color jumped out at me. There’s clarity and serenity in this.

From: RJ McHatton — Dec 09, 2013

You are so inspiring. Thanks for your courage and humor and for keeping your fans in the loop. We all really appreciate you!

From: Lori Goldberg — Dec 09, 2013
From: Dennis Clark — Dec 09, 2013

You have been an inspiration to many,and to me, for a long time.You are highly appreciated. Dennis, New Zealand

From: Rebecca Stebbins — Dec 09, 2013

I think what we are seeing is the result of a life of dedication and concentration. Only a painter who has spent incalculable hours observing can now call forth those observations and make a painting that reflects that experience and devotion. Thanks once again for modeling this for us. I particularly like #2.

From: Kathleen Theriault — Dec 09, 2013
From: Lauren — Dec 09, 2013

Sara, your dad’s incredible legacy has landed in the safest of hands — your writing has all the warmth and observations as his do. He must be so very proud of you, and quite rightfully so! Best wishes to both of you.

From: Maggie — Dec 09, 2013

Robert Genn, I love you, plain and simple. Merry Christmas!

From: JR Hawse — Dec 09, 2013

Who knew that creating while reclining on the sofa could produce such gems? Thank you for sharing… and thank you for your on going inspiration.

From: Karen Burke — Dec 09, 2013

Dear Robert, Thank you. I’m so grateful for your bi weekly letters — sometimes I thought you psychic because they touched immediate issues in art for me or art and life in my small town. Thank you for sharing so much, and for inspiration. Your gift is great and you are so appreciated. Thank you Sara for continuing.

From: Nancy O’Toole — Dec 09, 2013

Two little beauties! One way or another we find a way to do what we love! Sara writes a great letter like her Dad..full of fascinating observations..she comes by it honestly! Thinking of you and your family often, and sending lots of love your way!

From: Wendy Oppelt — Dec 09, 2013

Your lovely letter reminds me of three simple words “be here now”. It sounds like you two are in that beautiful, sweet place together. Thank you for allowing me to follow your journey. I am grateful.

From: Liz Mackenzie — Dec 10, 2013

Love them! They feel as if they were painted by the eyes of the heart and soul.And loved the letter too.

From: Vicki Jones — Dec 10, 2013

Dear Sara, I thank you for keeping The Letters flowing and for keeping us connected to your father. What a gift! (And I think the Lake of the Woods lying-down painting is simply scrumptious.)

From: Cynthia Brucksch — Dec 10, 2013

Sara’s lesson today is relevant to every one of us as artists. The lesson reminds me that observation is an instantaneous revelation, a sort of AHA moment. A kind of life giving force. A vital refreshment for the eye and soul of artists who see with their mind and paint with their feelings.

From: Rose Desnoyers — Dec 10, 2013

Dear Robert, Even lying down you bring magic to the canvas. Your appreciation of colour, nature and presence transpire. I love the reflection on the water from the sky in painting #2.

From: JB — Dec 10, 2013

Robert Genn doesn’t do “small” paintings…. Wonderful, insightful work, sir. Carry on.

From: sharon richardson — Dec 10, 2013

As a child, I had polio, and ten years ago Post Polio Syndrome set in, totally changing the way I’d painted for the prior thirty years. (had to teach myself to paint left-handed) It’s amazing the way the art spirit survives in us and perseveres, making us adapt. Thanks for keeping us in the loop and providing such inspiration. I send good vibes and love.

From: jacobinatrump — Dec 10, 2013

Talking about how dis-ease can change our lives, I had a bad shoulder injury for three years, wanting to ignore it, because it meant I would have to stop painting, until I could not any more.When I gave up, I sat at my computer and for the first time I discovered cyberspace and how to use it. It is a great tool, my arm has healed and I am a lot richer

From: Sharon Stein — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you Sara for this warm, loving letter. Thank you Robert for painting lying down. The pictures are wonderful. I can picture you doing them and it makes me smile. Bless you both. I will be reading this column to my class tomorrow, for those who have not already subscribed to your letters at my suggestion.

From: Maureen Kerstein — Dec 10, 2013

Thinking that your father could paint such beautiful and joyous paintings with the loving help of his family at such a difficult time in your lives brought tears to my eyes. I just love Red and Ochre.

From: betse@euronet.nl — Dec 10, 2013

Your sofa paintings are full of clear,clean, crisp beauty still & edging with that magical subterranean power. Matisse play, colour and rhythm forcefully alive. Dear Sara and Robert, thank you for the wonderful warm letters and more than all, I wish you well.

From: Karen Rand Anderson — Dec 10, 2013

In truth, all of the previous comments here say so beautifully what I want to express…such warmth, support, and gratitude from everyone. It’s what I feel as well about the Genns, along with deep admiration, while trying not to be sad. Thinking of you both, in my studio on this snowy New England day…~karen

From: ReneW — Dec 10, 2013

Through the years that I’ve read your letters you have inspired me to continue my journey in painting. You have touched so many people with your writing and art. It is time for us to return the inspiration and compassion that you provided us. God bless you, Robert. You have enriched our lives more than you will ever know.

From: Ron Challenger — Dec 10, 2013

Robert, thank you !

From: Janice Vogel — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you Sara for another great and insightful letter. You are so right about a change of environment waking up your senses and fine tuning your awareness. Even a short trip to foreign country can make you look at things back home in a completely different way. So glad to hear that Bob is still painting, adapting to the new parameters and making the best out of every situation, even a visit to the doctor’s office. Love the brown and orange colours in particular in the second painting. I haven’t seen this combination very often in your paintings Bob. We had friends visiting on the weekend from Berlin and they were admiring our 8 Robert Genn’s, learning a bit about Canadian geography in the process :-)

From: Mark Hofreiter — Dec 10, 2013

Awareness, awareness, awareness! So says the Master. Thanks Sara

From: Pat Bishop — Dec 10, 2013

Love to you both, thank you for all you’ve done for us, your avid readers who care about you.

From: Cindi Nave — Dec 10, 2013

Like the hope that we have, painting #2 has the spark of light shining in it. Blessings and peace on you and your family this Christmas.

From: Rebecca DeMarco — Dec 10, 2013

I am a recent devotee of your twice weekly letters and I look forward to opening each one for the message that you are sending–each time a small jewel of wisdom is there for the learning..I am so sorry for the circumstance that you find yourself currently in, and I am grateful for you that you have love and humor wrapping you in their arms as you travel into unknown territory. Today’s post got my attention, and I thought “what an amazing and simple message for us all!” I am constantly reminding myself to be present, and to be aware, and to share THAT message among my friends and family..so much of the magic of life is fleeting..we must be present or we will miss that moment. My best wishes for you and your family, hugs.

From: Deborah Rosato — Dec 10, 2013

Sara: You have not only inherited your father’s gift of visual arts talent but his writing talent as well. We all appreciate your letters as well as his and I for one are comforted with the thought that he is able to paint. I hope he is not suffering too much if at all. Thanks for sharing his upside down work. Its quite lovely and vibrant.

From: Kathleen Crosby — Dec 10, 2013

Dear Sara, Your father has passed on to you his gift of writing and the words which you write are inspiring in this powerful message of appreciation for the moments in life. Please tell your father, that the paintings are beautiful and that he inspires us all by continuing his work. God bless you both, as we send our continued prayers for healing.

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 10, 2013
From: Suze Woolf — Dec 10, 2013

You are showing us all how in so many, many ways.

From: Jo Vander Woude — Dec 10, 2013

As a former artist-in-residence doing art with patients while they get their chemo therapy, I learned so many things: !) Art transcends illness. When creating art, patients can go to that place where creativity takes place and all else fades. 2) Cancer reveals courage, kindness and strength above and beyond the norm. 3) What’s truly important becomes clear. 4) It is a difficult journey, but also a journey that can be filled with meaning and joy. Thank you Robert and Sara for sharing. Your artistic voice has helped me through times when I was unable to create. You have encouraged and educated myself and so many other grateful artists across the globe. Thank you.

From: Inez Hudson — Dec 10, 2013

When a love is true, one never gives up on it or deserts it. His love of painting is true!

From: verna vogel — Dec 10, 2013

Beautiful work, thank you for sharing. Glad Robert is still painting. Warm hugs and a big grin to you both.

From: Dorothy Vezo — Dec 10, 2013

Sara, I am so happy that you are continuing in your Dad’s footsteps of being not only an artist but a great writer as well. Your Dad’s newsletters have gotten me through some very difficult losses in my life. Please let him know I am one of the thousands across the world who are praying for him and your family. Dorothy Vezo, Green Valley, AZ

From: Susan Fenlon — Dec 10, 2013

Sara, like everyone who has followed and been inspired by your Dad for years, I am filled with such gratitude that you continue to connect us to him, and to his work. These are difficult but love filled days, and no matter what the future holds, what a blessing to have shared them.

From: Terry Thirion — Dec 10, 2013
From: Joan Andre — Dec 10, 2013

In illness, and in age, life comes down to simpler and simpler acts, movements, capabilities. We sift out the extraneous, and just do what is important in the day or moment. Awareness of the small steps, focus on what really matters is what life is all about. Thank you Robert and Sara for your dedication, the example, and the love you share with us all.

From: Susan — Dec 10, 2013

So glad to know you keep painting. These two are lovely. Thank you for your inspiration on so many levels.

From: Nancy Oppenheimer — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you Master Robert, for all you are. You paint as you live; with gusto, devotion, intelligence, sensitivity, beauty. We all love you so dearly and appreciate you so greatly.

From: Leigh Cassidy — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you, to the world we live in that has borne such atrocities created by man — that only finds balance when man chooses to be aware, and create beauty in whatever form. I have just put down the flooring in my new studio. I have a world of people sharing in some way what I do through these letters and through being open to sharing, learning, living and day by day dying. May your day by days, remain full of the life you and your family are. Thank you Sara for keeping this side of all going. Thank you both for being the honest, everyday humane marvellous bipeds you are, thank you to Dorothy and Stanley, a rub where they prefer. Our quadruped friends are so supportive and amazing. Always.

From: Joanne Stange, from New Jersey — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you so much, for sharing abit of his world w/us and your comments. It’s something very special to be privy to. BTW..the lying down paintings are beautiful. They express such deep natural beauty and peace. May God continue to guide you all. Have a blessed Christmas.

From: Elissa — Dec 10, 2013

Every visit to this page nurtures and inspires. Know how special you are to so many people. Your couch paintings reveal, not only your strength and courage, but a divine connection to a most beautiful soul that you so willingly reveal to us all. Thank you and be strong. Feel our prayers!!

From: Lyn northam, Cape town — Dec 10, 2013

The need to paint transcends everything and brings deep joy to ones self and others.We feel your passion, Robert,may it carry you with our prayers! You both write such helpful thought provoking messages.God bless and thank you!

From: Barbara Dodsworth — Dec 10, 2013

The couch paintings are beautiful and the letters are always inspiring. Sara, you have your father’s gift of language and his generosity of spirit.

From: Lynne Schulte — Dec 10, 2013

It is hard to add to what has been said — I echo each thought. Thank you for what you bring to me each time I come here. At a personally difficult time in my art, I need you more than ever.

From: Nancy McGrath — Dec 10, 2013

God Bless You, Sweetheart.

From: Lynn St. Clair — Dec 10, 2013

Thank you Sara and Robert for all that you continue to give. I send you healing thoughts and loving prayers, Lynn

From: Penny Otwell — Dec 10, 2013

You continue to inspire us and I thank you Robert. You are on to something with these tummy series! Fresh. Lovely. Keep up the great work!

From: deb jedynak — Dec 10, 2013

Robert is an amazing person, with an amazing skill and he makes lemonade out of lemons.

From: Janet Triplett — Dec 10, 2013
From: Peggy Gianesin — Dec 10, 2013

When I first found you, I almost started deleting the letters because I thought they were for ‘real’ artists, and I am just a wannabe. But, since they were short, I decided to give a period of time to see if I could glean anything from them. Well…..I have. And I thank you. I especially appreciate your bravery and courage to come forth and share such a private thing with us. And….I read thru all the comments here just to make sure I was not pointing out the ‘obvious’, but…of course you can paint horizontally. I mean, Michelangelo did…maybe not quite laying down, but I think he was bending over backwards at times…hahah. I just want to wish you and your family the very best.

From: jesi Barron — Dec 10, 2013

Dear Robert, Thank you for your great kindness . I love your letters . Over the years you have inspired me to keep on. I had breast cancer a few years ago . . So, painting kept me going . I am grateful ………. best wishes,love jesi

From: Janice moser — Dec 11, 2013

Sara,may your Fathers undaunted spirit bring you peace.Robert may your magic carpet of brilliant hue fly you safely from this world into the next.God bless you both.Love Janice

From: Anne Montgomery — Dec 11, 2013

Dear Robert, I feel lucky to have encountered your great mind and artistic talent. Your insights have helped me many times to overcome doubt and negativity. What a gift you have given the world…thank you and never stop painting!

From: Diana Wakely — Dec 11, 2013

Life throws us curves we never expect. From all your artist friends who you have mentored through your letters we send our love and wishes. Thank you Sara for keeping us informed.

From: Elenor Hamilton — Dec 11, 2013

From South Africa where we have just lost our special Mandela I send thanks for a special Artist and his daughter who so generously share their insights and expertise with the rest of the world.

From: Linda — Dec 11, 2013

Not sure just what to say, but “Thank you for this newsletter”. I’ve been lurking here for about a year. Was born an artist, then life happened and I had to earn a steady paycheck. Retired now, I am encouraged by your newsletter. Continuing the newsletter, while facing mortality, is a GIFT to all of us.

From: diane haddon — Dec 11, 2013

thank you, robert, for all your pearls of wisdom and humor over the many years… you’ve inspired me and made me smile.. peace to your heart…

From: Lina Jones — Dec 11, 2013

I was so moved by Sara’s beautiful letter and can’t but be in awe of your love for one another and the courage you show in dealing with your illness in such a positive way. I’m sure you have your ups and downs during this difficult time, but you teach us so much through sharing your journey with honesty and a deep acceptance. Every minute of our lives is precious, there are lessons to be learned at each moment. May your days be filled with light and love and may you find peace and joy in all you do. Moe, Vic. 3825 Australia

From: Nick Coloumbe — Dec 11, 2013

Visual artists of the top rank are well paid specialists in the art of seeing. Not only what’s out there, but what’s in their own vision. This needs to be pointed out on a regular basis. Thanks Sara.

From: Jose Manuel Rocha — Dec 11, 2013

The world of making art is joyous exploration and bliss, as compared to alternative treatments for diseases like cancer, which is an unholy jungle.

From: David Skrypnyk — Dec 12, 2013

In a way Robert’s struggle brings to mind Monet’s wanting to volunteer for the armed forces during war and the French President advising him that he was serving his country best by doing what he did best: painting.

From: Michael Nachoff — Dec 12, 2013

There’s another Artist who flourished from painting in a different position. An Italian guy, Michael-something?

From: R’Lene Winters — Dec 12, 2013

Thank you for continuing your father’s work. I know it has to be so difficult as I have gone through heartache myself, and sometimes being busy is therapeutic. My thoughts are with all of you.

From: Mary Moore — Dec 12, 2013

Your writing is beautiful; how happy it must make your Dad to know that his tradition of letters are so brilliantly carried forth with such skill and grace. Thank you from all of us who follow.

From: Halverson Frazier — Dec 12, 2013

Ah yes, the master’s still in charge. Thank you for your revues and dedication. Robert’s an inspiration in so many ways and his delightful tongue in cheek observations and shared philosophy has kept us all continually devoted to his work and uncanny commentary. I, for one, feel so privileged to be a part of his audience and that shall never cease as we reread and share his legacy of achievement and works.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Dec 12, 2013
From: RONALD WARNOCK — Dec 12, 2013

No doubt in MY mind,……..he knows how lucky he is to have a daughter like you!! Blessings on BOTH of you!!

From: Joe Mzik — Dec 12, 2013

Yes, awareness is everything… I do not believe those who are giving us a death penalty. If I would, I would be dead three times. When we are ill, we are tested, no medicine… Make a wish that when you will be well, what contribution to the society you will do. Your wisdom, kindness and desire will prevail.

From: Julie Nilsson — Dec 12, 2013

I’m awed and astounded and honored to share in the grace of these father/daughter vignettes. The paintings are astonishingly beautiful. Robert, you have lost none of your vision, perhaps gained more, and Sara, its a real pleasure and comfort to read your visionary letters each week.

From: Ruth Sentelle — Dec 12, 2013

Sincere thanks for your very thoughtful, intellectual and sincere contributions to your Dad’s letters. It is truly a blessing that we subscribers have you to keep us up to date on Dad’s health and the courage you both are displaying.

From: Joe Murray — Dec 12, 2013

One can certainly tell that Sara has picked up your verbage, clarity, and probably most importantly a lot of your soul qualities. I enjoyed the prone position paintings a lot. Very serene yet full of the vitality and subtle brilliance of nature . You continue to teach us the values of continuity in life Robert –that is a great blessing in itself.

From: Anik Charron — Dec 12, 2013
From: Fred Casselman — Dec 12, 2013

Probably your best work yet, in my opinion. And I say that in all sincerity and with a great sense of joy.

From: Barbara Nehman — Dec 12, 2013

You two prove that where there is breath and purpose, there is life. And, where there is life, there is hope. You are having enough of all these to continue for several lifetimes as the energy of your essence and generously shared wisdom lives on.

From: Julie Eastman — Dec 12, 2013

I just listened to the CBS interview with you on your website. Thanks for talking about burning your “failed” paintings. Somehow it is reassuring to know you do this. While I’m not so prolific a painter, I do occasionally review and toss the ones that don’t make the mark. It does feel like a cleansing ritual, and helps make room for the new.

From: Peter Trent — Dec 12, 2013

The body may be less strong and active but, there is nothing wrong with the mind, eye, hand coordination These two rank as high as those that I have that were done 40+ years ago, in 1972 and 1977 — indeed, I note that with the move from oil to acrylic and the maturing of the aging process there is a freshness as well as much less somber color palate to express your vision — or to put it more succinctly, I love them ! Would that my work should be as good !

From: Claude Ambollet — Dec 12, 2013

These great times together .. it’s touching .. and although we do not really know each other, it is a wave of deep friendship that emanates from all your messages .. the last works are lying unmissable colors .. hope .. a nice job a success! Saraphina thank you for sharing.

From: Peter Zdenek — Dec 12, 2013

I love and admire your attitude. You and your Dad are an inspiration to us all.

From: Linda Jolly — Dec 12, 2013

You are setting an encouraging and inspiring example for us all to carry on with our paint brushes, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. I don’t think we ever stop learning. Every painting is a learning experience and preparation for the next one. Your letters have been an integral source of inspiration to me and thousands of others. I look forward to them as a regular part of my week. There is advice, encouragement, wisdom and humour in them to cheer us on. It would be a great loss not to have them and so thank you, Sara, for jumping in and carrying on your father’s work.

From: Norma Hopkins — Dec 12, 2013

On looking at the horizontal pictures… there is great warmth in them… especially in the bottom one. A beautiful glowing warmth. I am a textile artist living in England but the letters are always a joy. What a gift to reach across the world to so many artists! It’s a solitary thing, painting and creating, we never know how it is received by those who see it …. Robert brings warmth, loving kindness and wisdom through his letters and yours Sara, is a lovely letter too. You are a testament to your Papa.

From: Randy Boyd — Dec 12, 2013

The perception of an artist is all about not taking things for granted. Many people go through life seeing and accepting things as they are. Artists have a higher calling. UK

From: Kelly McDonald — Dec 12, 2013

You are a blessing to all of us..I have chronic back problems which have allowed me to feel sorry for myself many times.Oh yes, being in the NOW is so vital,….Thanks again.

From: Cathy Roddie — Dec 12, 2013

I went through life wondering what my important role was . Only in later life did I realize that I was never going to be famous, that my role was helping others in a variety of ways. Robert is a well known artist but that is not what his life has been about. He has cast seeds out there amongst many artists and never witnessed the results himself. He didn’t see a revived vigor in a stumped brushstroke, an encouraged beginner or see someone put their priorities in order. He casts his wisdom out there abundantly and wisely and we gobble it up and grow ourselves. Robert your mission has been accomplished and continues to be so, the proficiency of your painting was secondary to the impact you have on people’s lives.

From: Angie Hill — Dec 13, 2013

Robert, again, I must say thank you for everything you have given to us. You are such a great example of a human being, and an artist. Thank you.

From: Mary Adams — Dec 13, 2013

You and your family are in my prayers and thoughts. You have inspired me from the first letter I read two years ago. Last month I was on tv showing my art, this month my first original painting displayed at the new White Bear Lake Center for the Arts, another mural I participated in at the Minneapolis City Center and an original self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh is proudly displayed at Key’s Cafe in St. Paul, Minnesota. My version of ‘Salvador Mundi’ by da Vinci, shown on tv, sends a message of God’s love to all because that’s why we are really here on this earth. To love and be loved. My art is a self-expression of my love coming directly from my heart. God bless you, Robert for sharing your life with al of us.

From: Jayne St.John W Vanc — Dec 13, 2013

As I am lying here, reading your letters, I am encouraged by faith, love and hope. My daughter is at this moment having her second back surgery in two months, and we do put ourselves in others hands. We ask for (Miracles) but overflowing LOVE emerges from friends and strangers. Doctors appear that seem to be perfect for the moment. So maybe we just have to BELIEVE. How proud we are of you two…..

From: Linda Buck, Bedford, NH — Dec 13, 2013

Our friend, Bill Luce, who was mentor to many New England pastors, college president, and leader of a home based bible study which my husband and I attended for years, passed away two years ago. What connection do I see between Bill and Robert? Their vulnerability and willingness to practice being “true faced” — letting others share in their journey through their most challenging life situation, a journey through which many choose isolation. Instead, they enrich the lives of others by sharing the truth of their daily struggles and give us the treasure of their wisdom and strength, as well as seeing the grace God gives to do so. Robert, you inspire us in your art as well as in the way you live each day..standing or lying down. God bless you!

From: angie lenius — Dec 13, 2013

reading today’s letter i wonder what you would do if you could just paint freely “modern art-wise” i would love to see what a modern art painting by you would look like. also, a prayer to you to ease any pain angie L

From: Patricia Robles El Paso TX — Dec 13, 2013

Fond regards, Friend. I enjoyed your tale of painting the elephant…the monk conveyed not the “how’ of painting the image but the ‘why’. Our works would be much more meaningful if we all knew ‘why’ we were painting them. This is a tenet you discovered long ago.

From: Ann Koziell — Dec 13, 2013

Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I love the two paintings you did while lying down — they are amazing. Now I want to try painting lying down. I am enjoying your letters and also those from Sara. You both are an inspiration, and I am loving reading your present-day and past-day letters. However, I feel that I should burn most of my paintings; I need to get rid of the “dogs.”

From: Kirsten Norton — Dec 13, 2013

Wow… I don’t know how to thank you for this. I can’t quite explain the gift of your Dad, and of you, keeping us connected to him… You are so kind to bring us along, into your home and to share so much, and so deeply… Thank you Sara, and thank you Robert… Thank you for being.

From:Diane Langeveld — Dec 13, 2013
From: Ania Kyte — Dec 17, 2013

Robert & Sara — I read each letter with tears, but then again, that’s not much of a difference from before… You are so strong and such an inspiration. Please keep sharing your new path — the altered perspective is creating a mindful gratitude… ~Ania

From: Jan Burney — Dec 20, 2013

Dear Genns, I have been a painter and follower of you newsletter for many years. I was saddened to hear about Robert’s cancer findings, then about a month ago at a regular check up I found I have recurrent melanoma in my lungs, liver, spleen, bones, and a kidney. Living in the moment has never meant more to me. Things I took for granted are now special precious memories. Maybe we have a special gift, most people have no idea of the time they have left to do what they want. We have a time frame to take care of business and do what we feel is most important. I am going on a clinical trial of new drugs that I hope will give me some extra time, but nothing is guaranteed. Thinking of you, Jan

  Featured workshop: Jane Romanishko 121313_robert-genn-workshop Jane Romanishko Workshops Held in Beautiful Casa Buena Art Retreat, Mexico   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.     woa

Winter Scene

oil painting, 48 x 60 inches by Jeanette Obbink, ON, Canada

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Donna Robertson of Beaufort, NC, USA, who wrote, “Listening to Eckhart Tolle yesterday I thought about how fortunate we are to access awareness and Presence in the act of painting. This is so obvious in your father’s work. Tolle says there is only birth and death. “Life” has no opposite. A good thing for us all to remember.” And also Jeanette Zaimes of Milford, DE, USA, who wrote, “I love Robert’s lying down paintings. I struggle with chronic illness. When I was first diagnosed a wise friend said, “For everything you lose, replace it with something you love.” I see you’ve done that, and so successfully!” And also Rami Scully of El Paso, TX, USA, who wrote, “In El Paso we hunger for the colors of fall — cottonwoods yellow and Bradford pears turn that nice red and gold glow. If I don’t paint them when they first appear they will be brown by the time I get there. You have warned us multiple times of the importance of now, and once again we see the fruit of it. Thank you.” And also Luc Poitras of Montreal, QC, Canada, who wrote, “With you guys, there’s always a letter there. ;-) And that is good. Well done. To your dad, “Hang in there, Robert, and thanks for leading us to a new process, that of plein-air-lying-down. My only problem is that my ceiling doesn’t seem as interesting as yours.”

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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