Things to go and come

Dear Artist, I don’t think our daily newspapers are going to be with us much longer. Right now we get two of them. They’re delivered a few minutes apart in the early morning by two separate guys in gas guzzlers with challenged mufflers. Every time I step out to get them I think of trees. If I read the trees in bed they make a rustling noise that bothers Carol. The iPad is better. Paper books. Libraries are now places for homeless people to keep warm. The Kindles and other electronic readers will win out. You read what you want when and where you want to; no waiting for Amazon to deliver or the local library to open up. With electronic delivery, authors get paid just the same, perhaps more. Electronic books are easy to hold, and with their uniform, controllable lighting they cause less eyestrain. Our postman, a really nice guy, is also pretty well toast. As the P.O. goes the way of the Druids — watch it — the institution will get more weird, more expensive and less efficient. When people get used to the various systems of electronic money transfer, cheques in the mail will be dead ducks. Junk mail will be pre-junked. By the way, did you know the frequency of letter writing is way up in the last decade? Who can compete with a legible email that gets to Hackensack right away and it’s free? But look out. Fine art is on the way in. In our gadgety, thing-happy society where Walmart and creeping meatballism threaten, painting is hot. Old fashioned as the shoeing of horses — about the same methodology for the last six hundred years — art fills a vital human need for life enhancement. Art reboots the cerebral cortex, teaches new skills to underutilized hands, arouses dormant sensitivities and promotes latent passions. If need be, art gives us something to talk about besides the kids, grandkids and celebrities, hence making us more interesting people. And it’s cheap — a month of art supplies for the average Daumier is about the same as a round of golf. They’re now estimating 12 million painters in North America. Our sources figure four percent of Western populations have paint and brushes, up from three percent two decades ago. More painters are painting today than in the whole history of art. Done well, art has lots of ploys, feels good, makes you proud, is so frustratingly difficult it makes grown men cry, and it’s not golf. Best regards, Robert PS: “All things you see will be changed, and out of their substance will make other things and again others so the world may be ever new.” (Marcus Aurelius, AD 121-180) Esoterica: As another year gets chucked into the circular file, we look back on a remarkable decade of change. For many of us it’s meant a greater need for and appreciation of sanctuary. We catch ourselves daily in our work-spaces — whether tiny rooms or lofty studios — often contented, always challenged. These retreats are not soon to be closed. The studio is a place of dreams, and dreams, though always vulnerable, are good for us.   Electronic art by David Rickert, Staples, MN, USA  

“After the Storm”
original painting
by David Rickert

Alas, when I see the electronic age leapfrogging ahead I see flat screen electronic art hanging on walls, replacing framed canvases and matted watercolors. Want a Monet? Press a button. Want a Miro or Picasso? Press a button. Patrons will be able to select art like they select music on Cable or I-tunes. Electronic art on demand will replace the real thing and artists will be, if they’re lucky, selling their work to electronic marketers. Good luck, everyone.   There are 3 comments for Electronic art by David Rickert
From: Tatjana — Jan 04, 2011

I think that this will be true for the consumer market, but collectors will always collect originals.

From: Suzette Fram — Jan 04, 2011

Unfortunately, David, you are probably quite right. Sigh…..

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

Not only that but everyone will be a painter without any training. I’ve seen some phones where you can paint with your finger and the computer makes adjustments. Then I suppose you send it immediately to your gallery and the money from the sale is sent your account-electronically and you can spend it on your credit card. What is really in jeopardy here is – paper money!!

  Lonely without hard copies by Sydney Metrick, Berkeley, CA, USA   I always enjoy your letter, but I have to disagree with you about books. In my house we have two offices and both have small libraries. In mine I have two shelves of novels, and the rest are books on psychology, mythology, science, business, and other things I might use for teaching or reference. I did borrow a Kindle a few months ago and read five or six books on the device. It couldn’t come close to being as satisfying as having an actual book. But what really struck me was imagining all my books were available on one electronic device. No books in the house. A very lonely thought. There are 2 comments for Lonely without hard copies by Sydney Metrick
From: Janice TL — Jan 04, 2011

A house without books would be lonely, indeed. And unimaginable.

From: Terry Rempel-Mroz — Jan 04, 2011

For Many years (during the 80’s and into the 90’s)ago I was a practising rare book conservator, and worked on beautiful books bound in leather or vellum, on linen paper, that one can no longer find outside museums and private collections. So you would think I would be predisposed to hard copies, wouldn’t you? However, I look at books as functional containers of information as well as objects of beauty. So I have both hard copies, and a Sony eReader. My eReader stays in my purse, so that I have books available to me at all times in any location. But I never read it at home — there I have hard copies. Function dictates form — always. As an artist, do you take your canvas/printing press/sketchpads everywhere you go? Or do you carry a camera as well to capture the details and lighting and fleeting expressions so you can go back to the studio with your sketch and create that masterpiece? Hooray for the ability to read whatever, whenever, wherever, and in any format ! I must agree with you on one thing though — and disagree with Robert. I know more artists who are avid readers than those who do not read. Why limit yourself — imagination is not cluttered with the ideas in books, it is set free. Artists do read, and read lots!

  Changes in horse shoeing by Marti Adrian, Swan river, MB, Canada   Careful what you compare the making of art to. Horse-shoeing is now considered ‘old-fashioned,’ and with all the new methods of training horses, we have also learned that horses no longer need to be ‘shod.’ We don’t use them all day long on cobble-stone streets anymore, and their natural defenses against rocks, and uneven ground is more than adequate to protect that inner portion of the equine foot. Often called the ‘mustang trim’ in the way that the hoof wall is cut to emulate the natural wear of a mustang’s feet on natural ground. The sole is left to harden and callous, and therefore creates its own ‘shoe.’ The horse has a much healthier foot, bones sit at a natural angle and the whole skeletal structure therefore does not wear away from unnatural positions. Six hundred years of doing things one way — and we have to go back even farther to find a better way to do it. Wonder what will be next in art? There are 2 comments for Changes in horse shoeing by Marti Adrian
From: Rose — Jan 04, 2011

Thank you for the info…

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

This “mustang trim” falls apart when you add a rider. The added weight changes everything. What you say is true only when the horse is left to run free with no human interference.

  The persistence of libraries by Pamela Ryan   I take issue with your cheap shot at libraries. Libraries are one of our greatest democratic institutions — a place where people can still find tutors to assist in learning computer basics and where volunteers stand ready to assist the children of their community in reading, math, spelling and geography outside of the classroom. As most employment is now found through Internet channels, libraries provide those who are financially unable to own their own personal computer the use of an on premise computer for job hunting at no cost. Libraries provide assistance to those who find themselves challenged by the complexity and jargon of fine print documents. They sponsor fine art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, round table discussion — all free. Sure, digital graphics are light years better than those produced in print but I have personally checked out countless art books and art related DVD’s from my local library that have been enormously helpful in the development of my own painting. Regardless of race, creed, color or demographics, information is free at public libraries. And yes, libraries also keep people warm — be they homeless or tax- paying citizens. PS: “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” (Andrew Carnegie) There are 4 comments for The persistence of libraries by Pamela Ryan
From: LD Tennessee — Jan 04, 2011

I have to agree,libraries now connect to the future(technology), support the present(access), and connect us to the past(real live books!) The other day I saw a button that read: “LIBRARIAN-THE ORIGINAL SEARCH ENGINE!” It made me smile and appreciate all the librarians who have been invaluable to me in one search or another throughout my life of 60+ years.

From: rene — Jan 04, 2011

In addition to the wonderful library services mentioned, our state has an Interlibrary Loan program. If a book is unavailable from my local library system, I can search all the libraries in the state for the book. If it’s available, I’ll get it.

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

Pamela – have you ever heard of the “automat”. People thought that would never go out of style. Look it up on Google.

From: Sil Marie Bialomski — Jan 10, 2011

Most factory and business lunch rooms have automat-like food dispensers. While there is a lot of difference in how the food is handled, and in scale, it is evolutionarily similar, as the automat was similar to the bazaar or street vendors, which still exist, though are reduced. Books will probably be with us for a long time, though they might become a specialty item, and libraries will become less the repositories of cutting edge culture, but a bit more prosaic and old fashioned, perhaps similar to museums, except they will lend, where practicable. Nothing seems to permanently leave us, but is merely subsumed into the means of the future, apparent in remnants.

  Cannot be pulped or recycled by Nigel Blackburn, Chile  

“Pumpkin and Jug”
original painting
by Nigel Blackburn

Emails are not “free.” Communication costs. We buy our computers, iPads and Kindles, they devalue and fall behind the latest software requirements fast so we buy new ones. The old ones are not easily “sold on” or recycled and the energy and environmental cost of their production and recycling (if carried out) is high. We pay for our Internet connection every month and Internet servers consume a significant percentage of world energy production. I am not a Luddite but let’s not kid ourselves: the sleek modern IT world cannot be pulped and recycled, its raw material does not sequester carbon and you’ll never see “Produced from Renewable Forests” on a Kindle! There are 2 comments for Cannot be pulped or recycled by Nigel Blackburn
From: Rose — Jan 04, 2011

How true…

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

never say ..never!

  Art will remain by Trudy Wardrop   Yesterday my husband and I were watching a PBS program on Antarctica pertaining to global warming and the predicted demise of shoreline societies around the world when the oceans rise. And even if they don’t, earth moves, things change, and eventually much of what we know now will become the future cities of Atlantis. If not global warming, some other politically-induced demise. I said, “So much of what we do today is electronic. Much knowledge of today’s societies will be lost to the ether: textual information, photographs, all evaporated. ART is what will remain to tell the stories, perhaps not unlike the cave drawings of pre-historic man. I’m glad to hear that there are more artists out there!”   The purpose of art by Kristine Fretheim, Maple Grove, MN, USA  

“Earth Dakini”
watercolour painting, 30 x 22 inches
by Kristine Fretheim

Oh my! Great post! Inspiring and encouraging. But art-making seems to have nixed my ability to converse in words. Yesterday, while being interviewed for an article about my art for a local magazine, I found myself stumbling and bumbling the entire time, searching for words and ideas to “explain” my art and my painting self. “I paint from my heart!” I blurted out. “This is my personal vision.” I felt like a total idiot, unable to express in words anything much at all about Art, let alone my art. Ultimately I feel art should speak for itself. It should reach out and grab people, make them stop in their frenzied tracks, to connect with the moment. But “connect with the moment” really means a connection within, a perfect lining up of inner stuff that unlocks the heart. That’s a mind to mind connection. Artist and viewer are one. There are 6 comments for The purpose of art by Kristine Fretheim
From: wes — Jan 03, 2011

Well, you may have bumbled the interview but you got it right in your post.

From: Helene — Jan 04, 2011

Your comment is right on! Your art speaks for itself and I agree with Wes that you got it right in your post!

From: Sandy Donn — Jan 04, 2011

Beautiful painting!

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jan 04, 2011

I know what you mean, put a camera in front of me and i turn into a bumbling idiot! Your painting is wonderful!

From: Lynd — Jan 04, 2011

O yes, art should speak for itself…but it is important too, that we speak for art – every chance we get! Good luck on the next opportunity :)

From: Mary Lewis — Jan 05, 2011

I love your painting. It struck me as the most beautiful portrait, of “Mother Hen and her Chicks” that I have ever seen! Thank you for sharing………..

  The value of trees by Loretta Puckrin, Lake Cowichan, BC, Canada  

“Canadian Sunrise”
original painting
by Loretta Puckrin

The paper industry has sponsored an overall increase to the number of trees in North America. Trees are a renewable resource and more pulp is being taken from tree farms every year. The growth of trees increases the oxygen content of our air. As an industry pulp and paper contribute more than it takes away so when you re-thinking of trees it should be with a deep breath of the fresh air that they support. The art world is not exempt when it comes to the use of trees but there is no sponsorship to replace what is used. What other than trees are being used to stretch canvas. That is just a small amount you say? Think of those growing numbers you quoted on the number of artists. Whether they are pastel, acrylic or oil they all depend on trees to give them their substrate. There seems to be a growing demand for wooden panels which dispenses with the cotton and uses only tree materials. There is 1 comment for The value of trees by Loretta Puckrin
From: Liz Reday — Jan 06, 2011

Isn’t some paper made with cotton linters, not wood pulp? Any paper experts out there who could explain?

  The feeling of painting by John Maurer  

original painting
by John Maurer

We are on the same page when it comes to all things from the dinosaur era. I wrestle to stay as current as I can with all the latest technological gadgets, but find there’s no peace that replaces how I feel when I am painting. Frankly the further I remove myself from the digital world, the better. I’m happy to hear that art is growing in terms of appreciation worldwide. Do you think it will reach a saturation point? I know what it does for me personally and for many like minded individuals, but with 12 million of us out there, is there room for that much art in a world being expressed in so many new and digital methods?   Library attendance up by Paula Margulies, San Diego, CA, USA   On the contrary, library usage is up in the United States as evidenced in the 2010 American Library Association’s State of the American Libraries Report. The report states: Data from a January 2010 Harris Interactive poll provide compelling evidence that a decade-long trend of increasing library use is continuing — and even accelerating during economic hard times. The national survey indicates that some 219 million Americans feel the public library improves the quality of life in their community, an increase from 209.8 million reported in 2006. Survey data also indicate that more than 223 million Americans feel that because it provides free access to materials and resources, the public library plays an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed. I don’t know about your local library, but mine here in San Diego is packed all the time. My branch in Rancho Penasquitos had to cut its hours recently, and now people in my community (none of them homeless, that I’ve seen) line up at the door waiting for it to open. I hear you on the state of publishing and the enormous surge in ebooks and electronic readers. But libraries continue to thrive, despite the change in how we read books. In fact, a number of our libraries in San Diego allow members to download ebooks on Kindles and Nooks. As a book publicist, I will always love the feel of a book in my hands. That said, it sure is convenient to be able to download a number of books onto a Kindle before flying away on a vacation. Either way, if the Harris poll is accurate, libraries will continue to be much more than places for homeless to keep warm (at least I and 219 million American think so!). There are 2 comments for Library attendance up by Paula Margulies
From: joan merrick — Jan 04, 2011

I use this library, and it hangs local artists every month…many of my artist friends show and sell there….great comment Paula!

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

I’m flying this weekend. First thing I did was buy a book to take with me. But then Im an old guy who lives in the past.

  Paper books will still persist by Doug Purdon, Canada  

“The Road to Tobermory”
oil painting, 30 x 40 inches
by Doug Purdon

I tend to disagree with you that books are going to be replaced by e-readers. I do have an e-reader and use it when I am travelling light but find it a far cry from the printed book. As many of the books I read are non-fiction and art related the present e-reader fails to offer me the visual material that I need. It is also not easy to move backwards and forwards within the book easily. The current book I am reading has footnotes and the process to move from the page I am reading to the notes is excruciatingly painful. Much of my reading has to do with research for courses I am teaching and many of the books I use have been out of print for years. This is where the internet is a great asset. I doubt if Landscape Painting in Oil by Alfred East published in 1905 will be available in an e-book soon and if so the excellent hand tipped colour plates would not seem the same in a digital format. While I think that e-books will continue to be more of the market I also think that there will be readers who will still want a traditional book. Twenty years ago the cassette tape was heralded as the end of the LP record; then CDs were the end of the cassette tape. Now new LP records are back and being sold at high prices. These records are not nostalgia but in fact feature some of the funkiest and new groups. Those buying the LPs aren’t the old fogies’ but the young music lovers. They obviously won’t replace the CDs and downloads but for some they offer something that is new again. It’ll be the same with the e-reader. Yes the majority will seize the new technology but there will still be readers who will want the traditional book. There is 1 comment for Paper books will still persist by Doug Purdon
From: Reggie Sabiston — Jan 04, 2011

Hi Doug, first of all, love your painting. I also agree with you that I love the traditional books and am thankful that people are able to order books from the library that they can enjoy reading at home. I live in the country and have done that many times. I also want to mention that your workshop was very helpful and up to date. I look forward to someday taking another one.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Things to go and come

From: Richard Smith — Dec 30, 2010

People eat, people sleep, people make love, people make art. People do a million things they did a thousand years ago. Sure things change but if you look closely you’ll see that basically a lot of things are the same but with a bit of a twist. It was said, quite some time ago, that with the advent of tv, that was it for reading and writing. Oh yeah? Messages on these electronic gizmos that I’m using right now have increased the amount of reading and writing that goes on. No, it’s not quill pen and parchment paper but it’s still reading and writing. The medium might change but the message remains the same. Looking forward to more of your postings, have a good year Bob. Best wishes, Richard Smith

From: Gwyneth — Dec 30, 2010

One of the saddest things to me is the demise of the written letter. (Yet, Robert, you say writing was UP in the last decade?) What am I going to do with my treasure trove of fountain pens and jewel-like inks? Ah, yes, there is Art. But I do enjoy writing to people, always have. Now, I’m in the category of the dinosaur with only aging friends who can still read script reading my letters with a page-magnifier! (Yet, I write “large”!) but they do write back, ever feebly. I never expected this to happen so soon. Gwyneth the Fading Luddite

From: Eric — Dec 31, 2010

At least art books and other books that depend on illustrations are unlikely to disappear very soon. Looking at a photo on an iPad or Kindle really is no substitute for a well-printed picture on paper. Otherwise, I’m on board the e-book train and no amount of nostalgia will shove me off. And if I send a hand-written letter these days it usually means someone died or is ill, because an e-mail just doesn’t feel like the same feeling, effort or thought was behind it.

From: Rene Wojcik — Dec 31, 2010

Those of us that have been on this earth a long time still relish curling up with a good book on a cold winters day. Books won’t disappear anytime soon but those who publish or sell them will. There are two major USA book sellers who are in big financial trouble. We all know that the times are changing with respect to the printed word. The next generation will grow up with the electronic versions of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. And in the process save many trees. Fortunately my watercolor paper is made of cotton. I can still paint as long as there are cotton plants.

From: Darla — Dec 31, 2010

Robert, most if not all of us are reading this on the computer! Thirty years ago, computers were going to usher in the “paperless office”. That didn’t happen, but I can see that book downloads are going to be a large part of the publishing industry, finally. About time, too.

I wonder if art is undergoing a transformation from being all about the product to being about what we, as artists, get from making it. Art as personal development. Talent is not as rare as it was once thought to be, and more artists means more and better art from the competition. The down side is that it also means a flooded market, so we need to find different means of making a living from it.
From: Jackie Knott — Dec 31, 2010

I hope people aren’t buying Kindles and Ipads in the mistaken belief they’re lessening the destruction of trees. The real culprit is computers. Really, check the statistics on that. Everyone has a computer, many homes several, plus faxes and printers. Businesses use more faxes, more printers, and everyone has to have a copy. Remember the prediction of the elimination of paper? Instead, consumption has increased tenfold.

I particularly lament the slow death of newspapers. The immediacy of the Internet is the terminal disease killing them. The problem is any buffoon (include real news organizations) can spout forth his or her opinion and news when it is hardly more than electronic gossip. The problem is finding the truth out there, and good luck with that. Not that the printed word is foolproof but legitimate journalism is a rare gem. We better hope newspapers of integrity survive. My morning coffee just isn’t the same without the rustle of newsprint. Some booksellers are having trouble but others are thriving. It pleases me to stand in line at the one I frequent and that is not just during the holiday season. We owe J. K. Rowling a ‘thank you’ for getting children reading again. Our rural county just built a new library, much of it by private donation. It is a community gathering place. It is filled with readers and none are homeless. It is too easy to submerge oneself in a cold electronic world and that is why art is growing. We need beauty around us. We need a means of self expression. We need to communicate in both the written word and through art. We need that tactile interaction with a brush and paint, a pen, or turning the page of a good book. Our sense of touch is not stimulated by tapping a keyboard. Some things can never be mechanized. Enhanced, sure. New mediums, absolutely. Computer artists are exploring the technology conventional artists never dreamed of. Regardless, the cream will rise to the top.
From: Nola — Dec 31, 2010

I don’t think electronic books will take over too quickly … they’re hot right now … but they have some problems: I can’t lend my book to a friend, if the batteries run out on the train I’m SOL, I can’t continue to read my Kindle after I’ve dropped it in the bath, and it hates sand (so the beach is out).

Regarding libraries … they’re not going to disappear either … it’s still the only place you can download/borrow a book/dvd/recording and get help finding out about anything (especially on the computer) … for FREE!
From: Mary Bennett, Community Arts Council of Vancouver — Dec 31, 2010

My prediction is that community art – making murals, banners, doing a community play, a parade – is or will be on an upswing and become more “normal” – not such an unusual or special event. I see people who aren’t artists, begin to enjoy touching materials and being part of a creative community process that is deeply meaningful to them. Professional artist facilitators guiding the process is important in making it successful.

From: samere tansley — Dec 31, 2010

Do remember that computers have a negative environmental impact when disposed of in land fill and not recycled properly.

The pressure to upgrade every minute adds to this. Their incorrect disposal (dumping) of first world computers in third world countries pollutes the environment and damages poor people who come in contact with them (to try and extract gold e.g.).Where i live, in Jamaica for example all electronic devices are dumped in land fill (or anywhere! ) and will eventually pollute the water table Even the mining of the rare minerals used in computer manufacturing is problematic
From: Marvin Humphrey — Dec 31, 2010

Over time, examples of fine penmanship (actual ink on paper) will gradually gain value as they ascend into the realm of fine art.

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 31, 2010

I think you’re right, Robert, more and more people are making art, which is great. For personal growth and satisfaction, making art is wonderful.

There are however some unfortunate side effects to this: first is quality, it will surely go downhill pretty fast when every one and his dog decides to paint and hang the results on their walls. Next is oversaturation, there will be so many paintings to be had (I think we may be there already) that few will sell and serious artists will find it more and more difficult to make a living at art. Will making art become a hobby, something not taken seriously? For many of us less-than-wildly-successful artists, that is a reality already. So what is the future for art making? Does it have a future for most of us, other than as a hobby and for personal growth? Food for thought on this last day of the year.
From: sharon — Dec 31, 2010

I don’t think books will disappear, rather, their usage and purpose will evolve. As a teacher we were often told the information in resource books was often obsolete by time it reached us. In this case is a book the best way to distribute information? Clearly another method of sharing certain types of information would appear to be more efficient and effective. Having said that – I love books and my husband and I cherish the ones we have. I love the feel of a book, the stains on the page that trace past use and even the folded corners where a weary reader stopped for the night and let’s not forget a good illustration. I have my “Dick and Jane”s and other battered old books that can never be replaced by technology. I share my books with others and they with me -more fun than loading something up. As well, when I tutor at our local library it is teaming with activity. Yes, I actually met a homeless lady there and perhaps that bit of social interaction we had helped her through the day. Gotta go dust my bookcase.

From: Shari Jones — Dec 31, 2010

….and then we wonder why unemployment is so high–the human touch is becoming less and less needed! Many of the idle will decide to take up a hobby–painting could fill the void. As a retired graphic designer I saw this happen when desktop publishing came into vogue. Anyone with a computer became a designer, typesetter and purveyor of the printed page. Unfortunately the standard for design went down quickly. Artist must continue to strive to improve their craft and at least give the newbees something to strive for.

From: Jackie Pritchard — Dec 31, 2010

I sit and read your epistles, an anonymous at-home artist for whom your weekly thoughts are manna from above…once in a while your words warm the cockles of the heart, as well as pique the intellect. Such is this one. I mourn the prospect of the loss of spatial objects that feed the soul..such as books, letters from distant friends..even the lowly calendar from the local Mom & Pop drugstore. I protest “electronic books, ipods, and such”, that separate & isolate us from our fellow man.

Onward and upward…thru the fog..against the wind…
From: John F. Burk — Dec 31, 2010

Robert, I hope you are right. Your statistics are reassuring. However, the feel of a book in hand, the look of type on paper, and of a book on a shelf, also old as shoeing horses, has a charm I can’t resist. I would happily read the newspaper on an iPad, if someone were to give me one. But there will always be books on my shelf—just behind my easel, as it happens—as long as there is air in my lungs.

From: David Lussier — Dec 31, 2010

I don’t think books and magazines will ever leave us. A few newspapers will hang in there too. Books are on there way up and well…magazines…if you look at what’s out there, their popularity just seems to increase by the second.

I don’t think that the kindles and electronic readers will ever replace the pleasant desire to want to turn the pages on a good book. What would become of personal libraries??? Ugh. Painting is on it’s way up. Now that I agree with for sure. But one thing that I notice out there is that, while the number of painters increase, there is this thing happening where there is a steady increase of paintings in the market that are being priced ridiculously low.
From: Judith Jones — Dec 31, 2010

In our area, libraries are vital and busy community centers.

Poetry slams, children’s mystery dramas, book clubs for the adults, and yes art shows, are just some of the activities at the library. My local librarian has introduced me to a couple of American Women Artist. I love my ipad and use it to read ‘popular stuff’, but I can’t see it replacing my books on Fra Angelico, other art books and my reference books. Please don’t take away the Post Office! Fedx and UPS don’t deliver to my house.
From: Paul Schaufler — Dec 31, 2010

I agree with you on a lot of things but not when it comes to books. The kindle will never replace the joy of sitting in a comfy chair with a good HARD COVER book and a cup of my favorite beverage by my side.

But , I am a fine print photographer so what the h… do I know!
From: Joyce Wycoff — Dec 31, 2010

Robert … Love “creeping meatballism” … and getting your thoughts and guidance twice a week every week. Just wanted to say thank you … I’m sure the ripple of your support and guidance continues long after the electrons have dried on your twice-weekly posts. Obviously our metaphors need to catch up with our world.

Hope your new year is filled with light, love and laughter.
From: Brian Gilbert — Dec 31, 2010

Have you ever heard of ABANA? It isn’t horseshoeing, but related. It’s the Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America, a 40+ year-old organization for hobbyist and pro blacksmiths. These folks are mostly forging for fun in their backyards. Many are raising this craft to the level of fine art

Brian Gilbert
From: Diane Leifheit — Dec 31, 2010

I am all for saving trees. Just don’t forget, much of the forest product is a recyclable item and the trees grown specifically for paper like corn or beef. Trees are harvested and replanted.

Not long ago I read of an idea that totally appealed to me. Recycle those old drawings – the ones you can’t stand and never want anyone to see – by mulching them in the garden. What are you doing with that stuff? I am in love with the idea I can download Moby Dick and not lug around 5 lbs of book while I take my time to read it. But the printed word is still needed. Not everyone who can read can afford the electronic gizmos. If the printed word becomes extinct how will the less fortunate become better educated, informed. As many artists or wannabes there are there is an acute need for the appreciators of art. That balance is encouraged by the proliferation of the printed word or will you loan out your e reader to the neighbor to read a book you just finished? As fast and efficient the email letter is nothing comes close to the personal touch of the letter in hand. Think about the year-end enclosures with the extra hand written notes on the sidebars in seasonal cards you just received. Now think about the emailed synopses received. Which warm and fuzzy piece do you prefer? Paper despite its fragility has survived hundreds and thousands of years, i.e. papyrus illustration, Rembrandt’s drawings, illuminated Bibles, Degas pastels. Where will the electronic word be in one hundred – five hundred years? I have piles of electronic information stored that has no way of being seen any more because there is no device around to read it. Those files are only 10 years old. Long live the hard copy book. Paul Smiths, NY
From: Angela Lynch — Dec 31, 2010

Way way back in the early ’80s during a recession, my husband and I were struggling to keep our young and small company alive. Each morning we’d hear the thump of the paper somewhere near our front door (if we were lucky), and, over breakfast we’d read all the terrible, doom and gloom news. Does reading this stuff before you step foot into your workplace affect your thinking? You bet it does. We decided that morning to cancel our paper and today, nearly 30 years later, we do not get a paper. Why pay for bad news? Reading this stuff is like surrounding yourself with rotten friends.

From: Anita Hoffman — Dec 31, 2010

Don’t you mean that frequency of letter writing is down? And, maybe you want to check out a library in your area. I live in rural WI and our libraries are highly used, or so it seems when I visit! Friends are using libraries vs. buying books. Plus, some people cannot afford the real and faux kindle type items. And there is the obvious, reading a book by the fire! It hasn’t really gone out of style, at least not in the frozen parts of WI! Just personal bias speaking,

From: Mike Smith — Dec 31, 2010

Be careful, my friend. You can also view art on an iPad. Just as valid an argument, I’m thinking, that all the art is going away. Hey, you can see the Mona Lisa on line. You don’t have to go to Paris or buy a ticket. By the way, I’m a writer and a painter and have made money doing both. I love them both. I love my library and read 100 books or more a year and none of them online.

Best to you. Love your newsletters. I’d read them even if they were in print. By the way, I’ve made my living for a lot of years with computer, mainly developing software for them. Mike Smith
From: Peter Leckett — Dec 31, 2010

Another point… Bookshelves will disappear along with CD collections, magazine racks, and whatnot. This will result in more wall space which, in turn, will leave more space for paintings.

ps IPads are already transforming how we sketch and work outside. On a recent trip to Ireland, I left my brushes at home in favour of SketchboxPro.
From: Mark Gottsegen — Dec 31, 2010

Good one, Robert! I laughed out loud at “creeping meatballism” and “it’s not golf.”

From: Orythia Johnston . — Dec 31, 2010

Lovely, and as an art therapist I appreciate your feel for ‘individual art’ as having a significant meaning, even if it is only for the one who has done the art. Inner growth can occur through interaction with things we love doing (and seeing).

Happy New Year
From: Gay Pogue — Dec 31, 2010

Thank you for these words and insights. I find them a motivation to continue with my plans to visit public school art classes to encourage young people to call themselves “artists,” even at a tender age, and empower them to stare down the bully who makes fun of them or discourages them in their artistic pursuits.

Wings Up!!!
From: Mary Carter — Dec 31, 2010

I enjoy your email letters very much and usually agree. However, I hope and pray that iPads do not replace books and libraries. It seems to me that everything is becoming too impersonal, just get everything electronically and no personal interaction. I love bookstores where I can just browse and read a few pages, then decide if I want to buy. I love bumping into strangers and discussing the latest book we read. I love my special books on the shelf. I love our libraries, where you don’t have to have the price of a book to enjoy it and can talk with a librarian. Maybe in large cities, libraries house the homeless, but I haven’t seen any in the towns I have lived in…I try to stay away from major metropolitan areas. Also, our libraries are a good place to showcase our art, and occasionally sell a painting. Our daughter has a Kindle and loves it, she travels extensively in her job and it is perfect for her. However, I miss the trading of books we used to do. Another great advantage of books over electronic readers. Keep up the good work, enjoy your Kindle, but let’s not be closing the bookstores and libraries. Mary Carter

From: Reveille Kennedy — Dec 31, 2010

I am loathe to see books go by the wayside. A large size art book with myriad paintings and how to’s still thrills and excites and pleasures me. I cannot imagine being without the book in hand, the pages dog eared, and the smell and feel of the paper. Maybe the novel, textbook or anything sans photos is better by kindle, but nothing else. I learn best by experience and hands on. I still love newspapers as well, even though I know they are doomed. Darn it!

Sorry to disagree.
From: Anonymous — Dec 31, 2010

I have worked in the newspaper business in pre-press for 25 years now…same little town paper…I also know a pressman who works for one of the Dailies….this last July the Daily had the SMALLEST press run in the history of paper…the workers there are all counting their days.

In our work place we each now do the work of three.
From: Katrina Rose — Dec 31, 2010

Just to say thank you for all your letters, although I sometimes disagree with your thoughts, opinions etc I look forward to receiving them and gaining useful information.

Happy New Year and happy painting!
From: Eugene Kovacs — Dec 31, 2010

The last day of the year , thinking 50 years ago, the mentality of people was different. At that time, an artist had more value than today. Now the only thing which exists is violence, drugs, and hate. The government is not interested to help artists. Furthermore, artists cannot live from their art. On the other hand, we have more artists than before, but life is not easy for them Finally, keep going forget the world and have a drink!

Happy New Year!
From: Dirk Killam — Dec 31, 2010

There were people just 100 years ago who thought the automobile would never catch on.

From: Hank P. Miller — Dec 31, 2010

Even with the offset printing nowadays the newspaper still gets your hands dirty. The iPad stays clean and doesn’t even get warm. This discussion will be academic in another ten years.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 31, 2010

I wonder at the ages of those respondents who lament the passing of newspapers, books and letter writing. I fear that anyone under the age of thirty will not care about such things. Our youth is being weaned on ipads, computers and texting. To them these antiquated devices are too slow and outdated. What I hope for in the future is that writing itself remains an art form regardless of the medium with which it is delivered. I thoroughly hate texting because of its shortcut language. Can you imagine Sinclair Lewis or Ernest Hemingway “asaping” or “omging” or “tgifing”?

I fear also that the spoken word will lose its meaning. This will reverberate through society where it will become impossible for us to understand one another. I cherish the written word. I love the idea of language. I worry language will eventually go the way of fine art and become commonplace or a vernacularism. Of course, when I’m gone I won’t care much what happens. While I’m here, I will do my best to stave off the inevitable.
From: Norah Bolton — Dec 31, 2010

We can obviously say goodbye to the video store, the floppy disc and Kodak film – and it would probably be good to spend more time reflecting that reading trivia – even on the Ipads that 60 million of us will buy this year. Happy New Year Robert and thanks for your writings. Love the Letters

From: Jeanean Songco Martin — Jan 01, 2011

Happy New Year to Robert and all the artist who enjoy this great resource!

As a landscape painter, I do worry about the trees and their destruction. I feel guilty sometimes using paper products but I have to agree with the other comment that paper usuage is definitely up due to the computers. Ironic isn’t it. I woke up this morning feeling a tinge of nostalgia which always happens about this time. It is the aftermath of all the “celebration” of Christmas and New Year. As a painter/musician I know for a fact that art and music, which go hand and hand have always been the sources of inspiration and reflection for a society. It is no wonder in this new age of electronics and gadgets that we still turn to a beautiful painting or listen to a favorite tune to stroke our tender psyche. Excuse me now while I pick up the biography of Georgia O’keefe that has been keeping me company the past couple of days. I will finish it in my favorite reading spot, a hot sudsy bath with a cup of tea on the ledge. Nothing can replace that! If I tried to take an electronic gadget in the tub I would be burnt toast!
From: Donna Herrick — Jan 01, 2011

ABANA??!! Someone out there knows of ABANA! Blacksmithing as an art continues to exist and grow. I know; I live with a passionate albeit beginning blacksmith. I create clay vessels. What I noticed this year was a desire by people to own something that isn’t “made in China.” They want art from artists who love what they do, who put thought into their work and who derive great pleasure watching a piece leave in the hands of someone who appreciates what we have created.

As to the demise of books, magazines, bookstores and libraries:Both of us read REAL books and magazines, and so do my children who also own iPads and computers. My daughter works in a small library that is bursting with patrons young and old. And the bookstore in the nearest city usually has a lineup of customers. Yes, computers and the internet have their place–I can research glazes and ceramic artists in the comfort of my home; I can keep in touch with friends and clients; we keep up to date with the goings on in our respective fields. To eliminate one or the other would be counter productive. Let’s live together and make everyone’s world better.
From: Maris Sherwood — Jan 01, 2011

I think you are right Robert. However, I am sad to see them go. I so enjoy browsing through the newspaper, enjoying my coffee. It’s a very pleasant, relaxing time of day for me.

Happy New Year, and best wishes for all good things to come.
From: Kyle Zubatsky — Jan 01, 2011

My Christmas present to all my adult students was to hook them up with your letter and this site! You are a gift I open twice a week, and I had to pay you forward.

This last letter saddened my heart as I was also an English teacher for over 26 years. Being a painter and art teacher is so very rewarding, but being an English teacher was truly a blessing. No hard bound books? No libraries? God forbid. How wonderful to buy a beautiful new book, to open its pages and smell the newness and the wonder of what awaits. How wonderful to carry it in a purse, briefcase, tote to pull it out and feel it in my hands as I turn each delicious page, dog earring my favorite pages. To be able to store these treasures on tables and shelves, to have them at hand to revisit like an old friend, is, to me, truly comforting. Being able to pass along a book to a friend as a gift or just a loving gesture is joyful. To actually give someone something tangible to perhaps keep forever is a kind act. No books? Saving paper? Let’s start with grocery bags, superfluous packaging of most of our consumer products, gift wrapping and tissue, etc. No libraries? I love touching old, worn books, opening pages where others have read, running my hands across volumes of history, being surrounded by humanity’s record. Sometimes change isn’t always good for us. Ah, I am afraid that I am a sentimentalist, but I picture curling up with a child as I hold a big picture book. The child seated snuggled in my lap turns each page with delight as the words come alive with the beautiful artistic drawings and paintings accompanying the story. “All change is not growth; as all movement is not forward.” -Ellen Glasgow
From: Marie Rice — Jan 01, 2011

I love your letters. I save them when I don’t have time to read them. I end up with a backlog of letters, some of which are very meaningful to me and others that I delete before finishing. Sometimes I curse the Internet. It does keep me from painting. But it is a form of communicating and accomplishing necessary tasks. There is so much there to get distracted by. I believe someone with A.D.D. (mild or full blown) has a harder time pulling away from it. People with A.D.D. are often artistic. What a predicament to be in….

From: Gordon Farley — Jan 01, 2011

The decline of newspapers has more to do with the declining value of newspaper advertising. With so much competition for the advertiser dollar–TV, radio, print, etc, etc, the world of advertising is turning to more targeted advertising–the tiny Google ads on this page, for example, are more effective because they vary by location and the interests of the particular online reader. Pretty hard to compete with that. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t get his picture on the cover of Time Magazine for nothing. Great changes are happening.

From: Don Kruger — Jan 01, 2011

Wait ‘til you see how your paintings look on that iPad… ‘Electronic delivery’ utterly flattens impasto and scumble. As the rustle of newsprint falls silent, and texture disappears from both fingers and sight, so does the dialogue of direct experience between artist, artifact and viewer. When your ouvre is reduced to mere data streaming, postage-stamped upon laptops and static with perpetual backlight, you’ll repent your facile embrace of such superficial and impersonal mass delivery. The cyberphile mass doesn’t buy art anyway, I don’t believe, nor does it buy into it… Bits is just bits.

And the outfall from mining/reclaiming the rare earths that make up the guts of this vaunted electronic delivery are far more damaging to the planet than a few ground up (and replanted) trees. Keep up the good work.
From: Carole Mayne — Jan 01, 2011

If the newspapers go the way of the dodo bird, finally I won’t feel quite so bad using my Viva paper towels as the balance of nature may becoming restored! Anyway, the only thing I want to see go in 2011 are any pesky negative thoughts…this is a world of abundance and we the planet inhabitants shall use our resources wisely.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jan 02, 2011

I love my iPad too for all the same reasons you mention, also I can read in the dark, download endless books and it is easy to carry. However, I will never give up real books. I love the smell of them the feel of holding and flipping through them. I like to read about the author, the preface and all the other stuff before reading the book. With a downloaded book, you can’t give or loan it to a friend when you are finished, you can’t sell it to a used bookstore and get another at a reduced price. I love going into a book store and browsing the bookshelves for hours, looking at books I have loved and things I want to read in the future. My favorites I keep on a bookshelf to be read and reread.

I can’t see books ever becoming obsolete, in the same way live music has not become obsolete because of digital reproduction and original paintings have not become obsolete because print reproductions are so exact. People will always want the real thing, to possess it and to appreciate the process and the artist who created it. Tallahassee, Florida
From: Lillian M. Wu — Jan 02, 2011

How well you demonstrate that art will stay on “paper”, it gives my art students confidence to paint on a medium what we call “paper”. To make a 2-d image from the subconscious mind and express it, is the spirit that is permanently etched, engraved or drawn on paper. You’ve answered for now the need to keep on painting.

From: Claire Drapkin — Jan 02, 2011

Change is hard. It makes us each face changes in our own lives as

inevitable. The chore is to accept and turn them into something we mold into our own way of dealing with it. I love getting your posts.
From: Diana Wakely — Jan 02, 2011

Happy New Year and may we all have the creative time to do the things we want. As far as more artists or people owning brushes and wanting to be an artist that is true. The baby boomers are bored and are looking for something creative to be involved in. But, I still say thank you to those who say ‘I can’t even draw a stick man’ my answer is Thank God for who would we sell our art to?

Renfrew Ontario
From: John Powell — Jan 02, 2011

I thank you all for your expert advice and comments. Looking forward to receive more from you in 2011.

From: Catherine Surtees — Jan 02, 2011

It’s so nice again to get a jolt of courage to continue my personal art experience. I read your book of the complete Letters often and always feel a sense of focus after. In reference to (the things to go and come) and the challenges of art being so frustrating, at times it can also make a grown women cry, but I just wipe away the tears and go back to the easel–what else can one do? Hawaii.

From: Bob Ragland — Jan 03, 2011

We artists will just have to arton!

One thing for certain, analog art won’t go away.
From: Duncan Moore — Jan 03, 2011

Painting is something you do with your hands

It’s good for your head, and good for your glands It’ll always be done because it feels fine And it’s way far ahead of being on line.
From: Lesley — Jan 03, 2011

I was always amazed how the free papers get delivered to my house by default. I put them into recycyling straight away. This never made sense to me – what a waste. A good start would be to change the policy and deliver only to those who order them. I have moved a huge mountain of unused newspapers to the recycyler. This industry is worse than the garbage emails that hit my e-mailbox and get deleted. I adore books, but I now read my Kindle – and I read it in bath – I don’t drop things. Too bad for the books, I love them, but I love my time better, and I get more of it with the use of Kindle.

From: Tom Albano — Jan 03, 2011

Absolutely great insight! Have a great New Year, everybody.

From: Ned Pearson — Jan 03, 2011
From: Patricia A. Anderson — Jan 03, 2011

I sincerely hope paper books don’t go away. We can’t afford an electronic reader, we’ve stopped at cell phones. My husband likes to say we are hacking the trailing edge of technology. My books for art quilting are a constant source of pleasure as is this site. I guess we are dinosaurs.

From: Judy Reinsma — Jan 03, 2011

There is a serious problem inherent in the electronic news and reading formats. When I pick up the LA Times or our local paper I see all sorts of articles about things I would never think of accessing on the web. Not because I’m not interested, but because, until I read the paper, I didn’t even know about them. Can’t look up what you don’t know about. In the same way, the library offers so many books, even searching the card catalog (online of course) leads you in new and unplanned directions. Electronic papers and books only give you what you ask for, but they never lead you into unknown territory. I would rather be led to new knowledge and interests, than confined to what I already know.

From: Jeanne Rhea — Jan 04, 2011
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jan 04, 2011

I hope I am not repeating myself; I have told this story over and over. On Charlie Rose, I heard the head of a major internet company refer to reading from books as “Deep Reading” and recommended trying it with an attitude of aloofness and condescension. He said something to the effect that those who had never done it, might enjoy the magic to be found therein.

Also, are there no illustrations or charts in Ebooks?
From: Tony Angus — Jan 04, 2011

I agree with your forecast of ultimate doom for print media and it’s delivery. However, an old fart like me continues to dig in his heels and read and collect books printed on the corpses of trees and original art produced on paper, canvas, board, glass or ??? has more soul than digital creations (with the exception of really fine photography).

Canada Post and all it’s worldwide cousins will go kicking and screaming into the future at great cost to us before their demise. Coin and paper money will cease to exist over the objections of the mint, the mining industry and the tree killers. Our computers will be inundated with the advertising previously shoved at us in newspapers and magazines (thank God for spam blockers). I, for one, will enjoy the convenience of technology, ignore the rest and retire to my den with a good “printed on paper” book, leaving fewer trees on the landscape for you to paint. (My apologies for that.)
From: Jacki Prisk — Jan 04, 2011

I agree with your analysis that all things will change, disappear and evolve into other things. However I certainly hope it’s not true for books. I love the feel of the paper in my hands and the smell of a real book. We recycle every scrap of paper in our house, and plant many trees. I’m hoping this will make up for my passion for “real” books.

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 04, 2011

They say change is good. As I age I realize my past has been a series of changes; some good, some not so good, but change marches on whether I like it or not. Not all change is beneficial. True, electronic email saves trees; the I-pad helps those beside us to sleep while fossil fuels are becoming the thing of the past. Having the postman rattle the postbox gives my two barking dogs a purpose in life that would be taken away. And of course, I would not have the benefit of exchanging thoughts on this site without computers and the Internet.

More people are holding paint brushes trying to master the task of making art. Most contemporary art baffles me; I look at it with total confusion and find myself happily stuck in the past. It seems more a global Rorschach test as more and more artists pour out their thoughts and ideas onto canvas. Having more painters isn’t a guarantee of getting better art just more of it. It’s becoming more like our national highway system, choked with cars going nowhere fast. Everyone today has access to more information with which we can accomplish most anything we want, only this change brings dilettantism. One good thing about change, it comes slowly over a long period of time. This gives us a chance to mull it over, chew on it awhile before acclimating it into our normal routine. And, as some have done, we can ignore it and continue to live in the past as long as we can. As time pushes me into the future, I go reluctantly, skeptical of change. I happen to like the same ole, same ole when it comes to some things. Like an old pair of slippers, torn, worn out but finally fitting perfectly to warm my weary feet. Like an old leather bomber jacket I own but haven’t worn, with seams coming apart, edges tattered. It’s hard to delegate it to the Goodwill where I know someone, like me, who enjoys living in the past, would snatch it up for fifteen dollars.
From: Mary B — Jan 04, 2011

To say all books will disappear to the electronic media is akin to saying that all painters will turn to digital and graphic arts.

From: Elinor Marcek — Jan 06, 2011

I don’t think paper books are going to disappear — not in 100 years. Here in Tucson, library use is up, up, up. Though, true, some of that is due to computers and DVD and video use. But there is nothing like a book, the smell of the paper, the creak of the binding and the smell of dust (if the books is old). And one can sink into the loft or reading chair without electricity or batteries and read.

From: H Margret — Jan 07, 2011

ipads are expensive. i cannot afford one…..millions aren’t buying them yet. books are wonderfully cheap,

From: ralph — Jan 10, 2011

Loved your brief reference to the “circular file”.Took me back.

From: Phil Attams — Jan 10, 2011

Rick, I would take time to point out that telegraphic messages were often in “short hand” similar to the omg, asap, etc., which just happen to be more modern versions of the same. Stop. Some of the folk you mentioned probably had recourse to the abbreviated habits of speech when using that medium of communication.

From: Elmer Mellon — Jan 30, 2011

According to the 130th edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, that country has lost 400 bookstores since 2000.

    Featured Workshop: Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos
010411_robert-genn Tatjana and Sinisa Mirkov-Popovicki (left) and Gaye Adams at Anniversary Peak (right) Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Dressed For It

watercolour painting by Patricia Neil Lawton

  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 Charles Ashman who wrote, “A thingamabob will hang on walls of houses everywhere and project art on opposing walls at anytime the owner wishes from any museum or collection anywhere in the world and artists will have to figure out how to get paid for their part of the process. If I can have a Vermeer for free why should I ever go to a museum again? Or look at an exhibition?” And also Ron Vilim of Thunder Bay, ON, Canada, who wrote, “Sorry to read your demise of the newspaper…you see, I manage a dept at one. I depend on it for my daily employment. The good news is that I retire in exactly 1 month so I’ll make it out before we die a slow death to electronic media. Also good news is your view of how important art has become to all of us, just happens that I’m an artist as well, so I expect my career change may come at an opportune time.” And also Felicia McFall who wrote, “Most libraries have inter-library loans so you can get almost any book you can imagine — another function they serve besides just “a place for the homeless to keep warm.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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