What turns you on?

Dear Artist, The business guru Peter Drucker admitted motivation was a sticky wicket. “We know nothing about it,” he said. “All we can do is write books about it.” Our own Resource of Art Quotations holds a huge variety of angles on the subject. Picasso, for example, felt it oozed from the world around us because of the variety of material at our disposal. He also felt it had something to do with “the passion we get from women.” I wonder where that leaves the women. Do they get it from men? Cicero thought motivation was all about obtaining praise. Others suggest the big thing is desire, and I agree, but nobody seems to be able to properly define what desire actually is. Some cynical ones figure motivation is all to do with fear, poverty, hunger and pain. Ouch. Fact is, when our lives are free of clutter and we’re “rolling pure,” the stuff that turns us on is found as easily as shells along a tropical beach. But there’s more to it than that. We follow our particular noses. Some are in it for sentiments, others as salve for their “inner selves.” Still others feel the need to dig deeply for universal meanings. Flawed though I may be, I’ve always trusted our universe. In the art department I’m looking for complexity, pattern, design, and just ordinary wonderful stuff to get the brush around. It seems to me that if deeper meanings are to be had, they’ll somehow find a way to the end of the brush. This naivety is not unique. It starts with what can only be called “love.” Maybe that’s where the women come in. Whatever, it’s a growing love affair with a desirable and particular thing, often privately discovered and often from our youth. Specificity drives desire. Take, for example, the passion of many wildlife painters and illustrators of nature. Something to do with honouring — it’s a high emotion that daily brings out the pencils and brushes. Best regards, Robert PS: “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” (Stephen R. Covey) Esoterica: Give yourself permission to fall in love and you’ll partake in the miracle. Life may not be fully understood, but art is one way we can try. Drawing, for example, is a flashlight on the path to comprehension. Trying to master colour is to flirt with the gods. Composition makes us one of them. It’s quite a turn-on. But we artists needn’t suffer the delusion that we’re the only ones turned on. This morning I had a haircut and a beard trim in a beauty salon in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Accompanied by her own humming and singing, Murielle took her time and did a truly masterful job using only scissors, comb and a straight razor. Proud as rum punch, she kept admiring the two of us in the mirror. “My goodness I love cuttin’ your hair, Mr. Bob,” she said. “Come back tomorrow ’cause I need bad to dye it black.” I’m thinking about it.   Two sides of the same coin by Fiona Frisby, Ireland  

by Fiona frisby

Reading your post on motivation brought to mind the writing of Erich Fromm and his ideas about creativity. As humans we have an in-built desire or motivation to transcend our earthly physical existence. Being on a higher mental plane than animals, we have come to question our purpose, the meaning of our existence. He says that creativity and destruction are two sides of the same coin in the effort to transcend ourselves and connect with that bigger meaning. Of course creativity is the positive, loving side, but we have both tendencies in us in varying proportions. I think it is both the longing for transcendence, and also the act of love which motivate us to be creative, at the very root. Praise and monetary rewards come into it, but are separate things, more to do with our having to exist materially.   Motivated or inspired? by Claudio Ghirardo, Mississauga, ON, Canada  

“Nature girl”
original painting
by Claudio Ghirardo

I believe motivation has two aspects to it: One is the spiritual component. If it is hard to define and all one can do is write about it, then it must come from a place beyond our physical world. Two is its biological nature: meaning that when people answer their calling, or what they feel is what they are meant to do, as with artists needing to draw and/or paint, then the motivation kicks in because they are fulfilling their personal meaning of life. The reason I believe this is because when I made the personal decision to follow the “type” of art I was looking to do, my wife noticed that since I have never once ran out of ideas of what to paint, it’s like I am constantly motivated. Maybe “motivation” is another way of saying “inspiration”?   Seduced by the written word by Jackie Knott, Fischer, TX, USA  

“Don Siratt”
oil painting
by Jackie Knott

Picasso might have been pretty close in describing the passion we feel for our art. I would go farther with that analogy — desire is satisfied by anyone… but love is content with only one. In our life’s work we may dabble with one profession or another to put food on the table but our one great love is art. And like a passion that can be quenched by nothing else (or no one else) we will do ridiculous things to accommodate it. And if we are not creating art we feel like we are in an unholy alliance of adultery. I’m having serious issues with that right now. My writing is nudging my art to the side and I’m dealing with the accompanying identity crisis. I’ve always identified myself as an artist — but now I’m being seduced by the written word. I wonder which one will win, or if it is possible to satisfy each because both are demanding lovers. There are 4 comments for Seduced by the written word by Jackie Knott
From: Ron Ruble — Feb 10, 2012

I experienced the same problem, so I learned to express both by painting the written word. I started by drawind some scribbles on paper, planning to do just a couple of items in letter format. Then I made documents filled with words that only I could read. And now, 20 years later, I still paint the written word. Some still scribbles, others realistic letters and forms. Enjoy the effort.

From: Sarah — Feb 10, 2012

Such a wonderful portrait–hope you don’t abandon painting to focus completely on writing.

From: Linda Harbison — Feb 10, 2012

Since high school I have felt the pull of both writing and visual art. I finally admitted that there are not enough hours in the day to do both and keep a job that actually pays the bills, so I abandoned writing in favor of painting and sculpting. It was a tough decision, but ultimately, the pull of art was stronger.

From: Jackie Knott — Feb 11, 2012

No, I won’t abandon painting … I can’t, and therein is my conflict. Thanks!

  Quiet cave of the mind by Russ Henshall, Pulham Market, Norfolk, UK   I have long felt that it would be so wonderful to let all extraneous matter go. To sit in a bare room or even a bare house, or even a large green field; to be free of encumbrances. Oh yes — to have ‘nothing on my mind.’ It is strange, therefore, that I find living in this busy family home with grandkids around the corner and a lovely wife being noisily busy, that I write and create happily. Play on O radio, play on O TV. Scream kids, use the Hoover O wife. I am here in my quiet mind doing what I hope is creative ‘stuff.’ I believe that the green peaceful field would be good for enjoying the sun and, for me — little else. I am so comfortable here in my own cave. There are 2 comments for Quiet cave of the mind by Russ Henshall
From: Liz Schamehorn — Feb 10, 2012

What a wonderful letter! I indentify with it very much! Only,for spousal noise, substitute sports on TV with the Hoover. The green field would be nice for a weekend maybe, but would soon get lonely.

From: Angela Treat Lyon — Feb 10, 2012

I used to feel that way, too…until I was unintentionally grounded for weeks with no energy after 2 near-fatal surgeries. I couldn’t even read, much less paint. I found I could only meditate so much – I thought I’d go crazy with boredom. Thank goodness for the phone! I was still able to coach over the lines – made me feel useful again, even if I couldn’t paint.

  Dictate to your subconscious mind by Sharron Middler, Kelowna, BC, Canada  

watercolour painting, 11 x 14 inches
by Sharron Middler

Motivation is created within the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind does whatever we tell it to do. If we tell it we are dull it sends us dull pictures and motivates us to continue doing things that make everything seem dull. The reason I choose ‘dull’ is because it is amazing how exciting bright colours are — especially to we artists. Tell yourself everything is going to be bright and beautiful today and watch your motivation to paint improve. Read Changing Your Other Mind. How our subconscious mind works is so intriguing. There is 1 comment for Dictate to your subconscious mind by Sharron Middler
From: Brian Warner — Feb 10, 2012

I agree Sharron. Maybe it’s the wonderful area we live in gives us this positive attitude.

  Prime motivators by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA  

“At The Milliners”
oil painting
by Rick Rotante

The one thing I’m sure we can all find consensus with is that motivation is different in everyone — not only in our doing a specific task, so also with the passion with which we do it. I believe it is human nature to strive for something more or different. We are a restless species. Underneath all the psychobabble, the reason we get motivated is simply because we have a brain that can reason and calculate along with the ability to change our environment. When we found we could control our destiny, motivation, or more exactly necessity, was the sole catalyst. From there, passion, drive, survival, fear, poverty all kick in and become prime motivators. I can’t see our species sitting in a corner waiting benignly for death. We are hard-wired for motivation.   There is 1 comment for Prime motivators by Rick Rotante
From: Anonymous — Feb 10, 2012

Rick, you really hit it out of the ballpark with this one! Love it.

  Feeling the passion of the masters by Nina Allen Freeman, Tallahassee, FL, USA  

“Last light”
watercolour painting, 22 x 30 inches
by Nina Allen Freeman

I don’t know if my motivation to paint has anything to do with love of men or passion for beauty. I don’t know what caused me to melt into tears when I was in the Louvre, walking up some steps and there suddenly in front of me was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Was it in the beauty of it, or the skill of the ancient artist? I wanted to touch it and feel its texture. I have had similar feelings in art museums before when confronted with the sheer presence of a masterful work of art. I want to create something like that myself. It’s a passion that is deeper and bigger than the simple pleasure of admiring the beauty of a beautiful person or lovely landscape. I am able to feel that passion in my own work occasionally when something brilliant occurs accidentally. It is a quest I will forever search for. There is 1 comment for Feeling the passion of the masters by Nina Allen Freeman
From: Rene Lynch — Feb 10, 2012

So well, put, Nina. I remember almost fainting from visual pleasure when I walked into the Polk Couny (FL) museum to view the work of Joseph Raffael. His paintings are so huge and vibrant, so juicy with color that I am inspired to replicate that sensation in my own work.

  To be authentic by Patricia Sharp, Millbridge, ME, USA  

“The clearing”
original painting, 34 x 29 inches
by Patricia Sharp

What turns me on? That’s an interesting question I have been pondering for many years. I was married for 16 years and we ran a decorative art business together. As long as my art supported the greater good it was okay. But I desired to branch out into illustrating children’s books, needing to express concepts and visuals as one entity. I received positive ‘lip service” but negative passive aggressive obstruction, making me unhappy and blocking my efforts. A psychologist friend asked me, “Are you going to go on hiding your light for the rest of your life?” The answer was no, so I divorced him. Of course that meant continuing with the decorative work to bring in income, little time for self-expression. Now living on a too-small income I can do anything I choose within the budget! I re-read about Picasso and thought this is really sooooo unfair. He had a wife and a mistress supporting his artistic efforts. I look at some of my male artistic peers and all have wives who work at jobs as well as, supporting their partner’s artistic efforts. And as it benefits them in terms of income they pick up on customer service, etc. as well. I must chop my own wood and carry my own water as well as painting, sales, PR etc. There are two sources of passion in my experience. One is a love of nature and spiritual expression through creating. Two is the passion of a love relationship which produces dopamine & oxytocin and, as a result, really brings depth to the work. I have experienced a long term but uncommitted love relationship, wherein he admired my talent, and brought me jobs to sustain me. And I was engaged to be married to a man who also admired my talent, and had considerable talent himself. He was hands-on live-in support, financially, passionately and nurtured me for two years. With all that wonderful support, my star began to rise and I was invited to do Gallery shows. Just beginning to come into my own and that didn’t work either. He wanted a “little woman” to look after his needs first! And there was more than a little competitiveness that surfaced there! So we parted company. My take-away? Two years of uninterrupted productivity, oxytocin, and lack of financial worries, brought me closer to my artistic goals. With the huge societal shift taking place, it is my hope that both female and male artists are able to come into their own more comfortably. I have observed that my male counterparts must also endure the stigma of being more sensitive, with stronger anima, in a testosterone male world. May we all be free to be our authentic selves without censure. There are 2 comments for To be authentic by Patricia Sharp
From: maritza burgos — Feb 09, 2012

Oh! patricia, i identified with much of your experiences re life partners, having lived and survived through two intense,passionate and ultimately traumatic, creativity sapping experiences. Nowadays, my motivation comes freely from within as i stand alone, savouring the freedom of knowing i am the only master of my destiny.I live frugally on a very,very tight budget, but i manage to attend a couple of art classes a year, visit my local art galleries, surf the web for art sites,virtual galleries,etc, and inspiration and motivation are endless. Sometimes all i need is $2 sketch book and a pencil, and with carefull planning and budgetting i have a decent supply of paits,(oils,acrylics),canvas, brushes etc, and my time is my own, I do work and volunteer, but i have also learnt that the things/chores i thought were important, can wait if i feel like working on a canvas.In other words, I motivate myself, and am getting better at ignoring those pesky little voices that whisper in your ear”you dont have time”, “you dont have enough money/talent/ or whaterver…”.., JUST DO IT, if its your passion, feed it regularly,you are your own master.. Blessings and follow your bliss..with no fear

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Feb 13, 2012

Working in a medium that’s 99% female- I have the opposite experience. All the women have husbands. And they have entirely different expectations too.

  Hierarchy of needs by oliver, TX, USA  

digital photograph
by oliver

What turns you on and excites you may have something to do with where you are in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow, a fairly well known widely-cited psychologist hypothesized a hierarchy of needs. (Google Maslow hierarchy of needs chart and you will get over 14k responses and there has been many variations of the classic produced over time. Here is just one of the charts identified by Google. Thinking about this chart, as an artist and an art buyer, I believe is useful for an artist. (Think about art and art collecting from the buyer’s perspective to know your customer — always a good idea.) From an artist’s perspective creation of art generally comes in at the esteem and self-actualization levels of the hierarchy, but of course some people find that creation of art is useful for attracting sexual intimacy — but for many, especially when starting out, not so good as employment. For the collector, unless you are dealing in well established investment grade art, buying and collecting art doesn’t start fitting into the hierarchy until esteem or self-actualization. In some cases artists are helping the collectors express their creativity by providing things to decorate their dwelling, though this can slip into the more fundamental need of respect by others — it’s nice to have friends and family say what a nice place you have or what a great collection of art you have. Thinking some more and overlaying religion and religious/totemic or teaching art into the mix and you may get some notion of more fundamental needs being addressed. Used broadly, teaching and religious art can be about the hunt, praying for rain, following the ten commandments, dietary restrictions (many were very sound in bronze age times), and teaching the values of home hearth safety of the tribe, etc. So a still life of fruit may appeal to the collector at only very high levels of the hierarchy of needs while sex attracts at the most fundamental levels — not a particularly astounding proposition. It’s used in many of our advertisements: the car advertisement with the pretty/handsome model. Buy the car, attract a mate and the esteem of others. Overlay a little Carl Jung or mythology and collective or cultural symbols and you can start to understand and manipulate the messages contained in your art to appeal to the buyers and increase the appreciation of your work on an intellectual level. The trick, of course, once you go down this path, is to not lose the passion and fluidity of the raw inspiration and start producing over-intellectual but stiff sterile art, which is a personal criticism I have of much Christian religious art of the Middle Ages.   The gift of motivation by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA  

“Mother’s Tin Box”
oil painting, 8 x 16 inches
by Diane Overmyer

As someone who has taught art to people of all ages, I came to realize long ago that motivation is often a far greater gift than talent. There are scads of people walking around who have a huge amount of artistic talent, but do they ever use it? What good is it doing them or anyone else if they don’t? No one ever had to motivate me to practice drawing. I just did so since I was a young child, because I loved it so much! I have many memories of creating animals out of sticks, stones, paper and other materials. No one bought me kits or anything special, I just used whatever I could get my hands on to make anything that popped into my head. I have heard a similar version of that story over and over from countless other professional artists. Our motivation comes from within because creating art is what we find so fulfilling and exciting! There are times when our motivation needs to come from outside factors. Times such as when we have gone through a difficult rejection or when a painting just isn’t working well, or when we are over stressed with outside obligations; it is during such times that I have learned to allow myself some down-time, if it is at all possible. A break from the easel for a matter of hours or a few days usually is all it takes to get my motivation back nowadays. But when I was a young mother, running a home business and caring for my three young children 24/7, I packed my oils paints away for several years. So there are times in life when we have to make choices. But artists will always be motived to do whatever they can to allow themselves the pleasure of following their passion.   Turtle modus operandi by Patricia Peterson, New York, NY, USA  

pastel painting
by Patricia Peterson

Motivation — the desire to experience the manifestation of personal circumstances not currently in existence; persistent visualization of a situation previously unknown to the individual possibly stemming from the idealization of past experience or remarkable results garnered by others’ efforts. Whether the outcome is a betterment may not come to fruition, hence, be careful what you wish for — motivation does not include having looked at all angles of the desired outcome to know it is likely to mitigate more troubles than it brings. For this reason, I personally suspect the turtle modus operandi may be more popular in practice than the rabbit, as the rabbit mode is generally more sensational and therefore more newsworthy up to and sometimes after the crash and burn portion of the tale of success.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for What turns you on?

From: Brenda Behr — Feb 06, 2012

What turned me on today was hearing a Paul Cezanne painting, The Card Players, received $250 million. Too bad he isn’t around with us to enjoy it. Bravo art world!

From: Marvin Humphrey — Feb 06, 2012

Oil paint itself motivates me. I enjoy mixing, applying, and manipulating it on the surface. Though stimulating subject matter is everywhere, it is secondary.

From: Dancing Antelope — Feb 07, 2012

As I read the article I thought, “Motivation comes from within.” I can’t imagine relying on it come from anywhere but from within. Then I got to the quote by Stephen Covey, which I believe whole-heartedly! I feel rather bad for Cicero to believe motivation is based on praise. I can’t imagine being motivated by something so superficial. Those I know who look for external motivation sources seem ofetn discontented. We can find inspiration internally and externally, but I believe authentic motivation comes from within, from a core love and permeating drive to do what one must, to be who one is. When one is motivated from within, it shows in one’s work. It is intangibly felt by others and stands the test of time… – love “Dog Tails”!

From: Lily — Feb 07, 2012

My motivation comes from both the fragile and hard of life in general. The sensitivity of it all, and how in this world, the two are in constant flux. The push and pull, like a dance.

From: Susan Murphy — Feb 07, 2012

Another aspect of motivation is how much of it you have in general, which is strongly related to your mental health. A person who is depressed has almost no motivation for anything. Luckily for me, I have usually had tons of motivation and am inspired by many different things in my art. I need to reign myself in to avoid going to too many different directions. But depression runs in my family, and I know how it can sap a person of their drive…

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Feb 07, 2012

What turns me on is a “wow” moment. My eyes see something and the other senses kick in. Wanting to know more is a moment of turn on for me. I think the mystery or curiosity of a moment is powerful, and painting that curiosity for others to feel is what I try to accomplish. I want others to enjoy the moment, feel the moment, question the place … what is around the corner, over the hill, etc. How warm is that spot of sunlight, or how cool is that little space under the tree. Can I sit there and contemplate my life, or the world, or visualize another painting? Curiosity is passion. Passion is curiosity. The joy of feeling that curiosity / passion … this is what turns me on. I think when people see what I place on the canvas/paper, they also feel that curiosity and passion and are turned on.

From: David — Feb 07, 2012

Picasso definitely was motivated by love, passion …. I’ve always felt that Libido plays an enormous role in creativity. Poetry, painting, literature, not to forget politics and business …. without Libido, the history of human achievement would be far different. We are programmed by Nature to desire, to merge with others, to create.

From: Jackie Knott — Feb 07, 2012

Picasso might have been pretty close in describing the passion we feel for our art. I would go farther with that analogy – desire is satisfied by anyone … but love is content with only one. In our life’s work we may dabble with one profession or another to put food on the table but our one great love is art. And like a passion that can be quenched by nothing else (or no one else) we will do ridiculous things to accomodate it. And if we are not creating art we feel like we are in an unholy alliance of adultery. I’m having serious issues with that right now. My writing is nudging my art to the side and I’m dealing with the accompanying identity crisis. I’ve always identified myself as an artist … but now I’m being seduced by the written word. I wonder which one will win, or if it is possible to satisfy each because both are demanding lovers.

From: Susan Avishai — Feb 07, 2012

Good question to chew on this morning. As a realist I used to be excited and motivated by what I saw in the world. Now I work in abstraction and my excitement comes completely from the juxtaposition of 2 colours I didn’t realize looked so good together, or a pattern that I wasn’t aware of before I arranged it, or a flow, or contrast, or…or… you get it. More fun this way because the delights are immediate and more tingly.

From: Debbie S. — Feb 07, 2012

our lives are so full of busyness and clutter of stuff, a person can feel overwhelmed and smothered and depressed. Live simply, enjoy life, enjoy the family, enjoy the work you do.. Yes…”when our lives are free of clutter and we’re “rolling pure,” the stuff that turns us on is found as easily as shells along a tropical beach.” our eyes are open to wonderful creative work..the love of our own processes of creating bring forth the passion, happyness and joy.. Thank you Robert

From: Suzette Fram — Feb 07, 2012

While it’s true that motivation can come from different places, as much from fear or need, than from love, the desire to please, or to be recognized, the very best motivation is the one that comes from your own passion, from the joy you experience, from the love of it all. I think of the first kind as a motivation to produce a product, while the other kind is a motivation to play, have fun, and dream big dreams and reach for the stars. I’ll take the second kind any time.

From: Peter — Feb 07, 2012

Last evening, my neighbour Barbara gave me haircut and beard trim in her kitchen with similar devotion to her art as Murielle’s so I forwarded the esoterica portion of your letter to her.

From: Deborah Severance — Feb 07, 2012

Our lives are so full of business and clutter of stuff, a person can feel overwhelmed and smothered and depressed. Live simply, enjoy life, enjoy the family, enjoy the work you do. Yes…”when our lives are free of clutter and we’re “rolling pure,” the stuff that turns us on is found as easily as shells along a tropical beach.” Our eyes are open to wonderful creative work..the love of our own processes of creating bring forth the passion, happiness and joy.

From: Vicki Gorman — Feb 07, 2012

How I enjoy reading your thoughts in your inspiring emails! Today’s topic made my spirit soar as I thought about what motivates me, not only to paint but to live each moment in the joy of the Lord! I believe that the source of all that you have mentioned in this email comes from the truths in the first chapter of the Bible … Genesis 1 … In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. If you will take a moment to look up and read this beautiful chapter and the following ones, you will read that God breathed into man the breath of life and that He created us in His image. We are His image bearers whether we believe the truth of Holy Scripture or not! We cannot fail to see the beauty He created whether we look at our own bodies, at our surroundings, the creative abilities He has given all of us, the natural world … or out into the vast universe!

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Feb 07, 2012

Motivation can be complicated matter or very simple. In art I think it arises in our response to the world around us. I rejoice to see a humming bird hovering over a flower and I would like to capture that moment in my art. I like the challenge of capturing the fast flapping of the wings. I feel sad to see a beautiful panorama of a landscape being defaced to give way to the construction of buildings and more steel jungles. I lament the fact that once it is defaced it can not be recreated in its natural form. As a woman I am motivated to respond to others openly, accept them as friends and trust that people will reveal their true colors.

From: Joyce Everhart Hoff — Feb 07, 2012

Wow, you are in my part of the world right now! I am living in Grand Cayman, the little piece of paradise where all good Jamaicans hope to go when they die.

From: Sophia Moore — Feb 07, 2012

I’m sorry you didn’t post a picture of you and Murielle in the mirror in the clickback.

From: Alan Soffer — Feb 07, 2012
From: Leza Macdonald — Feb 07, 2012

Don’t dye it! I like you just as you are!!!

From: Albert Smathers — Feb 07, 2012

I believe we are motivated, to a degree, to create because we were created.

From: Geary Wootten — Feb 07, 2012

It does come from women…..and women get it from women as well. It’s a “mother earth” thing.

From: Paula Timpson — Feb 07, 2012

The Light turns me on to find great inspiration daily~ in the simple moments.. white birds flying upward are sign of hope blackbirds awakening early morning find grace in song~ soft, yellow butterfly ignites pure spirit & Love!

From: Janice — Feb 07, 2012

I will sometimes mindlessly create faces with pen and ink while I am often engaged in another activity, talking on the phone for example, and when I take the time to finally look at what I’ve done, I am often amazed to see something wonderful and special – it’s almost like it’s drawn itself. I used to keep my drawngs to myself when I was young, and would be critical of them. Over 40 years later I can now look at something I had drawn and say, wow, that was good for a 14 year old.

From: Catherine Robertson — Feb 08, 2012

Wouldn’t motivation come to different people in different ways, according to their own individual backgrounds and life experiences while growing up? eg, I assume I’m strongly motivated when I come across a little dandelion growing alone in a field or between some rocky crevice in the sidewalk, because I loved them as a child. They just looked so “yellow” and happy and always grew wherever they chose. I admired their warmth and tenacity. Still do! When Cicero stated that he thought praise might be a motivation, I wondered, since motivation comes first, then the painting from the motivation. Why would one seek praise for something not yet created? Did he, perhaps, have his cart before the horse? “see, motivate, paint, praise” seems the more likely order. Nevertheless, he’s Cicero, I’m not. I concede to his better judgement, but I shall ponder his statement next time I see a yellow, tenacious dandelion in a field !

From: Mike Porter — Feb 08, 2012
From: Jeannette Atkinson — Feb 08, 2012
From: Clive Digby — Feb 09, 2012

If you get to Kingston come and see me.

From: Mireille from Quebec — Feb 09, 2012

Today I want to thank you for your letters, so interesting, I’m learning so much, they are so important to me.

From: Kathleen Moore — Feb 09, 2012

I often find myself stopped in my tracks by some visual relationship of light, color, pattern, shape, etc. Busy with whatever task is at hand, I can be suddenly caught in some kind of suspended animation as the business I had been engaged in disintegrates and I find myself in a world of aesthetic sensation. My heart leaps with joy! My mind is focused! I am in love with the shadow that slides across the floor or the color of light coming through the trees or the drama of light and dark patterns of an impending storm – the list can go on and on!

From: Brenda Behr — Feb 09, 2012

Robert, black will make your face look older. You’ll look less like the Moses who leads his following from isolation to inspiration. I hope you didn’t let her do it. However, what Murielle felt after giving you a good haircut is probably close to what I feel after doing a successful painting. Pride. Felt and enjoyed universally, pride is a state of mind. We all need a reason for being, a purpose, a mission in life. We all need that special feeling that comes from a sense of accomplishment and a job well done, that little something that says we’re special and that what we do is special. For some it may be children, friends, the church, whatever. My painting often rewards me with a sense of pride. I love the joy I can bring to other people with a painting that touches them. I love the healthy aspect of plein air painting that mobilizes me to stand rather than sit, all the while soaking up vitamin D from our merciful sun. I love the feeling I get when a painting I’ve done works, when all its components are integral. When I’m in the place where painting takes me, I feel I’m at one with God. So, a “turn-on,” yes, but more than that, painting is survival; less than in the monetary sense than in the spiritual sense.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Feb 09, 2012

Sorry- folks- being a not/heterosexual male I don’t get no passion from ‘women’…

From: Laura Lynn — Feb 09, 2012

Bruce, thinking about your comment – do you feel that there is one all-encompassing passion strongly related to the sexual desire? For example, I feel passion to create separately from other forms of passion that I feel, such as to be in love. Creating is just something very separate that anything else for me. Your comment made me curious. Could people without passion for love for another person, still be passionate artists?

From: george gordon — Feb 09, 2012

been to jamaca several times-off the beaten tourist path is a great painting experiance-did some watercolors in brownstown and lucy-i would share them but i have very poor skill with this sendin pictures over the internet – the world has passed me by-i feel good in places like jamaca-grounded and away from the fast paced city that i love to paint but do not fit into.

From: Nancy McGrath — Feb 10, 2012

I have a different reaction to that vast amount of millions for one painting. Part of the problem, as I see it, with promoting our art is that the social norm considers us to be in a very rare atmosphere and our work to be considered by only the very few who are rich enough and intelligent/educated enough. I think this is harmful to us as a professtion and one of my life’s goals is to make art available to “everyone,” even if that means having a show of my students’ work in a pavillion at an ice cream stand! I would be happy to hear from anyone else on this subject.

From: Judy Silver — Feb 10, 2012

Your letter today perfectly conveyed the energy and the life-force of the Rastafarians on the beach. “Use all the beautiful colors”, indeed! Thanks for sharing, Robert.

From: Hiram Schiff — Feb 11, 2012

Thank you for all the information and the community you provide wherever you go. Very valuable to me.

From: john sherlock — Feb 11, 2012
From: Carole Sikes — Feb 12, 2012

I enjoyed your commentary on painting in Jamaica and the paintings. I especially liked Deloris Anglin’s two paintings.

From: Diane Voyentzie — Feb 12, 2012

Great article, and Responses! Thanks Robert…I also especially like the paintings of Milton Messam and Ute Sudke. Thank you…

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Feb 13, 2012
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Feb 13, 2012

Dear Laura Lynn- Picasso is infamous for his sexual attraction to many women. Male painters from all time think nothing of painting the female (sexual) form- but few would be caught dead painting the male (sexual) form with the same intensity- if at all. Except those that aren’t ‘just’ heterosexual- and there are many- but history likes to cover that part of human sexuality up. And deny it. Even ‘the muse’ is seen to be a female. But then- all artists were only male for a long time- even when they weren’t. Female artists were denied. Women in general were denied. I’m a very passionate person. I’m a very passionate artist. I’m not in any relationship with any one person- but am in an intense relationship with the energy of creation that is flowing both through and out of me and manifesting the art I am making. Relationship is expensive and I gave up on it a long time ago in order to remain focused on art-making. That doesn’t make me a ‘less than’ person. Nor does it leave me in a state of not/loving. I’m actually no longer hung up on NEEDING someone outside me in order to define myself as WHOLE. I’m WHOLE all by myself. Now don’t get me wrong- as I’m very sexual. It just doesn’t have anything to do with our current cultural obsession with the outdated concept of partnership/monogamy. Why should passion for love for another ‘person’ somehow define/confine the passion one can feel/experience/exhibit for creation? And- look around… lots of art is being created that has nothing to do with human sexual/relationship energy. So truly- I do feel that there is ONE all encompassing passion for existence- but it just gets focused on art-making some of the time- and diverted to sexuality when that’s the form it takes. Of course- in most folks relationship is front and center- because sexuality outside relationship is still frowned upon by so many people. Oh well!

From: Nancy Cantelon — Feb 14, 2012

Artists, visual creatures that we are, should never lack for stimulation and motivation. Homebodies can find form, colour, texture, pattern, light and shadow all around them. I love the lines of bowls and baskets and the interesting surfaces of anything old and wooden. Inspiration lights my fire when I get out on our ever-changing, exquisitely complex beaches, strewn with weathered logs, driftwood, seaweed, shells, and home to all kinds of bird and animal life. Every cove is different; the sand and rock patterns and the rhythmic waves are invitations to paint. If I have an extra hour or so, I head down to the harbour to shoot photos of boats, reflections in the water, ropes, walkways, people in action, and my favourite, scallywag crows. Energy begets energy. Once I’ve started, I become immersed.

     Featured Workshop: Brenda Boylan
021012_robert-genn Brenda Boylan workshops   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Dog Tails

oil painting, 20 x 20 inches by Robin Leddy Giustina, Sacramento, CA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Norah Bolton of Toronto, ON, Canada, who wrote, “This letter reminded me of something a mentor and colleague observed recently in terms of motivation: ‘If people did what they loved to do rather than what they thought they should do, the world might be a better place.’ ”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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