Music and Art Monday: Why Create?

There are probably millions of people who paint out there. Millions more who write songs, and millions more than that who make some other kind of craft. Huge quantities of objects and notes are created and pumped into the world.

How much of this ends up dumped in trash cans or fireplaces or never heard again once that person is gone?

Several years ago I found an oil painting next to someone’s trash pile. It was slightly damaged but I felt compelled to save it. A search of the internet found the artist to be from Africa and active in the 70’s. He wasn’t well known but his art all had a particular style to it. I think my wife has since thrown the painting away.

Will my creations end up in someone’s trash? Will it ever make it onto someone’s wall who did not inherent it from my children? Will they even care to pass it on?

And what happens at the end of it all? Everything we have made will just burn away to dust. What’s the point of making anything if nothing is forever?

Everyone wants to make a legacy. We all want to be remembered for something after our physical presence is gone. We want to pass on something that we can be known for. That’s probably the most basic reason why we create.

We are also commanded to. Part of taking dominion of the earth as ordered in Genesis is making the world a more beautiful place. I think this is especially important in the world after the Fall. Sin has made the world an ugly place. Why not use our God given creativity to improve it and make it a little less miserable this side of eternity?

And speaking of eternity, wouldn’t it be cool if our works in this life were just a preparation for our works in the next? Maybe I’ll actually be a decent painter on the New Earth.

That would be fun.

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Art On A Friday?!

Yes. I have a bit of writers block, and this week snuck by me. So instead of posting these on Monday here they are:

Mountain Sunset, Oil on Paper, 2018

This was my first attempt at oil on paper. I am running out of canvas! I covered it with a layer of white acrylic first, we’ll see how long it stays on the page.

Portrait, Oil on Canvas, 2018

This portrait is on a 2in by 2in canvas. I kinda like working with small spaces, it really forces you to be careful and concise.

The Glare, Acrylic on Paper, 2018

This was a happy photo, but it came out a bit darker in the painting. I kinda like the scary look though.

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Music and Art Monday, June 11th 2018: Evolution

Sometimes I am a bit hard on myself. OK, much of the time I am a bit hard on myself. This goes for all things performance related. Life is performance based. We all strive to perform the best we can, at whatever we do, and sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up if our performance does not match our expectations.

Some things are easier to compare than others. If we are lifting weights we can see progress from lighter weight to heavier weight. If we are running we can watch our mile times shrink. Other things aren’t so tangible. Some things are so gradual that we hardly notice the change at all.

Painting is one such thing. Skill growth is so gradual that you won’t see changes over a short span of time. But if you look back you will see drastic differences.

Nicole, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Nicole, Oil on Canvas, 2018

Or you may see no difference at all..

After the Bath, Acrylic on Paper, 2014. My first painting.
The Room, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes you just have a change of perspective.

Fine Cigars, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Fine Cigars Revisit, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes your details get sharper.

Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, January 2014
Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, June 2014

Frequently you change the way you see yourself.

Self Portrait, Acrylic on Paper, 2014
Self Imposed, Acrylic on Paper, 2016

The evolution of our abilities isn’t always linear or perfect. We ebb and flow in our talents. Sometimes we meet our own expectations, sometimes we fall short. But we should always keep going…

Stop Fearing Your Own Voice

Kids aren’t afraid of their own voice.

I got an email the other day about writing in your own voice. We grow up being told in school how to write, and writing in your own voice is a big no no. You must write through a filter, just like good speakers talk through a filter. I can’t tell you how many “great” speakers truly grate on me with their speech patterns (Hillary Clinton and Obama both have a cadence that runs me up a wall).

It’s much the same with writers, there are some bloggers who I read once and think “never again.” Sometimes it is because they are too long winded. Sometimes it is because they are too stiff and formal, sometimes they are just trying to sound too fluffy for my tastes.

That article really got me thinking though. I filter a lot. (My 12th grade English teacher would kill me for using “a lot.”) I hold back so much out of fear. Mostly fear of the audience and what they might think, but also just fear of really being myself. (And “really”… she really hated that one.)

Whether it is writing or painting or picking a picture to post (don’t get me started on my guitar playing) I hold back. I don’t put my all into anything, I am afraid of it. I am afraid you will see me for what I am. You will see my flaws, my lack of talent, my lack of ability, or my ignorance. I fear that you will chuckle at me or walk away confused by me. I fear you will think I am a fool or a dork or any number of other pejoratives.

Perhaps I am all too aware of my flaws. Knowing them makes it all the more difficult to show my best. I am not the aloof kindergartner who actually believes his recorder playing sounds good (it never sounds good), I am a grown man who knows what he is trying for and exactly how far off the mark he is.

But just because I am not quite on the mark does not mean that I can’t show off my progress. I am getting ever closer to the mark, when I put in the effort. Whether it be in painting, in writing, in taking pictures, in playing music (that one’s in a holding pattern) or any of the dozen or so things I attempt to do in life, I am progressing.

Not sure if better…
Or just a change in style.

I need not fear my own voice or my own hand, for both are bound to improve with exercise.

And neither should you.

Music and Art Monday May 21st, 2018: The Finished Works, New Works, and a Song For Good Measure

I finally finished my trio, here are the results:

I didn’t even notice the fly. Argh…

Hobby Lobby recently opened up in town, so guess who’s playing with oil paints? This guy!

Here is the first little bit of it:

Of course the kids had to paint:

The master at work…
“A Bird That’s Flying”
“A Zebra” or “A My Little Pony”

And just for a little filler here’s a song I wrote a billion years ago, somewhere I have a recording of it, but for now you’ll just have to settle for the lyrics:

Billy Joe 3/25/01

Billy Joe’s life was shattered when she was seven years old,
When her mother came home and she was told,
“Your daddy ain’t comin’ back no more,
Last night they found him drunk dead behind the general store.”

And she grew up thinking he was gone,
She never asked why at the break of dawn,
She’d seen him leave with a lady in red,
The morning before they said he was dead.

She’d seen him drunk many nights before,
But had never seen him leave from their front door,
There’d never been a night she hadn’t “fallen”,
When the man she feared came callin’.

Her mother said, “It’s okay honey”,
Told many stories to make life funny,
But he’d come home late at night,
Loaded up drunk and picking a fight.

She always said that she loved him,
She’d never think to even leave him,
Even after all those black eyes,
All the nights Joe could hear her cries.

But one day he was gone,
Packed up and left at the break of dawn,
Found himself a lady in red,
All mother could say is “He’s dead.”

South Alabama’s a lonely place,
All alone at night with her pale face,
Joe lies in bed every night,
To sleep with all the whispers she couldn’t fight.

Her mother had flung herself off a bridge one day,
The sheriff came all he could say,
“Your mother’s died of a broken heart,
Life moves on and has given you a fresh start.”

Billy Joe’s life was shattered when she was seven years old,
When her mother came home and she was told,
“Your daddy ain’t comin’ back no more,
Last night they found him drunk dead behind the general store.”

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Music and Art Monday, May 7, 2018: A Little Of This, A Little Of That

It was a slow week up here on the hill. Not much to report on the music or art front.

I finished up a trio of paintings that I started back in December. I didn’t spend all that time on them, I just got super distracted. They were inspired by an art challenge. I can’t remember exactly what the theme was but whatever it was inspired me to paint the biggest events in our life.

Edit: I was going to finish these over the weekend but I got sick. So the last one is not finished, I’ll put a finished pic up as soon as I can.

The first is a humorous take on birth. I obviously wasn’t born with a beard, though some may believe I was.

The second is an image of aging. It might be a bit literal.

The last is death. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the least bit creepy to paint myself as a dead guy.

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about how they came out. The technique seems to have evolved a bit during the process and I got more detailed as I went. They are on canvas which is not a normal medium for me. I think I learned some things about canvas which is good.

As for music, I turned a bit of a corner and went from the mellow tunes I discussed last week to some upbeat songs of my youth.

The current selection is Cornershop’s When I Was Born For The Seventh Time. This album originally belonged to my sister, who bought it as a curiosity. She was really only interested in the Punjab version of “Norwegian Wood”. After awhile it ended up in my collection. Of course that was 20 years ago, and now instead of popping in a CD I can stream it on Spotify. Still a good experience.

Also popping up is Sublime’s self-titled album. Also over 20 years old, it never really gets old. I do feel slightly conspicuous blasting it in Alamogordo. I am so white…

On the not so old side of things I have been listening to a playlist of The Raconteurs, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys. You wanna play a fun game? Shuffle that playlist and tell me if you always guess the band correctly.

So that’s been my week. Anyone have any favorites or recommendations for the week?

Music and Art Monday, January 29th, 2018: Just a Few of My Favorites

I had a pretty blah week this past week. And after racking my exhausted brain I couldn’t come up with anything except the idea to share a few of my favorite paintings. Plus all I have talked about lately is music, it’s about time I start looking at art again!

This is Matisse’s “Seated Odalisque With Left Knee Bent”. I’m not completely sure he picked the name, but it is definitely descriptive. He did several “odalisque” paintings, and all of them are quite good, but this is my favorite. An odalisque is a Turkish concubine by the way. They were popular subjects in 19th century Orientalism.

The Bedroom in Arles”, or as van Gogh titled it “The Bedroom” was painted in 1888 to depict his bedroom in Arles, France. I bought a print of this when I went to the van Gogh exhibit in DC in middle school and it hung on my wall all the way through college and beyond. I loved the colors and the simplicity of the objects in the room. He didn’t waste time with all with an over abundance of details.

“Cycles Gladiator” is actually a work of commercial art. It was designed by the printer G. Massias to promote a Parisian bicycle company during the late 19th century’s golden age of cycling. There are apparently only four originals left, but copies are abundant enough that I was able to purchase one in college.

Lucas Cranach the Elder is one of my favorites (and was friends with Luther, so he had to be a cool guy). There are many to choose from but I really love “The Fountain of Youth” because he didn’t shy away from “non-ideal” beauty. Artists, especially in that day, rarely paint “ugly” subjects, preferring instead to depict ideal human figures. I think his depiction of old women is beautiful and respectful.

“The Feast of St. John” by Jules Breton is something I wish I had a print of. What caught my eye about this first was his great execution of fire, the realism almost makes you feel its warmth. I also enjoy the way the women almost float, his capture of their movement is flawless.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. What are some of your favorite paintings?