With 2019 nearing an end, I wanted to share some of my own closing thoughts. The most significant thing that I've been experiencing lately is just the freedom to do things in my own fashion. By this, I mean being unique in my expressions as an artist and as a person. Not overthinking or mimicking or trying to be something other than me.
It feels like a lot of ballast has been removed from me because I no longer care to pursue something outside of myself. It's such a freeing feeling to search for myself. Some books that have helped me with this have been: The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I'm currently about halfway through The Four Agreements and highly recommend it to anyone who likes personal development books.
I'm wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year. I wonder what 2020 will bring?
Man, it is really easy to get distracted. Just looking at my phone can lead to a whole morning, afternoon or evening down the tubes. How many days am I willing to let sail by me without engaging and accomplishing what I want to accomplish? I've hit a wall with the constant checking on things, emails, apps, etc. I took a step forwards today by deleting my email app on my phone. Even after I deleted the app, I instinctively tapped the spot where it used to be! That seems like a borderline addiction or something to me. I'll check my email once a day on my computer, but that's all.
There's enough hours in the day, but how many of them do I fritter away? What excuses am I making that stop me? There's no one actively stopping me from doing any of the things I want to do. If I want to go paint en plein air tomorrow, I can, but what excuses will I make? As my 20's are slowly drawing to a close, I'm becoming frightfully aware of how precious time is. I don't want to let the beautiful moments of the day disappear into a smartphone, computer, tv, etc.
I need to be hard on myself. There's a lot of things I want to do and making lists of them doesn't help; it requires actually doing them with a level of focus and presence. Many of these lessons I learned on my bootcamp last weekend (or was that two weekends ago? 😳) I still need to write a review about that whole experience, but you can check out Infinite Man Summit to learn more about truly becoming your best self.
For me, the good stuff is the real stuff. Spending time with my mom, skateboarding, reading, writing in my journal, petting my dog, riding my motorcycle, having a beer with my friends, painting from life, etc. That's what makes me happy. Grrr, it's tough, but at least it's simple.
I think I'm about done with this current commission and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I'm going to look over it one last time, but I'm happy with the way it looks. I was really inspired by Velazquez for this portrait and worked mostly wet-in-wet to finish it part by part.
I've been developing my recent alla prima painting ideas and I'm toying with the idea of writing a short ebook. This is a new idea, but it's something that I would love to do. As readers of my blog will know, I'm a huge fan of John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla and the original godfather of it all, Diego Velazquez. I was fortunate to travel to Madrid last year where I absorbed a lot of information about these amazing painters. For the book, I would inject a lot of my own ideas, but it would also contain a lot of information about alla prima painters of the past.
Have a great weekend everyone!
I was reading in bed last night and got up to jot down an idea I had about the similarities between reading, writing and painting. All three of these disciplines require concentration and most importantly practice. They all have differences, but can be very similar in their ability to transport the writer, reader or artist into a flow state on non-thinking.
I've been thinking a lot (as always) about painting and the fact that painting isn't about slapping paint around and expecting a beautiful result, it requires concentration, patience and a deliberate touch. In the same way that you can't read a book by running your eyes along a page, you have to be present and read each word.
As I said, it takes a lot of practice and I don't think it's something that you can develop quickly. I started developing myself into a reader early in college because I saw how much I was missing out by not reading. I used to read a lot when I was a kid and I always did the required reading in high school, but I wanted to really become a "reader".
I started off with this grand ambition of reading Moby Dick (unabridged) which of course is like trying to bench press 225 lb. your first time in the gym. Or maybe like trying to write a huge novel as your first piece of writing. In painting, it's like trying to paint a full length portrait if you're just starting out. You need to start small and build up the muscles.
So I started out with smaller books and worked my way up to longer, more complex, ones-- my favorite of which is IQ84 by Haruki Murakami, which is just under 1000 pages and took me 6 months to read. I'm not a fast reader, but I read consistently and make deliberate progress.
I hope this comparison sheds some light on different ways to think about art and how it's never easy (nor should it be).