People are not cuboid. So, why put them in boxes?

Ravensborough House
How things could be – Ravensborough House

Sure, the box is efficient, easy to calculate and build and requires less skilled craftsmen than other forms. It maximizes the profit per square foot; and uses up every inch of the land that, itself, was demarcated with exclusively straight lines.

They are quick and cheap to build, suiting the demands of rapidly growing cities and industries, yet with an aesthetic half-life that lingers long after their welcome.

The thinking behind the box is a relic from the industrial era, and from times-gone-by; where limited contemporary structural understanding favored straight line construction as being the most stable and safe.

Yet even deep in the amazon jungle, the Yanomami can create, with limited means, a ring house.

The anti-organic, box building imposes a harsh delineation from the nature which long past generations feared so much; yet is now, ever increasingly, being sought as a soothing antidote to the stress of the contemporary city.

Nowadays, we have the technology, the knowledge, the know-how, and the talent to build any form we like. Yet, in the majority of cases we choose not to. Any five-year-old can make a good job of drawing a box; yet so many contemporary buildings do not show any advancement on a Lego aesthetic.

Do those who commission buildings have some responsibility towards the people who will use and occupy them?

Even forward-thinking, tech firms who pride themselves on unconventional, innovative office interiors, and work practices, fall down on resorting to rudimentary geometric forms, approximated mainly through straight line components, for their structures; such as Apple, Google and Facebook.

The human character is to be curious, inquisitive, creative, adventurous, complicated. How can a lifeform so complex benefit from, or be inspired by, occupying something so rudimentary and unimaginative as a box?

A box space just plain saps the joie-de-vivre of its inhabitants with its dull dependability, its predictability, and conformity. Not to mention is lack of humor, natural beauty, mischief and magic.

Sure, they are efficient, these machines for living; they work well for the industrial purpose they serve, be it factory, office, or cheap (or indeed very expensive) housing; but what could be more dehumanizing than putting humans in a machine?

Wood Cocoon Auditorium
How things could be – Wood Cocoon Auditorium

 

Let us bring the humanity back to buildings, not only for the occupants. Let’s give the architect beautiful curves and dramatic angles to play with; let’s give the engineer a satisfying, complex challenge to solve; let’s give craftsmen a realm to showcase their mighty talents.

And, let the cities be full of wondrous, organic, natural, humane, sculptural forms that make people shout “Wow!” and gasp with awe, at every turn; where the occupants are excited, challenged and inspired by their environment.

 

 

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Why the art you don’t understand can be the most helpful.

The Thinker
The Thinker – Oil on Paper

If you have come to the conclusion and acceptance, that everything you really need is already inside you, then you will require something that can help you bypass the chitter-chatter, and needy tricks of the rational mind and the ego, so you may go deeper inside and find the wonder of who you really are.

If you’re only exposing yourself to art that your rational mind understands all about, and that satisfies a lot of thinking and reasoning, then you will stay within the loop that leaves you so easily tempted to look to the outside world for what you think you need.

Zen Buddhism uses the Kōan as a tool; these little tales that are hard to rationalize, that are hard to make sense of, with your mind alone. When you hear or read these stories, your thinking hits a bug, a malfunction, and makes a space you might fall through, to get at the good stuff beyond.

Meditation also works, so well, to calm the mind, and find a gap between.

And indeed, art that is intentionally hard to understand on a rational level, that has been made intuitively, using a no-mind approach, that doesn’t come with a textual explanation to keep your rational mind happy and busy, can work as a visual Kōan; and, if you give it time, bringing an openness to not having to understand everything, it to can create a crack in the wall of the loop, leading to the place where you can find everything you truly need.

 

The Thinker – Now available to buy at my Etsy store.

How to, authentically, appreciate art.

Eternal Turtle
Eternal Turtle – Oil on Paper

Go to an art gallery, museum or spiritual place (or my blog, Instagram, or shop; if you like), and walk around until you find a piece that speaks to you in some way.

You don’t have to like or understand every work in a museum; and you probably won’t.

Avoid looking at any text that might be hanging next to the artwork; that would be like stirring mud into a clear pool.

And you don’t need to know who the artist is. That would influence your authentic reaction to the piece.

I’m a bit of a purist, and have the opinion that if a work of art is effective then it needs no written explanation. It’s not there to work on a verbal level. And anyway, it’s all about how you feel when confronted with what the artist has made for you.

Don’t let anybody else (including the artist) tell you how you should feel about a work of art. It’s your own authentic experience; and you might well see or experience something that even the creator missed.

And it doesn’t matter whether anybody else likes the things that touch your heart, or not.

Then, just stand, or sit, and look at the piece. If it’s a sculpture, walk around it; find the angles you like.

Then just let it work on you; let it do its magic.

Now, you’ve got to take a risk, and allow your feelings to flow…

…and wait for the WOW!

 

Eternal Turtle – Now available to buy at my Etsy store.

A Rip-Roaring Ride of a Painting

The Old man and the Sea and the Otter-Duck-Princess
The Old man and the Sea and the Otter-Duck-Princess – Oil on Paper

How splendid and wonderful this one turned out to be.

I painted it without much thinking, sideways on, like this:

The Old man and the Sea 300px rotate

 

and at first I couldn’t see it. But when I rotated my head around, there it was.

I see a guy in a boat that is being tossed by the waves, his head tipping over to the side, bending and stretching the neck. His boat could be from a theme park ride with its  vintage Loony-Tunes/Disney reminiscent comic face.

And there, over on the right, drifting-up through the mist, as though upon calm waters, like a figurehead, is some kind of mythical otter-duck-princess; graceful and elegant, even with the fluttering, honking goose upon her head.

This painting is doing one of the wonderful things that art can do: to combine together such disparate elements, into a coherent, stimulating, fantastic whole; which after having been seen, things aren’t the same any more.

Magical worlds; that make so much more seem possible.

The only parts that I painted with the help of my rational thinking, were highlights on the eyes of the boat’s face; to make them shine, and a little more clear definition of the features of the otter-duck-princess. All else was painted intuitively.

So, please do tell me what you see in the picture, and how it makes you feel.

 

The Old Man and the Sea and the Otter-Duck-Princess; now available to buy at my Etsy store.

 

 

 

Why I make art.

Tyranno
Tyranno – Oil on Paper

 

There are times when I go into a museum, or a place of worship, and I am confronted by a work of art that resonates with me on a deep, non-thinking, spiritual level, that makes me feel things I cannot put into words; this is what I aspire to.

I believe the artists, that make these works, are tapping into the universal consciousness, and allowing this creative energy to flow, unhindered and uncensored by rational thought; producing something full of authenticity.

Such works often refuse to be understood by the rational mind, and bypass it, communicating directly to the soul. Somewhat like a visual Kōan.

When successful, these works resonate with the same energy that is within all of us, and often through strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion, remind us of who we are, unite us, and bring us home; and lead us to a realization of how special and awesome we all are.

 

Tyranno – now on sale at my Etsy store.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make art (or, sharpies will set you free)

Prawn Salad Catwalk Conducting Crocodile-Rabbit
Prawn Salad Catwalk Conducting Crocodile-Rabbit – Sharpies on French Notepaper

 

If you want to make art, go right ahead and do it.

It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you have the urge, go for it.

A lot of people get hung up on, “I’m not good enough”, “I didn’t have any training”, “I’m not allowed to, because I didn’t go to school for that”.

Nonsense!

All you need is to be authentic.

If what you make is an authentic outpouring of your heart, it’s going to be great.

Don’t compare yourself to other artists. You’re not trying to be them, you’re trying to be you.

One can get trapped in a diminishing cycle of trying to earn the right to be an artist, thinking that, if you could only be as good at technique as that famous artist, then you would be allowed to make art.

Technique will carry you only so far. It’s a framework; to carry, convey and contain the wonderful stuff that’s coming out from inside of you. When there is a mastery of technique without the soul, the results can be pretty empty, and cold, and dull.

I made the picture above with my daughter’s sharpies, which she kindly lent to me. We were traveling, and I didn’t have anything else to make art with. So, in the middle of the night, I grabbed the pens; and the freedom from seriousness that sharpies can afford, opened the floodgates, enabling me to make something new, with lots of energy, and joy and originality.

When you’re painting with oils, you can get into comparing yourself with some great, old, oil master, and then your rational brain is going to butt-in, and try to convince you that you will never be that good, and, who do you think you are; aspiring to such things?

There’s only one you. The stuff inside of you, can only come out from you. It’s that rare, that unique, that special! Find yourself some sharpies, or a pencil; everyone can afford those. Tear off some paper from somewhere, and show the world what you’ve got!

 

Like what you see? Please go and check out my Etsy store.

Finding that delicate balance

Hammerhead Shark Bonfire Mayhem
Hammerhead Shark Bonfire Mayhem – Oil on Paper

It has been my experience, that the rational mind is a poor artist. While it can be very good for setting an aim, a direction, during the process it becomes a real party pooper; interrupting the beautiful flow with interjections, hindering criticisms, objections and expectations. Oftentimes an oppressive perfectionist, that demands too much, at the wrong time. Crippling to an outpouring from the soul; the artist becomes a roller-coaster passenger with their foot constantly on the brake; enjoying neither the process, the thrills, or the beauty of the view from up there.

I struggled for years with it; trying to direct and control the whole creative process; trying to understand a non-rational process with rational thought; trying to create something perfect; all the while choking the spirit, the soul, out of everything I made; losing all the joy, for myself and the viewer, along the way. It had stopped being fun for me, to make art.

But the rational mind can be tamed (or indeed, made more wild), into a pair of catching hands, handling a particularly delicious hot potato. Guiding and nurturing a wild, blooming outflow, delicately and respectfully tethering something amazing and otherworldly, so that we may be able to comprehend something fresh and new with sufficient hints of a vocabulary we have access to; so that we may find it easier to be open to what comes out.

Something like that was happening with the painting above – ‘Hammerhead Shark Bonfire Mayhem’. There was a wonderful delicate balance. The rational mind was behaving like an open-minded, tolerant mentor. Lightly bouncing the unruly energy into something deliriously wonderful. How about that!? Hammerhead sharks playing with fire! Where did that come from?

At other times, of course, it might be better to leave the rational mind in its rectangular box, where it feels most at ease, and let the amazing madness and mayhem come interrupted. So that boundaries might be pushed, the cartharsis of a full-on creative flow might be experienced, with all the joy and elation that can bring; and, on the next day, waking up and seeing something that takes your breath away and just makes you say “Wow!”

 

Hammerhead Shark Bonfire Mayhem – Now available to buy on my Etsy store.

 

 

Kneeling Samurai House

Kneeling Samurai House
Kneeling Samurai House – Pencil on Paper

What would you think, when confronted with a house like this?

Where is the entrance? How is the space divided up inside? How would it feel to live inside; with its handcrafted wood surfaces, built by skilled craftsmen who found real joy in realizing the form. How would it sound, as the wooden components moved against each other on a windy day, or as people moved through the house? How would passers-by react when they happen upon its sculptural form, that only hints at its purpose, rising up from the earth.

It must be amazing to live in a house that is a full expression of what people are capable of making, with their talent and skill. It must be stimulating. With its unorthodox encapsulation and division of space. It must shift your perception of life and reality; a wonderful thing that art can do.

I named it Kneeling Samurai House because that is what I saw in it’s abstract form when I completed the drawing. Like some benevolent, battle-weary, wooden giant, who knelt down to offer his shell as a shelter.

Who would live in a house like this?

Don’t we all deserve a house that suits us right down to the ground?