Sunday, November 13, 2011


Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it's planted in an area with older trees.  The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant  themselves more deeply.  Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground.  In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier.  That's legacy: an interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before and and a responsibility to those who come after us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Is Art?

I'm very prejudiced.  I don't think all "art"  is art.  My friends will (generously) put up with my vociferous  bashing when I see a piece that is supposed to be "art" but is really ripping off the viewer, the person who may have commissioned it, and those of us who actually work at our craft.

So what is art?  And what should it do?  This is a question that has consumed many dinners.  My husband's concise response is that art does three things:

* Art nurtures the soul.
* Art shelters the soul.
* Art interests the soul.

That's it.  And that's a lot.  Does it need to do all three at once?  In other words, as an example, can art only interest the soul without sheltering or nurturing it?  I'm not sure, but I don't think so.  There is something about the arrangement of colour, form, design, texture, that attracts us and actually makes us pause to imbibe.  Hence, it does all three if even for a second or two.  Our soul becomes attached, if even in a small way, to what we view, smell, see or hear.  And that attachment becomes a union.  We have what Martin Buber might describe as an "I-Thou" relationship with the creator and with the environment that we are sharing.

So next time you are out and something catches you, ask if that thing of beauty is nurturing your soul, sheltering your soul and interesting your soul.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Create is an Act of Love

My husband is a great artist and a great philosopher and a great architect.  This is actually one of his writings from March 2009.  It well describes why we create.

"A philosopher told me once that God understood the world because He made it.  While forming the whole He guided all the parts into their separate identities, their places.  The identity of each part became realized by how each formed a part of the whole.

God understood the world because He gave each part existence with respect to Himself and with respect to the whole.  In order to create, He had to devote a piece, a chard of Himself, in order to bring each piece its meaning as separate from the void.  By surrendering a chard that diminished Him but rendered a creation, He gave love.  With love, all acts of creation deepen the Creator.  His understanding of the world was deepened by the making of it.  By giving up parts of Himself without limitation to the life of the parts, He gained love of the world.

Being created, I must yearn to understand my place and my Father's place.  I must do some measure of the work of my Father, by creating, by building.  To begin to understand the world I must re-make a part of it.  I must disassemble and re-assemble a part of the work/mind of God.  In making, I allow parts of myself to align alongside those chards of God.  To join my creation with those of God I must commit parts of myself, my chards to the creation.  I give an irredeemable chard tin order to bring each piece its meaning and separate it from the void.  By undertaking the challenge to build with love, I have surrendered to the job of opening my soul.  Then, from my soul, lies the chard of the divine where God and I dwell together. "

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Go Fast, Go Slow

Drawing accurately is a difficult task.  Artists talk about the excellent draughtmanship of certain artists with reverence.  Pierre Prud'homme is in this top position for excellence.  His drawings are not only accurate, but beautiful.  DaVinci and Thomas Eakins also reign at the top.  One might think all master artists draw with superb accuracy, but they don't.   Their work might be beautiful, but not perfectly "accurate".  It doesn't mean that those works are somehow "less than".  Their skills are indeed excellent, but as in all things, there are those who just rise above the rest.

So how does one become a good draughtsman, let alone excellent?  My son had a violin teacher who used to say, on a very regular basis, "... to go fast, you need to go slow...''   It seems so paradoxical.  How can slowing down actually speed things up????   Going slow means taking the time to truly measure.  Like the other adage, "measure twice, cut once", the same is true for drawing. Only instead of measuring twice, one may need to measure 3, 4, 10 times, or what ever it takes to get it right.  It means taking the time to relate how one part of the drawing fits with other parts of the drawing.  It also means don't get wedded to your work.  You have to learn to separate yourself from the work itself.  You have to be willing to change, erase, re-do.  But there is more.  It means taking as much time as it takes to get it right, and remembering that it isn't a race.  Because once the drawing is accurate, everything else goes so much faster and easier.

And isn't this true for most things in life?  To go fast, go slow.  It will not only save time, but you might also learn and see something new along the way.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How's It Hangin'?

We all have pet peeves.  I have quite a few....the dishwasher being loaded the "wrong way", an unmade bed, moving decorations (or anything, for that matter) around and not putting them back exactly as they were.  And don't get me started on disorder of any kind......You get the idea, so you might imagine how I feel when paintings are not hung correctly.  Too high (often), too low (not often enough), or uneven.  I'm not sure which bothers me more - too high or uneven.  Both really get to me.  But most of us, and I do include myself because it wasn't until my husband taught me the rules of hanging,  succumb to the pitfalls of how to hang a piece of art.

First in the rules:  Know from what position you will be viewing the work(s).  If you are seated, then the center of the image should be just above eye level.  If you are standing, such as in a hallway, then the center will be higher.

I found this gem of a rule at  "always hang your art at 57" on center. "On center" means that the middle of the picture is at 57" (obviously, the hook will be higher). Interestingly, the 57" standard represents the average human eye-height and is regularly used as a standard in many galleries and museums...

What WE have discovered is that if you stick to this standard, you create a harmony among ALL the pictures in your home, as they will always hang in relationship to one another from their centers, not their sides. Additionally, we have also found that this helps solve the problem many people have, which is that they hang their pictures too high.
Step By Step:
1. Measure and lightly mark 57" on the wall
2. Measure top of your picture to the middle (or take height and divide by 2)
3. Measure top of your picture to the tightened wire (a small amount)
4. Subtract this last amount to tell you how far above 57" your hook should go
5. Measure up from 57" with this last amount and lightly mark on the wall
1. Picture is 20" tall
2. Middle is 10" down from top (this should rest at 57")
3. Wire comes to 2" below the top
4. 10" - 2" = 8"
5. Lightly mark 8" above your first mark OR 65" on the wall
Though this may seem complicated to read, it is quite simple when you do it. The thing to always remember is that the CENTER of all your pictures are hanging at the same 57", and you are just figuring out where the hook goes above it.
This 57" also applies to groups of pictures. Think of a group as ONE picture. After you arrange how you want them all to hang (doing this on the floor makes it easier), start with the center picture/pictures and get them at 57" on center. Then surround them with the rest of the group.

Good luck.  And call me if you need a tape measure.