Tuesday, November 26, 2013



 Creating a balance between the deep desire in this sacred life to create great art,  the hard work we encounter on this path, and the need for a pleasurable journey is something we must strive for or pay the price for having missed the joy of living.

     Many of us were taught to work hard. These are great life lessons and a part of  achieving success, especially in the first forty years of life. Many thanks to those who prepared us to earn a living, yet somehow I missed the wisdom of balance.

     Brother David Steindl- Rast, a monk, in his revelatory book, "Gratefulness, the Heart and Prayer" concluded after many years of research that gratefulness was the practice that led to a joyful life. This has now been confirmed by numerous scientific studies. It is so important it is recommended that you write letters of gratitude to others in your life. The key is in creating a ritual whereby you express your gratitude several times a week and eventually your cup will begin to feel like its half full. In addition, make it a ritual to thank people often. The psychological studies confirm that grateful people are happier and happier people are more successful. Happiness should mean both meaning and joy.
  My neighbor has Lou Gehrig's disease, he has lost the use of an arm and it is progressing yet he is a pleasure to be around, he CHOOSES to be grateful and thus happy. We must CHOOSE to find ways to be grateful and joyful or risk a lost life, for who wants to have lived without knowing the joy of living?


     We must work, it is in our DNA. We struggle to be the best we can be. We must "show up". Going into the winter months  I frequently start to crank down , get too serious and think about business TOO much. This is when I must seek ways to regain the joy of creating art by recreating the moment that motivated the plein air studies I use for reference.  PERFECTIONISM is actually detrimental to creativity. When we see masters' works we see their masterpieces mostly, yet we don't see the many other works that they created. The point is they created large numbers of works and only some reached the masterpiece level.

So we need look no farther than "The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri, and I paraphrase as follows:
       " Life is finding yourself, it is a spiritual development. The goal is not making art, it is living a life. Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Life is not about much attention to detail. What we need is more a sense of wonder of life and not the business of making a picture. Go beyond the material and put the spiritual in it. If you have something to say you will find the way.What does your soul desire to say right now?"

 I recently toured the northwest, living a life in beauty, photographing nature and painting plein air, seeking beauty. This is living at a high level for artists. So coming back in studio it is important to refresh and relive those feelings to create art using all the materials and skills to recreate this beauty and energy for others to see. As a teacher Henri obviously felt it not enough to teach skills but to foster excitement for life, to teach people to paint from memory of intense feelings and contemplation. Teaching workshops is also a time of intense concentration, yet a time of great joy and connection watching the growth of other artists.

"In the depth of winter , I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer." Albert Camus

Wishing you an invincible summer this winter and wishing you and your family happy holidays.



Anonymous said...

Oh Bill, I have been following you on facebook for a while, attracted to your fresh, vibrant paintings. I've been tempted to take a workshop many times, though the money and time have been short. This blog post, I read through without even looking at the paintings because the words were more important. Thank you for sharing who you are with your art and wisdom.

barbara schilling said...

Wonderful wise words...thank you for sharing them along with your beautiful paintings!

Donna Robbins said...

Bill, This latest blog of yours has set the seed for me to change the way I've been approaching painting ...& life! Thank you! I feel so inspired to get back to living a more spirit-filled life as I once did knowing that my work will be more inspired by that and be the gift to others I want it to be. Of all the painting teachers I've had you were the one who taught and inspired me in the most beneficial ways. Your dedication to giving and also having a great time while doing it made the workshop such a gift. Am looking forward to spending time with you again in 2014.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom. Your paintings are so beautiful. Looking forward to your next post.

sharon said...

bill..great post...it is so true I have seen some of the greats failures and it bouys me.I want to recommend a book that I know you will love..it's by Robert Johnson and it's called Balancing Heaven and Earth.This book changed my life and it is all about this post you have written...you can get it on amazon.I love a post that give insight and contemplation...especially from a guy..haha...