Answering the question “why”

drawing of a basket by Pierre Bonnard

As I said already, the path to a clean the house is not a straight line.  I take detours. Reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” gives me ideas for how to clean my house and unclutter my mind. Once I am living inside that less cluttered mind, there’s the question of what to do. I am also reading a book on mindfulness.  I found it at the end of the aisle at Barnes and Noble.  It’s a “bargain book.”  Costs under eight dollars.  Thus even as I am moving other books out, I acquire new books.  Such is life.

This book on mindfulness asks me at the beginning of the third chapter (after I have tasted a raisin) why I am reading the book.  It’s kind of a talking book.  It asks questions and you’re supposed to answer them.

I bought the book because I read books on psychology.  Mindfulness is a topic that interests me.  But why now?  It was at the end of the aisle where it caught my attention.  And it cost less than eight dollars.  Seriously.  That was the reason.  Okay.  But why did I not notice the myriad other books on the ends of aisles?  Barnes and Noble stores have many aisles.

Psychological topics interest me. I buy the book to learn how to talk about mindfulness, but mindfulness itself is familiar territory. Of course, one can always learn new lessons from familiar things.  When I was a youth we called it “being lazy.”  In my family’s world sometimes you disparaged something that in fact you really believed you need — so don’t be mislead by the description. No one wanted to be always working and lack time simply to live.

The book asks me questions, I can ask questions too.  Why a basket?  Why Bonnard’s basket to illustrate this post? You don’t have to answer, though, not unless you want to.

WHAT?  What kind of question is that?  Why did I post a basket or why did Bonnard draw one?  Either question will do.  Or some other.  I’m not particular. But the topic is basket. My subconscious chose it.  If you have a problem with that, take it up with my subconscious.  Not my area …

An artist draws this and not that.  The subconscious is always posing suggestions — “draw this.”  And the suggestions raise questions, “why this?”  And the questions are often difficult to answer.  Sometimes the answer I offer myself is “why not?”  But that reply is not an answer, it’s an evasion.  It can be taxing to answer questions. Laziness (in the way my family understood it) is a way of getting answers by evading the questions in the first place.  You just let your mind wander around.  Not that we were even self-conscious enough to notice we were being mindful.

As for the book I read its name is, aptly, “Mindfulness: a practical guide” by Tessa Watt.  Someday — perhaps even soon — I’m going to begin writing a book called “Drawing: an impractical guide.”  But that’s a matter to take up in future posts.

Dynamic Swimmers

advancing swimmersZig-zagging, radiating reflections announce the movement of the koi that swim in lazy formation toward the spectator. The calm quietude of the koi contrasts with the reflections created by their wake. They are dynamic in effect even when their actions are measured and smooth. The waves the koi make as they swim through the pond travel far from the fish ensemble. Their waves announce them to distant places and telegraph their presence to distant shores, saying, “The koi were here.”

Where the koi assemble, coming toward the spectator, passages of warm yellow, orange and red mix with pale luminescent silvery blue and mild violet tones in the level water. They swim in our direction and those jagged reflections begin to fall far behind them.

Dynamic Swimmers is drawn using Neocolors on Nideggen paper and measures 38 x 25.5 inches.

In Defense of Laziness


I was confessing in the previous post about how much I’ve neglected painting of late.  My attention has been fixed upon other things, and not only have I not been painting, I have not wanted to paint.  I “intend” to work, but don’t.  Little distractions lead me astray. 

I was thinking about it today — about the things that trigger for me a desire to paint.  For me, it’s color.  Even just thoughts about certain color combinations can make me want to paint — though I haven’t tried very hard to use these thoughts to get myself back to work. 

Part of the problem is perhaps about responsibility.  I do believe that being responsible is a central component of one’s character, a core virtue that one wants to possess.  Yes, I do aspire to being a responsible person.  But I have to admit that “responsibility” doesn’t paint pictures.  Sometimes I have done my best painting when I was “goofing off” with an idea.  Sometimes my most productive times have felt more like play than work — good enough to make one feel guilty about the exuberance.

In this unproductive phase, I’m wondering to myself if in order to be more “responsible” in the making of pictures, maybe I need to be more irresponsible.  Perhaps I need a strong dose of play.  Perhaps I am too diligent.  Could I be lacking in a certain kind of essential laziness?  Am I too uptight?    Perhaps the flowers will matter most when they become “just flowers,”  beautiful and useless and transitory like real flowers.  Just simple flowers.

Benefits & Hazards of Blogging


Hazards?  Well, here’s one.  You tell the whole world (or a largish audience anyway) that you’re working on such and such.  And then you get lazy and don’t work on such and such for just the longest time.  (My big still life of flowers berates me daily for my neglect.) 

Benefits?  Well, I’ve participated in some “drawing challenges,” and they can be really fun.  You join a group endeavor.  Others spur you on.  Everybody is trying to encourage each other.  And all that. 

Lately I’ve been drawing horses for another blog.  Each month someone suggests a different image.  This month it was horses which happens to be a favorite subject for me.  Mind you, I don’t know anything about horses and rarely ever get anywhere near one.  Alas!  But I have some toy horses that are reasonably good approximations of the real thing.  So I draw the toys.  

I love it!  This one above is not a new drawing.  But I post it now to cover my laziness!