The Art of…


I would like to propose the idea that thinking is an art. It is an art in the same way as is writing, photography, textile making, composing a song, painting, drawing, playing a piano or any other medium.It is a purposeful activity over which we exercise some control. Control is the key word. Thinking is not always conscious. The evidence that the unconscious mind can join in purposeful mental activity is overwhelming. For example: when you come up with the perfect answer just when you stop working on the problem. Your conscious mind turns to other matters and yet you receive the answer.

 

Thinking is any mental activity that helps formulate or solve a problem, make a decision, or fulfill a desire to understand. It is searching for answers, and finding meaning.

 

I believe, as do others, that our schools don’t teach our children how to perform the art of thinking. Thinking and not just experience a reflux of information is very different. With so much emphasis on testing, our children know facts and yet can not think through the facts to make good decisions for their own lives and for others. Without the actual thinking, it is easier for governments and religions to just move us along on the path they want us to take. The one that best serves their agenda.

 

Thinking in terms of tradition, often there is a basis for accomplishing certain activities. It is always a good thing to learn from the past. But there must be a balance between traditional activities and thinking about a better action or answer. Factual knowledge does not always guarantee success in solving a problem.

 

I am sharing this poem not because it is emotional, or better than any I have read here on WordPress. It does teach a lesson and I am sure that each of us will come up with parallel situations.

 

“One day through the primeval wood

A calf walked home as good calves should;

But made a trail all bent askew,

A crooked trail as all calves do.

 

Since then three hundred years have fled,

And I infer the calf”s dead.

But still he left behind his trail,

And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day

By a lone dog that passed that way,

And then a wise bellwether sheep

Pursued the trail o’ver hill and glade

Through those old woods a path was made.

 

And many men wound in and out

And dodged and dodged and bent about

And uttered words of righteous wrath

Because t’was such a crooked path;

But still they followed—but do not laugh—

The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding woodway stalked

Because he wobbled when he walked.

 

This forest path became a lane

That bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,

Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,

And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half

They trod the footsteps of that calf.

 

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,

The road became a village street;

And thus, before men were aware,

A city’s crowded thoroughfare.

And soon the central street was this

Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half

Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout

Followed this zigzag calf about

And o’er his crooked journey went

The traffic of a continent.

 

One hundred thousand men were led

By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent

To well-established precedent.”

—Sam Walter Foss

 

Sometimes, tradition is nothing more than “well established” precedent. Sometimes the best answers are found within our subconscious; when we develop the art of thinking.

 

 

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The Thinking Man, Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio

The Thinking Man, Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio

Opting to Matter


Deciding to matter is something that most creative people need to decide to have in their lives. It isn’t a cosmic expectation but it really is a conscious decision. If you are brooding about meaning, you need to change your perspective.

 

We must accept that as artists we have egos, drives, desires, dreams, talents, a brain, a heart, and a complete human interior that makes potent demands on us. This humanness should be respected and accepted.

 

Life gives us information and it is up to us how we will process the information. Come to your own conclusions about what life means to you and how you should act. We are the only arbiter of meaning.

 

We can only understand ourselves and other humans can not because the can’t be objective. We need to consider our biology and psychology. We can figure ourselves out by observing ourselves objectively. This can be a huge endeavor.

 

We need to live a righteous life, according to the sense of ethics we have developed. We are our own moral compass.

 

We need to find a  way to tap the energy needed to accomplish these goals.We must generate our own energy. We need to activate  our passion, our enthusiasm, and tap into our creativity.

 

We must not live in the present moment. Let go of the past as it is gone and we can not effect it anymore. Do not spend all of your time focusing on the future. The future will never arrive and if it did, it would be the present. Your inspirations for your art are available in the present.

 

If we decide to opt to matter, we may have to tap into our courage and bravery. Accept that you may have to show heroism. Virtually no creative person reaches these high ideals. Most get mired in the first steps of opting to matter. We may have been born creative, but we have to choose to be good. Don’t fall into the pit of lording it over other creative souls. The gift of creativity does not mean that we can do whatever we please. This is where responsibility comes in. The creative person is subject to the same moral directives as the rest of humankind is. We may need to heal ourselves before we can use our talents to the highest level.

 

Creative people need to have a mantra and I suggest this one. Healing and transformation will make us into a person who can manage meaning effectively. ” This is who we are and this is what I choose to become.”  Follow this and you will develop a true passion for life. This passion will fuel your passion for creativity and enhance your art no matter what medium you choose to work in.

 

 

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Allow yourself to shine.

Allow yourself to shine.

 

 

Sepia wine and cheese photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Sepia wine and cheese photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Who Wants War?


Many People have wanted peace for millenniums. Artists of every different types of media have to ability to see and feel the importance of peace. Many have written affirmations. Composed song lyrics, written poems.  Artists paint for peace and sketch for peace. Artists need to rise up and make your voices heard. Not in a violent way, but loud enough to shake the rafters.

 

 

 

 

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                                 Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

 This quote is from Vincent Van Gogh

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Feminism and Art


photo 1

Judy Chicago The Dinner Party 1979.
Mixed media 48’x42’X3′.
Triangular table on white tile floor.
Photograph by Donald Woodman (2010)
From Prebles’ Artforms , Tenth Edition
Patrick Frank
published by Prentice Hall

In the late 1960’s, many women artists began to speak out against the misogyny that always blocked them in their careers. It has always been difficult for women to be taken seriously. Our patriarchal society has always looked at what was produced by women as less than. For women artists it has been difficult to have their work shown in galleries, in artists’ groups. Galleries have been and continue to be more willing to accept the art made by men than by women. This has long been a problem for women artists and women in general. If a woman is entering a  jar of preserves or a pie in the county fair, fine. But real creation has been considered the product of men. Women in the 60’s were afraid to allow their art to reflect their problems producing artwork in the male dominated world.

In the early 70’s, feminist artists, in New York and California began to take action. They wanted the art world to be a more balanced world where their work wouldn’t languish in obscurity. Lucy Lippard, an art critic and feminist wrote, “The overwhelming fact remains that a woman’s experience in this society—social and biological—is simply not like that of a man. If art comes from the inside, as it must, then the art of men and women must be different, too.”

The work of some women artists is definitely influenced by their gender and their interests in feminist issues. The two groups worked differently. California feminists tended to work together in collaborations. They tended to make use of media that had  been used traditionally in “craft work” and with women: ceramics and textiles. The upper photograph, The Dinner Party, was a collaboration of many women and a few feminist men. Judy Chicago organized this work over a period of five years.

“A large triangular table contains place settings for thirty-nine women who made important contributions to world history. They run a wide gamut, from Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut to Georgia O’Keefe. The names of 999 additional women of achievement are inscribed on ceramic tiles below the tables. Each place setting includes a hand-embroidered fabric runner and a porcelain plate designed in honor of that woman. Some of the plates are painted with flat designs, others have modeled and painted relief motifs, many are explicitly sexual, embellished with flower-like female genitalia.” (Description from Prebles’ Artforms)

New York feminists were more pointed in their protests. Some of them formed the group Women Artists in Revolution (WAR), which picketed museums. In response to dealers who were reluctant to exhibiting female artists, they formed their own collaborative gallery, Artists in Residence (AIR). Nancy Spero, a leader in feminist circles on the East Coast participated in both groups. Her work used uncommon media such as paper scrolls, stencils and printing to document subjects such as the torture and abuse of women.

The bottom photograph is of a work by Nancy Spero. It is called the Rebirth of Venus. Venus is the ancient goddess of love. And in this art piece the goddess is split open to reveal a woman sprinter who runs directly towards the viewer. The contrast is strong, women as love object releases a woman who is strong and a achiever.

Women still have to fight for recognition in the art world. Women still have to fight for everything including equality. But women will never give up and go back to being subjected quietly by society. We will never be quiet again.

 
RebirthOfVenus
 
 
Nancy Spero Rebirth of Venus detail 1984
Handprinting on paper.  12″ x 62′
Photograph David Reynalds
From Prebles’ Artforms , Tenth Edition
Patrick Frank
Published by Prentice Hall

The Art of Bonsai


There is much beauty in the miniature of life. Not everything has to be bigger to be better. I hope you enjoy these miniatures and the art of shaping them and encouraging them to grow in the shape you with them to grow.

Tiny beauty

Tiny beauty

small forest

small forest

It takes a lot of time for a huge tree to learn to be this small

It takes a lot of time for a huge tree to learn to be this small

The skill in the fingers who work with Bonsai is awesome

The skill in the fingers who work with Bonsai is awesome

Such perfection!

Such perfection!

The tiniest plant I sawAll photography by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2013