Thursday, January 28, 2010


I went to the Art Supply store today…it’s a place where I can usually relax and enjoy prowling the aisles for new treasures.

Today it was a mad house-new term starting at colleges everyone scrambling to grab the stuff on their class lists.

I don’t know if I miss teaching or not…there are times when I think it’s all I would like to do and other times (like today) I just see it as an intrusion on my own personal voyage of discovery.

I never mind answering a question, I usually preface any answer with a solid “In my opinion…”

A young lady was filling her cart and frantically searching for this and that on the paint aisle…I could see she was really confused so I asked her if she was finding everything she needed.
She looked around (grateful I think that I was more like a Grandpa and less like someone who was hitting on her) and asked me about some paint colours.

WHY do teachers who KNOW how expensive it is to even attend school these days ask for colours like Cadmiums?

There are perfectly acceptable student grade substitutions for half the price especially these days- we aren’t in the studios of the Florentine Renaissance.
This young lady had not one but THREE Cad colours and one was orange…ridiculous!

I asked her what class this stuff was for and she told me ART ONE…I gently explained to her that these paint colours were quite expensive and she should consider buying a similar colour for half the price, I also asked her what her major was and would she be doing more art classes?

She didn’t know yet to all of the above!

I asked her if I could look at the list again and doing some quick calculations she had at least $250.00 in supplies she was responsible for and might never use again.
I considered for a moment suggesting she might try a drawing class or anything that didn’t cost as much as this one did but instead I found the Liquitex and grabbed the colours she needed, dropped them in her cart and went on my way.

More annoyed FOR her than by her I began to question my own feelings that we should always encourage artistic exploration rather than stand in the way of anyone discovering ART!

I have often given ART KITS to people who might have never toughed the items but at least they owned them and could use them is the muse whispered.

With the state of the economy, the high cost of most everything and the lack of art education in public schools I suppose anyone needs to take a chance on an art class-in my day it was required for a good well rounded education to take at least one art class (remember all those prerequisites?).

The college system in California has always been a bit stodgy and rigid-I hope things have changed but as they stood the rules said if I couldn’t prove I had taken ART ONE or DESIGN 1A I would have to repeat them.

A friend of mine some years back decided he wanted to take a class at the local community college and would I go with him for support-I had the stuff so I paid the 25 bucks for the ASB card and went.

The teacher immediately noticed I was a bit ahead of the class (Drawing one) and was I in the wrong place?

I explained why I was there and that I could always stand to learn something from a new teacher so he let me stay but tailored the course to my needs (quietly) and avoided showing my work in the class critiques…I don’t think anyone was the wiser, my friend gave up art for computers and I was off the hook.

The point to this is I couldn’t have gone to the advanced classes because I couldn’t prove I had taken the prerequisites.

As it happened I hadn't because at my art school there was no drawing one-art schools seldom offer such a thing, it's insulting, if you can't draw why are you in ART SCHOOL???

I started in Life drawing 2 and classes like colour and composition for designers.

There is no time, budget or easy road around the requirements-in art school one submitted a portfolio and from there the curriculum was designed for the student-classes that were redundant avoided.

At the local community college, not so much…

I’ve taught at the local community college and often tell the tale of giving a class in design for the Theatre which appealed for some reason to the male students (less prissy than saying they had a watercolour class I suppose).

I told them all that if they were fulfilling a requirement for Fine Arts classes to take a pass fail, turn in the work and they would pass and only serious ART students should take the class for a letter or number grade.

I started with 29 students, 2 dropped and of the remaining 27 I failed 21.

This wouldn’t have been a problem but they were all varsity ball players and I had rendered the Baseball team’s first string ineligible to play since they were carrying a failing grade---OOOPSY!!!

Of course out of fairness I offered to do a make-up class but what they wanted was a class full of Ds which I refused (how is it fair to the six who struggled through and did the work to pass people who had done NOTHING?).

In the end the board of education over ruled me and passed the little buggers and I left higher education for my own little world---the rest is history.

What struck me is that I don’t even know if any of those people who were passed despite not attending my class even bothered to buy anything on the required supply list?

I certainly hope not because as I remember I asked for Cad RED.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bridges and Snakes

“When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all"

For many years I have felt that BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS might be the most spiritual and meaningful song ever written.

“I'll take your part
when darkness comes
and pain is all around…”

It is so important when people are in trouble, troubled, hurting to let them know they are not alone.

I often don’t understand why some people, coiled like cobras, lay in wait for someone to stumble on their pain and then they lash out…they spew their venom and slink away.

The psychologists will tell you it’s passive aggressive behavior-that may well be but simply put they want to hurt everyone they touch, anyone who reminds them of their pain or even makes them feel less than in control.

Most of us learn as we grow that we are not always the center of everything nor is anything and everything about us-there is lots of room at the edges but spare little room in the center of things.

I’ve had that spot and frankly I don’t want it now.

I never mind helping someone or offering the voice of my life experiences, I think I am generous when it comes to sharing what it took me many years to learn and I can afford to be-I have had the spotlight but more important I am comfortable where I am in life and I don’t need to compete anymore.

I have talked in many posts about the fact that there will always be someone who is better, more creative, more popular but who cares unless you’re keeping score and in that case I hope its worth the exhausting energy drain it takes to be so competitive even if it’s just with yourself.

Now never think that I am under the delusion that I have come anywhere near perfection-I need and want to learn new things I am just willing to accept that some things I do well, some average and some are juat beyond me but it’s fun trying.

I love seeing people discover that they have abilities and creative talent-there’s a feeling I get when I know I have done something that satisfies me…I love that feeling but it doesn’t mean that it’s “good” or “a masterpiece” or any euphemism for “Better than” or “superior to” anyone elses work-it just satisfies ME…that’s enough.

The sad thing is that this comfort with what I do is often misconstrued as arrogance or vanity and it’s far from either.

Despite the fact that I don’t need to compete I do love a challenge and I like to do well at the things I try---though sometimes I disappoint myself…but I can find FUN in a competition now-it’s not serious anymore because I don’t need to invest the high cost of anxiety and energy that it takes to keep up that climb to number one and then stay there.

It may be because my family has been on the edges of Hollywood and the film industry since the 1940s and I have seen what that constant striving for fame does to people…and ultimately how sadly alone they are.

My grandmother had a saying “No one wants to see you when you’re sick but they all come to cry at the funeral”.

It’s not totally true because I think when we are spiritually in need there will always be true friends that never abandon us.

But let someone crash and burn and how many people come out of the woodwork with their best benevolent face on speaking tomes about how they saw it coming and what a tragedy it all is.

Where were they during this spiral into hell?

We learn, some of us do anyway, to ask for help before we are going under for the last time.

But the poor cobras, the hit and run artists can’t ask because they are so busy nursing the bile of their anger and waiting for the next chance to spew.

They are always the first to strike and always the penultimate victim.

It’s the old fable of the frog and the snake brought to life-they must bite because it is their nature.

Sadly it is exactly these people who also need to be soothed so desperately because they are never satisfied and never take any joy from what they do-they are simply too tired.

Like drugs and alcohol, ANGER can be a familiar old chum that we are not quick to get rid of despite the fact that it’s bad company and puts people off, it’s what we know and learning something new takes too much of what little energy we have left.

If we agree that we are all damaged goods, that none of us grew up in a glass tower where we were protected and shielded from the cruelties of life then we can also agree that we might have some small portion of anger and frustration and it might even be righteous.

I hate it when I discover someone who can never live up to someone else’s scorecard for them no matter how much they try…they are forever on the gravel slope trying to move upward but knowing that the ground beneath them is not solid.

The point is whatever level of anger we have we can all relate to sometimes taking that anger out on someone else who doesn’t deserve it. I have even apologized and told people to just slug me when I act up-we sometimes need that reality check because we don’t know that we are being grumpy or thoughtless.

The cobras never have this chance because by the time they realize they have struck the need to run becomes the most important next move and then they rationalize that the person wounded deserved it.

“If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind”

The song doesn’t say that you can FIX anyone just ease them but I wonder if there is any ease for the viper…afterall, it’s their nature.

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
When you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is it the middle of January all ready???

Oh hell-happy New Year…I’m annoyed-there’s been drama and I hate drama-I always forget how much people LOVE drama and I walk headlong right into it.

So here we are---2000 is a distant memory we are into the first of the double digit years of this new century and everything is going too fast.

I am sick of 2012 and the whole end of time business-enough!!!!

I am sick of KAWAII and ANIME didn’t we get over things with big eyes back with the Keenes in the 60s?

I had enough of personalities passing as celebrities, vampires as sex symbols and people weeping on the TV as they confess the sins of their pasts-Honey we all did stuff we shouldnta done-get over it….

I like Michelle Obama-I like her much better than pretty much any first lady that’s been around during my lifetime-she’s smart and eloquent and I suspect she keeps him in line and connected to her children.

It’s a crappy job that of first lady and of course being young. Tall and black the cameras are on instasnap to catch any bad hair, bad fashion choice or youthful oops she makes.

She’s the sort of person you would like to be able to call and have lunch with because you know you would laugh and hear some swell stories.

I got the “sore throat” mess that’s been going around the day after Christmas so while my 24 and 25 were super the week of New Years-not so much-I HATE it when antibiotics kills everything and you are chained to an area within 10 feet or less of the bathroom…aaah but I have probiotics so as soon as I was off the bug killers I started swallowing new bugs.

I have been arting and I have some great new stuff happening in 2010-simpler for sure but more graphic and clever than some of the first cards.

That’s it-I see doctors, I have been doing some custom cards for friends who have big special occasions, weddings, 90th birthdays that sort of thing so I don’t mind helping…I do my ATCs and look for gainful employment---doesn’t exist or I am overqualified.

Ah well this too shall pass.

I hope everyone has a healthy, happy 2010 I will try to get back to writing articles of substance for my blog I have been otherwise occupied-talk soon-outie…