Sunday, December 30, 2007

Learning to Walk on Water

Q: Will anyone ever match the genius of Mozart?

A: No

Thank you—now can we get on with our work?

Never in my life have I stood in the presence of greatness like I experienced at the foot of the Pieta, Michelangelo’s masterpiece in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is the only work which the artist signed. He must have been very pleased with his accomplishment as signed his name right across the chest of the Madonna. I can see why. I stood in front of it and wept like a baby. I can’t even put into words what I felt. It was life-changing on many levels. I will never forget it.

The down side of an experience like that is that now everything seems like dung by comparison. And I’m not just talking about my work. I am speaking about all art, all music, all poetry, all literature, all theatre, all art of any kind…all of it…worthless dung. What more can be said than was said in that one perfect slab of marble?


After visiting a home-show where new homes are fully loaded and dressed to the nines, my mother often says that she feels like going home and setting her house on fire. I never understood that until now. I am pretty content with my home. It’s nicer than I deserve, I think. But my work…well…there is always a vision for much improvement. The trick is to not become overwhelmed by it.

Eugene Delacroix said, “Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.” Perfectionism kills creativity. We lose sight of the beauty and wonder of the creative process and place our sites on the product. It’s like when Peter tried walking on water. Art, true art, should never be about the product. You will surely sink.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Back from the Biennale

It was a long, exhausting and exhilarating trip. I am glad to be home and back in my studio. I arrived just in time for Figgie Pudding…or in my case, cheesecake. I did my Christmas shopping in Italy and France this year, which was fun and made for unique gifts.

Unfortunately, I caught pneumonia the day I arrived in Florence, Italy. I don’t remember ever being as sick as I was those first two weeks. I attended the Biennale, but missed a couple of events because of doctor’s orders. Yes, the hotel called in a doctor. The housekeepers were getting worried about me. (Italians are so warm and friendly. They make you feel like family. )

Over 800 artists from about 80 different countries attended this year’s Florence Biennale. It was very interesting to meet working artists from all over the world. I had some great conversations and have brought home enough memories to last a lifetime. I am very inspired by the things I saw and experienced this month in Europe; not just in Italy, but also in the South of France. I am already busy at work preparing an entirely new series of paintings for my next exhibit, which will be February and March at the Kress Gallery in downtown Spokane. No dust settling on my shoes!