Showing posts with label bad habits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bad habits. Show all posts

December 10, 2015

The Art of Looking

As in looking for something, not looking at something. Big difference...


Powers of observation go a long way.

Every time I'm not at home and I get an emergency phone call from one of two family members who are desperately looking for something important they can't find, I remind them that knowing how to look is the first step to finding what you're looking for. I refer to it as The Art of Looking. There is definitely an art to it since it's clear that some people have no problem with it while others (including the majority of the population) will have a life long struggle with it.

According to research, the average American wastes approximately 55 minutes a day looking for things.

The average person will waste approximately one year of their life looking for lost possessions. As one online source put it, considering that we only laugh for around 6 minutes a day, that's pretty depressing statistics.

Not immune to this problem but trained at an early age I feel I can safely offer some sage advice on the topic. Since aforementioned one of two family members is likely to read this I figured I'd get it all down now...

No. 1
Take a deep breath in, then breathe out.

No. 2
Realize that whatever you're looking for is not gone forever. No one has come to your house to steal your car keys, wallet, passport, ipad, or sunglasses. They are not lost, they're misplaced, or more likely, they're right in front of your face. You just can't see them for the hurried, frantic frustration you're currently engulfed in.

No. 3
Slow down. Rushing and looking do not go hand in hand. If you're moving too fast you've probably rushed right by what you were looking for like ten times already.

No. 4
Keep in mind that rifling, rummaging and grabbing are all synonyms for burglarizing. If it concerns paperwork, which it often does, you actually have to pick up each and every single paper separately. This is not the time to fan through the pile. This can occasionally require a bit of eye hand coordination like picking up papers with the right hand (if you're a righty) while holding them with the left hand. If the pile is that big, you're going to need a system, trust me.

No. 5
Don't assume. If you have an image of what you're looking for in your head it can actually get in the way of finding it because if we assume, we usually wrongly assume. We think the paper we're looking for has an orange letter head when in reality it has a blue letterhead with orange writing. Or we forget that the black hat actually has a huge colorful logo in front and clearly that's not what we were looking for. Without the assumption of what something already looks like, we're forced to look more closely at every single thing in the pile. How many times do we say, well that's not what I was looking for that's why I couldn't find it. Or we say, how can I find it if I don't know what I'm looking for.

The Art of Looking 



Here I'd sarcastically say, you know, Open your eyes. Maybe I should say instead, Open your mind.







No. 6
Employ only the most loyal family members to help in the search. It will most definitely grow tiresome and it's important to know where your unconditional love is coming from. Of course there are instances when relying on someone else's eyes is literally essential (like in my case), when someone who needs glasses to see far away can't find her glasses.


Well, for me that about sums it up. I suppose there's an art form to everything if we think about it. I also think some of these suggestions could work pretty well for half a dozen other things that plague us on a daily basis; if we consider that breathing, slowing down, appreciating help from others, and positively reassuring ourselves are all good things in themselves.

No doubt there's much more that could be added to this list.

If you have any other interesting insights into The Art of Looking, please send them my way.





September 3, 2015

the grass is always greener


It is September again... already. I'm reminded of a September blog about Rituals 
I wrote that I thought was last year but turns out it was two years ago. This makes perfect sense as the next thing I was going to say was that my life seems to be replaying itself over and over. So it seems right on cue to want to talk about it all over again... 


 
My life is good, as in, I have a good life, but the critical part of me is extremely critical and always thinks the grass is greener no matter what. That annoying naysayer stuck in my head revels in an endless litany of malcontent. It matters not that this year I am settled in a new place, new location, new environment. Apparently the inward man is not affected by changes in scenery. My gut is still looking at the neighbor's lawn regardless.

I am supposed to be coming up with new morning rituals, and this seems very difficult. Afternoon rituals and night time rituals also just as difficult. I am usually so excited for September, writing new schedules and starting new classes, etc. but right now it all seems like so much work. I am slightly dreading my calendar that already has so many marks circled and crossed off and circled again I can't see the numbers of the days anymore.

I'm sure the fact that I have not been in my art studio since July has a lot to do with it. Things happen in the summer that can't be explained except to say, well... it's the summer. Even though I am so proud of all the work I accomplished last year, I want to be even better this year and even more focused.

Sometimes I think if I could only be more traditional and go about the day rigidly following lists and schedules, I would be more stable, temperate, less distracted, stop thinking so much. I would be the most focused devoted person in the world. I imagine what it would be like to be that devoted to my artwork. I'd figure out how to haul the white couch into my second floor studio so I could spend mornings and nights there and just work work work. I'd be so devoted to my family I'd hang on their every word and make every meal from scratch. I'd be devoted to goodness and God and happiness. I would never be restless, bored or irritated. And I would definitely not spend the entire month of August away from my artwork. 

Thankfully I'm able to temporarily wake myself from this unrealistic dream. A cool relief sweeps right over my thought that all those temperate, ritualistic traditionalists have it any better than me. That would be almost as ridiculous as hauling a perfectly clean white couch into an oil stained painting studio.

On the other hand, there's something to this idea of keeping rituals I can't get away from. If only there were a way to use my naturally restless character to help me accomplish all my goals. If only the very idea of rituals did not include blind devotion with no guarantee of reward. Unrewarded is a term I am not friendly with. This is something to ponder... 

Devotion comes little by little, step by step. The very notion that change can come from doing something repeatedly is difficult to grasp. But maybe it is not the doing so much as the perception of it that leads to change. If I keep doing the same thing but think about it differently?


Samantha Palmeri painting
detail, "abstract painting #5" 2014
Perhaps I can focus on what I've already been rewarded with and start from there, or perhaps stop thinking about the reward altogether. 

I love my art studio. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that in this particular case the grass is not greener. I do not want a bigger, better space. I don't visit other artists and think, oh if I only had that space what amazing work I could get done. Nope. I just want more time to enjoy it. Come to think of it, I do not want a better anything. Really all I want is to be happy with what I already have. So what if it's stupid to put a white couch in a painting studio, so what if pizza night is twice or three times a week, and so what what the neighbors or anyone else is doing with their metaphorical lawns.

This is precisely what's going on my September schedule this year: 
Be happy with what I have and who I am.











July 24, 2013

How to creatively hide the clutter while selling your house

Clutter is a nice word for what it really is.

Between my musician percussionist videographer husband, my 10 year old daughter who plays the cello, the clarinet, and the piano, and me, who has saved a lifetime of artwork, art supplies, and ideas scrawled on the backs of every little thing... there is so much stuff.

The conundrum of showing your house to potential buyers is that there's no where to hide it all. They want to see everything, your closets, cabinets, pantry and storage shed. They even look in your bathtub.

In the two months we've been 'selling' our house I've learned a few tricks. Any place can be a potential hiding place. So far my favorites are:

1)  under the computer desk
2)  behind the bookshelf
3)  in the car
4)  under the bed
5)  inside the hamper

It's no joke. A lovely piece of fabric hanging from a tension rod beneath the desk I'm sitting at nicely hides 3 boxes, a binder, a bag and a large paper cutter. That little space between the bookshelves and the wall perfectly fits two boxes of extra books I have no place for. Under the bed is pretty self explanatory. The car happened to be the perfect location for the


empty plastic bins that I don't need right now but will as soon as someone buys the house. The 100 degree weather this past week has most likely melted some of that pile permanently into the back seat, but, small price to pay. Last but not least, yes, I shoved our clean beach bag and blanket into the hamper the other day after a last minute caller left us little time to get it together.

All this and the so called potential buyer's only comment is that the converted garage still looks too much like a garage. I haven't given up yet. Although we've been throwing stuff out like crazy, for borderline hoarders this could take a while...

Here's an important tip for artists.

If somewhere in the back of your unsuccessful mind you imagined a slew of biographers visiting your grandchildren wanting to see every morsel of art you ever created from kindergarten on, forget it. If you can't bring yourself to throw it out, hire a photographer, or get out your tripod, and photograph every lousy drawing and rolled up painting you have tucked away in every corner of your life, and then Throw It All Out!
The few shots that your biographer is ever going to need or actually use for the book are just not worth taking up all your space for. Nothing you did in college is ever going to resurface. And, as long as you have the photos all is not lost. You can take them out and ponder your artistic journey anytime you like. It's a lot easier than rummaging through 85 scrunched up rolls of unlabeled work from 25 years ago. Trust me, Keep the gems, get rid of the rest.
Just think about how many times you've read, say, a Francis Bacon biography or some other great artist and thought, Damn I'd rather be looking at those ugly paintings he destroyed.

But, I digress. Of the many piles of garbage accumulated in front of my house in the last few weeks, old artwork was just one. Here's some pics of items I photographed before I trashed them back when I was still sentimental... Obviously the bathroom closet was the first to go!






























April 8, 2013

Frizzy fly-aways!

I've been on something of a vacation from the Art House for over a week. I told my daughter yesterday on our way out how good it felt to be able to leave at 2:00, to come and go as I please, but how it won't feel so good when I can't go back at all after I close. I will miss it. I like having it there waiting around for me.

Perhaps I'll miss it the way I miss sugar in my coffee, or the way I miss martinis before dinner. Maybe I'll miss it the way I'd miss T.V. if I didn't have one. They're all nice to have but not really necessary. They're all bad habits that make you unhealthy in one way or another...


Running a public art space is like that for me, more of a vice and a guilty pleasure than it should be. Although it adds to my life in many ways, I end up spending all my time trying to make it work which ultimately takes me away from my true intention which is to paint and make art.

INTENTION is such a strong and important word. Something that should be kept at the top of every list under every category. Without it we flail about undecidedly, confusing everyone around including ourselves. Even so, I have to admit, sometimes even the most purposed intentions lead you in unexpected directions...

...art wrestling

I wish I were a better writer and could actually control this pen in my hand. My writing is more of a purge at misgiven times. Unannounced recordings that occur the moment before they combust in my brain. I wish I could learn to corral them more successfully, I mean more intentionally. It's the same way I go into the studio with all these intentions and come out with something completely different all the time.


Reminds me of the conversation I was having the other day with Jocelyn, my good friend who also cuts my hair. When you have this curly hair that I have you don't really have control over the thing, you're just sort of in charge of it. It will ultimately have it's way no matter what. Sounds like my writing. Sounds like my artwork these days too. In fact sounds like pretty much everything these days.

Maybe all art is that way, coming and going and flailing around as it pleases. We're just the officers in charge for the day trying to corral those frizzy fly-aways!