Diary

“Love” Does Not Make You Do Crazy Things

One of my pet peeves is the nature of the romantic industrial complex and all the myths that surround romantic love. Romantic love – just one of the many beautiful forms Love can take – is somewhat of an obsession in the western imagination.

Movies are the primary vehicles for peddling cultural ideologies. What passes for love in movies typically involves behaviors, attitudes, and events that – in real life – would be highly disruptive, dysfunctional, even criminal. But when the label of “love” is slapped onto it, all is forgiven.

For example, in movies, things like cheating, stalking, assault, even death are convenient events that move the leading man and woman together toward wedded bliss. We’re supposed to think anything is okay as long as it’s “true love.” There is a lot of magical thinking, along with what amounts to selfish, childish behavior that is excused because the protagonists are “in love.”

I do not believe in this. In fact, I think this way of thinking is highly dysfunctional. It leads to a great deal of unhappiness when real life fails to support these fantasies. By contrast, real Love is from the Divine. It does not have an agenda. It gives unselfishly. It is kind. It is thoughtful. It forgives. It is generous. It is joyful. It calls us to our highest selves, not our lowest.

If your life is improving, you are in Love (not just romantic love, but capital-L Love). If your life is spinning out of control, it is not Love. It is something else. If your worst self is showing up, you are not in Love. If you are exhausted and depleted, love has flown the coop. If you are behaving in abusive ways, you are not in Love.

Love does not make you do crazy things. Society, please stop saying that. Love brings out your best.

May we all truly walk in Love.

Life is Good

It is so exciting to be working on my portfolio for the mastery program I am enrolled in. We’re supposed to produce two paintings a week, which is quite a challenge! Since I also work full time, I have little time for anything else but painting – and it’s glorious! While I have had to scale back other activities, including my podcast, there is no feeling of loss, only gain.

This Sunday will be my initiation into Transcendental Meditation. I’m a little trepidatious because I am not 100% sure what to expect. I also know that it will cut into my already limited time. But, I believe that connecting with myself at a deeper level will positively affect my art. If there is any chance that this is the case, I need to look into it and give it my best.

Life is good, and gets better every day.

Self-knowledge Shall Set You Free

They say the truth shall set you free. But, I don’t think that statement is as true as the following statement: Knowing yourself will set you free! Human beings have always been opinionated. But, now with the internet, and social media, we are force-fed a dizzying array of strong opinions. Some of these opinions are reasonable; some are outright ludicrous. But, even a reasonable opinion may have nothing to do with you. You have to know yourself really really well so that when someone wants you to do, think, behave, or buy something, you already know what your answer will be and why. It prevents you from getting blown around by the hot wind of people’s unsolicited advice and opinions. It is especially important for artists to know who they are. There are all kinds of people who will try to define you if you don’t do that for yourself!

Mindset – It’s Soooo Important

I’m reminded every day how important it is to maintain the proper mindset. I feel disappointed when I catch myself being grumpy, or taking my blessings for granted, or focusing on negativity.

When I see it in others, it’s a real wake-up call. A negative mindset has real-world effects. And it turns people off – people that could help you reach your goals. You shouldn’t be shallow, of course, or turn a blind eye to the world’s problems. But if you have a persistent way of looking at life that always sees what is wrong, and ignores what is right, then your life will reflect that.

An example is something I saw today. A fellow artist made his first sale online (yay!) but all he could talk about was the fees he had to pay, and how long it takes to get paid, etc. It made me sad. So I congratulated him on the sale.

But it was a reminder to myself to be mindful of what I think and say. The Universe is listening, and the effects are real. If you want to get and keep success, then be happy when success comes, no matter how seemingly small. Every flood starts with a few raindrops, so let’s be grateful for all that we have. If you’re still alive, you’re still in the game!

I’m so happy and grateful for all that I have, all that I am, and all that I am becoming. Amen.

I Love Contemporary Art – (#itsnotallurineandfeces)

A few days ago, I mentioned my confusion over contemporary art. As a result, I embarked on a deep dive to discover the answers to my burning questions.

My primary questions were: 1) why are some artists allowed to make scribbly work that appears to be ugly, and (2) do the people who buy these pieces truly like them, or is it just a status or re-sell-value thing?

I feel satisfied that I’ve answered these questions, at least for myself. From what I’ve found in my research, most artists start out making highly rendered, representational work (work that is pretty and looks like something). Eventually, they grow, progress, and learn about other styles. They start experimenting. They begin to merge personal expression with a developing artistic style. Some eventually find that what they want to say, and how they want to say it, stray far away from their previous work.

Picasso was the same way, which I found out while doing research for my podcast. His early work was textbook art school. But his experimental work changed art history forever. Most people who are drawn to fine art are sensitive people, and deep thinkers. Once you have learned how to draw and paint, you eventually want to go beyond that. You want to take on ideas. The images become mere tools to communicate larger ideas. Sometimes the images take on abstracted or unappealing forms in service of those higher ideas. I’m not quite there yet. But I, too, have started longing to make work that transcends what it looks like. I’ve started my own exploration.

My other deep dive was into the art world in general. One of the books I read recently was Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. My take-away, in a nutshell, is that the art world is a mixed bag. At the elite levels, it does seem to be more about image and perception than about more substantial and enduring qualities. On the other hand, there do seem to be many sincere people involved who truly love art and want to see artists succeed.

I am glad I looked into the issue myself. It was hilarious watching the Youtube videos on either side. I watched a ton of pro and anti-contemporary art videos, and got useful information from both sides. Nevertheless, I am an artist. And I am a fan of contemporary art. While I can’t take pretentiousness and posturing too seriously, I also can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The artists of today are tackling many issues that we are all wrestling with. I respect them for that and want to join their ranks!

In the end, life is all about finding your place in the world, and cultivating and sharing your gifts with excellence and sincerity. I think that’s what the best of us are all trying to do.

I Love How Different You Are From Me

I was watching Portrait Artist of the Year the other day (a show on Amazon Prime). The artists were tasked with painting Richard Dawkins (prolific atheist author) and another lady whose name I forgot, but who was an Anglican priest. The artists were told to create narratives with their paintings.

What I found most interesting was that, while both Dawkins and the other lady mildly and unintentionally insulted each other at one point, they were both quite lovely people. He insulted her by answering the question of whether he was ever a believer with the response (quoting the Bible): “When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” The priest, of course, took exception to someone calling her life’s work childish. She unintentionally insulted him by telling him, at the end, that he was such a nice and charming person. His response: “Why are you so surprised?”

I am in neither camp. I’m certainly not “religious”, but neither do I believe that there’s nothing supernatural to our existence. However, I am greatly intrigued by our differences. Differences make me curious. They make me listen a little more and ask more questions. Differences make me pay attention more. Differences spark passion and debate. They often even lead to physical attraction!

I was struck by how boring and lifeless this world would be if we were all the same. Vive la difference!!

Why Are Some Artists Allowed to Scribble?

I have no idea. But I’m going to find out!

I see their work in galleries – scribbly, childish, even very ugly pieces. They hang right alongside other abstracted and strange, but obviously very professional and accomplished, work. And I just want to ask questions. Not in a judgy way, but purely out of curiosity. Why did the gallery owner like the pieces? What makes people buy these types of pieces? Is there an economic cut-off line where the viewer sees the scribbles as high art and not something ridiculous? Is it just a matter of re-sell value, or do the buyers really like the pieces?

Here’s the backstory. I have really been working on the next stage of my artistic development – finding a truly signature style. I think all my work kind of looks “like me,” but I also know that I don’t have “that thing” – some signature process, theme, material, etc. that is truly my own.

So, I’ve been experimenting lately with everything – materials, sizes, subject matter, etc. Working away, every day, trying stuff. I haven’t been posting them (except for Instagram and my art groups) because I want to avoid posting anything else for sale until I have some idea of what “my thing” is.

But, given how much effort I’ve put into improving my craft, it still baffles me that contemporary art – art that sells for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands – even millions – of dollars doesn’t seem to require much in the way of craft.

Again, I’m not being a hater. I like contemporary art. But some of it truly baffles me. I want to understand why people buy gigantic paper paintings of black squiggly lines or flat misshapen figures, or pure white canvases, or pure black canvases, etc. I just want to understand.

So, true to my personality, I am embarking on an investigation. I have dumped a ton of Youtube videos into my Watch Later queue, hoping to hear insights from both sides – lovers and haters. I will also buy some books once I have a better grasp on what is going on.

Assuming I figure it out – at least for myself – I will come back and share my thoughts.

Connection is King

I’ve heard many people say that cash is king. But, while financial abundance is very important, it is not enough to create satisfaction. Only connection can do that.

We are connected when we have people in our lives who give as much as, or more, than they take. We are connected when we spend our days doing what we love. We are connected when what we say matches what we do. We are connected when we are grateful, when we remember that life is short, and when we are mindful of the Eternal, not just the ephemeral.

Connection comes at a cost, however. It requires authenticity, which requires vulnerability. It requires that we admit, out loud, that we don’t know everything. It means being willing to be transparent. It means allowing people to see our growth, and not pretending that we knew it all along. In short, it’s kinda hard.

But, most things that are worth it are also hard. Not hard like calculus. But hard like risking having your heart broken. Hard like being rejected. Hard like feeling stupid.

At the same time, these fear-based projections into the future usually turn out to be false. You cannot get reward without risk. Some people may reject you when you try to connect. But decent people respond with compassion when they see authenticity. Non-perfection makes you more likeable and approachable.

I wrote this blog primarily for myself because, in my past, I only got love when I was perfect. I did not feel loved for who I was. It led to a lonely facade of superiority and achievement that eventually unraveled into failure anyway. The times when I made the deepest connections in my life were also the times when I was the most honest and vulnerable.

So, I’m committed now to taking the risk to be myself. I am not an expert, nor a guru. And I’m certainly not perfect. But I am absolutely dedicated to personal growth. I have been on this path for many years. This is just the latest development on that path.

Be gentle with me as I learn and grow, and I will do the same with you.

With love,

Raven

2022 – I’m here for it

Everyone knows that 2020 sucked. We should be positive, and have a good attitude, and call 2020 a “growth opportunity,” a “blessing in disguise.” Whatever gets you through the day. I had a great year in 2020, but it still sucked. A lot of people were in pain – physically, financially, relationally, and otherwise. Because I have compassion, my own successes do not override the collective pain of the world.

2021 didn’t suck so much. I had a wonderful year, and a lot of people recovered. Many folks went soul-searching and started figuring some shit out. We witnessed “The Great Resignation,” which appears to be a fancy way of saying that a lot of people left their soul-sucking jobs because the opportunity presented itself. In other words, people were emboldened to do what they had been wanting to do for a long time. Yay for 2021!

Now, 2022 is up for grabs. It still has the aroma of suckage, but things are shifting. I like to make things happen rather than watch them happen (or at least that’s what I tell myself), so my goals are in writing, my alarms are set, my hustle is on point, and I’m ready for action. How about you?

Let’s do this!