NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Great Expectations versus Reasonable Doubt: I Persist, Therefore I am...

"Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies."  Pablo Picasso

And my "truths?" Well, they are not as complicated as Pablo's statement. No, I keep my truths simple, like the Ten Commandments, trying to expunge as many "shades of grey" as possible and reduce the argument to its lowest common denominators, such that Black stands apart from White...clear, crisp, clean. At least, that is what I shoot for artistically and philosophically, because then even a Bozo like me and tell fact from fiction. 

All to often there exists a chasm of lies between what artists create—whether painted, written, sculpted, sang, played, photographed, or danced—and sanguine expectations of their minds. Creativity and Doubt are not strange bedfellows, they are lovers in the night, a tangle of sweaty limbs and soiled linens. I think Robert Brault expressed it best, "The artist uses the talent he has, wishing he had more...the talent uses the artist it has, wishing it had more..." Indeed. Sounds like first marriages.  

When one is a marginal aspiring artist like I am, it's easy to settle for mediocrity...thinking (doubting) they lack "the gift of aptitude." Well, it's a crowded room, mediocrity, seldom does one individual get noticed. Alone, in a crowded room. I'll bet you know that feeling of doubt and withdrawal. It's hard for impatient types to gut out the "long run," and it's getting harder because competition comes out of the woodwork in this age of Internet. Take Travel Blogs, for instance. I rest my case. 

Finishing the Imogene Pass Run from Ouray to Telluride was a piece of cake compared to the slightest degree of mastery over Pen and Brush...trying to coax an adequate metaphor from the former, the right stroke from the latter, and good composition from either. Watercolor is a spoiled rotten brat media that doesn't do a single thing you tell it to do. Watercolor is the girl you had not a chance in hell of getting in high school, the angelic cheerleader-valadictorian-prom queen who rolls in and parks her little red Corvette next your V-Dub bomb and cuts out your heart with a mere flash of her pearly whites, and leaves you dumbfounded in the aromatic wake of strawberry ice cream lipgloss. God; the injustice of the "haves" and the "have-nots."
That's the kind of lust aspiring artists need, to rise above the crowded room of mediocrity, to achieve some level of distinction. It needs to smolder like those tangled lovers...cool and calm on the surface, molten goo within. It requires the patience of Job, as "lava" sometimes takes years to reach the sea. 

In the beginning, it was both premature and immature to cling to the buoy of Great Expectations. Like Charles Dicken's character, Pip, "something" (Estella) would blossom from the promising amalgam of desire and persistence...that he would learn and become a Gentleman and vie for Estella's hand, and I would learn and become an artist, and rise above the mediocre commoners. Unfortunately, both Pip's, and the artist's path, is littered with Miss Havishams. 

And now I sit in a Fine Art Gallery four days a week, surrounded (tortured) by boldness, beauty, inspiration, and realized potential, wondering what audacious impulse it was that caused (cursed) me to think, "I can do that." Suddenly, I'm back in high school, insecure with mini skirted girls in red Corvettes who smell of strawberry ice cream lip gloss. 

A few years ago, I was gallery-hopping in the quaint little town of Coupeville "by the sea" on Whidbey Island, just off the coast of Washington. One gallery specialized in watercolors by various local artists...glorious concoctions of juicy colors on white paper. A little drool must have formed in the corner of my mouth as I gazed into a painting. The attendant broke the spell by mentioning that it was one of his. I am famous for asking dumb, unthought out questions, so I asked, "How do you do it? I mean, how did you get to be so accomplished?" Relief poured into my soul when he said he was self taught. It gave me hope. In answer to my questions, he said something I will never forget. "If you want to be a painter, paint a thousand paintings. It's that simple. How bad do you want it?"

I started numbering my paintings and keeping tract...making it to somewhere around four hundred before "Life" changed a few priorities in my life. Not halfway to a thousand, I noticed fewer disasters. I wasn't great, sometimes not even good, but if I looked at early paintings and compared them to the latest paintings there was improvement, and a few were even acceptable to me, my biggest critic. 

He was right about painting a thousand paintings. I think it holds true for everyone and anyone, regardless of "pedigree." And I think it holds true for nearly all artistic endeavors...practice, practice, practice. So I added up all my "paintings" (posts) from The Artful RV Adventures Blog, to the Box Canyon Blog, and guess what? I just tripped One Thousand posts. 

I persist, therefore I am...a writer.

Not as good as my wife, Bobbie (on the right), but looking good enough in her company.

And here is a photographic demonstration of the ART of  ignoring flash flood warnings...
We need the monsoons to start early this year in Colorado.


  1. I love watercolors.... a wonderful collision of interpretaion of talent, preservation, and creative expression. Since it is generally done in one setting it allows that expression to be unsensored by continually adding changing and editing the final product. By my count you have many more painting waiting to get painted. Congrats on your achievment of 1000 posts. I always look forward to what you have to say.

  2. elaine@hymnserve.comJune 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    CONGRATULATIONS! I believe it too. Doing writing has shown you to be better and better.

  3. Watercolor...writing....I have along way to go! What an awesome post. I sure am enjoying your blog!


  4. Your blog is provocative and imaginative. I am very glad you have chosen to share your thoughts with "us", the public.

    Metamorphosis Lisa

  5. A writer, and a painter. Plus I'm sure a whole lot more.
    And I thought I was the only one afraid of success.

  6. There are the artists who can't sell a painting in their lifetimes and when they are gone their work is priceless. How did they stay with it? That's the "how bad do you want it" part. Your water colors have improved as has your writing. You know that, don't you?

  7. Truly inspiring! I'm captivated by your writing, in awe of your photography, and completely baffled by your ability to draw and paint. I am humbly working on my stick figures and smiley faces. Hmmm where did I put my artistic genes ... oh yeah on the shelf. lol.

  8. Laverne here: Mark, you truly are inspiring with your posts, drawings, and paintings ....Now, why can't I do that! Thanks for sharing these with all of us...Hope you and Bobby have a great summer. I have really appreciated your pictures lately. Keeps me a little cooler here.

  9. klb explores,
    "Collision," a good word :0 Sometimes a fender bender, sometimes a train wreck. I do have more paintings inside, wanting to get out. I need fewer hobbies :(
    thanks for your words of encouragement, and travel well!

    Thanks! Practice, practice...it doesn't always make "perfect," but better is good too. :)

    Gay and Joe,
    Thank you! I'm enjoying your blog too...love active RV'ers like you guys. thanks

    Thank you...RV blogs introduce us to nice folks like you and Hans :)
    and I like being "provocative." Travel on...have fun in Gunnison and Crestied Butte.

    Yes...it's true :) thanks for commenting.

    John of Omak,
    Well, sometimes doubt creeps in...but yes, slowly, improvement happens with practice. Thank you for the kind, reinforcing comment.

    Damn straight! :)

    Caleb Son,
    Your "stick figures" rock! Less is more, remember? Thanks Big Guy :)

    The wildflowers are coming up, so so should you!!!
    Thanks for checking in from Texas...

  10. Is any artist EVER really comfortable in their talent? Or perhaps, a better way to say it is that I believe every good artist is inherently somewhat uncomfortable -> it's this very thing, that burning core, that pushes them to continue to work and create. I dare say that without it, creativity might just languish and die?

    You can certainly call yourself an artist, a writer and a photographer. I enjoy each of your "musings" and always come back for more. May your "core" keep burning!


  11. Well, I for one hope you keep on persisting! There are those of us out here who find the written word just as evocative as the painted image.

    And speaking of the "written word," I would LOVE to hear the story behind that first photo! Four eyes engaged. Two heads turned. What are they looking at? The lens must be conflicted. Then in an instant, a raven (black bird?) jets by? Sometimes I just look at your engaging photos and say aloud, "SERIOUSLY?!"

  12. Nina,
    I keep waiting for one of my "loves" to step forward and say, "Choose me, I am the one." But of course that doesn't happen in real life, at least not to me. I guess better to be spread thin creatively than put all my marbles in one basket...only to find out it has a hole in the bottom. It keeps hope alive when I am disappointed in one, that I can move on to another. In the end, if I want to leave mediocrity behind, I will have to choose one, focus, and let the others take a back seat. The problem is, which "child" does one leave behind? I play that game almost every day. "Are you going to write a book or not?" And the clock ticks...
    Thanks for your kind comment(s) as always.

    Yes! It didn't slip by you, and now it haunts...what's the story?
    That photo grabs...make it, commands my attention, trying to connect the "dots." At the very least, it makes you wonder, WTF?'
    Excellent...you made my day, and thanks for mentioning it and your positive comment. :))

  13. Mark,

    'Interesting thoughts and some wonderful sentences.

    If you haven't already added the following to your collection of original aphorisms, you should: "Creativity and Doubt are not strange bedfellows, they are lovers in the night, a tangle of sweaty limbs and soiled linens."


  14. Michael,
    After checking out your Blogger Profile, I take your comment as a real compliment. In regards to keeping track of aphorisms, I don't, and fully expect to live to regret it.
    thank you,


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.