Thursday, October 22, 2015

Curiosity... The Cat... and Other Thoughts

Lately, since the mural's completion... my time and thoughts have been dragged off to personal areas of my daily life where painting has [out of necessity] to be placed on a back burner. Nonetheless... creative thought continues... animated by surrounding stimuli. The beat goes on...

I can honestly share that throughout my entire life I have been drawn as much to searching for the "Why" factor that drives artistic thought... as to actually finding methods to paint better. I feel that they should be in balance at least.

When I was engaged in teaching children of all ages, it was apparent to me that their sense of curiosity was at all times insatiable and entered into every aspect of their lives. Their sole desire was to explore every single new environmental discovery... until they understood it. Then they quickly moved on to something new and more appealing. Learning was a continuum of self-directed learning.

I continue to share their need to explore  the realm I find myself a part of... and I can truthfully offer that I can discover a circus in a single square foot of grass... just by looking... purely out of curiosity for a long enough time. Gradually... that circus world unfolds and reveals itself to me. I have many times referred to this process as "Imagineering".

Unfortunately perhaps, we are forced to live from middle childhood onwards in an adult realm where rationality and responsibility must reign out of pure necessity to earn a living and to raise families. Perhaps, it is again curiosity that encourages us to return later in our lives when we have more time and space at our disposal to consider and participate actively in creative pursuits.

There exists an old adage dating back to earliest times.  When I heard it in my earlier life, it never failed to "rub me the wrong way." It still doesn't.

"Curiosity killed the cat."... But Satisfaction brought it back

The first half of this phrase implies that curiosity is a negative attribute...  ie poking one's nose where it doesn't belong and that such a practice can lead to unpleasant outcomes and negative experiences for adherents of the practice.

When I look broadly at the human thought process, it seems to me that it divides itself neatly into two divergent camps. One camp is based upon logical, or rational thought. It tends by its very nature to be directed towards narrowed paths and finite points defined by clearly sets of  rules and laws... which guarantee mediocrity or conformity. This is the camp of the "ordinary man."... born to follow rules and to be led in his/her thinking.

The second camp... the creative or artistic thought process tends to be dependent upon divergent and expanding thought. This questions existing values and rules, or at the very least expands upon them and leads to new knowledge and freedom of expression in my mind. This is the camp of the Artist.

Therefore, the outcomes are vastly different and can often pit one practising group against the other group. This can even be true for the individual who finds him or herself conflicted by the inner struggle between the two camps when one is attempting to enter into a new genre of painting. Coming from a public educational system, we are in fact an amalgam of both camps. This creates inner confusion and self-doubt... whenever we try to cross artistic boundaries.

My own belief and practice involves viewing curiosity... as a catalyst or crucible in which rational/ real and artistic/creative thought can be combined... each supporting the other. What I am suggesting is that the rational can be blended with the creative to produce a new thought process that might bear traits of both. IT more likely leads to new growth... and most definitely elevates... Satisfaction and Joy.

Here is an example of a simple visual exercise that I am about to undertake to simply explore such a possibility. It involves rethinking and reshaping my impressions regarding a Thanksgiving still life which is currently on our kitchen table. I chose these objects from the start based upon their unique shape ... colour and fall feel. They simply pleased me... each on its own basis. But as I looked at them further... curiosity carried me into that zone we all strive to enter and remain in.

What does the still life stir within you? Does it stretch beyond simple objects placed as a Thanksgiving centerpiece? I'd ... be curious... and would love to hear your ideas about this exercise before pursuing any specific actions. Sharing is essential to artistic growth for us all. No one should ever feel they are above learning from the ideas of others.

Get back to me... if you have your own thoughts on this subject. You are welcome as well to run with the still life "Idea" yourself... if you felt inclined to do so.

Good Fall Painting!... to ALL!!!


  1. Yet another insightful and well written post! Thank you my friend!

  2. In looking at this still life, I see light, light in the special way it flows around us in October. The sun sometimes just smacks us in the face at this time of year! But that light then opens up the texture...wrinkly, curved, roughened texture (so beautiful in a gourd and we try desperately to get rid of those adjectives in our own faces! ha ha). Thanks for taking the time to explain your thoughts and to share this still life with us - as we look and think and enjoy :) May your autumn be full of light, love, and wonderful surprises.

  3. Thanks for the visit and encouraging words Suz!

    Have missed your visits and our chats my friend! Don't be a stranger!


  4. Good evening Rhonda!... Thanks for sharing your uplifting comments and solid thoughts about the still life and the post.

    I always hope that my painting is really about light and colour. But the "curiosity" aspect is as well a focus in my process. Stay tuned.... I'll try to take the analogy further when time allows.

    Good Fall Painting!

    Warmest regards,

  5. While looking at your still life I wanted to tidy it up, get some solid round shapes in there like apples and oranges. More smooth sided things, then I saw in my mind some lovely green bottles with light hitting them. I thought about more variety of shapes in your still life and colour. Well that was just my impression but I know that when you start painting it, it will be totally transformed and very interesting and pretty to see. Looking forward to the painting being completed Bruce! It was strange reading your post here tonight Bruce as my husband and I had been having a similar conversation, he is very logical and ordered in thought and I am very artistic and just see things completely differently to how he sees and feels things. As we get older I think those differences become more apparent and we have to keep adjusting ourselves to be able to understand the other and to see their way of seeing and being in the world. It is also true that our schooling system ingrains in us the ways of being more logical and to conform it could be we will always have that to contend with during our life! Good post Bruce, gets one thinking!


  6. Good morning Lass!... Thanks for stopping by and for adding your thoughts and ideas about the post. Art and life should be both more about thinking... and as we we age we do indeed change... simply out of wisdom gained from the experiences of living.

    Being able to adjust our approach to living and to making art as we age is crucial to maintaining a zest for life. It is so easy to become cynical ... or to throw in the towel and retreat from active life. Many folks around me do... and that saddens me greatly.

    Conformity has always viewed by me as my enemy... but being flexible and open to the other's point of view is equally important too. But surrendering my own principles to mediocrity, or what I believe wrong is simply not palatable.

    The purpose of all of my posts is to encourage thought. My writing and painting arrive out of considerable effort and thought. Having you respond that they "get you thinking" indicates that my efforts are in themselves "creative".

    Thank you for taking the time to come aboard and chat... I so enjoy our "conversations" Caroline!

    Stay tuned for the "transformation of the gourds".. HA HA!!!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

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