Art and the pursuit thereof

Looking this morning at Bob Ross’s website made me reflect again on the difference between creating art and the effort of getting one’s art known. I know so many truly talented people in whose work outshines most of what is generally known and praised. For me, these two areas, the work and the promotion of the work, are almost completely antithetical. When I’m writing well, I have no energy at all for “sending things out.” When it’s not going as well, I make desultory attempts to get things into print. As for Bob Ross, he lives on the north coast and has been sketching, painting, and making collages since the sixties.

I remember reading an interview with Bob years ago, I think it was in a publication of the Mendocino Art Center.  Bob said something like, “You sit down and draw for a few hours every day for ten years, and you begin to get better at it.” By now Bob’s been doing this every day for decades, and his work is extraordinary.  One of the oils (among many) that particularly charmed my eye is this rather formal nude with an asian influence, entitled Spring.

We’re lucky for the internet, where little known treasures can be ferreted out and enjoyed!

Breakfast chez moi

This morning: sauteed onions, thai basil, garlic chives, and tarragon with baby kale (all from the garden) topped with softly steamed eggs. I sauteed the onions first in coconut ghee, added the herbs and kale, broke the eggs on top and covered them just till they set. No photo, we ate it all up before I could think of getting out the camera.

The garden takes breakfast to a new level. The ghee is an allegedly health-enhancing alternative to olive oil that I use from time to time. I bought a gallon of it a year ago and have about a pint left. It has a distinctly sweet flavor. Great for roasting vegetables, too.

I was meandering through a hefty volume of Zbigniew Herbert’s prose over breakfast. One of my favorite poets, his prose is savory and acerbic. A short sample I read aloud from “The Poet and the Present”: History does not know a single example of art or an artist anywhere ever exerting a direct influence on the world’s destiny–and from this sad truth follows the conclusion that we should be modest, conscious of our limited role and strength. Yes. More modesty, artists!

Then Larry read the beginning of a book review to me: At some point in the mid-1990’s academic authors in the humanities began to use the verb “complicate” when they didn’t have anything useful to say. They were always talking about how some new consideration or alleged insight “complicates” our understanding of this or that. “Such a view of early Victorian culture,” they’d say, “complicates our understanding of Tennyson’s metrical romances.” Well all right, one thought, but could we get to the part where you uncomplicate it? But they never did.

The review contained that wonderful line of Mary McCarthy’s about Lillian Helman’s memoir, Pentimento: Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ Great line, though I remember enjoying the book thoroughly.

Then I practiced piano for a bit while Larry went on reading the paper. Me to Larry: “Practicing piano yields such direct results. Practicing poetry not so much.”

Larry: “That’s because with poetry you’re always starting over.”

Too true.