Move along people, nothin’ to see here. Another Dutch painting sans still life.
Wait, the Dutch and Flemish – weren’t they the painters that elevated still life to legendary status. Now MIA. Missing flowers, missing fruit, no pitcher, no half-eaten meat. All in absentia.
Which begs the question, why missing? What am I not seeing, my blind spots? In art, in life.
The answer – plenty.
Richard Wiseman at the University of Herfordshire shows us in his study of self-proclaimed “lucky” and “unlucky” people. He told them all to look through the newspaper (specially designed) and count the number of photos. The “lucky” people found the number almost immediately. The “unlucky” people took quite a long time and came up with wrong answers. Why? What did the self-proclaimed “unlucky” people not see? The answer – written bold, in two inches high letters, inside the front page.
Half-way through the special newspaper, the message “STOP COUNTING, TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU HAVE SEEN THIS AND WIN £250” also in two inch high letters. How many “unlucky” persons got the cash? Not one.
I’ve collected Patricia Qualls art for several years now, and I am in good company. Beyond being an artist whose energy, empathy and clear vision speaks through her canvases, she’s a smart-as-tacks person and arms-wide-open kind of friend. Patricia is hidden gold in Carmel Valley.
California recently tried to outlaw gold mining in these mountains, but you can follow a lovely winding road down to her gallery/studio and uncover it still.
Her favorite phrase is “run the experiment.” She told me this as I held a hair pick slathered with color over a blank piece of canvas (too chicken to pick up a brush). Her twinkle eyes convinced me to paint one day while on a studio visit. We were at the point in the process when the white paper yawned wide and my hand hovered in midair, paint dripping, stuck in a fear struggle between desire to create and ominous-cloud certainty that the outcome would be total crap. I listened to a silent thought croaking, I have the talent of a toad. A warty toad. A talentless warty toad.
She said, “run the experiment.” And the pick finally careened toward the canvas. See, I am the sort of person that demands a beautiful result every time. Like Venus rising from the waves. In my imaginary Pintrest life. Forget the wild impossibility of this thinking -of catastrophe courting this high-stakes perfectionism. Venus rising is a myth, an ancient lie.
Forget beauty. Damn expectations.
Run the experiment. Try things out. See what you like. What pulls you forward? Swirl it all around and do it again, and again.
Do thousands of them – Patrica did. Play outside the margins of myopic judgement. Run the experiment. Let’s just see what happens. . .