Run the Experiment

Patricia Qualls, Mystery of the Margins, courtesy of Patricia Qualls

Patricia Qualls, Mystery of the Margins, courtesy of Patricia Qualls

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. . .

Blondes have more fun. . .

Birth of Venus – aka “what guys go for and thus what women pay for”

Here we go on the ideal of beauty, the goddess divine and yep, you guessed it she’s a blonde! She rises from the sea in all her Renaissance glory – hair wafting in the breeze, like a Vogue magazine cover.  Her skin a pearly, white alabaster, mildly awaiting her silk robe in a lovely rose-pink.  And like all great models, she’s seven feet tall. The painting is breathtakingly perfect, luminous and luscious in details.  And many, many minions in Botticelli’s studio worked very hard to make it so.

Ms. Beauty pageant  has a problem though.  She’s off-balance.  The art people call it “contraposed” (in italian contrapposto.) She is “fixing to” slide right off that seashell due to the fact that her weight is too far to the right to sustain her stance. (Permit me to be nauseatingly metaphysical for one moment.)  The pursuit of beauty or perfection puts us off-balance.  Beauty’s very nature is un-human (she’s a goddess) and thus fleeting (see the wind.) I imagine her toppling into the sea, legs akimbo.  I’d pay to see that painting.   Fundamentally, this “perfection” is tenuous and very likely dangerous.

Despite my post-modern warning, the painting itself is gorgeous beyond words and you still just have to worship it. . . behind the plate of bullet proof plexiglass that is.  A very nice touch of irony.

Super size me

Botticelli, Sandro. Birth of Venus. c. 1482. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Botticelli, Sandro. Birth of Venus. c. 1482. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence