Wins and Losses

Score Board, 2022

A while ago someone told me that “winners never quit”. This stuck with me because the same person also had an inability to quit arguments. The need to supply the last word can be powerful. While determination is a good quality, there are times when a single minded determination causes a breakdown that is either personal or related to others. More often than not, never giving up in the context of an argument or debate brings a measure of failure.

There are many kinds of wins and losses. Some losses are inevitable. For example, we all lose aspects of ourselves with the passage of time and ultimately we lose our life. Both wins and losses almost always come with the help of influences outside of our control. Furthermore, it is impossible to truly have one without the context of the other. Winning and losing are bound together and require a perspective. Without perspective there is little judgement and little learning. A person who believes he or she never loses is a person in denial.

As challenging as some losses are, and there are many we do not want, greater reflection and learning usually comes from these circumstances. Sometimes the loss is so great that we need the strength of others. This is not weakness but rather growth. We become bigger people, in a spiritual sense, by reaching out to others. While experiences differ, there is always someone else in the same boat and many others with special abilities (e.g. a nurturer, a listener, an organizer etc.). Finally, while the phrase “winners never quit” can be attributed to a self help author and later associated with a football coach, it may be clever to keep reading for more balanced wisdom.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
Henry David Thoreau

Potential Patterns

The image featured here was built from a collection of inspirations. While chance is a part of almost every decision, when an artist starts to add more than one subject within a drawing or painting chance becomes a unifying force. In other words, I can say where one part of the image comes from. However, as a whole it is much hard to estimate a complete meaning. While words can not complete the picture, we can have a sense or have a visual understanding about the sum of the parts. This is facilitated by the pattern of decisions that the artist infuses into his or her work.

Nascent Nocturne

The pattern of artmaking is often discussed among other artists as a strategy. Because there are many potential choices involved in creating art, limiting certain options creates a focus. Even the most chaotic art has a strategy. Lacking other structure or stated meaning, there is always a place where the artist started and then stopped working. This picture employs a color strategy. While not totally blue, there is an attempt at a dominate blue image with a focus on cool colors. The effect gives the picture a sense of the evening. For me the graphic drawing and the color choices feel like two different animals or like trying to work with both left and right hands. One hand is always a bit more adept then the other, and at times we have to struggle with the hand we are less use to using.

While using hands as a metaphor for balancing abilities, they are also a central element in the picture. It is not apparent that the central figure can see all the elements around him. However, he is reaching and trying to feel his way in a world with many moving elements. In a broad sense, this is also what art allows us. That is, to feel with all our limitations, and reach for a higher order.

Notes: While the subject of color is vast. I was introduced to it in a formal way by Richard Cramer. Later I came across a wonderful book Color in Contemporary Painting (Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991) by Charles LeClair.

New Horizons

The idea of a new horizon as a metaphor for change is puzzling. In a literal way, a shifting glance can produce a new horizon. However, how special can that be? The more meaningful sense of this phrase involves recognition that something ended, changed, and another more hopeful reality may exist in front of us.

For me, this post brings a new horizon. I have learned a lesson. Prior to this posting, I tried “free” web hosting and found that slow speeds and limited traffic was the price I paid. After a small investment and moving files to a new host, I feel hopeful. However, this only one part of the puzzle. Without a follow up or momentum to get to a new and positive place the new horizon is a fantasy.

In an attempt to move closer to an illusive vista, I have provided an image of a horizon. While there is no literal horizon line in the image, it has provided me with a spring board to approach drawing in a different way. It followed a process of drawing on graph paper when I had time. Later it was scanned and adjusted in a way that allowed for an evolving process.

digital landscape drawing

As one may have noted, my new horizon has become several related glances or horizons that cause other new horizons. Perhaps my initial concept is getting diluted. However, this is likely meant to be. After all, there is no indication that we arrive at and stay at one point on the horizon.

The Simplicity Test

A switch occurs and a light goes on. It takes a fraction of a second. The fact that it works is immediate and clear. However, what does the light reveal, what is in the darkness, and where does the light’s energy come from? The fact that illumination occurred is a simple observation, while the meaning and science of light is an expansive subject.

I made a drawing akin to the act of switching on a light. Likewise, the drawing was to be simple (i.e. providing directness and a demonstrative outcome without being overly labored). While some of these goals were attained, I found that simplicity was an abstract idea about where we stop looking or investigating and where we let complexity rest. If one compared two examples (e.g. a drawing of a light on and off) one could make an assumption or judgement about which is simpler.

Simplicity requires a reference. It is the comparison that allows for an accurate judgement. However, a judgement is not always easy. Because constraint is a key indicator of simplicity, I remain unconvinced that simplicity is synonymous with minimalism. Where simplicity requires us to stop, the minimalist impulse encourages us to look in an expansive way with less. Minimalism shows us that the criterion to make a judgement about simplicity can be too simple. In other words, what is simple is not always so simple.

It may appear like simplicity is being disparaged or an impossibility. However, simplicity can bring enhancement and order where there are challenges. When engineers and computer scientists create a structure, it may require complexity. However, the goal is not complexity. Rather, the goal is to make the complex organized, manageable, and thus simpler. On a personal level simplicity is important because we need to know the limits. When an activity adversely effect another activity, eventually we need to stop one of the pursuits for the sake of simplicity. This judgement is not often easy and requires case by case reflections to reach the best balance.

With regard to a balance, looking at my drawing, I wonder if I passed the simplicity test? The answer is that the light works, but the process and results are not so simple. It is a mix, and this is what provides a small measure of character.

Roadside Attractions

The drawing below was an accident. It was made at a time in the night when fatigue overtakes the body and mind. What started as a drawing of a walnut began to look like something else. Later a background was created and a note about a 2:30pm appointment was retained. This experience of happy or curious accidents building upon each other reminded me of travels where curious monuments and markers appear. While I might forget most of the details of a trip, I would not forget a strange door that leads directly into a mountain.

After walking around the village in Poland, where I live, I could spot a few examples of unusual landmarks. The first image, while not very peculiar in Poland, looked strange to me. It is a man-made nest for Storks. This is part of a strategy in Europe to protect the species.

The second image, seen below, appears to be an abandoned swimming pool. Because of age (likely built during communism) and disrepair, a range of color is revealed. However, I can’t help but wonder what it was like when it was in perfect working order.

With much planning for a sense of sublime order, we ought to feel grateful for the oddities we find. Without such contrasts we might be stuck in a sublime sense of sameness (i.e. happiness in a world of perceived order). However, this mindset remains an illusion.