Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How do I remember my past lives?

I recently received this question in an email and here is my answer.

When people ask this question, they usually want to know the specifics of a past life. Where? When? Were they famous? What year were they born? How much money did they have in the bank? These are not the best questions to ask. People usually ask this because they want to be more aware of their own potential; they feel restricted by the situations of their life. They want to know what they could achieve if someone placed them in a completely different situation. If you are asking this question, for these reasons, it is better not to know the situations of your past life. To compare two lives would give you a greater perspective of your own limitations. Not knowing would allow you to believe in greater possibilities. You would be more likely to move beyond the past life and go for greater objectives.

This isn't something I discussed in Death and Rebirth. In the book I focused on who we become in each life. How we love and the lessons we face, became more interesting to me than the specific situations of a life. The book includes the common aspects of the first four lives we experience.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Enthusiasm

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The excitement of creation and discovery always brings a reward. Enthusiasm contains greatness.

Battle Near Sinop by Ivan Aivazovsky

Battle Near Sinop (day version) 1853
by Ivan Aivazovsky

The simple color scheme is used in a very powerful way. Red, black and white are blended together. There are points of extreme contrast; the angular dark structure of the ships against a pure white cloud. If we look at where the colors are used, we can see some very distinct shapes. 

Battle Near Sinop (day version) 1853
by Ivan Aivazovsky
highlighted to show color use

In the copy above I have highlighted where color is used within the painting. Outside these lines is predominantly black and white. The red flags circle around the boat creating a focal point. The orange balances the entire painting. It becomes softer and less distinct on the right side of the image. If the orange was not present it would split the image in two; the painting would lose the color balance that holds the image together.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Victory and Aristotle

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self."-Aristotle

No victory is sweeter than overcoming our greatest weaknesses. 

Restoration of a Van Gogh

The Van Gogh Museum are restoring 'The Bedroom'. They have created a blog to document the entire process of restoring this work. Bedroom secrets blog

The purpose of the restoration, is to allow us to see the work as it was seen by Van Gogh. I have never thought of the process of restoration before. As an artist, it makes me realize that we create many versions within one piece of work. The first is the painting as it appears today. Then time changes the image. The colors change and cracks form, yet we are still the creator of the work.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teachings of Confucius

"He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger." -Confucius
Thinking and learning are companions. They cannot be separated because we blend with knowledge, we do not simply read it or consume it.

The Roses of Heliogabalus by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The Roses of Heliogabalus 1888
by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

After the death of Emperor Heliogabalus, a propaganda campaign was started. One of the stories that was circulated became the inspiration for this painting. It was said that he had suffocated his guests to death, with petals.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema had rose petals delivered to his art studio over the winter months. He wanted to capture every petal. Flowers are a very predominant feature in his work. The story gave him the freedom to create an image that allows the flowers to take center stage. He paints realistic images in keeping with the art scene of the time. If the story was his main focus, there would be horror on the faces of those present. The story is simply a tool to justify an image he chooses to create. He also created beautiful romantic images. It raises questions in my mind, if he was alive now, would his romantic images include whirling petals to convey the feeling of love?  Is that what is really happening in this painting? The story does not mention solely roses. He has chosen a flower which has an historical and cultural link to romantic love.  The story allows a 'realistic' image to be created where a huge number of petals float through the air and surround the figures.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Universe and the Dalai Lama

"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe."
-Dalai Lama
The universe is powerful and bountiful. It gives in every moment and because it is a constant presence we cease to value every gift. We focus on everything the universe does not give us. If i wrote a list focusing on what I receive, it would completely dwarf a list of what I do not receive. I do not judge the universe.

Two Views of Atlas

Atlas Turned To Stone by Edward Burne-Jones

Atlas is excellent subject matter for any artist interested in the human form. The option to portray strength, muscle, suffering. There are many options to how Atlas can be portrayed. In the painting by Edward Burne-Jones, Atlas appears composed and accepting of his fate. There is no sign of a struggle with Perseus or any fear of the Medusa's head, that takes his life.  Does the calm composure show relief? The responsibility of holding the heavens is given to his rock built corpse. Atlas is free from punishment.

Atlas by Lee Lawrie New York

Lee Lawrie's depiction of Atlas shows no suffering. This Atlas, shows great strength. This Atlas appears to embrace his destiny. There is a sense of ease in how he lifts the heavens. The weight he holds consists of mainly air. There is no struggle, there is only power and strength. 

Each artist has the same story, and the Atlas they reveal is very different. It is more than simply the technique and medium used. The personality and nature of Atlas is completely different in both.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wisdom of Socrates

"True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us." - Socrates

Wisdom does not come from knowing all the answers. Wisdom comes from discovering the best questions to ask.

The Art of Hippolyte Flandrin

 'Young Male Nude Seated by the Sea'
by Hippolyte Flandrin

I find this painting beautiful. There is something very surreal about viewing the image. The young man is contemplating something, we then contemplate the image. If the title was 'thought', the concept would be immediately understood see Rodin 'The Thinker'. This work leaves space for us to question, who is the boy? What is he thinking about? Where is he? We begin creating a narrative for the image.

In my narrative, the man exists within the painting. I come in to view the painting and he pretends not to notice. I am contemplating what he is doing within the piece. I wonder how far the world of the painting stretches. Can he move or walk away. I stare at him in contemplation. His head is rested on his knees, as he contemplates me. He tries to understand why I am viewing him. We contemplate each other in the same moment.

Polytes, Son of Priam, Observing the Movements of the Greeks (1833-34)

In this painting the narrative is provided in the title. There is little room to provide your own.  Both images are equally striking and beautiful.