Thoughts, ideas & updates
When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? Some might call it chillin’. I don’t know much about doing nothing or chillin'. In fact, I sort of pride myself in being a “let’s get it done now” kind of guy. Dad told me before I started on my first construction crew, “If you don’t know what to do next, grab a broom and start sweeping.”
But recently I read some articles which got me thinking.
Our world is busy and crowded, full of noisy cell phones, computers, schedules, and deadlines. They fill in all the cracks and crevices of our lives and times. Maybe some short periods of doing nothing would be helpful.
The Dutch have a word for doing nothing: they call it niksen.
As I understand it niksen is not like yoga or meditation. It's doing nothing for the purpose of doing nothing, not thinking about breathing or repeating mantras. Supposedly, niksen decreases anxiety, brings creativity to the surface, and boosts production. I can use all of those. You can do it while you're:
- drinking a morning coffee and staring out the window
- taking a walk in the park, listening and looking
- daydreaming in your favorite chair, or out on the porch.
When was the last time you laid on the grass and watched the clouds? That could be niksen—doing nothing for nothing’s sake.
Recently a friend challenged me to connect with the electrical energy of the earth by taking off my shoes and socks and walking on the soccer fields. I hadn’t done that in over 30 years. I'm still a little foggy about the science, but I know it was calming. I think it qualifies as niksen.
I wondered if any of my paintings conveyed the idea of niksen. The Four Accepting Friends at the top of this letter seem to be chillin'. And the Woman with Large Flower at left appears to be carefree, just appreciating the shapes and colors floating all around her. Now that's niksen.
Doing nothing seems simple, but doesn’t come naturally for me. What about you? Do you know anything about niksen, or do you practice it? Tell me more in the comment section below!
Thanks for reading. Now let’s get busy and do a little nothing.
🥕 I had some fun sessions in my studio last week. "Life" has made it difficult for me to keep my early morning painting schedule, and I was beginning to think I'd explode if I didn’t paint soon.
You might say I got “a wild hair.” I went to the studio determined to pick up brushes and splash some paint no matter what the results. I grabbed some 5” x 7” canvases and started in, and these five paintings emerged.
I began to wonder where the phrase “a wild hair” originated. One of several meanings is to have a fervent, usually sudden desire to do something surprising or unexpected (there are some coarser meanings, too!). The internet told me that "A Wild Hare" was the title of a 1940 cartoon where a wise-cracking bunny with a Brooklyn accent made his first appearance. Yes, Bugs Bunny of “What’s Up Doc?” fame. Now there's a real wild hare!
🐇 So if you get "a wild hair/hare" and decide you must have one or more of these special paintings, just click the image to go to my website. I would love to deliver it to you personally!
The Dog in the Orchestra seems to me to be good company for the five paintings above. I painted it after reading a poem from Billy Collins (former U.S. poet laureate). It's from his book, Sailing Alone Around the Room, which is a fun collection of poems. I invite you to read Collin’s funny poem and the inspiration for this painting.
Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House
The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on their way out.
The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.
When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton
while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.
Thanks for looking in. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. And feel free to share a story about one of your own wild hairs/hares!
Is it possible to bend time? Can time be molded?
Salvador Dali’s painting, “The Persistence of Memory,” makes me think of time being bent or molded. But is that really possible?
My paintings shown below—though not as dramatic as Dali’s—have evidence of time bending and passing… wrinkles, shadows quickly creeping out from trees as the sun moves across the sky, and paintings of persons no longer here. In “After Time” (bottom right) I imagine what it will be like after individuals have finished their lifetimes.
We speak of saving time, time standing still, crunch time, time slipping away. The most common phrase probably is "time management."
But time cannot be managed. That's the most valuable and helpful thing I learned in my post-graduate studies at Drew University. We can only manage ourselves in time. We can manage our use of time, but there is no managing time itself. Twenty-four hours is the limit—for everyone.
Sometimes, while trying to fully use my daily 24 hours, I become almost obsessed. My responsibilities, daily tasks, and progress toward my painting goals all get put into specific time slots. I keep my schedule on a note card in my pocket.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -- Lao Tzu
A friend shared the above quote (was he hinting for me to slow down?):
Do you “manage” your time well? If you have any helpful tips, please send them my way in the comments section.
The Small Wonders Invitational
Reception on Sunday, June 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Birger Sandzen Gallery, Lindsborg
Country Seasons Boutique
201 South 5th St.
Lauren Quinn Flower Boutique
129 South Santa Fe
Posters, tote bags, phone cases, and more featuring my painting are available at FineArtAmerica.com.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you're having the time of your life!