Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lizard Wrangling

I made a new friend last week. If you are on Facebook, you've already seen this, but some of you aren't on Facebook, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the photo. Pono and I had just returned to the car after a nice hike one morning and I found this wonderful creature underneath the car. I didn't want to run over it, so I poked it, to get it to run away. However, it was in the shade, and it was a pretty cool morning (for us). The lizard didn't move. I picked it up to move it, so as not to run over it. While it was hanging onto my fingers, I decided to photograph his (her?) handsome mug. 

Horned lizard.

Desert Camouflage extraordinaire!

If you would like to see another post I wrote about the horned lizard a while back, click here. Many people on Facebook said that they used to see a lot more of these lizards when they were young. According to some research I have done about them online, one of the main reasons we see less of them is because their diet is pretty exclusively ants. Since more and more people are using poison to kill ants, the horned lizard has a hard time. So if you want to see more horned lizards, let the ants live. (preferably outside.) I have been told that borax or dish soap will create a barrier that ants won't cross. So if you can find where they are coming in to your house, maybe try something like that to keep them out. 

In the studio, I have once more gone off in another direction. I would love to hear your thoughts about this new work, as I always love to hear from you, my readers.

(This one is still untitled.) Oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches. ©karine swenson2013

Have a fabulous day, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What IS talent?

tal-ent \'ta-lÉ™nt\
a: any of several ancient units of weight
b : a unit of value equal to the value of a talent of gold or silver
archaic : a characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal
: the natural endowments of a person
a : a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude
b : general intelligence or mental power : ability
: a person of talent or a group of persons of talent in a field or activity
A young boy is bored one day in class. He begins to doodle in his notebook. His father happens to see the doodles and buys him a sketchbook. Shows him books about art. Takes him to museums. Introduces him to working artists. The boy draws and paints throughout his school years. He eventually goes to college and then graduate school where he studies art. He graduates and immediately gets recognition for his work and gallery shows. Is this talent?
A young girl who is shy and awkward in school doesn't make many friends. She doesn't get good grades. She reads a lot, alone in her room, and begins writing in a diary. Her parents don't make much money, and they are too busy with their own problems to give her much attention. She makes it through high school and college without any major accomplishments. Her guidance counselor worries that she doesn't show any real interest in school or friends. She floats around from job to job. She works as a waitress for a while, all the time writing in her journal. She never marries or has children. When she dies, her journals are discovered. They are filled with magnificent stories and poems, many of which are published posthumously. Her writing is read by millions worldwide. Is this talent?
I have been reading about talent, genius, creativity and success, always hoping to gain a little insight. Maybe hoping to learn something valuable. I have yet to read Gladwell's Outliers, but I am familiar with some of the ideas he outlined in his book, particularly the ten thousand hours theory. The main thing that I have so far concluded is that there is no one thing that leads a person to succeed. Not only that, but success is defined differently by everyone. Talent is also defined differently. Many of you probably already know that I have never put much faith in talent, whatever it is.  I am a proponent of the parable of the tortoise and the hare (and that's not just because I live near them and paint them!) 
I have spent too many hours writing this post, and reading about all these ideas, and now I sit here wondering why. I suppose it's because for most artists, there is always a point in time (sometimes more than one point) when we look at how we spend our days and we wonder. "Why do I paint?" "Should I paint (write, dance, sing, etc.)?" "Is creativity important?" "Do people who aren't artists even care about art anymore?" Introspection is a big part of the creative life for me. I question everything. I doubt everything. And then I go back into the studio and paint some more. Because I don't know the answers, and making art is how I search.

"A question of Time." Acrylic on cold press watercolor paper. 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches. ©Karine Swenson 2013

"Pools of Light/ pools of water." Torn envelope and acrylic on cold press watercolor paper, 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches. ©Karine Swenson2013
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 
― Calvin Coolidge
What do you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hungry jackrabbit video

I figured out how to turn my video sideways, although some of the quality was lost. I don't really have the patience for the computer, as it turns out. If I takes me more than five minutes to figure out, I abandon my project. I hope you like it, anyway.

It's been HOT. I know it's the desert, and all that, but when it's over 100 degrees every day, day after day, well, it does get a little tedious. Pono tries to get me up early for his daily walk, and mostly it works. Even at 6 am, it's usually over 82 degrees. I am grateful for ice cubes.

I hope everyone else is managing to stay cool. Happy Fourth, everyone!