Art and Weather and a Fixation on Discipline

I wasn’t finished. Apparently I hit “post” too early. So, I’m finishing my thoughts and posting for the second time this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended an artists’ reception at which the winning entries for an art show were announced. It was a small show, no more than fifty paintings—probably fewer.  A professional artist, a water colorist who had taught a three-day course for the art club sponsoring the show, judged the contest. I probably wouldn’t have attended the show except for the fact that my neighbor, a very talented artist who paints primarily in oils, invited he. He and his wife often invite us to show where his work is on display. As usual, the talent on display impressed me. The hors d’ouevres the participating artists prepared for the show impressed me. The way the water colorist judge explained his process of selection impressed me the most. His words offered genuine praise to every single artist who participated, whether selected for a prize or not. I am sure I won’t quote him accurately, but here’s the essence of what I remember him saying:

“Every painting on display here represents talent and artistic vision. Every painting offers a glimpse into the mind and heart of the artist. Therefore, all of us viewing these artists’ work  are enjoying a real privilege. It takes courage for these artists to put themselves out there, to allow their paintings to be judged by someone they don’t know, and by the audience here, many of whom the artists know personally. My selections of the entries to be awarded honorable mentions and ribbons reflect my personal biases. My selections are subjective. Another judge would make different selections. I’ve forced myself to remove at least a little of my bias by refusing to select only watercolor paintings. But it’s impossible to remove subjectivity.”

He then announced his selections for honorable mention, third place, second place, and first place. For each one, he explained why he selected that particular painting. He was generous with his praise, but it seemed obvious to me that he based his praise on real knowledge, as well as subjective appreciation of the paintings.  My neighbor received a second place ribbon in the amateur division for one of his oils (paintings were entered in either the amateur division or the professional division, the latter for artists who [try] to make a living with their art). I enjoyed seeing my neighbor’s face when he heard his name announced. His face beamed with evidence of his joy and pride. Watching the faces of each of the winners was a real treat. You just feel good for people when they get recognition and acknowledgement for doing something that really matters to them, don’t you?


The water colorist who judged yesterday’s show is to do a demonstration of his techniques this morning at the Unitarian Universalist Village Church. Though I’m not a water colorist (I’m an utterly untrained and unskilled acrylic painter wanna-be whose paintings are, by and large, crap), I think I may go see what this guy does. Yesterday, a very good professional artist asked me if I had anything in the show. I explained that, although I would love to create art, I am an utterly untrained and unskilled acrylic painter wanna-be. She insisted that I should learn certain techniques. Learning them would “unleash the artistic creativity inside you,” she said. She said, “next time we have a plein air workshop, come along and I’ll sit with you and show you some techniques to help you.” Such a generous woman! It’s a shame to waste that generosity on a talent-less schmuck, though. I know what I want to see on the canvas, but the result of my attempts to place it there always result in frustration. Maybe, though, I’ll give it another try.


Today’s weather forecast warns of severe storms this afternoon with the possibility of rotation. That means a potential for tornadoes. I don’t want to experience tornadoes. Not in the least. Depending on the timing of the impending storm, we may need to reschedule our dinner at fancy steak house. Hmm. I cooked salmon last night (frozen pre-packaged stuff that had been marinated in something or other…it was actually quite tasty). So, if we have to cook “in” tonight, I’ll need to thaw something other than salmon. Although there could be worse things than having salmon two nights in a row. Perhaps meat balls, jazzed up with Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa. Or jerk chicken. I made jerk salmon not long ago; maybe it’s time to make jerk chicken. I’m writing as if I expect our fancy steak dinner to be cancelled. I don’t want that to happen. But, if it does, I want to be prepared with Plan B. When it comes to food, I like to be prepared. There may be evidence of a food fixation in this post. And in many other posts. I do enjoy food. Too much. It’s my go-to comfort substance, along with alcohol. I think an upcoming doing without month should eliminate alcohol. And perhaps it should eliminate dinners for a month, forcing me to rely on breakfast and lunch for sustenance. This paragraph has slithered through thoughts on our anniversary dinner, the possible cancellation of same, an exposition of my food fixation, and a need to cut back on food and eliminate alcohol from my diet. While I’m at it, perhaps I should close with recognition that I need to get much more exercise and I desperately need to start checking off my “to-do” list of maintenance items around the house.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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