Friday, August 21, 2009

Mona Lisa and the LASER

So many times in my teaching career I have complimented a student on their work and the response was almost predictable.

"Oh I'm not a REAL artist you should have seen my (fill in the blank-Mother's, Sister's. 2ND cousin's) work they were/are a REAL artist."

I learned this lesson along with how many people are damaged and abused physically and psychologically at home and how they carry that damage around with them expecting others to validate the "missing part" of them which makes them deserve to be abused.

Let's agree that we live in a world where there are no rabbit holes that lead to wonderland. that the sun is in the middle and we orbit around it in others words there are rules that allow us to believe that all or most of what we see and experience first hand is reality.

You create, you draw or paint, you assemble collages, you do the best flyers the PTA has ever had you make ART.

Now we have agreed that we live in the REAL world and that's where you create your art so that makes you?

Correct-a REAL ARTIST!

Some years back as lasers became more than toys or oddities someone came up with a brilliant idea of using a laser to examine the microscopic variations in the lines or brushstrokes that made up artworks created by people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Bottecelli.

During the Renaissance it was common for a master artist to do only the most important parts of a fresco or painting and apprentices would fill in the rest a little putti here, a misty landscape was the way they learned.

Also these days forgers have become very clever indeed at getting their faux masterpieces past the art experts and onto the walls of the world's better museums-a lucrative if somewhat precarious occupation.

What they found was that each of us has a signature wobble-as the electronic pulses stream from the brain down through the muscles and tendons via the nerves leaving happy little messages along the way they make a signature pattern in whatever we create using our hand and something that leaves a mark.

SO, find something that you are absolutely sure was created by whomever and map the wobble then you can go looking through the other things they are supposed to have done and you can find that FINGERPRINT-that signature which cannot be forged.

Further to all this you can find which apprentice did what part of which painting and if said apprentice becomes well known you close the loop of verification----fascinating!

I tell you this because I want you to know that YOU are EXTRAORDINARY-EXTRA ORDINARY-there is no one in the world like you and some scientist with a laser can prove it - WHEEEEEE!!!!!

How does that make you feel? A little bit more special?

Think of it- someday, someone may whip out their pocket calcultransowhatsamagigger and run it over something you created and go, "WOW, that's by the artist (did you notice that part? THE ARTIST?) who did that other piece I love so much."

It could happen.

Create like what you make will be in a museum someday-make it important and believe that what you do has merit and substance and intrinsic value as art and design.

We all evolve and frankly, how many Mona Lisas did old Leo turn out? Not that many (it's really not the great a painting anyway-look at some of the other artists in the world there is some pretty swell stuff out there).

Do you suppose some prairie woman thought about the fact that someday her sampler would be on the wall of the ABBY B. ROCKEFELLER FOLK ART MUSEUM behind glass and spotlighted just like the Mona Lisa?

I doubt it, she probably sat there stitching all the while thinking to herself, "I wish I was as good as Grandma".

Meanwhile back here in the real world Grandma's sampler is no where to be seen but look-there's hers! Wonder if it would have made a difference had she known all the history that followed her production of that sampler how the end product turned out?

Probably wouldn't have been as good.


Compare yourself to yourself and go ahead be your own worst critic-it's a human thing to do-but never let yourself be less than the best YOU that you can be and never stand up next to a ruler of someone Else's expectations and accomplishments.

Aspiring is wonderful-I will never draw or paint like Aubrey Beardsley or Bougereau (remember the laser someone would find out my work wasn't theirs)-but I love their work and it inspires me and I aspire to be as finished in my work as they were in some of theirs.

Aspirations are good but they are to inspire not to defeat.

Be inspired to go that little extra distance, to stretch just a bit, to challenge yourself to be satisfied when you put down the pen, brush, needle, glue stick that you have created to the best of your ability the best piece of art you could have done that day under those conditions, congratulate yourself and move on.

In your life you may never do anything as famous as the Mona Lisa but you will have left behind a legacy of things that touch, inspire and enrich the lives of others-think of what an important charge that is, what a precious responsibility-to TOUCH the lives of others.

There is a painting that use to hang off by itself in a nook at the L A M O A-it is a portrait of a young man and is basically done in greys and browns but he is wearing a blazing RED coat and his brown hair is wild and blowing in the wind off the misty landscape behind him-he is handsome and intense and riveting...

I have no idea what the artists name is nor do I know anything else about the painting other than how much I love it-I actually have never even bothered to see if I could own a reproduction-it doesn't matter because I know if I need to see it it means I get in the car and go to the art museum.

The important thing is that whoever painted that glorious HEATHCLIFF of a man probably had no idea that someday his work would touch my life here in Los Angeles and inspire me, make me aspire to do greater things and make me understand what it is to be EXTRAORDINARY.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Thomas Lawrence
circa 1791


  1. Wow ~ lots to think about here.... good stuff.

  2. Very well said Rick.. and Thank you.. I really appreciate it. Your words touched my life :-)

  3. Fantastic Article. Now i will think about it all the time. It is so true. Thank you.
    Hugs Nataliya

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Rick! Very eloquently put. I am going to pass this around to my other design teams. Thanks again for all your inspiration! I am so enjoying working with your illustrations.

  5. Thank you! This is so well said and well thought out - I think I'll make a little book with this as text!!

  6. Oh this touched my heart Rick. Thanks for sharing. Love Hazelxo

  7. Wow Rick... how brutally honest and truthful is this post? Or should I say how BEAUTIFULLY honest and truthful is this post! Not only is your pencil artistic in creation, but eloquent in words too. This is something that I will revisit and read again and again... we all need encouragement and validation now and then... even if we don't admit it...
    hugs and blessings,


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