interiors | art | gardens | style | travel

Weekend art.

Look, I don't want to get to heavy here, but let's just say the last 2 years have been, for me, a seismic spiritual/intellectual/political revolution. It's been... exhausting? Liberating. I feel like I have had to take stock of my work and life, and also confront things like: Holy shit, we live in a culture of "total work" and that modern work overtakes your mind and attention completely. It easily displaces your attention from other essential human functions like: community, learning, exploring, and true recreation (in the almost religious sense of that word).

This weekend was a nice retreat from all that. I am getting better at having some peace in my own time. This is good. I am probably a less-good employee as a result. I think this is also good.

A super duper thing to read if you are like, "What is this nonsense she is babbling about?" is the book Leisure the Basis of Culture, which is a small book, but a little dense and dry since it's a book of philosophy. The smart/lazy reader will just read THIS in which brilliant Maria Popova distills it for you.

This weekend, true recreation (literally re-creating myself with rest and learnin') came from a few good things:

I bought a book on Gericault simply because it looked... cool. And then I did a bit more digging to learn who he was. This 6-minute video on his epic painting The Raft of the Medusa was so illuminating. And omg, this painting is literally a representation of all the ways modern government fails people. (Hello Katrina.)

Also in the book was a small newspaper clipping written by Pierre Schneider, beautifully written, reviewing a museum show of Gericault paintings. Schneider, I then learned, is the foremost Matisse expert, which was super timely because I just read this AMAZING book called The Art of Rivalry, which tells the story of four pairs of artistic friends/rivals. The chapter on Picasso and Matisse is excellent (as is the one on Pollack and de Kooning). So that was timely and brought my very recent reading full circle.

Then I made silly/fun portable watercolor palettes in Altoid tins. Then I made block prints.
Then I tried to learn to paint. I won't even show you that effort. I have a way to go.

The bottom line is that I have now fully replaced my time on Angry Political Twitter with reading about or making art/doodles. I used to think people who had those ART SAVES bumper stickers on their cars were, you know, a bit much. But now I get it. Learning to paint or draw is so humbling. When I look at even the simplest, least-refined drawings of Gericault, I am in awe. These are tough times socially and politically. It's good, always, to find a beautiful thing and to remain in awe of it. Because art saves.

1. What do you make (art, food, crafts, gardens, other)?
2. What are you learning? What's new to you these days? 


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Stopped news in July. I still am aware of things going on unfortunately but it must be in the water. Only so much civilians can do in modern set up. Learning a new language and sketching now. Government will always be crap but as corny as it sounds only art endures.

Kimbo said...

Glad to see you posting again.

Making art is energizing, humbling, inspiring, challenging....
I do printmaking, and carving linoleum and printing is my happy place. I try to incorporate a different challenge on each new piece, whether through technique or imagery. The most important thing I learned when starting back at it 8 years ago was to play and have fun. Don't worry about making "perfect" art, just make *something* and enjoy the process.

Good on you for filling your free time with art and inspiration.

Karen said...

Would you be willing to talk more about your "seismic spiritual/intellectual/political revolution"? I am not a stalker, I promise, but I also follow you on IG where you recommended Your Money or Your Life and I think had a last day at a job? I got the book based on your rec and just started it...if you're up to it I'd love to hear if/how it impacted your job decision and what's next for you (and if that next involves you getting to make art all the time!)

i just started thinking of my hobby (making clothes) as...maybe not "art" but more than a hobby. I'm also pondering how that becomes a day job and WTF *do* I want my next 30 years of working to look like.

Decorno said...

Hi Karen,

Yes, happy to share more about it.

So, the very short of it is: When I was starting out in life (college, etc) I had grown up with no money and out of the gate made compromises that we necessary but disappointing. I was a good student and got into my schools of choice, but decided to go to a state school so that I didn't bankrupt my family trying to pay (or take out loans) for school. It turned out to be a fortunate thing in many ways (I'll come back to that), but it represented for me the beginning of making deeply pragmatic choices and not really choosing a path that helped me really develop and then follow my true passions. I ended up working for a large tech company for a long time; a very fortunate path. A lucky entrance but a bone-crushingly difficult 15 years. It was difficult because of the environment and also probably more difficult for me because I had to work really hard to be good at a bunch of things that didn't come naturally to me. I don't think I realized until just the last 2 years how much doing something that is *not you* will empty you out. I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to be better at something I am not sure I was every intensely passionate about. I also developed a real sense of tunnel vision; a kind of Stockholm syndrome (eg., "How could I ever leave one of the best companies in the world; my job is stable and the pay is great." My whole universe of friends (mostly) was tied to that place so I had created for myself a bit of a social/economic echo chamber. Lots of sirens calling me in an echo chamber, but with messages that didn't really represent my own wishes and dreams and goals.

I ended up leaving in November. I don't regret it. There have been a lot of "Oh shit, do I have enough money to quit? moments, but that's just my general worry from my childhood. I have real bag-lady syndrome. The world will have to implode for my financial plan to fall apart (which is actually a not-remote possibility these days, and I don't say that as a joke; I really am mentally prepared for all kinds financial and political panic; we're closer to it than we've ever been in my lifetime).


Decorno said...


I think the big intellectual/spiritual revolution you note above was the idea that: I treated the first half of my adult life like indentured servitude. I really wanted freedom. I wanted to think about the things I wanted to think about, all day. I resent, in a deeply political way, the fact that most people will be effectively indentured their whole lives. Our political and economic system is completely perverse and corrupt. I think one of the most urgent things people can do is to really assess their consumption and how much they really need to be HAPPY and to quickly find a way to get happy, which is tied a lot to re-establishing how much you actually need, materially, to live your days and have a great interior life of thinking and reading and laughing and seeing things and going for walks, etc. We don't need that much. This - assessing how much we really need and then getting there - is hard for a lot of people who make low wages, but for a lot of middle class and rich people I know (and I think it's funny that my friends do not consider themselves rich; I know what they make. They are rich. It's funny how Americans love to deceive themselves about money...) they could be free-er if they wanted to be. But they constantly re-mortgage their lives with bigger houses, a new car, and even private school tuition (which is so un-American; put your fucking kids in public schools and be part of civic society). And they think this is all necessary. It's not. And then they have to keep working for bullies and monsters in their big jobs, just to constantly feel ground down and tired. It's a bad cycle. Anyway, I felt like I had leaned my ladder against the wrong wall. I was lucky I read "Your Money or Your Life" years ago. It helped me keep my eyes on the prize, an aggressive net worth goal that would let me live off passive income so that I could just do what I wanted all day and be free. It's kind of an adjustment because the passive income is less than my former total compensation, so old habits are being broken (for example - and it's so ridiculous to even say this - for an upcoming trip, I booked a *twin* bed in a hotel in Venice whereas before I would have probably picked something very 4 or 5 star and splurged. Sounds awful to say, but I am just trying to be more budget minded to stretch my dollar).

If someone can't quit working entirely, I would recommend at least not hating a day job, or quitting any job that makes you feel lousy about yourself. And then keep working at the thing you really love on the side. It sounds like that's what you are going. If you haven't read Paul Graham's essay, "How to Do What You Love," I highly recommending reading it a few times over a few weeks. there is so much to think about in that essay. For me it shook me awake about key things like confusing prestige with interest. Like: why chase that promotion? Do you really want it? Will the work get harder and take you away from your true passions? I had not been considering all of that enough as I moved through my life. That essay woke me up to the idea that money and prestige were warping my sense of what I *thought* I liked. That was seismic for me. Changed everything.

Let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to answer any.

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig