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The Parachute Principle by Robert Genn

The Parachute Principle
by Robert Genn

Yesterday, photographer and digital artist Nikolay Semyonov of Rostov-na-Donu, South Russia wrote, "There are times my eye virtually stops seeing things that might make me press the shutter. This usually happens when I stay too long in the same place or at the end of a long session. My mind seems to get stuck. A period may last quite a long time. Whenever I feel it coming on, I try concentrating on details like webs, spots, stains, twigs, cracks, sunlight patterns, textures, etc. This primes my imagination. With patience, my mind gets activated by human figures, landscapes and other bright things. Do you or your readers know of any other systems?"

Thanks, Nikolay. I'm sure the Brotherhood and Sisterhood will be forthcoming with further systems. I'm in tune with yours--what I call "macro-looking" to refresh the eye when among overly-familiar or tired subject matter.

Here's another similar subterfuge I call "The Parachute Principle." I figured it out a few years ago when arriving for the first time in Brittany. I had flown Vancouver/London, London /Paris and Paris/Brest. After sixteen hours mostly buried in my laptop, I "parachuted" into an unfamiliar environment.

Like a kid on his first visit to Disneyland, the taxi ride to the hotel was a revelation. Apart from the landscape and architecture, the passing humanity, their curious dress-code, their wide-set eyes and physical dispositions, even the way they looked at me was unusual. The cars--Citroens, Renaults, Peugeots--moving quietly on the pristine lanes were from another planet. In those days I was still smoking, and the airport-bought cigar strangely puffed French smoke toward the oddly-shaped head of my Breton driver. I lit and relit that cigar with alien matches.

Why, I wondered, could I not always have this same visual innocence?

I discovered "visual innocence" to be a learnable art. One needs to secretly and privately cultivate the self-delusion of surprise and even dismay. Natural to some, many simply lose it along the way. To renew and refresh, you need to focus on the payoff and regularly give yourself a small mental reboot. With self-management and repetition, even the painting you struggled with on Thursday is simply and effectively brand new on Friday.

Best regards,


PS: "No inspiration comes from nowhere. No invention is based on nothing. You always need to be tuned up and be ready to start receiving the energy you look for." (Nikolay Semyonov)

Esoterica: The Parachute Principle is made palpable on our heli-painting drops. Arriving at high altitudes, we painters exit the craft and huddle together, shielding our eyes against the swirling detritus under the whirling blades. The craft lifts off and away and in 30 seconds is neither seen nor heard. We open our eyes to a silent miracle, a magical diorama not previously seen. The rocks, tarns, patches of snow, the very peaks at our feet and far away are somehow ours and we possess for the first time their beguiling designs. Hastily setting up our easels as if to devour this newness and novelty, we find ourselves asking why all of life cannot be simply and forever like this?


Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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