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Your primal joys by Robert Genn

Your primal joys
by Robert Genn

As usual, some of my recent tips baffled a few folks. "Listen to the music that has been within you from your youth," confused Peter Brown of Oakland, CA. "Is this about marching to my inner drummer," he asked, "or the suggestion that I dust off my old Beatles albums?"

Inner drummer, Peter, sorry, not Sgt. Pepper, but it could be. The idea is to tune into and bring to life our earliest interests and passions.

"External" and "Internal" are the two main types of creative motivation. External motivation can be market forces or societal, peer or educational demands. As an example of the latter, some art school friends were recently asked by their instructor to dig around and find subject matter that "upsets or angers you." The result was a classroom full of poverty, privation, humiliation, defeat, famine, war, fanaticism, religious prejudice, gay bashing, familial discord and various other social ills. I'm not saying these are unsuitable subjects for paintings, but they just didn't fit in with the current thoughts of most of these students. "Life is good and I'm happy to be alive," said one. "If I was angry I'd spray-can the boxcars. Right now I want to learn how to paint, not how to protest."

Internal motivation, on the other hand, often originates in the purity of our pre-teen youth and is rich with unsullied integrity. An artesian well of surprise and diversity, different folks report the early highs of camping, playing sports, watching wildlife, listening to music, fishing, collecting or even quietly drawing and painting. Evolved artists, in my experience, are able to use these primal joys as guides and triggers for creative direction and satisfaction. In my observation, the results are generally superior to the proscribed demands of others.

Internal motivation can be sparked by a few minutes of quiet Zen-like reflection on earlier times and places. Work begins when you answer the question, "What do I want to do today?"

The other alternative is to do what other people want. It's also been my observation that most of us rugged individualists would prefer a root canal to doing other people's will.

Best regards,


PS: "Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film." (Ansel Adams)

Esoterica: B.G. (Before Girls) I had an extensive collection of semi-rotten and weathered roots and gnarls from our nearby forests and beaches. Leaning against the side of our home, my museum pieces were wired to several sheets of dad-provided plywood, until mom happened to notice the carpenter ants. Visualizing the ants' destructive march to our school, hospital and parliament buildings, multiplying like the brooms in Walt Disney's "Fantasia," overwhelming civilization as we knew it, my parents contrived with a local farmer, Albert Eales, to load my museum onto his flat-bed, take it somewhere and burn it. This covert operation hurt my folks as much as it did me, and they apologized forever after. Bugs and all, the objects and their bone-like forms still hang out lovingly in the deep folds of my B.G. soul.


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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