Monthly Archives: September 2015

PRACTICAL ART

The ThinkerIs the creative process that one goes through when conceptualizing a piece of art philosophical thinking? I think so. There is a lot to consider when thinking about a new idea (or even an old one), creating and displaying something that will capture minds and/or hearts, or generating something ahead of the curve that is both creative and practical in form and function, especially when weighing environmental factors as a responsible and caring human being.

All of it requires critical thought, especially when asking daring questions or going beyond the realms of the usual–to expand boundaries, illuminate the mind, and evoke emotion, and/or change behaviors or world views. It is precisely that type of thought that makes it philosophical in nature.

Think about Leonardo da Vinci. The first thing that pops into my mind is the Mona Lisa and that he was a famous artist who painted and sculpted. The fact that he was an architect and inventor is merely an afterthought. But, he was much more than that–he was a progressive thinker and a man of deep curiosity who thought about life vastly different from others by exploring what mystified him through mere thought (documenting as they manifest) or exploring through the creation of experiments to learn. In that process he often invented practical solutions to a number of problems for their era. He was a problem solver. Out of those problem solving skills often came new insight and creative innovation, as well as his art.

Now, I’m not about to give a lesson on Mr. da Vinci. I am no teacher and am certainly not qualified. I do, however, find it interesting that out of all the philosophers we ever studied he was not one of them. Perhaps they do at different universities, I don’t know, but, as usual, I digress.

On the other side, I believe when people think of philosophers they think of the usual suspects–old, dead white guys of the western sort (ahem…da Vinci fits that profile). Unfortunately, all too often, we do not discuss those from the east and all they contributed or downright offered. However, from a modern perspective, the philosophers of today are often considered to be those who think, experiment, study and/or write about various disciplines, within the sciences, that we have separated out into other categories (psychology, medicine, astronomy) or in the realm of political science and/or legal theory, etc. Most of those people have a PhD. A PhD is a doctor of philosophy, after all.

Now, I wonder why we do not think about art or artists this way. The idea that practicality, critical thinking and art mesh well together is something we should be more cognizant of as a whole and would certainly make for interesting class material, especially for younger students grappling with the forever daunting question about career choice.

Unfortunately, in general, I think our society sends the message that one had better go to college to find a practical career and art (any form of it) just isn’t it. Or, if you choose some form of art as a major in college you had better find something to “fall back on,” as they said in my youth.

I get it–we as parents, or as a society, generally want to see students become successful adults (whatever that really means anyway) and not end up as the stereotypical starving artist continually waiting for the next big break that inevitably never comes. However, there are a number of ways that one can attain a VERY well-rounded education that invokes critical thinking within the creative and finds the practicality in various forms of art–architecture and interior, graphic or landscape design happen to be just a few of them.

While I realize this thought has deeper tunnels to explore, the moral of this meditation is simply to convey how very wrong I once was in believing that critical/analytical thinking and creative thinking were two very different spectrums. I have since changed my mind. While each side of our brain may rule over certain cognitions, those hemispheres are highly collaborative and complement each other well enough that one can be both artistic and philosophical, which breeds practical creativity and can become a lucrative career.

Sleep tight for me! I’m gone.

 

By the way, thanks to my much wiser younger sister, the doctor of philosophy in psychology, for confirming that my train of thought was in the right direction relative to the hemispheric collaboration of sorts.

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THE JET STREAM

Oh the follies of being a reluctant gardener and landscape maintenance technician. After we had been in our home for a couple of years–you know, settled in but still haven’t mastered the lay of the land–I went out and bought a new hose attachment. It seemed as though each summer we needed to replace one; thus, this go ‘round, I spent a little more time searching for just the right kind. I especially needed something heavy duty enough to withstand the playful abuse from children. I was sure I had found it.

As soon as I returned home, I immediately opened, attached it and began to play around with the various settings. One notch was for a fine mist that seemed more fun than useful. Another seemed quite useful for watering down the flowerbeds–it sprayed more like a showerhead. Then, I found the jet stream. Very Interesting.

Since our brick-colored paver patio was in desperate need of a clean, I thought this particular setting would be a great tool to power wash it. The stream was nowhere near as powerful as one of those actual power washer thingamabobs, but it probably could have stripped some of the paint off the shake siding. Feeling clever, I pointed the nozzle at the pavers and blasted away.

Now imagine Tom Hanks in Castaway when he created fire. This was me, beaming with pride as I hosed down the patio. Dirt blew out of every pore and crevice. I was doing a happy dance! “Dirt! I have power cleaned dirt from patio! Ahahahaha!” I had found a new tool and a new toy that made a job fun and easy–so I thought.

Can you see where this is going yet? Have you anticipated the havoc I wreaked upon my future self? Now, fast forward about two weeks. It was a perfect late-summer evening–not too hot and not too humid, with just a subtle breeze. While my husband was grilling brats, I relaxed at the patio table and sipped my wine. When the brats were finished he brought them over to the table, but dropped one on the way. He picked it up and set it aside. Within seconds an army of ants burst out from between our pavers to pluck up the greasy remnants. They popped out of there so quickly and with such a force it reminded me of the scarabs from The Mummy. All I could do was stare.

We had been grilling in that same spot since we moved in and food had been dropped, especially with young children around, a number of times with no issue. I had never seen such a sight, but didn’t think much of it at the time. I was fascinated, but still clueless. A couple of weeks later I noticed a few weeds beginning to creep up between some of the pavers. I quickly pulled them, naively thinking that would be the end of it.

Another few weeks went by when I noticed the army of ants had multiplied three-fold. Tall mounds of sand seemed to have formed overnight and more weeds popped through. What the hell?!? We were being taken over. I couldn’t believe that the grease from one fricken brat could have caused such a problem. And then…then, I remembered. THE JET STEAM!

It wasn’t dirt I had been blasting away. It was the paver sand used to seal the joints! Yes ladies and gentlemen, in my jet stream creating moment of premature pride, I had thoroughly removed the very sealer that was used to lock the blocks in place, seal the joints and block out the ants and the weeds. I’ll take my dramatic bow of shame now.

Sleep tight for me. I’m gone!