Give Me The Artist At Seven (The Painter’s Keys)

Give Me The Artist At Seven (The Painter’s Keys)

(Originally published on The Painter’s Keys – April 20, 2018)

Artist and Purpose Guidance Coach Sam Kaczur recently put out a call on social media asking her friends, many of them artists, the following question: “Around the ages of 6-10, do you have a memory or pivotal moment in your life that you feel set the trajectory or tone for your future?” She offered some examples, like meeting an artist or scientist, discovering a talent, or winning a prize. From among the responses, a theme emerged that painted a picture of family and parenting. “My mother took me to the theatre,” “My dad beat me and so I wanted to be peaceful” and “I assembled my first computer,” were among the replies.

Abbott-H-Thayer_My-Children

“My Children” ca. 1910
oil painting by
Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921)

Experts in child development — parents included — seem to agree that while toddlers explore many ways of being, seven-year-olds seem to settle into patterns, their tastes established and interests piqued. Seven, the age of surging co-ordination and cognitive stamina, is when mediaeval pages took their training to become knights and when boys were first sent to school in ancient Greece. In 8th century Japan, Shichi-Go-San, or “Seven-Five-Three”, acknowledged the passage into middle childhood for the children of court nobles. Shichi-Go-San continues as a festival day for Japanese children and includes special rituals like replacing a regular cord used to tie one’s kimono with a traditional silk obi. Children visit shrines to drive away evil spirits and set an intention for a long, healthy life.

Abbott-Handerson-Thayer_A-Virgin

“A Virgin” 1892–3
(painted allusion to
“Winged Victory of Samothrace”)
by Abbott Handerson Thayer

In art, seven is when, with exposure and practice, children start drawing objects more realistically and with details specific to their cultures and experiences. Seven is when performing, reading and writing music grow in dexterity, complexity and artistic interpretation. Body awareness, movement, rhythm, imitation and mood inform dancing. Seven-year-olds distinguish between body shapes. In drama, Sevens can name characters, settings, problems, solutions and drivelines and can construct and act out real-life and imaginary situations through dramatic play. Scholars have suggested that reading skills at seven can determine future life outcomes like social and economic status.

Sam says this crucial life stage is when we “can create awesome or perpetual bad habits.” By seven, we’ve learned how to cut corners or dig in, to indulge curiosity, to give up, to ask for help or be self-sufficient, to be dutiful or contrarian. If we’ve been acknowledged for creative ability, our environment and character have determined how we follow up. And what we do with our deepest desires — like bury them or explore — began here. Coping with setbacks was probably reinforced into nearly immoveable beliefs during this time. How we cultivate and sustain joy likely comes from this spot, too. Are we all still mostly, at our core, our seven-year-old selves?

Abbott-Handerson-Thayer_Boy-and-Angel_1918

“The Athenaeum – Boy and Angel”
1918 oil on cradled panel
61.5 × 49 inches
by Abbott Handerson Thayer

Sincerely,

Sara

PS: “The future influences the present just as much as the past.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Esoterica: Part of Sam’s coaching work is helping her clients discover the essence of their “Why Superpower.” They get there, she says, by identifying their values, which often requires a trip to age seven. “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction,” wrote John F. Kennedy. After the re-visit, instead of accepting a pre-determined track, you could use the understanding to exercise a current will. As free and responsible agents, who we were at seven could be a powerhouse for the future. “If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.” (Bob Dylan)

You may remember the 1964 BBC/Granada longitudinal study documentary Seven Up, which followed the lives of fourteen British children and covered themes of religion, class, family, happiness and psychology with the intention of exploring theories of pre-determinism, class mobility and existential free will. By continuing to interview the same subjects every seven years since 1964, the film series reveals heartbreaking truths and surprising discoveries. Roger Ebert called it, “an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium” that “penetrates to the central mystery of life.” The ninth installment, 63 Up, will be released in the spring of 2019.

abbott-handerson-thayer_kittens

The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are now available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“The creative adult is the child who has survived. (Ursula K. LeGuin)

Thank you for the courtesy from the Genn family, the letters of Robert Genn and Sara, his daughter.

 

A work of art

Reverse Shopping

Reverse Shopping

Sometimes “Reverse Shopping” can lead you down a rabbit hole.

So I do this thing sometimes where I buy something and then I realize I don’t need it or it doesn’t fit my life/home/style and so I return it. I just returned a bunch of paint canvases at my local art supply store and got a $400 dollar store credit. It was past the date of the receipt so no cash back, unfortunately, but hey, I’ll have no problem using that credit paint supplies. Painting is just one of my passions – the other ones include writing and ballroom dancing and cooking and of course my husband, Tom.

Reverse shopping is fun, but it’s not just about the excitement of getting your money back or a credit. It also gives you that all-important chance at a “do-over”. The ability to make a shift and start fresh. And sometimes that can lead you down a new path. Returning those canvases meant creating more physical space in my painting studio as well as emotional and creative space in my mind.

We can apply that to anything in life. Sometimes you have to stop, take stock, let go, and shift directions. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately – the direction I should be heading in terms of my creative-business pursuits. Painting will always be a driving force in my life so that’s a no-brainer. I’m going to be doing another show later this year and hopefully painting a few more landscapes.

Other times “Reverse Shopping” can lead you to a new (out)look.

But best of all, “Reverse Shopping” can lead you in a new creative direction.

My writing is a newer passion, but certainly not a lesser one. I’m currently working on my WIP, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. I had to apply my “reverse shopping” technique to my book. I stopped writing for a bit as I took stock of the book and I’m currently working out some new additions and possible directions. The “credit” I got back is some time to do a bit of extra reading in the craft of writing. Just a few refreshers to inspire me. And boy am I inspired. I can’t wait to finish the book and share it with everyone.

So keep that in mind the next time you buy something that doesn’t quite fit. Stop. Take stock. Reverse shop. Free your mind.

Love, Gail.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE

Have I Got A Red For You . . .

Have I Got A Red For You . . .

Roses are red . . . We’ve all heard that little ditty numerous times. But have you ever wondered what makes red such a powerful color? Why does red make a bold fashion statement? Why does it look great as a feature wall in your home? Why does red pop on a book cover?

Amy Butler Greenfield’s fascinating book, A Perfect Red, traces the history and cultural impact of the color red. And guess what? It all began with a little red bug called cochineal. Vast fortunes were created and international intrigue bloomed as countries battled to figure out how to beat Spain’s hold on the trade of a red dye. So valuable – it was traded on commodity exchanges in the 17th century.

And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love red as an artist and painter. I often weave red into my paintings, like the one shown here.

 

And if you’re curious – here are some other fun facts about red:

Threads of Wisdom 36×36 Oil Ingis Claus

Clever red fingernail polish names: Red Abandon, Little Red Wagon, Don’t know . . . Beets me, Wanted . . . Red or Alive. Life is a Cabernet, An Affair in Red Square, and Breakfast in Red.

Remember Dorothy’s beautiful, magical silver slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Not silver, you say? Well they started out as silver in the novel but when the new Technicolor process was used in the film version, the moviemakers wanted a color that popped—so, of course, they chose red. Ruby red.

Charles and Ray (Bernice Alexandra) Eames: Together the husband and wife duo created some of the 20th century’s most enduring designs. Charles and Ray Eames are known for their classic modern furniture and for their pioneering work with materials such as molded plywood, which they created by pressing sheets of wood veneer against a heated mold. Through this work, in the 1940s the couple developed their iconic LCW (Lounge Chair, Wood), which has been called the best design of the 20th century. The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair Wood Base, currently sold by Herman Miller, is striking in red. Today, the chair sells for north of a thousand dollars and is made in the United States.

In 2019 as I finished my Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, I’m seeing red everywhere. My heroine has red hair, she blushes a pretty shade of red, her lips are full and red . . . Red has seeped into our language: seeing red, caught red-handed, down to my last red cent, red herring, a red-letter day, like red to a bull, red tape, go beet red, in the red,  red-blooded, red-carpet treatment, red-light district . . . well—you know. And of course, my sweetie Tom and I love to paint the town red,

What’s your favorite red—either in your home/office or in your personal life?

Used with permission, © 2014, Icon Magazine American Society of Interior Designers.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE

The Big Art Show

The Big Art Show

You’re invited! Come to my local art show! The reception is on Saturday, April 7, 4:30-6:30 pm, at the Bruce S. Kershner Gallery in Fairfield Public Library (CT), 1080 Old Post Road, Fairfield, CT.

It’s open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

I’m in great company along with seven fellow landscape artists, please see those included below. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello.

Painting is like taking a vacation. If I paint the ocean, I’m at the ocean. If I paint a mountain, I’m on the mountain. It takes me on worldly journeys. My husband Tom says he feels the same  when he plays or watches sports. All of this to say, no matter what your hobby or vocation– love what you do.

For your perusal, here’s a collage of my paintings (partials). Hope to see you there. Love, Gail

Hudson River Overlook, A Little Peace of Maine, Fresh Spray, Source of Wonder, New England Peace

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE

 

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