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The stress of relaxation

November 20, 2012

Dear Artist,

Artists go to their studios for a variety of reasons. These can include a desire for wealth and fame, a deep-seated passion for art, a need to communicate ideas, the love of process and play, a sense of societal obligation, the fear of having to take a regular job, prior failures or incompetence in other professions, distaste for conventional work, a feeling of comfort and sanctuary that comes from private creativity, trying to get away from someone or from people in general, a need to explore one's own potential, avoiding domesticity or less-than-challenging pursuits, familial, parental or peer expectations, etc. For many creative folks, the need for garden-variety cash flow may be rather down the list.

Recent research seems to show that a small but significant subset goes to work because relaxation stresses them out. Apparently some "driven" folks may just have a need to be busy. They have what psychologists are now calling "relaxation-induced anxiety."

I'd appreciate if you didn't mention this to anyone, but I have it. When I was in grade five I gave a show-and-tell called "Bobby's Hobbies" in which I explained my drawing, painting, bird-watching, woodland exploration, collecting of stamps, seashells, beach wood, mechanical gadgets, mushroom spore-prints and broken clocks. I was as busy as a one-armed man using dental floss. Our teacher, Miss Ayliff, a certified joy-denier if there ever was one, told the class, "All work and no play make Bobby a dull boy."

Christina Luberto, head of a current relaxation study at the University of Cincinnati, thinks that the paradoxical increase in anxiety as a result of relaxation is more common than we might think. In her study, individuals were asked to fill out a questionnaire called The Relaxation Sensitivity Index. It turns out that people with high relaxation sensitivity were also high in anxiety.

That was me in grade five--anxious. Relaxing gave me the unpleasant feeling of losing control. In later life I've come to see control as a mixed blessing but also key to generating creativity and finding success.

The Miss Ayliffs of this world have got it quite wrong. As studio proprietors, we learn that work is play. With no boss, no committee and no band of demanding customers in the waiting room, it's a dream of a job. And I'm not sure, but I don't think it makes you dull.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "We wanted to develop a test to examine why certain individuals fear relaxation events or sensations associated with taking a time-out just to relax." (Christina Luberto)

Esoterica: In my studies of artists' motivation, I've found that the reasons given are not always the real reasons. Artists need to find and understand the primal truth of their own motivations. The more I look at it, the more I realize that habits do more to form success than perhaps any other factor. If you happen to be one of those artists who regularly avoids lethargy and laying about, you may have been blessed with the habit of work. Don't be anxious about it.





Love your job while you've got it
by Peter Zirpke, West Vancouver, BC, Canada


Being too much in a non-productive mode can be stressful. I am a retired guy, having worked in construction all my life creating legacies that will outlast me and future generations. I now feel frustrated to be without a daily schedule and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I do a bit of 'painting' but that doesn't help! In my active years I had enthusiasm about work and felt that work was actually fun and therefore psychologically satisfying. With that feeling, one cannot help but succeed in one's career. I just wish more people in their younger years would have that attitude towards their daily 'grind' and thereby enjoying the fruits of their labor. Apparently 92% of people hate their job!



There are 4 comments for Love your job while you've got it by Peter Zirpke

From: stella -- Nov 22, 2012

What are you waiting for? You should be teaching, or perhaps write a book about what you know! There are so many–young and old–who would love to learn more about construction design and technique (like me, for instance). Your obvious love of your subject would come through and would surely inspire some hands-on involvement, or at the very least, help with their own home challenges.

From: Michael Jorden -- Nov 23, 2012

Why not build something?

From: Suzette Fram -- Nov 23, 2012

Peter, if painting is not enough action for you, how about something more physical, like sculpture, or carving. There are artists who make wonderful sculptures from old nuts and bolts and assorted hardware leftovers, or found junk. These can be very intriguing and beautiful. For that, you need skills like disassembling, cutting, welding, etc. You might find that more satisfying, especially if you work on larger pieces.

From: Tatjana M-P -- Nov 23, 2012

Plan a big project and break it down into very small pieces. That should do for a technical mind. You transitioned from being a member of a large team to the team of one. That needs some getting used to, but you will figure it out!


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Lost in la-la land
by Vivian Sathre, Tucson, AZ, USA


"Unproductive" relaxation seems like a waste of time and time is precious. (I'm thinking TV, computer Iris<br>acrylic painting by Vivian Sathre Iris
acrylic painting
games, etc.) When I was a writer I read many, many books, enjoying every minute of reading. It was research in my field of work. I needed to do it so plopping on the couch with a good book for hours wasn't at all sinful. As an artist, taking time out to sit for long periods to read a novel makes me feel like I'm being lazy and wasting time. Instead I could be spending that time painting. Artists know that being an artist is work. But most people in the arts enjoy their jobs. I enjoy getting messy and asking myself questions that lead to thinking differently than other folks. What color should I make that grass? Not green. Not gold. Hmmm. Would purples and blues work? And in that instant I'm lost in la-la land. Hours will pass while I'm there. Then suddenly I'll surface like Alice coming out of the rabbit hole and realize it's time to cook dinner. But I decide to paint for another fifteen minutes and that leads to dropping down the hole and getting lost in la-la land again. What a fabulous way to relax!



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The greatest of blessings
by Makiwa Mutomba, Pretoria, South Africa


If this so-called "relaxation induced anxiety" is what you describe, then I too "suffer" from it. The skateboards<br>oil painting by Makiwa Mutomba The skateboards
oil painting
While those around me somehow look at me with pity me for what they regard as "working too hard," the truth I never say is that I find "working to be more relaxing than relaxing." If I do not paint for a few days I feel physically sick.

When this crazy addiction called painting took over my life 13 years ago, leading to my dropping out of an Electronic Engineering Degree Course to paint full time, I initially tried to fight the "relaxation induced anxiety," but over the years I have come to accept this as the greatest of blessings. We artists have the best job in the world!



There is 1 comment for The greatest of blessings by Makiwa Mutomba

From: Catherine Stock -- Nov 22, 2012

Nice work, Makiwa. Love the feel of freedom and speed.


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No 12-step program for this addiction
by Warren Criswell, Benton, AR, USA


Art is our addiction. If we're kept out of the studio for very long, withdrawal symptoms set in. The Temple of the Muse<br>terracotta sculpture by Warren Criswell The Temple of the Muse
terracotta sculpture
Or even sometimes in the studio, when nothing is coming down, the muse is not singing, and I'm puttering around, cleaning up, working on the website, etc., a strange feeling of guilt comes creeping in. I pick up a brush like an alcoholic picks up the bottle. The difference is, nobody has yet come up with a 12-step program for our particular addiction. For us--even though for some of us it might be better to go out and get a job like a normal person--the only happiness is off the wagon. The paradox is--we can relax only when we're working!

But I have my doubts about one thing you said: "Artists need to find and understand the primal truth of their own motivations." Even though finding out that dark secret probably wouldn't cure us ... it might be better not to know.



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Studio bliss
by Pat Merriman, NC, USA


For the first time in my life, the time in the studio is relaxation; a sort of meditation time Canoe<br>original painting by Pat Merriman Canoe
original painting
creating--sometimes when I look at the creation the next day it is awful, but the process of creating is one where I lose all sense of time, day to day hassles, etc. I think for a type A personality (me), time in the studio creating is bliss. Now the details of framing, making labels, measuring, inventory are not creative and don't have that "feel" of timelessness. As a retired psychologist, I don't like the label of "relaxation-induced anxiety." Maybe those researchers need to define what they call relaxation. I read the newspaper for about an hour, dive into mysteries after 9 pm and I call that relaxation, not the creative process.



There is 1 comment for Studio bliss by Pat Merriman

From: Angela Treat Lyon -- Nov 22, 2012

Yes! I could care less about the dark secret - other than cherishing its life within me! - but to have to name it and find a why is it would kill it, make it subject to some 12-step program. I'd rather go through the dark and back again without diagnosis or treatment - I'm fine just as I am!


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Blame it on a driven father
by Deborah Kutch, USA


I love this. I think I have it. It comes from a driven father. We were never ever allowed to sit idle for long even when we were little. We were required to be doing something constructive unless we were asleep. As a result I am constantly busy. Painting has been a great gift to me. I do not work out of my home; my painting is my work and I have a daily schedule, with two 20- minute breaks included. I can never complete the twenty minutes. I am usually back at the easel after grabbing a quick cup of tea. But I feel good, as if I am really working and accomplishing, and not wasting my time doing something that has taken many years to learn. So he was right, stay busy, relaxation an anxiety or not. Thanks Dad.



There is 1 comment for Blame it on a driven father by Deborah Kutch

From: Anonymous -- Nov 23, 2012

I had extremely relaxed parents, but I have always been making myself busy, to their amusement and sometime annoyance. They always said I was like Aunt so and so. I think that being a busy bee is in the genes and can miss a generation.


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The value of big, ambiguous problems
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada


In your letter you mix what I call work with mission. Too much work makes me immensely dull, but my Sunset On The Mountain<br>acrylic painting<br>24 x 30 inches by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki Sunset On The Mountain
acrylic painting
24 x 30 inches
mission is what keeps me alive. It is my most unique contribution--it captures my attention and makes best use of my abilities.

When I am alone or in a good company, all the chores are done, and the vibe is good, the only enemy can be the internal doubtful overachiever. I'm finding out that as one gets older, this annoying personality is easier to quiet down. But in worst cases, one sure way to knock it out is by diving into some outrageously tedious activity, like detailed drawing or making color swatches. Examination of stamps or needlepoint would work as well. This creature thrives on big ambiguous poorly defined problems, but it takes a hike as soon as you pull out a (real or proverbial) magnifying glass. It might be that our healthy ego doesn't like to feel very small.



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Prints as adjuncts to paintings
by Robert McCormick, Ashland, PA, USA


Can you share your thoughts on the issue of making prints of your paintings. One friend says it's better to make prints because more people come to recognize your work, thus, increasing the value of the originals. Another suggests that it's a bad idea. First of all, it can become expensive; secondly, why should a potential customer pay for the original if he can decorate his space more cheaply with a good print?

Personally, I (like many) don't particularly enjoy the business end of making art. Yes, I like providing folks with affordable copies of some of my work, but more and more I find that I just want to paint and send the piece on its way...come what may...and move on to the next challenge. The printing, matting, framing, packing, pricing, delivering becomes too time consuming, and I don't want to do it.

Goldstream, Artist's Proof<br>serigraph<br>12 x 16 inches<br>by Robert Genn by Robert McCormick Goldstream, Artist's Proof
serigraph
12 x 16 inches
by Robert Genn
Crescent Park in Winter<br>serigraph<br>12 x 16 inches<br>by Robert Genn by Robert McCormick Crescent Park in Winter
serigraph
12 x 16 inches
by Robert Genn
(RG note) Thanks, Robert. I agree with you. While I've made a few prints, reproductions and giclees in my life, it has always struck me as a redundant commercial adjunct to the daily joy of painting. I am relatively happy, however, with the hundred or so hand-pulled serigraphs I made over a twenty year period. They were all low edition, multi-screen efforts that I couldn't have done without the help of similarly joyous assistants. The serigraphs have retained their colour, are representative of periods of my style and will continue to be reasonable investments for those who collect them.





There are 2 comments for Prints as adjuncts to paintings by Robert McCormick

From: Brigitte Nowak -- Nov 22, 2012

There is a huge difference between hand-pulled, low edition prints , whether serigraphs, etchings or lithographs, and giclees, or copies: machine-made reproductions of paintings that have never had the touch or inspiration of a human hand. Prints may reference a pre-existing painting, but they can also be original, stand alone works of art. As Robert noted, prints keep their value. As copies of successful works of art, giclees, copies or reproductions may have their place, for those people who, perhaps, love an image that has been sold, but they are not, and should not be represented as, works of art. And they are not prints.

From: Catherine Stock -- Nov 22, 2012

Totally agree with Brigitte. But just wanted to say how much l liked you two serigraphs, Robert. They remind me of Japanese woodcuts.


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Art is about wondering
by Catherine Nash, Tucson, AZ, USA


I find that almost everything I have pursued as an adult I either explored as a child or made a Fog rising<br>original painting by Catherine Nash Fog rising
original painting
focused promise to myself to do "when I grew up." I also was a major overachiever (my Girl Scout badges completely went around the back of the sash back up to my shoulder...)

Starting with announcing that art was my profession at five, I decided would someday live in Japan when I was seven and at 14, committed to living in Paris to study art. I drew and painted every free moment, studied wild edible foods and native plants from 12 on and began to study French at the first opportunity in 7th grade. With my old salt of a father, I sailed at every opportunity and camped out of doors wondering at the night sky. My first job at 15 and those thereafter 'til age 25 were working in greenhouses, nurseries and designing perennial flower gardens (I put myself through my BFA working with plants.)

I bought a one-way ticket to Europe and managed to live in Paris for 2 years; Studied woodblock printing and papermaking (made of plants!) on my own steam and design in Japan twice and have now as a specialist in paper made from native plants, have taught Japanese and Western papermaking/contemporary sculptural paper in 8 European countries, Australia, Japan and across the U.S. I teach many facets of plein air mixed media drawing as a faculty member of the AZ Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute. In this economy, my need to "do," flexible problem-solving, an ability to juggle smaller jobs and commissions, not to mention a consistent creative output have served me well.

My art is about my wondering (still) at the sky and space and the sheer beauty of nature. And, as a landlocked sailor living in the dry southwestern Arizonan deserts, my sculptural work often incorporates mythical boats that sprout tiny leaves.



There is 1 comment for Art is about wondering by Catherine Nash

From: Rose -- Nov 23, 2012

It was a joy to read your letter about your zest of life....


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A blessed event (with art)
by Eleanor Blair, Gainesville, FL, USA


Last week, Hunter Smith walked into my studio and shyly asked if I knew of a way to use a painting<br>the proposal
the proposal
as part of a marriage proposal. While I'd never done anything like that before, it was an intriguing idea, for sure. And there was not much time to come up with a plan. Kali James would be here in a few days. After kicking a few ideas around (Hunter suggested that I might paint the words "will you marry me" onto an actual painting) we finally decided on attaching a note to the back of one of my paintings. He came by yesterday with his handwritten note, sealed in an envelope, which I taped to the back of a small painting he liked. He wanted his proposal to be a complete surprise, and since his girlfriend loves art, he figured it would be easy to suggest they step into my studio on their stroll around downtown Gainesville. His plan was flawless. They arrived around 6:30, on their way to dinner, and he picked up a few small paintings to show her before finally handing her THE painting. I'd attached a big white bow to the back of the envelope, so she couldn't help noticing. I can't imagine what she thought, discovering a note addressed to her on the back of a randomly selected painting in a quiet storefront studio she'd never visited before.



There are 3 comments for A blessed event (with art) by Eleanor Blair

From: Angela Treat Lyon -- Nov 22, 2012

How utterly fun and fabulous! What a great idea!

From: Sue Johnson -- Nov 23, 2012

Way to go! Only in your studio could such wonderful magic happen.

From: Rene Lynch -- Nov 24, 2012

What a creative guy - a keeper in my book!


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Donna and Tom Dickson workshops Held in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
Donna and Tom Dickson workshops
Held in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Rose Beattie, Christina Lake, BC, Canada



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Claudette LeeRoseland of Grafton, WI, USA, who wrote, "Could it be that we are all hyperactive adults?"

And also Richard Gagnon of Knowlton, QC, Canada, who wrote, "I didn't see the fear of being alone with one's thoughts on the list, although I see the advantage of allowing a creative mind to wander, but perhaps not too far."


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The stress of relaxation...

From: Rick Rotante -- Nov 19, 2012

You may be on to something here. I remember in my youth, taking vacations; something I haven’t done for millennia; and it would take me several days to – wind down from the stress of work I was taking vacation from. If I had a week to play and frolic, the first few days were fraught with anxiety and stress because I could not bring myself to settle down and relax. The more I tried the more tense I got. My motor skills were at full speed ahead from the life I ordinarily lead. Mind you, at the time I lived and worked in New York City which is renowned for its fast pace. I would go so far as to say it took the entire week to calm down, which made taking a vacation a futile endeavor since by the end of that week, it was necessary to get up to speed and go back to work. I feel I am not alone in this and it is the bane of the working class in this country. Today, I’ve overcome these maladies. I essentially work for myself. I paint and exhibit and write on blogs and commune with other who are doing the same.
I do have to add here that there is a drawback – and that is I have managed supplant one anxiety for another. The stress I put on myself to succeed at being a painter. Unless we can control anxiety and keep it to a low hum, we may suffer from the periods of relaxation that are few and far between.

From: John Ferrie -- Nov 19, 2012

Dear Robert,
Back when the earth was cooling and I was fresh out of art school. I had my spiffy diploma and I guess I was a bit arrogant. I remember thinking as soon as I get signed by a gallery, THEN, Ill create all this cool and wondrous art. There wasn't internet or any of this social networking we all rely on so heavily these days. No joke, and big surprise, the galleries didn't come. So, I started painting just for fun and get some work generated. I did loads of work on everything I could get my hands on. I showed my art in every hair salon, coffee shop or restaurant that had a wall with a nail on it. My stuff was everywhere. Painting has come to define me and now at the ripe old age of 51, I paint everyday. I have painted a ton of canvas with enough paint to fill ten swimming pools, but what excites me more, is the acres of work I still have a head of me. I can have the most horrible day and yet go into my studio, drag some paint across a canvas with my brush and the world just seems a little better. If you have a knack, great, its another 10,000 hours. While I am in full production these days for my new show in early 2013, I know that I love being an artist and that I paint every day because I am a painter. Defined, once and for all. John Ferrie

From: Bea Lancton -- Nov 20, 2012

Going to work in the studio is my relaxation, and quitting my former occupation was the most therapeutic thing I ever did. Despite the 24/7 work week with no paid vacation, benefits, or regular income, I'm more relaxed than I ever have been in my life. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges -- Nov 20, 2012

I am with Bea, the only time I am truly relaxed is when I am in my studio creating away. Close seconds are when I am teaching others the mysteries of making art and practicing Yoga and Tai Chi. Being bored stresses me out, luckily I am rarely bored with so little time and so many paintings left to do.
P.S. My husband agrees with Robert, I may be a poor housekeeper; often late and rarely dressed appropriately for the occasion but Dull and Boring I am Not!

From: Tina Bohlman -- Nov 20, 2012

Finally, after a lifetime of an inability to sit and do nothing, I am vindicated! I'm with Sandra....cooking, cleaning, and laundry is done ONLY after I'm done in the studio. Often, I let the "Colonel" do the cooking. Dust, I discovered years ago doesn't look bad if you leave it be....and there's nothing wrong with wearing the same pair of jeans & paint-smeared shirt 2 days in a row...

From: lalitha -- Nov 20, 2012

I am under forced relaxation right now since I am bed ridden and the relaxation is too much to bear, the bed has become a mini studio!

From: Brian -- Nov 20, 2012

Yikes! Help! Cue Rod Sterling and the music!!! Up is down and down is up. :-) This sounds like a hypothesis that would be difficult to defend. If "relaxation" equals "stress" for some, then it no longer meets the definition of relaxation for them. One could infer the opposite, namely that some people find stress more relaxing than relaxation. In the 70's, this sort of desire to set the world on its ear was referred to as "psychobabble."

Teasing aside, I understand what is being conveyed. We are all different. Some will paint to Chopin, while others paint to AC/DC.
Brian

From: Laurel -- Nov 20, 2012

In the quiet of relaxation, we fear what we may find within ourselves, those unpleasant thoughts and memories just barely hidden by constant noise and activity.

From: Teyjah Mc Aren -- Nov 20, 2012

I am so in! I have 50,000 activities on the go all the time and relax to me is not a nice word. Laurel also has a good point. Working is my relaxation. Too much quiet, thinking time gets me in trouble so work away I say.

From: Jacqueline Kinsey -- Nov 20, 2012

Isn't there a saying; idle hands make ______ a dull boy? Or something to that effect.

Lalitha...I just went through that...in fact still can't do much...driving me crazy and yes, day one after surgery, in my drug-induced state a did two amazingly detailed drawings! My husband brought me my sketch book and some photographs to draw from (a God-send), that kept me sane between naps. Now I am able to crawl up the stairs to my studio (just had knee surgery) and back at it (sitting down)!

Laurel; yes...many of us keep busy so our minds don't wonder to unpleasant memories etc. It is a coping mechanism.

People are always amazed at what I am up to and I have had a job since I was 11 years old! At one point I had 3 1/2 jobs going, but I know several people who do that just to pay the bills. One almost has to in order to survive these days.

Good post. Something to be aware of.

From: Sherrie -- Nov 20, 2012

While the process to create is physically and intellectually work, shifting to the right side of the brain where there is no time is very relaxing.

From: Herasi -- Nov 20, 2012

Amazing, rich, perspicacious (!), THOROUGH, forgiving, researched, personal...all these adjectives describe your letter! Thanks so much for your response. I am trying to breathe through the anxiety and remember how much earthy holy (?) energy there is in sobriety!

From: Rena Selim -- Nov 20, 2012

Relaxation-induced anxiety.....somehow it’s comforting to know that there’s a name for what I’ve got.

From: Carol Green -- Nov 20, 2012

Your work habits certainly haven't produced a "dull boy" but a very interested and inspiring one. Maybe Miss Ayliff was just a bit envious - at least that is how I feel when I meet people who have the energy for all their interests. But instead, I try to focus on how lucky I am to have met such a person and learn what I can. Keep playing/working and especially, writing.

From: valerie norberry vanorden -- Nov 21, 2012

Talk about jealous! If I had a little boy with all that talent and curiosity I'd be thrilled! My husband is pretty curious and often asks questions even at 62! He only relaxes when he sleeps. I don't have a problem relaxing, unfortunately. I'd like to be busier and harder working.

From: David Lauterstein -- Nov 22, 2012

You likely know the Thomas Carlyle quote "A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason."

From: Elle Fagan -- Nov 22, 2012

Relaxation is NOT relaxation sometimes.
Because:

- sometimes the time, place or people are not easy for relaxation
- sometimes, an activity is more relaxing to a person or their health for a bit
-or like me with my restart business, I cannot imagine anything else I'd rather be doing, than putting my post-disability life back together - the art, the marketing, issues resolutions , planning, the art, the website , the art .....I think you get my meaning.

As a girl, I was like you....busy, busy , creating and learning all I could find to learn - I had this understanding in my mind's eye that if I was 100% committed to the neat good goals I wanted as grew up , I would get them....and that if I failed, I would be stuck with an unhappy life.
That took the iffyness right out of it

From: Sandra Donohue -- Nov 22, 2012

"Bobby's Hobbies"...I love it! In 1994 I quit a job that didn't give me enough time to weave. I had two weeks off at a set time in the summer, and that just wasn't enough. I had wanted to take a trip to Costa Rica during the winter. My boss said that I could either work or holiday. I made the right decision, and had the most wonderful time away from the snow and cold! When I came back, I wove to my hearts content and three years later I discovered painting (and not painting the walls of rooms). Through this new found 'hobby', I saw the world differently, have met incredible people, and don't regret my decision. Robson, B.C.

From: Gay Young -- Nov 22, 2012

Relaxation is an interesting concept, isn't it? Each of us has our own definition. Laying about is one idea. Playing with paints and fabric dyes is another. If "working in my studio" is not a good stress reliever, then I am at a loss to know what is. I also relax by digging in the garden, feeding the birds, trying new recipes, baking bread.... Guess I am also a hopeless case!

From: Penny Duncklee -- Nov 22, 2012

I have been saying "work is play" to friends for years. I keep saying that doing something you really like to do, no matter how difficult and challenging is fun, therefore play. Some people just don't get it. Thanks for today's message, and every Twice Weekly one. Reading them is one way I relax. :-)

From: Charlotte -- Nov 22, 2012

At this time of Thanksgiving I just want to thank you for this fine writing, thinking, exploring that you send along twice a week. I have been finding it nourishing and inspiring. It feeds my soul and well-being and hopefully artistry. I deeply value it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From: Carol Palmer -- Nov 22, 2012

If you were dull, we wouldn’t all be reading these columns. Regularly too.

From: Liz Reday -- Nov 22, 2012

I just read a billion posts on your digital discussion and no-one mentioned a hot new artist called Wade Guyton (sp?)....presently showing in a major museum in NYC, he downloads simple things ( like an "X" blown up big multiplied, or maybe some found pattern on a book jacket)- prints these out on LINEN ( 12 feet long some) and lets the printer do the usual little malfunctions, print splodges and spots whatever...and the big art magazines like ArtForum and AinA say they're "so painterly!" The work is "art" because of the printing malfunctions, they stress. This is major blue chip stuff now, the guy is way hot in the big bucks art world.

Whew. Just sayin'

From: Chuck Chen -- Nov 22, 2012

The Miss Ayliffs of this world do more to stymie civilization than this world dreams of.

From: Jeff Brewer -- Nov 22, 2012

"All work and no play makes Bobby a dull boy," was no doubt referring to Bobby's poor showing or lack of ability in sports. Many successful artists had a similar situation in their formative years. It's too bad, but prowess at sports, while excellent for health, has become a defining virtue in current times. Sports these days has little to do with sportsmanship or character. It seldom advances culture.

From: Russ Hogger -- Nov 22, 2012

The time to relax is when the painting is finished, then prepare yourself for the next one.

From: Dan TE -- Nov 23, 2012

Thomas Carlyle also said, "Writing is a dreadful labor, yet not so dreadful as Idleness."

From: Phil Chadwick -- Nov 23, 2012

Van was a great artist... wow!

From: Karen R. Phinney -- Nov 23, 2012

Hey, let's hear it for the dreamers among us! Work is good, yes, and for some therapy it sounds like. But I was a dreamer, I had lots of interests like Robert as a kid, but.....I liked to stare at clouds, make believe I was someone else (like a singer or famous writer, or artist!) etc. I think we all need time to just go away for a bit, in our heads or wherever. This working all the time.... not for me. I need time to just be... for, as the old cliche goes, "we are not human doings, we are human beings." That said, once you've had some time to ponder go put the ideas into action. I need time to filter ideas I can act on.

From: ReneW -- Nov 23, 2012

Well now there is a phrase for my affliction. I always thought it was my "I can do it" attitude. For all of my life (seven decades) revolved around "I can do that". It has been my driving force for accomplishment and success in everything in my life. It is a form of passion I guess. Would not want it any other way.

From: Helen Howes -- Nov 23, 2012

In my spirit practice, we say "Work is Worship". If I can embody that I am utterly happy..
And to lalitha - Matisse made some of his most iconic work, late in life, from his bed.. His nurses disliked the mess of paint, so he made wonderful collages and papercuts..

From: Sherry Chanin -- Nov 23, 2012

I think a lot of people think of relaxation and leisure as boring, a time when there is nothing to do. I know sitting around watching television is about the worst thing I can think of as a mind-numbing activity and I desire to be busy, and that means being productive. Engaging in the creative experience is one of the most fulfilling activities one can do. Who wouldn't want to paint and create and express the joy of living, of moving, of being motivated to interact with life and life experiences and translate that into art? It's like thinking, I'd really like to lie on a beach, relax and do nothing, and then you try it, and you last five minutes because you can't stand the inactivity!

From: Melodie Herbert -- Nov 23, 2012

Mr. Genn, I love your newsletters, I love your humor. This entry is fantastic, with the various reasons people might paint, " a desire to get away from domestic duties or people in general..." etc. all so insightful and true, but too funny to actually admit, for many of us. I have taken up painting for 4 years, otherwise I have been a health care professional for 41 years, and I really enjoy the peace and solitute of painting. And getting away from people with problems What a relief. Your dialogue is always a breath of fresh air. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas so prolifically. With sincere gratitude--Melodie

From: Pat Merriman -- Nov 24, 2012

I find that for the first time in my life, the time in the studio is relaxation; a sort of meditation time creating..sometimes when I look at the creation the next day it is awful, but the process of creating is one where I loose all since of time, day to day hassles etc. I think for a type A personality(me) time in the studio creating is bliss. Now the details of framing, making labels, measuring, inventory are not creative and don't have that "feel" of timelessness. As a retired psychologist, I don't like the label of "relaxation-induced anxiety"

From: Georges Gault -- Nov 24, 2012

I'm not anxious about my work. I love it. "It's better to wear out than rust out." Thanks you for these brilliant letters and their equally insightful responses.

From: Nonny Kudelka -- Nov 24, 2012

o Robert (Bobby, if i may)..... i was smiling broadly, thrillllled with your list of "hobbies", then my eyes immediately fillled with tears!! did she realllly say that to you? o, I'm so sorry..... I'm going to have to go to the studio and contemplate this further ..... (yet another reason.... a place to consider the meaning of life, away from all distractions....)

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland -- Dec 02, 2012

Sadly, there are far too many Miss Ayliffs in the school-teaching profession, doing the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do, killing a desire to learn, instead of inspiring and encouraging children.

Probably all of us have experience of teachers who made us hate certain school subjects. Plus those who chose to ignore special skills, simply because they weren't part of the curriculum.

What damage she must have done to the rest of the class, in effect telling them that keeping busy learning new things was dull.
Thank goodness you didn't succumb, though it is telling that what she said has stayed with you all these years.




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