I'm a guy. Really, I'm a guy but I've grown to like Valentines Day.
I am sure I don't like the commercialization of it and don't like feeling obliged to do anything. But I've grown to understand or accept Valentine's Day in a different light.
So what is Valentines Day anyway?
Is Valentine's Day just a "Hallmark Holiday"? One of those holidays designed to sell cards, candy and jewelry?
Is it a just a day men run around like little flower bearing cupids with their heads cut off seemingly trying to stay out of trouble for yet another year?
Is it a day for boosting restaurant bookings?
Is it a day for helping kids with "Be My Valentine" cards?
Is it a day for remembering Chicago Gangsters?
Is it Christian or is it Pagan?
None of those things really float the old steam barge I've become.
When somethings doesn't suit me, I reinvent it to make it's more compatible with my way of seeing things. It's a cool trick cause you can do it right between your ears.
So what is it?
For me - it's none of those things I bubbled up to the top of this post.
For me - It's a day I remember friends. It's a day that I can remember and renew relationships (my other half urges - "not THOSE kind of relationships").
For me - its a birthday. One of my very best friends from childhood was born on February 14th. When Valentines day comes along I think of him. Okay - I think of him way more than once a year. Happy Birthday Rick.
For me - I like to remember my friends and how lucky I am to actually have them. (friends that is)
I have come to realize that most people like to know they're loved. Your friends are your fans, your tribe, your people. They are the group you can count on in a jam.
Not everybody is going to be your friend but everyone is a potential friend.
Valentine's Day, in the past, has had a bad reputation as a BS holiday but I would like to turn it around and think of it in a bit of a different way. I would like to think of my friends.
That's why, today, to my friends and my potential friends, I wish you all a Happy Valentines Day and you should know that I am thinking about you.
I like to think different.
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I wish you Friendship, Love & Happiness
Did you know that you can train yourself to be at peace? Honestly, really you can. I've found that painting gives me peace and I'll tell you why.
No matter who you are, I'm know you could use a bit more peace in your life. So many traumatic things are going on in the world today. It's hard to escape the hubbub.
I do the best I can by watching minimal news and I try to make my little corner of the world as peaceful as possible.
But avoidance is not a total solution. The horrible truth is you can't avoid the hair pulling, mind numbing rancor altogether.
Challenges come along in life. The world just likes to poke you all the time.
That's a stone cold fact.
In this context I'm thinking of peace as equanimity (mental calmness, composure, and even temper) and not the opposite of war.
Equanimity is one of the The Four Sublime States in Buddhism.
The Four Sublime States are:
I just think that equanimity is a great concept and a cool word. Once you learn it you'll have trouble getting it out of your mind.
My brain is so often like a Super Ball bouncing off the walls. Do you remember Super Balls? They were really really bouncy.
When I let my mind run amok the result is not good.
What are the symptoms of my uneasy mind?
The question becomes how do I bridle the beast in the dusty attic between my ears?
You can train your mind to be peaceful
Did you know you can train your mind just like you can train a seal or a dog?
There's lots of information out there on that inter-web thingy.
It's like playing golf or it's like playing the guitar or it's like painting. You have to train yourself to get better. The more you train the better you get.
By the way - Those are three of the things that work really well for me. Those three things bring me peace and make me centered.
Why you ask?
Believe it or not those things have some of the similar attributes.
You have to engage extreme mental concentration and physical coordination at the same time. To get in what is called a flow state you have to quiet your mind and engage your body.
If you want to read more on "Flow " state try looking up Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced: me - high - cheek - sent - me - hi). He's the guy that coined the term Flow with respect to peak performance.
At first it's pretty hard work but it gets easier over time. You learn how to quiet the mind. You learn how to coordinate the body. You learn how to get into the extreme present to maximize your performance.
I do, in fact, know that those things work for me. They keep me centered when all around me is falling apart.
Art works the very same way for me.
When I'm painting I am totally involved in the process. It allows me to be centered and helps me train my mind to be peaceful. It's almost automatic when I pick up a brush.
I want to make world a better more peaceful place to live but I don't have control over the the whole world so I'll do my best to make my little piece of the world as peaceful as possible.
Life is so much more agreeable when you have peace in your life.
What works for you?
Where do you find peace?
Comment below and let me know where your peace comes from. I'd love to know.
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I hope I hear from you.
I wish you Peace.
I've got a little secret...
After clearing the cobwebs from my eyes this morning, I started thinking about what I might write this week
I thought of a secret I've had tucked away.
This vexing secret has had safe harbor in my mind for years. It's keenly tucked away in the nether-reaches of my gray matter.
When it does come up in a conversation, I toss it off as if it were a joke or some pesky piece of fluff that's easily brushed off my collar.
It's always been a dream of mine.
I can't really deny it.
It's a bit humbling.
I'm really self conscious about it.
Okay - it's not such a big a secret - I think I'll tell anyone who will listen. I getting older now so I've probably told the same people more than once.
This is my secret:
I want to use art work to put food on my table.
Somehow, I let that little artist dream live in my head for years without escaping. I'm a very good jailor or maybe it's those pit bulls the live in my brain. Nevertheless, I'd draw here and paint there but wouldn't step out of my comfort zone.
I wouldn't show my work. Because, well, I was scared. I didn't want people to tell me I was horrible. What if it didn't work.
Though I do spend a lot of time drawing and painting, I can say, with fairly good authority, if I tried to survive solely on the sales of my artwork today, I might have some problems maintaining a viable heartbeat. My brain would have to develop send excuses to my stomach explaining the lack of sustenance. Given my art sales record, it would be really hard to put food on the table at this point.
A guy called Bill Earle once said,
"If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be you downfall."
Of course, Charles Dickens nailed it too when he said:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds]
nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income
twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six,
result misery." - Wilkins Micawber - David Copperfield
I do sell the occasional painting or drawing and I am really grateful for that. You know who you are... ;-)
I just want to get that darn dream out of my head and give it a solid place in the physical world.
So, I'll be studying up and working on learning the business of art. It's not enough to just be good at making pretty things. You have to know who your customers are, make sales and market your stuff. I'm going to work on those.
If you have any suggestions let me know.
I'll let you know what I learn too. Cause - I know you're interested. ;-)
Is there a a secret you want to sneak out past behind those bull dogs in your mind?
Do you want o write a book, create a business, run a marathon or paint a masterpiece?
I'd love to know what your dream is.
In the mean time I'll continue to create new stuff (cause that's what I do) - this one started in my sketch book. Then I translated it to a digital drawing and colored it in.
Here's the process:
Wish me luck!
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If you like the stuff I do you can recommend it to others.
If you like what I make let me know.
This is my very first oil painting. Yup, my very first oil painting ever.
I painted this in 2012.
I was sitting out on the porch and night after night the sunsets were stunning. I couldn't help it, I was and am in awe of the colors lighting up the sky. I still get a bit choked up at a sunrise or a sunset. I guess I'm a big softie.
Lots of mornings, on the island, I would get up before dawn to go for a walk just to see the sunrise. I love to see the sun as it comes up over the distant blue horizon. I also love to catch the sun as it goes down.
This painting is from a sunset photo I took in St Thomas. We first moved down there in 2012.
So why did I wait until I was 54 years old to get up the nerve to try an oil painting. Well, I could probably fill a book with reasons.
It just boils down to - Getting started is so very hard.
Once you're in the groove, you've got the habit and it's not as tough but I've found it's way to easy to put things off.
Why do we put things off?
Why is it so hard to get started?
Maybe you don't get started because of fear or timidity or time. It could be you lack gumption because you lack money or lack talent or lack vision.
Yeah - I've used those too.
You could use any number of excuses to rationalize. I think I keep a handful of excuses in my back pocket. I try not to take them out any more though - they're habit forming and they'll kill you.
What's more important to me is the solution,
What's more important is doing stuff.
If you make excuses other things will take priority.
Right now, I think posting this blog regularly is important for me.
Why is it important? I want to get better at writing and painting and drawing. I use this practice to make sure I get the work done. I use it to make sure I don't slack off.
I'm making myself accountable to the world by promising to write something every week. I'm convinced you only get better by sharing your work. So I'm sharing.
You've got to be a bit brave.
This whole thing is an exercise in growth and getting better.
Believe me, I'd rather hide. I'd much rather do this whole drawing thing in private.
But, you see, in private I'll lie to myself. I'm good at at making excuses and lying to myself. I've had lot's of practice.
It is about me in a way but by sharing it can be about you too.
Maybe somebody who reads this will get motivated to start playing the guitar or painting or writing or it just might help somebody else find out what they're all about.
Because we're all the same you and me.
You see, it's about me, but it's about you too.
It, for me, is all about sharing and trying to be a better human.
So - here's to being a better human! Happy sunsets to you.
Exploring new places is a wonderful thing. I totally enjoy it when I get the chance.
It's not so much the travel I enjoy. Travel, in and of itself, can be a red hot steaming, miserable, hair yanking face scrunching mess. This time it wasn't bad at all. The flights went off without a hitch although coming into Funchal had more than it's fair share of bumpity-thumpities.
One of the rituals I enjoy the least about flying is deplaning. It is that time when the flight and cabin crew stand at the door saying "having a nice day" or "enjoy your holiday". That's what they're saying but I have a feeling it's not what they really mean.
As we left the plane I thanked the captain for his safe landing. I said, "Thanks for the ride cowboy!". I'm glad he took it in stride. It even got a bit of a chuckle. We did get down safely. I suppose that's all that counts. I was truly grateful be on the ground without any injuries.
Madeira is a tiny(ish) island in the Atlantic 425 miles off the coast of Morocco. It's apparently a favorite holiday spot for Europeans. The island had over one million visitors last year. We heard several European languages in addition to Portuguese (Madeira is a territory of Portugal). We heard German, French, Norwegian and Russian spoken there. (Oh yeah - we heard English too)
The people we met were very friendly and helpful.
Our holiday was filled with mountain walks some even above the clouds, a steep and swingy cable car ride, pebbly beach walks and strolls along a beautifully maintained promenade by the sea.
In downtown Funchal, there is a street called Rua de Santa Maria not far from the big cruise ship harbor. The doors on this street have been given over to artists. The art work ranges from the beautifully skilled and well thought out to the not so beautiful. I can say truthfully that it was all very interesting and increased the vibrancy and good feeling of the old town area.
A local waiter told me the door painting began as the result of a flood some time in the past and the doors occasionally get painted over with new art. Kinda makes you want to come back and see what's new occasionally. I don't remember the whole story. I suppose I didn't pay enough attention.
Apparently I did have the presence of mind to snap a bunch of photos as I gawked like everybody else walking down the street. You just can't help it. At least I can't help it. I loved the feel of street art on Rua de Santa Maria .
For me, it was one of the highlights of my trip. Thats where little poster of the painted doors of Funchal was born. There are over 200 doors painted. I only captured some of what was there. The diversity of the art was heartwarming.
It's now the screensaver on my phone.
What do I know? Well - I know what I like - and I liked this.
BTW - you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.
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Until then, please do your best to enjoy life.
Last year, as far as years go, was pretty good. There were some hiccups along the way but I think, in general, the year went very positive.
A lot happened in 2017. Dad moved into a senior living facility and we moved to Phoenix to be closer. My plan is to be closer so I can take care of issues as they happen.
We're still trying to get our stuff from St Thomas. That might take a while.
The hurricane has kept us away from the island. Our plans for spending time there are up in the air.
A lot is happening in Phoenix and it's keeping me occupied.
In February last year I started writing this blog and I started creating drawings on my iPad. That has really pleased me. The encouragement I get is amazing.
I am 10 pounds lighter than I was last year at this time. I have been going to the gym regularly since October. I enjoy that and I feel much better for doing it. I hope to drop a ton or two this year.
Art marketing is a tough nut to crack. I'll continue to create digital as well as physical artworks.
I want to learn how to generate an income from my work. There are bunches of options and there is so much that I don't understand. It might help to try different things and see how they work.
The business of selling and making a living with art is a tricky on. I hope to tell you what works for me and what doesn't. Everybody is different and I hope to learn from people who know what they're doing. (I don't know who that is though)
Right now I'm taking some time to myself and let my hair down a little bit.
I hope you make the new year your best year yet.
I'm going to give it my best shot.
If you're into Punk Rock you may remember an album called, "Year of the Iguana". The album was made by Iggy and The Stooges.
Some of you may remember the group. I called my son up to find out if he knew about the album and he told me that he actually went to see Iggy Pop on his Las Vegas honeymoon.
What a hoot!
I just happened to draw an Iguana. He's rather a colorful beast with dreadlocks and a party hat. Cause that's what you do when you're an Iguana. He's a rockin' island iguana.
I feel like I know this guy. He's a little rough round the edges but really wants to be smooth and have style.
I'm declaring 2018 the Year of the Iguana. I hope we all get to put our party hats on and feel real loose like a long necked goose. Oh baby, that's what I like.
As I'm apt to do sometimes, at this time of year, I think about time gone by; what's happened and what has yet to happen. I've been a lucky guy all my life. I don't know how it happens but somehow it does. It really does.
I think of it like the stock market.
My life has been a "Random Walk".
"The random walk hypothesis is a financial theory stating that stock market prices evolve according to a random walk (so price changes are random) and thus cannot be predicted."
Like the stock market my life has been a "random walk" but it has been in an overwhelmingly positive direction.
So I take it all, the good and the challenging, and make of it what I can. Which is really all anybody can do.
Celebrate the opening of the Year of the Iguana with me and make it one full of wonderfulness and joy!
Yesterday told me to learn.
Today tells me to yearn.
Tomorrow never comes.
Yesterday is only lingering vapor.
It's the breeze that built today.
Today’s big plans are only silent dreams,
Only a specter of what tomorrow might be.
Tomorrow will be the same as today
Unless you’re willing to take a chance.
Before today becomes your yesterday
Do something positive and wise.
Do something you can be proud of.
Learn yesterday's lessons
What of tomorrow?
Tomorrow will never be.
I've found it's impossible to know where an idea will come from or what it will be. I'm amazed at what pops into my head.
There are so many projects running around in my head. I'm sure they won't all get done. I seem to complete one thing another two sneak their way in to my grey matter.
But those ideas keep showing up all the time. Do I really want to do them all? Some of my ideas are pretty horrible.
Who knows where the ideas come from?
Well the shadow may know but I haven't a clue.
All of those things are probably true.
Most of the time though, ideas come to me when I'm trying to think of them but just as often they come to me when I'm not paying attention. I'm always trying to solve problems and my mind is always looking for solutions.
I've started to list my ideas out every day so I don't lose them. When I come back to them days, weeks, months later some of them stand out like real losers even though I thought they were brilliant when I wrote them down. I suppose they're not all worth pursuing.
Oh - Animal Crackers!
Life is a strange old bird.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"
Willy "The Wild Man" Shakespeare
So I guess what I'm saying is - at least write down your thoughts and keep the ideas coming. You aren't going to be able to do them all but at least if they're written down you can see which ones are no good and which ones still have potential down the line. Less wasted time.
While ideas and studying and education are important and learning needs to be lifelong, there's no substitute for putting on your waders, hitching your braces, rolling up your sleeves and getting down to business.
I spent years thinking about painting and drawing and writing and making stuff but it was all happening in my head. It wasn't until I picked up my hammer that I saw what I needed to do.
Nothing every gets done in your mind though.
It's in the doing that the job gets done.
I'd better go pick up my tools and get to work.
Christmas is sneaking up on me yet again. It's like Elmer Fudd stalking Bugs Bunny. Waskelly Wabbit!
I don't often send Christmas cards. I want to but I never seem to get it done. Then it gets too late. Then I feel like a total failure.
Please don't tell anybody. Let's just keep it our secret.
I envy people who have the discipline to send out Christmas cards. Part of my problem is I don't have a very good or up-to-date address list. For Christmas cards you need addresses. Okay - I'll use that excuse this year. (again)
Now, look at me, Christmas has tip-toed in yet again. It's really too late to post anything. But it's not too late to let you know that I appreciate knowing you. I appreciate hearing about your ups and downs and life's little miracles.
Please consider this my Christmas card to you. I am thinking about you. I'm making plans, as I always do, to be more successful next year.
So I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with tinsel and trees and garland and lights and baubles and turkey and potatoes and ... and ... and ...
Whatever you celebrate, and I hope you do,
I hope it's a grand time and a big to do.
We don't have much time on this tiny rock
Put on your bestest festivist partyist frock.
Find time to be kind to folks on that day.
It makes this life worth living in every way.
Be kind to your neighbors, be kind to your friends
Be the kind of person you'd like to know in the end.
Celebrate the passing year with greatest of cheer
And remember we can all do much much better next year!
Becoming unique is so incredibly difficult.
When I started drawing I was just trying to be good enough. I would practice and practice to see how well I could represent something that was real. After that I started to try to draw things that suited my eye a bit more. I guess I'm still there trying.
There's lots of advice on the internet and a lot of it is completely useless.
I found a piece of advice that I think I can put into practice though. They said that you need to try as many styles as you can until you come up with something that is uniquely you. Something that is recognizable as your own.
You know a Picasso or a Matisse or a Van Gogh when you see it.
If you look at some of the early work from those pioneers, you can see that they experimented with different styles until they came up with something that was uniquely their own.
I guess a unique style grows out of all your blood, sweat and tears. You have to put in the work.
Some resonate with you. Some don't.
I have learned that I just have to keep on trying until something pops out.
I don't think I have it all figured out totally but I'll keep on trying until I do.
This little something popped out recently. I like it cause it makes me happy.