I was about to post this to Twitter after working on it off and on today. I kept adding thoughts to it, so it became sort of a suite, if not stanzas, which are most irregular for this form (rules, schmalz), but feel free to read each as an autonomous unit. I’ve written poetry since I was about nine (and started winning contests right away). So much of my poetry of late has been channeled into songs instead of pure poetry; it’s nice to get back into the practice – like a hug from an old friend. This is a little out of my normal style, but what can I say; I felt called. So here’s some haiku for you, brought on by a few current and converging phenomena:
You may have noticed I haven’t been updating my calendar lately. : /
I haven’t been doing much lately. It’s far time I explain myself, for those who wonder if I fell off the planet. It wasn’t that extreme. I was in a pile-up on the Interstate a couple months back. I’m still under medical visits and physical therapy. Among my injuries are numerous back and neck traumas including ribs that had been separated from my spine, whiplash, a jammed hip and a dislocated knee. I’m hobbling quite ungracefully. Now I’m also sick with Flu B during the coronavirus pandemic and in limbo for a permanent crown after a root canal. But I’ve been a songwriting and web design enhancing machine. Now if only I could get well enough to earn some coin to afford to file copyright for all of these new tunes…well, I do have irons in the fire. And I achingly miss performing, but am having an awful time getting up onto certain stages for lack of good access (not to mention venues rightfully closing for quarantine).
At least it’s temporary, and I’m always able to keep myself busy in the meantime. Mind you, all this followed two months of another nasty flu, which I got in late summer or early fall, before I had a chance to get a flu shot. I did get better from that. And I got the shot as soon as I safely could. But it can’t cover every strain… 🙁
So…now I have time…that’s a gift. Who knows; I may post more. Also, I have a lead on a couple of website commissions I have the ability to work on in this condition…that’s a gift too, but they haven’t started yet. The thing is, this is a golden opportunity to catch up on all those things you “never have time to do”. (For those are more mobile, who love to clean – and those who don’t – this quarantine is quite possibly the best, deepest spring-cleaning opportunity we’ve ever had. Using it?)
Several times in my life I’ve been laid up and secluded from normal life: mostly years ago, when I had cancer, when I had foot and ankle surgeries, numerous times I’ve had flu, sinusitis and/or bronchitis or pneumonia; additionally: Norovirus, even shingles. My Bible, favorite music, computer, ukulele and sketchbooks don’t let me down at such times. I’m a bona fide guru of productive down time.
Sometimes we knew I was going to have a surgery sufficiently ahead of time to allow us to prepare, as with my foot and ankle surgeries, and we set up command central directly at my bedside, with as much remote control (and grabber sticks) as possible:
Now, this post was at first being written addressing being nearly completely incapacitated and confined to bed, but these principles can be applied to less limiting situations, like stay-at-home orders during a pandemic. Read on.
Careful observers will see in this photo that not only do I have my (old) computer and printer but also a microwave, nuke-able salmon and rice, snacks, a sketchbook, colored pencils, a sharpener, various office supplies including a pen and paper and scissors, paper, a lap desk, language books, meds, napkins, plastic flatware, paper plates, fans for temperature control, the ubiquitous lamp and clock, speakers, cords, keyboard, rechargeable batteries and a charger, my camera, a trash can, wind-up toys to tease the kitties with…and you can’t even see the cooler and tissues and books we just put on the bed next to me during the day, or the flowers folks sent that Greg put around the room to cheer me up or the medical TENS unit or automated icer for my surgical sites the surgeon provided. It seems excessive to have a whole office and half kitchen by the bed, but it was quite necessary for the time involved, especially as we lived in a tri-level house and I couldn’t navigate the stairs to reach the kitchen let alone the office, studio or den. I didn’t even miss the TV though. There’s “never anything good on”. But I did have an arsenal of Brit-com DVDs to tickle my funny bone if need be. Nothing tragic or melodramatic allowed! And they say, laughter is the best medicine.
Of course, if you have no notice before an illness or a sudden severe injury, it’s hard to pull this off, once on the sick list. You’ll have to find a kind soul to help you. I happened to be lucky enough to have married one. 🙂
Wallowing in your misery will NOT help you get better faster. Doing something constructive at least makes the time bearable and distracts you from the pain. I went off the hard painkillers to common store Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen within 5 days – sometimes 2 – on any surgery I’ve had, because I knew people fighting addiction to them. I don’t care for pain any more than the next person, but pain is useful and built into you for a reason: it warns you when you’re about to hurt something by trying too much too soon, and you can’t tell if you’re feeling better if you’re drugged into oblivion! Doctors always ask you what pain level you’re at; how can you give an accurate answer to that while on painkillers? I also think it’s good to build your pain tolerance, because you never know when you’ll need some. You’re free to disagree but I’ve amazed people with my ability to withstand intense discomfort. (It’s the frustration, not the pain, that gets me; it’s a mental battle, and that’s why I attack it this way.) We’re only getting older (it beats the alternative)…we are guaranteed to face more challenges, yet still must think, function, and forge on!!
Hobbies and side hustles via the Internet are fantastic ways to keep your attitude up when your body is down. I’ve used times like that to study foreign languages, read through the Bible, write or learn new songs, design outfits, do some good old-fashioned foundational drawing practice (as opposed to studio painting), study how to build and improve websites, find new recipes, tour the world on Google Maps, do brain-training puzzles, catch up on news and business trends, clean out my email inboxes, and do small approved exercises that can help wherever needs improvement at the time. Sometimes I research whatever ailment or injury is vexing me to be in the know and have some sense of proactive control (or at least what not to do). Many times I’ll post videos on my Vimeo channel since I have time to edit and export (slow), or write in a blog on one of my sites–if I don’t have a client or two needing attention on their sites. Rarely I tweet…I can clearly write a novel of a blog post about being sick (usefully at least, but who wants graphic tweets about being sick?) There’s no limit to what you can busy yourself with. Sometimes I plan my next painting(s) or series. I’m also verrrry slowly working on a couple of books. …Often I cuddle a kitty or two. For example, our are Peekaboo and Yeti:
(Pictures reposted by permission of YetiTheCat.com–since it’s MY site.) Got that, cats? MINE. : P
Some folks will devour reading material; others will crochet; others will try their hand at poetry or felting or jewelry making; some will call old friends; some will tweak their abilities at macro-lens photography; heaven help them, some will get sucked into toxic social media…some will just watch TV. I never have a TV in the bedroom, but I have never regretted getting a laptop instead of a desktop. Mine’s on its third life (hard drive) and it’s worth its weight in gold to my mental productivity and self-education. For a change, my husband streamed a series or two from cable while he was recently sick, when he wasn’t (wisely) sleeping to aid his recuperation (most of the time; they said it was flu but we still suspect strep throat because of his symptoms and the fact that sometimes cultures give false negatives – we just learned that). Personally I don’t find shows or video games to be a good use of time from which I can derive later benefit, so I make stuff or study. It makes me feel better. And I’ve been taking supplements and have really improved my immune system the last few months…I even avoided that dreaded Flu B my husband fought for over 2 weeks. (Ha ha, it came back around to me a couple months later). He’s all better now. (Update: after 5 weeks/2 rounds of ineffective antibiotics, I’m finally feeling almost well! Apparently a virus all along.)
If you need rest, by all means, rest. One of the things many of us wish we had more of is sleep!!
Being bedridden or limited in activity is a real downer for a nature-hiking enthusiast (oh it’s winter anyway), but there are plenty of ways to keep your sanity in the interim, and you may reclaim or discover pastimes that will stick with you long after your recovery, because you’ve deepened your knowledge and expanded your horizons.
Science supports that keeping one’s mind nimble and learning new things is incredibly beneficial to the body, and vice versa. I have certain immune and arthritic issues that in some ways negate that claim, but I’m (ask anyone) not normal. Still, weight training and stretching are so helpful for my arthritis (plucking ukulele completely eradicated it from my hands – free lessons here), and getting out and active does help my immunity when I can get there. Part of my immunity issue is vitamin D deficiency, because after so many radiation treatments my oncologist told me that I’m not supposed to be in the sun…ever, for the rest of my life…and the protection required is nearly prohibitive, especially in hot weather. Conversely, my mom is an octogenarian and is very physically active for her age (or for twenty years younger for that matter) and is still sharp mentally and curious to learn more, always. Many studies show that physical and mental training actually support and complement each other. Don’t take my word for it. Look it up!
So if you’re normally sporty (or even if you’re not) – and down for the count, don’t cheat yourself by whining or wasting away while in convalescence. You can shorten your recovery time both literally and perceptively by being proactive in your physical therapy (or other doctor’s orders – I follow mine for best results…I hope), and by keeping your mind occupied along with whatever else in your body safely still works. (That doesn’t mean eat the place out of house and home, though; you may not be able to work it off just yet). But DO SOMETHING! Because…
You can still do great things!!!
Do well. Get well. Be well. Stay well.
♥ – Eilee
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.
I started drawing as soon as my dimpled little fist could grasp one of those big fat crayons. I’d been fascinated by the concept of art since I was two, when my mother explained, in simple terms, the idea of imagination and art looking like reality. I didn’t care how long it took…if someone else could do it, I wanted that magical power to create something from nothing and make people believe it. I wanted it more than anything–and it was not a passing fancy. Decades later, the fire hasn’t faded.
When my class hit second grade, we all had to take IQ tests. I scored within a couple points of genius and was placed in a “gifted” class the next year with other advanced students. We got extra projects to stimulate our nimble, hungry minds; we had an engaging teacher, and most of us were quite happy and productive. My artwork flourished, I had a diverse group of friends, and my life was very, very good.
Then my family had to move. My father’s job caused this occasionally, and it was always an upheaval. But in this particular timing, in the place we ended up, was to do nearly irreparable damage to my academic path. The new school district didn’t even have an accelerated program. I was placed in what would be my normal grade with no accommodation or interest in the level of study I had become accustomed to. My new teachers had no recourse provided them by the district; their classes were large, their syllabi were set and their hands proverbially tied. But I wasn’t privy to this fact.
I struggled in my new school, academically and socially. I was the “weird new kid”: hurting in the looks department, wearing outdated hand-me-downs and sporting a “funny accent” (Southern), and newly being forced into wearing thick brown ugly glasses. On top of that, I was presented with scholastic material I had mastered one to two years before. I found zero incentive to repeat studies with which I, by then, was bored. I made few friends, least of all my teacher, who (in my angry young eyes) bore almost as much blame for this torture as my parents. And my parents were absorbed with starting the new job, setting up the new household, getting acclimated to the town and its citizens, and dealing with my older siblings’ more rebellious growing pains to the disruption in their own lives as well. Lost in the shuffle, I felt like the invisible girl, and I naïvely began devising an outlandish plan to run away, convinced that no one would notice. Luckily, a sensible girl named Cheryl, in whom I had confided this boneheaded plan, talked me into waiting a while to see if things got better, pointing out that I had no money for a bus to California, and had no verified place to live if I could get there. She should have been in a “gifted” class! She had told me, that if I left…at least she’d notice. I had to admit, it was nice to hear this from somebody.
So, lacking any better plan, I stayed around, and went on strike and refused to do my homework. Rivers of notes were sent home from my fourth grade teacher, followed by visits to the principal’s office, parental lectures after PTA meetings, swats at school for repeated offenses with a thick oak board with holes drilled in it for better aerodynamics, and a fair number of swats at home with lesser tools of inspiration, yet none of this was provocative enough for me to mend my ways. All of this was for missing what I rightfully viewed as redundant homework assignments, mind you. Fifth grade came and my resentment festered, and my study habits grew more dismal; D’s and even occasional F’s became heavyweights on my report card, although I still got A’s in English and spelling because I actually liked them. At quarterly meetings, my fifth grade teacher spoke kindly of me to my parents, and he noted that I was still brilliant for my age, yet I wasn’t being challenged enough…. But he was simply fascinated by my early artistic prowess. He showed my folks the papers he had confiscated that I was doodling on, telling them how advanced I was, and he asked them on more than one occasion if he could keep some of the drawings to have as proof that he knew me “when” someday I would be a famous artist (so sorry to have disappointed him; he was a sweet old man). It’s very flattering, of course, but by this time my folks were not only tuned into the fact their littlest had a serious issue afoot, but they were also straining at any way to get through to me; I had shut them out along with everyone else and lived in a tormented fantasy world, trying to escape the ennui and frustration I felt toward the real one.
When you’re a kid you don’t necessarily understand that adults go where the work is and everything (and everyone) else kind of has to fall in line with that, no matter whether or not it’s ideal; meals have to come from somewhere. A kid just understands how he or she feels until something is explained, or better, demonstrated, to the end of changing that mindset with a convincing argument and fact. I still needed that presented to me in a way that I felt mattered. I held out stubbornly, and foolishly.
Changes at home continued and I still felt like a last priority. My social life was very limited by multiple factors beyond my control and I had a big chip on my shoulder. Moving had been hard on me, at (apparently) a key age. I had been very popular with many friends in my old town, where we had owned a nicer house in a neighborhood full of kids, where there were things to do and fun to be had, and I had enjoyed a bigger room, and now this still-new place I hated for more reasons than I could count. I liked my fifth grade teacher for his appreciation of what I appreciated, but it didn’t improve my grades much; I was still bitter and lacking any motivation, and frankly, my single-minded attitude stunk. I was beginning to fall behind, particularly in pre-algebra.
When I was in sixth grade, my father had an epiphany to appeal to me through the one thing he knew I cared about most: I loved to draw…compulsively, all the time, and on any paper product I could get my hands on. I had always wanted to be an artist, and by then I had told my folks plainly that I simply didn’t see any point in all these other classes that didn’t interest me, so I just wasn’t going to waste any more time or effort in them. This certainly did not sit well with them, yet no manner of wheedling, bribery, threatening, punishment, or gnashing of teeth was swaying my stubborn will.
Through his job, Dad had gotten acquainted with many of the area denizens, including the local art star, and he asked this man’s advice. The artist and muralist offered to talk to me for him. He even arranged to visit me at school, a visit I was very excited about – I felt like I was granted an appointment with a celebrity. It was a topic of curiosity for some of my classmates: “Why is he visiting you?” I just smiled.
When he sat me down to talk I was very nervous, and I wanted to learn all I could. I knew there was still so much more about art I needed to discover, and we were only to talk for about a half-hour…how could I squeeze the most out of this precious time? After introductions, I didn’t know what to say or how to start, so he took his turn first, to ease me in to asking questions later.
He worked around into relating to me how he would daydream in school, and admitted that at first he hadn’t found much interest in math, science, history, or even English (I still liked English class: a bit of a word geek, I actually enjoyed diagramming sentences). I listened intently. Then he said, “But after a while, I learned that I truly needed all those classes to make good art.” I was dumbfounded. How could all this stuff be relevant? All I wanted to do was draw; I didn’t need a slide rule or a dictionary for that. I started to smell a trick from my dad.
The artist continued. He pointed out that all the famous artists used mathematical principles (geometric and algebraic) as the basis for drawing things in linear perspective and in good proportion, so that things look right; he needed to understand fractions and decimals and figure circumferences, and plenty more. He even drew some things to demonstrate. He said science comes into play when mixing pigments and mediums, in chemistry glazes for ceramics, in studying biology and anatomy to draw beautiful birds and animals, and that ultimate Holy Grail for artists, the human form. Artists study, illustrate, and draw inspiration from literature. And artists throughout time recorded history either from their own pasts or actually as it unfolded; they worked jobs where they charted maps, relating to geography; they illuminated planets in astronomy books, and illustrated characters in yet more literature – they touched on every other subject in school.
It all was relevant! My mind shifted so suddenly that I nearly fell over.
He told me my drawings showed advance and promise; that he could tell by the complexity and focus of my few questions that I was a bright girl; he hated to think of me wasting my talent, potential, and obvious passion for my art. He was convinced I would be a brilliant artist if I applied myself. So he struck me a deal: if I brought my grades up in my other subjects, then he would give me a lesson on how to draw any category of thing I wanted to learn to draw…and then he asked me what that would be. I thought for only a few seconds before proclaiming, “Trees!” I so very much wanted my trees to be not the stiff, tortured things I created, but more realistic and believable, like the botanical illustrations in my mother’s bird books; I loved nature. So he agreed to teach me to draw trees if my grades improved.
It worked. I strived hard all through sixth grade to get back on track in all my classes. I had some hiccups but I brought all my grades up at least one letter grade, and several two and one three. I started communicating more with my folks, and soon proudly showed my report card to my Dad, and asked him about my pending art lesson. He followed up with that artist, who, sadly, had become too busy to keep his promise to me, for which I was bitterly disappointed…but…that didn’t stop me from learning how to draw trees! Now armed with biology lessons from my science book and studies from encyclopedias and botany books from the library, I became a photorealistic tree-drawing powerhouse on my determined own. I don’t think it was to spite him, as he likely wouldn’t have noticed me either way, being in our separate bubbles of society. I think it was just I was that passionate about trees. (Apparently I still am!) And I learned about the inconstancy of human nature and that we all make mistakes and disappoint people – but I also learned that we could still choose to move on anyway, and take accountability for our own respective paths in life.
Years passed, and I evolved far beyond just trees, and eventually beyond mere realism. Even without the initial tree lesson, that artist gave me something priceless: the gift of learning with intention. I finally noticed that my mother also modeled a love of learning, and my father was a self-taught professional as well. As I matured, I came to appreciate being better rounded, both as a thinker and as a creative. I learned to adapt to my new environment, and made more friends…and I learned that a lot of the barrier to that gain had been my own attitude. I learned that many distinct, seemingly separate things actually could be integrally related and interdependent. I realized that the payoff to effort might not be immediately apparent or accessible, but that compiled knowledge accumulates and bands together to make powerful structures on which you can build bigger and better ideas. I learned that taking a studious approach could render me more self-sufficient. I learned that I can develop many different facets to myself, and that in doing so, I would never be bored again. Indeed – I never am.
In junior and senior high, I made honor roll more often than not, and only really struggled once getting to advanced Algebra and Chemistry…my mind wasn’t yet to the point of very abstract thought (and that still showed in my ultrarealistic artwork, which I started showing in a gallery at 16, since I had already begun selling portraits at 14). My folks pushed me on these classes in the college bound track in high school, but they finally recognized I was truly besieged by material a bit too advanced for me just yet. Our state was plagued with math teachers who may have known math really well but did not have the communication skills to teach it to students who struggled with it like me. My high school geometry teacher did pretty well, though, and it helped that it was a more concrete category of math because that was how my mind operated then.
I had to take algebra three times in college to pass it, and the third time, I got my first really good math teacher ever, and realized it wasn’t so much my fault as the system was failing me up to that point: my university at that time had the highest math failure rate in the state; however, with this specific professor’s patience and her devoted tutoring, I made 96% on the comprehensive final – including trigonometry and logarithms. At the university I still had some difficulty focusing on some studies due to my newfound freedom, but I grew exponentially in my depth and breadth of artistic skills. I took a myriad of classes including sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, various painting classes, and lots of art history; I learned new media and techniques; and I even made a tentative breakthrough to abstraction for the first time: something I struggled with for years.
My years at the art institute were even more intense, allowing me to apply my artistic abilities, problem solving prowess and creative imagination in new ways in the industrial design program. I learned to manipulate new media and utilize new materials and processes. Woodworking, welding, plastic production, sand casting and the design process and projects in all of those and more made me a much more well rounded artist, and everything involved math, science, history, literature, and/or more, as well as building on foundations I already had. It was exciting and my mind grew both hungrier and far more productive. I was designing things spontaneously in my sleep, and began keeping a sketch journal next to my bed to record lucid ideas to someday bring to fruition.
Nowadays I am a glutton for knowledge; I want to know what makes everything tick. I earned two college degrees. While getting my K-12 art teaching degree, I discovered that in children, artistic giftedness routinely walks hand in hand with academic giftedness, so if you’re a parent reading this and my story rings familiar in your own progeny, look into testing your own kid(s) and arrange for them to get the mental stimulation they need, even from a tutor or mentor if necessary.
I want to point out that a child needn’t have a high IQ to be a good student: passion is nearly everything. Zig Ziglar, an American author, salesman and motivational speaker of many inspirational quotes, rightly said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” I’m a living case study. So-called “natural” talent is worthless and fruitless without concentrated effort. The unmotivated will be outpaced by the motivated. Passion can overcome any lack of ability, and it drives gaining any nuts-and-bolts skills one requires in one’s quest.
Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” I say they both work in concert; he himself proved that. I continued studying on my own, outside of school, ever since my last graduation, and if I ever won the lottery I’d go to “school” the rest of my life – at least intermittently; I am at my creative and intellectual best while in the stimulation of some sort of an academic environment, even if self-created. I’ve taught myself foreign languages, web design, auto repair, musical instruments, tons of artistic techniques and mediums, and most importantly, I taught myself to always be learning and that there’s nothing I can’t study; if I don’t know something, I know how to find out. I can enrich my understanding of the world through diverse sources, and I can always find ways to improve myself: not just as an artist but also as a human being in society, and my passion can spread far, far beyond its own selfish little island.
That is a priceless lesson, and one that has a huge return on investment.
It’s important for artists to constantly be gaining knowledge in many areas: devouring books, news of new things in science, understanding, human psychology, staying up to date in politics, knowing milestone literary works, being informed on historical foundations, learning new techniques and media, and being in touch with pop culture. Professional artists may be some of the smartest people you will meet; they are natural tinkerers who want to know how everything works and what makes people tick. Good art has a message and competent artists strive to know what they’re talking about, to extend the conversation to society at large.
No matter who said it or exactly word-for-word how, (and there are some debates and misunderstandings), but there is truth to the quote that says, “Beware of artists; they mix with all levels of society and are therefore most dangerous.” People in power are often intimidated by anyone who is well informed; they hold those in power accountable and expose corruption, as well as those who help to whistle blow or educate others to do the same. It’s important work.
This post is the introduction and inspiration for my new blog series, “the well rounded artist”. Look for more entries in the future that tie art to other subjects in school, and in life.
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.
My hubby and I went on a road trip toward Glendo State Park in Wyoming for the great 2017 eclipse. We didn’t make it into the park, deciding upon seeing the insane line that we’d do better pulling off-road after turning back south on I-25. We really did do better, and the photos support that. *
I was glad not to be in a crushing crowd with too many bodies and not enough bathrooms. I was happy to have space and time to enjoy the interval leading up to the event, strumming on my ukulele and sipping on an icy beverage. We sat under the shade of the VW’s hatchback and taped halves of an extra pair of eclipse glasses to our camera lenses to protect our sensors from getting fried.
I had no illusions that there was any life-changing impact from this phenomenon or pointless pagan rituals to follow. I was unencumbered by expectations of anything other than beauty.
I was not disappointed. Even the sunrise on the way to our destination had a special sense of anticipation to it.
Indeed, it was stunning. The last time I witnessed an eclipse, it was through a hole in a box we each made in grade school. I only recall it being rather anticlimactic. OooOOOoooh, a shadow. Whoopity-jinkies.
This time, eclipse glasses gave me a new freedom to watch the progress in a position I was used to viewing normal things: with light and space. The news that I could slip off the glasses during totality (in areas where it actually occurred) was exciting, and I rushed to rip protective lenses off everything to get photos that way once we reached it. We had about two minutes plus, to fiddle around with things, and in my haste, I never even tried taking a picture with the tablet or the phone, preferring to stick to my camera with the zoom engaged. I even got some great pictures using the digital zoom – without a tripod (my hubby used it with my other camera) – I had alternately set up on the roof of his car, braced only on the rain guard over the sunroof.
As if this weren’t spectacular enough for two photographers, there was the added treat of the way the atmosphere around us changed during totality – the shimmering silvery purple cast that settled all around us in an otherworldly filter between eye and world – every tree, flower, and person was a different color than I had ever seen and it cast a magical aura upon all denizens of the path. A colorful post-sunset twilight glowed on the horizon 360 degrees around us, as we never can witness otherwise. The sky didn’t blacken, but waxed to a starry indigo, showcasing planets and stars in a way few photos can convey – the headliners of the day aren’t divas; they share the limelight.
Spectacles like this only emphasize to me how truly special God considers us to be. There is no way for me to deny the concept of Intelligent Design if I really think about all of the billions of miracles that happen every day – from the intricate interworking of the ecosystem and climate balance to the perfection of how the moon just “fits” perfectly in proportion to the sun many millions of miles away to give us such a show with just enough corona and time to enjoy it. It serves no practical purpose – it’s just a cast shadow when you get down to it – it doesn’t accomplish any useful task in the sight of the universe – except to fill a wee creature with enough mind to consider it with wonder.
Sunsets didn’t have to be beautiful, nor kittens cute, nor birdsong inspiring – but they are – because He cared enough to make it so, and to design us to appreciate it. Berries didn’t have to be delicious, nor roses so aromatic, nor moss so soft, but for us to enjoy. Yes, there are other critters that expend their senses on these things, but they would anyway even if they were strictly utilitarian, as they do other things, and further, they indulge in some things that to us are outright repulsive.
One may argue that some things don’t have such pleasant smells, flavors or tactile properties…but to that I point out that many of those things are that way for a different reason, such as to deter us from things that have spoiled, are poisonous, or may in other ways cause us harm: a concerned warning.
Our earth revolves and orbits within amazingly narrow parameters that happen to sustain life. Other celestial bodies’ gravitational forces are just such that we are not obliterated. Flowers open at just the right time with just the right smell for just the right species to come along and pollenate in just the right geographical area. Trees get just enough light and water to photosynthesize just enough oxygen to sustain animal and human life on the planet, balanced with certain atmospheric requirements and minerals in the soil turned over by worms and the waste of other animals and many other factors put in place by our Creator.
How absurd it is to me that anyone could possibly believe that all of this could coincide on a purely random basis. That takes far more of a stretch of faith than believing in God! One could believe in a Big Bang…but Who made the Big Bang? He Who designed each stunning eclipse.
Specified complexity** is a marker of design by an intelligent source – it is sufficiently, significantly complex enough that it is highly improbably to occur at random, and specific enough to have to have been created for a given purpose. Combine millions of instances of this in the known universe, and it is impossible for all of them to have occurred by chance.
Science, and faith in God, are not mutually exclusive. God created science; He created math; He created physics and created – or allowed to perpetuate following His initial creation – all that we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, know about, and still have yet to know. The scientific community has increasingly discredited Darwinism, and many scientists speak in terms of intelligent design – and of faith. They can’t escape it. Yet lesser minds persist in resisting.
Some people think it’s insane to believe the world was made in six days (God rested on the seventh, remember?) or that the earth is only so many years old rather than what carbon dating or fossils say. I say: we have been wrong many times before. What makes this any different? We were convinced that we were right before, and our arrogance soon was exposed. Our technology now could just as easily be inaccurate. And we’re also ignoring the obvious: any Being, Who is capable of creating the UNIVERSE and of creating MAN and WOMAN in an already mature state, is also capable of creating other things in advanced states of evolution and development too – including rocks and fossils and species. I wrestled with this myself, and as I did, I reasoned: Really, you aren’t going to try to limit the limitless, are you? That’s just your inadequate mind trying to make God as small as your limited imagination. He’s not subject to your shortsightedness; He made you! I can just see Him planting little bits of “evidence” to keep us busy for a while, perhaps to test our faith. If you think God doesn’t have a sense of humor, take another look at the duck-billed platypus. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
Timothy Keller is one of my favorite authors, and is very adept at pointing out bulletproof logical arguments for the faith. In his book The Reason for God***, he relates a quip and draws a brilliant analogy that (one hopes) resets a closed, limited mind to one that confronts the fact that we don’t know it all. I lent my copy to someone, so I will have to paraphrase it. A Russian cosmonaut (atheist) returned from space and proclaimed tersely that he “didn’t see God” while up there. Keller, always on point, countered that the cosmonaut’s assertion that this was any kind of “proof” of the nonexistence of God was akin to Hamlet going up to his attic and claiming he didn’t see Shakespeare. The point being: the character (Hamlet) could never have any idea of the existence of the author (Shakespeare) except what Shakespeare chose to write into his character’s consciousness. Hamlet’s obliviousness to his creator’s existence bears exactly zero relationship to the very real fact of Shakespeare existing. Shakespeare would exist regardless of whether or not he ever wrote himself into the play or into the mind of Hamlet. Likewise, our attempted denial of God, based on our own ignorance, cannot negate His existence. The creation is never greater than the creator. The creation only exists on the whim and graciousness of the creator. The creation had best get his mind right and his facts straight.
My paintings aren’t greater than I am. They would not exist were it not for me. They aren’t even equal to me. They can’t do what I do. I make them; I can change them; assign them; destroy them. They portray things because I design them that way. But my art analogy doesn’t have legs…I can make mistakes. I can make a dud painting, flat out. It’s not the painting that made itself go wrong.
God makes mankind in His own image – but gives man free will. Man chooses wrong; man screws up. Man sins against himself and against others. Sometimes he doesn’t even mean to. Man is imperfect. But God is perfect, and doesn’t make mistakes. We make them. Sometimes that mistake is that we make a “god” out of ourselves, and deny Him. But that has no bearing on His existence.
God is evident in the instinctual physiological response of mothers to the sound of crying offspring.
God is evident in the intricate function of a human eye.
God is evident in the very DNA to which we both adhere and occasionally transcend via intent. ****
None of this is the result of random chance. It is too complex and too specifically pertinent to the successful function and survival of a certain species in a particular environment. Evolution does not explain the origin of any development to this stage. Someone designed that from which it evolved. And it is more than possible that the path of evolution itself is designed and directed by that Being.
And Someone designed our moon to be just the right size to just block most of the sun when viewed from our Earth, and the moon’s orbit within the same plane as Earth orbits the sun so its shadow will intersect our sight (remember, Neptune’s moon Triton’s orbit is not parallel to the same plane – so our own moon’s orbit didn’t have to be either). He made everything line up in such a way that when we are perfectly lined up with it, that we can stare at the spectacle for two minutes straight without our sensitive eyes going blind, and marvel at a rare, unique beauty. Talk all you want to about how colors are caused by bending of light waves and elements in the atmosphere – He created all of that! And He designed us to respond to it with fear, wonder, joy, curiosity and a desire to know more. What a priceless gift.
On the way home, in the limitation of a simple pencil, I tried to describe the abstract beauty of the eclipse in my own God-given manner.
My self-expression may have evolved of its own nature and my intent, but the underlying passion fueling my art was born as my received gift from Him. And to Him I am ever grateful.
♥ – Eilee
End notes/asterisked references in this post:
* I rarely show my photography, but thought this a rather special occasion. I have plenty more, and far higher-resolution prints than the images you see here (with more discreetly placed watermarks) are available to order.
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.
Among the many stereotypes that are tritely painted on artists as a whole with a broad brush, one I cannot wholly disagree with is quirkiness. That may be because I am known as quirky, but also, almost everyone I know – artist or not – is quirky in one wonderful way or another, so I know I am in good company!
One of my eccentricities came out in bold form lately and I just had to share it, to inspire folks to step out of the ordinary for a while – just for the fun of it.
Like many creatives, I doodle. A lot. Sometimes, I get an utterly irrepressible compulsion to doodle and I cannot rest until the itch is scratched. Sometimes the appeasement feels so darn good I keep scratching away until the doodle becomes a finished drawing. This is not always convenient, like when we are traveling and I have no pencil or paper…but I manage to make do with what’s on hand.
My hubby and I went on a long overdue jaunt up into the mountains a couple weekends back, and we both have a soft spot for certain sites around the area, including tasty Beau Jo’s Pizza in Idaho Springs, Colorado. We had even dropped in there for mountain pie after we got married, as it was already a favorite haunt whilst dating as well. I’ve been going there many, many years, and remember the days they used to invite all their visitors to draw on napkins, and then they would display them around the restaurant. Folks would eagerly explore all the galleries that resulted in the grand old building; it gave you a feeling of belonging, inclusion and community. Sadly, they don’t do that anymore; they ran out of room years back. But that didn’t stop me from paying homage to tradition in an appropriate style, with a rendering of something we aim to go see every time we visit, and I got to bring it home too:
Yes, it’s a Bic. I absolutely love it. This shows I’m still connected to my photorealistic roots, but rest assured, my Neo-Pixellism is still in full swing.
This place is very special to us; special things happened here…happy special memories. Times laughing, crying, times I’ve prayed for help, for peace – and in thanks for grace and blessings – then I shared this spot with my sweetie and later we said our vows very near here. And the rest, as they say, is history. 🙂
More updates when my next batch of art is suitably “scrumptious” as pie!
(A thousand thanks Beau Jo’s!)
All content on this site © 2013-2018/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved, except where otherwise noted.
Last night was First Friday Art Walk in, among other areas, the Santa Fe Arts District in Denver, where I am every month, connecting with the people who come to the gallery where I have shown my work for some five years. I meet a lot of really nice and fascinating folks every First Friday, and I strike up conversations pretty readily anymore. I find that strangers and I inevitably find some interesting connection – geographic history, life experience – something – as I explain inspiration behind my paintings when they inquire. Yesterday also happened to be what would have been my father’s 85th birthday, and he was heavy on my mind. Here in a couple weeks, it’ll be four years since he died in our arms from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Daddy was with me last night; he crept into my conversation with a veteran, mentioned in a context of my father embracing regulation and integrity in his business dealings as well as order in his home life, because Dad had been a Green Beret. He appeared as a brave fighter in another conversation I had with a nurse over his cancer when she was asking about a painting I’d done that hinted that I too am a survivor. And Dad popped up again when I was talking to a nice man named Howard, telling him how full of verve and autonomous my octogenarian mother is, and how stubborn I am, and how Daddy used to call each of us “in-de-damn-pendent”. Howard, a writer, really liked that word; so did Dad. It suited Mom and myself in Dad’s eyes, because he always wanted to help us, and we were so confoundedly self-sufficient it frustrated him to no end. It was a term always laced with underlying respect. He may have been extra protective of me since they had me so late in life, but regardless, I think any loving man with a driven wife or a headstrong child could relate to Pop’s proud, conflicted exasperation.
Dad grew up during the Great Depression in a family that was already floundering financially. Into the beginning of and through World War II, he worked sometimes as many as three jobs as a kid, to help contribute to the family’s survival: bicycle repair tech, newspaper deliverer, and soda jerk. He worked like this often to the detriment of his studies. I think it was early on that he vowed that his children wouldn’t struggle that way, and when that season of life came to pass, like many well-meaning parents are known to do, sometimes he overcompensated.
Of course, in my more naive days, I was willing to take assistance as he gave it, without much thought to it…but I started working in my teens and did realize what effort money entailed. I also had a close friend who lost her father in her mid-teens…and I became acutely aware that my own parents wouldn’t be there forever, and perhaps I should figure out how to stand on my own two feet – and I knew I wouldn’t get good at it overnight.
I had worked for almost a year as a proofreader and typesetter for multiple publications at my local newspaper during my senior year of high school. With that, I funded most of the purchase of a little used 1980 Honda Accord LX hatchback that became my first car. Dad insisted on helping me with the scant rest of the balance – the whole price was a whopping total of $2800. Looking back, I can’t remember how many times someone had to tow that vehicle. Sea-foam green with squeaky brakes, I named it “Cricket” (because we always name our cars in our family). It got me around Springfield when I went to college, despite what seemed like everything on it getting fixed twice: the brakes, the air, the heat, the radiator…but it was my first taste of freedom, and I was terribly sentimental about the thing.
One weekend I came home to visit from college, and saw a brand-new Camaro IROC-Z in the front lawn. For some years I had become accustomed to strange vehicles appearing there and vanishing, ghostlike, as Dad had to repossess cars from time to time for the bank. Parking downtown was limited, so sometimes he would store repos at our place till they sold, or payments were brought back current by their owners; he tried to work with them. Considering how the road we lived on was regularly utilized as a drag strip by local youths, it wasn’t a bad marketing move. Now, a Camaro in the late 80’s lacked the seductive, edgy lines it had in the 70’s – but it was still a coveted car in some circles. It was white and sleek and just plain looked fast, even just sitting there on the gravel next to the garage. I could hear it growling, revving and purring at me, “Come on; let’s scrrream across the countryside together, my darrrling.” Ooh, an American car with a strangely European accent. Well, it was a truly exotic machine in my sphere at any rate. I peered inside – score! It was an automatic – which was all I could drive. I admired its shiny newness, and my little Cricket seemed to deflate a little, whining and waxing melancholy as my eyes caressed the gleaming interloper.
Being in the habit as he was to watch for me whenever I came home, Dad met me on the driveway. He lit a cigarette, returned his lighter to his pocket, and motioned to the Chevy, tendrils of smoke following his hand. “What do you think?” He almost sounded like an announcer on a game show presenting the grand prize.
“It’s nice,” I acquiesced. “Another repo?”
He nodded. “Another fellow over-bought and couldn’t keep up on the payments. It was for his son. The kid doesn’t even have a job.” He puffed on his ciggie; I loitered and toed the ground, wondering if I should go in and say hi to Mom. We exchanged the how’s-school-it’s-fine ritual. He studied me a spell, and then proceeded to do the unthinkable: he offered me the car on a silver platter. Keep in mind that I was eighteen, in school with a part-time, minimum-wage job in the University music department, riding my bike more often than not to save on gas money, subsisting on ramen and Vienna sausages, and he was presenting me a no-strings, free, brand-new muscle car that was basically sex on wheels to anyone with eyes, ears and nerves.
“You’re kidding. That’s not funny,” I said, my face absolutely serious, fists clenched at my sides.
“No – I mean it. I could buy it easy as anyone else,” he stated plainly, shrugging.
“But I couldn’t.”
“You don’t have to,” he smiled matter-of-factly.
“Not the issue,” I countered, and pointed to the Honda, on which I had paid off the balance to him by then. “That,” I added with pride of ownership, “is mine.” Cricket straightened her posture, trying in vain to look shiny after a speedy, hot, and dusty ride down I-44, highway 96, and 71 Alternate.
Dad was atypically pulsing with excited nervous energy, and clearly he was growing impatient and eager. I found it mildly disorienting – but more than that, amusing. “Listen,” he said, “I don’t get one of these every day. It’s a good deal. It’ll sell fast – he doesn’t want it back – the kid won’t work for it.” Some birds quarreled in the nearby Bradford pear; smoke eddied around Dad’s head in the still air. I was still secretly breathless from my impetuously swift race home. “Do you want it or not?” he asked bluntly.
One of my thin arms cradled the other’s elbow, which led up to a hand holding and worrying my chin; my face pinched in pensive consideration. I was hard pressed to think of any of my peers with a finer piece of car, or such a generous offer. I knew it would be somewhat more reliable than my little roller skate. I knew it would have a certain allure, a je ne sais quoi if you will, I mused of the flirtatiously foreign-posing domestic. I knew a lot more than that, having grown up with a savvy financier like my father. I suspected a test, but Dad wasn’t that manipulative. He wanted to please me, but I looked at the bigger picture, knowing there was more to this situation than merely that, which bore sober reflection. To myself I dialogued: does he really want me in something that fast? I can’t handle that much car…I’ll wrap myself around a tree…ugh and the upkeep…the cost…and I just plain don’t need it…. He squirmed on his hook; I let him off it.
In a staccato breath, I answered, “Nope. No thanks. Not for me.” I meant it. He knew I meant it.
Still, his jaw dropped. He threw his cigarette down to the ground, John-Wayne-style, and ground it into the gravel with a twist of his sole, rather than dropping it into the old tin peanut can into which he typically deposited expired butts. It wasn’t common for my old man to be speechless. He fidgeted briefly and then pierced my eyes with his as he found his voice. “Do you at least want to give it a test drive?” he tempted.
“Why torment myself?” I answered him. I was starting to think that he wanted me to be a foolish teen! Vicarious? Perhaps. But he already had my brother’s automotive genius in theory and practice, who offered all kinds of wonderful fodder for the wish-I-had-wheels-like-that-at-that-age fantasy. My brother was legendary in the local clandestine drag race circuit. I even suggested that Dad offer the same deal to him. He mumbled something about him having enough cars already that work better than mine. I shrugged; mine was working right then, I observed.
It seemed we were at an impasse. Dad pivoted forth and back, and rubbed his head with a perplexed grin, tousling his salt-and-pepper hair. “Can you tell me one thing…why?” he finally asked, his blue-gray eyes sparkling with curiosity.
“Well,” I answered thoughtfully, and started ticking points off on my fingers as I looked up at the sky where, apparently, my mind had written a list, “It’s a gas guzzler for sure – my monthly costs would go up on that alone. Two, the insurance has to be astronomical. And, it will likely be a target for vandalism and theft by some kids who might be jealous of it – I’d never have that problem with the Honda! Plus the cops would probably target and pull me over in a car like this, whether I sped or not…I don’t need extra tickets either – I already have a lead foot!” I finished with a firm voice, but visually I was likely a contradiction, with round eyes and a forgetfully open mouth – I do recall having surprised myself. “Lastly, it projects an attitude of…I don’t know…aggressiveness, that isn’t in line with my personality and with which I don’t want to be associated.”
I think Cricket was hyperventilating behind me.
Dad’s jaw was slack from awe once more. He took a breath, and slapped his hand firmly on my shoulder; I was a tad anxious. “I sure got a good turn on you,” he proclaimed, his voice breaking a little. “What a sensible listing of reasons – right off the top of your head like that…wow, kid. I didn’t think you listened to me all these years, but clearly you did. I can’t wait to tell the guys at the bank how my teen-aged daughter turned down a new sports car!” He shook his head, beaming at me. “Come here,” he said, grabbing me with a beefy arm and hugging me. I was surprised and teary, and could barely breathe from him squeezing me so. We wobbled apart, and he patted me on the back like a faithful apprentice, and said, “Come inside and say hello to your mother; she’s cooking dinner.” And in we went. Cricket slyly stuck her tongue out at the haughty-yet-wounded Camaro, who – at least in our brief possession – never got a name.
I fed on that look of pride in my dad’s eyes that day for years; it was worth more than any car he could have offered me, even a McLaren – not that I could drive one (what would be the point of making that with an automatic tranny?) There were times I still let him help me, as I could see it physically hurt him when I refused his assistance. I knew that was part of why he had worked so hard to become successful: to provide for his family and help others – and that this was fused with his very purpose in life. But I picked and chose the circumstances, and didn’t take abusive advantage of him or allow myself to become codependent.
These many years later, I look back, and wonder if Dad ever knew that the Camaro episode was the principle event behind all those intermittent times I subsequently turned down his help and money – because I was “in-de-damn-pendent”, as he called me. I came by it honestly…after all, so was he.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.
I’m Eilee George, and I like to write anecdotal and how-to blog posts in several creative areas. A lot of my art lesson posts are collected under the Art menu heading above, but you can find them here, too, along with a lot of other topics. I am a strong believer that ANYONE can draw if they want to learn – it’s a set of skills and principles like anything else. As a prolific writer (although not always online), I prefer to use an unstructured, informal sort of prose as my writing style; thus I chose “prose” over the word “blog” in the menu tab title…but it is essentially a blog. On my own time, I write short stories, essays and lots of poetry and songs. Here, I try to categorize topics by media. The following table of contents will, for now, serve only as a teaser as to what you may be able to look forward to reading later on, if you’re continuing in your creative quest and if I find more time to write; some things may change. If you see a link I’ve already posted it. I’ll throw other unplanned entries in as special events occur. If the presentation gets confusing, shoot me an email here and let me know; I’ll try to fix it. For now, check the sidebar for what I’ve actually posted. I’m still figuring out my preferred blog organization and categories etc. So…let’s learn together!
DRAWING AND PAINTING
Elements and Principles of Design – Introduction
Elements of Design: Line
Elements of Design: Shape in Simple Space
Elements of Design: Form, Texture and Pattern
Elements of Design: Hue, Value, and Intensity
Elements of Design: More on Space, Proportion and Scale
Principles of Design: Balance
Principles of Design: Create Drama with Contrast
Principles of Design: Variety versus Unity and Harmony
Principles of Design: Movement, Rhythm and Repetition
Principles of Design: Emphasis and Dominance
How to Create a Pleasing Two-Dimensional Composition
The Color Wheel: Primary/Secondary/Tertiary Colors
The Color Wheel: Value: Tints and Shades
The Color Wheel: Intensity, Compliments and Tones
The Color Wheel: Triads, Tetrads and Other Combinations
Linear Perspective & Atmospheric Perspective
Dissecting the Human Body: Finding Proportion in Figure Drawing
How to Break Down Proportion in a Face
Media Techniques: Working with Graphite
Media Techniques: Working with Charcoal
Media Techniques: Working with Pastels
Media Techniques: Working with Colored Pencil
Media Techniques: Working in the Acrylic Paint Medium
Media Techniques: Working in Other Paint Mediums
Style: A Wealth of History to Inspire the Future
Style: Interpretation and Finding your Unique Viewpoint
Style: Some Tips on Methods of Abstraction
Inspiration and Influences: You Don’t Live in a Vacuum
My Favorite Supplies and How They Earned the Distinction
How to Organize Your Inventory
Getting Up Close and Personal: Using the Macro Lens
Digital Photography: Framing Your Shot
Filters Aren’t Everything
Practical Uses For Digital Photography
OTHER ART TOPICS
Closer Look: 3 Trees Triptych
New Church Art Dedicated!
Eilee’s Favorite Art Supplies & How They Earned the Distinction
Evolution in Faith & Art
The Mind’s Artistic Eye
An Ounce of Prevention…
How to Safely Remove Various Paint Stains/Adhesive Residues
How to Affix Weird Things to Each Other
How to Make a Working Lamp
Going the Extra Mile in Costume Concept and Construction
Making a Faerie or Angel Costume For Someone? Make Your Own Wings, Too
Doing Simple Sewing Repairs the Right Way (Or the Fast Way in a Jam)
How to Make Homemade Gifts They’ll Love
The Beauty of Contrast and Clarity
How to Make a Legible Garage Sale Sign
Design a Simple Logo
How & Where to Protect Your Work (Intellectual Property)
Artist Pitfalls in Business
Build a Brand and Be Consistent
How to Retain Clients, Vendors, Assistants, and Associates
How to Make a Beautifully Presented Rice Side Dish
Cooking Easy, Healthier Orange Chicken
Gluten-Free Beef Stroganoff
Mini Pizza hors d’oevres
Russian Potato Salad
Medicinal Properties of Herbs and Spices
Cooking for Kids and Other Picky Eaters
Little Kitchen Tips and Tricks
LIFE’S UPS AND DOWNS, AND MISCELLANEA
How to Keep Your Sanity When You’re Laid Up for Months
The Best Selfish Things You’ll Ever Do
How to Keep Your Perspective When You Lose a Loved One
Facing Your Own Mortality and the Big C
Training a Kitten to Walk on a Leash
Dealing with Multiple Food Intolerances
What Faith Has Done for Me
Stuff I Learned By 40
Our Keys to a Fantastic Marriage
How to Keep Your Identity in a World of Conformity
Create if You Feel Like It (Doggone It)!
ANECDOTES, POEMS, RANTS, PROVERBS, AND/OR STORIES
(These just might end up on a new web site.)
New Music Page!
A Sampler of Colorado Beauty
A Priceless Gift
A Little Poetry
When Appetites Attack
And Who Knows What Else…
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.