Learning to See


I’m pretty busy with work right now. I’ve set myself on the path towards my next credential, which means I’m doing a lot of thinking and reading about work related topics on my own time. I have literally purchased myself a stack of books on this new topic and one of them has a title or subtitle regarding “learning to see”.

The notion of learning to see resonates with me. There is something about its zen nature… You must unlearn what you have learned; you must train your mind; there is no try there is only do or do not… there are poetic underpinnings lurking beneath this phrase that imbue it with a profound resonance.

Like my entry art and poetic snap-shot, below is another camera phone shot of something that captured my eye. I wonder what it is about this scene that caught my attention? Is it the harmony between the coffee cup, orchid and  artwork? Is there some aesthetic mystery embedded in this triptych? Or am I finding more beauty in everyday things because I’m slowly learning to see?

Enthusiasm, Maslow and The Element


I am an enthusiastic convert – I subscribe to Sir Ken Robinson’s updated Jungian view that by people pursuing their passion(s), or being in their Element, there is a transformative effect on the individual and thereby society as a whole. Exploring-Art.com was my manifestation of To-Fu’s creativity rule number 24, Create a Framework, this blog is my framework. My Element? Perhaps I have discovered my Element via continuing education in the fine arts, and it is my word for 2012, to: Write. So to be my most creative, my most contributory I need to write more… I think I have that much right, but there is something I got wrong and reading The Happiness Project brought it to my attention.

I have professed that enthusiasm is a renewable resource. Trees are also a renewable resource; however, we need to plant more trees or we will run out. Renewable does not mean inexhaustible. So what’s my point? By focusing my goals on exploring art, and cultivating my Element, I skipped an imperative foundational step. To illustrate this point and also that I learned something during my Undergraduate Degree, let us talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a Business School 101 concept and essentially it states that people cannot be their most productive unless their basic needs are looked after. The ranking of needs from the most basic to most complex is; Physiology, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, and Self Actualization. Here is a sketch:

Okay so that might seem a little abstract, so here is how I would map that hierarchy to categories more meaningful to me and my situation, from foundational to inspirational, Vitality, Family, and the Element.

My resolutions for 2012, both the SMART goals and the poetry were backwards! I can’t just focus on my Element and have the foundation piece as minor side notes. I need to ensure my foundations are well placed so that I can pursue my Element, my atmosphere of growth, as Gretchen Rubin would call it, without the looming spectre of exhaustion.

My enthusiasm is a renewable resource, but it is not inexhaustible. I must first commit to myself and my family in order to succeed with my loftier goals. More to come on what that means soon.

Enthusiasm is a renewable resource


“Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.” – The Happiness Project, Chapter 11 – Gretchen Rubin


I love this quote from the Happiness Project. Those of you who know me or have read a fair share of Exploring-Art.com know that I am very enthusiastic, I always try to look at the positive, and sometimes that can make Exploring-Art.com seem a little gushy. Don’t fear I don’t feel that way about everything, I just choose to write about the things that I really have strong, positive feelings for.

For instance I loved RED; it received the full gushy review and recommendation. But the Belfry’s offering of On The Edge that I saw just last Thursday received no mention at all. Don’t get me wrong, going out for an evening to support the arts is always a worthwhile endeavour, so if you want more exposure to the arts, and you live in Victoria go see the current play at the Belfry. Just don’t expect the world, and honestly the highlight of the evening was a wonderful dinner and bottle of wine (Road 13 Chenin Blanc) at Stage the local Fernwood wine bar. I don’t want to write about things that don’t elicit my enthusiasm. I want to write about what excites me, what makes me happy what aligns to Exploring-Art.com’s motto – “Design, Philosophy, Art – Liberating Creative Endeavours”. I don’t want to pan, be terse or put down, as there’s enough of that in the world without my help.

So this epiphany shatters a number of planned changes to Exploring-Art.com. I was planning to launch two new columns here on the site, essentially recommending artsy stuff happening in order to promote participation, which I believe is important. One called “In Victoria” recommending anything artsy that was on the horizon, and two “On the Screen”, which would recommend things on AppleTV or Netflix (I’m cable free) that would appeal to like-minded people. These planned columns have been scratched. Not because they’re bad ideas but because it’s more important to me to channel and share my enthusiasm than it is for me to deliver an encyclopedic reference of the good, bad and ugly of Victoria’s or Netflix’s art scene.

Embrace enthusiasm! Focus on the positive! Free your mind from your subconsciousness, break your innate cycle of want, go forth and conquer… with a smile!

Fortuitously, enthusiasm is a renewable resource here at Exploring-Art.com. There’s more coming.