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Spices, Gold, and Shortcuts

According to the histories, three big motivators led ancient mariners on their risky expensive quests: spices, gold, and shortcuts.


Without refrigeration, microwaves, or hermetically sealed pouches, food was preserved by drying or salting. It went bad fast, so spices made it palatable longer. Spices were a big deal.


With wars in the rear view and debt therefrom, the acquisition of gold and other transactionable commodities was highly desireable. Besides, there were castles to build and influence to peddle.


The Silk Road was lined with thugs and therefore risky. India was far away. There had to be a shorter, faster, less expensive route for transport of the known sources of the standard list of goodies.

Two out of three isn’t bad. The “shorter route to India” had to wait till Panama was dredged. But they found the other two and discovered islands and continents along the way. If they hadn’t, I and my ancestors would have an English accent and there’d have been niether the Avanti or Mustang because there wouldn’t be an America to invent them.


The reason all this came to mind today was the waking thought I had that the same motivators seem to be in play for me as an artist as motivated rennaisance marine exploration. My art vision favors the pretty, or the visually attractive. A quick google search confirms that many other artists are unconcerned with that aspect of art or follow the lead of fashion experts and go another direction entirely. But that’s my quest, to find the beauty whether in a landscape, a glorious machine, or a girl. It’s there and I go looking to find it. This equates to the spice search, because we all discover that our lives become a mixture of experiences that benefits from the joy of inspiration that pretty discoveries can enhance. Good art spices up the day.


Though I’ve not sold but three or four items over a span of decades, there is certainly the possibility that transactional value is there. I don’t paint to sell as yet, but the potential to recover costs and finance more art projects is not lost on me. Someone may love this stuff as much as I do, so it’s possible they’d pay to have their own bit of it. That covers the gold.

Not everyone can have the experiences I portray. But in their hearts, they know they’d be good with it if they could. Vicariously, they get a taste of what they know exists that they want to exist. And the pleasant memories of what they have experienced can be evoked in the art work. Even if that were not the experience of others, it’s mine. There are many things that I paint as a marker, or a place holder, or a reminder, or a link to something very good in life that I want to experience in my heart. This is why we draw pets, horses, sports cars, and sweet scenes of good people enjoying life, without guile and devoid of subterfuge. In a sense, it’s a shortcut to those things associated with joy. And having Joy is the purpose of life in the first place. Building shortcuts to that acquisition and helping maintain it is a high priority in my art.

Winter is here and for me it’s long been the best painting season. In preparation I’ve been doing photo shoots and part of the excitement is that in them I see both what I was looking for and the potential for discovery.

Life is good : )





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