Miniature in the Mail #35: "Chop chop"

"Chop chop," 5x5in., oil on masonite

$125 USD + $10 shipping and handling

"Come on, let's go."

"Crazy busy."

"Chop chop."

Does anyone know anyone who isn't busy all the time anymore?

I've noticed that with art making, the push of a deadline can spur me on but if it's constant, on top of the rest of family and work obligations, the pressure neither produces good art nor allows me to enjoy the process. My head fills with anxiety and pushes thinking and reflection out. I start to feel demoralized.

In "The 'Busy' Trap," a 2012 article in the New York Times, the author talks about the long unsupervised hours he spent as a latchkey kid and how this experience gave him skills and insights that remain important to him today. "Idleness is not just a vacation," he says, "an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets."

He goes on, philosophizing, "Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day." When his own breezy life as a writer picks up and he's forced to tell people he's, well, busy, he writes, "I could see why people enjoy this complaint; it makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon."

Art is one way to slow it down. Ads may be designed to glimpse and take in like a flood, working subconsciously—a dangerous thing—but art, real art, not the mechanically reproduced stuff, makes sense only when you clear the head and spend the time with it. It only makes sense when you give it a chance.

Today's mini with its chopped lines and emptiness, done in evident strokes that mark the imperfect working of my hand, has a Zen quality to my mind. I enjoyed making it.

Have a great Wednesday!

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