My dad died when he was 62. Seemed a tad early since I was led to believe the average male achieves a lifespan of 75-89 years.

But Dad was alive with me when we saw the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Strangely enough, we happen to have been discussing that very topic. Dad asked me, “Son, what is beauty?” I looked at him with an expression that said, “Are you serious?!”

“You know” I said. “A sunset, a pretty woman, mountains,…”

He interrupted, “No, I know what examples of beauty are. I just want to understand what beauty itself is.”

My expression changed to one of deep contemplation and then to humility. I could not answer his question. I was unable to find the words. But the events that followed freed me from a necessity to explain.

We were making our way home, Dad was driving his pickup, I was in the passenger seat and we were only about a quarter mile from our driveway. We lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains and this was late in the afternoon, early in autumn.

As we came close to the rim of the last hill before our driveway, the cloudy sky above us turned red. Just a slight pink hue at first, but very rapidly the sky went blood red. My dad looked up. then I looked up. “Uh-oh,” Dad said. “That doesn’t look good.” He was referring to the threat of a forest fire… and in this case, one that was awfully close to home. We both cringed as we neared the crest of the hill where we would soon gain a full view of the valley below.

We crested the hill and… nothing. No giant flames, no sparks and embers flying in the wind. Just a peaceful valley beneath a brightly glowing crimson sky. We both looked up again, puzzled.

“What the heck is going on here?” we both said practically in unison.

Halfway down the hill, we passed our driveway and kept driving. We now had to know what was making the sky pure red. As we descended toward the bridge that crossed the creek at the bottom of the hill, we looked in every direction for the source of this scarlet surprise above us. But we saw nothing… until we crossed the creek.

Dry Creek meanders through the valley, crosses Frenchtown Road and flows out thru a green pasture peppered by pale-green lichen covered oak trees. Out there in that expanse of green, floating on the creek, was a bank of fog.  The fog was perhaps 20 feet high, 40 feet wide and followed the creek for about 75 yards. The bank of fog was pure red and glowing so brightly we could barely look at it for more than a few seconds. When we arrived and parked the car just past the bridge the fog was just going from a deep, deep red to a deep, deep magenta. It was easier to continue staring at when the magenta color came. It softened the glow just a little bit from sunlight intensity to something like car headlight intensity.

We were enraptured. There were no hard edges to the bank of fog. The red color gave way to the true colors around it with a subtle fade. It was as if red light had taken on the form of a terrestrial cloud and, while lying in the creek, was changing colors before our very eyes. The magenta began to change to bright orange and the transition created a color so vibrant and unusual that no existing phenomenon had ever matched it. The orange itself was so delightful that we were barely able to contain ourselves. As that bright orange finally faded to a pale pink we watched as all the light was suddenly drained from the fog and we were left with nothing more than a pale grey cloud lying in the creek as the sun went down far up the valley behind it.

Dad and I looked at each other, combing the surprised expression on each other’s faces.

“Well,” I said to Dad, “that was beauty!”


How do I Become a Prolific Artist?

The MC2 Formula

Example of a quick stick-figure map/plan for use later when I feel like producing


Here’s how:

  1. Pay attention to only two or three of the vast amount of ideas that occur to you
  2. Jot them down right away and if you have time draw a quick map or plan that you can refer back to if you lose the idea in your memory
  3. Work on more than one project at once so that if progress pauses on one project you can keep going on another

A prolific artist is someone who creates a large number of works in a given amount of time. We all receive inspiration to create many things, but we don’t always act on that inspiration. And sometimes those creative ideas can fade into obscurity.

If I could show you the catalog in my mind of artistic creations I perceive to be nearly ready to become materialized, I’m pretty sure you would ask me what in the world I’m waiting on. And I would agree with you wholeheartedly.

I want to Materialize my Creations 2 start enjoying them and sharing them with others!

But the list is somewhat virtual. It’s a moving target, and just a tad volatile. When the idea occurs to me, it comes full on and ready to enter manifestation, but if I catalog it, (like I most often do) it begins to evaporate just a little amongst the many other important things to remember. Over time it can actually fade completely away as if the idea had never even struck me.

So what I really have at any given moment is a partial list (at best) of some potentially cool ideas that I may be able to coax into being if I work diligently toward their realization when the mood to produce hits me. This is an extremely important factor. I only act on inspiration when I’m in the mood to produce. And those productive moods don’t always coincide with the moments I receive inspiration.

Consequently I’ve come to the conclusion that the complete catalog will never make it out here into the real world. I have to joyfully accept this reality because not only will my memory occasionally fail to retain a creation idea long enough to coincide with the productive mood, but those ideas are infinite. They never stop. They rush in several times a day and there are not enough hours in my lifetime to really get them all tended to.

But I still want to Materialize my Creations 2 start enjoying them and sharing them with others!

I have paid attention to how I operate when I’m in the productive mood. I like to have a minimum of two and sometimes three creations to work with at once. I don’t mean to create simultaneously, but when you do the kind of found object-assemblage-sculpture work I often find myself doing, you’ll notice there are times when glue has to dry; Metal has to become patinated; One layer of paint must dry before adding another, etc., etc. That can mean waiting up to 24 hours before you continue to monkey with your creation. With two or more projects to tend to, you have the luxury of being able to switch gears and keep the creative momentum going. I love when that becomes a seamless process in my flow of productivity.

My lesson has been that I realize I only need two or three ideas from that infinite list and I can jot them down the minute they occur to me. And if I do, they actually stand a chance of being materialized, coming into fruition and capable of being shared. Plus I get the supreme satisfaction of keeping my creative juices flowing when one project requires some incubation by simply turning my focus onto another creation.

Next time you find yourself hoping to get all of your creative ideas out into the real world, you can take solace in the fact that it really only takes a few of those ideas to really succeed at this. Use the MC2 formula:

  • Try to jot the ideas down the minute they come to you.
  • If you have time, draw a quick stick figure map/plan like the one pictured above so you’ll have instructions when the mood to produce hits.
  • Once the mood to produce kicks in, work on more than one project at once.

We can become prolific artists two or three projects at a time. It really works!

Putting Yourself “In There”

Our high school English teacher (who preferred we call her Wendy) taught us how to meditate.
She led a guided meditation in the classroom to show us how to do it properly. As I recall, the room turned pink, there was a giant ball of white light surrounding and penetrating us, and we all came back to our normal waking state relaxed, at peace, and extremely joyous.

When I got home and enthusiastically told my dad about the meditation adventure, he immediately called the school and cussed out the teacher.

“I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and let you pump my son’s head full of your cock-eyed eastern religious bull s___!”. That was a little embarrassing as I recall, but I digress.

Wendy told us that we were going to go “inside”… deep inside, to the core of our being. I remember wondering what the hell Wendy was talking about. Where is this place called “deep inside”, how does one get there, and what would make a journey like that worth it?

I went somewhere, but I had a hard time imagining it as deep inside. I suppose It was just one person’s take on where one’s spirit resides.

Later I would hear that the spirit resides outside the body. That the soul is like an invisible
egg-shape, surrounding and protecting us. Eventually I heard the point of view that the entire universe is made up of particles and waves of which we are a part. Just a bunch of particles and waves mingling together in a sea of potentiality.

All of these places and spaces where our spirit supposedly resides are all just theory of course, but I was thinking of the term “Get yourself out there” the other day and I began to wonder about that place too. What does “out there” really mean? Where is this place called “out there”?

Of course the obvious answer is in the public eye, and all the reading I’ve ever done on the subject of art careers commends you must get your stuff out there. But “out there” could be at a service station vacuum machine or the shower near the public pool. So where is it really?

Perhaps in order to arrive at the perfect out there, one must first visit the perfect deep inside. Maybe the answer to where “out there” is for you is hidden “deep inside” and you have to go there to pick up the map. (Remember maps? They used to be printed on big folded paper instead of on tiny lit up screens.)

It’s fun to ponder these things. Especially in light of the fact that we may be “just a bunch of particles and waves mingling together in a sea of potentiality.”