Publisher Letter – July 2021


Dearest EXPLORE reader,

Lately I’ve been wanting to learn how to paint. I’d like be able to paint art, a skill that I most certainly do not possess today.

I don’t know where this desire came from, but sure enough, I’ve been looking at pieces of art that I see now with a much more interested eye. I catch myself eating lunch and studying the piece of art that is hanging on the wall above our table and dissecting it visually. I try to study the lines that the artist used to create the image, the brush strokes and how they are utilized, and the overall emotion that the piece of art brings forth. Some of it I like, and some of it I don’t really care for, but overall, I’m jealous that somebody somewhere sat down in front of an easel and created something that I spent the time to analyze later.

Again, I’m a bit perplexed as to where this desire to paint has originated. Typically, I dwell in large, sloppy brush strokes in my life, and ignore “details” the way I ignore the whining from kids. Details simply cannot be engaged, as they distract me from the overall mission of what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve got a hundred funny stories of projects I’ve started without any knowledge, any planning, and very little research, but tore into them ferociously. I used the wrong tools, the wrong techniques, and the wrong sequence, but by golly, I built what I said I would build. Yes, it was ugly, poorly constructed, and probably fell apart a few years later, but – IT GOT BUILT.

It’s a frustrating existence sometimes, but as they say, “Oh well.” Because of this, I’ve done more head scratching about this silly desire of mine to pursue painting. It goes against every fiber of my inner being and every trait that I seem to possess. I can look at a beautiful seascape painting, with delicate gulls flying above an old shrimper boat, and I smile broadly. I love the way the artist has the sun reflecting off the water, and the sea foam that is breaking on the waves. I think to myself “I can do that” but then I look closer and see the delicate, fine lines that the artist had to use to create those beautiful waves. I can see the hundreds of intricate brushstrokes, and while I should roll my eyes and say “Hand me a 4” painter’s brush – I’ll show you a wave!” instead, I think again, “I could do that.”

But I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if my eye has the ability to process a scene, whether it’s in real life or my mind, and be able to put together the sequence of how to re-create that image. I’d paint the water first, when I should have painted the sky. I’d paint a boat before I worked on the waves. I’d work on tree limbs before I painted the trunk. Then I would get frustrated, consider my pursuit of art a failure, and throw it in the trash (after spending hundreds of dollars on all the equipment necessary to produce my fine art).
And then what? I’d probably still look at the art that’s hanging at my lunch hang-out and tilt my head slightly, and admire it the same. “Take an art class” you might say. Should I mention that I barely graduated high school and flunked out of college twice? I loathe classrooms. I’ve learned that there’s exactly one way for me to learn – that, too, is the wrong way: I must do it myself and fail. Only then will I know the correct process.
Back to art: I’m jealous of you artists out there. I want your talent, but it escapes me. I want the inspiration that you find in the mundane, and the beauty that you see in the simple. I want the expression you present, and the power with which you can do it.
I think that the ability to express one’s self is core to our existence. I think that it’s a requirement to fully experience this thing called life. Sometimes I wonder how some people can breathe without the outlet of expression. Hell, I write for a living (if you want to call this “writing”), and it’s not enough for me. I play guitar, sing, and as you’re finding out, I want to know how to paint. So how does the local CPA ever truly function while saying that he doesn’t sing, play guitar, write, paint, or utilize any other outlet to do something that makes his soul smile? I don’t get it. To each their own, but it’s a head scratcher for me.
But maybe it’s not. My pursuit is one of creation. I want to build it, sing it, write it, and paint it. I want to be the one that’s responsible for the medium of my expression. Maybe I think that people won’t understand me unless I “explain” it to them via some form of expression. Maybe that’s wrong…I don’t know.

But maybe the expression I might seek isn’t in the creation, but in the appreciation. I can do a little soul searching here and say that perhaps so many of my struggles are due to the fact that I think I can do it all, even when I full well know I cannot. Perhaps, just perhaps, I’m not meant to be an artist (despite my desires), and perhaps the things that I can appreciate is all the expression I’ll ever need.

I can appreciate your painting, and your expression in that art impacted me in a positive way. The local CPA may not have your typical outlets of “expression”, but unbeknownst to me, he could pour a crazy amount of energy into his children. Is that expression? Is that art? I’d imagine so.

So what are we looking for with “expression”? If you sit down at a blank canvas on an easel, your trusty brushes in hand, and yet you have no talent or skill as it comes to art, exactly what are you doing? What is your mission? Sometimes I think that the mission is little more than to relate to you, the one looking at the art. Sometimes I think that we all are so busy looking for an outlet, a medium with which to somehow get our true voice across, in an attempt to get someone to say “Man, I GET you.” You will have expressed yourself, and someone will have said “Good job.” Ta-da. Mission accomplished.
I know that there are many of you who will say “Nope – I paint/sing/create/write for ME and for no one else.” I believe you. I really do. However, if you are creating so much beauty, and so much expression, yet nobody ever stops to appreciate it, then what have you expressed? If you are talking, nobody is listening.

Art and the expressions we create may not always need to be of our own creation. I’m learning this the hard way. I’m learning that every single one of you creates something beautiful every day, and that it’s not always in the typical mediums I might expect. You are all crucial elements of LIFE, and via your own expressions, we all create the most beautiful art that can exist.

The art of LIFE. The most extreme, highest form of expression.
Welcome to July. May you enjoy the summer of 2021 and find the beauty that is interwoven into this season of our lives. May you stop to appreciate, may you hear the expressions of others, and may you appreciate it for the art that it is.

Sorry for the ramble.

Benjamin D. Schooley