Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Robert Genn on "What turns you on?"

What turns you on?

February 7, 2012

Dear Sherrie,

The business guru Peter Drucker admitted motivation was a sticky wicket. "We know nothing about it," he said. "All we can do is write books about it." Our own Resource of Art Quotations holds a huge variety of angles on the subject. Picasso, for example, felt it oozed from the world around us because of the variety of material at our disposal. He also felt it had something to do with "the passion we get from women."

I wonder where that leaves the women. Do they get it from men?

Cicero thought motivation was all about obtaining praise. Others suggest the big thing is desire, and I agree, but nobody seems to be able to properly define what desire actually is. Some cynical ones figure motivation is all to do with fear, poverty, hunger and pain. Ouch.

Fact is, when our lives are free of clutter and we're "rolling pure," the stuff that turns us on is found as easily as shells along a tropical beach. But there's more to it than that. We follow our particular noses. Some are in it for sentiments, others as salve for their "inner selves." Still others feel the need to dig deeply for universal meanings.

Flawed though I may be, I've always trusted our universe. In the art department I'm looking for complexity, pattern, design, and just ordinary wonderful stuff to get the brush around. It seems to me that if deeper meanings are to be had, they'll somehow find a way to the end of the brush.

This naivety is not unique. It starts with what can only be called "love." Maybe that's where the women come in. Whatever, it's a growing love affair with a desirable and particular thing, often privately discovered and often from our youth. Specificity drives desire. Take, for example, the passion of many wildlife painters and illustrators of nature. Something to do with honouring--it's a high emotion that daily brings out the pencils and brushes.

Best regards,


PS: "Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly." (Stephen R. Covey)

Esoterica: Give yourself permission to fall in love and you'll partake in the miracle. Life may not be fully understood, but art is one way we can try. Drawing, for example, is a flashlight on the path to comprehension. Trying to master colour is to flirt with the gods. Composition makes us one of them. It's quite a turn-on.

But we artists needn't suffer the delusion that we're the only ones turned on. This morning I had a haircut and a beard trim in a beauty salon in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Accompanied by her own humming and singing, Murielle took her time and did a truly masterful job using only scissors, comb and a straight razor. Proud as rum punch, she kept admiring the two of us in the mirror. "My goodness I love cuttin' your hair, Mr. Bob," she said. "Come back tomorrow 'cause I need bad to dye it black." I'm thinking about it.

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