I have a simple message for this new year. I want each and every one of you to be healthy and happy. News that puts us all in a tailspin is ever changing. But government shutdowns, looming economic woes, and Trump did this-or-that, all aside, I want you to focus on being healthy and happy, and that is what I’m going to do as well.
I’ve strived for us all, artists, art lovers and supporters of the arts, to seek a fresh point of view; to be inspired, to enjoy and be stimulated by our imagination. In the process, my hope is always to foster a deep appreciation for creativity.
I know in doing so that our lives will be overwhelmingly enriched, and I truly believe that in doing so, each of us will be happier. The key here is, the happier you are, the healthier you’ll be. The happier you are, the happier and healthier others around you will be. Show me someone stressed out and I’ll show you someone who is unhappy. A smile rarely sits upon an unhappy face.
Since the beginning of time, humans have been at war, had flustered societies, and things that in general, just piss us off. Today, with a 24/7 hour news cycle, an endless amount of social media, and advertising watching our every move, fear is what sells. We humans will twist our necks to see an accident way faster than to see a beautiful scenic view or the creative possibilities of our wonderful lives. We have been conditioned to be less than optimistic. That’s not to say we are 100% this way, or that I rise above being predictably human myself. But, I do believe we can recondition ourselves. That no matter what the news cycle is bringing, right at this very moment, and right as you are reading my words, we all can do ourselves a service by trying to take our lives back from the media’s daily doses of pessimism.
Try to see what you love and not what you dislike. A very talented Chinese artist told me something rather profound about 25 years ago. It went something like this; There are two ways to paint a revolution. You can paint it the way your world might be, or you can paint it the way you hope it will become. This was a very creative person, who was born, raised and lived under one of the most suppressive governments towards creativity. At the time in China, he could not paint his country’s hardship for fear of imprisonment. He was required to paint a lie and he lived in creative fear. Something we artists here just can’t imagine. He was able to come to this country, where he finally enjoyed the freedom to paint whatever he wanted. My, my the beauty he rendered with his new life in America.
We all should live lives of appreciation and gratitude, and especially creative freedom. If you are an artist, you can paint your own revolution, but I say; paint what makes you happy. For years here, I have simply wanted to paint how appreciative I was of the artistic scenic beauty of living in the arms of the Piedmont of Virginia. I was only painting my happy life, and sure, in turn hoping that those who appreciate my creative vision of it would support my efforts. As time went on, I guess it would be no huge surprise that some have. But I still get a kick out of the married couple, an American man and Greek women living in Athens, who took one of my paintings back home to Greece. Or the couple from Belgium, or the man from Oklahoma. They didn’t come here and see an accident or in search of bad news coming out of nearby Washington, D.C. They came and found the same beauty that I have, and I hope this is the case with all artists everywhere.
January going into February is not usually topping anyone’s list as the most scenic times of the year here in Virginia, or even the happiest, especially if there are a few feet of snow on the ground. But I’ll say it again. I want each of you to be healthy and happy. See what you enjoy, not what you are told to be unhappy about. Be filled with gratitude, and get your new year off to a great start. Be happy.
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