Posts Tagged “meta stuff”

I haven’t been in the cheeriest of moods lately due to a number of factors (financial stress, the ugly nature of the health-care debate, rather chilly weather in August – not ready for summer to be over! – and life, the universe, etc.). My husband, a former rocket scientist who now works with complex economics, sent me “10 trading rules” that seem rather apropos for life in general:

Rule 1: Believe you can win. If other traders can do well in the market, so can you. However, if you don’t have enough courage and confidence in yourself, you will never achieve success. The events over the past year have tested many people in this regard and some now think the game is rigged against them. Nothing could be farther from the truth as opportunities remain. Those who will win in the markets first start by believing they can do it. Then they back up that strong belief with serious hard-work and determination to find their trading edge. However, it starts with you first having faith in yourself. [Ed: believe in yourself as an artist!]

Rule 2: Don’t be seduced by results. You must stay in the present and focused on executing each trade to the best of your ability. Don’t let yourself think about how much you’re going to win (or lose) in the market or how great of a trader you are or not, but instead focus on what matters most – each and every trade you make. Do that and the results will take care of themselves. [Ed: each painting is its own new challenge; the Chinese have a saying: "Every painting, first painting".]

Rule 3: Sulking won’t get you anything. The worst thing you can do for your prospects of winning is to get down when things don’t go well. If you start feeling sorry for yourself or thinking the trading gods are conspiring against you, you’re not focused on the next trade. Good traders readily accept their mistakes and move on to the next trade. They don’t let one bad trade carry onto the next one. [Ed: throw the bad ones away and go on to the next piece.]

Rule 4: Beat them with patience. Every time you have the urge to make an aggressive trade, go with the more conservative one. You’ll always be OK. The moment you get impatient, bad things happen. In tough markets, stay patient and let others beat themselves. [Ed: sooner or later your work will be recognized, if you focus on your own vision.]

Rule 5: Ignore unsolicited advice. You’ll have lots of well-meaning friends and experts who want to give you advice. Don’t accept it. In fact, stop them before they can say a word. Their comments will creep into your mind when you are trading and conflict with your own strategy. If you’ve worked on your game, commit to the plan and stay confident with it. [Ed: stay true to your passion as an artist.]

Rule 6: Embrace your personality. The key is to find what works best for you. There are many approaches out there, but there is only one trading approach that will utilize your best skills and talent to create and sustain an edge. The worst mistake you can make is to simply embrace a strategy of someone else that doesn’t match your own personality and strengths. [Ed: see #5]

Rule 7: Have a routine to lean on. Every trader should follow a mental routine on every trade. It keeps you focused on what you have to do, and when the pressure is on, it helps you manage your nerves. You may not have control over the market, but you have control on how you trade the market. Having a routine will inject consistency that will keep you calm under pressure. [Ed: make art a part of your regular schedule - daily, weekly, whatever - and keep at it.]

Rule 8: Find peace in the market. The market has to be your sanctuary, the thing you love, and you can’t be afraid of making mistakes. Yes, you’ll experience both good and bad times, but you must enjoy and revel in the challenge. [Ed: the process is more important than the product. Never lose the joy of creating!]

Rule 9: Test yourself. Don’t look for easy trades and setups at all times. Test yourself by working hard trades and difficult markets in order to test and improve your skills. For example, if you’re uncomfortable with trading options, spend a month just trading options. If you’re uncomfortable with shorting stocks, spend a month shorting stocks. We only get better if we constantly test what we think is most difficult. [Ed: try new methods, materials, subjects...keep yourself growing.]

Rule 10: Find someone who believes in you. Having confidence in yourself is important, but it helps to have someone who believes in you, too, whether it’s a spouse, a friend, a teacher, or a mentor. No man’s success can be entirely attributed to his own actions. You must surround yourself with people who believe in you at all times. [Ed: boy, this is so true.]

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What spawns this post is another library book (in this case, “Contemporary Women Artists”, by Wendy Beckett – Universe Books, 1988…30 years ago contemporary, anyway) celebrating Post-modern artists of the female persuasion.

There’s a piece in the book titled “Dark Green Painting” by Edwina Leapman, 168×183 cm (about 4 1/3 x 4 3/4 feet) which is pretty much what you’d expect: a dark bluish-gray-green surface with, possibly, some slight variations in hue (hard to tell) and texture (also hard to tell). Here’s a fragment of what the author says about the piece:

“‘Dark Green Painting’ can certainly hold the attention for a long period…there are hidden colours, an elusive pink that only reveals itself to the attentive eye; there are almost imperceptible brush movements, soft clouds that seem to drift to and fro on the surface and to swim up gently from the depths. Unforced depth is Leapman’s special gift. She has said: ‘The surface is both above and below’, a very profound observation… Alan Green, a Minimalist painter…has said of Leapman’s art: ‘Each work exists as a demonstration of human frailty…their strength lies in the doing. These paintings actually have to happen…the time actually has to be spent and mistakes actually have to be made.’ ….if the making of a work demands such ascetic concentration, it is not surprising that this manual prayer, as it were, soaks deep into the canvas.”

There’s more, but this seemed enough for our point.

So. If this same critic were to confront one of my rodeo or grizzly bear paintings, would she be in such raptures of bemusing description? (I’m guessing not). Which begs the question, is non-objective art – with no particular center of interest, and no drawing or other skill required besides manipulation of medium – perhaps more engrossing for a viewer? Does it allow for more interpretation on the part of, and therefore more involvement by, the viewer? And, ultimately, does that make it more worthwhile, or give it more longevity?

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I’m working my way through a massive library find, Artoday by Edward Lucie-Smith, which attempts to survey modern art from 1960 to the late 1990s. It’s an enormous undertaking (the book, not my reading of it) and both interesting and thought-provoking.

F’rinstance … I perceive a bias on his part against representational work. Maybe he didn’t mean it, but quotes like these are hard to interpret otherwise:

“…an entirely studio-bound painter who depicts only what he sees…his work has no flights of the imagination.” (on Lucian Freud), or

“…seems like a fairly limited theme.” (on Realism), and

“This loss of stylistic direction … has led to a compensatory emphasis on content rather than style.” (on the 1990s New York art scene)

The last quote in particular struck me – is he saying that style really should matter much more than content? This doesn’t help me understand why people like some of the Expressionist stuff from the mid-20th century – I can’t forgive how deliberately raw, childish, and sloppy it is, and can’t look any further.

I spent a few hours at the Yellowstone Art Museum when I was in Billings about a week ago; YAM focuses almost entirely on post-modern Montana artists. Some challenging stuff in there, or just plain odd – although there are also Deborah Butterfield horses, and I really love her work. Why are plexiglas cubes filled with crumpled waste paper worthy of a museum? Or giant canvases with no discernible object, subject, or center of interest, and crudely rendered? For that matter, there’s a Montana artist who is well-known in this area (and in NY, I think) who has made pencil outline drawings of horses that look like a kid did them. I’ve seen these drawings humbly framed and offered for sale at $1200.

So am I just a philistine?

P.S. there will probably be more to say as a result of reading this book…not least of which is that it’s leading me down some interesting experimental paths.

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