Letter to an artist, IG grows up (oh no), pet paintings, and excellent novels.
Hola, Los Traipasaños,
Sooooo yeah, the wildfire smoke stuck around and our existence for 10 out of 12 days has been akin to life in a Mar's lander. Although that would have views...
Whatever! Rain is falling on the westside and a brilliant fall awaits us. In the meantime, positives include learning piano chord inversions and reading excellent books. Oh, and Chelsea made incredible vegan eggplant parmesan. It's the small things.
This Week's Newsletter:
Advice to an artist, performed live; Instagram turns 10; beautiful animal portraits; two novels for these shorter days (or smoke-bound existence...)
Clear air on Sunday meant all day outside riding around Mt. Bachelor!
Advice to an Artist
"You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!" So wrote artist Sol LeWitt to the Postminimalist Eva Hesse in 1965, along with advice and motivation on creating work.
The actor Benedict Cumberbatch brings it to life in this YouTube video via a brilliant performance for an audience at Letters Live. I found it captivating, plus a reminder not to take myself and creative endeavors too seriously.
Instagram Is 10 Years Old
A month ago, I finally pulled the trigger and closed my Instagram account. I'd deleted the app from my phone at the end of our Spain travels in 2019, but ultimately decided I was done.
Perhaps that's why this Guardian article about Instagram turning 10 resonated so much for me. From an experience I initially found creative and connecting back in 2012, Instagram morphed into pressure, the "doing it for the 'Gram" feeling. #vanlife #influencer #ugh Anyone else felt this?
The below paragraph from the article sums it up for me:
Bought by Facebook for $1bn in 2012, Instagram goes to the dark side. Joining forces with the dastardly forces of big tech, it steals our self-esteem and our attention span, leaving us with nothing to show for the trade but a needy dependency on affirmation by virtual strangers and the menagerie of swimming pool inflatables.
Jessie Jordan's work (see below)
Beautiful Animal Portraits
Traipsing reader Maureen spotted a couple paintings in last week's newsletter photo and asked me about the artist. A great reminder that Jessie Jordan creates awesome portraits of animals, both wild and domestic!
We first spotted Jessie's work on the walls of a favorite breakfast cafe in Portland and own a number of them, including an intense wolf and a serene owl. She also does commission work if you're looking to commemorate a beloved companion animal. Check out her work on Instagram! (I knooow, I know, I ditched IG...but I can still link to it. Isn't irony fun?)
Two Fantastic Novels
As smoke blotted out the sky over the past couple weeks, my typical cheery enthusiasm waned a bit. Two books spirited me away to different times and far-away places via stunning writing:
1. What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg. Published in 1941 and set in Hollywood, every sentence in this book feels handcrafted, fine-tuned, and/or witty. The theme about striving too hard and the costs of that intensity brought me back to my money-seeking ambition in my mid-20s (ack).
2. Less by Andrew Greer. This Pulitzer winner is the kind that made me laugh out loud while crying at the same time. Warning: it starts slowly (Chelsea and I abandoned the audiobook), but I'm glad I picked up the book again later. Witty, entertaining, touching, hilarious... Give it a shot!
That's it for this edition. Forward to a friend, send me a recent favorite find, and please keep doing that rain dance to squash these fires. BEGONE, SMOKE!