May 27, 2010

It's All Relative...

1984 - PALMETTO 3 - w/c - 22x30

I'm not really into self-help books but am a big believer in positive thinking. On a recent drive to the lake house, I caught a book review on NPR's 'Here and Now' ("Counterclockwise," by Dr. Ellen Langer) which really grabbed my attention. As you know, a few years ago we repurchased a house we'd lived in back in the early to mid '80's... since it's on a lake and only an hour away, we've had a great time fixing it up. Lots of hard work but worth it in more ways than I'd ever imagined. Our own personal 'togetherness' and watching the g-kids enjoy swimming and boating during family get-togethers... and personally, getting a whole lot of exercise!

It's a long article but the part I heard on NPR begins with this short paragraph: "I told him that I didn’t know if anything would change as a result of the study, but he might have a good time for a week. He agreed to join us." which is about halfway through the article.

In essence, a controlled study showed that by putting a group of elderly men in a time warp situation for a week where everything (tv, radio, newspapers) is 1958 and you don't even mention anything that's happened since, they improved remarkedly both physically and mentally in just that short time. An earlier study had shown the difference in giving nursing home patients a plant to 1) take care of, or 2) let the aides take care of. The first group became much more involved and attune to more than just the plant. The theory is that we don't need to follow the assumed aging process... there are workarounds!

I didn't really listen closely because I immediately realized the similarities with our own situation and thought about when J and I are working on one project after another at our 'time warp' place, we are much more involved and attune there than when we come back home and each of us go to 'our separate corners' and resume a slower, more suitable pace. I think just being able to go there on occasion is enough... no plans or desire to move back, just want to try to keep up with the people we were three decades ago... and then drive back home and rest up!

This possibly also addresses why I've been so adamant about regaining my earlier, more realistic skills in artmaking. I've rejoined a weekly painting group that I'd been a member of in the 80's... no idea why... nice people, enthusiastic painters, camaraderie maybe... could be it's just a square I need to fill... or refill. I don't know how else to explain except that I expect it to have a positive affect on my future work. Um, wonder what the first signs of schizophrenia might be???

Meanwhile, back in the studio, in present time and having nothing to do with the lake house scenario, plans are well on the way to getting a new body of Bokushos lined up. Don't know what I'm going to do with them, but I'll be ready for whatever!


Cathy Hegman said...

I would start by saying beautiful painting of the Palmetto, I love th design and complicated simplicity of the piece.
I love hearing about the different studies on our behavior to different things and particularly times in life. I can see that study makes sense as we all remember the good old days etc., they are somehow comfortingly less hectic than life now.(no matter what age you are) I think as artists we all begin with realism and then spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how to make it personal in our art. I know how you feel, I often paint something incredibly realistic and then later paint over it. The knowledge, that I still can produce it seems to be all I am after...Perhaps it is senility but I think it is more just the failure to want to let anything go that was a part of the I will go all day thinking about this...thanks for the good little blog!

Martha Marshall said...

Karen, every time I see a painting of yours in this precise realistic style, I think of you as that person I hadn't met yet. The artist you have become has so much more complexity, and in all the good ways.

Your life sounds like the perfect balance -- energizing lake time that renews you for new adventures in the studio.

Karen Jacobs said...

So glad it's possible for others to 'get' what I saw in this book excerpt. I'm at an age when you just can't ignore the facts but that doesn't mean I must succumb to the norm and take up knitting (actually, getting back to needlework is on the list of options, just no time just yet ;) Perfect balance? Not really, but I sure can tell when I need a lake fix!

CMC said...

Lots of interesting thoughts here. Like Cathy....I can go for a long time thinking about this.

Lynne Taetzsch said...

Karen, my husband is 83, and what keeps him going is walking a neighbor's dog in the woods and gardening. He also takes a short bike ride every day and spends a half hour on a bike trainer. He has trouble seeing, hearing, and remembering, but doesn't give up!

I love that you and your husband are finding togetherness in the lake house. That's something I need to figure out.

As for going back to an earlier time in my art, I've never felt that pull. Well, I did try a few self-portraits a couple years ago, just to see if I could . . . so I guess I have.


Karen Jacobs said...

Interesting comment, Lynne... this article/study isn't an answer to aging, for sure. But it was fun to think that J and I pretty much fit the results and since I get many funny looks when I talk about regaining lost drawing skills, it helped satisfy my own askew curiosity. The pull to explore more in my current work is the stronger of the two but I guess I'll always have a foot in the past as well as the future.

ATTILA said...

Awesome. I like your style.