Spirit versus material — these are trees!

The last couple of articles stirred up some dust, and I love it!

There were some questions asked about the couple seeing the trees in the painting. Also, when I banged on the coffee table and said it wasn’t real, the question was, if it wasn’t a coffee table, what was it?

For years, I didn’t know that I had the right to question another person, that if they said something was right, I believed they were right. Then, one day, I questioned something that was said, and I knew it wasn’t the truth. That was the day that I started thinking for myself. That was the day that deception began to fall away. It takes a lifetime of changing our minds to see the truth. It comes by questioning what we have been taught, and what we have always thought.

The task is not to challenge another person’s thoughts, but to challenge ourselves as to what we think. I believe this is why Lee Ables from Arizona wrote, “I read with interest your article about reality. I can see why the students were shocked about the statement regarding the ‘coffee table.’ Obviously, the table was a physical reality; what was not real was calling it a ‘coffee table.’ What makes it a ‘coffee table’as opposed to a ‘desk’or a ‘shelf for magazines?’ That question is the part that is in the minds of the viewers.

 “I am reminded of your article about the people looking at a painting they thought was about trees, but were unable to see the trees. After discussing it, the trees suddenly appeared to them. The question that came to my mind was whether they finally saw the trees or were guided into thinking they saw them by the ‘title’ of the work? What if the artist had called the work something else; would they have still eventually seen the trees? And, even if they had, were the trees real?”

I contacted my friend B.L. in New Mexico, who wrote about the trees and asked her to answer Lee’s question. She replied, “In regards to the question from LA from Arizona about ‘Now we see the trees’; no, it was not due to seeing the title of the work that we came to understanding that in the painting were trees. Understanding came when one day we carefully looked at the painting instead of simply gazing at it, enjoying its beautiful colors simply as a decorative item.

 “An artist is often offended by a person looking for art which goes well with their carpet. So, to an artist then, it is not just colors, it’s an expression!! So then, it was when we stopped looking at the colors only that we saw the expression, which in this case were trees.

 “Again, I will state that the artist knew all the time that“they were trees when she sat down to express that truth on canvas, however it was much later that we came to see what was being expressed!  Now every time we view that expression, or piece of art, we see what the artist saw, ‘Trees.’ No longer do we view them as abstract, but now truth. These are trees!”

After receiving the article about the trees, Julie from Minnesota wrote, “Not to confuse things even further, but I like quirky lines from movies and there is a line in the movie ‘Stranger than Fiction’ where the Human Resources guy tells the troubled employee: ‘Trees are trees.’ (I’m not kidding).

“It seems to me like what you are trying to say is that the components of an object, piece of music or painting are what is real, not the object. So Lee’s question is — are the trees real? Not by the definition from your previous article. What is real is the spirit or impression one is left with after contemplating an object, listening to a piece of music or viewing a painting. Otherwise, if this is not the gist you were going for, then I’m lost. Ha ha!”

T. Frances, a reader from Pagosa wrote, “The table thing I sort of get, in that we really are in a shadow world, and once in a while we notice that it is not real, compared to the non-shadow world, even when we do not really see the non-shadow world. Many people have noticed this, some more clearly than others, and more clearly at certain moments than others.

“I heard it said that someone sent Pablo Picasso a check with a letter asking for painting lessons. Picasso made a little squiggle on the back of the check and sent it back. Instantly, the check was worth far more as a relic of the great Picasso than the modest amount the sender wrote on it. I guess that’s sort of an art lesson. Was it Picasso’s spirit in the squiggle?

”So I don’t know. Remember Spike Jones’ comical music stunts? They were all jokes, but one thing that made them really good was his group’s absolutely precise playing, just as tough as any classical performance.”

So, my friends out there in Pagosa Land, I am still stirring the pot and questioning thoughts that are higher than mine. But, sometimes we become so heavenly minded that we become no earthly good. We still need coffee tables to put our feet on, and time to sit back and take life as it comes and a sweet husband pulling me back to earth, saying, “It’s time for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ I wonder who is going to be kicked off tonight.” Now that is Reality TV. How real is that?

The Final Brushstroke: Take time to enjoy the trees, or whatever you see. It is enough!

Comments from Readers

Please send your comments or commentary on how you see Life in the Artist’s Lane to bettyslade@centurytel.net .  Everyone sees trees differently.

Quote for the Week

“Art should reveal the unknown, to those who lack the experience of seeing it.” — Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.

At the Co-op

Visit our Web site, www.pagosaspringsartists.com. We are still receiving works by artists and craftspeople who want to become members of the Co-op.

The Co-op has made a special place for a continuing display for student art. We hope to encourage the young artists of Pagosa. They will have an opportunity to work with other artists and learn how to market their art.


Photo courtesy Betty Slade
The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op welcomes artists Kyle Brookins and Ashley Iverson as the newest and youngest members of the Co-op. There is a special place set aside for student art and the Co-op hopes to encourage the young artists of Pagosa with an opportunity to work with other artists and sell their art.