Gems of Wisdom

Yesterday, I happened upon Diane Santarella’s name in association with a gentleman, whom I have watched for years, William “Skip” Lawrence.

Being the person of curiosity that I am, I Googled Diane wanting to know more about her and her art. This act led me to two blogs . . . . .actually, more than two . . . . of Diane’s and Skip’s.

Departing from that line of thought for the moment . . . . .it has been my observation in my art life that there is much introspection occurring in the good artist, whether or not it be conscious. Coming up with ‘who am I’ for the artist is not an easy process in this society because we have so many distractions beginning with TV and probably ending with working to survive. The mass media has led us Americans down a path of cheap, easy to come by images that are usually shallow and don’t have much to say about the creator of the image. So, the authentic, honest artist must strip away layers of years of ‘indoctrination’ about conformity and acknowledging the accepted, conventional wisdom.

All that said, I have spent twenty five years trying to strip away all that stuff and back in 1994 was introduced to Skip in a one week workshop. Not that I wanted to paint like him, but was most curious about his ideas and how he might have stripped away the fluff of indoctrination and put his own, authenticity on the line. It wasn’t long after that workshop that I saw something in Skip’s painting history which made me sit up and take notice: Absolute Growth. That is a biiig deal in my book because most workshop instructors are about “How to Paint Like Me.” They do little to change out of fear that their followers will leave them. So, growth and change, in my eyes, is an act of outright courage. It is an outright confrontation of the fears which follow many artists.

Like many workshop instructors, Skip led the masses in how to paint the traditional watercolor images for some years . . . .he even published a book with those images in them. Then there was a sudden shift. And that shift has evolved into one of the most frank and authentic bodies of work I have ever seen come from a water media artist. He has consistently moved to higher levels of newness every single year! Moreover, he stands by his work and his ideas without waver.

Back to the subject of the blogs by Diane Santarella . . . . . .put in short verbiage, it appears she is the mirror image of Skip in her own authentic approach to art and living. It is a rare soul, these days, who seems to be able to articulate his or her presence in the events of living, and Diane is one of those rare souls. Mind you, I use the word ‘presence’ with conviction because there are few of us in life who can BE PRESENT in the moment of what ever is happening. We, as human animals, seem to add our ‘stuff’ to what ever is occurring, be it interpretation or part of the events of the past or combinations of both. Diane, on the other hand, seems to be present in every moment of her life and acknowledges the realms of possibility which lie in each moment. No small state of mind!

It seems to me that Skip and Diane have a unique place in living out their respective artistic lives: They are infatuated with each other (and they are married) because they can both SEE the absolute beauty and the reality of their presence in the moment. What each adds to those moments, via their art, is so vastly original and exposed that there is no BS in their world. No wonder their lives are so intertwined.

How glorious!

Here are a few links to follow if you are interested in Skip’s thoughts about art and Diane’s words and art. Obviously, I found both to be quite compelling! on this page are seven links to as many different blogs. Skip’s studio notes

A quote from Diane: "Ultimately, if you're going to do something personal, you have to look at your own mind, your own heart, to do it, Not out the window."

And another Santarella Gem:: Approach each moment fresh, use your knowledge and skill as an assist, not a crutch, to discover the possibilities within each action, each choice.”

Someone once said, ‘Every moment is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”

And, in case either Skip or Diane stop by this blog . . . . . .thank you both for being so real and having the courage and wonderful audacity to offer it to all of us!