What is Art?

Is art only sculptures, and paintings, and things? What about a play or a movie? What about video games?

Is art only what can be seen? Then how would you define poems, songs, and fine cuisine? Are singers and songwriters liars or just mislabeled as artists?

Can only finished pieces be art? Then how can movies and video games publish and sell books of the half finished sketches and paintings that inspired the final product?

Does art have to not have a sales intent to be considered art? I have seen greeting cards, movie posters, and even commercials that would challenge that idea.

Everyone has an opinion on what is art and what isn’t. There is no universally accepted definition that encompasses all of art. Even artists are split on what art is and can be. Art is a profession that is shrouded in mystery, romance, and glamour. In art school, the focus was on teaching you the tools of your trade so they didn’t get in the way of your creativity and expression. Not one of my teachers even tried to define “art”.

One thing that I’ve yet to find an exception for is that all art tells a story.

For movies and videos games, the story is blatant. For greeting cards and commercials, the story either encourages action or evokes emotion. The best art in my opinion always does. Paintings, sculptures, songs, even well made food tell a story – even if that story is as simple as “this is what I care about”.

Do you use art as part of your business’ messaging? Do you make art yourself? What story do you want to tell? Is your art telling that story?

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

New Year, New Commitment

What is your New Years’ ritual?

I spend the night at my church playing board games and feasting on potluck. We toast the new year with Communion (eating wafers and drinking grapefruit juice) and sharing our hopes for the coming year. Then my wife and I usually get home early enough to watch the ball drop and head to bed. By morning, not much has changed.

Except that everything has changed.

We mark the passage of time by minutes, hours, days, months, seasons, and years. What we don’t put enough emphasis on is that we mark the passage of our lives by changes we make. Karen’s going to college. The Jordan’s started trying to get pregnant. Joe gave up drinking. Leslie finally got to retire.

New Year’s is where the two time keeping methods coincide, and the ways people choose to mark the occasion fascinates me. Especially resolutions. People commit to doing things differently, to separating their past from their future. They’re going to do the thing, by howdy.

By February that commitment has shriveled on the vine, killed at the first resistance that was found. Somehow people think that making the resolution part of the ritual of New Years’ will somehow magically make them be able to keep this one. If you’re going to make a resolution, realize that you will need to work to keep it. You will have to make time for it, you will have to spend money and energy and time to pursue it. You will have to defend it when asked about it. You will not receive the recognition you want for it when you want it. You will get discouraged, and there will come a time when you will not care whether or not you fail.

Do not give up. Not then, not ever.

Every day, renew your commitment to your actions. Acknowledge the work that needs to be done, and then start doing it. Eventually you’ll realize your life isn’t the same and that time is no longer passing you, but passing with you.

See you next Wednesday, and Happy New Year.

Chris Jabas

20cc’s Of Thankfulness, Stat!

If I asked you to name 10 things you’re thankful for right now, could you do it without hesitation? Could you name 5? Could you name one?

The holidays for Americans starts with Thanksgiving, a time where we gather around a feast of food with relatives we may not have seen for almost a year. Fights break out over the kids running wild, Uncle Larry supporting the President no matter what he does, and that one cousin who became Vegan this year. These days the world moves in 195 directions at once, and from all the news reports you would think no one likes each other, let alone agrees on a single subject.

Meanwhile, the depression and suicide rates quietly climb as the snow continues to fall.

Happiness and joy springs from a thankful heart. This is what I was taught, growing up in Sunday School at church. As the years passed the realization grew that being thankful was something that you cultivated in yourself. It was something you choose, and continue to choose, day in and day out.

…One day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.

Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

Depression, anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and just life at its thousand views per second pace can make you overlook even the best of things in your life.

Take a moment or five, and fight through the resistance that rears up to write down five things that are good in your life that you can be thankful for. Then, every morning until New Year’s Day, quietly thank whatever gave you those five things, even if it is only the circumstances of life that did.

…and when you finally think of a sixth thing, add that to the list too.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

Do You Know What you’re Worth?

Every painting in your local museum can be replicated.

The Louvre, one of the most famous museums in the world, is no different. Each color can be mixed to perfection, each stroke of paint can be put on an identical canvas in an identical way and aged until it is indistinguishable from the original.

So why is the original so much more valuable?

The value is in the person who made the painting.

The person who made the first painting had knowledge and experience, gained from their hard work and the work of the people they learned from. They had opinions and beliefs that shaped their view of the world. They had events in their lives they shared with no one else. They had a way of interpreting the world and universe around them that no one else had.

The painter was unique.

The same can be said about you.

Out of all the billions of people that have ever lived, you are the only you there is or has been or will ever be. Forget one in a million, you are rarer than one in a billion. That is thousands of times more precious. The amount of money you make or the respect you demand or the value you bring to your loved ones, community, or the rest of the universe only adds to that value.

Have you ever felt worthless?

Be reminded that you are valuable, even if no one in your life currently acknowledges it.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

Let Your Frustrations Be Your Guide

Do you know that all those pesky robocalls you receive can be blamed on a surly undertaker?

When phones first became widely used way back in the 1880’s, there used to be thousands of people employed by the telephone companies as switchboard operators. These operators would physically change the connections of the wires at their boards to route the call to its destination.

Almon Strowger was frustrated when he found out that he was losing funeral customers to a competitor. The competing undertaker’s wife was a local switchboard operator, and had been secretly routing calls meant for Strowger’s business to her husband’s business instead. The last straw was when he found out that the funeral of one of his friends was being held by his competitor.

Wanting to cut out the crooked middleman, or middlewoman as the case had been, Strowger developed the first automatic telephone exchange. Over time, his invention and the future improvements that followed all but eliminated every switchboard operator job that existed.

Take a moment to be thankful for all the things you don’t have to do yourself because technology has simplified it for you.

Today, phone calls in the United States are measured in the billions every month. Can you imagine how many of us would have to be employed as switchboard operators to handle that volume of calls? Nothing else would get done! Though to be fair, the operators would catch most of those robocalls before they even got to you.

What currently frustrates you?

Instead of staying frustrated by it, find what you can do to solve it.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

Don’t Let Your Collection Get Lost

What can be said that has not already been screamed into the void?

I think part of the drive of technology is for the human race to remember more. We have lost so much knowledge to history. Spanish swords known as Damascus blades are of a quality that we still cannot replicate. Ancient roman buildings are made of a form of concrete. The buildings stand to this day and can be visited, whereas concrete sidewalks today need to be replaced every twenty years.

We have also lost many minds, great and small alike.

It is hard to believe that once someone dies, all the knowledge, wisdom and experience that person accumulated over their life is gone. We spend our lives collecting, hoarding, and cherishing the memories of what we have learned. There are many who let that information die with them.

I do not want my collection to be lost when I die.

This is the reason I have started this, my Wednesday Wanderings.

Through this I will try to impart as many of the experiences I have gathered through my life. Some will be great insights, some will be different views on common things, and some will just be a fun jaunt through the corners of this crazy world.

Join me, won’t you?

Chris Jabas

Huevember – Day 16

Ready to sail, captain.

With how little time I’m still having to complete these drawings, I’m now filing them under speed paintings as well. I tried a technique I saw from a few different artist forums for brainstorming: make a couple of very simple shapes with a large brush as a kind of silhouette of what you want to sketch, then pick one and start filling in details.

Huevember – Day 5

Orange alert! I grew up in the 80’s, the era of Aliens, Predator, 2001 and other movies where there was an element of horror being introduced to the idealistic visions of the future. Nothing quite struck a chord in me as the heroine in distress trying to avoid a nasty fate, with danger lurking around the corner she wasn’t watching.

I’m not having as much time to work on these pieces as I’d like, and am having to post them out of order. This is a messy thing to try to do on a daily basis, hence the challenge. I’ve set up a page where they’ll be posted in order that you can find at this link: Huevember Challenge 2017.