Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Artist in Residence July 3, 2013

It might not be the most conventional perspective, but I’m not the most conventional dog. I see it in the intricacies of snowflakes. And in a well-constructed poem. And in an unforgettable moment. And in the flowers in the backyard. Art is everywhere I look. But my ground-level perspective on art doesn’t stop there. I do also have an appreciation for things that are more frequently categorized as art by the greater population. Thank you Artist In the Sky

My sense of humor draws me to the masterpieces of American artist C.M. Coolidge, who is best known for his paintings of dogs playing poker. Obviously I see these paintings are a metaphor for our canine brilliance in the art of causing trouble. We love with all our heart, but we are indeed masters of mischief.

My philosophical side draws me to the work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, creator of The Thinker. The interpretation is one that makes its viewer ponder what on Earth the man could be thinking so hard about. Me? I wonder what on Earth he isn’t thinking about. We are so blessed to be granted with brains with which to solves life’s most simple and incredibly complex problems. The Thinker is a brilliant embodiment of my existential beliefs that what we think influences everything about who we are.

Finally, it is the dreamer in me that can’t look away from Vincent Van Gough’s Starry Night. It hangs in my forever home and whenever I catch myself staring at it I can almost picture it coming to life. Sometimes I swear I see a shooting star journeying across that beautiful blue sky.

I appreciate each of these artistic landmarks, as they are representative of what is thought of by many as art. But  I appreciate the undiscovered artwork by those striving to make a name for themselves. “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” suggested Irish poet Oscar Wilde. So I appreciate the artists who don’t even know how brilliant they are yet. The artists who see art everywhere like I do, even if it’s not the most conventional. The Artist in the Sky. These are the true heroes of art who have made permanent residence in my heart.


If I Were a Painter April 6, 2013

Every person I encounter adds an inexplicable brush of color to my own personal sketchbook of life. I’ve always been better with words than with art, but I aspire to be better at all things I love. “Today you might want to cast your net for inspiration and consider forming a circle of kindred spirits,” Sarah Ban Breathanch writes in Simple Abundance.

If I Were A PainterHow lucky I am have such a wide variety of colorful characters in the blogosphere to inspire me on a daily basis. I find my inspiration in the blogs around me that encourage a sense of exploration and adventure.

“Since I was a wee baby boat cat I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited aboard lots,” wrote Bailey Boat cat this morning. “I love exploring!”

Later in the day, I was surprised to see a message of hope from the Happy Hugger, who quoted a powerful one-liner about learning from mistakes but not forgetting what led you to that point.

Whether I’m out exploring, or learning from my mistakes, it’s a good day to be a painter by spirit. My little doggie eyes and mind may only see a few colors in the spectrum but even I can see the need for color in a day like today. Color isn’t always an easy thing to see in an otherwise grey world, especially when you’re eyes are designed only for seeing a select few colors in the spectrum.

However I would argue that (like with anything) if your sight is limited, you are (at the very least) granted the gift of gratitude for what you have rather then dwelling on what you don’t. You are given a paintbrush of the mind to make your own backdrop for what you believe. If I were a painter, I would take a page from the sketchbook and songbook of singer-songwriter Norah Jones, who would paint her reverie in appreciation of time with her loved ones.

Tonight, my messages of luck, exploration and learning come together in the one and only line in the blog from a diplomatic yet artistic canine soul who quotes Walter Miller’s thought that “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.” With my body I choose to appreciate color whenever I’m afforded the chance to do so. And if, for some reason, color isn’t part of my landscape, I paint it myself.


Snow: My Blanket of Diamonds February 7, 2013

Art happened in my backyard today. God laid down a beautiful white blanket of diamonds. Sparkly snow covers the grass and the trees. It’s breathtaking. As I envisioned myself as a Giselle gracefully leaping across the yard, I found myself in awe of how alive art can be.

Art and poetry have that in common. They are living, evolving things that are perceived differently by every beholder. German artist and writer Goethe would argue this is because no beholder has the same experiences feeding into their vision.

“All my poems are suggested by real life and therein have a firm foundation,” he said. “No one can imitate when you write of the particular, because no others have experienced exactly the same thing.”

And so with our unique perspective we breath life into art. But I’m not so sure that’s such an easy concept to wrap our minds around. It can be more comfortable pass these moments by, or to think that our artistic perspective is not interesting enough to share. I used to fall victim to this myself. Who cares what I think? I’m just a terrier mutt with a big heart and a lot to say. That doesn’t mean anyone wants to listen.

Thank you Vincent Van Gogh for explaining what helped bring my vision back into focus.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced,” said the brilliant post-Impressionist artist. I have decided to take his advice and silence that negative train of thought. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

So does Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “Today, take a real risk that can change your life: start thinking of yourself as an artist and your life as a work-in-progress,” Breathnach challenges. “Works in progress are never perfect. But changes can be made to the rough draft during the rewrites…Art evolves. So does life. Art is never stagnant. Neither is life. The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art.”

With inspiration from beauty as rich as my own personal white blanket of diamonds, I can honestly say I never want to stop painting.