in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

My son asked me if art was still art if no-one else sees it, (does the tree falling in the forest make a sound if no-one is there to hear it?). Profound questions!
To make art is to share ideas, dreams, emotions and stories – the narratives of one’s life. If no-one but the artist ever sees it is the image simply artistic masturbation – a satisfying relief for the artist but a lonely and isolated pursuit? Sharing one’s art and sending it out into the world is always exciting and a little scary, evoking emotions similar to when one’s children leave home.

So, here I am, beginning a new adventure; claiming my small camp site in a vast cyber scape. I arrive barefoot with nothing but my two passions: art and writing, and a beginner’s mind.

9 thoughts on “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

  1. I think that you have successfully entered the digital jungle with success and style John. It really is another world, filled with it’s own political rope traps, wild waterfall conversations & savage beasts waiting to pounce.

    While I agree to a certain extent that art that no one sees becomes masturbatory, there is still a purpose for it. Let’s face it – a little masturbation is good for the body and soul (I’m classing up your first post). I don’t believe that every study or experiment needs necessarily be shared with the entire world – but it is still important to try, to fail and to explore. Sometimes when I create a new line or discover a new brushstroke, I am so filled with satisfaction. I will sometimes try to share my enthusiasm for this discovery, but it’s not always as exciting to people outside of our avocation. It’s the sharing of the summation of that journey that is important to share.

    Austin Kleon ( says the secret to being a great artist is to “do great things, and then put it where people can see it.”

    Looks like you’re on your way!


    1. It’s great to hear your drums in the ‘jungle’ K… and they beat with such style. I appreciate your positive feedback and I fear no ‘savage beasts’ ‘cus I have some awesomely powerful catnip in my cupboard! Yes, the solitary process of the artist, the pleasures and challenges, the explorations and the dreaming, the finding and losing, are as much ‘art’ as the resulting piece, and really they cannot be separated. I think what my son meant by ‘art’ (and what many people mean) is the end product – because the process, most often, is unobserved. I look forward to many ‘wild waterfall conversations’.
      Thanks for the great Kleon link.


  2. Hello, john,

    thank you for the invitation to your corner of the ether, and for your ideas on art and art-making. i like the grey background; it reminds me of old public buildings in unloved corners of italian cities. unornamented and clear, but not dull.

    i don’t know if this is the right place to ask, but i am wondering about the contrast between the rigorous, disciplined repetitiveness of your mandalas and the free, uncentred movement in your paintings and drawings. are they done in different intents? or is it dependent on current visual stimulae? or time and space? all are stimulating – i am just curious. and admiring.


  3. Carolyn, thank YOU for your very kind, thoughtful and supportive comments.
    Not completely “unloved corners of Italian cities” – my heart, for one, is there.
    The contrast between my mandalas and my paintings/drawings reflects the contrast between two sides of my creative needs. Sometimes I need the discipline required by the mandalas, (my idol here is Jack Wise, Canadian artist), but more often I need the more intuitive approach influenced by the Surrealist concept of automatism. The mandalas are very personal and rational symbolic gifts for family and close friends, whereas the paintings and drawings are subconscious images that are intuitively painted or drawn without any reliance on preparatory sketches, copies or models – a convergence of chance, openness and imagination.


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