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Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Key to Shared Laughter is its Direction

"A Joyful Heart" 11x14 pastel, matted and ready to frame
We all love to laugh. It’s healthy. It feels good. Medical professionals recommend it as “the best medicine” in the world; but that depends entirely on where your laughter is directed and on whom.

None of us likes to be “laughed at.” In fact, most of us cringe and recoil when we’re the brunt of someone else's joke. Poking fun of others is another form of bullying. The difference between healthy laughter and aggressive hee-haws is the purpose behind each.

When we laugh together at the same thing that is shared fun we both enjoy. When I laugh at you and watch you squirm, I’m not only making you uncomfortable, I’m pushing you away. This kind of laughter diminishes both of us. You become a victim. I become a heel.

Sensitivity to someone else’s feelings should warn us when we’ve crossed the line. It’s never too late to realize bad taste, even in ourselves. Shared laughter brings us together and bonds our friendship. At the very least, it makes us feel good to be human beings. Finding humor in life or in the awkward situations we find ourselves in may ease the tension in a difficult situation.

"With these Hands -- Hope" mixed media (acrylic underpainting; oil on center of interest)
Laughter can smooth ruffled feathers and ease the pain of embarrassment. A giggle or two at the appropriate time says “I forgive you. Hey, it could have been me!”

I’ll never forget standing in a movie theater lobby with my husband. Everyone nearby was laughing at this guy who tromped from the restroom into our group trailing toilet paper. The more we laughed, the funnier it became. I was nearly doubled over, and a darned good thing. Looking downward I discovered a few sheets of tissue stuck to my own shoe. If you think we were laughing hard at that point, you should have heard us after this discovery!

A person who can laugh at themselves really has it made. They rarely take their petty grievances out on others. They are everybody’s friend. Joy is written on their face. These are the portraits I want to capture and the main reason I love to paint. My Artist Statement declares:

“Thanks to my grandfather, a biologist and teacher; my uncle, a former professor of entomology at Berkeley; and my father, a fly fisherman of great renown; I was born an environmentalist, a lover of nature and of God’s remarkable handiwork.

"I believe there is spirit, voice, and emotion even in inanimate objects, but especially in living things. I envision each object, each life force speaking out – no, shouting out to me. I try to portray nature as honestly and beautifully as I see it. Sometimes I exaggerate color and movement so others may share what my inner life sees and feels. I have a vivid imagination.

"With these Hands -- Wonder"  mixed media (acrylic underpainting, oils on center of interest)
"Portraits are a favorite of mine. The slightest crinkle in a nose or the twinkle in an eye can tell volume’s about a person’s personality. Faces are complex; as varied as the flowers in springtime, as deep as the roots of a tree or the depth of an ocean. I hope viewers will experience joy when they look at my paintings.”

I started painting in oils, but chose acrylics because there was no smell and you don’t need turpentine. I had a mishap where the mineral spirits ate through the plastic container it was stored in and trickled over the floor soaking my rug before it seeped into my storage area. That was a real turnoff!

But after watching Vladimir Volegov paint in “quick time” on YouTube, I’m having second thoughts about oils. Volegov is a master of color, light, and of blocking in shapes as quickly as possible. Every stroke counts! 

I hope you enjoy the following links: 

Girl at Rest

Here is another favorite artist: Ritch Gaiti with his ethereal Native American paintings of “another time, another place”: