"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Less is more

"Less is more," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Our materialistic culture values things, and the means to acquire more things. 
If there's one lesson that stands out during this pandemic of viruses, racism and political chaos, it is that America values things and money more than health and humanity. 
How can you tell? Listen to all the talk about the "economy," a short word for things and money. It has exposed the greatest weakness of capitalism...what happens when people can't work and earn money and acquire things? That's why there's so much pressure to "re-open" businesses, including schools and universities. 
Money is being lost, and that is more important culturally than lives. We equate lots of things, abundance, with success and quality of life.
People are suffering economically when they can't work to afford  even a house payment because our society, our government, is not prepared  nor equipped to care for those in dire need. Only look at the long lines and unemployment benefits disaster just in Oklahoma.
I'm not a communist, a socialist, nor a minimalist, but the lessons are clear...getting more things, a system built on that principle, is a disaster waiting to happen. It's happening
The last time this happened, in the Depression, it took 10 years to come to grips with, revolutionizing American society. Another depression is setting in, fueled by something more deadly than a Stock Market crash. 
This pandemic is changing American society  as we find we don't need to got to the store...it can be delivered. It's already bankrupted many smaller businesses, and laid off thousands of food service workers. Big retail is next. 
I read the other day that malls, those monuments and temples to materialism (euphemistically called "consumerism") will be the next victims --within a few years--of what this pandemic has wrought...death of retail stores. Think of all the people who will be out of work. 
And as I get older, I'm working on "divesting" myself of things and not getting more of them. I go to a store for something specific, and look at all those "things" I don't need.
Spiritual leaders like Jesus and Buddha,  revolutionaries like Gandhi, mystics throughout the ages, have warned and taught that material abundance won't make you happy. 
All these thoughts ran through my head as I tried to find something to paint in response to #WorldWatercolorMonth's prompt, "Abundance."
I started with the idea from Jesus saying he had come so we could have "life more abundantly," but couldn't figure out what to paint. In Psalms, "My cup runneth over" but that didn't sound fun, and sort of bland. 
Doing a little surfing the web on words and more, photos of people meditating or doing yoga on the beach showed up.
I'm not a practitioner, though I should be, and I know friends and relatives who are. 
Irony: this is an "abundance" of thoughts and words for a simple painting. Abundance? Less is more.

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