Tag painting

Rethinking How We Define Passion & Why We Should Cultivate A Craftsman’s Mindset …*

Rethinking How We Define Passion & Why We Should Cultivate A Craftsman’s Mindset ...* | rethinked.org

I am reading a fascinating book on the history of the color palette and one of the chapters I was just reading addresses the historical shift of the perception of painting as a “craft profession to an art one.” This shift was accelerated in the mid-seventeenth century with the nascent field of ‘colormen,’ professionals who mixed raw materials into paints, something artists had mostly done themselves until that point.

“For “craftspeople” the ability to manage one’s material was all important; for “artists” the dirty jobs of mixing and grinding were simply time consuming obstacles to the main business of creation.”

[ . . . ]

“What was the good of painting a masterpiece if its constituent elements would spend the next few years fighting together chemically on the canvas, and ultimately turn black? The early seventeenth-centuy painter Anthony Van Dyck knew how to employ varnish so that colors that would otherwise react with each other would be safe from ruin; Victorian artists, however, did not, and this was, Holman Hunt predicted, to be their downfall. Part of the issue was that he–and his teachers, and his teachers’ teachers–had rarely had to mix paint from basic materials. He had never had to grind a rock, or powder a root, or burn a twig, or crush a dried insect. Nor, more importantly, had he observed the chemical reactions involved in paint-making and seen how colors changed over the years.”

Source: Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

This reminded me of advice I read from Cal Newport about shifting from a ‘passion’ mindset, which has been a dominant cultural trope these past few decades–“what do I love to do and how do I do only that?”–to a “crafstman’s” mindset, a relentless focus on activating one’s unique potential by continually pushing to develop one’s skills and acquire new ones.

My advice is to abandon the passion mindset which asks “What does this job offer me? Am I happy with this job? Is it giving me everything I want?” Shift from that mindset to Steve Martin’s mindset, which is “What am I offering the world? How valuable am I? Am I really not that valuable? If I’m not that valuable, then I shouldn’t expect things in my working life. How can I get better?“ Like a craftsman, you find satisfaction in the development of your skill and then you leverage that skill once you have it to take control of your working life and build something that’s more long-term and meaningful… When I talk about the habits of the craftsman mindset, it’s really the habits of deliberate practice. So someone who has the craftsman mindset is trying to systematically build up valuable skills because that’s going to be their leverage, their capital for taking control of their career and they share the same habits you would see with violin players or athletes or chess players.

The craftsmen out there are not the guys checking their social media feeds every five minutes. They’re not looking for the easy win or the flow-state. They’re the guys that are out there three hours, pushing the skill. “This is hard but I’m going to master this new piece of software. I’m going to master this new mathematical framework.” That’s the mindset, the habit of the craftsman.

Source: Cal Newport on how you can be an expert and why you should *not* follow your passion

I think there is something about the craftsman’s mindset that is particularly important in our age of instant gratification and seemingly constant technological innovation. The abundant research on flow states is just one potent reminder of the joys and rewards to be found in taking the long road when creating something, whether it is a painting, a life or a career. Working through challenges is not a guarantee for reaching a flow state, but without an appropriate degree of difficulty relative to one’s skill level, without stretching past what we know, flow is impossible.

We need a collective rethink in how we define passion. Passion is not easy nor instantaneously gratifying and it is certainly not always joyful. When we ignore the painful aspects of passion, we lose out on the chance to ferociously pursue the possibility of living meaningful and fulfilling lives where we have the potential to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. 

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” – Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves 

learn, practice, create & rethink …* 

{ Wondrous Wednesdays } Using Painting to Keep Zoo Animals Happy & Healthy …*

{ Wondrous Wednesdays } Using Painting to Keep Zoo Animals Happy & Healthy ...* | rethinked.org

Artist: Jack, Western Lowland Gorilla | Source: BioParkSociety.org

The abstract masterpieces of such unlikely artists as Prehensile Tail Porcupines, goats, hissing cockroaches and vinegaroons (had to Google that one) are sure to infuse your Wednesday with a hefty dose of wonder and delight. This budding art collective is the result of an enrichment program from the ABQ BioPark Zoo. The therapeutic and enriching benefits of painting, it would seem, extend to animals. “Getting them to use their brains and to figure things out keeps them happier and healthier,” says zoo manager, Lynn Tupa.

The animals at the ABQ BioPark Zoo have learned to paint as an enrichment activity, purely for their own pleasure and mental stimulation. To ensure that painting remains enjoyable for the animals, the opportunity to paint is an occasional treat, not part of their daily routine.

From primate Picassos to buggy Botticellis, our stable of talented animal artists has increased this year to provide an even greater variety of original masterpieces that will thrill collectors and animal enthusiasts alike. Choose from a number of genres and styles that include (but not limited to) elephants, gorillas, parrots, marsupials, alligators, insects and more!

Head over to the Bio Park Society website to view (and perhaps purchase) the paintings (all done with non-toxic tempera paint) by this unlikely band of artists. All proceeds from the paintings directly support that animal’s program at the ABQ BioPark. You can also ‘meet’ some of the artists through their endearing online bios. From Shona the Warthog, who has found the activity “very therapeutic since her mate, Chip, recently passed away,” to Sarah the Orangutan who, “reserves her favorite colors, like silver, to paint her hands and feet and uses her least favorite colors on the canvas,” (a girl’s gotta have her favorite things), you’ll learn about the unique manner in which each artist approaches his or her craft and some intriguing facts about their species. Some of the animals, like Crocket the Raccoon, have instantly taken to the activity while others, like Tonka the Orangutan, are more reticent. “His appearance is very important to him. He will pick up his very long hair as he tries to avoid mud puddles. This is why we are still working on his painting. He goes to great lengths to avoid getting his hands dirty and will continuously wipe the paint off them.”

delight, wonder & rethink …* 


Artist: Calloway – Banded Armadillo | Source: BioParkSociety.org

W.H. Auden reads his poem Musée des Beaux Arts

(Via: Poetictouch 2012 on YouTube, published October 9, 2011)

Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
Walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not especially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the
torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.


Henri Cartier-Bresson on his friend Alberto Giacometti

Portrait of Alberto Giacometti taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1961 (via magnumphotos.com)

For Alberto Giacometti – Essay by Henri Cartier-Bresson

The expression hardly changes on that craggy face; the mask surprises you: you’re never quite sure whether he has heard you. But his responses! Always right on the mark, profound, and personal, on the most varied subjects.

Giacometti is one of the most intelligent and lucid men I know, honest with himself and harsh with his own work, digging right in where things are most difficult. In Paris, he gets up at about three o’clock in the afternoon, goes to the corner cafe, works, rambles over to Montparnasse, and goes to bed at daylight. Annette is his wife.

Giacometti’s fingernails are always black; but he isn’t sloppy or in the least bit affected. He hardly ever speaks about sculpture with other sculptors, unless it’s with Pierre Josse, one of his childhood friends, a banker and sculptor, or with Diego, his own brother. I was overjoyed to learn that Alberto had the same three passions that I have: Cezanne, Van Eyck, and Uccello. He has said things that are so right about photography and the attitude one needs to have, and also about color photography.

Of Cézanne and the other two, he once said admiringly: “They are monsters.” His face has the look of a sculpture–not one of his own–except for that furrow of wrinkles. His gait, the way he moves, is very distinct: one heel set far ahead–perhaps he’s had some accident, I don’t know. But the movement of his thinking is even more particular: his answer goes far beyond what you have said; he draws a line, adds everything up and starts another equation altogether. Such vibrancy of spirit: the least conventional, the most honest.

In the town of Stampa, in the Swiss Graubünden canton, three or four kilometers from Italy, is his mother’s house; she is ninety years old, alive and intelligent, and she knows how to make her son stop working on a painting she likes, if she feels it’s finished. His father’s studio is an old barn. Alberto works there in the summertime; in the winter he shuts himself up in the dining room. Either he or his brother Diego calls their mother every day from Paris. Diego is extremely modest, and very reserved. Alberto greatly admires his brother’s talent as a sculptor; Diego makes beautiful furniture and casts Alberto’s sculptures. More than once, Alberto has said to me: “The real sculptor isn’t me, it’s Diego.”

The house where his father was born is now the village inn–it belongs to his cousin; the grocery store is owned by another cousin. When he asks the price of the apples he is buying to paint them, she says: “Well, that depends on how much you’ll get on your painting!” Alberto has told me that he used to get bored, and would try to do too much at one time–apples, landscapes, portraits–and that he had to concentrate on just two subjects. It’s marvelous, such a sense of economy, which is the measure of taste.

The openings for his exhibitions are grand events, but for him they are a sore subject. He says: “I should just bring out everything I have at a given date and show it, and say, ‘This is where I am right now.'” Again, such honesty. But no matter what he says, his work comes off as being hand-in-glove with beauty itself.

For Alberto, intellect is an instrument at the service of sensitivity. In certain areas, however, his sensitivity takes odd forms; for example, his deep scorn for all emotional sloppiness.

But enough: he’s my friend.

Source Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The Mind’s Eye: Writings on photography and photographers. New York: Aperture, 1999. Print.

‘Unknown to himself, he becomes someone else. It is a condition known as fugue’ -Ciaran Carson, Shamrock Tea

Happiest of birthdays to rethinking champion…* Ciaran Carson, Northern Ireland born poet and novelist. Join us in celebrating Carson’s 64th birthday today with some magnificent quotes from his 2001 novel, Shamrock Tea.

On the World…*

They will see the world as it really is, a world in which everything connects; where the Many is One, and the One is Many. There will be no division, for everything in the real world refers to something else, which leads to something else again, in a never-ending hymn of praise. The world is an eternal story. (236)


On looking into the minds of others & the specter of solipsism…*

Maeterlinck imagined seeing the world through the multi-faceted eye of the bee—a grainy world, like needlepoint, composed of dots of information, in which no red is visible but lit with ultra-violet beyond the range of human sight. Moreover, the bee’s visual system has a high flicker-fusion frequency, so that if a bee were to watch a motion picture, it would see isolated frames connected by moments of darkness, and would not be deluded into thinking that the images moved.

Of course, said Maeterlinck, as to what the bee really perceives, we can have no idea; but then, can we know at all the inner experience of our fellows when they call the colors with the same names as we do ourselves? No mans’ eye has ever looked into the mind of another. (131)


On the condition known as fugue…*

What do we know of ourselves? I, too, have done my time with the monks. I have cut myself off from the world, only to find myself return to it. I have climbed the glaciers of Iceland, and have stared into Norwegian fjords. I have inhabited the wilds of Connemara. I am of no fixed abode. I speak to you in a language which is not mine. Yet, I need someone to speak to.

Sometimes, I think that, for all I know, I might be someone else. In the anecdote I was about to relate to you before we entered the Arcadia, that is precisely what happens to its subject: unknown to himself, he becomes someone else. It is a condition known as fugue. (162)


On Memory…*

Ah, the forward-flowing tide of time! he cried. How it sweeps all before it, defying our every effort to recount past times! For behind every story lies another story, and I have found myself diverted at every turn in my attempt to give you a biography of Wittgenstein. In doing so, I am prompted by memory, which St Augustine likens to a vast field or a spacious palace, a storehouse for countless images of all kinds.

When I use my memory, he says, I ask it to produce whatever it is I wish to remember; no sooner do I say, how shall I relate this, or that, than the images of all the things whereof I wish to speak spring forward from the same great treasure house. I open the portals of my inward eye and stalk the cloisters of my memory, in which images appear at every archway, every alcove, every pillar. Statues manifest themselves at every step, pointing with their eyes or hands towards other graven images; I open another door, and dormant sounds reverberate within the chambers of my ear. Another room has niches stocked with jars made of precious stone—chrysoprase, carnelian, the milky blue of sardonyx, and many more, each memorable for its color, each holding a specific perfume, redolent of long-forgotten episodes. (167)


On Being What One Is…*

Is it any wonder we are the  way we are? I am grateful for parts of it. How could I not be, for how could I otherwise be? I must be who I am. I love the clarity of the world because of it. You know, the way things gleam at you, it might be a china cup, or a primrose in a hedge, or a dented aluminum wash-basin, and they seem to share with you their contentment at being just what they are. (239)


On Painting…*

Painting, he said, is the art of making things real, because you have looked at how things are. In order to paint a twig you must look at a twig, and to paint a tree you must look &c. Only then do you bring the two things together. But you must also remember the injunction of Cennino, that the occupation known as painting requires you to discover things not seen, and present them to the eye as if they actually exist. (50)

Source: Carson, Ciaran. Shamrock Tea. New York: Granta, 2001. Print.

Celebrating Frida

Happy birthday Frida Kahlo!

Frida, who was born in Coyoacán in 1907, would have been 106 today. She is a great rethinked…* inspiration & hero and we hope you join us in celebrating her this weekend.

Watch a free online biographical documentary on Frida:


Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI

Enjoy some of the her own and family photographs from Frida Kahlo: Her Photos by James Oles, Horacio Fernadez, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio and of course Frida Kahlo






Te vas? No. Alas rotas


Excerpts from her journal printed in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait edited by Carlos Fuentes






(Right) Portrait of Neferúnico. Founder of Lokura.

Alone with my great happiness with the very vivid memory of the little girl. It has been 34 years since I lived that magical friendship and every time I remember it it comes alive and grows more and more inside my world. PINZÓN 1950. Frida Kahlo LAS DOS FRIDAS Coyoacán Allende 52


(Left) Feet what do I need them for If I have wings to fly. 1953


(Left) my fault? I admit, my great guild as great as pain it was an enormous exit which my love came through. A very quiet passage that was leading me toward death I was so neglected! That it would have been best for me. You are killing yourself! YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF There are some who will never forget you! I took their strong hands Here I am, for them to live. Frida

(Right) Years. Waiting with anguish hidden away, my spine broken, and the immense glance, footless through the vast path….Carrying on my life enclosed in steel. Diego!


 (RIGHT) JULY 1953. Cuernavaca Supporting points In my entire figure there is only one, and I want two. For me to have two they must cut one off It is the one I don’t have the one I have to have to be able to walk the other will be dead! I have many, wings. Cut them off and to hell with it!!


(Left) The horrible “Eyesaurus” primitive ancient animal, which dropped dead to link up the sciences. It looks up . . and has no name. –We’ll give it one: THE horrible EYESAURUS!

(Right) Astonished she remained seeing the sun-stars and the live-dead world and being in the shade.

(Left) pain – pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence XXXX the revolutionary struggle XXXXX in this process is a doorway open to intelligence

(Right) Anniversary of the revolution 7th of November 1947 Tree of Hope stand firm! I’ll wait for you– You responded to a sense with your voice and I’m full of you, waiting for your words which will make me grow and will enrich me. DIEGO I’m alone.

Who is this idiot?


(right) dog

(left) What a dish!



   (left) This pen is no good for this paper. I have never seen tenderness as great as Diego has and gives when his hands and his beautiful eyes touch Mexican Indian sculpture.

(right) No one is more than a function–or part of a total function. Life goes by, and sets paths, which are not traveled in vain. But no one can stop “freely” to play by the wayside, because he will delay or upset the general atomic journey. From this comes discontent. From this comes despair and unhappiness. We all would like to be the sum total and not one of the numerical elements. Changes and struggles disconcert us, terrify us because they are constant and certain, we search for calm and “peace’ because we foresee the death that we die every second. Opposites unite and nothing new or arhythmic is discovered. We take refuge in, we take flight into irrationality, magic, abnormality, in fear of the extraordinary beauty of the truth

(left) Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep I’m falling asleep

 (right) 1st. I’m convinced of my disagreement with the counterrevolution–imperialism–fascism–religions–stupidity–capitalism–and the whole gamut of bourgeois tricks–I wish to cooperate with the Revolution in transforming the world into a classless one so that we can attain a better rhythm for the oppressed classes. 2nd. a timely moment to clarify who are the allies of the Revolution    Read Lenin–Stalin–Learn that I am nothing but a “small damned part of a revolutionary movement. Always revolutionary never dead, never useless.

               Don’t come crying to me! Yes, I come crying to you.

                      (Left)  March 53. My Diego. I’m no longer alone. Wings? You keep me company. You lull me to sleep and make me come alive

(Right) I love Diego ~ Love

(Right) Chabela Villasenor– Ruddy Long Live comrades STALIN, MAO      Life   Death     WORLD DOE PAINTER POET     Long live Marx Engels Lenin

                      (Left) Color of poison. Everything upside down. ME? Sun and moon feet and Frida

Perhaps the most salient way to pay homage to Frida’s life and work is by embodying her spirit and attitude in our thoughts and actions. Frida dug deep inside herself and lay bare what she found, in all its beauty, gore, messy and chaotic glory. She sought the very human, those parts in herself that defined her condition, perception and experience of existence. She was not afraid to search for the things that hurt, and she was not ashamed to the show the ugly parts either. Frida’s art and life are one of the most touching, deep and honest message of love and respect for the human being–in all that she encompasses:  her flaws and weaknesses and immense capability and eternal possibility to imagine a different way.

So this weekend make a special effort to get in touch with the very human, very organic, messy and beautiful side of yourself. Realize that we all bleed and that we are all in search of connection and meaning. Take a step back and evaluate yourself honestly, what are the more negative things you see? How could you create a design challenge around the things you want to change? And how could you celebrate all the positive you see in yourself and others? Make this weekend a time of reflection and rethinking; get outside of yourself and into others, act with courage, compassion and imagination. & journal away…

~ Happy Frida Weekend ~


Curating Ideas & Possibilities

Have you browsed our collection of videos on the ideas that inspire, intrigue and influence us?


We’re constantly adding inspiring videos we find so be sure to check back for new ones


John Hockenberry: Why We Are All Designers TED 2012

Stefan Sagmeister on Designing Minds I

Stefan Sagmeister on Designing Minds II

Stefan Sagmeister on Designing Minds III

Stefan Sagmeister Shares Happy Design TED 2004

Tim Brown Urges Designers to Think Big TEDGlobal 2009



8,000 Chinese Lanterns Over Poznan, Poland 2011

Muto: A Wall-Painted Animation by BLU 2008

BIG BANG BIG BOOM ~ Wall-Painted Animation by BLU 2010

Western Spaghetti by PES 2008

Pixels by Patrick Jean 2010

Cecil Hepworth’s 1903 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland

Water Drop Filmed in 10,000 Frames Per Second

Experience the Walker Library of Human Imagination

One Year in 40 Seconds eirikso.com 2008

A Young Glenn Gould Plays Bach 

Duke Ellington Plays for Joan Miro

Neil Pasricha “The 3 A’s of Awesome” TEDxToronto 2010

Theo Jansen Creates a New Creature TED 2007

How Wings Are Attached To the Back of Angels Craig Welsh 2008

1894 boxing cats- Thomas Edison

Fabian Hemmert: The Shape-Shifting Future of the Mobile Phone TEDxBerlin 2010

Coloring Bach ~ Evan Shinner

Salvado Dali – Mike Wallace Interview I (1958)

Marcel Duchamp ~ Anemic Cinema (1926)



Tal Ben-Shahar: Positive Psychology – The Science of Happiness 2006 Brainy Acts lecture

Five Ways To Become Happier Today Tal Ben-Shahar on Big Think 2009

Big Think Interview with Tal Ben-Shahar 2012

Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice TEDglobal 2005

The Dalai Lama talks about compassion 2010 talks at Stanford 

Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology TED 2004

Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts 

Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow TED 2004



Tim Brown on Creativity and Play Serious Play 2008

Why Man Creates I by Saul Bass 1968

Why Man Creates II by Saul Bass 1968

Dark Side of the Lens by Mickey Smith 



Can Character Be Taught? Aspen Ideas Festival 2012 Panel Discussion with Dominic Randolph, Paul Tough, Andrea Mitchell & Russel Shaw

Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms RSA Animate

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution! TED 2010

Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity TED 2006

Dan Meyer: Math Class Needs a Makeover TEDxNYED 2010

Emily Piloton Teaching Design for Change TEDGlobal 2010



Chris Abani Muses on Humanity TED 2008

Chimamanda Adichie on The Danger of A Single Story TEDGlobal 2009

Susan Conley on The Power of Story TEDxDirigo



Jer Thorp: Make Data More Human TEDxVancouver 2011



Pranav Mistry: The Thrilling Potential of SixthSense Technology TEDIndia 2009

ZeroN: An Amazing, Gravity Defying New Interactive Technology from the MIT Tangible Media Group


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