Let them talk to each other

This quote was posted a while ago by Austin Kleon. The quote comes from Steven Tomlinson talking about advice from his professor Will Spong when he asked him how to choose a life path from his three passions of business, the theatre and the seminary.

Spong answered:

This is the stupidest question anyone has asked me. You’re telling me that there are three things you love and you want me to tell you which two to cut off…so you can limp along on the other one? This is not how things work. The advice I have for you is:don’t discard. Find a way to keep all three of these things in the mix. We’ll find out [what you should do for a living]. Right now, what you do is spend 2 hours a week whole-heartedly engaged in each of those 3 things. Let them them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen in your life that is unique and powerful.

The idea prompted me to start posting on Instagram. I’m not very good at this, but when I’m reminded to do it I see new relationships between colours and patterns and forms and textures and symbols and ideas and meaning and materials and designs and things that I grok.

Let them talk to each other on Day 988/13 🌸➕🌀➕🌊➕☁➕🍃➕🎈➕🔮➕🎨➕🇯🇵➕👘➕💎

The Grok and the Gratchy

This winter I hibernated.

It’s actually the first time I’ve had the luxury to hibernate—in my first year of retirement I set up my studio, a stash and some websites for rumination. In my second winter we travelled to Japan and I made some work for an exhibition. My third winter was for renovating. Winter four gave permission for quiet, warmth, relaxation and thought.


Image by Alex

While I hibernated I thought about clouds and stripes and water. And balloon flowers and colours and pies.

I thought about my two favourite words the GROK and the GRATCHY.

I wrote some notes for a treatise on understanding why you grok certain things in the world.

To me the idea of grok is another way to describe aesthetics, [a term which needs further definition itself, but briefly, to me it means] the deep knowing and deep feeling I get when I encounter a thing [usually visual] that is particularly and inexplicably appealing to me.

The idea of gratchy according to my definition is the feeling and knowledge that a thing is important but very boring and tedious. It may even be challenging but you just don’t want to engage in the challenge.

The grok and the gratchy are both important but why do I love one and not the other? When you are teaching, why do you have students in the palm of your hand when they grok and swinging from the fans when they are gratchy?

Why is my grok not the grok of everyone else? Why is my gratchy beloved by my beloved?

How do you recognise a unique and innate aesthetic sense? Not one that is too sharply shaped by the opinion of others? Is such a sense unique to every one of us? How do you feed and therefore develop this aesthetic sense?

The grok and the gratchy are new terms to help me deal with the dirty word of aesthetics. I had been thinking that the grok is more important in understanding our aesthetic sense. Now I’m starting to feel that the gratchy, as the ‘other’ in this discourse, may be more illuminating.