please tread lightly

Trying to tread lightly through the day, art, work and life

Likeability: “Mr. Enchantment” does it again

Likeability: “Mr. Enchantment” does it again:

+Guy Kawasaki writes charmingly about ‘Likeability’, probably the primary element in getting, and keeping engagement in both social networking and life in general.

I particularly like and agree with his main idea that your likeability comes not so much from you jumping through hoops to impress others, but with the attitude you have towards others. In this article he describes a few things to consider when dealing with people, such as:
- People are not binary
- Everyone is better than you at something
- People are more similar than they are different
- People deserve a break
- We all die equal

To these great points I would only add two more, that I learned in my training as Coach and have saved me many a conflict:

1. Assume the best intentions too often it’s easy to get carried away in a discussion and react to something we think the other person meant. Assume that others are well meaning, and respond accordingly, if they aren’t you can be sure they’ll let you know and you can escalate (or not).
2. People have ‘good’ reasons for what they do very few people get up in the morning intending to act like assholes (term used by Bob Sutton!). They usually have good reasons for doing and saying what they do (from their point of view). So, if something seems strange or provocative, asking “why”
can often clear things up.

So, off with you: be likeable
btw: this attitude is a good part of what I mean by tread lightly


Art and Hypocrisy, Then and Now

On this Friday, we take a break from mythology, Expressionism, Kafkaesque humor, and just enjoy the normal human foibles, as shown here, in the Interrupted Supper by Louis-Léopold Boilly, a French artist who was born on July 5th in 1761.  The son of a woodcutter, Boilly was largely self-taught, and became one of the most revered painters in the Paris of both the Revolution and Napoleonic time.  He was extremely prolific, and supposedly created more than 500 paintings and 5000 smaller portraits!

Just as today, the late 18th Century was full of ambivalence and hypocrisy about virtue and vice, especially about erotic subjects, praising ‘moral behavior’ on the one hand, while secretly getting thrills from ‘naughty’ pictures. Boilly was happy to fill the market demand and came to fame with, and is today best known for his risque genre scenes, often painting more or less explicit scenes of seduction.  Unlike later painters like Sir William Quiller Orchardson (see here: , Boilly’s paintings don’t evoke a feeling of empathy for the figures in the scene, but just a somewhat amuses, “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” feeling.

His early works, such as this one, have a conspicuous sensuality – the old man (husband?) bursting in on the young woman, who has one bared breast, he has two hats: one on his head, and one in his hand – obviously from the hidden lover. And the women! Instead of shame at being caught out, be bare breasted beauty is laughing, and the one behind her even seems to be making a fairly rude hand gesture

Paintings like this one, created around 1791. found many eager buyers but were suddenly frowned on after the establishment of the French Republic after the Revolution.  Boilly was denounced by a fellow artist (gee, could there have been jealousy of a rival involved?) to the ‘Committee of Public Health and Order’ for obscenity.  The story goes that Boilly was only spared prison and maybe even death because the Inspectors the Committee, searching his studio for obscenity, found the painting Triumph of Marat and were so impressed with this show of patriotism and dedication to the Republic that he was redeemed.

Wow, as the French say ”
plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (The more things change, the more they stay the same)

Have a wonderful Friday, resist hypocrisy and tread lightly

#art  #treadlightly  #artandclassontheplus  #EuropeanHistory  #europeanpainting #yourdailyartstory #arthistory

Note: Image from

America – a conceptual work of art 


Today we honor the 4th of July, the day America celebrates its Independence. There are simply too many American artists who have created and continue to create fantastic art to choose any single one.  So here is a personal homage to the country in which I grew up, and to which I also belong in all but official passport legalese.

These are a few photos of Flags found on a few of my last trips ‘home’.  My ‘European’ self tends to wonder at the ubiquitous display of Flags and Patriotism in the US, and yet there is much to respect in this open avowal of love and pride for one’s nation.

One can see the Flags as symbols of the underlying acknowledged principles and spirit of the nation: individualism, liberty, opportunity, and freedom.  However, to me, they also represent a number of ‘unofficial’ aspects of the American Spirit: incredible generosity, community spirit, volunteerism, adventure, and the ‘can-do’ attitude only Americans have.

Originally, I started this post with the sentence: “There is no art today.” But looking at the many marvelous aspects of America and its people, what has been achieved, created and shared in the 237 years of its existence, I think it is permissible to see America as a piece of Conceptual Art, created by a collaboration of millions of artists.  After all, according to Wikipedia:
Conceptual art, sometimes simply called Conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns.

So I say Happy Birthday, America, have a fantastic Holiday to all my American friends and tread lightly

#treadlightly   #art   #4thofjuly2013

Quick addendum for the critical:
does this mean I am uncritical of developments both historical and of  the last 30-40 years (Indigenous People Issues, Tea Party, Corporate Greed, Surveillance, etc. etc.)? Absolutely not! And because I love America, I will continue to speak out against things I perceive as unjust.
But today is a day of celebration, not caveats.

your daily story about art: John Singleton Copley

Just for fun, let’s look at a whimsical painting by a serious artist this morning. So here is The Forge of Vulcan by John Singleton Copley, the American artist born in Boston on July 3rd in 1738.

First the Facts:
Copley was born to fairly poor Irish immigrants and seems to have acquired his skills as an artist both from his stepfather, an engraver, and his own initiative.  He was not impressed with the quality of the art in early 18th Century America, and moved to England in 1775, thus escaping the American Revolution.  Once in England, he referred to himself as English – though his reputation, both then and now, labels him as the “First internationally renowned American painter” – one has to wonder how he would have liked that.

Though a child of the Baroque period, his work has nothing of the drama of the style. He is most famous for his portraits, mainly of middle class people, into which he introduced a tradition of including artifacts of their lives – a form of symbolism.  These portraits are all very realistic, often showing (somewhat prune-faced) serious people. Maybe it’s these paintings that began the tradition of (somewhat boring) portraiture in American painting? In later life in England, he also began to paint Historical paintings of contemporary events, also in a very detailed and realistic manner.

But now for the fun:
The Forge of Vulcan was painted in 1754, when Copley was only 17.  It is by no means one of his ‘best’ works, but one of my favorites, just because of its somewhat undeveloped technique and an element of whimsy so lacking in his later art.

By now, regular readers of these posts will be familiar with the story of Venus, Vulcan and Mars (, , or ), a fairly common subject of historical painting.  What makes this version stand out is the slightly naive element, which originates exactly in the lack of perfect technique as well as the youth of the artist.

Venus is obviously flirting with Mars, who is pointing one of her arrows at his own chest (with an arm/elbow larger than his head?), while Vulcan, in the background is oblivious. And the Putti! Though not drunk babies, they are definitely onto what is going on. The one floating between Venus and Mars seems to be swaying between admonishing Venus and showing his willingness to keep the secret with his left hand, and the position of his fingers on the right hand is just priceless.

May you find something just as whimsical as this painting on this day and tread lightly

#art  #treadlightly  #artandclassontheplus  #EuropeanHistory  #europeanpainting #yourdailyartstory #arthistory #americanartist

There is a first time for everything: my first online recorded discussion

Taking advantage of technology can be a bit intimidating. On the one hand we talk about all of the wonderful possibilities that technology offers, and on the other we don’t really use it. I have become a true Google+ aficionado (or addict) and yet, I seldom use one of the biggest advantages Google offer, the possibility for video chats with up to 10 people called Hangouts. However, in the last month or so I have also been following some Hangouts on Air (Hangouts that get recorded and are available on youtube) of some very smart and thoughtful people. So, yesterday I joined  David Amerland: (  Mark Traphagen, Director of Digital Marketing at Virante: and John Rakestraw.

They were a great group, and I thank them for making me welcome and providing great input about the cloud.

(It also didn’t hurt that they accepted me as the Cloud Goddess)