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Mesaj  darastean la data de Joi Apr 16, 2009 7:56 pm

March 31, 2009

The two main types of eccentricity are "genuine" and "phony." If you're sensitized to human nature, you'll find excellent examples of both types among your friends. Then there's the grey area where some folks start out phony and end up genuine. But that's another story.

The phony ones lead such dull lives that they find the need to cook up stuff to make themselves stand out. The genuine ones come by eccentricity quite naturally--often unaware of their own idiosyncrasies. Eccentricity is the sidecar to the powerful motorcycle of individualism. Anyone who has read my stuff will know individualism is a good thing.

My friend Egbert Oudendag (1914-1998) was of the genuine kind, becoming even more genuine as he aged. Dining exclusively on spare ribs and grapefruit, owning up to nine bicycles at a time, eschewing the medical profession and painting while in the nude were just a few of his peculiarities. Egbert appeared poor and simple but was wealthy and smart. Our mutual bank manager thought him "mad." I wrote a short chapter about Egbert in Love Letters to Art.

The controversial American journalist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) defined madness as "affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane."

Egbert opened all his freshly purchased oils from the back end of the tube and cut in significant quantities of a secret oily brew. This gave him the longest and most languid stroke I've ever seen. His inventiveness in so many areas stemmed from his disadvantaged background in Holland before he immigrated to Canada. Eccentricity, coupled with need as the mother of invention, defines style. Egbert had style.

Eccentricity is getting more difficult to fake. In what appears to be a rebirth of artistic responsibility, we are honouring craft and proficiency, as well as individual initiative. Conservative waves are spilling over the shaky dikes. We might just be left with empowered eccentrics who quietly make their own genuine articles. Eccentrics work. They think things out. They ride many bikes. This is a good thing.

Best regards,


PS: "Eccentricity is a method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity." (Ambrose Bierce)

Esoterica: Truly creative people are perennially in a state of reinventing themselves. Anyone who cares to focus for a time on any difficult task is bound to exhibit elements of eccentricity. Artists need to take stock of what they are doing that's different from the norm--peculiarities of mixing, drawing, stroking, looking. Name them and claim them. We must see our uniqueness clearly and be prepared to go wherever it takes us. So what if it involves taking your clothes off? That's the way we were born, eh?

Current clickback: Selective focus contains reader responses and comment on the technique of softening some areas while making others sharper. There are further illustrations of the work of Titian, Virgil Elliott and Egbert Oudendag.

Read this letter online. Please feel free to give your own examples of the values and dangers of eccentricity. Personal, previously undisclosed, examples are also acceptable. Illustratable comments can also be made at

Facebook: Michelle Moore, 20, who manages our free links, thought my face would be okay for Facebook. She put the letter there too. Now she's done it again for Twitter.

If a friend of yours is trying to subscribe to the Twice-Weekly letter via Constant Contact, please let them know that as well as subscribing they must confirm their subscription by replying to the email they will be receiving from Constant Contact. This is to prevent it going to people who really don't want it.

Featured Responses: Alternative to the instant Live Comments, Featured Responses are illustrated and edited for content. If you would like to submit your own for possible inclusion, please do so. Just click 'reply' on this letter or write to

This is a good thing! A Premium Art Listing in the Painter's Keys Art Directory is the most effective thing an artist can do to be tastefully and respectably noticed. This listing--really a mini web page--costs $100 per year and we do all the set-up. Find out how well it might work for you.

Yes, please go ahead and forward this letter to a friend. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by going to The Painter's Keys website.

Mesaje : 6
Data de înscriere : 21/11/2008
Varsta : 47
Localizare : Timisoara

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