My hubby finished a 1000-piece puzzle this morning. It was a tough one, based on the mesmerizing artwork of Barbara Takenaga. It had sat unfinished for weeks and then was put away in the bustle of the holidays, with hints that perhaps it would remain unfinished. He brought it out again in January with a glint of renewed determination in his eye. Today, he met his goal.
Two things struck me about this that I felt were worth exploring: art and effort.
This puzzle was from Ms. Takenaga’s 2005 acrylic on wood panel entitled Gold + Red, a portion of which I used in my title picture. Ms. Takenaga bases her art on the simplest of forms: circles.
Circles are complete, with no beginning or end. Cultures around the world, from the Egyptian Ouroboros swallowing its tail to the Chinese yin and yang, use them to signify unity and infinity. Ms. Takenaga blends varying sizes of circles and color patterns to achieve a sense of the grander scale of the cosmos. There’s a carefully constructed rhythm and mood in her work that both calms and energizes the viewer. One can imagine both the entirety of creation and the dance of microscopic cells.
All of art wishes to explore ideas of what is, what was or what might be to come. That's one reason I keep returning to my writing.
My hubby picked this puzzle for the pleasure of this deep image. The reason he wanted to buy a puzzle in the first place caters to his natural gift in doing.
He is a software engineer with an amazingly sharp and analytical mind. He easily sees things like the programs he writes: 0 and 1, yes and no, if and then. This sort of challenge is right up his alley: it has a beginning and and end with only one’s own efforts being the determining factor for success or failure. His ability to hunker down and get through a task is so incredible it’s one of the main reasons we have the life we have today.
Being able to break things down systematically and not losing sight of one’s goals is how we achieve goals both large and small. I’ve spent my life trying to build this skill and while I’ve come a long way, I still have much to learn.
Art + Effort
I see that sweet spot of Art + Effort as where we can achieve the highest success and contentment in our lives.
In programming, if one only has the technical view, the program may work but the code itself can be ugly and more prone to breakage. In art, a creative spirit without the guidance of planning and effort may leave the panel blank or the message half-spoken.
For you see, it’s a circle, just like those in Ms. Takenaga’s paintings. None of us is only one or the other. There is honest art in true effort and honest effort in true art.
Let's all keep at life's puzzles!