Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sublime And Complicated

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” This is something a madman might say, or, maybe an artist. Actually, Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881 – 1973, said it, and I will share a few more of his sayings. Love him or hate him, Picasso changed the course of art history and became one of the most famous people of all time. He also said, “Everything you can imagine is real. And, “I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
I share Picasso’s passion for pursuing imagination, and trying to do that which I cannot. It is what led me to give up my home and journey around the world for a year. Now that I have returned to Santa Fe, I am exploring what I can do with some of the over 10,000 photographs I took. I bought a large inkjet printer for my studio and can make prints up to 44 inches wide and any length. It prints on paper or canvas, and furthermore, the color and sharpness can be strikingly good. Recently, I made a painting of a sunset that I then photographed and printed on canvas the same size as the original. Then I stretched it on stretcher bars, coated and painted on it until it became as vibrant and impressive as the original. Now it can be sold as a semi-original piece of art, at a fraction of the cost.(See:
It is such pleasure to draw from the naked human form. I have been doing this for thirty years and never tire of it. Now that I am settled in one place again, I have rejoined a group of artists that gather once a week and draw a nude model. It is so sensuous and invigorating to look intently over every square inch of a naked person, and consciously trace their form onto paper. Some artists are better than others at this, and everyone has their own style, although techniques can be the same. It is quite difficult to arrive at a successful outcome that warrants attention. Serious artists spend considerable time studying anatomy. I took artistic anatomy in college, and learned how bones and muscle give contour to the human form underneath skin. And then, proportions are important, and the angle from which a figure is viewed directly influences proportion. (Click to see Steven Boone figure drawings.)
Some artist models are better than others. For me, the best are those who have something of the artist in themselves. They are comfortable being gazed at while they are naked, and intuitively strike poses that are challenging and enticing. Models that are self-conscious sometimes just get into yoga poses, and often it is boring to the eye and not particularly fun to draw.
It is amazing how prominently the human form figures in art history. Check it out—look through an art history book sometime and notice how artists through the ages have focused on the most sublime and complicated feature of our existence: the human form.

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Picasso

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.” Picasso

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Division Bells

I imagine I know what a prisoner feels like when he is released from confinement and walks out into the big, bright planet as a free person. Suddenly, he acutely appreciates everything, and especially marvels that he is free to touch the world once again. The sun warms his flesh, colors are vivid and true, and he drinks deep the fresh air, relishing life as if he is born again. Now that the nineteen-day fast is over until next year, this is what I felt like yesterday, when I began my day and could eat or drink whenever I wanted. I had been a willing prisoner, but now my aim is accomplished and I have a fresh and vital perspective going forward.
I pulled into my driveway today just as a song came on the radio that held me so that I just sat and listened. It was Pink Floyd’s composition called High Hopes. It begins with the chiming of bells, which reminded me of Venice, Italy. The first stanza goes,
Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young

In a world of magnets and miracles

Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary

The ringing of the division bell had begun

It made me think. Children in their innocence see the world as if dreaming. The universe to them is whole and fluid, with moments effortlessly flowing one into the other. Imagination imbues everything with possibility. Then, the bells of rationality and discriminate thinking sound, and so the perception of the world changes. Slowly, children become less magical and more grounded in opinion. The ego develops and so do feelings of separation. People develop alliances and choose labels for themselves and others, such as; nationality, color, status, profession, sexuality, and many others.
To me, THE DREAM is the same place we lived when we were children, in a world of magnets and miracles, . . . without boundary. To stay there, is to not listen to the division bells that cut and dice the world into separate and unequal parts and makes us prisoners. It is to be, as Bob Dylan says in his song of the same name, "forever young."

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Fasting is a voluntary contraction of life that animals seldom do unless they are sick. If an animal is sick, not only does it fast, but also sometimes it will go further, and eat grass to make it vomit. This is a cleansing which is instinctual and life preserving. During my fasting, I feel contraction, and must rely on my core to get through the day. Today, the Baha’i fast is in the thirteenth day with four more to go, and although it is difficult, I am feeling stronger inside, and more able to reach above the difficulties of life.
Sometimes, I am surprised to find that I have yearning for the fast not to end. It is because although I am weakened outwardly, inwardly my strength is increasing. What is waning outwardly is waxing inwardly. Furthermore, I know that it is the spirit and mind that contains the most essential abundance of human life and is its true worth.
These days, the world economy can be likened to a sick animal in the throes of a big contraction. It had become bloated and corrupt and after falling sick, now is contracting and vomiting. Everyone knows the huge losses. But when the core is reached, a recovery will begin. In the end, this is all healthy, but during a sickness, nobody says, “this is good.”
I had an opening at my studio last Friday and showed prints of my photographs from around the world; (see artistic photography by Steven Boone, at Crowds of people arrived and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and this pleased me. Yet, I did not sell any art . . . and my expenses the past few months have been above my income. The contraction is affecting me along with so many others.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Violin Played By Ethereal Hands

From March 2 – 20 is a time of fasting for the worldwide Baha’i community. Imagine living without water or food for nineteen days. Well, actually, it is during our most active hours between sunrise and sunset. Usually as the time of fasting approaches, I look forward to the ordeal—something like a long-distance runner looking forward to a marathon as a challenge that is given him to transcend. This is the heart of the matter, that we need to be tested in life so that we transcend and grow. In this case, our hunger and thirst, which we can so easily satisfy but do not, becomes the instrument for the growth of our willpower, devotion, temperance, and sense of trust in God. Outwardly it is a bit hellish, but inwardly, it is like entering a garden of paradise. Those who are excused from fasting include people that are sick, pregnant or nursing mothers, those under fifteen or over sixty-five years of age, and travelers going more than eight hours distance.
Every year is different for me, and this time, from the beginning I immediately hit a brick wall. After arising before dawn to eat, I felt drowsy and lethargic. The rest of day was like being submerged in water and moving in slow motion. The feeling of pushing through water has remained, now that it is the eighth day. My concentration suffers too, and sometimes I forget what I was thinking. Nonetheless, I stay the course and want to continue. I often have blissful moments when the pure currents of life touch me as if I am a violin played by ethereal hands. I have become more acutely aware of my physical presence in the world, and can appreciate more intimately changing temperatures, smells, breezes that touch my skin, and in general, the physical nuances of life. Also, I am aware of the satisfaction of eating my hunger. The Persian Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Only the true favorites get hunger for their daily bread.”

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Giving To Others

Last week, I wrote of my perceptions returning to the United States after a year of travel, of my sale of objects that I brought back with me, and the shift that has been occurring in my consciousness toward a feeling of complete safety and thankfulness. An anonymous person left a comment; “...and what do you give to others?” I was taken aback, and felt the comment was an accusation . . . or maybe an exhortation to form a soup kitchen for the homeless in these hard economic times.
Since my blog is a public discourse, I feel it is unseemly to tell the world all that I do for others . . . it is better simply to do good for the sake of doing good, rather than public acclaim.
I am an artist, and if we ask the question, “what do artists give to others?” we must think of Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo, Picasso, Leo Tolstoy, James Dean, Claude Monet, the Beatles, and many more. Life without art and artists would be impossibly dreary and uninspired, almost not worth living. We could also ask, what do philosophers do for others . . . yet where would mankind be without St. Augustine, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and the rest?
During my traveling, I opened completely to the unfolding moments, and there were many occasions to “give to others.” Often it was simple things that seemed natural. During my visit to Egypt, I was in Luxor, along the Nile River. One day I met a man working on his felucca, a traditional sailing boat. He used his boat to take tourists for boat rides, and this is how he supported his wife and four children. He spoke a bit of English, and had just repainted his boat and needed to give it a name and write the word in English on the prow—but he could not spell or write in English. Typically, captains on the Nile River name their boats after their youngest daughters, so he wanted to name his vessel Amira. Since I am an artist, I offered to help, and when I finished, he was overjoyed and took me home with him. Another time, I was in Kashmir and had made friends who invited me to a wedding celebration. It was evening when the groom arrived to meet his bride. Guests were joyous and singing, food was plentiful and the wedding couple were actors playing out their roles from an ancient script. Amazingly, I was the only one there with a camera. Somehow, I was escorted into the private room where women helping to dress and decorate her surrounded the bride, and I took photos. Then I did the same in the room where the groom was sitting with the men. Before I left Kashmir, I had the photos enlarged and delivered to the newlyweds. Simple acts that made a positive difference for people, and along the way of my journey these opportunities arrived frequently. As far as my spending money on things—the local economies where I left my savings benefited greatly. These are communities where small amounts of money, let alone the thousands I spent, go a long way to support families.
In the end, I feel if I live my life fully and authentically, not wasting my talents but instead enthusiastically embracing them to share with the world, then I am also giving to others.