“Feeding Mosquitos”, by Jeremy Mann
Discover Jeremy Mann’s quarantine journey on Lazaretto island, where art, imagination, and life intertwine in a distraction-free world. It’s sourced from his newsletter, to which you can subscribe here.
If you were part of Nadezda and my class at Quarantine Lazaretto #1 you know what I’m talking about! Big hugs to you guys who went through that experience with us. Here’s a taste of images for the rest of you! So you know, there’s already a sign up list for the upcoming editions.
Words, nor pictures will ever do the majesty of this place with enough justice for its role in the event, but come on, just look at that entrance to a private island of illness. Art illness, a wonderful malady to be afflicted with.
The first time I ever saw these guys’ faces was here on this island. For sure I knew the art of such masters as Emilio Villalba, Vincent Desiderio, Nicolas Uribe, and Henrik Uldalen but knowing an artist’s artwork, and knowing their character is often not simulatneous. Angels.. all of them angels.. not only with their understanding of artistry, their multifaceted techniques and endless self determination for truth in art, but with just their humble wisdom, hilarity and generosity we’ve found bonds with new far away friends. And the hosts of Quarantine take the silent bow, but with the greatest of awards.. they brought their dream to life, and what an event it turned out to be. Exhausted by now, and already working on the next one, they are dream team. My greatest congrats to Carles Gomilla and his secret team of wizards and shadows, who had a nightmare once and then brought it to life for us all, couldn’t have asked for a better time… maybe just a little longer. 🙂
This does no justice to the location, I’m not as tall as that doorway, but small enough to fit under the tree, its weird here… its not even open for tourists. There will be many more Quarantine events here. I highly recommend for those who wish to push themselves beyond their boarders.
None of the educators came here to make little duplicates of themselves. They brought such an intensity of clarity to the unknown, to the pushing of artistic perceptions, to experimentation, to trusting the self, to knowing the self..
and thankfully, much easier on an island without cell-phones. It was, sad to say, a beautiful time warp to a more peaceful 15 years ago before those things came and upended our own comfort zones. The entire island was a comfort zone for 100 mind blown attendees and that ideal of a distraction free week was perhaps the key element to its greatness. This IS something we can do in our own lives, it just has to be by choice.
We each gave a presentation or talk, inspiring, mind opening, instruction-less dictations of life as artists, our doubts, our successes, our stories, anything to bring a sense of vivid inspiration to the minds of the watchful eyes, and everything to deter them from the belief that there is a simple and easy solution. Leaps of faith in the self were more encouraged than rigid structures which only serve to impede, and these things spring forth only from one’s own uniqueness. Discover that spring and find the source of life.
A beautiful group of extremely exhausted artists… 14 hour days, 7 days long… no phones, just art, discussion, peace, comradery, music, and more.
I shed some exhausted tears at the cloudy sky, and she heard my yearning for one last display of her ever fleeting beauty.
Teaching the peeps in our group the wonders of my favorite little exercise, the bunny squares. When colors emerge which cameras can never capture, and disappear faster than we little pink meat pockets can mix… What results is more an effect of speedy decision making, accurate harmony mixing, effective brush juggling, and in the end of it all.. a big sigh of understanding with the exhaustion resting on beautifully colored evening skies long after we have ceased to see our panels and canvases. What we made is only a brief and inaccurate memory the mystery of harmony we wish to understand, but every one we finished, we became closer to knowing the true answer to “what color is the evening sky?” It can only be said in paint.
each the size of your thumb.. or.. a quarter maybe, I’ve met people with weird sized thumbs so that’s not an accurate measurement for an email list, huh.. each about.. gosh, I can never recall.. 1 minute? 3?…
The sunset doesn’t really last much longer than that.. perhaps I like this exercise because it also makes very apparent the fleeting of time, and also the benefit of what we choose to do with that slipping time, with the rush and slap from the silent mixings of franticly sublime painters searching for answers in the sky.
Nabbed a little time in a field for myself too while we all took a stab at painting outdoors… I’m finding a lot of joy in staring at the great variety of harmony dispersed throughout a simple field of plants. You could become best friends with every flower you discover, and watch long enough, the myriad of bugs and furry friends who pop up when you stand so still will benefit your spirit with the antics.
“How can you expect to make a painting without any damn paint on your palette!!” If ever there was a great number one art tip, Birge said that one best, I just keep having to beat it into the heads of the attendees 🙂 (but come on guys, squirt it out!)
During a few of the moments we went out wandering alone amongst the high walls (rumor states they believed the mosquitos couldn’t fly that high… or something.. to prevent infecting the mainland… I would like to give our fellow past humans a little more credit than that, surely some have been bit by a skeeter in the most elevated or distant locations) was shooting some polaroids with the cigar box camera.
I believe these capture the essence of the place better than any skewed representation of reality through the digital lens. Perhaps it is because they allow the character of the camera holder to imbue them with artistry… a digital camera just feels like a tool for documentation, far from an art form.. a wonderful technological tool, but it can’t seem to capture the reality of what it is trying to document any better than another form of imagery. Again, its not what’s in your hands, its what’s in your mind, there is where the soul lives.
Through the Field’s Edge
At the end of this long tunnel
Bringing to light the shapes, moods, and suggestive marks these polaroids create is guiding much of my open minded experiments in subconscious synesthesia or pareidolia to be more specific. A synthesis of imagination and reality inherent in many of the worlds great artists, but laughed at and considered childish by a majority of people.
Nadezda is a goddess of these forays into the brainself and she took the class on a journey into the world of the imagination, something difficult for many of us to open up, let go, and experience. And just like the techniques of blind contour drawing, the act of listening to your imagination’s response from stimuli in the normal world is the basic definition of an artist. We are told it is childish since birth. “NO, silly, that is not a big green monster, its the trash can.” but if it wasn’t for that imagination, the Oakland shipping docks would never have become the Empirial Walkers of Star Wars, or a stroll through the forest and fields would never have become the Little Prince, there would never be a Mona Lisa without imagination. Do NOT belittle your imagination. Even the bravest man finds himself shy when asked to doodle while great works of man begin with just a little one.
Loosening up, forgive the rust! 2-3 minute poses.
Getting the juices flowing. 3-5 minutes with synesthesia sound influences.
My favorite results… scanning nature for stains and textures to pry open the solitary confinement of the imagination. With the guidance of my lovely wife who’s opened up my mind in many ways, we take our inspiration from mildew, roots, stains and scratches.. but the biggest challenge, difficult for even the wisest of adults, is to let the instinct and imagination guide the mind. Its rather sad to us, how many people are not in touch with their imagination.. or even acknowledge it is that exact source which brings much of our known world to life. We must forget what our human society beats into our brains, imagination is not “childish” nor “child-like” it is human… it is what sets us all aside from the stone and mud and animals we murder in the millions on a daily basis. If we are to grow as a species imagination takes a great part of that puzzle and should be better respected… its the reason there is a robot on mars, a telescope peering into the windows of trillions of other planets, why books and films exist, why music and poetry move. Anyone who represses it in themselves, or worse in children, is not a human and we need to be weary of the zombies!
And implementing all of this at home on my solitary sits at the beach… too haggled to mingle with beach peeps as I did when I grew up, I’m having fun drawing them from my small towelled safe spot. As soon as you think someone is going to stay still, 2 seconds later they move. I love it. It invokes my mind to cast away doubt, and trains it to trust itself more quickly. “oh, he’s interes…. DRAW NOW!” Don’t fiddle with “accuracy,” achieve the essence of the moment. Let loose the binds which tie up the drawing fingers.
How many figures do you see? Come on, try to count first, then click to find out! 😀 I love how it can become a mesmerizing mess… something also to deal with at the time of drawing, how to compose on the page something interesting without a moments time to think… by the time you think, they’re lying down, walking away, or just bending over!
The lovely thing about workshops like Quarantine is that I am, and I know the other instructors as well, are equally as inspired to push themselves further after a week like that.
As I tried to implant in everyone’s soul… it is only YOU who can keep that feeling going into the “real world..”
because halfway through, after a long day of teaching, I took the ferry, to the taxi, to the airport, to Barcelona, to the home (gotta look fancy), to the Museum, then back to the bed, 4 hours sleep, to the bus, to the airport, to the island, to the taxi, to the ferry and back in time the next morning for the opening speeches.
I wasn’t exhausted… I was lonely. The culture shock hit so hard after a week of artistic inspiration and zero distractions from the outside world through the cell phone, that the moment you step foot into the airport.. its being barraged by countless attempts to steal your attention away, your life! It almost makes me nauseous, very literally. Advertisements are pathetic when you are detached from their addictions.
If nothing else, the biggest lesson I hope everyone takes with them from that workshop, if not from anything I try to say, is how true that is. How quickly we laugh it off, or brush it off with “thats life!” but it is not. That is materialism, and that is not life. I’d rather be alone in the woods with a pencil, finding new ways to appreciate the life nature has given to us freely all along than to spend my time making money to buy more shit people try to make me think I need. Wouldn’t you like to keep some of your money? Wouldn’t that afford you some more time? Don’t you want to stop worrying and have some free time? Don’t give it away. Take it back.
And here is where I’d rather be at this time. This was the location of our private mentorships on the last day with our Quarantine group. I put a ring of flowers in my wife’s hair, listened to the wind, watched bugs, and discussed art with wonderful artists for 6 hours straight. (with an hourglass to pass the time, thanks Carlos!)
I’m listening to forest noises as I write this in attempts to stave off the misery of life’s ridiculous squabbles which prevent us from enjoying the life we have. I will attempt the next letter to be more poetic, but I’m sure just a bunch of photos and quips are a nice rest from my usual frantic states, don’t worry, I’m still stressed and frantic, just holding my grip to the reality that there is more to life than we compartmentalize it into.
Not sure when I’ll write again.. or if I will just be reading for the next few months… research is something I’ve long put off, but integral to the artistry, and again, to separate myself from a maker of a craft and a human living a life inspired by art. We don’t know what the future holds, so I’m just going to take it step by step and start with making that first step the one I’d rather be making. Sometimes it is our own hand which grips the whip that drives us onward, time to start holding hands instead of whipping them onward for nothing. Days will come, days will go, troubles will pass, and there are more down the road… its all in our own head how we choose to deal with them… with anger, anxiety and fear, or with wisdom, courage and care… not an easy task, but it makes life easier for those around us when we can see more clearly, act more kindly, and think without pride or ego.
I’ll be in a small underground space preparing for the creative explosion that will inevitably release itself from my crumpled body the moment I regain the peace of a solitary studio. Perhaps I will see you there!
So until the next time, my friends… wiser true words from another to send you on your way.
“Time, which shows so vacant, indivisible, and divine in its coming, is slit and peddled into trifles and tatters. A door to be painted, a lock to be repaired. I want wood or oil, or meat or salt; the house smokes, or I have a headache, then the tax, and an affair to be transacted with a man without heart or brains, and the stinging recollection of an injurious or very awkward word
– these eat up the hours.
Do what we can,
summer will have its flies;
if we walk in the woods
we will feed the mosquitos.”
R. W. Emerson
BIG HUGS to you all,