Welcome to
Transactions with Beauty.
Thanks for being here.
I hope that this is a space that inspires you to add something beautiful to the world. I truly believe that 
you are required to make something beautiful.

– Shawna



5 Beautiful Things

5 Beautiful Things

It’s either the most ridiculous thing to do in this world, or the most sane. To continue to look for beauty, no matter what. No matter what. Unapologetically. When the world is a better place than it is right now, we’re going to look back, and we’re going to see that there was beauty here, too. And that’s going to give us strength, and strengthen us, our resolve.

  1. A Star is Born

I took Rob to see a movie on Friday afternoon, which is a pretty decadent thing to do in general. The fact that neither of us can remember seeing a movie without our daughter and that wasn’t a cartoon, probably says something. (Don’t get me wrong, I am down with cartoons, but you know what I mean). We went to see A Star is Born, and yah, I loved it. The scene in the parking lot of the grocery store sold me completely, when I watched the trailer. I love the way it was filmed. The acting was amazing. I can’t stop thinking about it. The pared down essence of souls.

There’s a lot in the movie to think about: how art is made, how ruthless one needs to be to create art, how it lifts us up and how reaching for it can destroy a person.

Here’s a line by the Bradley Cooper character, Jack, that’s interesting to ponder:

“Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that's a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you'll never know. That's just the truth. And there's one reason we're supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear. So you got to grab it, and you don't apologize, and you don't worry about why they're listening, or how long they're going to be listening for, you just tell them what you want to say. Don't you understand what I'm trying to tell you?”


2. Francine Kay

A friend on Facebook recently shared a video of Canadian pianist Francine Kay playing the following Janacek Sonata. It stopped me in my tracks.


3. Joan Mitchell

These days I’m attracted to women artists and women artists who are ornery. I find orneriness to be beautiful, what can I say. This from an article on Artsy:

“An oft-repeated anecdote recounts how, at a party, a man once approached Elaine de Kooning and Joan Mitchell and asked them what they, as “women artists,” thought about something. “Elaine,” said Mitchell, “let’s get the hell out of here.” Critic Peter Schjeldahl, a one-time witness to the artist’s meanness, concludes that Mitchell was quick to escape any situation that threatened her freedom. In a 2002 review of her Whitney Museum retrospective, Schjeldahl wrote: “Her orneriness was the palace guard of her lyricism.””


In another piece on Mitchell, she is quoted on “feeling.” And this sticks with me:

Mitchell placed feeling and painting on the same pedestal: both gave meaning to life. “Feeling is something more: It’s feeling your existence,” she said to Michaud. “Painting is a means of feeling ‘living.’”

See more of her work here.


4. William Stafford’s “Teaching Notes”

Found in Crossing Unmarked Snow.

“We are all exactly equal (your critics too).”

“Yes, we can assess art. The doing of art, though, requires – paradoxically – a recklessness.”

“People are more than their current selves. Art derives from weaknesses as well as strengths.”

“We do not ‘correct’ a piece of writing: we question a life.”

5. Artists’ Palettes

Robert Lemay palette

If you follow Rob or myself on Instagram or Facebook, you might have seen photos of his palette from time to time. If you’re on Pinterest, you can see the pins I’ve collected of famous artists’ palettes.

I was thinking about the line from A Star is Born about the 12 notes. “Jack talked about how music is essentially twelve notes between any octave. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It's the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes. That's it. He loved how you see them.”

And then compare that to this mixing paint for a palette (from an article about Picasso’s palette):

“In theory you can mix any colour from the three primary colours – lemon yellow, cyan blue and magenta red. By arranging the colours in a circle, and mixing the two colours lying adjacent to one another, you will keep creating new hues. Add white and black and the process becomes easier. Add another three colours – ultramarine (a blue with red traces), a yellow with red traces and vermilion (a red with yellow traces) and you have the traditional six colour system. 

Some professional artists maintain a restricted palette long after they leave art school to further develop their understanding of how colour works, but in reality this is incredibly limiting. Most artists start with around 12 basic colours, introducing a wider range to increase opacity. Oil manufacturers nowadays produce between 120 and 170 different colours, but mixing is always the best way to achieve the perfect shade.”

What I take from this as a writer, is that it’s all there in front of us. We just have to bring ourselves to the palette in front of us and get mixing.

It’s interesting to note that the transcendent paintings of Vermeer were made with a palette of approximately 20 pigments.

You Are Required

You Are Required

Variation on a Theme: Writing Prompt

Variation on a Theme: Writing Prompt