Thursday, December 3, 2009

This drawing that I did when I was in school back in 1977 (yes! The Year Of Star Wars!) is not a drawing of Robert Sapolsky, but of a friend of mind named James Kenney. But I thought that James looks kind of like Sapolsky, so here it is!

Lately while painting in our studio, Boris and I have been listening to lectures on youtube by Robert Sapolsky. Not only does he present information that is 500% fascinating, but he's just such a great speaker. So entertaining and fun to listen to! Anyway, one of the things he talked about was that the act of anticipating getting something you want is going to give you a higher endorphin blast than actually getting the thing. The reason I'm bringing this up is that it explains so many things--he used the example of gambling addiction or compulsive shopping, for instance. I could never understand how these things work as an actual addiction (although the fact that they do is obviously true!), but Sapolsky explains that the feeling of knowing you might get the reward you seek is like a powerful shot of an addictive drug.

Boris and I have always had a related experience with our painting. When working on a painting, we actually often enjoy the act of climbing towards the goal of doing the painting even more than when we finally finish it. The moment the goal has been realized, the feeling changes into a good kind of satisfaction, but it doesn't have that intense excitement that climbing does. I had always thought that this was because when the painting is still being formed, it contains all kinds of unknown possibilities and then, when it's finished, it's kind of nailed down into one spot. I do think that's part of the difference in feelings, but also knowing a change of chemistry is taking place, and not a letdown, makes you accept that it's just the way the system works. So then you can start getting excited about the next goal and the next one after that! I love it! Keep painting!


  1. It's funny to read this as I often get so caught up wanting to create something great, that I lose track of how much the process is fun when I can let myself enjoy it. I guess one has to be better prepared to accept failure than I am usually prepared to do.

  2. Mark, don't call it "failure"! Boris and I have finally realized that there is no possible way for a painting to come out exactly the way we had envisioned it. It always takes its own direction, and that's a big part of what makes it good. It's just hard to see it that way with your own work because you are the only person who really knows what you had in mind before you started working on it. So you just have to trust the process!

    Thanks, Kcirbuk!

  3. I get where Mark is coming from; it's sometimes hard to turn anxiety about a piece into positive anticipation, especially since almost every painting goes through an "awkward phase" where we really aren't sure where it's going!

    Funny how 1977 will always be "the year of Star Wars". It sure was for me! And you were 19 when you did that drawing? Holy moly, that's pretty amazing!

    I just did a search and there appears to more than 70 Sapolsky videos on the web! YouTube, google video, Vimeo and Dailymotion all have his lectures online. Now I know what I'll be listening to this week!

  4. You'll love the Sapolsky lectures, Jen!

  5. As for the "awkward phase", seriously (and I mean SERIOUSLY), we ALL go through that. The only thing to do is to push on through it and know that you'll bring it together in the end. That is the truth, for real!