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“Simplify, simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Simplify.” — Wendy McElroy

It’s funny about simplicity. It’s easiest for the very rich and the very poor, but I don’t think either go for it as often as they might. The rich (and these are very broad generalizations here) are too busy hustling to get richer or consuming and partying with the wealth they’ve got. The poor are too busy struggling not to be so poor. Or they’re filled with resentment, unable to be creative with what they’ve got (or haven’t got).

Simplicity is harder for people in the Great Middle. Yet in my experience they’re exactly the people who crave it most. Again, a broad generalization. But people who aren’t poor but who struggle every day with commutes and escalating bills and child care and hefty mortgages and worries about retirement probably think more about moving to the woods or scaling life down (or whatever their personal concept of the simple life is) than people on the far ends of the spectrum.

Lucky is anybody who craves simplicity and finds a way to go out and get it.

Unfortunately, the quest for simplicity … isn’t simple. Getting there is complicated. And even simplicity, once attained, brings its own set of complications. Ask Joel about that.

Life. It’s weird no matter how you live it.


The picture is called “A Foggy Day at the Beach.” Another small study. It’s not as dramatic as yesterday’s candle painting, or as successful, though it took an hour longer to do. But I was happy with the rock textures (click to see them better). One of these days I’m going to have to learn to paint shadows. They’re tricky. That’s why I made it a FOGGY day. Fewer and more subtle shadows. Putting off that Learning Experience until another time.


  1. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack March 5, 2017 2:53 pm

    I believe the rich make life intentionally complex for the middles and poor as the effect is disproportionate to the advantage of the rich.

    Nice rocks.

  2. Shel
    Shel March 5, 2017 2:55 pm

    Another very nice painting. And a neat logo.

  3. Claire
    Claire March 5, 2017 3:04 pm

    Shel — Thank you. I’ve been using that logo on my art for quite a while. I just haven’t done enough art for anyone to notice.

    R.L. — Alas I think you’re right. The political class and their crony class do make things harder for the Great Middle.

    BTW, I’m going to slightly redo this piece of art. The balance would be more interesting if the darkest rock, second from top, hung out farther to the right. Naturally I see these things only after scanning and posting …

  4. Pat
    Pat March 5, 2017 3:29 pm

    As one who collects rocks — smooth or ‘edgy’, especially granite, mica, or fossilized — this painting jumped out at me! I actually have a smooth, oval, black stone like the second-from-top one in the painting. What’s the pinkish bedding they rest on, Claire? It looks like a blanket, but could well be stylized sand or other material.

    Good job. I like the direction you;re heading.

  5. Claire
    Claire March 5, 2017 6:16 pm

    Pat — Started out as either coarse sand or very fine gravel. Then I decided to blur it with thin washes of color so that the texture didn’t compete with the texture on the stones (which was the main thing I wanted to work on today).

  6. Dana
    Dana March 5, 2017 7:51 pm

    May everyone always be blessed with all that they need (h/t Claire), and be completely unburdened with whatever they do not.

  7. larryarnold
    larryarnold March 5, 2017 9:13 pm

    I believe the rich make life intentionally complex for the middles and poor

    The political class and their crony class do make things harder for the Great Middle.

    IMHO there’s a difference between the two sets, although they overlap. There are millionaires around where I live who drive Ford F-150s and wear jeans. They tend to be an amiable bunch, and always ready to help out when someone needs it. And that’s whether “helping out” means funding a local arts program or helping fix a fence.

    Last night Robert Earl Keen donated a show for his 10th annual benefit concert for the Hill Country Youth Orchestra, and brought along Lee Ann Womack.

  8. Desertrat
    Desertrat March 6, 2017 10:55 am

    I sometimes figure that it’s less about simplifying than it is about resisting complexity. Herds and lemmings for the “ought to” purchases and activities.

    “If you’re gonna buy stuff you don’t need with money you don’t have, use my link to Amazon.” Yup, for all those goodies advertised on TV.

    ‘You go click, click, click and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt…” as a variation on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s old song.

  9. Fred
    Fred March 6, 2017 1:23 pm

    Quick story…sis decides she wants to learn and take a stained glass course.Before she is even done instructor tells her she is better than he will ever be at it.Offers to go in business with her.She didnt believe she was that good,and never did it.I have several pieces from her,as do others in the family.She is HUGELY talented.She could do custom pieces for big bucks on ebay.

    Let me tell you what you already know,or should,your art will sell.Its that good IMO.People are already telling you that.Start posting and selling them here.Then expand,though Im clueless on that,Im not a business man.But you have friends who are I’ll bet.

  10. Scott
    Scott March 6, 2017 5:58 pm

    A metric boatload of important, necessary, required, good-for-you , and must-have things aren’t. In the words of my Uncle Doc, “never make nothin’ no more complicated than it has to be..or you’ll regret it”. He lived in very rural Clay County, Kentucky in a tiny cabin powered by a single 12 volt battery, charged by his van. He wanted a radio, and a light to read by..that’s it. I wired the place-total cost (1983 dollars)..around $30. He kept himself employed and amused, in one of the poorest parts of the United States (to me, parts of Clay County look like Naboo).
    I know two people who have just sort of stepped out of mainstream life..successfully.Their main regret is not doing it sooner.

  11. Comrade X
    Comrade X March 7, 2017 8:12 am

    You can be rich & very poor and you can be poor & very rich.

  12. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack March 8, 2017 8:15 am


    Correct, but the set of altruistic rich is quite small.

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