Thursday, July 2, 2009

By His Own Design

I have truly lived and opened every door I possibly could to realize my potential and satisfy my desire for inner expression. What age would you say the person who wrote that is? Does that sound to you like a person who has lived a very long and fulfilling life?

When I read those words very early this morning, I was reminded of a documentary I saw on PBS recently, "By His Own Design" - the story of Emile Norman, a California artist. Have you ever seen this film? I had seen it once before, and felt fortunate to have the opportunity to watch it again.

Norman's life story is fascinating. The documentary tells about some of his growing-up years, the eventual estrangement from his parents, his first meeting with Brooks Clement ... ...

and the home and extraordinary life they built together at Big Sur. This documentary was filmed when Norman was 88 years old and is as beautifully-crafted a piece of work as Norman's art.

[The makers of this film occasionally had difficulty cornering the artist at long enough intervals to complete various segments of the documentary. Norman felt they were cutting into his available 'creative energy time'. However, whatever lingering frustrated memories they might have had vanished completely when they learned that Norman had written in his diary, "I just saw the film. Wow, wow, wow!"]

You can read more about Norman's life here and view some of his artwork, many pieces of which are currently for sale, on his home website. Yes, he's still working at age 90! In fact, he says, "If I'm not working, call 911!"

The words I quoted at the top of this post were not written by Emile Norman. They were written by Craig Peihopa - our Australian blogger friend, who is more than 40 years Norman's junior - in his most recent post.

Craig is in the prime of his life, and is well on his way to realizing his potential and satisfying his desire for inner expression.


Craig Peihopa said...

silly me, I started reading the first paragraph and thought Goldenrod feels the same ways as I do, D'oh!
40 years his junior! Wow I certainly have a long road to go, though the thought has certainly crossed my mind on more than one occasion that i may not reach that age...C'est la vie! apart from me, a nice and interesting post. Thank you SO much for your thoughts at the end. love ya!

Goldenrod said...

I was wondering if you would recognize your own words at the very beginning, Craig. :) I thought about leaving a comment on your post, telling you I was going to do this, and then decided to let you find out for yourself ... a little 'zapper', as it were. (And you're very welcome, of course!)

steven said...

hi goldenrod, great post! it's always exciting to learn about "new" artists - ninety years and i'm just finding out about him! the documentary looks fascinating and i'm going to dig it up for a look-see.

creative energy is available to everyone. being available to the creative energy - well that's another story. have a peaceful day. steven

Goldenrod said...

Steven, I hope you get the chance to view this documentary in its entirety - at least once! It (the DVD) is available for purchase, but I don't know about renting possibilities. I'd be interested to learn of your progress here.

I think you will find those portions of the documentary that detail his self-taught approach to creating works of art particularly fascinating.

Does Canada have a PBS (or equivalent-type) station? Perhaps they will air this documentary sometime in the near future. For certain, I'll be keeping an eye out for the next time it airs here!

Just a beautifully-crafted film, Steven ... the unique art, the story of their relationship, the magnificent home they built together, the commissioned and imported organ, the original epoxy developed and used by Norman ... privacy, respect, joy, oh so many things that are still fresh in my mind. I can't WAIT to see it again!

whalechaser said...

Well, I guess I will have to give it a look-see too! I went to netflix and it is in their list of rentable films. They also give it a 4 star rating (out of 5) so all indications are that it is well worth watching. Thanks for the suggestion.

Goldenrod said...

Hey there, Whale!

Thanks for your comment. Steven usually subscribes to e-mail follow-up comments, so he probably got that good info about NetFlix.

I'd be interested in hearing your reactions to the documentary. The first time I saw it, I remember, I was not nearly as impressed as the second time. The third time around I can absolutely guarantee you that I will be riveted to the screen!

Thirty years ago - maybe even less than that - I wouldn't have been the least bit interested in a documentary such as this one. But, things change ... we change, times change, our interests change ... this is a great time to be alive, is it not?

I'm just curious. You can purchase the DVD for $24.95. How much does it cost to rent it, I wonder?