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Raw Food and Art
by Joe Alexander
Art, specifically drawing and painting, has been my strongest lifelong interest. It was the desire to improve my art that eventually led me to the raw food diet. As a teenager I developed an ambition to become the best artist I could. I noticed that great paintings emitted an energy, a vitality, that lesser works lacked. I reasoned that if I were to become a great artist, I would need to have great energy myself, and this for two reasons. First, in order to put energy into my picturesthe creation cannot be greater than the creator. And second, in order to persist with the many hours of daily work for many years that I knew was necessary to develop skill and style in painting. To really be a good artist you have to work at it as a regular daily job. Artists who work only "when in the mood" never get very good.
Anyway, back then I often felt tired and depressed. I was a teenager and yet I felt old. Now, thanks to raw-foodism, and other things I do for ascension, I am feeling younger as I get older. I set about looking for ways and means to increase my energy. The first good thing I found was yoga. Certain form of meditation and breathing exercises, I found, were able to increase my energy remarkably. They also gave me some common sense about art. I lost interest in all the modernistic nonsense I had absorbed via my mis-education in the contemporary art world. I now wanted to do art that any common fool, with no modernist art education, could see was good. I learned sign painting as a way to make a living as an artist of some sort, and because I had a lot of love for the art of hand lettering.
Then I read Arnold Ehret's books, Rational Fasting and Mucus less Diet Healing System. Ehret described how he overcame a serious kidney disease and achieved "paradise health," with dramatically more energy, by following a raw fruit and vegetable diet. It sounded like something well worth trying, so I did it. After a seven month cleansing period on Ehret's "transition diet," which included all fruits and vegetables, raw or cooked, with the exception of potatoes, I suddenly felt my body to be clean inside and working properly for the first time in my life. But I didn't feel the greatly increased energy Ehret had described until 2 1/2 years later when I finally went all raw. Then it was like the difference between night and day, like waking up from a bad dream into a beautiful warm sunny day. Of all the "enlightening experiences" I have had from practice of many self-improvement processes, I see the raw food diet as the most profoundly transformational. Raw food eaters are more "born again" than anyone else.
I soon found the raw food diet transformed and improved my art remarkably as well. I'm always hoping I can inspire other artists to take it up because I think it is the key to a greater renaissance in art than we've ever seen yet. It can certainly help any artist mired in the stagnant swamps of modernism and post-modernism to blast out of there like the space shuttle and find a wonderful new planet of life-enhancing energy to explore. Raw food diet gives your art the vibrations of paradise. I can see it in my work and I've had quite a few other people who've seen my stuff tell me so.
First and foremost, it made me able to paint with the most brilliant and beautiful color I had ever seen in painting. Few painters have ever been much good with color. Van Gogh saw this over a hundred years ago and it is still true today. Traditionally, fine art oil painting has had a dull "brown soup" appearance, and I found that this is entirely due to cooked food poisoning. The degraded energy in cooked food pollutes your mind with a sort of dull gray "smog on the brain." When you eat all raw, the smog clears away and your mind is connected to a brilliant inner world of fabulously beautiful color.
Second, it made my drawing much clearer with my forms healthier and better defined. Before, I had often drawn the human figure grotesquely misshapen à la Picasso, Giacometti and other "great artists" of the modernist pantheon. I now realized the urge to do that was nothing to be proud of. It was just the expression of my own poor health. Now I wanted to draw good-looking people with healthy physiques, expressive of my own improved health. And I saw the vagueness, the hazy and indistinct definition of form that had characterized a lot of my earlier work, was also due to the "smog on the brain" mentioned earlier. I think you'll be able to see that hazy and indistinct drawing is very common, one well-known historical example being Odilon Redon, a famous late 19th century French post-impressionist painter. Why this guy is famous I can't figure. From what I've seen he couldn't draw or paint and his stuff is nothing but a lot of smeared paint put together so you can't hardly figure out what's there. For some reason a lot of people claim to like it and find it profound.
Thirdly, my compositions became much lusher and more abundant. Before, I had often done pictures with a lot of bleak, barren, empty space in them, desert-like, very sparsely populated. And again I think you'll find this is quite common in the art world, where a painter will focus on the main subject and barely bother to put in a sketchy background. There may sometimes be a good reason for it, but mostly I think it's because the artist doesn't feel enough energy to do much beyond the main subject. Another notable example of this obsession with barren, bleak environments is Frank Herbert's Dune series of sci-fi novels. His writing to my mind lacks vitality, but the Dune novels were very popular, showing that many people have morbid fascinations with barren deserts and suchlike lifeless environments. Nature strives to create lush forests and jungles teeming with an enormous variety of beautiful life-formsthat is the urge of her creative force and she does it wherever conditions will at all allow it. And that is the urge of a healthy artist as wellto create lush compositions full of interesting stuff.
Another great improvement that came to my art due to raw food eating, was in my ability to create strong and striking rhythmic patterns. Before, my compositions had tended to be chaotic and disorganized. As a strong regular heartbeat and breathing are signs of good health, so is a strong power of rhythmic organization in the artist. Of course to be good art this rhythm must be organic, not mechanical, derived from feeling, not from measurement. Engineering has a measured, mechanical rhythm ; art has an organic rhythm, somewhat irregular and allowing for variety, derived from what feels good and looks interesting.
So I have come to see art, not in terms of abstract versus realistic, or innovative versus traditional, or any of the other modernist categories, but in terms of art of healthy qualities and art of unhealthy qualities. Art of any style or "ism" can have either predominantly healthy or unhealthy qualities. And I think art of healthy qualities has a beneficial effect on viewers, and art of unhealthy qualities has a detrimental effect. An abundance of art of healthy qualities is a sign of, and helps to create, a healthy culture.
The healthy qualities are: Bright, harmonious and beautiful color. Clearly defined form, graceful and well-proportioned. A sense of lushness and abundant creative power in the compositions. A strong organic rhythm.
The unhealthy qualities are: Dull or garish and disharmonious color. Form vaguely defined and/or grotesque, sickly or bizarrely proportioned. Bleakness or barrenness in the composition. And either chaotic composition or a too regular, measured, mechanical rhythm.
I also now see technical excellence as a mark of a mature, serious, healthy-minded artist. The minds of several generations of artists now have been polluted with the modernistic promotion of abstraction, primitivism and naivism. I say if you want to be a real artist, apply yourself seriously developing the skills of traditional realism. Abstraction is mostly an easy cop-out, a way to claim to be an artist without having paid the dues necessary to develop the skills in drawing and painting of a real artist. There's nothing profound about primitivism either. It's the sort of stuff that was originally done by artists whose nomadic lifestyle didn't allow much opportunity to develop skill, or whose materials were rather crude and didn't allow for precise work. Naivism is the sort of art done by artists who didn't develop skills early in life, who began making art late in life and were mostly occupied with other concerns and didn't have much time to develop their artistic skills. If you have the available time and good tools and materials to develop skill as a traditional realistic representational artist, then do it; become a real artist. I've found that the more I've developed such skills, the more I feel like a real artist, the more people respect me as such, and the better my work sells. All the abstract concerns of composition, color schemes, edge qualities, expression of emotional force, shape qualities, rhythm, etc., are included in realistic art. Plus in realism there's the added dimension of representation which leads to further dimensions of illustration, symbolism and so forth. Realistic art is much more multi-dimensional and comprehensive than abstraction.
So I hope we'll soon be seeing great exhibitions that include the work of many highly skilled raw-food eating artists. I think such exhibitions would expose the public to an uplifting power and beauty in art such as they have never seen before, and help point the way finally to a truly healthy civilization on this planet.
Joe Alexander is the author of Blatant Raw Foodist Propaganda, and full time artist living in Arkansas.
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