Monday, February 1, 2021

Normalcy, Bob Ross, and Color Unblindness | The Classic Modern Mobile by Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: The Classic in Palm Desert  

On normal
“But I don’t fit in,” cried green sparrow.
“Why would you want to?” asked red fox.

Thoughts while making
His words like ancient spells, against his easel a brush slapping drums; from imagination to color, color to canvas, worlds born before our eyes.

“Alizarin Crimson and Indian Yellow,” he’d chant.

“Phthalo Green and Prussian Blue,” he’d whisper.

“Titanium White and Midnight Black,” he’d roll upon his palette knife.

“Dark Sienna and Van Dyke Brown,” he’d secret under his breath, a script liner in hand drawing forth happy little trees from primordial seas of Cadmium Yellow and Sap Green, Phthalo Blues and Bright Reds.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you are color blind when “you are unable to see colors in a *normal* way.”

The American Optometric Association calls it “color deficiency.”

Is one deficient when they see things differently?

The client who commissioned this mobile is “color blind,” yet helped me to see color in an entirely new way.

On my own, I would’ve never chosen Molotow Belton paints in Linda’s Sunset, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lagoon Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Fuchsia Pink, Shock Blue, and Shock Blue Light for this mobile.

Clearly, my so-called normal way of seeing colors was blind to possibility.

How often do we read difference as division and division as deficient? When does normal become better and better become blindness?

As Bob Ross said, “Each one of us will see nature through different eyes, and that’s the way you should paint; just the way you see it.”

What’s your favorite color?


A New Year, Wooden Spoons, and Dreaming of What Might Be | Red Rover Hanging Art Mobile by Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: Red Rover in Tappan

On a new year
“But does anything other than the number change?” asked mouse.
That, my dear,” replied fox, “is entirely up to you.”

Thoughts while making
8:51 p.m.
Does this sound familiar: You’re a kid. It’s New Year’s Eve. Pots and pans have been laid out on the kitchen table. Big wooden spoons, too.

8:56 pm.
One by one, you and your siblings step up and arm yourself: one pot or one pan, one spoon. There were five of us.

8:58 p.m.
Nervous giggles. Pajamas rustling.

8:59 p.m.
You all file quietly out the door, five pairs of little feet noiseless along the walkway. Turning the corner, down the driveway, right to the edge of the sidewalk.

9 p.m.
The sign is given, and all at once, the banging begins. Hooting and hollering. Metal and wood.

Primal screams of children lifting like wild things calling into winter’s starlit night.

A year’s hurts and pains, bads and awfuls given notice that their time is done and sent on their way.

9:01 p.m.
10 little feet quickly scrambling from whence they came. Neighborhood dogs barking.

9:05 p.m.
Martinelli’s apple cider to toast the new year in New York from Scripps Ranch in San Diego.

By 9:30 p.m.
Fast asleep to forget what was and dream of what might be.

Wishing you a year touched by love and light, where the hurts-and-pains, bads-and-awfuls are shooed away into the cold night of yesterday, making space for dreams made real, fireflies and campfire sparks.

Listening, Chili, and Everyday Sounds | Blue Moon Rising Modern Art Mobile by Mark Leary Designs


Mobile: All-black Blue Moon Rising XL

On listening
“But what can silence teach me?” asked mouse.
Owl sat quietly, saying nothing in response.

Thoughts while making
Everyday sounds are amazing, aren’t they? The creaking of a cold floor interrupted underfoot. The unsure slurp of that first sip of hot coffee. The metallic uneven twang a toaster makes when you press down the lever.

We accept these sounds so fully, they often go unnoticed, don’t they? The refrigerator cycling on. The click of the heater before it engages. The hum of a zipper being pulled.

As background, they add context, paint depth and feeling. They’re evocative, even when they’re barely noticed, asking very little of us.

And then there are those sounds we notice fully; the ones that cause us to act almost without thought. The microwave with its three beeps. The phone with its chime. The Amy’s chili can being opened.

Chili? Yep. Buddy (my cat friend) comes running any time I open a can. For the first few months of his life, I fed him wet food. But for most of the nearly 13 years since, he’s only eaten dry.

I’m constantly amazed at how deep that sound memory lives within him; a response triggered by a tin-and-steel moment that lasts not more than a fraction of a second.

His reaction is entirely predictable: he’ll come running from wherever he is, meowing almost inconsolably, a nervous and excited dance around the kitchen.

When I lower the can down, so he can smell it – to let him know “no, my friend, this is not what you think it is” – I can almost see his confusion, his disappointment; trying to sync expectation with reality.

And, despite can after can not being what he expects, the next time I open one, he will – without question – come running.

How often in life do we do the same? Come running based on the experience of past “sounds” in our life; a fill-in-the-blank emotion already queued up: excited, guarded, welcoming, fearful, resistant, hopeful, or…

I invite you to listen more closely today to the everyday sounds around you. What do you hear? Where does the past live in these sounds? How do they make you feel? Is your response rooted in the present?

Blowing Up Modern Art Mobiles on Pennyworth | Mark Leary Mobiles

Stabile: The Stand

 On expectation
“But what if it’s different than I’d hoped for,” asked mouse.
“That’s your opportunity,” said owl, “to find gratitude in what it is.”

Thoughts while making
Eight years ago, the FX Channel bought one of my mobiles for a show called “Lights Out.” I was so excited, I counted down the days until the series aired.

My expectations were high, but if the mobile was even on set, it didn’t make the final cut.

Others followed, most recently Netflix’s Grand Army. Another no show. With each, I had similar expectation and let down.

Like many of you over the course of this past year, I’ve recognized once again how expectations can be fraught. And I’ve realized that the best I can hope for – like literally the *best* – is doing my work with good heart, good intention. It’s the one thing we *do* have control over in life. The rest will be whatever it will be.

This year, I made upward of 500 mobiles, connecting with hundreds of people around the world; celebrating birth and love, childhood memories brought forward, the passing of time and the desire for beauty.

And this – THIS – is what brings me joy in every mobile I get to make. The stories. The relationships. The connection. And it’s why I’m filled with such gratitude for having the chance to create and share art, without expectation, whether it’s spinning peacefully in a Brooklyn loft or getting blown up in the smashing Pennyworth series on Epix.

Blown up? Yep, Blue Moon Rising and the stabiles in this post were spinning barely noticeable in the background of an awesome action-packed-bullets-flying-everywhere-around-them scene today with the incredible actors, Jesse Romero and Paloma Faith. It made me smile for what it was, and even more grateful for each and every one of you.

As we wrap up this Year of All Years, where’s one place in your life where you can transform expectation into gratitude?