Simplicity is Key: Philosophy of Life

You must be a unified human being, either good or bad. You must diligently work either on your own reasoning or on things out of your control — take great care with the inside and not what’s outside, which is to say, stand with the philosopher, or else with the mob!

— Epictetus, Discourses, 3.15.13

Everything in life ought to be simple. Writing should be clear and concise. Keep sentences short, terse, and to the point. Maintain a good healthy body weight that relates to your height. Eat only for sustenance, not pleasure. This practice will keep you disciplined and your mind sharp. Exercise regularly for cardiovascular health and muscular strength. Wear only bucolic colors: black, grey, navy — a dash of white — muted greens, and browns are acceptable. No graphics. Avoid bright primary colors unless you want to look like a cad! Read great works of literature and emulate your heroes. Journal, draw, meditate, exercise, and connect with God every day. Take responsibility. Want for nothing and always be satisfied. Never complain. If there’s something not to like about life, change it. 

What could be better than cycling and painting on the same day? Writing and reading about philosophy, art, and spiritual matters come a close second. Find a great teacher whose paintings you admire and study with them often. When painting indoors, I use a limited palette, focus on form and value, and continue to improve my drawing skills. Chiaroscuro adds dynamism when color is secondary. Using one light source keeps the transitions from light to dark clear. Use an extended limited palette when painting outdoors, and use cheap bristle brushes for Plein air painting. Painting landscapes is the art of looking and condensing. Simplifying complexity is painterly editing.    

I have a steel Jamis road bike with panniers and a handlebar bag to carry my supplies. For practicality, I use mountain bike cleats and shoes as they won’t hinder walking. I used this bike to cycle from Paris to Brest, back to Paris, so I know it’s robust and reliable. It has a front-wheel dynamo fitted for when I’m out too long and need to ride home in the dark. A steel frame has natural dampening qualities making the ride more comfortable over long distances. The ride home will be so much more pleasant after a long day standing at the easel. 

I plan to ride to Irvine this week to pick up a slimline pochade box and wet panel carriers along with other supplies for my first Plein air adventure. The round trip is approximately 100 miles. I chose the slimline pochade over a typical French easel because it’s lighter, slimmer, and will fit into the panniers. As summer approaches, I’ll need to add a painting umbrella to my supplies, which will increase bulk and weight. I’ll carry 37ml paint tubes, Gamblin mineral spirits in a 10oz brush washer, some Fredrix panels, and wet carriers of various sizes. A brush wallet will protect the bristles from bending. I’ll also need to carry food and water along with my painting supplies. I estimate the overall weight of the bike and equipment to be fifty pounds. Keeping weekly mileages high makes light work of heavy loads. Regular interval training increases power transfer for hauling lots of weight up hills!

To paint is divine. To ride, paint, and write is sublime.

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