Joy to the World

December 28th, 2017

I hope you had a good Christmas. I did. I always do. It’s because of the gifts I received, and that others received because of them.

Many years ago now I came up with a new strategy for a Christmas wish list from my children. I decided that I didn’t need or want anything from them but a gift they would give to someone else more needy. It would be up to them to find that person or persons and make either a donation or, better, a physical gift and then let me know, by letter, what they did. That’s what I wanted, and that’s all I wanted.

Happily it’s become a tradition. Part of it, at the beginning, was to help instill a spirit of generosity, even creative, spontaneous  generosity in each in the family all year long. That wasn’t hard, they all have it; and now they’re bringing their children into it too. The other part, of course, was to help some other party, friend or stranger, with a love gift they wouldn’t receive otherwise.

This Christmas, as each Christmas, I received notes describing the gift that was made, to whom, how they came up with that particular recipient, and the process of giving it. This, in turn, between all the other gift opening of the morning, I read aloud. It’s always a joy.

It’s what Jesus came to give: Joy to the World.

I hope your Christmas was full of it too.


Jesus and Saint Nic

December 24th, 2017

It’s not the Saint Nic you’re thinking of . . . even if it is the day before Christmas. Not the one that clambers down chimneys, evaluates the goodness of children and leaves gifts. Nor was this Nic ever made a saint, at least not in the Catholic tradition. I’m speaking rather of Nicodemus, the one made famous by coming to Jesus in the cover of night and eliciting from him the most succinct and abbreviated truth the master had in him.

Oh, that Saint Nic! Yes.

And that Jesus, the one whose name is scrupulously avoided in holiday music in stores even though it’s Christmas! (But that’s another point.)

Here’s this point: Jesus had something to say to all of us and he said it to a representative of highest religious attainment at the time.

Nicodemus was a Jew, a member of the nation to whom God had revealed himself specifically. He was a Pharisee, one of those who sought God most zealously (even over-zealously). He was a leader, sitting on the ruling counsel. And he was Israel’s teacher, so stated Jesus himself. All that seems like the top of the religious ladder. Then add to that his unique humility and openness . . . top of the top.

But Jesus’ response was that he wasn’t there yet and, humanly, never would be. Here’s the famous quote: “You must be born again.”

It was an incredible statement, powerful, used only one time, only by Jesus, and only to one person. But I’m thinking he meant for it to go out from there, which it has. I’m thinking he’s still saying the same to all of us, to everyone.

So, Saint Nic, thanks for representing us and bringing up the subject. My own second birth changed everything, at Christmas, and all other time. I’m forever grateful.


PS  Check the full passage, it’s not very long, in John chapter 3, first half.


If your eye be single . . .

December 16th, 2017

Here’s a logo I designed when I was free-lancing at the very beginning of my graphic design career back in the 70’s. Seems like it fits here. It’s in the Our Lives Together book, mentioned at right.

I’d been saying to Anne that I really do need to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist. It was the sense of growing floaters and sometimes tiny black dots moving around somewhere out in space in front of me. Then Wednesday morning of this week, driving to meet a friend for coffee, it became clear. A floater had become a curtain, completely occluding the left side of vision in my right eye. More like an iceberg, really, sometimes white, sometimes dark, and moving, blocking not a quarter but a half and even three-quarters of vision in that eye. Weird! I mentioned it to Mike and he warned me to get it looked at right away.

So, without appointment, I drove to my primary care doctor with appeal for a quick visit. I was instructed to read the eye chart. I couldn’t even see the “E”!

Another appointment was made to see an ophthalmologist that afternoon.

Meantime, in the studio I had a portrait commission going with a Christmas due date in Chattanooga. Between appointments I kept that ship plowing on, icebergs or no.

The ophthalmologist dilated my pupils, put a Star Wars-esque mega-microscope between us and after close inspection announced, “detached retina, we’ll get you to a surgeon right away.”

Great! A name. There’s something comforting about that. It takes the mystery out of it and puts one back into the fellowship of humanity. It’s much less amorphous than, “Hey, I’ve got something like Antartica in my eye floating off its base and threatening to take over half the world.”

The paperwork said, “urgent.” I drove across town and squeezed in another unscheduled appointment, the third that day, this with a surgeon.

That was a trip too, eyes dilated, wearing a double pair of sunglasses, trying to find a place I’d never been.

The surgeon confirmed it, retina on the loose, and if allowed to go much farther it’d be beyond repair. He scheduled me for an out-patient operation the next morning. At 5:00 a.m.!

I came home and told Anne all that had happened, enjoying, by the way, the wonderful light in the kitchen, so bright, with everything so all the more beautiful, my pupils still wide-eyed.

I heard a quote on the radio just that day. Christian scholar C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity like I believe in the sun . . . not because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” Brilliant. And my experience exactly. But back to the story.

The next morning I had the operation. Truth is, I hardly knew it, being sedated into a sort of la-la land. Nor had there been any anxiety at all, not since I knew the name (or even before, really).

I will say this: I am extremely grateful for medical science, and for medicare, and to be living in a place and time where these are available. I considered that if my grandfather had experienced the same thing the curtain would have closed altogether and the eye would be lost, permanently.

Me, I need that eye, I’m a painter. Okay, it’s just as true with non-painters. But I did notice when I came home from the operation and dutifully returned to the studio and the portrait project that my depth perception was severely affected. With the right eye all bandaged up I had a hard time knowing when the brush was hitting the palette, or the painting. It took real concentration to get the detail.

Note: All this happened, from the noticing something was wrong to getting it surgically dealt with, within 24 hours. And, the progress on the painting was hardly affected, even with it being highly visual work. You know I’m grateful . . . for the system . . . for all the doctors and their training. . . and of course the Creator of the eye itself and the Scheduler of all my hours.

Now, two days later, my bandages are off, the portrait commission is finished and, just like any day, I’m moving onto next things.

For the while, however, there’s still no vision in the right eye. All I get are sensations of color. Night driving (probably not recommended) is an absolute light show, again, quite wonderful if you look at it that way. That’s due to the gas bubble that’s in the eye helping the healing process. It’s more like looking though a marble of Vaseline and would be worrisome if I weren’t told to expect it, for about two months.

Meantime I depend on my one good eye. It’s sorta good, anyway; after 74 years it’s had its own history. I’m also thinking about that saying of Jesus, “If your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light.”* I know it’s metaphorical for a much larger truth, but this experience has given me a new appreciation for light itself, and the special organ we have to take it in.

For now, it’s a single eye I’m depending on. I want to keep this body full of light.

Or at least that’s my prayer.


*Matthew 6:22


Art and Wine

December 7th, 2017

Evening Stroll, a new piece created “just because.” Click for details.

Hey believer, here’s one for you, especially along the lines of art and the finer things. Sometimes it’s easy to doubt whether what we’re doing, making, enjoying are the essential things, and thus worthy of our time, expense, occupation. I make paintings. But life goes on without paintings. So should I be doing it at all? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. You’ve wondered it too, in your context.

But here’s an insight. It comes right out of the story of the miracle at Cana. You know the one, everybody does; it’s where Jesus turned water into wine. I’ve often wondered that this was Jesus’ first miracle, really just to keep the party going. It wasn’t one of the more profoundly necessary ones, like giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead. It was “general,” surreptitious (only the servants knew), and basically just solved a catering problem.

But here’s the take away, at least for me: Wine and art are similar. Both are “extra.” Both are “special.” At the wedding, once the wine was gone they could have still gotten by. Just not well. Jesus kept it going well. He blessed the finer things.

I’ll take that . . . and keep doing art . . . always seeking help . . . which I see again, he freely gives.

God bless us everyone.


Thanks for Everything

November 22nd, 2017

We just returned from two weeks in Egypt. So many experiences and impressions I don’t know how to talk about them all. Meantime, Thanksgiving is upon us. Always grateful for that.

It occurs that we, as Americans, are among the few nations who celebrate that holiday, along with Canadians who do it earlier. It’s also the biggest travel holiday of the year . . . something I was often informed of when we lived in Canada (the Canadians finding us inscrutable in so many ways). But that aside, what we have in common is a dedicated day for gratitude, if we’ll remember that’s what it’s for.

Around many tables tomorrow someone will ask everybody to state something they’re grateful for. Some will answer thoughtfully; for others it’ll be the first time they thought of it and will get through it with a glib “turkey and dressing” or “friends and family” or “everything.”

Fair enough, all these are good things. But for any who would like a grab bag of other thoughts to draw from, here’s a quick random selection that might apply.

The house we live in
The cars we drive
Our roads
Our job
Our children
Their children
Our parents, living or dead
Our health
The air we breathe and the lungs to breathe it by
Sleep and the comfort of our beds
The trees around us and all the plants
Our pets and friends in the animal kingdom
Airports and airplanes
All telecommunications
Helpful neighbors
Electric light, furnaces and indoor plumbing (hot and cold)
The sun and the rain
Our computers and Internet and access to all knowledge
The art on our walls
Cut flowers in a vase
Good coffee
Stores everywhere
Our wherewithal to buy things
Eyes to see, ears to hear, touch to feel, noses to savor
Our books and movies and all entertainments
Our opportunities for travel
Decent shoes
Opportunities to give
Our own stories
The wonder of our knowledge
The wonder of things beyond our knowledge
Our own particular gifts that make us unique
Our spouse to have and to hold
Our existence and the wonder of our lives in this time and place
God himself, the giver of our lives and all good things
Our voice, with which to express these things
And, as we started: our friends, the Thanksgiving meal and of course: everything!

Here’s a scripture on that, I Timothy 4.4:  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

I’ll take that. You can have it too.

Bless your holiday.


PS  We’re hosting an open house and show the weekend after next: December 2 and 3, both afternoons.  33752 Big Sur, Dana Point.  All invited.




October 19th, 2017

Many years ago I was in a master’s level class entitled “Creative Leadership Personality.” Don’t ask me what I learned, but there was one exercise that really made a difference. Within the following 24 hours we were simply to do something we had never done before. Anything!

We all looked at each other with wonder and almost laughed at the audaciousness of it all. When had we ever received an instruction like that? Who had ever given the permission?

First was to come up with an idea . . . not as easy as one might think when it’s so open-ended. Life has guidelines; we’re conditioned to stay within them. As adults we’re seasoned to be dependable, predictable. But this was to shake all that up, to confront a hardening of the imagination and restore courage for thinking a new thing, and doing it.

It would take us off subject to relate what I or the others did. The next day we all reported on it. As you can imagine there were a lot of laughs.

It was great fun, but the lessons learned were solid. Like: How do I come up with an idea when anything goes?  Answer: Limit the context, “What can I do now?”

Then once the idea has come, how do I overcome initial inhibitions in the mind? Answer: Remember the time limit, move quickly into it.

Then, how do I become the slightly different person, at least for that moment, to pull it off? Answer: Just do it.

Finally, am I now a slightly bigger, broader, deeper, more courageous, and more experienced person than before? Answer: Of course.

Finally, finally, will I go on to be that bigger, broader, deeper, more courageous person ongoingly? Answer: It depends.

But first it’s all about the permission. That’s what we need. After that, watch out! Great things are on their way, or at least new things.

So, friends, whatever it is that you’ve been thinking about but haven’t let yourself do because it’s too big, too different, too audacious but could, should and would happen if you only had the permission; I hereby grant it to you.

You have my permission. Now grant it to yourself. Today’s the day.

(Let me know what happens.)



October 13th, 2017

Excelsior, 1920, oil on canvas, 24×36, one of a number of vintage bikes I painted a couple of years ago.

I have a thing for motorcycles. Ask my wife. I can hardly go by one that’s parked without going over to it and pointing out something I know about that particular make, model, or era. To her they’re rather all the same, or so they would be without my continually sensitizing her to the nuances.

I first learned to ride when I was 14. It was at a family reunion for the Moore clan out in Rawlins, Wyoming. All Dad’s brothers and sisters were there: Comer, Sterling, Muriel, Burwin, Melva and Orelle, all great names. Then, of course, there was Dad, Hyatt junior.

Sterling had a motorcycle, a German made Zundap, and Dad taught me to ride it. There was little risk there, out in the wilds of sage brush and jack rabbits and maybe a dirt path. Maybe! But I got bit by the thrill and after that did nothing but pine for a driver’s license and with that, a motorcycle.

Actually, I didn’t wait and got my first traffic ticket speeding down Pacific Coast Highway on a motor scooter. Happily that one never showed on my record. The reason: there was no record to put it on . . . I was only 15 and still didn’t have a driver’s license. But that’s another story.

In high school I drew Triumphs on my notebooks. When I didn’t own a bike, I borrowed one, and over the years got familiar with all kinds.

There was I time I loved dirt riding more than road crusing . . . the risks, the jumps, the speed . . . sometimes the camaraderie of doing it with others . . . or just the joy of being out in the wind and the roar, the surge of power, the freedom. And fun!

These days I can still get tempted to own one again. They can be very beautifully designed; maybe I’d buy one just to look at. And why not? It’s what we do with paintings!

But I know I’d ride. And I’d ride too fast.

Life’s horizon is approaching fast enough. Why rush it?



PS  Speaking of paintings, I’ve been posting some pretty interesting new works on Facebook of late. Check them out here.


Marathon Duo

September 28th, 2017

We’re trying to remember when this photo was taken. Seems it was in Texas, after our two years in Papua New Guinea. It’s Little Hyatt (as he was known then) and sister Acacia, each always a fan of the other.

Life has some beautiful moments, but sometimes it’s just about surviving. In either case, it’s best when relationships are strong.

Allow me a little parental boasting. Having five children (and 16 grandchildren), there’s plenty I could say . . . especially because they’re all “above average,” of course. I could give highlights of each, and out of fairness, should. But do stay with me on this one, a marathon run by two siblings, Acacia and Little Hyatt (now not so little).

The two have always been friends. Being third and fourth born and close in age, they grew up together. When very young, Acacia was awed by her older brother, something Hyatt basked in pleasantly. (It was more than he could get from his older sisters.)

Some six months ago they decided to run the Big Sur marathon together and have been training since. It happened last weekend.

The two back at Hyatt’s place in Salinas, California, a couple hours after the run, with their third place medals, and still mutual fans.

The Big Sur marathon is particularly grueling, including many long hills and much on dirt paths. Acacia has been training for months, but there’s only flat ground in Chicago.

Both of them said their only goal was to finish. They didn’t run together, Acacia moving out ahead at the beginning, Hyatt finishing an hour ahead at the end. They both said later that as they ran . . . and stopped . . . and walked . . . and ran again . . . up a thousand feet at a time, then down, just as hard on different muscles . . . that their said goal changed from “finishing” to “just surviving.”

Acacia, also a photographer, gives a sense of the place. For beauty Big Sur is one of the world’s wonders, and for a race, most challenging.

They did both . . . survived and finished, even receiving third place medals in their age groups.

We’re grateful, those of us from a distance looking on.

Life’s a marathon. Sometimes we run, sometimes we walk, sometimes we stop for awhile. We survive. In the end we finish. Meantime there’s beauty all around, and all the more if relationships are strong.


PS Both Hyatt iv and Acacia and their spouses have four children. Acacia turns 37 in two weeks, Hyatt turns 39 on Saturday, today.


The Smell of Fish

September 20th, 2017

I wrote this blog last week, when we were in Swan Valley, Idaho. Snake River county.
If you missed, or didn’t have time for the brief video summary, click here.

I walk over to the river. There’s not much other for destination around here. That is, unless you want to take the longer walk down to the corner gas and grocery near the Roadhouse Cafe and the tiny post office. It’s just a crossroads of a town . . . but that walk’s on gravel road with no tree cover, so the short path to the river is better.

As I approach I smell it. Sorta like fish, or at least the smell I remember when I’d go fishing with Dad. It’s the smell of a fisherman’s hope . . . and it takes me back to Dad like no photo ever could.

It’s the first time in a long time I think of him; I give thanks for him, remember that he was a good dad. And he loved to fish. Mom used to say she never knew anybody who liked to fish like he did.

And he was good at it. He had a reputation for catching when nobody else was, and more, and bigger. When it’s that regular, it’s not just luck.

All I can come to is that he thought about it. He thought about it before he went, knowing what he’d be after, what the fish preferred, when they’d be hungry . . . like that. He was also a patient man. He liked just being out there on the water, on the shore, on a pier. If they weren’t biting, he enjoyed it still.

It wasn’t a hobby/sport/occupation that took with me. A mutual friend once remarked that Dad probably wondered where he’d gone wrong, a son that he was happy to invite along, but never really loved doing it as deeply, and less as time went by.

I remember the last time I went out with him for mountain stream fishing. Instead of a pole I brought along a pair of binoculars, just to look around, especially at things right at my feet. I enjoyed that more than fidgeting around with tackle, waiting for what might or might not be happening beneath the water’s surface, extracting a hook from the mouth of a squirming prize, or later gutting it . . . though at dinner I was happy to eat the results of the day.

The view right at the feet is almost always just as wonderous as any . . . this one without binoculars. (On both, click to enlarge.)

But though catching fish didn’t catch with me, I learned from it just the same. Someone told me once, after I saw it myself but hadn’t named it, “FISHING IS A GREAT METAPHOR FOR ALL OF LIFE.”

You prepare.

You go.

You wait.

You’re active and passive both.

It’s part luck, it’s part strategy.

Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t. You’re challenged to be content either way.

When you do succeed you don’t take all the credit; there were other forces at play.

When you don’t succeed, you don’t quit, not if you’re a real fisherman.

There are no guarantees.

Except one: If you don’t go, you’ll never catch.


So, thanks, Dad. It was great remembering you today. I don’t know what my kids will remember me for. I hope the fragrance is as sweet.


PS There are a few photos of Dad (and Mom) in the sample pages of the book I did for them . . . including a classic of him fishing!  Click here.



Slow Down, Hurry Up

September 9th, 2017

This morning’s view out the window. Lovely deer watching us watching them, before they ran off. Now there’s an animal that knows both, how to slow down and hurry up.

Once again we’re at one of our at least annual trips away for making art. After the long and stimulating summer at the Festival of Arts in Laguna, where Anne spent almost every evening and I did half, the break was called for. Besides, Anne wanted to augment her inventory after the satisfying sales. And me, I wanted some concerted time to explore a new direction in my painting.

We’re in Idaho, Swan Valley, in the wonderful log home of friends Jeff and Michelle Aleixo. We’ve converted their great room into a dual studio, one side for Anne, the other for me. We have music, books, books on tape; we watch an occasional video, we take a daily walk. It’s supremely quiet when we want it to be. We see no one.  Mostly we work all day, just the way we love to spend our “vacations.”

It’s what everybody needs, time to explore what’s inside and give a chance for it to come out. It’s contemplative and desultory. At least that’s one idea. At the same time it’s being ever aware of the time, of how few days there are left, right from the beginning. Just this morning Anne commented that it was already 10:00 o-clock, “The day’s half gone!”

Casting about for inspiration, I came across the work of painter Saul Leiter. I liked his approach to strong color and the almost frenetic line work in his figure studies. On further investigation, I found that he was also, in fact mainly, a photographer. He worked in New York shooting black and white fashion and journalism at a high level. But what wasn’t discovered until a decade or so before he died (at 89) was that since the 40’s and 50’s he’d been experimenting with the creative use of color. Watching a YouTube video or so I came to find how, once discovered, he made a real mark in the field, influencing many others.

He had been doing all this work “on the side,” and “just for his own satisfaction.” Most of his life, as he says, he was “an unknown.”

Another thing he says about himself was that he was “lazy.” That term was easily decried with expansive museum shows of his work in his later years, both painting and photography. But it was how he saw himself. He took time with things, didn’t hurry, let his mind do work that can’t happen when it’s always pushed.

And there it is: Slow down, you’ll do better work.  And: Hurry up, there’s only so much time.

That’s where we live . . . somewhere between those two. It’s a balance. As the writer of Ecclesiastes might have said, There’s a time for everything: a time to go, and a time to stop going.

Right now, we’re doing both. Don’t forget to do the same.

P.S.  You can check out Saul Leiter on line, including a film about him, In No Great Hurry, which I plan to get.
P.P.S. Next Thursday’s Blank Canvas blog will show a little more of this Idaho hideaway and some results of our work.