My high school senior English professor used to wear a pith helmet. I don’t remember the specific circumstances required for him to don the pith helmet, but they had something to do with intellectual pithiness. I also remember that it was rarely donned, but when it was, it was a rather humorous and joyful event.
Here in my household we honor a pith helmet — The Esteemed Pith Helmet — three or four times per year; basically whenever I get around to writing the latest edition of my oh-so-occasional Studio Art Notes Newsletter. Different from my blog and social media posts, my Studio Art Notes Newsletter is a niftily-formatted epistle to friends, family and followers, highlighting recent paintings, sketches, riveting art facts & tales, random musings, inspiring quotes, show announcements, museum exhibitions you don’t want to miss, and more. Additionally, there’s usually a coupon code for 15 – 20% for my online art store.
Without question, the single most anticipated highlight of all is….. The Random Wilson Pic.
Still, that doesn’t explain the donning of The Esteemed Pith Helmet.
This is tricky, because I want to tell you about The Esteemed Pith Helmet, without revealing too much info.
Hidden in the text of my Studio Art Notes Newsletter is a wee little contest. It’s an amusing little game my readers, Wilson and I play, with a series of questions whose answers are found in the newsletter. Anyone passing the intellectual rigor of the wee little contest then has their name written onto a paper tag, which is then placed in The Esteemed Pith Helmet.
Come time for the next Studio Art Notes Newsletter — usually a few months later — Wilson sharpens her fierce fangs and, with her ferocious teeth, pulls a name out of The Esteemed Pith Helmet. The winner — HOORAY! — receives a sweet little original 5” x 7” painting by yours truly — That’s a $225 painting for free!
THEN, once per year, ALL of the wee little contest entries from the various newsletters of the year are placed in The Esteemed Pith Helmet, and the Grand Prize winner is randomly found twixt the beastly teeth of Wilson. The Grand Prize? An original 8” x 10” painting by yours truly — a $480 painting for free!
Why do we do this? Because it’s a cool way for me to “give back” to my fans and followers, with all of us having some fun along the way. But my fans and followers have to work a wee little bit a few times per year: indeed, they have to read my Studio Art Notes Newsletter, sleuth the wee little contest, and enter.
Now listen, I’ve had some people accuse me of lying about the wee little contest, because they haven’t been able to find it, and therefore they assume it’s not there. But I assure you, it is real, and if you’re a subscriber and you haven’t found it, it’s because you haven’t looked hard enough. If and when you DO find it, you’re going to to gasp, “Ah-HAAAA!” and feel more than a wee bit clever, which, of course, you are.
Over there —> are the latest more-than-a-wee-bit-clever readers who sleuthed the contest and SHAZAM! had their name drawn with slobber out of the Esteemed Pith Helmet and won a painting!
And here are the paintings they won:
One more thing: In order to receive my Studio Art Notes Newsletter, you have to subscribe to it — which you can do easy-peasy, right here. (And you can also view past editions of the newsletter there as well.)
Subscribe in the next day or two and you’ll receive the latest edition, which has a coupon code of 20% for my online store, good through May 10th. (Though if you sleuth and enter the wee little contest, you’ll get a coupon code of 25% off!).
If you think you’re already subscribed, but haven’t received the latest newsletter, check your spam folder (especially important if you use gmail) and let your email server know that mail coming in from firstname.lastname@example.org via MailChimp is approved by you..
And now, on this rainy morning in Santa Fe, some inspiring pith for your day—
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet (3.1.56-90)