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impotent by relaxeder impotent by relaxeder
oil on canvas

thank you very much to :iconwc-stock: for the excellent stock photo i used as reference.

I used the title “impotent” in the sense of being or feeling unable to take effective action… a sense of powerlessness. 

In doing this painting - I thought it was a feeling (or state of mind) many could relate to, and painting it was sort of a catharsis for me. However – I’m not trying to condone or glorify helplessness. As my artwork tends to reflect… I’ve become increasingly disgusted with the state of things in the world (especially the U.S.), and then frustrated in terms of knowing how I could contribute to changing things. The media, the blind patriotism, rampant consumerism, religious fundamentalism (not religion in general - just the fundamentalists), war mongering, narcissistic corporate greed, and on and on… they plague my thoughts and frustrate the hell out of me.

Anyway, I had a DA friend ask me not too long ago why I always piss and moan about things instead of getting off my ass to do something. He didn’t use those exact words and I don’t think his intention was to be offensive… I’m guessing he was just curious. At any rate – he had a point. I think that there’s a tendency for those of a progressive bent to do a hell of a lot of complaining and not much else. The reason for this is (in my humble estimation) that liberal sorts empathize very deeply with the misfits, the suffering, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the destitute – then we just flare up in anger at the bastards that walk all over them. We’d like to do something about it, but then our many limitations become all too apparent and we lose ourselves in despair. Also – we progressive sorts aren’t exactly the most organized creatures. We’re often more right brained emotional folks that have flashes of inspiration and creativity, but not much in the way of daily habits or a consistent framework that lends to a cohesive kind of productiveness. This is unfortunate – because many of the neocons out there are extremely organized… they’ve got little in the way of a heart, but they have extremely productive (yet - self-serving) hands. We’re all heart, but then our hands tend to get confused as to what to actually do about anything.

What should we do? I don’t know exactly, and I’m open to suggestions. I think as a start we have to be humble enough to know that we can’t do much by ourselves – we’ve got to come together. There probably aren’t gonna be any liberal supermen (or superwomen) to come save the day. Firstly – we shouldn’t underestimate the power of an organized group effort. One person votes, they recycle, they ride their bikes to work instead of driving to work, they turn off their TV, they become responsible consumers, they work at becoming politically informed and aware, they volunteer, they donate to worthy causes, etc…. yet nothing seems to change. “What does my little vote do?” “What have my feeble efforts accomplished?” By themselves these efforts (admittedly) don’t change much and there’s certainly no sense of immediate gratification. But if there were thousands or millions or billions of people with the humility to say to themselves “every little bit counts” instead of “fuck it – what can I do?”, well… collectively we could change the world.

Thank you for enduring my (extremely long) preachy-assed monologue.
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:iconwalyco:
Walyco Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2015  Student General Artist
Interesting, I do have this feeling (of ain't being able to change a thing, not having impact) and I'm trying to fight it. I don't like it because I don't believe in it. 
(beautiful painting by the way)
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:iconebrius-art:
Ebrius-ART Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012  Hobbyist
Very cool piece of art!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2012   Traditional Artist
thank you!
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:iconfigueline:
figueline Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
You've been featured here
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner May 14, 2012   Traditional Artist
thank you very much!!
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:iconfigueline:
figueline Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
Excellent work :)
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:iconarahiriel:
Arahiriel Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
Strong picture – and strong words. I just HAVE to fav this and share your thoughts!!!
I am with you and try to change the world as much as I can – with just small things I can do. But I will and already do them:
Reduce waste, ride with the train instead of the car, do not buy too much things with plastic, buy healthy and natural/biological food and not chemical or fast food or too cheap food where we all know that the prizes can NEVER pay REAL GOOD FOOD!
I hope that more and more people are aware that their little changes will make once make a big change!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012   Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for the encouraging response. It's wonderful that you're doing what you can to make the world a better place - especially since the things you do probably go unnoticed for the most part. Keep spreading your optimistic attitude and resisting discouragement!!
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:iconarahiriel:
Arahiriel Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012  Professional General Artist
You are very very welcome!
I try to spread the optimism and make people BELIEVE that they can change the world! :heart:

Keep up your wonderful artwork and make people see problems in our world –  but also make them believe that they can change something. I know your pictures can do that, at least for some people. ^^
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:iconj-krumweed:
j-krumweed Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I understand. Sometimes despair creeps in and you find your horrified mind wanting to scream, what could I possibly do? Though I feel that by vocalizing the beaten and oppressed, the misfits, at least it's something. Someone comes along and hears what has been said and begins to think about it. There is only so much that the individual can do, but it's something. And if we can, as Howard Zinn put it, live now as we believe people ought to live, that in itself is a "marvelous victory".

Anyways, marvelous composition.
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2011   Traditional Artist
Thank you for your encouraging and thoughtful words. I hear ya. I submitted this quite a while back and my mindset has improved considerably since. I still have moments where I feel swallowed up by feelings of helplessness and pessimism, but those moments are occurring with much less frequency and intensity. You're right - I can only live my life now as I think it ought be lived. I think small communities help in terms of changing the overall culture and maintaining a positive mindset. In a small community I can find support and observe actual progress, but sitting by myself and brooding about the overall state of things seems to quickly become self-indulgent and counterproductive.
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:iconj-krumweed:
j-krumweed Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Dwelling on a situation makes no sense, it just keeps you trapped in the moment it happens. nature doesn't act that way.

I find small communities rather confining and unwilling to progress. maybe that's just my experience...
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:iconbojanpapic:
BojanPapic Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Please accept submission of this piece to :iconhandsclub: You will find it in your messages (might be older ones).
It will make a great addition to our group gallery.
Make sure You visit us, best regards!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011   Traditional Artist
I accepted the request gladly... thanks for your interest and support :)
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:iconcenter555:
center555 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2011   General Artist
Great Painting. :)

I like the color at the hand and the lifeless gray of the upper arm.

In regard to the above wordy comment, :) read the book the Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. Nothing to do with the movie. A NYT best seller.

One of the things you will notice is the use of the Narritive Fallacy by the conservative politicians and pundits like Rush and Beck.

Basically, as humans we like to attach reasons to the things we encounter. Therefore if someone spends a lot of time filling you with reasons you believe. (Much like this simple comment)

However, by them being the loudest voice or sometimes the only voice handing out reasons the public latches on and believes.

One of the things we can do is continue to point out that their reasons do not make them right. It just means they're trying to manipulate the listener.

Anyway off my soapbox, great painting... :)
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner May 2, 2011   Traditional Artist
thank you so much for the thoughtful comment :) and thank you for the book suggestion... i will certainly read it. in fact, i just bought the audiobook and will download it soon. i read a lot with my ears... it frees my hands and eyes up for painting ;)
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:iconmedusainfurs:
medusainfurs Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2010  Professional
amazing piece. fantastic idea, and masterful execution!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2011   Traditional Artist
thank you!
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:iconmedusainfurs:
medusainfurs Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011  Professional
ur welcome :)
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:iconmrsdr:
MrsDr Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2010
Awesome
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2011   Traditional Artist
thank you
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:iconmegamegantime:
MegaMeganTime Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
This is amazing!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010   Traditional Artist
thank you!
Reply
:iconmegamegantime:
MegaMeganTime Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Welcome!
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:iconfeathersonfire:
FeathersOnFire Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2010
Those are some beautifully rendered hands. And I really identify with the feeling. It's so hard to do anything when up against such a mass of. . .not good stuff. >.<
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2010   Traditional Artist
i'm always happy when others feel they can identify with my work. thank you!!
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:iconelleir:
Elleir Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
you've been featured:

[link]
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:iconbeatricecoffee:
BeatriceCoffee Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2010
Really great and stunning work :)
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2010   Traditional Artist
thanks
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:iconbeatricecoffee:
BeatriceCoffee Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2010
you're welcome :)
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:iconb0ndart:
B0NDART Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010  Professional Photographer
So deep and so well executed... :love:
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2010   Traditional Artist
thank you very much :)
Reply
:icontoxic-nebulae:
toxic-nebulae Featured By Owner May 1, 2010  Student Writer
Primarily, I love the picture and the message behind it.
Secondarily, in response to your comment, I beseech you to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. There are many points you mentioned that she answers much better than I could. This book changed my perspective on everything.
Reply
:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010   Traditional Artist
Thanks. Yeah – I have read Atlas Shrugged (all 5 billion pages of it). I applaud Ayn’s celebration of the independent spirit, and (like her) I put a high premium on everyone’s right to individual achievement. However - Ayn regards altruism as foolhardy and weak – while I believe genuine altruism to be most admirable state a human can achieve. Coerced self-sacrifice is what she actually dislikes, but she fails to make the distinction between that and genuine self-sacrifice. I’m glad I read the book and she did make some good points, but overall I thought her cartoonish stereotypes and vast oversimplifications were tiresome and unrealistic. Besides – her unholy worship of capitalism is disgusting. A good read, yes, but far too repetitive and not (in my experience) much of a life changer.
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:iconikang-13071992:
ikang-13071992 Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2010
2 words=CREEPY COOL!
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010   Traditional Artist
thanks ;)
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:iconikang-13071992:
ikang-13071992 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2010
you're welcome ;)
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:icontryingfailingtrying:
tryingfailingtrying Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2009
I loved the painting even before I read your note below it. here's what I'm doing different:

I learned how to garden and grow food. I make art and write and have started to see the value in these pursuits, partially because most people don't or can't afford to question everything the way I feel compelled to. I'm learning to sew my own clothes and find ways to repurpose old items. I own fewer things that I care for better.

and the things I've stopped doing:
I stopped voting. I stopped driving a car. I stopped working for corporations and greedy people.

I know I can't change everyone else...changing myself is a full time job! But I work on it every day.

:)
Reply
:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2009   Traditional Artist
This is one of the most hopeful, encouraging, and inspiring comments I’ve ever gotten. Thank you so much for sharing! All these things you’re doing and have stopped doing are very admirable. And, yeah – I hear ya… I could spend the rest of my life on just myself and still have more than enough work to do. Perhaps I should worry less about others and focus on myself.

I just have one question: why stop voting? I realize that it often seems futile and pointless and that more often than not you’re only choosing to vote for the lesser of two evils, but – if all the people like you out there stop voting we could very likely end up with another asshole like Bush in office.

Anyway – thanks for the comment and keep on keepin’ on :)
Reply
:icontryingfailingtrying:
tryingfailingtrying Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009
I suppose the main reason I forgo voting is that I perceive my everyday actions to be a much stronger vote than anything I could mark on a ballot. I vote with my energy, with my time, and with every dollar. Heck, even visiting a website is a kind of vote. Voting with a ballot seems, in the very act of it, to be voting for a governmental system that is no longer effective for modern needs (*cough* electoral college, anyone? *cough*), and was designed originally for a much less populous country than we now occupy. As much as I'd like to think we're just going through a rough patch now in our country (and I'm young enough not to have a personal frame of reference from any other time), I'm honestly not sure I see an easy fix.

Thank you for the watch. :)
Reply
:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010   Traditional Artist
Sorry for extremely late reply.

I agree that voting is often done more in how we spend our time and energy, responsible consumerism, and like you said – “even visiting a website is a kind of vote”. Very true – and quite likely these are the most important ways to vote. And, yes, the electoral college is a joke. But I’m not proposing that we vote with a ballot instead of voting in all the aforementioned ways, but – in addition to. I’m not suggesting that voting is an easy fix, but that it is, at least, worth doing. It affords each of us a very small voice and a wee bit of empowerment. Voting can be added in among all the other ways we seek to change the world for the better. Also – even though I’m not exactly enchanted with the small good that may come from my vote - I’m absolutely terrified of what it would mean if all conscientious people (such as yourself) stopped voting – you really think it’s a good idea to relinquish that small amount of power and simply hand it over to the neocons? Seems we should at least vote (for the lesser evil) to block them acquiring yet more power. When I think of how hard people (women and African Americans) have fought for the right to vote it seems a shame to, now, take it for granted. I also think of Apartheid in South Africa and how the first multi-racial elections led to Nelson Mandela’s election. That was certainly a change for the better.

Anyway – I think you’re awesome. I don’t mean for my questions about voting to eclipse just how excited I am to know that you’re out there doing what you do.
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:iconkevovski:
kevovski Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2009
@all: please read the text. i think this painting is not about "real skin tones" or "real proportions" or something. it's a statement.
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:iconkevovski:
kevovski Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2009
thank you for this great artwork and the text!! you found the words, i couldn't ever find. the artwork gets a new deeper sense while reading, it's kind of epic in my eyes. even if there's need for more paintings to express such a little big thing without using abstract subjects.

hope you understood. best wishes and succes while keeping up the work ;)

ps: i think the arm is too skinny :)
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:iconsethfitts:
SethFitts Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
Featured here [link]
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2009   Traditional Artist
thank you very much :)
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:iconassemblit:
assemblit Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
A gorgeous piece. The skin tones on the hands are almost life like. The pose is very unique.
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner May 8, 2009   Traditional Artist
thank you very much!!
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:iconassemblit:
assemblit Featured By Owner May 9, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
your welcome! :)
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:iconkumorigyaru:
Kumorigyaru Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2009  Student Filmographer
i loove the way you painted this, the colors are perfect! :)
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:iconrelaxeder:
relaxeder Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2009   Traditional Artist
thank you :)
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Details

Submitted on
October 24, 2007
Image Size
3.8 MB
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1923×5901
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Camera Data

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Hewlett-Packard
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Date Taken
Aug 28, 2007, 3:58:59 AM
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