February 6, 2011

Do you believe in superstition ?

 This photo has nothing to do with the post and it is not mine. Its purpose is simply to draw your attention.

Do you remember the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the relatives of the main character would spit at the newlyweds to wish them good luck? Well, I don’t believe in these kinds of superstitions. I found it funny when I learned that Pavarotti would look for a bent nail before going on stage. All these black cats and horseshoes and people who bring us good look, and people who take it away – I think it’s all in our heads. However, I do believe that these thoughts can make their way to your material reality once you start to believe them. It’s our faith that makes them real.

Still, I would prefer if somebody wished me good luck in some more pleasant manner. For example, with a simple and sincere smile. A diamond necklace wouldn’t be bad either.

I’m saying all this so that you wouldn’t think that I’m looking for patterns among coincidences when you read the following text. I just don’t know how to explain them sometimes.

Two years ago, a couple was supposed to visit me, in order to view, and possibly purchase a painting of mine that they saw on my website. I knew that they had a three-year-old daughter and a newborn baby. Naturally, I wanted to make sure that their visit would take place with as much comfort and consideration as possible. I baked some cookies. I bought a big bouquet of fresh peonies. The room was filled with the smell of freshly brewed tea.

My potential clients arrived right on time. They were with their children. As soon as they came in and rolled in the baby stroller, a painting fell off my wall right behind my back. My cat yelped and sought refuge under the bed. The baby started to cry, and the older sister looked at her mother uneasily.

A few minutes later, everyone was calm and relaxed once again, and we went on with our program of drinking tea, eating cookies, and viewing my paintings. Imagine my surprise when, instead of choosing the painting they were initially interested in, they walked away with the one that fell off the wall. We were joking about how the painting was impatient to be taken away to their place.

This summer, I had an exhibition at a well-known local gallery. I brought two paintings, which they hung beside one another. People were walking in and out during the reception. The door would open and close, bringing with it a certain gust of air. You would think that the air would affect all or most of the things it would reach. However, only one of the paintings started tilting on the wire. Guess which painting was bought the next day.

That’s all very well, but the most confusing and embarrassing thing happened yesterday. Once again, I was preparing for a visit from some art collectors. One of them was a young woman who had already bought a painting from me before, and the other was her dad. She had sent me an e-mail, telling me that she fell in love with a painting she saw on my website. There is a certain pattern that I’ve noticed throughout my life  - as soon as there is a person who would like to purchase one of my works, there appears somebody else who expresses interest in the exact same work. The young woman, of course, had the priority spot. First of all, she was initial contender. Second of all, she had expressed her feeling so strongly in her e-mail. What could be more important for an artist than knowing that somebody fell in love with your work?

Once we had set up our meeting, I decided to display the painting on the wall where it looked the most presentable. No matter how I tried to set it straight, it would always tilt on one side. When the collectors arrived, they saw that the painting wasn’t hanging straight. I tried to shift it once again, and, with a loud noise, down it tumbled. I thought I would die of laughter or embarrassment. My guests looked at me with slight suspicion. How could I explain that this painting no longer wanted to live with me?

There is an old superstition among Russian painters, that if a painting falls down on its own, it will definitely be bought. So, how can I still not believe in superstitions?

Have you had any stories like that?


  1. This is too funny. I’ve never heard of the Russian superstition but if all of that happened to me I suppose I would believe it. :)

  2. Olga that is spooky, but no I don't believe in superstitions, well not normally. Diane

  3. Forgot to say I love your painting of the house in the hills with the winding road and the purple/blue flowers in the foreground. Diane

  4. well from where I am, they've are an essential part of our culture. as much as i think like a modern man, i have this inkling for the supernaturals.

    i like your personal experience. and i would really believe in that too. while here, when a fork drops on the floor accidentally, then you'd have a male visitor for the day. if it's a spoon, expect a girl. and true enough it follows all the time. not necessarily a visitor but someone who doesn't live at your home would pop up at your doorstep. it happens all the time that it doesn't creep me anymore.

  5. I believe in signs which I suppose are closely linked to instinct in that we read them with our unconscious mind. They send a message which can only be picked up by 'feeling' it.

  6. That's so bizarre! I'm not particularly superstitious but I think there is often some truth behind a lot of them. I hope lots more paintings fall off your walls! x x

  7. I would say I don't belive but... I always seat for a while when I am returning home in order to take something forgotten and I need to go again (I do not know why, just my mother always told me to seat):)

  8. I'm weird, some days I believe in superstitions, and some days I don't, I guess it depends on how logical I'm feeling that day. But I definitely think there's something to these stories of paintings jumping off the wall! :-)

  9. i think some things are just meant to be :)

  10. I certainly believe in the karma that makes such things seem right for no particular reason. Great story.

  11. I agree with 'once in a blue moon' - I don't believe in superstition and think that you described really well how it can become a reality for some. However, things happen, people meet, events occur - strangely - and that is different. I love your 'painting tales' - more supernatural than supersticious.

  12. I have never heard of that Russian superstition but I do like it! I do believe in karma and am quite superstitious. I have not been able to live in places I wanted to or get jobs I really wanted but each time it happened I had a sense it was for the best. (So far it has been!). Very interesting post. x

  13. I loved this post Olga. How absolutely wonderful that the paintings that fell were the ones to be purchased. I am very, very supersititious. Must be Grandma Dolly's Irish influence when I was a child. I can't see a safety pin on the pavement without picking it up and pinning it to the lining of my jacket, and I know all about Maria's cutlery predictions above! I really like the Russian superstition, and hope many more paintings fall. By the way, the one Diane mentioned is my very favourite painting of yours too!

  14. Hi Charlene,
    It's really quite funny, even while it's happening to you.

    Hi Diane,
    Thank you for your compliment in regards to my painting. A friend of mine bought it, and she helped me lure a couple more collectors :) It is spooky, but I think it's also funny.

    Hi Maria,
    I think we all consider ourselves modern people, until something unmodern happens to us :) I'm entertained by the superstition with the fork and spoon. Does it ever come true?

    Hi Sarah,
    In my case, it feel like little gnomes are pulling some strings :)

    Hi Sarah Elizabeth,
    Thank you; I just hope that the paintings won't be falling on my head :)

  15. Hi Ola,
    It's funny, but we have the same superstition in Russia...I haven't yet managed to sneak out of my mother's house without being told to sit for a minute.

    Hi Sarah Louise,
    You're not giving me a chance; I'm going to have to start believing in superstitions :)

    Hi once in a blue moon,
    That's closer to the realm of fatalism than superstition :)

    Hi Lindy,
    I wonder if there is any connection between karma and a black cat crossing the road :)

    Hi aguja,
    Haven't you ever had a dream that later came true, with some particular details?

  16. Hi Happy Frog,
    It's strange that you mentioned it; I also often feel that something happens in my life, not quite the way I wanted, but it turns out for the best.

    Hi Dolly,
    Largely, I don't believe in superstitions, but sometimes, it's hard to get away from the facts. Thank you for complimenting my painting.

  17. I believe I do, I think it runs in a Chinese family and especially so much to think about what to do and what not during the Chinese New Year ... sometime we don't mind following as it's tradition, of which if we don't; we may be lost without culture. I think the Chinese culture is blended with some of it ... so, I do ! in a way ..

  18. I want to believe in luck but it never pans out for me. I find things that ought to mean something lucky, and nothing happens!

  19. Hi Wong,
    Many of my friends have some Chinese lucky charms. Maybe we tend to think that, if our charms don't work, Chinese charms might work :)

    Hi Lydia,
    This is exactly why I don't believe in these kinds of things :)

  20. I would like to say I don't believe in superstition but up until recently I kept the first bent nail I found on stage in a box :) (It disappeared during my last move. That happens, huh?)

    As a performer I tend to go with the rituals... No needles on stage... Looking for nails and "In crepi lupo"s... It part of who we are...

    Warmest hugs to you, Olga!

  21. Entertaining post. We too have struggled with the perennial obstinate painting that doesn't want to be level. Maybe it's providing its artistic perspective!

  22. I believe not so much in superstitions,but that everything is meant to be. Things happen for a reason, and the right outcome will happen eventually... whether it is a painting choosing it's owner, or you meeting the partner who is right for you. Oh, I'm a dreamer!

  23. Very interesting. Of course when you put all these stories together it sounds like superstition, when in fact it is propbably simple chance. You make something heavy and put it on a wall and it's eventually going to have a little jaring. Whatever it is, whether it's superstition or chance it's a good thing :)

  24. Hi Lena,
    I know that all the people who work on stage keep their talismans, amulets, charms :)
    I found it very cute.

    Hi Paul,
    Sometimes paintings behave very strangely indeed. I know some unbelievable stories that happened in museums from people that I respect and trust.

    Hi Bth,
    I considered myself quite pragmatic for an artist before I started to see or know some funny stories that happened to me or my colleagues. I found it entertaining. Maybe because I can't explain them from a logical perspective.

    Hi Travel Nurse Extraordinaire,
    When I have heard some of the stories from my fellow artists, I was always skeptical. Because we artists tend to have very vivid imaginations :)

  25. wonderful! i definitely believe is such tales.

  26. Olga:

    Yes strange or unusual things have happened to me-- although your story here is so wonderful and enchanting -- it is what poets write and dream about.
    A quote from Hamlet immediately came to mind:
    And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  27. Hi Angela,
    Sometimes it only makes sense to believe them :)

    Hi Joanny,
    I'd be interested to hear some of your inexplicable stories. I have a feeling that strange things happen to poets much more often :)