Meditate [on DR Thursday]

mother&childprocessshot copy

It’s a universal theme that I’ve painted over and over throughout my life. Mother and child.  Sometimes the painting is inspired by a dear friend becoming a parent. Sometimes, like this iteration, I look up and find it staring at me from the canvas. When that happens I know I need to follow it.

img_3998I learned when I was a teenager that the act of painting was, for me, a form of meditation. Sometimes the meditation has nothing to do with the image that I am working with. The process becomes an exercise in presence. Sometimes, like this painting, the image has everything to do with the meditation. The image is the meditation.

So. Birth. New life. Possibilities. Life giving. A good meditation for the middle of winter. A good meditation for an artist surrounded by good friends retiring from work, becoming grandparents, asking what is next. A universal theme. A universal symbol.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on MOTHER AND CHILD IN PROCESS

 

hands website box copy

 

drc website header copy

 

mother & child (in process) ©️ 2019 david robinson

Make The Climb [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

display of knowledge in frame copy

Roger and I used to talk about art in terms of levels of sophistication. For instance, no one masters an instrument the first time they pick one up. There are layers of learning necessary before the musician “knows” how to play. The “knowing” has little to do with the accumulation of information and everything to do with giving over to what the body learns. Finally, it is a letting go (of the mind) into an undefended sharing. Flow. It has nothing to do with knowing and everything to do with availability. This ‘availability to experience’ is what we called sophistication.

Both the artist and the audience pass through layers of greater sophistication. The artist wants greater and greater challenges. The audience wants greater and greater challenges, that is, they want to participate in something that demands more from them. It requires that both artist and audience show up, open, give over. Union is the ultimate purpose of art. Participation in something greater than your self. That is how art informs and transforms.

And then, there is the flip side, the anti-art. You can feel it. The absence of the genuine experience. The demonstration of accumulated knowledge. I cringe when a curator launches a three-masted-ship-of-study that tells me what the art is about, what the artist felt, and what I should see and feel. When the actor attempts to control what I see, when the art is so conceptual that it precludes me or anyone save the artist from entering the conversation, when the  knowledge priest stands between me and my god…you’ll know the levels of sophistication have left the building when the conversation is one way, judged, controlled.

Kerri calls this the blah-blah. When a real moment is disrupted by an agenda, when the flow is dammed by an unnecessary display of knowledge. And, the kicker is, we are all guilty of it. I am. It is a necessary step in climbing the ladder of sophistication, slipping back down the ladder of sophistication. To confuse technique with art. To garble the necessity of the open heart with  the realm of the intellectually abstract.  To give a standing ovation to something that put you to sleep. To try to control what the other person sees or thinks or feels; a fool’s errand. The great artist trap. The great life trap.

And, the best you can do (truly, the best thing), is to catch yourself in the moment of blah-blah, laugh at yourself lost in the trap, pull out the ladder, and begin again to climb toward simplicity.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AN UNNECESSARY DISPLAY OF KNOWLEDGE

 

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

Reason The Random [on Two Artists Tuesday]

ice pops copy

It’s cold and getting colder. Alaskans might call us namby-pambies but the wind chill is racing for -52 degrees, so I’ve decided warmth is a much more valuable commodity than pride. DogDog agrees. He’s definitely more interested in a belly-belly than his usual Rin-Tin-Tin backyard run-around fantasy. Usually when I say, “Do you want to go out?” he jumps and yips and races me to the door. A few moments ago I asked and he rolled on his back and yawned. Never underestimate the power of circumstance to influence your choices and change the arc of your day/life!

We chose this image of snow on Sedum long before we knew that the next ice age would begin today.  After last week’s big snow, Kerri called to me from the porch, pointed to the Sedum and said, “Doesn’t that look like ice pops?” Pour Kool-Aid into Tupperware molds and put them in the freezer. The popsicles, ice pops, are shaped just like the snow on the Sedum. A good treat for a hot summers day. A good image to invoke good memories. A good image to invoke even more powerful yearning for a hot summer’s day! From snow on Sedums to ice-pops to the desire for summer sun on my face! I delight in how mind works! Random associations. Color my life rich.

Right now, as I write about the randomness of life and the power of circumstance, Kerri  is sitting next to me. She’s snickering, using a Snapchat filter to send a message to her niece, Wendy.  Amidst a sudden blaring polka, she just smiled and said to her phone in an impish little voice, “Here’s what I look like with a nose ring, lipstick and pink hair!” She laughed, sent the chat and showed her new pink doppelganger to me.

Cogito, ergo sum. Yeah, right! Someone should have told Descartes that thinking has almost nothing to do with it.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ICE POPS

 

-52 website box copy

Compose A Letter [on Merely A Thought Monday]

dear brain copy

As reductions go, this phrase is a good one. It is eastern philosophy pressed like a grape through western process: Dear Brain…Please Shut Up! Forced mindfulness. Mandatory meditation. Compulsory peace! It is the epicenter of compartments and cubicles: the dedicated belief that brain and body are separate entities, that heart and mind and body and spirit actually need unifying. Competitive non-competitors!

I have a brilliant new idea for a cartoon! It makes Kerri roll her eyes. I call it Bubbles. It’s a single panel cartoon. Two people, two thought bubbles. So, for instance, a man in a red convertible drives down the road thinking that he’s smokin’ hot! He’s especially peacocking for a woman walking her dog. The woman thinks it’s astonishing that the guy in the red convertible has such a bad toupe’. You never know what other people are thinking – especially when you are certain that they are thinking about you! My Bubbles premiere cartoon will be an overly enthusiastic cartoonist who thinks he has a brilliant idea and his beleaguered wife wondering why she married such an insipid man. I draw all of my best ideas from lived experiences.

Thought bubbles. My second Bubbles cartoon will be a brain going on and on and on, rolling incessantly through its fear obsession. Bills and deadlines and tragedy-imaginings. Important stuff! The heart, the neighbor living in the apartment beneath all the racket, will be at a desk trying to compose a letter. “Dear Brain…”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DEAR BRAIN…

 

we hate to leave paris websitebox copy

 

bubbles ©️ 2019 just as soon as you let kerri know that my idea is brilliant!

Yearn [on KS Friday]

last i saw you songbox copy

 

Kerri breaks my heart regularly. I listen to her play and I have to put down my brushes. She is a magician who can transport me in a moment to another time, another place. She can take me to the top of a mountain. She can leave me lost and yearning.

LAST I SAW YOU is the magician at her finest. What or who do you long for? This composition will take you there. It will break your heart in all the best ways.

Out there in the field of possibility, Yaacov Bergman conductor and past collaborator of mad, mad symphony projects, is considering including Kerri playing her PEACE in a future concert. I’ve pitched the notion of a sequence of her pieces, a longer program.  In that future evening in the concert hall and my imagination, if it ever comes to pass, LAST I SAW YOU would be included. It is magic.

 

LAST I SAW YOU on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LAST I SAW YOU

 

moon website box copy

 

last i saw you/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

 

Catch it. Release It. [on DR Thursday]

“…no one can tell us because life is not something which can be understood from a book.” ~Krishnamurti, Think On These Things

My sketchbook is part diary, part thought-catch-all, part quote repository, …and part sketchbook. And, sometimes the disparate rivers run together. A thought inspires an image, a sketch and a quote collide. Occasionally, on a day that the muse is sleeping or if I stumble into an experimental mood, I paint one of my collisions. And then, generally,  I paint over it. The point of any experiment, in art as well as science, is to find out what works by discovering what does not work. Trailing behind me is a long line of mud, mess, and poor composition. Much of my finished work is the visible layer of a sedimentary strata of experiments.

Like the rest of humanity, I am a seeker. Seeking is the point of a sketchbook or a diary. Reflection. Capturing. Exploration. Elusive mastery. Fickle contentment. Status. Safety.  Agreement. Peace.

We seek these things as if they were destinations. From my long line of mud and mess I’ve learned (and continue to learn) that none of what we seek is achievable. Seeking implies finding but that is a misnomer.  Life moves. Meaning is fluid. There may be answers for a moment but they will, as they must, open greater questions. Or, they will be a borrowed answer, a truth found in a book, lived by the author, celebrated and shared but unincorporated in the reader.

img_3997It is a bird that you hold for a moment. A relationship with something wild. A relationship with yourself. The meaning flutters in your hands, opens you to an experience, and then will die if not released.

A sketchbook, this painting, No One Can Tell Us, is merely a trace left by that fluttering relationship. The top layer.

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on NO ONE CAN TELL US

 

snowpath in bristolwoods website box copy

no one can tell us ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 

 

Be A Neighbor [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

snow angels copy

We were in the basement putting away Christmas stuff when John cleared our driveway and sidewalk with his snowblower. We didn’t hear it or I’d have run outside to give him a big bear hug. I discovered his generosity when I pulled on my boots, grabbed my shovel and stepped outside to find a job well done. Coming back in the house Kerri said in jest, “That was quick.” Pretending to be a snow-shoveling-superhero, I said, “Take a look if you doubt my capabilities!”

She immediately doubted my superhero capabilities because she knew the real superhero was John. Like me, she was overwhelmed with his kindness.

If you could order your neighbors on Amazon, you’d be foolish not to pick John and Michele. Seriously, if I could give the world anything it would be the peace of mind that comes  when you have good and caring neighbors. Neighbors who have your back. Neighbors who, without being asked, watch your house when you are away. Neighbors you can call at any moment, at any time of day or night, “help,” and know that they will be happy to be there.  Neighbors who you look forward to hanging out with, who are curious about the world and passionate about what they do.

My parents were good neighbors. They understood and taught me that ‘neighbor’ is not a statement of location. It is active relationship, connective tissue, participation, the most immediate and potent way of making the world a better place. Start where you live.

Later in the afternoon, knowing that John enjoys good beer, we walked to a local micro brewery, debated which beer he’d enjoy the most, bought him a “thank you” crowler and left it on his porch.

Back in our yard, falling backwards into the deep snow, we made snow angels. Laying in our newly minted angels, looking at the clouds, Kerri said, “You know, we’re really lucky.”

True. Very True. We have great neighbors.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOW ANGELS

 

snowheart website box copy