Hear Yourself Think [on DR Thursday]

painting FOR PEACE I PRAY morsel copy

Ultimately, if you are lucky,  you come to the realization that you are in prayer, in meditation all day every day. What rolls through your noggin each moment of each day is your meditation. It is your prayer. The question is this: what is your meditation?

We need not go to the mountaintop, enter the big stone building, or walk a thousand miles to the sacred site to find it. It’s all a sacred site. There is no class or teacher that can show you the way to understanding your meditation. I learned in my travels that the high priests in Bali are in prayer/meditation all day, every day. Chanting mantras, reciting prayers. Directing their thought. The only difference between the priests and the taxi driver is that the priests know that they are in constant prayer. They understand the creative power of their thoughts.

I love to paint because my rambling river of thought simmers down. I become quiet. I can ‘hear myself think.’ And, from what I hear, my thoughts, are mostly ridiculous fear fantasies. Rabbit chases. Human-made-up-separation-anxiety.

Beyond all the noise and the chanting is the quiet place. That is what this painting, FOR PEACE I PRAY, is about.

ForPeace,IPray copy

a rough shot of the finished piece. it sold before I took an archival shot. in fact, the image on my site was taken before the words were painted in. go see the difference.

sketch

the sketch

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FOR PEACE I PRAY

 

footprints in sunlit snow website box copy

 

 

for peace i pray ©️ 2016 david robinson

Organize Your Principle [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

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On a snowy cold day a few weeks ago, Brad and Jen rearranged the books in their library according to color. Their shelves are now a gorgeous gradation of color through the spectrum. “It’s cool,” Brad said laughing, “but now we can’t find anything.”

Organizing principles. They are the silent partners in most collaborations and conflicts. If shared, they make things easy to find. If not, they make things impossible to see. The genius of our government is based on the simple recognition that there is more than one way to organize. The breakdown of our government comes with the refusal to consider that there is more than one way to organize. My-way-or-the-highway is a great organizing principle if you are a hermit but a lousy choice if community is part of your equation.

‘I am my brothers’/sisters’ keeper’ is an organizing principle. As is ‘every man/woman for him/her self.’ “We The People…” is a declaration of an organizing principle.

With growth comes new necessities. That generally also brings a need to revisit the principles of organization. A teenager operates according to an entirely different set of imperatives than did their 5 year old self. Nations grow and change. They mature (one hopes). We have courts ostensibly to help us hold a common set of principles amid the pains of growth and change.

Distraction and deflection, intentional clutter, concocted chaos sometimes obfuscate the presence of organizing principles. But the greater principles do not go away. Dust settles. The principles remain. We will hear them again when we speak in quiet voices.

Kerri and I walked through School Days Antique Mall, through booths, many stacked with clutter. It is fun to sort through but hard to see what’s really there. Because I am usually awash in metaphor I thought how much the Mall felt like our nation. Stacks of chaos. Warring organizing principles. But, just when I felt like I couldn’t breathe, we rounded a corner into a highly organized room of colorful Tupperware. Hope! There was space and air. It stopped me in my tracks. Tupperware organized by color. The same system as Brad and Jen’s books!  I laughed aloud. The color-organizing-principle! Applied to Tupperware, I could in an instant find anything. I could see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about COLORFUL TUPPERWARE

 

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Collect Your Stories [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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We haunt the local antique stores. We rarely buy anything but, if we do, you can be certain the purchase is one of these: an old coffee pot, a wooden box, an old suitcase.

The suitcases are transformed into our “special boxes.” We keep the artifacts of our life – notes, ticket stubs, travel mementos… in our special boxes. They are stacked in our dining room and made more special by the flat rocks collected from our travels and cleverly arranged on and around our special boxes.

Kerri and I both have a thing for boxes and old wooden containers. Stand in the middle of our home and look any direction and you will spy a box. Some are small. Some are large. All are well traveled and have a story to tell. My brushes and paints live in one. I keep an altar-of-sorts in and around DeMarcus’ paint box. We have a box in our living room that is for the not-flat-rocks that we’ve taken from the beaches and forests and rivers that we’ve visited. Each rock tells a story.

Once, driving through Massachusetts, we stopped at a little antique shop and were attracted to a collection of small coffee pots. Four of the pots made the trip home with us and now live in our kitchen. They functionally serve as tea canisters (clever, yes?) but in deeper truth, they are markers in time. We moved out the old story and brought in the coffee pots, symbols of the new.

Coffee pots. Wooden boxes. Old suitcases. Containers of story. Containers for story. They make us conscious of the stories we collect and intentional about the story we live and tell.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about COFFEE POTS

 

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this beautiful photo courtesy of our dear 20

Live Into Simplicity [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I am a fan of simple wisdom. Most of my mentors, the people I admire most, lived their way into simplicity. Measure twice, cut once. Know the hill you want to die on. An actor can only do one thing at a time. Write a good story backwards. Let go your technique.

I use the term ‘fools errand’ a lot because I’ve been on so many of them myself. Tilting at windmills. Trying to change the world, fighting ogres, slaying dragons. All the best stories, the simple wisdom tales, tell us that the thing we seek is with us all along and yet, we need to go looking anyway. We have to. It is the rare bird that knows who they are right out of the chute. The universal quest is always to find yourself.

Roger once told me that he went to graduate school to expedite his learning. “I can take forty years figuring it out for myself or I can go to school for three years.” It was a statement made sensible by his youth. It was a statement of arrival – of knowing – and, after a few years of living, it becomes apparent to artists and seekers alike that arrival is an illusion. Knowing is relative and ongoing. I’d love to talk to the artist he has become forty years after making that statement. My bet is that he’d laugh.  We’d laugh at the jungle of nonsense we’ve both mapped our way through.

“You can make a piece of wood short but you can’t make a piece of wood long.” You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. Nothing is broken, nothing needs to be fixed. Wherever you are is called Here.

The necessary action is always clear but the story wrapped around it makes it seem complex. Simple, yes?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAKING A PIECE OF WOOD SHORT

 

footprints in the snow at bristol woods website box copy

Hold And Be Held [on KS Friday]

YOU HOLD ME songbox copy

Tom and I sat on the little deck just off the kitchen of his cabin at the ranch. We watched the sun set on the land his family had owned for generations.  “They’re going to build a Walmart just off McKenzie Road,” he said, not taking his eyes off the setting sun. “That’s about it, I think.” The tide of development would soon gobble up the ranch.

He told me that, without the land, he would not know who he was. It held him. He held it.

It was a complicated relationship. During his life, he’d attempted to flee the land more than once but it would not let him go. During his life, the world tried to take it away from him more than once but he would not let it go.

Tom died on his land. His wife and nephew fought hard to make that possible. They held him and the land together, through their passing. Both are gone now.

Why does a piece of music evoke such a specific memory? Kerri’s YOU HOLD ME always takes me back to that deck and that sunset. A love story. A life story. To hold and be held.

 

YOU HOLD ME on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about YOU HOLD ME

 

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you hold me/this part of the journey ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

Chase Bubbles [on DR Thursday]

morsel copy

a morsel from Chasing Bubbles

“I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!” ~Mark Twain

Lately, I’ve been hoping that my paintings are really more iconography than autobiography. When I sit and review my pieces I see a festival of introversion and introspection.  Lots of figures looking inward. Or down. It is true that I would have made an excellent hermit. Most of the news of the day seems to me like so much noise. I mean that literally. It’s too loud and drives me in search of quiet places. All of this is to note that my autobiography would most certainly be a snore to read so I worry that my paintings – if autobiographical – put people to sleep.

So. The sweet saving grace, the possibility of symbol. A reference to something bigger. Chasing Bubbles. A few years ago at the farmer’s market I saw a young girl racing after a  huge bubble. She was laughing with delight in the chase and I took a photo thinking, “This would make a great painting.” And, then, I thought (this is a confession)…a great painting of the human condition. We are bubble-chasers all.

This is the point where Kerri routinely tells me to ‘gear down.’ “You think too much!” she gasps, clutching her now-aching noggin. “Why can’t it just be a painting from something you saw!?” Well, that would make it autobiographical. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

It’s a dilemma.  And, there I go again, chasing bubbles.

 

 

Bubble Chaser in process copy

Chasing Bubbles (in process). It still has a long way to go. Mixed Media 33 x 48IN

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHASING BUBBLES

 

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Chasing Bubbles (in process) ©️ 2019 david robinson

 

Sit In The Megaphone [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Rounding the bend on the green trail at Bristol woods, we sometimes stop and climb into the megaphone. The first time we saw the nature megaphone, we had no idea what it was. It looked like a giant wooden dunce cap. It was big enough to crawl into so we did. Sitting in the dunce cap, we speculated about what it could be (other than a shaming-hat for a giant). Later, the naturalist confirmed our speculation: a large funnel-shaped device for amplifying and directing nature’s voice.

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Amplifying nature’s voice. Last week, on my birthday, we walked the snowy trail and climbed into the megaphone for a rest and some snacks. We laughed a lot and made a few very silly Snapchat messages. We also sat quietly and listened.

We live in a time, it seems to me, that nature is talking loud and clear. This morning we read in the news that an Australian mammal, the Bramble Cay Melomys, is the first species to be declared extinct due to climate change. “Ocean inundation from rising sea levels…which led to dramatic habitat loss.”

Dramatic habitat loss. An antiseptic phrase. Many species, from polar bears, to frogs, to coral reefs (yes, a brilliant life form) are stepping toward the same abyss and will be eulogized, by us, using the same scrupulously clean phrase. Scruple is another good word: a twinge of conscience. ‘Dramatic habitat loss’ is a phrase remarkably clean of scruple.

I can’t help it. I listen to words and usage. I ponder intention, the story beneath the story. Words like ‘tame’ and ‘wild’ are human-made distinctions. So are concepts like ‘property lines’ and ‘natural resources’ and ‘land management.’ Language meant to make it seem that we are somehow removed from or in control of the forces of nature. ‘Hubris’ – another surgical word – masks a nasty bit of delusion: the notion that we are somehow above it all.

After reading the news this morning Kerri said, “They won’t really notice the enormity of the loss until it is people.” With her fingers, she put the word “they” in quotation marks. They. Us. We. And, I wondered silently, will we, even then? Or, will we, as we are now doing, turn it against each other?

Swimming in data AND experience (extinction and climate change are, after all, experiences), we are still vehement in our denial and roaring debate. Sitting  in nature’s megaphone I am almost certain that we story-telling-animals are more-than-capable of arguing ourselves into extinction over the degree of ‘human causation’ in the ‘dramatic loss of habitation.’ ‘Human impact on the environment’ – another very sterile phrase, is, after all, not a new phenomena.  The current iteration does, however, speak volumes about how capable we are of hearing and incapable we are of listening.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE NATURE MEGAPHONE

 

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