Play Back-Up [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Sometimes life imitates art. And, when it does, there’s nothing better. I painted “Helping Hands” almost a decade ago. I lived it last week. Again and again, that rowdy tyke wanted to scale the higher wall. It was pure joy to play back-up to his adventure.

So many are currently playing back-up to my adventure. Scaling this higher wall is infinitely do-able with so many strong hands ready to catch me if I fall. I am most grateful for all of the hands helping me.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HELPING HANDS

Cross Check [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“It looks like a horses head,” she said, snapping the photo from her window seat on the plane. We were on approach to land, coming in over the bay.

I remember teaching myself to draw horses. I had (and still have) a passion for drawing people so my foray into horses was more an academic exercise than an inner need. I thought I should expand my horizons so the 8-year-old-version-of-me acquired a “how to draw animals” book. It suggested beginning with geometric shapes. Two connected circles defined the torso, the head – a circle and a trapezoid.

It was the same technique used by the teacher in my very first art class. See shapes. Arms are two tubes connected by a circle/elbow. Knees are circles, too! Foreground and background, what’s in front and what’s behind was taught using spheres and cylinders. Perspective was taught using a box. Transform a circle into a sphere through proper shading and you’ll know forever the magic secret of artistry. See a dragon in the clouds and you’ll know forever the magic secret of the human mind. It projects. It seeks sense from chaos. It projects order onto nature.

All the while Kerri is snapping photos of the island that looks like a horse’s head, I am pondering the normalization of hurtling through the air in a tube. People chat. Some are reading. The man across the aisle is asleep. “Prepare to land” is ordinary, uttered thousands of times each day. It’s the flip side of seeing dragons in clouds, another key to the human mind. Miracles made commonplace through repetition.

One human child is a miracle. It’s why we are making the trip. To meet a miracle. Yet, 7 billion miracles walking on earth?

“We’re flying,” I said.

“It’s been a long time,” she replied, showing me the picture on her phone, “Look! Doesn’t it look like a horse’s head? Well, like horse heads that I draw. No ears,” she qualified and smiled.

Miracles and magic. All the way around. Seen and unseen. Cross check. Wheels down. Prepare to return to the ground.

read Kerri’s blogpost about the HORSE HEAD

Have Fun [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I’ve been working on my painting, Train-Through-Trees. It’s been a while since I painted so I have one intention: have fun. I’m using big brushes and tools Master Miller sent so I don’t too soon lapse into nit-picky detail. It’s in the detail that I begin to take myself too seriously.

It’s harder than you might imagine to “play” after such a lengthy hiatus. Like all artists I puffed myself with fear-fog and wondered if the muse had left the building. This interruption was circumstantial and not a dry-spell. It’s lasted longer than any dry spell I’ve experienced and has left some doubt-residue. To play is akin to re-entering childhood. To not care about the outcome and follow the paint rather than try and control it. The tools from Master Miller mandate the equivalent of finger painting and help my “fun” intention.

Like all fog, fear-fog isolates. It’s a heavy blanket that descends and fools you into thinking that you are alone. It leads you the believe that the landscape is barren – that you are barren.

I am not alone. Master Miller is in NYC recharging his artistic batteries. He’s sent images, paintings of Lucian Freud and Nabokov’s synesthesia. Dwight sent a right-on-time-book. Rob shared his latest 10 minute play. Mark discusses with me what he’s writing and his movie ideas. Kerri wanders into her studio, sits at her piano, and plays; each time I am transported – out of the fog. Enlivened.

These people are like the sun to fear-fog. Their good hearts and dedicated artistry dissipate the wet blanket and warm me to the bone. They open the landscape and infuse me with energy. They remind me that there is really only one intention: have fun. And that is best done with others.

read Kerri’s blog about FOG

Take The Time [on Two Artists Tuesday]

20 plays a game with us. When we are on the road he takes care of our house and Dogga. He amuses himself by taking photos of obscure details in the house and then sends them to us. “What is it?” he asks. Kerri inevitably guesses correctly while I might get one in ten. He has a great artist’s eye and is masterful at finding curious patterns or unique views.

Kerri and 20 share an artistic similarity. They are both drawn to detail. The sublime found in the small. I walk through life mostly missing the minutiae so I appreciate being surrounded by two dedicated particularists. Because they torture me with the tiny I now – occasionally – find myself caught on a finer point. However, I will never be able to participate in their passionate conversations about kerning. I love their ardor for fonts but in serifs I have my limits.

The deep freeze over the holidays brought amazing ice formations on the pond. John O’Donohue wrote, “Take time to see the quiet miracles that seek no attention.” Bundled up with hands freezing outside of her glove to get the photo, Kerri snapped this marvel.

I’ve learned from 20 and Kerri that the quiet miracles are all around us. All we need do is take the time to see them.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE POND

Remember This Vivid Moment [on Merely A Thought Monday]

When we first met, we sat on the living room carpet staring into the fire, and talked the night away. The sound of the birds at dawn surprised us. I remember the coming light and sweet birdsong like it was yesterday.

A few days ago we sat on the living room carpet in the sun, and talked the afternoon away. Our quiet conversation reminded me of that very first night. Our topic in the winter sun: letting go of too-tightly-held-ideals. “Truth will out,” wrote Master Shakespeare in his Merchant of Venice. Our truth was out in quiet voices that brought affirmations of better days.

A story I once loved to tell was The Crescent Moon Bear. The heroine, a young wife, must go on a journey. She must leave all that she knows in pursuit of her purpose. Leaving all that you know is easier said than done. It doesn’t happen in a moment; it requires some sweet visitation of the past. “What was” as launching pad to “What will be.”

Before I left my studio in Seattle, I had to touch the walls, run my fingers along the sill. I knew I would never be back. Even in that moment, all I could remember was the goodness I experienced in that space. The refuge. The sanctuary. The creative fulfillment. The hard times I’d known there dissipated like mist.

What was. Krishnamurti wrote, “You can only be afraid of what you think you know.” I marvel that the hardships of my past soften into pastel remembrance, translated into useful lessons, while my future fears are as sharp as broken glass, monsters around the corner. Acute imagination.

I marvel that the generosities heaped upon my life are vivid and bring tears to my eyes just as they did the day that I first experienced them. Keen remembrances.

Sitting on the carpet, the low afternoon sun warming us, I realize that I will always remember this vivid moment. The day we opened our hands and let fly illusions. We both took a deep breath. New air rushed into the open space, Not knowing where we might now go or what we might now do, we sat in the waning light, surprised that the sun was setting so soon.

read Kerri’s blogpost about REMEMBERING

Feel The Space [on KS Friday]

Georgia O’Keeffe might have painted it. The Light Cathedral is iconic and people approached it with veneration. It was as if the Cathedral pulled people into it. They stopped at the entrance to take it all in before stepping inside the light. Once inside, enthusiasm overtook reverence. Smiles erupted. Families posed for portraits made possible with the photo-help of strangers. I was overwhelmed by the crush of the crowd and my built-in-covid-response propelled me to the far side and out. I turned back to locate Kerri, smiling, patient with the slow moving mass, gazing up at the magic of it all.

I confess: I wanted it all to myself. I wanted to walk to the very center and close my eyes and feel it. I wanted to lay on my back and fall into the apex like so many stars. I wanted to slow-walk from portal to portal, free to turn and pause and spin. To linger inside this art space. A place created.

The lights transported me to another life: Barney took me to a fairy ring. A perfect circle scribed by towering redwood trees. He knew I could feel it and suggested I spend some time there. I meditated. I returned early the next morning to the ring and sat in the center of the circle. Time stopped. I felt rejuvenated. I felt ancient. I laughed because it felt good. A natural sacred space.

Art spaces. Power places.

“What are you thinking about?” Kerri asked as she joined me outside the Light Cathedral, bringing me back to this life.

I smiled, “Two of my favorite things.”

[listen to the difference. One composition. Two variations. Art spaces. Power places.]

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes & streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about the LIGHT CATHEDRAL

always with us/always with us/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Dance [on DR Thursday]

“The human race has spent several millennia developing a huge and robust set of observations about the world, in forms as varied as language, art and religion. Those observations in turn have withstood many – enormously many – tests. We stand heir to an unstatably large set of meanings.” ~ David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

The little girl shrieked with delight, “You can stand in it!” She raced inside the dome, her little body so teeming with enthusiasm that she danced. The crowd burst into laughter.

Joy is contagious.

She reminded me of the children I saw dancing at the base of Christo’s Umbrellas. She transported me back to the very first time Kerri and I stepped off the stage after our performance of THE LOST BOY. We were euphoric, so overrun with relief and triumph that we jumped up and down in the backstage hallway, laughing and hugging. Dancing. We couldn’t help it.

I remember that moment when people ask me why I make art since art makes no money. I’ve learned to answer the question, not with words but with a smile.

Value is perceived.

I stepped into the dome repeating to myself, “You can stand in it.” A dome of light. A constellation of thought. The earth rotates around the sun. Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. Do unto others. There is not one way, there are many paths up the mountain. Discovery is better than invention.

Meaning is made. It’s an ongoing relationship.

Sometime you know that you enter it. Sometimes you don’t know and the dome you discover evokes a joyous dance.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DOMES OF LIGHT

Iconic, 54x54IN, mixed media

[my site is down. A new site is in the works. New works are also in the works. Good things]

iconic © 2010 david robinson

Fill With Wonder [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Upon seeing the first tree at the entrance gate I asked a question that I repeated all night, “How did they do that?”

My question was rhetorical. I did not expect an answer. I might as well have exclaimed,”OMG!” or, “WOW!” or whispered, “Unbelievable!” Instead, my wide-eyed-awe expressed as a quiz-to-no-one.

Kerri sometimes quotes from Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I realized, walking through the Garden, astonished by the lights, that I was immersed in one of Anne’s prayers. I’m not a big prayer guy so it amused me that my enthusiastic WOW was voicing as a question. The images projected on the mist. The field of dancing firelight. The light cathedral. How-did-they-do-that-how-did-they-do-that-how-did-they-do-that?

As we left the Garden and wandered toward the car I was delighted not to have an answer. The lights moved me to tears. I laughed heartily. I was stunned to silence. I watched children and adults alike, dancing into the dome and running toward the many-colored fireflies. Knowing the “how” would have diminished a bit of the magic. The more important question was obvious: there is no better “why” than to fill people with wonder.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE TREE

Immerse [on Two Artists Tuesday]

The bright green ring in the tree beckoned. A time portal. Climb the tree and slip through the hoop to another time. Another place. What will you find there? It was one of many awe-inspiring moments in the immersive light experience at the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

A few weeks ago Rob suggested that I consider producing immersive experiences and my walk through the Gardens started a thought-wander.

Immersive is a new word in town. Well, it’s an old verb sporting a new adjective meaning. It’s a tech term. Surrounding “the user” with a generated 3-D image. Wander around town and you’ll find Immersive Van Gogh or Immersive Monet or Frida Kahlo, also Immersive. Technically, escape rooms are immersive. So is Disney World. A 3-D created experience.

A walk in the woods cannot be considered immersive since no technology is involved.

Immersion, one step beyond immersive, is the “perception of being physically present in a non-physical world.” Virtual reality. Dreams might be considered immersive except, like nature, technology is absent so the experience cannot be considered virtual or immersion.

To immerse means to dunk yourself in liquid or to dive deeply into a passion. When I stand before my easel and brush color onto canvas, I leave the world as I know it. I immerse in my paintings, though viewers of my paintings are incapable of having an immersive experience with my less-than-3-D-paintings. Is paint a technology? When Kerri plays, she enters a transcendent place. She fills the room with energy and light and I am transported. Am I having an immersive experience? I believe so.

Rounding a bend the night we walked through the Garden we came upon a field of illuminated pillars, colors changing and hopping with the beat of the music. I told Kerri that I saw this very display 20 years ago in an art gallery, though the technology 20 years ago was new and not nearly as impressive as what flashed in the field in front of us. The pillar-field was alive and was both mesmerizing and familiar.

The Gardens themselves, sans lights and music, are immersive. Groomed and created, meant to transport us from our everyday lives. We oooh and aaaah every time we visit. An explosion of color in a petal. The shape of a leaf. The quiet of the grove.

I loved the lights, the heightened immersive experience. We’ll make it a tradition. I’m excited to immerse in Van Gogh or thrill my way through Cirque du Soleil. As for producing immersive experiences, I am content to smear color on canvas or fall head-long into a story. Or, best of all, walk our path through the woods. There is no greater transporter of time-and-space than to suddenly find myself eye-to-eye with a fox crossing the trail.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HOOPS