Contemplate [on DR Thursday]

 

I do more than my fair share of contemplating (just ask Kerri. My incessant contemplation drives her bonkers). For instance, years ago, it occurred to me that every thought we human-storytellers have IS a kind of meditation. It’s a fair question – a necessary question – to ask: what are you meditating on? Your pain? Your troubles? Who you blame? Your grudges? Your obstacles? Your joys? Your opportunities? Your privileges? Your love? Your losses? Your list? All of the above?  Keep in mind (where else would you keep it) that most of your thoughts are repetitive. The majority of what you think today is a repeat of what you thought yesterday. Your thoughts are not passive. They are also not truth. They are patterned, mostly made up, and a powerful lens through which you define your experiences. The good news is that you can change your meditation if you want to.

Listening to the news it will make you gag when you stop and realize what actually populates our national meditation and how our angry narrative permeates your personal mediation. We are not as separate as we like to pretend. That’s good news. That, and, we can change our meditation. We can tell a better story.

 

This morsel comes from a painting that recently returned to the stable. It is, quite literally, a blast from the past. What I find most amazing about this particular return-to-the-fold is that, just a few months ago, I uncovered the old drawing that inspired Contemplation and sourced it again for another painting, Softly She Prays. And then, in a fit of good timing, Contemplation arrived at our door.

Paintings are like journal entries. It is not often that happenstance provides such a rich opportunity for comparison. Comparison of contemplation. What was my meditation 15 years ago? What is it now? Horatio told me my body of work is a study of stillness in motion (not a direct quote H, but I love the reflection non-the-less). The deep river story remains. The top layer meditation has shifted.

Ah. Do you see? Incessant contemplation.

 

 

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Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

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contemplation/softly she prays ©️ 2004/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Listen To You’re The Wind [A New Song on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

In our house we mark significant and auspicious dates (actually, we think all days are auspicious). Today is one of those. I never knew Kerri’s father. Her mother, Beaky, had a profound impact on my life during the 18 months that I knew her. Beaky and I united in two common causes: 1) To convince Kerri that her naturally curly hair was beautiful and to stop blowing her curls away, and 2) To convince Kerri to share with the world her music, those incredible unrecorded pieces – some of her best work – that live only in a notebook by the piano. Today is an auspicious day! It would have been Beaky and Pa’s 75 anniversary. It is also the day that Beaky gets one of her wishes  (hint: Kerri’s hair is still straight so…more work to do).

 

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about YOU’RE THE WIND

 

 

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you’re the wind ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

Do A Rough Draft [on DR Thursday]

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the field in early october: a morsel

I love seeing artists’ rough drafts. One of my all time favorite art exhibits was the hundreds of drawings and sketches John Singer Sargent executed en route to his painting, El Jaleo.

I’m more interested in the process than the final piece. I’m more captivated by the search than the find. That includes my own work as well. For me, the final painting is less a finished piece and more of a pause in the conversation.

It bothers me when a curator tells people what a painting is about or what the artist intended. I’ve squirmed many times during openings of shows when the gallery curator, introducing my work, tells people what my paintings mean. It locks people out. It prevents them from having THEIR relationship with my painting. I squirm equally when the work is not mine. I want a more pure experience.

To me, art is a doorway to the sacred, to the deeper things that words often cannot reach. It is a passage back to the beginning, to the fingerpainter, the child freely playing – prior to the time when a judge is planted between the painter and the piece, the painting and the viewer. That is where the riches are. And in that place it is all a rough draft.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE FIELD IN EARLY OCTOBER

 

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a field in early october/morsel ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Fly Between The Poles [on DR Thursday]

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a morsel from ‘angel.’ kerri calls it ‘you can’t hold the sun’

Icarus‘ wings were made of wax and feathers. His father, Daedalus, made them so he and Icarus could escape their imprisonment. Before taking flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low nor too high. Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and his wings fell apart. He fell from the sky and drowned.

We see most of the Greek stories sifted through a post-Greek moralistic lens. Fly to high, hubris. Fly too low, complacency. The world as defined by polarities. Heaven, hell. Good, bad. Right, wrong. There’s another possibility.

Quinn used to tell me that the point of all the world’s religions, the message in all the great stories, is to find the middle way. To live in the center. This world, he said, will try its best to tug you to the extremes. It will dose you with propaganda, half truths. It will glorify US and demonize THEM. It will bamboozle you into twisted notions like ‘the dehumanization of others is okay.’ It is the lucky person that realizes that it is impossible to strip others of their humanity without also losing their own. Polarities are like that.

So, seek balance. Walk between the tug of the poles. It is the point of presence – live here, not in the scary future nor the regrettable past. Fly, not too close to either pole, but through the middle. Now. It’s possibly the point of the story.

This morsel is called You Can’t Hold The Sun. It’s true. You can’t stop time. No moth can withstand the flame. The sun will melt your waxy wings. The sea will make your feathers heavy with dew. Either way, you fall.

In the face of too much moralizing, Kerri will say, “If it’s not about kindness or joy, it’s not about anything.” That’s a statement from the center. I like to think that this center place, this middle way that Quinn told me about, is what we call love.

 

 

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

you can’t hold the sun/angel ©️ 2018/2004 David Robinson

Know [on KS Friday]

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There is much an artist cannot know about their own work. They sit on the mountain so they cannot see it. But, in their general blindness, there is one thing they do know: there is a difference between the bulk of their work that is good and the few shining pieces that are great.

Kerri is evasive when talking about her work. I imagine somewhere back in the nether-times of her artistic formation, Beaky taught her a definition of ‘humble’ that now precludes her from speaking kindly of her compositions. I’ve learned that there is a chink in her armor. If you want truth, piss her off. In her anger she just might let slip what lives behind the humble-fortress. Recently, red-in-the-face mad at my provocation, she glared at me and said, “My work is good but This Part Of The Journey is great! It is world class!”

It is. She knows like only an artist can know. It’s her best album. And, the pity of it is – to me, at least – she is now – 20 years later – capable of better. Her artistry has grown. By far. Her unrecorded songs and compositions live in a notebook. They will never be recorded. “Why bother,” she says, each time she opens her BMI statement, looks despairingly at the enclosed $47.00 check while perusing the report that shows well over a million people listened to her music last year.

If you want to hear her play, the route is the same as the path to her truth. Piss her off. I secretly look forward to the day the BMI statement comes. On BMI day, in a fury, she sits at her mostly ignored piano and plays. You can’t imagine how beautiful heart-pain can sound. You can’t imagine how much music is in her. On BMI day, I get to hear her best work.

You can say, “I didn’t know.” I cannot. I do. I know. And, I suppose, more to the point, she is not alone. Kerri is only one of thousands of musicians whose music makes millions for streaming services but are paid virtually nothing for it. Perhaps you should grieve -as I do – that I am the only person on earth who has – or will have – the opportunity to hear her greatest compositions. That should piss you off.

 

I DIDN’T KNOW on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I DIDN’T KNOW

 

i didn’t know/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Make Them Visible [on DR Thursday]

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rough sketch (detail): and then they danced

When I first met Kerri she had two Adirondack chairs in the front yard. We spent many summer evenings in those chairs, sipping wine, talking through the sunset. One evening, she brought out her ipod and speaker. We listened to music while we chatted and then a song came up that inspired us to dance. We danced that song and then the next and the next. Soon, she was playing DJ. We wiggled and roared through her rowdy picks and lightly stepped through the slow songs. The first painting I did for her is about that evening. It’s called Dancing In The Front Yard.

This summer I have been empty. I left the studio in early June knowing there was nothing left. It was time to let the cup refill. Over the summer I’ve often visited the studio. I sat in my chair in the dark and felt the place. I’ve shuffled paintings around, reviewed my life’s work and wondered, as I always do in the empty times, if I’ve painted my last painting, if the deep well will ever replenish.

The other day, as always happens, I was passing through my studio en route to the tool room and something stopped me. The empty canvas propped against the easel shouted, “Look at me!” And I did. Turning on the lights I saw them, the dancers, the dancers in the front yard, and I laughed. Dancers. Of course. What a great welcome back; a celebration. A dance. Our dance. Like a thirsty man crawling to an oasis,  I slowly entered the space, picked up the charcoal, and made my dancers visible.”Welcome back,” they whispered, as I dusted off my hands and reached for my brushes.

 

Danced phase 2

a process shot for Skip, step 2: underpainting

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AND THEN THEY DANCED

(Lydia! I remembered two days in a row! Progress?)

Stand Like An Aspen [on DR Thursday]

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a morsel from ‘instrument of peace.’ kerri calls this one ‘aspen stand’

It’s a common misperception. The notion that with accurate information, with clear data, people will change their perceptions/behaviors accordingly. They won’t. They don’t. In my past-life-consulting I said (too often), “If it was true that information changed behavior then no one on planet earth would smoke cigarettes.”  We are not as rational as we like to believe. Our investments have little or nothing to do with the accuracy or truth of information.

In the same vein, e-connectivity does not necessarily equate to relationship. Connectivity is not relationship. As we are learning these days, people can be hyper connected but share no common ground. The endless capacity for connection comes with no guarantee of substance or shared truth. Swipe left. Click ‘like.’ Connected, but connected to what?

Relationship, on the other hand, is a living, moving, breathing shared story. It is shared experience. It comes with varying points of view. It needs no explaining. In relationship, disparate viewpoints are aimed at a shared center.

And, so, a metaphor. A painting: Aspen trees, we’ve learned, grow in “large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers; new stems in the colony may appear at up to 30–40 m (98–131 ft) from the parent tree. Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived.” The root system transcends the individuals. What a terrific metaphor for a healthy community. The individuals come and go but the root, the shared root system, lives on and on and on.”

How appropriate (to me) that Kerri chose this morsel from my painting Instrument of Peace. She gave it the title, Aspen Stand. Peace, like every real relationship, is an aspen stand.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on Aspen Stand

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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aspen stand/instrument of peace ©️ 2018/2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood