Listen To The Snow [on DR Thursday]

It’s snowing and it’s making me feel like wrapping in a blanket. Cozy and reassuring.

The tall grasses are bowing with the weight of the snow. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. The kind of quiet that only happens in a snowfall, like the world stands still and listens. We stood with our coffee and looked out the kitchen window at the enormous flakes falling. Quiet outside, quiet inside.

Yesterday we were in Florida. Bill called it paradise. I disagree. For me, paradise has seasons, an open window at night, the cold air driving me deeper beneath the quilts. Paradise calls me outside to walk. Paradise includes the infinite space that opens with the hush of the snow, when world rests and takes note. It makes the green shoots of spring that much more magical. Difference hones appreciation.

It’s good to be home. The snow serves as a welcoming committee. “Welcome back,” it whispers, reminding us of life’s rhythms, “It’s time to recharge.”

I look at my list of things to do and decide that I will listen to the snow. Today is a day to rejuvenate. To stand at the window and listen.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SNOW

In Serenity, 46×30, mixed media [my site is down and under construction]

in serenity © david robinson

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

Let It Rain [on DR Thursday]

We are reading Raynor Winn’s new book, Landlines. It is terrific. We make a cup of tea, get under a blanket on the old couch in the sitting room, Dogga asleep at our feet, and Kerri reads to me. Life does not get better than this.

A theme in the book is to put yourself in the way of hope. It has become my mantra for the turn of the year. Hope is coming through; stand in its path.

I started a new painting. I’ve been making sketches for a few weeks. It is the theme I snagged on when broken wrists and lost jobs stopped all artistic motion.: train through trees. As David Bayles and Ted Orland write, there is a difference between stopping and quitting. I stopped for a spell. Putting on my painter-clothes and descending into the studio felt like coming back into myself. Embodiment. As I lay out the composition and layered in some under tones, I felt as if air rushed into my lungs after holding my breath for too long.

We mimicked our smack-dab cartoon and took a midnight walk along Lake Michigan to bring in the new year. “Star dust is raining down on us,” Kerri said, in the first minute of 2023.

Stardust. Standing in the path of hope. A deep full breath. A good book and a warm blanket. A cup of tea. The excitement of rushing to photograph a train racing through the trees – and all things that inspire a painter to paint, a composer to compose, and two writers sitting side-by-side to capture their thoughts as the ritual beginning of each new day.

Life does not get better than this.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BUFFALO PLAID

Sail At It [on Merely A Thought Monday]

Kerri said it best: I can’t believe we are back in this place again.

I’ve been rolling this quote through my mind each day as I enter the job-hunt. I remember Tom telling me that he’d crossed a magic line and the world perceived him as “old.” He desperately wanted to direct more plays but his vast experience wore grey hair and a chiseled face. Even former students turned the other way when he called. Eventually he stopped believing the opportunity was out there. He made his peace with retirement on the ranch. He settled into a quiet life and a quiet life settled into him.

As I stare at job listings I dream of wealthy patrons knocking at my door or a fast-track Patreon membership that floats my/our artistic boat into new and exciting explorations. There are paintings in the stacks that are gorgeous and worthy. I fantasize that a syndicate will want Smack-dab or a publisher will ride over the horizon with a book deal. I know that Kerri has more music to play and record. I am not imagining that.

Tom’s reflection is poignant because he felt he was, after a lifetime of experience, coming into his most potent artistic years. I feel that now. I am now the age he was when he uttered his disbelief at crossing the magic line. It’s taken a long time to recognize the worth of my doubt, the power in my perseverance stepping into the unknown. There’s potent artistry in here. As the Wander Women said best, “We might have 20 summers left and want to be intentional in how we spend them.” Yes. How to best dedicate and experience the time? This day?

I believe the opportunity is out there. I wear a grey beard and, as my niece said, a weathered face. But, beneath the wear-and-tear, my heart is young and my tank is full. I am foolish enough or naive enough to imagine. To dream. To point my intention toward the edge of the earth. To believe opportunity is serendipitous as well as something created.

read Kerri’s blogpost about OPPORTUNITY

Warm Hearts [on DR Thursday]

The past few days in Wisconsin have confirmed my suspicion: the ice age will not be fun. Long underwear is no match for mother nature when she’s giving you the cold shoulder.

It was an uncomfortable coincidence that we watched the movie The Day After Tomorrow a few short hours before the temperatures plummeted. It was almost as uncanny as the night we watched Contagion with Brad and Jen because we heard news stories of a virus in China that might become a pandemic. In both cases, when life mimicked the film, Kerri said, “I feel like I’m living the movie.”

I can only conclude that we need to watch different movies.

While hunkered down and very much appreciating the modern thermostat, heat at the touch of a button, I think Love Actually might be an excellent choice of film-invocation (Hugh Grant voice over: Love actually IS…all around us). The Family Stone is another good option. The complex nature of love. It makes me laugh and warms my heart every time.

Invoking warm hearts on frigid days is a worthy pursuit. Invoking warm hearts on any-old-day is a worthy pursuit but is certainly made more poignant when facing the ice age. Now, if only Dennis Quaid would show up with a helicopter cavalry and whisk us away to warmer climates! A boy can dream.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE DEEP FREEZE

A Day At The Beach, 38x52IN

a day at the beach © 2017 david robinson

Step In [on DR Thursday]

I’ve read that the purpose of the gorgeous soaring cathedrals, built in the middle ages over many lifetimes, in the age before power tools and hydraulic lifts, was to transport the worshipper from the harsh realities of their everyday lives. To give them a small glimpse into their notion of heaven. A sanctuary. A taste of peace.

We made it a point to stop. The road home from Chicago runs past the small village square with the gazebo awash in the light of a tree, the brilliant green and blue spheres beckoning. It was late at night and very cold but we had to stop. We wandered, breaking the cold silence with crunchy footfall and took photographs. For a few moments time stopped. Rather than being transported from our lives, we stepped fully into our moment. We entered our present-cathedral, alive with many moons, and absorbed its quiet peace.

Open to all the stars in the universe, this sanctuary filled us with beauty and hope.

That night, all we needed to do to fill ourselves with hope was make it a point to stop. To step out of our warm car and step into the cold night. No stonemasons needed. No toil-over-lifetimes. Just a simple decision. Stop. Open the door. Step in.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SQUARE

face the rain © 2019 david robinson

joy!/ joy! a christmas album © 1998 kerri sherwood

Play [on DR Thursday]

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.” ~ Rainier Maria Rilke

The poet would have us understand this: our dragons are waiting to see us. They do not transform once we are beautiful and brave. Dragons do not suddenly appear as princesses. No, we transform. What we see changes. Through beautiful and brave eyes, princesses no longer appear as dragons.

Waiting to be seen. Waiting to see. I think Rilke knows that we are all beautiful and brave but are convinced otherwise. So, we hide. Or pretend. We don armor. The view from inside a tank is not as clear or expansive as the view from the outside. The poet would have us feel safe enough to open the hatch and step outside. It is there, in the expansive outside, that dragons facades fall away revealing princesses.

Another poet, Rumi, wrote, “Live as if everything is rigged in your favor.” Even before you see them as princesses, know that the dragons are on your team. That’s why they are waiting to see us as we are. Knowing the game is rigged in our favor is the surest path to seeing them as they are.

We decided to take a day away from the grindstone. We lifted our noses from the stone and took a drive to a small town. There was a specific shop in the tiny town that we wanted to visit. We drove back roads and successfully lost all sense of time and direction.

Instead of the warm day we’d hoped for, it was cold and rainy. Our fingertips ached and the ends of our noses were crimson so rather than wander the streets as we planned, we spent our time inside, imagining outrageous purchases and talking with shopkeepers. In those shops, laughing with those warm-hearted-people, our dragons fell from our sight.

We remembered: beautiful and brave are qualities of playfulness. To be seen, to see the dragons transform, play. The poet would have us play! Why wait?

The town was alive with sparkling light. Colorful picnic tables, undaunted by the rain, waited patiently for warmer times. We played and everything tilted in our favor.

read Kerri’s blogpost about COLORFUL TABLES

Kerri’s Christmas albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

a dragon’s tale illustration © david robinson

waiting/joy! a christmas album © 1998 kerri sherwood

Witness [on DR Thursday]

It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking when the sun sets. We stop wherever we are. In quiet, we watch it descend. It’s as if we are full participants in the day’s end. Holy moments. Holding sacred space. It’s the role of the witness.

I feel the same is true now, at this year’s end. It’s not always true in December but this year is different, It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking. In quiet, holding hands, we are watching the year descend into the past.

I wonder what we are, in fact, witnessing? We stepped off the known path and are once again traveling the unknown trail. That is not new in our experience. It is actually more common in our lives to be stepping into new territory. To not know where we are going. This time feels different.

A few years ago I painted a picture that I like very much. It is simple. Kerri calls it Pax. Peace. The figure in the painting is satisfied. Present. At peace. I’ve not thought about this painting for a long time but it’s walking with me right now. It’s asking to be pulled from the stacks.

Witnessing is not passive. This painting will be our witness during the setting of the year. We will witness it as it daily reminds us to be at peace. Holding hands in sacred space. Not rushing to get out of the woods even as the light wanes.

I have sometimes wondered why I paint. Today I know without doubt the reason.

Pax, 24x24IN, mixed media

read Kerri’s blogpost about SUNSET

pax © 2015 david robinson