Practice. [on DR Thursday]

WaitingKnowingMorsel

a morsel from Waiting & Knowing

The quote is from Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality. In a nutshell, it is this: know that you are waiting. Know what you are waiting for. To me that seemed to be a kind of yoga. A practice. It is a practice that might be useful in the age of one-click fulfillment, twitter diplomacy, road rage, ubiquitous impatience. It is a practice with balance as its intention.

WaitingAndKnowing Process

in process

It is also a practice that in many ways encapsulates the art of painting as I understand it. So, it seemed a useful spark for a painting in my yoga series. Waiting and knowing. Balance. Sisu. The practice of being where you are.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WAITING & KNOWING

 

shadow bristol woods website copy

 

waiting and knowing ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Let It Catch You [on DR Thursday]

the shadow of division copy

a morsel of Earth Interrupted IV: shadow of division

Sometimes you have to stand still to let what you seek catch up to you. Kerri said that to me one day. Her words found their way into me and then became a poem and then the poem found its way into a painting, Earth Interrupted IV.

This week the painting found its way into a morsel for Studio Melange. A wisdom inspired a poem, became a painting, became a morsel called Shadow Of Division. Today, it becomes a post. Which, I am sure, will inspire another poem or a song (anything is possible in our house).

Art begets art. The well of possibilities is bottomless. And, rather than chase the possibilities as was once my strategy, I am learning to stand still. A wisdom, a poem, a painting, a morsel, a post about cycles and all things life giving.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SHADOW OF DIVISION

 

shadow des plaines river trailwebsite box copy

My favorite thing about shadows? They blend divisions. They make cool new and surprising shapes out of seemingly separate things. Transformation is so simple and just a small shadow away.

 

shadow of division/earth interrupted IV ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Wait [on DR Thursday]

WeWait Morsel copy

morsel of the painting They Wait

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

My studio often serves as a retreat, a place to escape the noise and nonsense-of-the-day. It is a quiet place. A sanctuary. I recoup perspective when I step into it.

Lately, when I am painting, I find myself pondering the paradox of living in the time of Google. I rarely have a conversation these days that doesn’t include a quick dip into Google to check a fact, pull up a statistic, check spelling or a date or data. We rely on it. We can investigate or verify anything in an instant. Yet – and here’s the paradox – no amount of data or information seems to put a dent in people’s beliefs. In fact, we’ve learned, that confronting a belief with data that contradicts it will serve only to reinforce the belief. Information threatens, and so, is useless.

My dad once told me in a fit of frustration that I had educated myself into stupidity. I question everything. He grew up in a simpler time, in a smaller town. I understand the opposite to be true, the path out of stupidity IS education. The capacity to question, to doubt, to consider, to compare what is said with what is provable, is what makes us powerful. Propaganda is only useful in a society that does not or will not question what it is being told.

Collaboration, cooperation, the capacity to organize, to contemplate and pursue possibilities, to unify disparate points of view is only possible in a mind that doesn’t fear being wrong – in a mind that opens (chooses to open) and isn’t constrained by fear of what it doesn’t understand. Fear makes us stupid. To be educated doesn’t mean to be rigid or buried in knowledge. It means the willingness to question, the ability to look, experience, to see, to reach. To learn.  Fear blinds. Curiosity illuminates.

This painting tumbled out of my Google meditation. It is a sketch, a quick gesture. I used to tell my students that daydreaming was an essential skill. Looking out the window and pondering, imagining,…daydreaming is the first step of invention. Waiting, too, is also an essential skill. It is invaluable when entertaining a thought….

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THEY WAIT

 

k&dbw backs website box_ copy

they wait ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Read The Image [on DR Thursday]

“I paint the way some people write an autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my diary.” ~Pablo Picasso

Kerri and I love to dance. This painting was inspired by one of our spontaneous backyard dances. We don’t know how to do the tango but that has never stopped us from making it up.

When I was much younger, my little brother told me that my studio was one of the darkest places he’d ever been. I didn’t see it at the time but now, looking at my few remaining early paintings, I can’t deny it. Painting, for me, is the log book of a spiritual quest and, like all spiritual quests, the real work is in retrieving the lost pieces and making a greater whole, walking into the wound and transforming it, stepping firmly into the realm of the possible (and becoming it) instead of being transfixed on the monster obstacle.

What once seemed so complex now looks so simple. What once looked so bleak and impossible is now practical, immediate, and infinitely rich. I am lucky. I delight that my diary these days is filled with dances and quiet appreciation.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TANGO WITH ME

 

slow dance party cropped website box copy

tango with me ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

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.

 

 

color & contemplation copy

Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

softly she prays copy

Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

babycatContemplating website copy

 

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

 

 

 

Open The Time Capsule [on DR Thursday]

Morsel - Waterfall Dreams copy

Kerri calls this morsel ‘Waterfall Dreams’

This week some long lost paintings came home.

Nearly 15 years ago, an acquaintance opened a physical therapy office. She asked if I would hang my work in the reception area, hallways and therapy rooms. I was delighted and installed 8 paintings, all wildly colorful. I was in my phase of vibrant swirling color. The local galleries told me that my work was too colorful so I was delighted to have any opportunity to share my paintings. Over time, three of the paintings sold. I brought in a few more. They sold. Ownership of the office changed but the paintings remained. Years went by.

When I left Seattle, I left those paintings behind. I couldn’t get to them. I counted them as lost. And then, a few weeks ago an email popped into my box. They were looking for my address. They wanted to ship to me the paintings. Three remained.

Opening the box was like opening a time capsule into my past. A life I remember but am almost too far distant to recognize. They were a delightful abstraction like a TIME magazine from 1950 would be interesting, a curiosity, but intangible.  It was looking at the baby shoes your mom saved for you, the drawing you did in kindergarten.

Skip and I talked yesterday about points of orientation. We – all humans – story ourselves based on events. We orient according to the passages of our lives. Every so often life pitches an event so profound that it reorients everything you knew. It changes who you know yourself to be. The first stage of reorientation is disorientation. Getting lost. Struggling to know who you are. And, in being lost, the very first thing we do is try to make the old orientation points valid. It is deeply human to hang on to what you know, to try to fit into an old suit even after the body has forever changed. In the story, the knight takes off his armor. He weeps. He can never go back.

Leaving Seattle was one of those passages for me. Looking at these three paintings was like looking at the old armor. I had a double rush of appreciation. The first for having armor when I needed it. The second for being so far from the place where I stripped it off and left it behind.

hot springs copy

I can’t remember if I ever gave this painting a name so Kerri has dubbed it ‘Hot Springs.” acrylic on panel, 2′ x 2′

 

standing in vail website copy

waterfall dreams/hot springs ©️ 2018/2004 david robinson

Do A Rough Draft [on DR Thursday]

Morsel copy

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

 

pumpkinfarm website box copy

 

 

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