(Y)Our Earth [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

Take a moment to take a look around you. A thought to ponder and share from the melange.

our earth FRAMED ART PRINT copy

Tibetan monks have been in residence this week at a local technical college. They are creating a mandala sand painting. For the monks, creating the mandala is a spiritual practice, a meditation. As they construct the design they contemplate the meaning of the symbols within the design. In other words, they are in a constant state of prayer while they create. They invite the community to enter the prayerful space and contemplate with them; the “space” is, of course, the essential part of their creation. More to the point, the shared space of peace, an intentional communal tranquility, is the creation. And, to make sure we grasp the point, the final step in their creative process is to blow the design away. Nothing is permanent. Beauty is passing and so are you and me. It is, we are, energy in motion. The process, rather than the product, is the meditation.

our earth SQ PILLOW copyWhen Kerri drew this design it immediately reminded me of the Earth’s currents, a perfect sentiment for the coming Earth Day celebrations. The essential convection currents that create our wind, our weather. The currents in the earth moving layers of magma, the transfer of energy in the heating and cooling of the ocean. Motion creates life, tosses up forms and pulls them down again. Motion is life, life is motion. And, in this mandala we call Earth, there is a deeper meditation found within the sand and the impermanence: it’s all connected. We are all connected. Blowing sands. The process, the quality of our participation in impermanence, is the art.

From studio melange, an earth day meditation: this is your/our earth.

THIS IS (Y)OUR EARTH reminders/merchandise

society 6 info jpeg copy

our earth TOTE BAG copy

OUR EARTH MUG copy

our earth IPHONE CASE copy

iphone cases

OUR EARTH BEACH TOWEL copy

a beach towel!

our earth LEGGINGS copy

(Y)Our Earth Leggings

read kerri’s blog post on (Y)Our Earth

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

 

this is (y)our earth ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Two Artists Tuesday

Your daily blend of good brew from the melange on this Two Artists Tuesday

MASTER be relentless big copy

I love watching Kerri when she goes into design mode. My normally ADD wife enters a super-hyper-focus. The entire universe collapses into a single action. She creates. Time disappears.

I watched the quick birth of this design. She moved on to the next but I lingered with it for a while. I liked it immediately because, to my eye, it can be read in two ways: Be Relentless or Relentless Be. The first is an ambition. It is to pursue your dreams without end. To honor your yearnings as an imperative.  The second is a beautiful yet simple understanding of existence. Your heart beats relentlessly. Your relentless inhale and exhale of breath is the movement of life. It is like the tides. You are like the tides, not “a thing” but a continuous movement, an ongoing expression of life.

Either way, a thought to ponder from studio melange on this Tuesday: be relentless be.

BE RELENTLESS merchandise

society 6 info jpeg copy

BeRelentless square pillow copy

BeRelentless iPhone CASE copy

BeRelentless coffee mug copy

BeRelentless clock copy

this one cracks me up!

BeRelentless LEGGINGS copy

Be Relentless leggings

read Kerri’s thoughts about Be Relentless

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

 

be relentless ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Go Inward

a new painting perfect for winter and inward looking. it’s part of a set in my sacred series.

“The doctor may explain why the patient is dead, but never why the patient is alive.” ~Declan Donnellan

Once, tromping through a biodynamic vineyard, Barney explained to me that winter is the time for the energy of the vine to go to the root. The vine that appears dormant above ground is, in fact, actively recharging below the surface. The energy goes inward. The root rejuvenates, drinking in the minerals necessary for the new growth of the coming spring. The fruit of the summer is impossible without the rejuvenation of winter.

We are not so different from the vines though language can trick us into compartmentalizing, perceiving winter as distinct and separate from summer, the inhale as a separate action from the exhale, tides that ebb and then flow. Cycles of life have compartments in study but never in real life. The compartments are made up for the convenience of categorization and conversation.

These past few weeks we’ve been cleaning out our house, going through old boxes and files, shredding old bills, carrying furniture and computer carcasses to the curb. Old clothes are going away. Closets and bins are emptied. The house is beginning to breathe. There is space. Spaciousness. We are laughing at old pictures, sometimes cringing. This day’s new-found spaciousness inspires the next day’s cleaning rampage. It is invigorating. Rejuvenating.

and this is the other half of the set. winter has me looking inward and exploring simplicity in line and space.

Our cleaning tsunami wasn’t planned. Our computer crashed. Our work was interrupted. Our expression was limited. We complained and resisted and then turned our energies elsewhere. Inward. Going through and releasing old stuff, past lives, creating space, is rejuvenating. We are taking our time. We are going slowly. It is oddly restful.

Driving home from our walk in the woods, we laughed at ourselves. Mock-praising our virtuous cleaning, exaggerating and inflating our new found spaciousness to full spiritual illumination, we pretended we’d achieved life beyond wanting, living without yearning. Consciousness beyond compartments. Wiping laughter-tears from her eyes, Kerri said, “Wait! This could be boring! What is life without desiring some red wine while cooking dinner? What about the pleasure of yearning for morning coffee? With all this new found space….”

 

Stop Your Rant In Its Track

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

Stop your rant in its track

I come from a long line of ranters and am famous for ranting. Through a life of ranting I’ve learned that rants are mostly a useless exercise. They serve as a pressure release, which is say, energy that is misdirected. Miracles happen when misdirected energy is focused and released toward an intention. Rants are essentially an admission of helplessness, a scream of, “Why is this happening to me?” Redirected, the energy becomes a focused stream of, “I am going to make this happen.”

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED ENCOURAGEMENT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Dance Without Effort

my mud-slog

my mud-slog

Last night I painted badly and I did it intentionally. I went down into the cool of the basement studio to escape the heat and humidity. A new canvas was stapled to the wall, gessoed and ready to go. I picked up my brushes, squeezed paint onto the palette and began working.

Many years ago I made the switch from oils to acrylics because the fumes were making me ill. It was a happy accident. Acrylics required me to work fast and fast meant I had no time to think. I learned by default that I am a much better artist when I’m not laboring over the details. Sometimes the process feels like an invocation. Sometimes the process feels like a rolling mess that morphs and morphs until the final moment when, like focusing a telescope, the image becomes crystal clear.

My paintings are generally big. They demand a full-body engagement, painting-as-dance. I know I am working well when I lose track of time, when the dance overtakes me, and the line between painting and painter disappears. It is pure magic: a place free of thought-obstacles.

Last night there was no magic. When I was younger the slog sessions would depress me. I believed I had to have magic all of the time and felt despair when, instead of magic, I danced knee-deep in mud. It took a long time for me to appreciate the necessity of the mud dances. Painting badly is, of course, necessary to paint well. In fact, I now know that there is no such thing as painting badly just as there is no such thing as perfection. Saying more with less is a life-long learning process for all artists. Freedom of expression is a yoga, a practice. It has as much to do with muscles as it does with minds. It is a yoga of brevity. It is as efficient as breath. It is a paradox of stepping out of the way so that you can fully step forward.

I once saw an exhibit of the hundreds of sketches and studies John Singer Sergeant did before painting El Jaleo. I loved it. He drew the same thing over and over again. He painted again and again the smallest detail. He was putting the image into his body. He was teaching his muscles to flow without tension. The finished painting (the last thing in the exhibit) was thrilling. It is a celebration of brevity, free motion without mental intervention. It made me dizzy. It made me cry because I knew how devoted he was to his practice to say so much with so little. I knew how many hours of effort it took for him to dance so effortlessly.

 

 

Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.

Paddle On

photo-3We’d been out in the canoe for more than an hour. The morning was warm and the water was still. We hugged the shore, cruising the lily pads. Dan told us some of the lily pads were over 150 years old. I was amazed at their capacity to reach through time but also reach through long stems to the water’s surface to drink the sun.

The turtle emerged from nowhere. It appeared from the depths, through the lily pad stem forest, and rose to within inches of the surface. It was big for a lake turtle, perhaps the size of a dinner plate. I let my paddle trail in the water. It was so close I could have reached into the water and touched it. We glided forward and turned the canoe so Kerri might see it but the turtle had already disappeared.

the view from the canoe

the view from the canoe

Turtle is perhaps the oldest known symbol for the earth. In many traditions, turtle carries the world on her back; the earth is her shell. She is a great reminder to go slow and persevere, to live grounded amidst the chaos of life. She symbolizes patience and ease. I was struck by how similar are the symbols of turtle and lily pad. Peace. Ease. Both are extraordinary symbols of grounding or rooting. Both cross the boundary of elements: the turtle lives in water and land. The lily pad reaches through the water to find air and sun. Both inhabit the depths and reach to the surface.

It feels as if I came into this world with art already in me. From an early age I drew pictures, not because I wanted to but because I had to. Like the lily pad, I was reaching for something unknown. I drew the same images over and over again: a cabin in the woods, eyes, clowns. I wasn’t drawing to master the image, I was drawing and painting in order to reach beyond the image. There was something there, beyond, deep in the depths, a root, rich soil, the void. There was a force behind the image that pulled me. My artistry felt like a descent into the caves of the ancients, a search for sources mythological.

Sometime during these past few years, the direction of the pull reversed itself. Like Orpheus in the underworld, I turned around. I walked toward the surface. In essence, the pull to the depths became a reach to the light. The sun called. Balance, in this life, at long last necessitated light and warmth.

Tom once told me that inheriting his family’s ranch and subsequently finding a trunk hidden in the wall of the house containing his ancestors possessions served as an affirmation that he had finally come home. Sitting in the canoe, the turtle rising by my side, I felt the affirmation. I am now only inches from breaking the surface. I drink the light because I know the depths and am adept at walking in the dark unknown.

the first layer of  under-painting for the next piece

the first layer of under-painting for my next piece

I am working much slower now. I am in no hurry to get anywhere. And my art, my life, is the better for it.