Say Less [on DR Thursday]

ddot studio copy

Under construction. I’d like to say that I was undergoing construction (a lifetime job) but at the moment the shortened phrase is more apt. The construction is on top. I am under it.

This is week 91 of our Studio Melange. 91 DR Thursdays. It might not surprise you to know that I have more than 91 paintings in my stacks though Kerri cautions me against posting the nudes. She worries that Facebook might ban me if my naked art hits the e-waves (unless, of course, my paintings of naked people were used for misinformation campaigns, then they’d be safe;-). Combing through my stacks for this week’s post left me at a loss.

I learned that the real skill in painting is knowing when to stop. Knowing when to put the brushes down.

The next skill, truly the center of all artistry, is how to say more with less. This week, what I have to say is this: I got nothin’.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

 

Joy copy 2

[a nude? tough to tell. you decide]

 

pumpkinfarm website box copy

Approach It [on Merely A Thought Monday]

TPAC empty seats copy

“Because we have lost reverence of approach, we should not be too surprised at the lack of quality and beauty in our experience.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

There was a common thread that ran through the lessons my mentors taught me: how I treat my space is a direct reflection of how I approach my artistry, my work.

Whether they said it directly or not, they understood artistry as sacred, artistic spaces as sacred spaces. Places of communion.

Paul Barnes used to tell his acting students, “Never underestimate your power to influence another person’s life.” There is a responsibility when getting on the stage. There is a responsibility when designing for the stage. There is a responsibility for how tickets are sold. There is a responsibility for how the theatre is cleaned and maintained, the studio, the shop… Tom’s students were famous for sweeping the parking lot of the theatre because they believed the audience experience began with the approach to the building. The sweepers understood themselves as artists.

During our last days on island, Kerri and I began cleaning out the theatre. We began the process of introducing a new approach. We started our job mid-season and were asked to come to the island and watch and learn. All summer, as a watcher, I repeated this phrase: everyone wants to use the theatre but no one wants to be responsible for it. Responsible to it. Groups entered and dumped their stuff. When they left, they left their mess for Pete to clean and why not? (Pete gets it, he is meticulous, and loves the space. But he is a lone sweeper fighting the tide of a dedicated mindless approach.)

TPAC is understood as a place to be used. It is a space the community fights over. A territory to be claimed. It is not yet approached as a space where beauty is touched, where actions matter because they are capable of unifying, where artistry is understood, not as a personal domain, but the grace of collective creation.

Sitting on the empty stage, the season closed, Kerri and I sat and listened. “It’s time to make the space ours, ” she said. “I think I’ll clean out the fridge.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE END OF SEASON

 

tpacwebsitebox copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Become It [on KS Friday]

and now songbox copy

Kerri wrote AND NOW for us. For me. It is the piece of music that played as I walked down the aisle. I can’t hear it without being transported back to that moment. Then is now.

The only time I’ve been in the recording studio with her was when she laid down the tracks for AND NOW. It was magic. She was completely in her element, doing what she does naturally and best. I was utterly taken by her mastery, her ease. She recorded it the week prior to our wedding, when the to-do list was endless and the guests were literally knocking on the door. Needless to say the stress was palpable. And yet, she sat at the piano in the studio and played, she stood in front of the mic and sang, and the rest of the demands of the moment simply fell away. There was nothing between her and her composition. She became her music. She lived her song.

It’s what I thought about as I walked down the aisle that day. Eternal thanks. Wonder at a universe that connected the dots. And now? Nothing more or less than living the song in the same spirit in which it was written and recorded. Nothing between us and the music.

 

AND NOW is available on iTunesiTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AND NOW

 

BootsWeddingBoots website box copy

 

andnowcopyright2015kerrisherwood

Persevere [on KS Friday]

holdingsteadfast songbox copy

To me, the album cover is like a time capsule. The woman who would become my wife looking through a camera lens into a future unimaginable.  Over twenty years later, I look back, peeking through that triangular keyhole, the impish woman, the near smirk. Does she know the path she will walk, the mountains she will climb? The falls she will take? The sturdy resilient woman she will become?

The impishness remains intact. The brat with the wicked laugh I adore even when – especially when – I am the object of her rascal-nature. The kind of perseverance developed over a lifetime. Clinging to the cliff, against all odds, holding steadfast through the storm. This mettle must have already existed in her blueprint! And, look what life built from that blueprint! A ferocious and very kind soul. An artist.

 

HOLDING STEADFAST from the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HOLDING STEADFAST

 

gate f8 website box copy

 

holding steadfast/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

Balance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

prayer flags 1 copy

Each day we sit on the deck and watch the personality of the lake change. We are witness to the power of the elements at play. Wind drives wave. Wave evaporates and moves wind. Lighting hits earth. Rain feeds the plants. Too much rain, too much wind, too much fire, devastates.

Balancing the elements. It is the central thought in many traditions. The cardinal directions are associated with a color and an element. North, south, east, west. Air, fire, water, earth. People need associations in order to talk about things. In order to know where they fit.

The colors differ from tradition to tradition. Sometimes black, white, red, and yellow. Sometimes blue, green, yellow, red. Sometimes there is a fifth element. There is always a center. When there is the understanding of center point there is also an acknowledgment that separations, experiences like north, south, east and west, are illusions.

Balance is a radically different intention than dominance. Taming-your-nature is not the same as balancing-your-nature. In the tame-your-nature idea, nature, your nature, is corrupt and needs to be controlled. In the balance-your-nature idea, your nature is neither good nor bad, it is a dance of energy, a push-pull of wind and fire, air and earth. In the balance-your-nature idea, there is no such thing as “wild.” because there is no intention to “tame.”

As you might imagine, the artist that explores the tame-your-nature mindset understands their artistry much differently than the artist that explores balance. I was born into and oriented toward the culture of tame-your-nature and so I divine through brush and story the push-pull between goodness and badness. Combat, combat everywhere. Right/wrong. Us/Them. Good enough/lacking.

I desire to see through the other lens. I suspect this desire is the epicenter, the driver behind my paintings. To understand the world I inhabit as energies at play, to know beyond an intellectual understanding that the distinctions don’t really exist; wind is not separate from water, earth is not separate from fire, people are not separate from planet. Illusion. Our division is a play of shadow puppets at best.

I think it is why we hang prayer flags at our littleislandhouse and at our home. Surrounded by combat, we are drawn by the desire to balance, we are enticed by the possibility of harmony.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PRAYER FLAGS

 

 

 

 

skylake website box copy

 

island prayer flags photograph ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

Turn And Open [on Two Artists Tuesday]

canoe and dock copy

Real education is understanding the significance of life, not just cramming to pass examinations. ~ Krishnamurti

Tom used to call it The Little Green Bottle theory. The illusion of learning at the expense of real learning. It is the worst fate for a curious mind to confuse active pursuit with passing the test.

The worst fate for an artist is to be revered. Artists who are revered regardless of what they do, stop growing – or worse – they twist. They confuse themselves with their art. And, because they are lauded for any and everything thing they do, they lose their muse. They no longer need to listen or seek or try.  They insulate and turn in on themselves. Knowing that their feedback loop – called an audience – will give them a perfect score no matter what they do, oddly makes their work not matter at all. They – and their work – and their audience – become an energy eddy, an empty bottle with no substance. The circle closes.

Long ago, I guest-directed a play at a college. There was a student, an extraordinarily talented young man, who was coddled by his professor. She heaped praise on him. He was cast as the lead in all productions. In fact, I was (hush-hush-nod-nod) required to cast him. He was protected from the rules and rigors his peers were required to follow. He simply needed to show up.  I crossed his path again a few years later and he was a very sad and empty young man. He left his small pond and didn’t have the skills or work ethic to swim in the ocean. He wondered why no casting director would work with him, why no masters program would admit him. He expected reverence. His talent collapsed on itself. Many of his peers, those who had to work, to grapple, to reach, to struggle, had solid and thriving careers. Rather than helping him grow, his professor, his college community, stunted his artistry. His circle closed.

The waters are so calm this morning. Hog Island seems to float in the air. Sitting on the dock, I feel perplexed. Lately, the world so often feels upside-down, in service to the opposite of what it professes. Islands feigning connection. Closed circles working hard to stay closed even awash in the knowing that they can only breathe when opened. They can only grow when challenged, when they open the gates. They can only thrive when they turn, open the circle, paddle toward the limitless horizon and face the unknown.

The muse is out there, waiting.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE DOCK

 

sunrisewebsite copy

 

photograph: on the dock of the bay ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play Again Please [on KS Friday]

nurture me songbox copy

I just broke the first rule of the melange. I peeked over Kerri’s shoulder to see what she was writing. It’s true, she misses her piano. It’s true, last night, as we were closing the theatre, after a day of high anxiety, she walked onto the dark stage, opened the 9 foot grand piano delivered for the chamber music festival currently performing from our TPAC, and began to play. I sat in the dark and listened. Her anxiety and frustration transformed. She nurtured herself into artistry. And, once again, as I always do in these moments, I thought what a pity it is that I am the only person on this planet privy to the full breadth and depth of her artistry.

Streaming services, although great and free for listeners worldwide, have filled artists like my wife with a gigantic Why Bother. The streaming services are making a great living off of her music. More than a million people each year listen to Kerri’s compositions. She profits not at all. The streaming services stand between her and the money her music produces. They toss her less than a bone.

She just wrote that she misses her piano but I think it is more than that. I think she misses the vitality, the good heart that grows inside an artist when they produce, when they challenge themselves, when they explore new territory and bring what they find back for the rest of us to hear. It nurtures the artist. It nurtures the audience. Left unexplored, an artist’s heart fills with anxiety and depression, it closes against the pain.

Last night, after the chamber music had died, in a dark theatre, I listened to a second concert. It was more powerful than the first because it was pure. It was an artist talking to herself, reaching through the Why Bother door and touching, even for a moment, the answer: because it nurtures you to play. It nurtures you to create. I know it nurtures me to listen.

 

NURTURE ME on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART  is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about NURTURE ME (and don’t tell her I peeked)

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

 

nurture me/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood