Renew [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I’m not sure why it hit me with such force. It’s a simple thing. It happens every day. A business fails. This business has been, for years, the place where I catalogued my paintings. Artmoi.com. It is the platform I use to publish my art website. The email notification suggested we export our work. It came with suggestions for other cataloguing options and sites. Generous in their exit. Responsible to their customers. It’s why I signed on in the first place.

I felt it as the end of an era. I wondered if it was the end. It would be a good time to pull it down. Let it go.

For a few years I’ve been writing about my struggles as a visual artist. The time of pandemic has also been the epic of water in our basement, my studio. The subsequent shuffling and reshuffling of boxes and crates and books and clothes and furniture has left my studio filled with our life-stuff. No where to stand. My easel sits above the high water mark.

The disruption came at a good time. I was becoming bored with my paintings. I was becoming disgruntled with the growing stack of paintings. Showing on the web has not proven very useful. I was primed for some productive disarray. And, when it came, it came with a vengeance. Pandemic. Broken wrists. Job loss. Economic free-fall. A curious series of water events; water falling from the ceiling, water rising from the floors, water line breaking through the walls. Water, water, everywhere. Full stop.

I sit on the stairs and look at the easel standing tall above the boxes and bags. There’s a canvas clamped in, ready. Waiting. It looks like an art installation entitled “Wreckage or Relegation?”

In the meantime, I’m drawing cartoons. We write every day. My work remains a thrilling creative challenge and requires full engagement of both sides of my brain. I’m lightly rehearsing for a performance in May. There’s no shortage of creative energy expenditure in our house.

On the trail yesterday, surrounded by flowers at the end of their season, I recognized that the end of Artmoi will become the beginning of renewal. An opportunity for a new site, a next-identity, is an opportunity for new eyes. A new approach. One that is much more appropriate to this chapter of my artist’s life, this season.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HIGHER GROUND

Ride The Message [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Among the many monumental events we experienced on our recent travels, none is more significant than the moment Little Baby Scion rolled over 260,000 miles. We were in Richmond, Kentucky on our last night of vacation en route to our final Airbnb of the trip. We hooted and hollered in celebration.

Like us, every little piece of LBS is worn by the miles. Yet, like us, LBS has a young heart and was going 80 miles an hour (with ease) at the moment she turned over 26 with four zeros.

True confessions: on the day Kerri and I met in O’Hare airport, when we spontaneously held hands and skipped out of baggage claim to the parking garage, I had no idea what kind of car she drove. When I first laid eyes on the little black shoebox car, I thought, “Perfect!” This woman was easily as quirky as I was. The car fit her like a glove. When we got into the younger version of LBS, she’d packed me a snack and had a bold cup of coffee awaiting in the cup holder. Little Baby Scion was more than a car. It was a message.

Almost ten years later and many more miles on the dial, many things have changed. Tires. Spark plugs. More than one muffler. There are scratches and dings and flaking chrome, but the essentials remain the same. Quirky, young-at-heart, a rolling feast of abundance, we’ll get “there” one way or the other. Together. We come honestly by our wear-and-tear, in our quirky reliable intrepid little shoebox car. Perfect. A rolling message, a life of quirk complete with road snacks.

“Where shall we go next?” she asks. “I’m ready.”

read Kerri’s blogpost about 260,000 MILES

Connect [on Merely A Thought Monday]

When I think of Sam I am flooded with fond memories of a man dedicated to bringing people together around heaps of fine food. Thanksgiving with friends. Apple crush. A “bad art” party that was a thin veneer for assembling those he loved around a table of abundance. Sam envisioned himself as a connector of people, both to others and to deeper connections within. Two paths to the same destination.

Yesterday on the trail we talked about what was and what is. The pandemic years have proven to be a hot crucible for change. Life passages. There is a hard line: before and after. When I first moved to Wisconsin, Kerri and I hosted large gatherings almost every week. Ukulele band. Slow dance party. Cantata Frittata Regatta. Bringing people together. We held five progressively larger dinner parties on the week before our wedding. There was always boisterous conversation, plenty of food and wine. Now, we are delighted each week when 20 comes over to share a meal. We laugh. We spin tales. We enjoy quiet and simplicity. Intimate conversations.

As Sam knew, food and stories are both connection creators. Together, they are an unbeatable team, the pulsing heart of breaking bread. And, he knew as we do, that connection is not an achievement or arrival platform. It is like a good fire and must be tended, fed. Both between others and within the self.

When the sun sets on these cool fall evenings, we bring dinner outside and eat beside a fire. Dogga finds a comfortable place to rest. The pond gurgles. Each night I am overwhelmed with waves and waves of gratitude. We coo over the meal we’ve made. Our conversation is made quiet by the fire. Reflective. We savor the passing moment, no thought of stopping time. All in. Connected.

read Kerri’s blogpost about EAT

Punt! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We are excellent punters. Despite what we may have planned to make for dinner, after a glass of wine, we sometimes look at each other and choose the path of least resistance. For instance, a few days ago, we dumped our extravagant dinner plan and made homemade soup. Then, we spent the rest of the evening congratulating ourselves on our wise choice. What could be better on a cool fall evening than hot soup!

Where food is concerned there are two sure bets in our house: 1) We love to eat so will never miss a meal. 2) What we actually eat may or may not be part of the plan.

Pancakes for dinner? I’m all in.

read Kerri’s blogpost on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Stop And Rest [on KS Friday]

At the height of the pandemic she recorded music on her phone and posted it for the community. It was a warm blanket, a comfort sent to people separated by the virus. Yesterday, she stumbled upon the recordings. There are hundreds. She played one for me. Pressing pause, she looked surprised and said, “These were good.”

I appreciated her honesty. I smiled at her surprise. Having been taught that it’s not nice to brag, she rarely acknowledges the scope and depth of her gift. Her pat response when I genuinely gush about her latest composition: “It’s okay.” It is good medicine for a gifted artist to say to herself, “My work is good.”

Also yesterday, she had a “talk” with me. She advised that I be less hard on myself. “Hold yourself softly,” she said. She was spot on. She can see it in me because she can see it in herself. She was telling me that, like her, my work is good. I swallowed my immediate response, “It’s okay.”

“Okay” is a hard word. It comes from a long road of vulnerability and a dedication to getting better and better. Minimizing is both armor and a practice. The path of artistic passion runs through, “Love what you do.” Yes, love it, but don’t get lost in it.

A life of mastery is built upon a mountain-range of mistakes and a dedication to never arriving. Keep walking. Keep growing and opening. Keep discovering ways to say more with less. Every once in awhile, it’s nourishing for the artistic soul to stop for a rest and crawl under the warm generous blanket of, “My work is good.”

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about QUILTS

and goodnight/and goodnight…a lullaby album © 2005 kerri sherwood

See Beyond [on DR Thursday]

I am amazed by nature. We learned in our visit to the botanical gardens that plants in tropical climates are a study in waterproofing. Waxy leaves prevent excess water from accumulating. Holes allow water and sunlight to pass through. It’s a masterclass in protection from algae. Adaptation, not resistance. Working with rather than fighting against.

My adult life has been a meditation on whole systems – which is quite simply a study of perception. It takes a human mind to separate the leaf from the branch from the trunk from the root. Separation and categorization is how we make sense of things. Analysis requires breaking-it-down. It’s easy to forget that those distinctions are in our minds and not in the world we observe. There is no separation of leaf from rain, not really. There is movement. Concert. Equilibrium.

Understanding requires reassembly.

To live creatively is to discover rather than invent. Thank goodness for the scientists teasing apart, deconstructing, uncovering, analyzing. I would not be alive today without their passionate pursuit.

And, while the scientist dissects, the artist reassembles. The reach for wholeness, the pull toward universal experience that cuts across division…I thank goodness each day for eyes that see beyond the separations, the capacity for utter delight and awe – standing in a garden – staring at a leaf made colander over eons of time.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HOLES IN LEAVES

eve © 2006 david robinson

Discover It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

The mist from the falls danced with the sunlight. Waterfall aura. Waterfall halo. We stood in the bands of color and laughed. Full body color tickle.

And then, a hush of utter appreciation. We listened to the chamber music of rushing water over the edge of rock. It was so beautiful there was nothing to be done but to close our eyes. Drink it in. Mist on our faces.

And then, we continued upward. The trail was steep so our steps were slow.

Krishnamurti wrote that, “To find out what is truth there must be great love and a deep awareness of (hu)man’s relationship to all things – which means that one is not concerned for one’s progress and achievements.”

In his book, Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse wrote that for every truth there exists an opposite truth. We humans are largely resistant to grasping both sides of wholeness. We like to be right so we tend to “fix” our half-truth in white-knuckled abstractions. Lost in our minds and paging through our rulebook-for-living, we miss the fullness of our relationship to all that surrounds us.

Standing by the waterfall, slowly climbing the mountain, it was easy to love our relationship to all things. The trail brought quiet to our minds. Each step, moment to moment, a full vibrant discovery of truth.

read Kerri’s blogpost about WATERFALL HALO

Walk With Shadows [on Two Artists Tuesday]

These are not the pine forests of Colorado. The trails in North Carolina are a crazy cross-hatch of roots and shadows. Rhododendron explosion and cedar. Kudzu. “This is a Hansel and Gretel forest,” Kerri whispers.

“Luckily for us,” I reply, “we are too old to taste good. No witch would have us.” She punches my arm. I laugh, but not too loud.

This forest is different than our ideal. That is why we come here. It opens us. It challenges our “should-be.” New experiences and unknown places dissolve expectations and elevate awareness of “what is.” It shakes the stone fortress of imagined security. Each step is alive and unexpected.

Renewal. It’s a special branch of the slow-moving-river called curiosity.

After many miles we arrive back at the car. We emerge from the Grimm Brother’s forest and step onto the comfort of paved parking lot. Exhausted, we are thrilled with our hike. The forest sprites retreat back into the dark recesses of our minds while the new shapes and smells and colors and sounds energize our spirits.

“We did it!” She is elated. Then, “Do you think that crashing sound was a bear?” she asks.

“Could be,” I lie, certain that we were followed – and rejected – by a hungry Ogre. Too boney. There are, after all, certain benefits to aging.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ROOTS AND SHADOWS

Be The Reason [on Merely A Thought Monday]

Our airbnb porch became the neighborhood evening meet-up spot. After a good day of hiking, we’d take our snack and glass of wine to the porch, set up our pop-up table and chairs, and enjoy the waning light. The porch was close to the street so it was only natural (to us) to talk to passers-by.

Mike and his little dog Makaela stopped to chat. Carole joined us. The guy with the pizza walked by and offered us a slice. The skittish kitty hovered. It became the evening ritual; conversation with the neighborhood. Easy laughter. Sharing stories.

It’s easier to see when traveling, when the stuff-of-life is put on the back burner for a week or so. Put down the worries and the simple gestures, the small kindnesses, become visible. In our travels we were awash in the warmth of the easy smile, the generous hello, the effortless conversation.

Taking a walk in Charlotte, the afternoon was hot so we stayed to the shady side of the street. The tree surprised us. Prayer flags wove through the branches and sweet phrases hung like ornaments and fluttered in the breeze. An invitation to stop awhile and breathe. An invitation to stop awhile and set a generous intention. Be the reason.

What I learned on my vacation: a smile is such an easy gift to give. It’s even easier to receive and reciprocate. And, best of all, the ripples go on and on and on.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SMILES

Imagine The Shadow [on KS Friday]

“I look out the window sometimes to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene.” ~ Grandma Moses

Among the many reasons I love autumn is the color of the light. Looking out of the kitchen window this morning I was bowled over by plants resplendent in orange and pink. I was so taken by the color that I forgot I was cooking and nearly burned breakfast.

We hiked yesterday. The trail was steep and rocky but, thankfully, the trail wound under the canopy of the forest. It was a hot day and the shade made our path bearable. We stopped often to breathe and enjoy the remarkable shadows cast by the trees. The leaves glowed and waved, backlit by the sun.

Imagination. The capacity to make images in the mind. It is the most basic of human capacities. We spend our lives imaging ourselves in tragedy and in triumph. Yearning and fear are both shades of imagination. “What if…?” is a question borne of imagination.

“Wait!” Kerri suddenly instructs, stopping me in my tracks. When the sun is low in the sky and our shadows make us skinny giants, she likes to capture our distortion. Shadows do not resist the curvature of the earth. They do not try-to-be. They simply conform to the circumstance and, inevitably, moving through a festival of color changes, blend into the purple dusk.

While she focuses her camera on our shadow, I appreciate the glow of the negative spaces, the yellow-autumn warmth heightened by our grey-blue silhouette. I giggle imagining we are as skinny-tall as the shadows we cast. “Hold still,” she whispers, not realizing my giggle is making the shot impossible. While stilling my shadow, in my mind, we reach and pluck the reddest of leaves from the tippy top of the maple tree.

Waiting (from Joy)

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about SHADOWS


waiting/joy © 1998 kerri sherwood