Look Back [on KS Friday]

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Every artist has a root. They stand firmly on the shoulders of other artists that inspire and inform their work. They have experiences that color their expression. Every artist walks a seeker’s path. They, of necessity, stand at the edge of their village so they can 1) see clearly the machinations of their community, but more importantly, 2) they serve as a bridge to help their community across boundaries of time and space, providing necessary access to the unseen world, the greater things that cannot be grasped in law or calculation or bought with currency. Inspiration. Ancestry. Purpose. Love. Soul. Aspiration. Perspective. Hope. Possibility.

It is a happy accident that for this week’s Studio Melange Kerri shared a new piece of music, YOU’RE THE WIND, a song never  before recorded, while also choosing this piece for KS Friday, WHERE I’M FROM, recorded over 20 years ago. It traces her path. It speaks to her sources.

WHERE I’M FROM is an appropriate title. It is a reaching back, recorded before Kerri met broadcast constraints and the squeeze of the music industry’s labels (New Age) expectations. It radiates innocence. It took me back to my childhood, transported me to carefree days in the sun, mountain meadows, games of four square with the neighborhood kids, my dad teaching me to ride a bike. She took me across the boundary of time, she helped me touch my source, a visit to where I am from.

Take the time to let this artist hold your hand and take you across the boundary, back to your source, to touch for a moment the greater things that live beyond the day’s achievements. Let her remind you of all that truly matters as you turn and look back and visit your mountain meadow and perhaps, as I did, appreciate the riches of the life that you’re living.

 

WHERE I’M FROM on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHERE I’M FROM

 

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where i’m from/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

you’re the wind ©️ 2005/18 kerri sherwood

Know [on KS Friday]

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There is much an artist cannot know about their own work. They sit on the mountain so they cannot see it. But, in their general blindness, there is one thing they do know: there is a difference between the bulk of their work that is good and the few shining pieces that are great.

Kerri is evasive when talking about her work. I imagine somewhere back in the nether-times of her artistic formation, Beaky taught her a definition of ‘humble’ that now precludes her from speaking kindly of her compositions. I’ve learned that there is a chink in her armor. If you want truth, piss her off. In her anger she just might let slip what lives behind the humble-fortress. Recently, red-in-the-face mad at my provocation, she glared at me and said, “My work is good but This Part Of The Journey is great! It is world class!”

It is. She knows like only an artist can know. It’s her best album. And, the pity of it is – to me, at least – she is now – 20 years later – capable of better. Her artistry has grown. By far. Her unrecorded songs and compositions live in a notebook. They will never be recorded. “Why bother,” she says, each time she opens her BMI statement, looks despairingly at the enclosed $47.00 check while perusing the report that shows well over a million people listened to her music last year.

If you want to hear her play, the route is the same as the path to her truth. Piss her off. I secretly look forward to the day the BMI statement comes. On BMI day, in a fury, she sits at her mostly ignored piano and plays. You can’t imagine how beautiful heart-pain can sound. You can’t imagine how much music is in her. On BMI day, I get to hear her best work.

You can say, “I didn’t know.” I cannot. I do. I know. And, I suppose, more to the point, she is not alone. Kerri is only one of thousands of musicians whose music makes millions for streaming services but are paid virtually nothing for it. Perhaps you should grieve -as I do – that I am the only person on earth who has – or will have – the opportunity to hear her greatest compositions. That should piss you off.

 

I DIDN’T KNOW on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I DIDN’T KNOW

 

i didn’t know/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Make Them Visible [on DR Thursday]

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rough sketch (detail): and then they danced

When I first met Kerri she had two Adirondack chairs in the front yard. We spent many summer evenings in those chairs, sipping wine, talking through the sunset. One evening, she brought out her ipod and speaker. We listened to music while we chatted and then a song came up that inspired us to dance. We danced that song and then the next and the next. Soon, she was playing DJ. We wiggled and roared through her rowdy picks and lightly stepped through the slow songs. The first painting I did for her is about that evening. It’s called Dancing In The Front Yard.

This summer I have been empty. I left the studio in early June knowing there was nothing left. It was time to let the cup refill. Over the summer I’ve often visited the studio. I sat in my chair in the dark and felt the place. I’ve shuffled paintings around, reviewed my life’s work and wondered, as I always do in the empty times, if I’ve painted my last painting, if the deep well will ever replenish.

The other day, as always happens, I was passing through my studio en route to the tool room and something stopped me. The empty canvas propped against the easel shouted, “Look at me!” And I did. Turning on the lights I saw them, the dancers, the dancers in the front yard, and I laughed. Dancers. Of course. What a great welcome back; a celebration. A dance. Our dance. Like a thirsty man crawling to an oasis,  I slowly entered the space, picked up the charcoal, and made my dancers visible.”Welcome back,” they whispered, as I dusted off my hands and reached for my brushes.

 

Danced phase 2

a process shot for Skip, step 2: underpainting

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AND THEN THEY DANCED

(Lydia! I remembered two days in a row! Progress?)

Be The Storm [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“It is a sacred art that deals with revelation rather than observation.”~Jamake Highwater, The Language Of Vision

Tom used to say, “A writer writes and a painter paints.” Those are wise words grounded in the mechanics of art. Simply show up. Do the thing. Nuts and bolts. That’s the first step. Show up at the easel, on the dance floor, at the piano, at the writers desk and begin. Tom was a teacher and over his life heard an overabundance of excuses, reasons ‘why not.’ Said another way, he advised his students to stop thinking about it and do it. “Get out of your own way,” he’d counsel. That’s the second step. Horatio calls this step ‘trust-your-work.”

Show up. Do the thing. Get out of your own way. Trust your work.

And, what happens with trust? When the artist can get out of his/her own way, the sacred art, the art of revelation becomes possible. It’s a beautiful paradox. Show up and get out of the way. And, between those two actions, those crackling oppositions, a greater force, inspiration, gathers and releases like a storm.

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read Kerri’s blog post about INSPIRATION IS A GATHERING STORM

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Believe In The Impossible [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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All of my life I’ve been surrounded by people who believed in the impossible. At a school for developmentally disabled children, there were therapists who believed against all odds that they could help a child catch a ball. And, one day, after ten thousand tries, extraordinary therapies on frozen muscles, endless encouragement for the child and for each other, those little hands closed around the ball at just the right moment. A catch. Cheers, celebration dances and tears erupted, this feat greater than winning a Super Bowl. The impossible became possible. And then, as if there was not a moment to waste, the next impossibility was named: ball catching could become routine!

Artists, who go day after day to the studio or the stage, their lives an impossibility of economic headwinds and community disinterest. They create. They find a way. They keep the doors of deep humanity open, mythology alive. In this age of dedicated differences and echo-chamber-information, they reinvigorate the experience of a shared story. The impossible becomes possible, even if only for a moment. And the next day, they do it all over again, refreshed with inspiration and improbability.

Teachers who walk into classrooms every single day, their budgets cut, their student load swelling, their hands tied with standardized-testing-madness, and yet they reach. They try. They inspire. Like icebreakers, they cut new paths through impossibly frozen circumstances to locate and nourish the minds and hearts of their students. To free them from disbelief. To embrace the challenge of an obstacle. To encourage discovery of self and other. The impossible becomes possible. And, the next day, they do it all over again.

Inspiration. It’s all around us. It makes people do crazy things.

 

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www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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inspiration makes people do crazy things ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Open, Open, Open [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

The first time Jim, one of the most brilliant actor/directors I have known, played the role of King Lear, he told me that he didn’t have enough colors in his paint box to do the role justice. He had more to learn.

It is the common thread and what I love about all the great artists. mentors, and teachers that have had so much impact on my life – they know there is always more to discover. They know that ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is – is unachievable. So they look, engage, experiment, play, expand, reach, open, open, open…. Artistry is a life-long practice. It is a relationship with life.

“No one sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t got time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about THERE AREN’T ENOUGH CRAYONS IN THE WORLD

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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there aren’t enough crayons in the world ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Throw A Pillow [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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The artists’ dilemma in 3 Acts (or, the story behind the pillow collage):

Act 1: Early in my life as a painter I copied master paintings for display in model homes. I’d alter the colors to match the couch. Something was dreadfully wrong with altering master work to match a couch. The world seemed upside down and I was young enough to think perhaps it was me that was upside down. I doubted what I knew. I doubted my inner compass.

Act 2: Later, when I first moved to Seattle, my gallery hunt brought little interest in my work but I was offered the same piece of advice at every stop: Tone it down. The images were “too strong” or “too colorful.”  The reasoning made my head spin: “No one wants to buy a painting that dominates a room! A painting should add to the over all impact but not be seen.”

“Kind of like a throw pillow,” I’d respond.

“Yes! Like an accent piece.”

This time, I knew that I was not upside down, just peddling my wares in the wrong market. Or the wrong century. I trusted my compass yet stood without direction in what felt like a vast wasteland.

Act 3: Waving the Design Within Reach catalogue in front of my face Kerri was on a full blown rant. The page waving before my eyes was a collage of throw pillows. “These are boring!” she  shouted, “Who designs this stuff?” I knew what was at the heart of her tirade. She’d spent the last several months designing her heart out. Her line of pillows – those based on my paintings and a fleet of others – is unique, different. “Why do people buy this stuff? It’s the same as everything else!” she fumed.

I responded with studied calm. “One. How many people see this catalogue versus how many people are seeing your designs? No one is seeing them.”  She scrunched the catalogue. “And, two, perhaps the designs are too bold and too different.”

“That’s what makes them interesting!” she protested. “Beautiful art doesn’t just have to be on the wall!”

“Ah.” I said, “That’s the problem! A flawed premise! Turning the art into a throw pillow still does not make it an accent piece. That’s a good sign!”

“I’m making my own ad! It’ll be a collage! It’ll be a piece of art!” she waved the destroyed catalogue in the air and stormed to the computer.

There is no wasteland here. Her inner compass, and mine, is just fine.

 

see all of Kerri’s designs from my paintings

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PILLOWS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

pillows designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson