Recognize It [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

beaky text copy

I love this text. It is from 93 year old Beaky to her daughter. The specific context is not important. What I love is the universality of this sentiment, a text  every mother across the ages might have written to their children. It is a text Kerri could write to Kirsten or Craig. What mother does not know more than they say, think more than they speak, notice much more than their underestimating children realize?

I’ve learned, as I watch Kerri not-say things to her children, letting them make their own mistakes and untangle their own webs, that the effort involved in not-speaking is herculean.

Sisu sometimes requires silence. When every impulse in a mother’s body is to reach, Sisu sometimes demands stillness.

As a child who routinely underestimates his mother, Beaky’s text gives sends chills up my spine. I’ve certainly made a mess of things and I can only imagine the fortitude (unrecognized by me) my mother displayed – and continues to display – by letting me fall down. Sisu. Sisu. Sisu.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that the interruption-of-the-reach, the silence-in-the-midst-of-knowing, comes from a deeper mom-like-faith. Mothers know that the great trip-and-fall-down moments come with some necessary pain but will always end with a return to standing, a re-entry to the game.  It’s a cycle. It’s how moms everywhere awaken Sisu in their children. Like all good life cycles, it’s a paradox, to be sure.

The second thing I love about Beaky’s text? She signs her dope-slap to her daughter with ‘Mom.” This love-thing is tough!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BEAKY’S TEXT

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

Be Kind [on Two Artists Tuesday]

be kind collage with color font copy 2

Guitar Jim told me that he doesn’t trust this world littered with aphorisms. Words are so easy to say. Papering the walls with happy sentiments of love, kindness, community, teamwork,…, can mask the absence of those qualities.   I translated his adamant adage-doubt into a pithy phrase (just to torture him): actions speak louder than words. His point: if we tell ourselves often enough that it takes a village to raise a child we might just believe this village actually cares for its children. All of its children. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

He has a point. Adages are everywhere, placed in stores, office walls, kitchen shelves. Begin anywhere. This life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is short, break the rules. For fun, first take a quick scroll through Facebook. It is an immersion into Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King.  We’re all in this together. Then, open your news app. Fall from grace. Try your best to be a saint and see how far you’ll fall.

There is another side of this bleak coin. We live in the age of the sound byte. The short attention span. The eCommunity. Sometimes while rushing to the next thing I stop for no apparent reason and stand still on the street. Something divine intervenes and asks me to step out of the play and, for a moment, breathe and simply be the audience. Every time I step out I see more kindness than aggression. I hear more laughter than shouting. I see people wanting a different world but armored against the threat of the moment, the fear of the day. Lost in a story of division. And, so, on the walls and in the subways they (we) post aspirations. Yearnings for more experience of our better nature. Hopw wishes. Possibility mantras.

Beaky’s parting words were always, “Be kind to one another.” It was her maxim and she meant it. This powerhouse woman would look you in the eyes and send this phrase-arrow to the center of your being, “Be kind.” To one another. An action, not an empty sentiment.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

be kind collage with color font copy 2this link will take you to the BE KIND large print t-shirt options. scroll down to see the entire line of good stuff.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BE KIND

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

facebook logo copy 2

 

be kind product line ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Complete The Trilogy [on DR Thursday]

square shayne for melange 21 copy

 

Just before she passed away, Kerri and I rushed to illustrate and publish a trilogy of children’s books that Beaky had written years earlier. Beaky saw the first of her books published, Shayne. We held a release party and author reading of the first book. She was a rock star. Her first sale was to someone in The Netherlands and I teased her about being an international author. Beaky was both thrilled and ever humble.  She died 18 days later while we were racing to lay out the pages of the second book in the trilogy.  We published it, Shayne & The Yellow Dragon, soon after, for what would have been her 94th birthday.

photo-5

the author

It’s been three years. Today would have been Beaky’s 97th birthday and we are certain she is tapping her foot wondering what is taking so long. So, we decided that it was time to complete the trilogy. The illustrations and scans are back on the table. In short order, someday very soon, we look forward to announcing the publication of Beaky’s third book, Shayne & The New Baby.

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read Kerri’s blog post on Shayne

 

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the creative team

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

shayne/shayne & the yellow dragon ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

DR Thursday

EmbraceNow

[Held In Grace: Embraced Now, mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 36″]

Beaky showed me a photograph taken of Kerri and me early in our relationship. She said, “I like this one because your strong arms are holding my daughter.” I took her comment as a kind of blessing. It was her way of telling me, ‘This is right and good. In this embrace you two have found all that you will ever need.’

In the studio melange, Thursdays are for my paintings. I chose this painting as the first in our melange offerings because it came from Beaky’s sentiment. During this Valentine’s week, let this painting, Embraced Now, from my Held In Grace series, remind you, as it does me, that all is right and good. In this embrace you will find all that you will ever need. It’s not a shabby thought to help navigate through a Thursday!

HELD IN GRACE: EMBRACED NOW [art prints]

HELD IN GRACE: EMBRACED NOW [purchase the original]

kerrianddavid.com

 

held in grace: embraced now ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

 

Two Artists Tuesday

SWEET POTATO copy

Standing at the doorstep of her mortality, Kerri’s mom, Beaky, turned to her daughter and offered these words of advice. Live life, my sweet potato. This print hangs by our front door as a reminder of two very precious gifts: Beaky and this life.

Live life; who doesn’t occasionally need a reminder?

A few years ago, as a readership experiment, we created and published a series of simple images with words. Each image or phrase had a special meaning for us. We called the series two-artists-making-stuff-for-humans. The experiment was a success, our readership quickly grew, and then, like all attention deficit artists, we moved on to other projects. In the melange, Tuesdays belong to Two Artists.

 

LIVE LIFE, MY SWEET POTATO

kerrianddavid.com

live life, my sweet potato ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

Make A Good Team

newbaby3

an illustration for Shayne And The New Baby

The lake is very still today. Usually the lake, Lake Michigan, behaves more like an ocean than a lake. The breakers roll onto the beach. It is famously fickle and can change moods in a heartbeat. It regularly swallows tankers. This winter it swallowed more than a little bit of the shore. The Coast Guard routinely practices search and rescue missions off the coast; we’ve stood on the rocks many evenings and watched the helicopter go through its paces. Today there is calm. Today there is peace.

This afternoon I completed the 65th and final illustration in the Shayne Trilogy. Like the lake, when I cleaned my brush and put it aside, I was quiet inside. In the middle of March, after a call with Beaky, we decided there was nothing more important than illustrating and publishing the manuscripts that she’d written. And, there was no time to waste. We illustrated, designed, and published the first book of the series in record time. Beaky had her very first-ever book reading and author signing on April 11th. It was a triumph. That day I knew I that I would never do anything more meaningful or important in my life.

When Beaky passed away at the end of April, the second book was midway through the design phase. The illustrations were complete and Kerri was working furiously to publish it by May 1st. Beaky’s passing, of course, derailed all progress and I wondered if we would be capable of bringing all of her books to the finish. We were still for many weeks. We were breathless.

And then, last week, out of nowhere, a strong wind caught our sail and we were back at it with the same fervor as before. It was as if someone threw a switch; we did not get out of bed that day intending to resume the work, but by noon I was drawing the next batch of illustrations and Kerri was layering words over images. The second book, Shayne And The Yellow Dragon is, at this moment, a single click away from publication. Yesterday Kerri began laying out the final book in the trilogy, Shayne And The New Baby. At this pace, we are a few short weeks away from finishing what we started a lifetime ago in March.

the creative team

the creative team

The illustrations are simple. They came easily – as do all labors of love. They are just what Beaky wanted. “You two did all the work!” Beaky protested as we wheeled her toward the over 70 people that gathered for her reading. I teased her that she must have forgotten that she wrote the books. “We make a good team, Beaky,” I said, and she smiled.

 

Find The Riches

an illustration from Beaky's book, SHAYNE.

one of my illustrations from Beaky’s book, SHAYNE.

During my call with Jim I told him that my projects this year have been the most satisfying of my life. Certainly they have been the most important. And, they have also been, as I laughingly used the term, “negatively lucrative.” He didn’t yet know of Beaky’s books, of her website, of her book signing, so I sent him a few of my favorite photos from the event. Later, he sent me this text:

It is wonderful to be able to eat and pay the bills but there are for a fact things money can never buy. That famous authors obvious joy being one.

Isn’t that the truth? What price could we possibly place on joy? What price would we pay for true love? What price do we place on personal truth? What is the price tag on fulfillment?

I suspect that the great disease of our time – something future history professors and archaeologists will investigate – is that we’ve managed to place a value on our values; morality has somehow enmeshed with money, the purpose of education has somehow become the achievement of a bigger paycheck. In this never-ending political season, count the number of times and ways our candidates tell us that we must weigh our interests against our values.

What is the price of a value? What is the purpose of a value if it has a price?

All my life I’ve been told by people who love me, that, as an artist, I need to make a distinction between the work I do for food and the work I do for love. Most artists, myself included, feel their work is a kind of call. It is an imperative, a necessity. It is food. It is love. Most artists, myself included, do their work-for-love whether they are paid for it or not. They have to. I have to. It is a call. It is nourishment. There is no way in a culture that has placed a value on its values to recognize the real value of food-for-the-soul and food-from-the soul (the purpose of artists in a culture); a market cannot make sense of soul nourishment. This line of distinction, work-for-food or work-for-love, is at best a wonky value statement. It is a line that only makes sense to a people versed and rehearsed in trading their soul-requirements for a better retirement.

what is the price of joy?

what is the price of joy?

Last night I finished reading aloud to Kerri Tuesdays With Morrie. Jim’s text and Morrie’s messages are in beautiful alignment: there are, for a fact, things that money can never buy. And, those things are where the riches of this life can be found.