Stand In The Enormity [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

two birds and an island copy

When Kerri first showed me this photograph, it read to me like a minimalist painting. A subtle field of color with two splashes and a brushstroke. So much said with so little. A meditation of movement and the immovable.

The lake is different every day. Its color palette is as changeable as its moods. Each day upon awaking, Kerri walks onto the deck and snaps a picture. So far, no two days are alike. So far, no two hours are alike.

Once I stood in La Sagrada Familia and the enormity of it made me quiet. The lake is like that. Immense to the point of stillness.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TWO BIRDS AND AN ISLAND

 

feet on the deck steps website box copy

 

 

Bend It [on DR Thursday]

county sketch copy

The terminology in art reads like so much poetry. Zero point perspective. Chiaroscuro. Foreshortening. Rococo. Image plane. Vanishing point. Oblique projection. Intaglio. It goes on and on, these tasty and magical words.

They should be poetry. They describe fields of possibility. They attempt to codify the making of illusion or the impulse of an explorer. Bending space. Deconstructing and reconstituting. Perceptual distinctions. The visual language of cultural norms.

There has been for centuries a mathematics of art. Optics and relativity, movements in science that have their conjoined artistic twins. Rebellions. The maintenance of form. Rules and rule breakers.

I sat in on a class taught by a master artist. He was a lover of landscape (another yummy word) and taught his students an earth-shattering lesson: reality, like time, cannot be caught. It’s a fools errand to try. Painting is a conversation. It is an infinite game. Bend space. Move the tree. Color is fluid, moving, never fixed.  Be like color. Play. Discover. Transform.

I do not consider myself a landscape painter. And then I remember the master teacher and I remove the word ‘landscape’ from my vernacular. And then, suddenly, there is a universe of movement, color, light, and shapes to bend.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about a LANDSCAPE SKETCH

 

Newborn copy

newborn. deconstruction. reconstitution.

 

coffee cups in scion website box copy

 

newborn /landscape sketch ©️ 2019 david robinson

 

 

Mix It [on DR Thursday]

palette copy

True confessions: I never clean my palette. I like the messy build up of color. I like the chunky texture. It serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings past. And then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. Unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that I will achieve. It is accidental. It is free.

This might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. I love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. It is the true liminal space. I begin with pure color. I smashed the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue I intend. On a palette, color becomes intention. And then, once transformed, with a brush or knife I lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, I place it onto a canvas. It transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. An image emerges. More color is called for.

And, somewhere in this call and response of color, I become like the palette. The pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. And, in the process, perhaps I, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. Unfettered. Accidentally interesting. Free.

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake

 

read Kerri’s blog post about my PALETTE

 

roadtrip reading website box copy

 

Horses FullSize copy

untitled, mixed media 48 x 48IN

 

 

 

 

Contemplate [on DR Thursday]

 

I do more than my fair share of contemplating (just ask Kerri. My incessant contemplation drives her bonkers). For instance, years ago, it occurred to me that every thought we human-storytellers have IS a kind of meditation. It’s a fair question – a necessary question – to ask: what are you meditating on? Your pain? Your troubles? Who you blame? Your grudges? Your obstacles? Your joys? Your opportunities? Your privileges? Your love? Your losses? Your list? All of the above?  Keep in mind (where else would you keep it) that most of your thoughts are repetitive. The majority of what you think today is a repeat of what you thought yesterday. Your thoughts are not passive. They are also not truth. They are patterned, mostly made up, and a powerful lens through which you define your experiences. The good news is that you can change your meditation if you want to.

Listening to the news it will make you gag when you stop and realize what actually populates our national meditation and how our angry narrative permeates your personal mediation. We are not as separate as we like to pretend. That’s good news. That, and, we can change our meditation. We can tell a better story.

 

This morsel comes from a painting that recently returned to the stable. It is, quite literally, a blast from the past. What I find most amazing about this particular return-to-the-fold is that, just a few months ago, I uncovered the old drawing that inspired Contemplation and sourced it again for another painting, Softly She Prays. And then, in a fit of good timing, Contemplation arrived at our door.

Paintings are like journal entries. It is not often that happenstance provides such a rich opportunity for comparison. Comparison of contemplation. What was my meditation 15 years ago? What is it now? Horatio told me my body of work is a study of stillness in motion (not a direct quote H, but I love the reflection non-the-less). The deep river story remains. The top layer meditation has shifted.

Ah. Do you see? Incessant contemplation.

 

 

color & contemplation copy

Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

softly she prays copy

Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

babycatContemplating website copy

 

contemplation/softly she prays ©️ 2004/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Rise In The East [on DR Thursday]

thesunrises PRIMARY IMAGE BOX copy

When I first began writing this blog I wrote everyday. I did not identify myself as a writer. It seemed an outrageous commitment to write every day and I wondered if I would be able to sustain it. I quickly learned that the opposite was true. I found that I had too much to write about. I found that the act of writing required me to pay attention. There was something to write about everywhere I looked. I was not only learning to write. I was learning to see.

I have always been a painter. Seeing is central to any art form but especially useful in the art of painting. You’d be amazed at the multitude of colors in everything you see that your brain blends into a single color. Yellow. Blue. If you can open your eyes and see beyond the dullness of expectation, the numbing of your mind, you will gasp at the riches of it all. This life is complex, intimate, moving.

I’m working on the seventh painting of my earth interrupted series. Prussian blues and ochre, reds and sienna. I laugh each day that I step into the studio and begin work on this series. “What am I doing?” I silently ask and laugh. The answer is obvious. I am sailing toward the edge. I am trying to find what exists beyond my horizon, my comfort zone.

thesunrises product BOX copyThese morsels, snippets of my paintings, are doing what my blog challenge did for me so many years ago: opening my eyes to new and unexpected possibilities. They are asking me to see something new and unexpected in something known. Or something I thought I knew. Kerri calls this morsel The Sun Rises In The East. It is under-painting, a layer of Earth Interrupted VII, which may or may not ever be completed. Voyages of discovery are like that. We’ll see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on THE SUN RISES IN THE EAST

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

the sun rises in the east/earth interrupted vii ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Commune With Color

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I always loved gallery openings of my work because they served to remind me how deeply personal a relationship with a painting really is. And, isn’t that the point? For instance, when I first showed my painting, Canopy [featured in a post yesterday], it literally stopped a woman in her tracks. She burst into tears and spent the next hour communing with the painting. Literally communing. I love this story because a few moments before the communing woman entered the gallery, a young couple stood before Canopy and said, “Ooh. I don’t like this one.”

As John once said, “Your job is to paint the paintings, not to determine what people see in them.” True enough.

There are two paintings in my stable that have drawn more attention than any others. By far. They were painted at roughly the same time. They are the same size. Both are acrylic on two panels. Both have shown often, always have multiple inquiries, and always return to the stable. They are favorites to be courted but are always left standing alone at the altar.

Once, when taking them down after a showing, a gallery rep. told me she thought they were abandoned yet again because they were too colorful. “Too Colorful?” I questioned. And she said, “You’re right. That’s not possible.”

Mix Better Color

A painting from another time - and also from as as-yet-unfinished exloration

A painting called ‘Sleepers’  from another time – and also from as as-yet-unfinished exploration

The lake was angry. Because it is the fifth largest lake in the world, it packs a punch when enraged. The local news reported that the waves were 14ft high. The force of the waves smacking the shore hurled huge stones from the wall constructed on the banks to protect the land. Although it is an easy walk from our house, the wind was so powerful and cold that we drove the few blocks to see it.

There are days that the lake is glassy smooth and quiet with barely a noticeable ripple. This day the lake was muddy brown and dangerous. Parts of the bank collapsed. A tree close to the shore was consumed. Many years ago I was in a small boat protected by the islands from the force of the ocean’s wrath; for a few moments we had to round a point, exposed to the fury, to get into a bay. The captain pointed the boat directly into waves that towered over us. I’ve rarely felt like such a bug on the arm of an angry world. Had it decided to, the ocean would have smashed us with little or no notice. The lake was like that this day. I was grateful to be on shore. Sometimes awe for the power of nature requires a respectful distance.

Sometimes appreciating the fullness of life also requires a respectful distance. I recently took Bill and Linda down stairs into my current studio. They are elders and I have enormous respect for them. They’d asked to see my paintings. We spent several moments looking at my current work and then began stepping backwards in time. My paintings ring like songs from the past; each represents a specific era of my life and is capable of sparking intense remembering. It was fun to pull pieces for them, answer questions (or not answer them), and to open the doors of time. Like the lake, the doors were varied and unpredictable: some of the doors flooded me with peace, other doors overwhelmed me with grief, and still others brought intense joy. I loved it all because with time, with distance, life ceases to be about good times and bad times, hard times or ease, it’s all one long rich varied walk, all necessary and useful like color on a palette. Some of it goes to mud and that is the only way to learn to mix better color. Just as every forest fire causes renewal and every storm heaves stones and creates a new shoreline, sometimes distance and respect for this powerful messy life reveals the face of continual renewal and necessitates vast, quiet awe.

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