Feel The Mountains [on Two Artists Tuesday]

 

mountains in the distance CO copy

Look carefully. In the distance you will see the mountains. “It kills me, “Kerri said, staring out the window as we drove east out of Colorado. She craned her neck and watched as the mountains faded into the distance. She took a picture more to reach than record them.

The mountains make her weep. Seriously. Driving up the canyon, leaving the flats of Denver behind, she catches her breath and then the tears roll down her cheeks. “It’s so beautiful.” she utters, wide-eyed, incapable of taking it all in.

Leaving them is harder still. I watch her writhe in her seat, growing more agitated the further away that we get. “Damn it,” she fumes. These mountains are her holy land. They inspire songs and poems and musing. Leaving is not a geographic equation. She feels the separation.

In every corner of our home you will find a pile of rocks, mementos from our travels. And, in each pile, among all the other treasures, there is always a special rock, a mountain rock. She surrounds herself with mountains, even living on this great plain, a block away from a great lake. An artist knows where her power comes from.

She sits at her piano. She opens her computer to write. Surrounded by mountains, she composes. She feels the connection and it fills her with inspiration. Going home is not a geographic equation.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MOUNTAIN IN THE DISTANCE

 

 

roadtrip website box copy

 

 

 

 

Look To The Odds [on Two Artists Tuesday]

our two fingers copy

With every bizarre image comes a good story and that is certainly true of this odd affair.

A few hours after I dropped Kerri at the airport for her flight to Colorado I was cutting paper for a project. My x-acto knife wasn’t paying attention and rode up the ruler and through my left index finger. I bled so much that I decided NOT to tell Kerri. I didn’t want to worry her on her trip.

An hour later, walking around the house with my finger above my head, trying to get the bleeding to stop, a text came in from Kerri. She was cutting stems from daisies and the knife slipped. She cut a nasty gash in her left index finger. She was bleeding so much that she wanted me to know.

What are the odds? We calculated that our accidents happened within the same hour.

Our story is one of strange connectivity. We started paying attention to it when, long before we laid eyes on each other, we discovered that we had the same middle name.

What are the odds?

When we met, that first day at O’Hare International Airport, I stepped off the plane to find a woman dressed just like me (black sweater, jeans, boots,… The Truth: our closets are mostly identical – filled with blue jeans and black things though she has more variety in tops and waaaaaay more shoe choices).

What are the odds.

I won’t bore you with the now long list of weird coincidences and connectivity. Nowadays, when Kerri breaks her baby toe, as she does once a quarter, I immediately put on my steel toed boots and move slowly around the house.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LEFT INDEX FINGERS

 

wideopenmouths website box copy

 

 

(Y)Our Earth [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

Take a moment to take a look around you. A thought to ponder and share from the melange.

our earth FRAMED ART PRINT copy

Tibetan monks have been in residence this week at a local technical college. They are creating a mandala sand painting. For the monks, creating the mandala is a spiritual practice, a meditation. As they construct the design they contemplate the meaning of the symbols within the design. In other words, they are in a constant state of prayer while they create. They invite the community to enter the prayerful space and contemplate with them; the “space” is, of course, the essential part of their creation. More to the point, the shared space of peace, an intentional communal tranquility, is the creation. And, to make sure we grasp the point, the final step in their creative process is to blow the design away. Nothing is permanent. Beauty is passing and so are you and me. It is, we are, energy in motion. The process, rather than the product, is the meditation.

our earth SQ PILLOW copyWhen Kerri drew this design it immediately reminded me of the Earth’s currents, a perfect sentiment for the coming Earth Day celebrations. The essential convection currents that create our wind, our weather. The currents in the earth moving layers of magma, the transfer of energy in the heating and cooling of the ocean. Motion creates life, tosses up forms and pulls them down again. Motion is life, life is motion. And, in this mandala we call Earth, there is a deeper meditation found within the sand and the impermanence: it’s all connected. We are all connected. Blowing sands. The process, the quality of our participation in impermanence, is the art.

From studio melange, an earth day meditation: this is your/our earth.

THIS IS (Y)OUR EARTH reminders/merchandise

society 6 info jpeg copy

our earth TOTE BAG copy

OUR EARTH MUG copy

our earth IPHONE CASE copy

iphone cases

OUR EARTH BEACH TOWEL copy

a beach towel!

our earth LEGGINGS copy

(Y)Our Earth Leggings

read kerri’s blog post on (Y)Our Earth

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

 

this is (y)our earth ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Feel The Thunder

An untitled  watercolor I did years ago

an untitled watercolor from the archives

I am sitting alone in the back room of a coffeehouse. The room is dark because the day is dark with rain. It is hot and very humid. The building shakes with thunder and the voices in the front room drop to a whisper. I imagine the voice of the thunder inspires awe or at least a library-esque respect. After the rumble subsides, the volume is restored. People laugh again and talk in a tumble over each other until the next rumble quiets them.

I came to work. Good coffeehouses have always been productive places for me though today I’m distracted by the thunder. Like the other patrons, the angry sky has me on alert. It is nearly impossible to focus on my thoughts when the sky has so much to say. The truth is, I want to listen to it. I want it to stop all motion, to interrupt all the little things I deem important. I want to pay attention to what it has to say.

I remember listening to a recorded lecture of Joseph Campbell. He said that the voice of the thunder was probably humanity’s first experience of the godhead. In other words, when the sky talked, people listened. Long before the weather channel replaced the oracle, connectivity between human action and the elements was assumed. Our actions mattered. The gods communicated their pleasure or displeasure with us via sunshine or tsunami. Calm seas and good sailing were signs of approval. It is a marvel in the age of humanity blowing a hole in the ozone, pouring tons of carbon into the atmosphere, having created a Texas size floating trash site in the ocean, exhausting aquifers, etc., that we can in all seriousness debate whether or not we are having an impact. I wonder if in the age of the weather channel as oracle we have so disconnected from “our nature” (our connectivity) that the debate is less about impact and really about whether or not we matter at all. If we do not recognize that our actions have impact, that the smallest action ripples through the lives of others, how can we possibly expect our existence to matter? Mattering requires the understanding and experience of connectivity.

When was the last time that you felt connected to the bigger whole? In the end of the day, mattering (spirituality by another name) is a very practical thing. It is to feel connected. When was the last time you stopped and listened to the thunder? When was the last time you felt its rumble in your chest, or noticed how quiet you became when it spoke?

Gear Down, Baby!

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

When writing The Seer I showed the early chapters to some pals and the response was unanimous: break it down into smaller bites. The conceptual steps were too big for readers to connect the dots.”What!” I exclaimed. “Are you kidding me!” I protested. “Are you telling me that people need me to spell it out for them? Am I supposed to hit them on the head with a hammer?” I cried in disbelief to my bemused pals. Their response to my inner adolescent was, again, unanimous: yes. You need to go slower, take smaller steps, and come a bit closer to earth. The details matter. The job is not to be understood. The job is to create understanding.

After gnashing my teeth and tearing my clothes I took their sage advice. And, it was sage advice. The book that I published was comprised of only the first three chapters from the original manuscript broken into smaller thought-bites. Breaking it down was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done. Like Horton the-hearer-of-a-Who, I discovered complete new universes in the details, in the things I’d deemed too insignificant to mention or simply didn’t see with my head so firmly in the clouds. Ironically, while writing a book entitled The Seer, I learned a lesson in seeing.

Skip laughed when we first met. He’s a very-big-thinker and, like me, sees the world from 30,000 feet. He exclaimed, “Oh, No! You have the curse, too!” From 30,000 feet, small steps and details are almost invisible or easy to ignore. From 30,000 feet, everything is inter-related, one great big dynamic flowing motion. From 30,000 feet, the ubiquitous question is, “Don’t they see?” The runner-up question is, “What’s the problem?”

As we learned in school, the devil is in the details so, with my head in the clouds I have often been surprised by the detail-devil. People on the ground plant flags and guard territory. People on the ground choose sides and assume a defensive posture before thinking to ask a single question. Fear drives swifter action than does lofty reason. People are much more complex than they seem from the conceptual heights.

And, the only way of working with a complexity is through a simplicity. Connect the dots. Do not assume that “they” will “know” or “understand.” Do not assume that “they” see what I see or believe what I believe – or that what I see or believe is better or more valid than what they see. Opening a heart is a slow affair. Listening is best done when leaning in. Asking questions before making statements is good artistic process. Be a dot that connects to the other dots. Art, in all of its forms, is meant to serve as the great dot connector.

John's Secret by David Robinson

John’s Secret by David Robinson

Kerri, no stranger to my 30,000 foot rants, has developed a short-hand phrase for those too-many-moments when I need to move slower and pay attention to the details. She is helping me with this life lesson by applying a simplicity to my complexity. Now, when I have assumed that the dots are already connected and am perplexed by the breakdown, she simply says, “gear down, baby.” Move to a lower gear and open your eyes. Connection always happens in a lower gear. What is really there is infinitely more important (and often more beautiful) than what we want to be there. Releasing the “shoulds” opens eyes and hearts for shared experiences. So, gear down, baby.

 

End And Begin

Sand SpiralSome fragments of thought on common story phrases (and life):

Once upon a time. It started. The Big Bang! Movement from a single point, a center. Adventure requires a movement from center, a venture away from the known to the question. Moving from center implies imbalance and opens the possibility for a more expansive center. Here’s the paradox of moving from center: balance is everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. Every person is the center of their unique story. That will always be true: who else could star in your personal movie? Yet stories, in order to move, require imbalance. You know who you are, you lose who you are, you find who you are. Cells divide and divide again. The division is necessary for new forms to take shape. The encoding is already in there somewhere. The same is true of stories.

This is like that. Comparison. Simile. Metaphor. Analogy. It is why stories work. We compare ourselves to the protagonist. We are like him or her. Why do we tell the same stories again and again? Because we recognize ourselves in the story. Stories are like glue that binds a community. It’s why marketing works. To be more complete, you must buy this or wear that. Be like…. It’s all a story and in that way it is all made up, every category, every interpretation (see Once Upon a Time, The Big Bang, etc.).

And so the story goes. Chaos to order, order to chaos, generation to generation, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring,…. This morning on our walk we watched parents take photos of their children as they returned to school. Backpacks, new clothes, and packed lunches; it’s the first day back. “Do you remember doing that for your kids?” I asked Kerri. She said, “It seems like yesterday.” It seems like yesterday when I was wearing new clothes and walking to school.

The End? An End? “The End” is definitive, singular. The Big Bang was a beginning but was it also an end? The end of one form is usually the beginning of another. Endings always lead to Once Upon A Time, don’t they? It depends upon where you stand or who’s telling the story or how you define yourself.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Go here for all digital forms of The Seer.

Eve, by David Robinson

Eve, by David Robinson

Go here for fine art prints (and other cool stuff) of my paintings.

Give Yourself Some Advice (3)

A younger version of myself rehearsing for The Creatures of Prometheus. The tats are fake!

A younger version of me rehearsing for The Creatures of Prometheus with The Portland Chamber Orchestra. The tattoos are fake!

[continued from GIVE YOURSELF SOME ADVICE (2)]

Here’s the third and final section of Horatio’s Advice To Myself. He sent it to me in an email last week. Horatio is one of my dear companions in art and artistry and I was so moved by his words that I asked him if I might post his thoughts. Were I still teaching young artists, this would be required reading:

Do not make work that attempts to control others. That is only advertising or propaganda and sustains no one. Make work that connects to others. That is sustaining. 

Do not make work that exalts yourself alone. That separates you from others.

Walking is good for you. Eating and sleeping are good for you. Loving is good for you. All those things sustain and heal you. Make your work like those other things. That kind of work is good for you, and for everyone.

Bragging is not good for you, or for anyone.

Never work in order to be famous or get rich. Never confuse your work with either one of those false goals, even though either or both may come your way.

Fame and riches are burdens and require a whole set of tools and abilities not at all related to the work that may have brought you fame and riches. No one but a very small minority of the rich and famous and a few visionary souls who are not rich or famous understand this. It may be the greatest false idol of human self-fulfillment of all time.

Time is the only asset that really matters. Value and prioritize it. You also need enough food and shelter, which usually means money. But enough is enough. That’s all that matters.

Having enough money for food and shelter is a necessity of doing good work. You have no choice but to figure something out. There are many paths. 

You will make bad choices. Learn from them. Forgive yourself so you can make other choices. Keep pursuing the real work.

You will waste effort and time. You will do work you don’t like. Everyone does. Try again.

All good work contains a discovery, something necessary for human life, even if it’s only that you need to drink water. 

All good work shows how we are all human, both you and your audience, that you connect, that you are the same.

All good work shows that it matters that we are all the same.

[to learn more about Horatio’s films or to read the complete Advice, visit www.Fidalgofilms.com]

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Go here for hard copies.