Chase The Bubbles [on DR Thursday]

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Some paintings don’t make it to the finish line and I suspect that this painting, Chasing Bubbles, will be one of those. I’ve been working on and off with it for weeks and that’s the problem. I’m not paying enough consistent attention to the painting to actually develop it into something good. Like an absent father I return to it every once in a while and wonder why the relationship isn’t progressing.

The playwright John Guare said that writers need to write ten bad pages to get one good page. Remove failure from the equation. Place the emphasis on the process and not on the product. Experiment. Play. Make strong offers.

The same principle is the reason why actors rehearse or artists do drawing exercises and rough drafts. A photographer for National Geographic (whose name escapes me) said that he shoots a thousand shots to get one really good photograph.

For an artist, silly notions like perfection interrupt the necessity of flow.

Kerri just thumped me. She looked over my shoulder and read what I was writing. “I like this painting!” she declared. She wants a stay of execution. She rapidly listed all of the reasons why I shouldn’t paint over it. “At least consider it,” she said, glaring at me.

I will consider it. After all, that is exactly what I have been doing. Considering whether or not to keep working it or start anew. Trying to find a way, given my spotty attention, to bring life to this Frankenstein. In either case, I am certain of one thing: this bad page will eventually lead to something good.

 

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Chasing Bubbles in process or perhaps in its last hours (thump).

read Kerri’s blog post about CHASING BUBBLES

 

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chasing bubbles (for better or worse) ©️ 2019 david robinson

Love The Mud [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” ~ Picasso

It would seem to be a no-brainer. Mastery comes from a lifetime of doing. Trial and error. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule: success is nothing more than practicing the task for many hours over many years. As the old joke goes, it’s how you get to Carnegie Hall.

Efficiency. Ease. Body knowledge. Body of Knowledge. Flow. Wisdom. The blossoms of a long-body of experiences. The farmer, over a lifetime of living and working the same plot of land, knows the signs that no one else can see. They sense the storm coming. They smell the time for planting. They waste no time; their 10,000 hours having developed a solid relationship, a kinship with their environment and work.

An artist, over a lifetime of living and working the same plot of music or paint or dance, knows the signs that no one else can see. Artistry is efficiency, a single line saying more than 20. A musical phrase capable of reaching deeper into hearts than was once possible. Like the farmer, their 10,000 hours becomes 20,000 and then 30,000. Their worth, their work, after so many hours of hands in the soil or fingers on the keys, is incalculable.

Awash in abstractions, organizations play by a different set of understandings. Bottom lines are blind to mastery. You’d be amazed (or not) at how many people I know who’ve been “let go” because a younger, less expensive person, might “fill the role” and “cost less.” Mastery as deficit. You’d  be astounded (or not) at how many people I’ve coached who were punished because they became highly efficient. Their life-of-experience made their work look too easy. They were either squeezed for more or released as unnecessary.

What happens when all of the organizational knowledge, the ease and efficiency that comes via experience, becomes a liability? Wearing my consulting hat I’d routinely shake my head at the standard folly of leadership – people in power suits and ties a hundred miles from the dust and grit of the boots-on-the-ground – determining with pencil and paper the time and worth of a task. Abstracting the worth of a life. Budgetary efficiency driving the carefully calculated undervaluation of experience. Actual efficiency red-lined by abstract efficiency. As John would say, “Penny wise and pound foolish.”

Maturity in season of life. It comes from a job description that came across Kerri’s desk. Maturity as a job requirement! A search for someone with the experience necessary to paint like a child. Seeking the mastery that results from years and years of plowing the same fields.

I wonder if the hiring committee merely tossed out flowery language or actually understood that their ideal candidate would come through the door with boots made muddy from a lifetime of walking the fields?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MATURITY IN SEASON OF LIFE

 

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Make The Climb [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Roger and I used to talk about art in terms of levels of sophistication. For instance, no one masters an instrument the first time they pick one up. There are layers of learning necessary before the musician “knows” how to play. The “knowing” has little to do with the accumulation of information and everything to do with giving over to what the body learns. Finally, it is a letting go (of the mind) into an undefended sharing. Flow. It has nothing to do with knowing and everything to do with availability. This ‘availability to experience’ is what we called sophistication.

Both the artist and the audience pass through layers of greater sophistication. The artist wants greater and greater challenges. The audience wants greater and greater challenges, that is, they want to participate in something that demands more from them. It requires that both artist and audience show up, open, give over. Union is the ultimate purpose of art. Participation in something greater than your self. That is how art informs and transforms.

And then, there is the flip side, the anti-art. You can feel it. The absence of the genuine experience. The demonstration of accumulated knowledge. I cringe when a curator launches a three-masted-ship-of-study that tells me what the art is about, what the artist felt, and what I should see and feel. When the actor attempts to control what I see, when the art is so conceptual that it precludes me or anyone save the artist from entering the conversation, when the  knowledge priest stands between me and my god…you’ll know the levels of sophistication have left the building when the conversation is one way, judged, controlled.

Kerri calls this the blah-blah. When a real moment is disrupted by an agenda, when the flow is dammed by an unnecessary display of knowledge. And, the kicker is, we are all guilty of it. I am. It is a necessary step in climbing the ladder of sophistication, slipping back down the ladder of sophistication. To confuse technique with art. To garble the necessity of the open heart with  the realm of the intellectually abstract.  To give a standing ovation to something that put you to sleep. To try to control what the other person sees or thinks or feels; a fool’s errand. The great artist trap. The great life trap.

And, the best you can do (truly, the best thing), is to catch yourself in the moment of blah-blah, laugh at yourself lost in the trap, pull out the ladder, and begin again to climb toward simplicity.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AN UNNECESSARY DISPLAY OF KNOWLEDGE

 

 

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Stop At The Beginning [on DR Thursday]

Aqua Agua Mit Rouge. Kerri laughed and clapped her hands when she named this morsel. It is a process snapshot of the early under-painting, the base layer of what would become Earth Interrupted VII. It is loose, fluid and free. It is a special layer – a visual marker of what happens before my thinking mind kicks in. Free. Fluid. Loose. Flow. For me, the first moments of painting are all intuition.

More and more I am learning from these morsels. I’ve spent countless hours gazing at finished paintings asking myself how I might grow, become a better painter. Reach into deeper pools of experience. It is only recently – because of the morsels – that I am spending time gazing at my process, the previously unconscious parts, and asking the same questions. How do I grow? Become better? Become more Fluid? Loose? Free?

The answer of the moment is as funny as it is clear: stop at the beginning. See through the eyes of intuition, feel your way forward. Stop before that talky brain weighs in with all manner of blah blah blah.

 

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earth interrupted VII,    mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

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STAY TUNED! The FALL VIRTUAL GALLERY SALE starts this weekend. An announcement is coming!

read Kerri’s blog post about AQUA AGUA MIT ROUGE

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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aqua agua mit rouge/earth interuppted vii ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Find Your Poetry Tree [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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I stood before a school board and found myself defending daydreaming. I’d piloted an experiential learning program in the district and the board wanted to ensure my students would be “nose-to-the-grindstone” every moment of every day.

Learning (a creative process) has nothing to do with grindstones. Constant activity, rote exercises and busy-work-for-the-sake-of-busy-work may give the appearance of learning but that’s about it. People learn when in the pursuit of something real and my students were making movies, writing plays or starting businesses. Staring out of the window, I explained, was not only valuable but necessary. I wasn’t making excuses. I had brain science and learning theory to back me up.

There are very good reasons that most “aha moments” happen in the shower, while driving, or, like my students, staring out a window. Inner-space and quiet are necessary ingredients for insight. A good gaze out the window is, in actuality, an inward look, it’s a mental walkabout, a mind-stroll that allows a noisy brain to take a breath and let the logjam of thoughts to relax and flow.

Quinn used to tell me to cultivate my serendipity. He meant that I should open myself to insight, to make myself available to surprises and possibilities, to the utter magic of “where did that idea come from?” Opening yourself requires a good window or, like Chicken, a special poetry tree. On this Chicken Marsala Monday, get your nose off the grindstone, find your poetry tree, and allow the insights to find you.

POETRY TREE gifts and reminders

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Read Kerri’s blog post about FIND YOUR POETRY TREE

www.kerrianddavid.com

find your poetry tree ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

find your poetry tree designs/products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Slow Motion Rain [On DR Thursday]

A DR Thursday dance  from studio melange

MASTERlarger slowmotionrain copy 3It seems my life these days is one big meditation on “not forcing” outcomes. I’ve been here before so I suspect this falls in the category of “life lessons.”

The Chinese have a term for this meditation: wu wei. Do nothing. In creative communities it’s known as flow. Athletes train, actors rehearse, but when opening night comes or race day dawns, the advice is always the same. Let go. Trust the work. In other words, cease pushing and get out of your own way.

Working from tension, pushing too hard for outcomes, causes injury. It jams flow.

The final pose at the end of a yoga practice is called savasana, or corpse pose. It is to surrender, not in the sense of giving up but more of giving over. It is a release of tension. My Earth Interrupted paintings have become for me a kind of savasana, a letting go. As Jim used to teach me, you’ll know you are in “that” place of flow when it feels like a dance of giving and receiving and you have no need to distinguish which side of the dance you are on. Both/and. Give/receive.

Kerri calls this morsel “Slow Motion Rain.” It comes from a moment of dance. Or, as we like to say in our house, “Woo Wee!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slow motion rain product box BAR jpeg copySLOW MOTION RAIN gifts and cool products

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earth interrupted IV ~ mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

read Kerri’s blog Post on SLOW MOTION RAIN

www.kerrianddavid.com

slow motion rain designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

earth interrupted iv ©️ 2018 david robinson

KS Friday

andgoodnightjacket copy 2“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” ~Pablo Picasso

Every artist knows that technique is necessary but artistry is not the application of technique. Artistry is transcending technique. Technique is tangible. It is possible to practice scales and study color theory. It is possible to grasp that different brushes do different things. There are bottom lines in technique, reductions and rules and complications.

Artistry is intangible. It is flow. It is expansive. It is simplicity and simplicity is so hard to achieve. It is one of those paradoxes I love to write about, the zones where truth bubbles precisely because it cannot be contained.

The first night we met Kerri played her piano for me. I will never forget it. This slight woman stepped up to her piano (she rarely sits when playing) and all reality shifted. She grew. She filled the room. I swear I saw her send an energy-root into the earth and she opened. What came through was…enormous. What came through was simple.

This lullaby, Kerri’s original piece, I Will Hold You (Forever & Ever) from her album AND GOODNIGHT, could certainly be played by a technician and you would appreciate it. Now, for your KS Friday from the melange, listen to what an artist can do. Sit back and give over to the simplicity.

I WILL HOLD YOU (FOREVER & EVER) from AND GOODNIGHT (track 25) iTunes

also available on CDBaby

 

And because she couldn’t resist designing with this title for babies or weddings or anyone you love, I WILL HOLD YOU (FOREVER & EVER) products.

 

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forever and ever SQ PILLOW copy   forever and ever RECT PILLOW copy

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read kerri’s blog post about I WILL HOLD YOU (FOREVER & EVER)

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kerrianddavid.com

 

i will hold you (forever & ever), and goodnight ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood