Reflect On It [on KS Friday]

her palette - the piano copy

I so loved Kerri’s post yesterday that, today, I’m reflecting it back to her.

Do we ever really know what it takes to do someone else’s job? We don’t know the tools used, the research done, the years of training and experience, how someone perceives their own work. We can only guess and, most often, fall desperately, arrogantly, audaciously off the mark.

Kerri’s piano dominates her studio. A black 6’7″ Yamaha grand. It is not a show piece, it is a workhorse. Littering the music stand are stacks of composition notebooks, idea journals, sketches (she is visual) and pile after pile of church music – old hymnals, new downloads of pieces she’s considering for her ukulele band, choir or handbell choir. On the floor are several heavy binders arranged in alphabetical order with the music already played, binders from the 30 years of experience as a minister of music. There is yet another stack reserved for pieces she’s considering playing with Jim, her brilliant guitarist. Lining the walls are ukuleles, a few guitars, a cello, a keyboard, several music stands, more stacks of the original recordings of her albums (note: they are not stored as sacred artifacts. Rather, they are piled willy-nilly for easy reference). My wife is a Yamaha artist (look it up) and her constantly shifting studio topography (ever-moving piles) is testament to the music in her soul, her very-long history of artistry.

Now, I’ve sung a song or two in the shower. When I met Kerri I told her that I didn’t sing and she fairly quickly called my bluff. I sing in her choir. I delight in singing with her and Jim. They are kind and pretend that I add something to their mix. Nowadays I can even pick out a slow tune on the ukulele!

All of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how Kerri plays or composes. I can pluck a note. I can warble a song. I will, however, never have mastery of all the instruments, I will never approach her capacity to transpose on the fly, or compose poetry and melody. I will never hear the nuance she hears, the music of silence. I do not have a natural gift of music nor an entire lifetime to exercise and explore it.

I do not know the tricks of the trade she has accumulated over decades of honing her expertise. Nor do I know the knowledge base she brings about other artists, other musicians and compositions, the instrumentation, the way she ‘feels’ an audience and adjusts, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions she has learned through many, many years of study and practice. I can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes (or doesn’t take) for her to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create. I can respond to her work but I cannot define it, nor would it be credible for me to even try to do so. Out of respect for her work, this ‘music’ that is one of the essential things that define her, I know that I really have no idea. I will never approach all that she knows. What I can do is appreciate the enormity of her talent, the endless hours of study, pursuit, practice, passion, experimentation, frustration, rehearsal, writing, performance, teaching, research, recording, pondering, pounding and playing and playing and playing – a lifetime of experience – that has brought her to this place where she creates beautiful music that seems to take no effort whatsoever.

Making it look easy. It takes a lifetime. The woman who delivers our mail has been a postal carrier for 30 years. It is hubris to think I know what that takes. It is utter arrogance to think I could pick up a mailbag and simply know what she knows, do what she does. Experience is invisible. Value is too easily reduced to dollars and cents. As Kerri wrote yesterday, with regard to anyone, the work they do, the life-path they bring to their work, we have no idea. It is both humbling and respectful to take a step back and consider the invisible, to remember that what appears easy comes from years and years of very hard work.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on KS FRIDAY

 

 

their palettes website box copy

 

Lose Your Right Mind [on Merely A Thought Monday]

in your right mind copy

I have made some incredibly bad decisions in my life that set off a chain of events that led to some extraordinary, life-illuminating experiences. Conversely, I have made some incredibly good, well-considered decisions that led me to total devastation. My life reads like one of Aesop’s Fables.

The “bad” decisions were “irrational” and “spontaneous” and some of my pals  questioned whether or not I was in my “right” mind.

The “good” decisions were “rational” and I was lauded for using common sense, for my clear-eyed, right-minded logic.

Intuition, following your gut, listening to your heart has very little to do with the rightness of mind.

Back in the previous century (20 years ago), educators were awash in the term “the mainstream.” Getting divergent students back into the mainstream was the stated goal of most alternative education programs. Doug, my hero of the alternative path, champion of finding the stream that worked for the student (as opposed to channeling all students back into a single stream), used to snarl, “I’d love to see this mainstream if someone would be kind enough to point it out to me.” (note: this is not a direct quote as I’ve cleaned up Doug’s language for my less sturdy readers).

In mythology it is called the left-hand path, this route that makes no sense to adherents of the mainstream. The left-hand path is intuitive and counter-intuitive, all at the same time. It seems nonsensical to sail toward the edge of the known world. Explorers, artists, innovators, mystics, must take this road less traveled. They must wander off the main and cut a new path. They must. Their fellows will wonder if they’ve taken leave of their senses. Left their right mind. The answer: no. They are following a deeper call, something speaking to their senses. They’ve left a mainstream that appears to them like total madness.

If logic is your compass it is, of course, best to stay on the road well-traveled. If safety and security is your goal, then a known path holds what you seek.

If knowing where you’re going sounds a lot like a death sentence, then leaving your right mind for a left-hand path is the only choice that makes sense.

Truth? I think the right-mind is bit of rhetoric that has little to do with the realities of being human. We find the rational side of things comfortable so it gets good marks. No one gets a cake-walk in this life. Everyone has a mountain to climb, a valley to get lost in, a spontaneous jump to make, a gut feeling, a heart to be listened to – and some of the worst impulsive decisions inevitably lead to the most profound growth experiences. It is only after the fact, when we need to make sense of our nonsensical leap, our follow-the-heart choice, that we call on the “right” mind to make the story coherent. Just ask Aesop.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about RIGHT MIND

 

 

footprints in sunlit snow website box copy

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.

 

earth interrupted VII copy 2

earth interrupted VII,    mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

if you'd like to see david robinson.. copy

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

 

facebook logo copy 2

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

Unleash Your Crayon [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

unleashthepower WITH EYES jpeg copy“…art is a staple of humankind – never a by product of leisure or elitism – and so urgent, so utterly linked with the pulse of feeling that it becomes the singular sign of life when every other aspect of civilization fails.” ~ Jamake Highwater, The Language of Vision

Many years ago I was excited to move into a new studio. Many people in my circle responded to my news in the same way: “Oh God! That’s too much pressure! Now you’ll have to use it!”

I wish I could say that I was dumbfounded by the common response but I wasn’t. As a coach, I wish I could count the number of clients I had who spent many hours and huge dedication of resources to fulfill their dream of having a studio – only to fear walking into it. They thought the lack of a studio was the obstacle and discovered that the real challenge was the banishment of their imagination, the leash they’d placed on their full expression.

Taking off the leash is a daunting affair. It means facing the reasons the leash seemed necessary in the first place. An imagination placed on a leash does not go away, it turns to dark imaginings. It eats itself. It separates. It isolates.

Art is not something that can be approached through reason. It is much more essential, much more primal than intellect alone can reach.  It is accessed through the heart door. The intuitive knowing. Yoda would call it the force.

So, thankfully, the leash cannot be taken off by thinking about it. Experience. Express. Follow. Listen. Feel. Breathe. Reach. Do. And, feel some more. In feeling, in an unbridled imagination, there is connection. There is possibility. There is expansion of spirit and capacity. There is – and this is the power of art – the force that creates community.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

read Kerri’s blog post about UNLEASHING THE POWER OF YOUR CRAYON

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

unleash the poser of your crayon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

Have Wings [on DR Thursday]

wings copy

This painting jumped to the canvas fully formed. It announced itself and I simply opened the door. It was not what I’d intended  to paint when I entered the studio. I had a wholly different idea In Mind. I’ve learned that the best work has very little to do with what I have In Mind. The best work comes from the other place, the place available when Mind steps out of the way.

Meditation, prayer, inner reaching….is a theme I loop back to again and again. Lately, I’ve been pondering what happens when we cease searching for peace and instead simply bring it. What if prayer/meditation was not a quest for center, a search for inner peace or quiet mind? What if there was no separation? What if prayer/meditation was a bringing to the surface of the peace that already exists? What if you need not search for it because it is already here? What if, like this painting, that place is available when we stop listening to a Mind that tells us the center is lost, that peace is somewhere over there?

I suspect my pondering produced this painting. Kerri calls it Winged.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on WINGED

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

winged ©️ david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Wiggle Your Toes [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

magicisnotanexactscience jpegBIG copy 2

I hear Quinn laughing, “No one really knows what they are doing!” That’s cold comfort when being rolled into surgery or sitting with my mouth wide open in the dentist’s chair. I have to admit, his laughter was infectious and I usually find myself laughing when I realize too late (again) the upside AND downside of the seed he planted so long ago in my philosophy.

Yesterday’s Two Artists post was about trust. Today’s Flawed Cartoon is a mirthful reminder of what happens when you don’t listen to that inner voice that says, “Don’t get into that box!”

 

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAGIC IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

magic is not an exact science ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Make Time For Clouds [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

maketimeforclouds WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

It seems almost too obvious: in clouds possibilities can be found. Castles take shape, cartoon characters roll into horses racing, dragons and dinosaurs. Loved ones whisper. Memories shimmer. Imagination beckons, intuition taps at the door. Ideas take shape.

Some might say that making time for clouds is a waste of time. Most likely those are people blind to the necessity of clouds. They are caught in a steely net, believing they have to make all the trains run on time. They believe wholeheartedly that they don’t have enough time to get it all done. Don’t tell them, but time is not concerned with train schedules or daily achievements. Time passes with no investment in our loss or gain. Time requires no management, middle, upper, or otherwise. Time is made of soft stuff, fluffy and relational, modifying according to the needs of its audience.

Time given to clouds makes Chicken wax poetic. It refreshes him. It quiets him. It reminds him that he, too, is as temporary as a cloud, ever moving, shape shifting through his passage, tickled when someone makes time to notice all the possibilities he inspires.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAKING TIME FOR CLOUDS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

make time for clouds ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Have A Conversation

my quick sketches of two of the stained glass window panels

my quick sketches of two of the stained glass window panels

Yesterday I learned that my conversation with the stained glass window was only on hiatus. Several months ago we simply stopped talking. In the silence I thought the conversation was complete. For almost two years we had a weekly chat. I took lots of notes.

I recognize that one is not supposed to have chats with windows – at least not admit to it. Master Marsh teased me saying, “There’s help for things like this.” I’ve decided that my conversation with the window is more ordinary than odd: plenty of people around the world talk to statues. Most of us have had silent reckoning with the sky. I’ve witnessed mechanics talking to their tools and bakers wooing their dough. Who hasn’t cursed the object of a home fix-it job-gone-wrong (plumbing regularly gets a tongue lashing from me!) or praised a project done well? Traffic gets a regular talking to. In this region, at this time of year, more than a few brides make deals with the weather. A soul in exchange for sunshine.

Who hasn’t, in a moment of turmoil, looked inside themselves and asked for help? Who hasn’t uttered a quiet thank you or asked for guidance or made an appeal? Call it prayer, meditation, epiphany, catharsis, intuition, gut instinct, reading the signs, hearing the call, or communing with nature, it’s a conversation.

I’m not the only artist – or scientist for that matter – that, in moments of flow, feels as if something bigger is coming through. In that sense, all of my paintings might serve as the record of a conversation with something bigger. Writers often speak about having the experience of the characters writing themselves, of following rather than creating. Following, surrendering, allowing, listening, responding, getting out of the way. Play the chords long enough and you no longer need to think about them. In the land beyond thinking about it, music becomes possible. It’s a conversation.

Sitting on the chancel, listening to Kerri play, I stared as I often do at the morning light pouring through the colored glass. I studied the symbols. Birth and death. Tree of knowledge, Tree of Everlasting Life. The Grail standing between two flames. It’s a repetition in symbol of the same idea. Born into an experience of duality and distinctions, a world fighting over its differences, we have the opportunity to walk the middle path, the unity consciousness, the “something bigger.” “Between the two, one,” I the heard the window whisper. “It’s simple, really.”

a quick sketch of all three panels: birth, death, and the middle way.

a quick sketch of all three panels: birth, death, and the middle way.

Save

Thoughts Babble. Hearts Speak.

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

Thoughts Babble Hearts Speak

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is cut through the mental chatter, the fear stories and investments in obstacles to hear what your heart already knows: what is right for you…. Cutting through the racket is always a process of growing quiet enough to listen.

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.