Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

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Sail The Silence [on KS Friday]

SILENT DAYS song box copy

Albert used to come by my studio each evening and pick me up. He knew me well and feared my studio solitude. He’d take me to a coffee house and sit with me until I recovered my capacity to converse. He’d wait until I was capable of crawling out of my silence. We’d laugh when I finally “returned.”

He was right to fear. I didn’t know at that time that the work of an artist – the real work – is to comprehend and navigate their silence. To sail the immensity. We live in this odd age of the individual so an artist’s life is often like solo spelunking. So many get lost in their caves – as I almost did – or their fame (same thing).

My brother-from-a-different-mother recently directed a play. It was a great success. He wrote in the midst of his play’s triumph to tell me how hard he has to work at giving himself any credit. He wrote, “It’s amazing to think how *surprising* that might be for non-artists…” Silence, as he knows, is vast. It is bigger than any single person. When a work of art comes from the vastness it is nearly impossible to claim it. I didn’t tell him that his wrestling match is the mark of a mature artist. How do you claim the ocean or the universe? Success for an artist, unlike the success of a dentist or business person, is an infinite game.

Kerri’s SILENT DAYS could be the soundtrack for the infinite game, sailing into the immensity of the silence. She knows its yearning and awe and brings it back to share with us. I tell myself that she composed SILENT DAYS so others, unfamiliar with their silence, might catch even a small glimpse of life in the boundless places.

 

 

SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SILENT DAYS

 

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silent days/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

Smile [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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When we started our Two Artists Tuesday designs, our subtitle was “Making Stuff for Humans.” We used the word “stuff” loosely. The idea was to bring smiles. we were rooted in whimsy (something I constantly need to practice…).

Over the course of Studio Melange, our idea has morphed. The “stuff” we bring is not only our designs but our experiences as well. And, our latest experience was a riot of fun and the first of many Sip-N-Strums. What could be better than a beginner’s lesson with wine. It makes a good house party, a killer corporate event (we can teach anything through this magical instrument), as well as a fun night out. Whimsy, whimsy, whimsy in a world of whipped up division, ugly partisan fighting and a dedicated focus on the dark things. The ukulele is good medicine.

The ukulele is smile producing. It is impossible to pick it up without feeling playful. Even if you are being forced to play, as one unsuspecting husband was when he came to the Iron Depot Winery with his wife, only to discover that he’d stepped into a ukulele trap. He was in stage-one-full-resistance-mode until he picked up that little green ukulele. Once he wrapped his big bear paws around that little instrument it was all sip-n-smiles from that moment forward.

The quote on our site captures it best. “The ukulele is a portal through which only happy people can pass.” I’d offer this thought as well: the ukulele is a portal through which grumpy people enter their happy place. It is good stuff for humans.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SIP-N-STRUM

 

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Savor Good Moments [on KS Friday]

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When you find yourself wondering what it’s all about, play this game: fill in the blank, “In this life I have….” Fill in the blank again and again and again, searching your memory banks for all the magic, mysterious, and miraculous experiences you’ve enjoyed. The good moments.

I like this game because, inevitably, I arrive at the realization that the good moments are the smallest of moments. Although swimming with whales or seeing the northern lights are miraculous, the really good good moments are first kisses, watching your baby sleep, holding hands after the storm passes. Laughing hysterically with friends just because.

Kerri’s composition, Good Moments, is a musical river of small moments, quiet yearning, tender touches, the smell of autumn leaves. Play the game and begin with Good Moments. It will transport you back. It will unlock the door to your memory bank. It will also help you realize that this moment – this very moment – is a very good moment, indeed.

 

GOOD MOMENTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD MOMENTS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 2

 

good moments/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Design A Single Week

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This image took my breath away when Kerri showed me. And so, we decided to share it.

A brief explanation: many weeks ago, standing amidst the stacks of music, paintings, cartoons, and designs that we’d created, work that populated proposals & submission after submission after submission but had yet to find an audience, we decided to create our own channel to share it. We called the channel “the melange,” a medley, a daily offer of a design, cartoon, painting or piece of music and the thoughts they inspired in us. We launched it 14 weeks ago.

And, because we are artists trying to make a living, we established a product line through society6.com for each day of the melange [if a painting is out of reach perhaps a cool tote bag or fine art print is more accessible]. This morning, as we prepared the multiple sites and completed our writing for the upcoming week’s melange, Kerri showed me a compilation image of all the products she’d designed just THIS WEEK!

Look at this image and multiply what you see by 14 weeks. Breathless. And so much fun.

ROOT IN LOVE product line [chicken marsala monday]

SHINE product line [two artists tuesday]

SO MUCH POSSIBILITY product line [flawed cartoon wednesday]

CLOSELY I WILL HOLD YOU product line [dr thursday]

FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS product line [ks friday]

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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 FRAMED ART PRINT copy

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

forever and ever LEGGINGS copy

‘forever and ever’ leggings

forever and ever MUG copy

 

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

KS Friday

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Always With Us (track 14)

Kerri and I had a few days off. I’d never seen Door County so we jumped in the car and headed, as the folks around here like to say, “up north.” On our way back we stopped to say hello to Hans the music producer. Kerri and Hans have been for years dancing around producing an album together. Hans is also an amazing cellist. He gave us a tour through his recording studio and invited Kerri to give his studio piano a try. She sat and began to play. He sat at his cello and joined her. My mouth dropped open and I started to cry. Artistry, when it is pure, does that to me. I found myself standing in a sacred space created by two consummate musicians who were simply doing what they were born to do. They had no idea I was stunned to tears. They were playing around. They were having fun. They played together for about an hour, Hans dashing in and out to get different instruments to noodle around with, Kerri playing whatever came through the channel. I sat in the corner and tried to keep breathing.

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Always With Us [solo piano version, track 2]

No recording exists of that day. I would listen to it every day if it did. It was spontaneous and as holy and temporary as a sand painting. On the drive home I tried to describe my experience to Kerri and asked her why she and Hans had never recorded together. “It costs a lot of money to record, ” she said, adding, “and, nowadays, with people streaming music instead of buying it, there’s almost no way to recoup the investment. It’s better to enjoy the process, to have fun playing with someone like Hans.”

I remembered that day with Hans when we chose Always With Us for this week’s melange. It turns out that our melange conversation this week has been all about artistic process: stepping blindly, having faith, landing in pot holes, making bold offers, capturing moments, and most importantly, treasuring the relationship with “something bigger” that comes through when the artist(s) step out of the way and something sacred happens.

ALWAYS WITH US from the album AS IT IS (track 14) iTunes

ALWAYS WITH US from the album AS IT IS (track 14) CDBaby

ALWAYS WITH US from the album ALWAYS WITH US (track 2) iTunes

ALWAYS WITH US from the album ALWAYS WITH US (track 2) CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD: ALWAYS WITH US v. 1

 

KS DESIGNS on society6.com

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always with us LEGGINGS copy

always with us FRAMED ART copy

always with us COFFEE MUG copy

always with us TOTE BAG copy

read Kerri’s thoughts on ALWAYS WITH US

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kerrianddavid.com

ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS, ALWAYS WITH US v.1 ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood