Balance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

prayer flags 1 copy

Each day we sit on the deck and watch the personality of the lake change. We are witness to the power of the elements at play. Wind drives wave. Wave evaporates and moves wind. Lighting hits earth. Rain feeds the plants. Too much rain, too much wind, too much fire, devastates.

Balancing the elements. It is the central thought in many traditions. The cardinal directions are associated with a color and an element. North, south, east, west. Air, fire, water, earth. People need associations in order to talk about things. In order to know where they fit.

The colors differ from tradition to tradition. Sometimes black, white, red, and yellow. Sometimes blue, green, yellow, red. Sometimes there is a fifth element. There is always a center. When there is the understanding of center point there is also an acknowledgment that separations, experiences like north, south, east and west, are illusions.

Balance is a radically different intention than dominance. Taming-your-nature is not the same as balancing-your-nature. In the tame-your-nature idea, nature, your nature, is corrupt and needs to be controlled. In the balance-your-nature idea, your nature is neither good nor bad, it is a dance of energy, a push-pull of wind and fire, air and earth. In the balance-your-nature idea, there is no such thing as “wild.” because there is no intention to “tame.”

As you might imagine, the artist that explores the tame-your-nature mindset understands their artistry much differently than the artist that explores balance. I was born into and oriented toward the culture of tame-your-nature and so I divine through brush and story the push-pull between goodness and badness. Combat, combat everywhere. Right/wrong. Us/Them. Good enough/lacking.

I desire to see through the other lens. I suspect this desire is the epicenter, the driver behind my paintings. To understand the world I inhabit as energies at play, to know beyond an intellectual understanding that the distinctions don’t really exist; wind is not separate from water, earth is not separate from fire, people are not separate from planet. Illusion. Our division is a play of shadow puppets at best.

I think it is why we hang prayer flags at our littleislandhouse and at our home. Surrounded by combat, we are drawn by the desire to balance, we are enticed by the possibility of harmony.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PRAYER FLAGS

 

 

 

 

skylake website box copy

 

island prayer flags photograph ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

Frame It [on DR Thursday]

classic framed copy 2

Meaning is made through a frame of reference. Concepts of time, of nature, of community, of the divine, are not universal. They are local and they provide the distinct frame through which individual and communal experience is interpreted. No one reaches the age of 2 without the installation of a frame.

What we call truth is largely a result of the frame we see through. For instance, is it best to protect the rights of the individual or the needs of the community? The preference largely depends upon what kind of society is asking the question, individualistic or communal.

Frames pop forward certain aspects and make other aspects retreat. Put a frame on a painting and various colors and shapes seem to stand out. Put another frame on the same painting and entirely different shapes and colors dominate. The same is true of every lived experience. Mood is a passing frame. Expectation is a made-up frame.

One day, for grins, Kerri and I took a few paintings to the frame store to see how they might change. CLASSIC was one of the paintings we took that day. I had an entirely different vision for what would make it sing. I’m generally not a fan of big frames but, when Kerri placed CLASSIC in a heavy, slightly ornate choice, I nearly fell over. Not only did CLASSIC sing, but it surprised us with an aria. Gorgeous. Grounded. The frame brought forward the simplicity.

I love it when my paintings blow back on me and I see them again as if for the first time. That is the gift of a frame: the opportunity to see again.

 

classic framed copy 2

yoga series: classic, 20 x 16IN

read Kerri’s blog post about CLASSIC

 

 

feet on dashboard website box copy

 

yoga series: classic ©️ 2013 david robinson

 

Love The Journey [on KS Friday]

tpotj song box copy

This morning, sitting on the steps off the back deck, sipping coffee, DogDog sniffing around the yard, I watched the eagles fly across the bay, dodging seagulls protecting their brood. I fell into one of those moments, those precious few moments, of profound appreciation for my life. This part of my journey is surprising and as orienting as it is disorienting. Both/and.

I like to travel precisely because it throws me off center. Even the simplest things require attention. Which side of the road am I supposed to drive on? Oh my god, where is the corkscrew? What did I just order (I couldn’t even pronounce it)? Once, in a barter culture, I failed miserably because I bartered myself to a higher price. The merchant and I laughed until we cried and then he patted me on the back and only accepted half of my money. Laughter was my coin. That part of my journey changed the trajectory of my life entirely.

Read the order of the tracks on Kerri’s album, THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY, and you notice that the final two titles on the album are This Part Of The Journey followed by The Way Home. She is hyper-intentional so I believe she did that on purpose. Sitting on the deck this morning, I knew without doubt that this part of the journey, no matter how complicated or lost-feeling or unnerving or uncomfortable…or peaceful, is a great gift. It is a step on the way home. And, it will someday make for the best stories, perhaps the best part of my story.

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY sparkles like the sun on the lake. It is as abundant as DogDog’s curiosity on his discovery trip around the yard. It is as full of laughter as a merchant in Bali who, to this day, tells the story of the tourist who had no idea what he was doing.

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

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY

 

not our best morning minturn website box copy

 

this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Name It Or Not [on DR Thursday]

David Robinson 4by4 copy 2

I sold this painting a long time ago. It’s a big piece, four feet by four feet. George Broderick sold it through his gallery in Portland, Oregon. The day we hung it in his space, he asked me what it was called. He was making a label for the painting with the title and price. I didn’t have an answer and said the first thing that came to me. “It’s called Four by Four,” I said. George wrinkled his brow.

True confessions: I’ve never been good at naming paintings. In fact, I used to resist it. I think a viewer should name the painting. I think a viewer does name the painting in the first moment they see it but then they dump their response when they read the label. But, reality has a way of setting in. As you might imagine, it nearly impossible to keep track of multiple paintings when they are all called Untitled.

For a while – a short while – I tried giving each untitled piece a number. Untitled 624. Untitled 29. “Cop out!” was the cry from friends and gallery staff. “What’s it called?” There was no mercy.

I was much more snarky then than I am now, I so I responded to the requirement of proper names by keeping a notebook of words and phrases that I liked. When a painting was being readied for a show I’d randomly pull a notation from the notebook and tack it to a painting. “There! A name!” That, too, was a ridiculous strategy. It confused everyone, including me. When it comes to tracking things, random associations are not very memorable and I’d inevitably lose the notation. I was constantly opening my notebook and renaming paintings. Plus, at openings, artists are always asked about the names they give to paintings and people were forever asking about a name/painting and I couldn’t remember which painting carried which random tag. More than once I stared blankly and stuttered until the uncomfortable patron moved on.

It has come as a great relief to me that Kerri actually likes to put names on my paintings. Nowadays, my foolproof naming strategy goes like this: “K.Dot, what would you call this painting?” And, without fail, she  always has a response.

“Why did you call this 4 x 4?” she just asked, hoping that the name would spark something to write about on her blog.

“I can’t remember,” I replied, lying outrageously. “What would you call it?” I asked.

She squinched up her face and studied it for a moment. “Slumber,” she said.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on 4 x 4

 

drc website header copy

 

snapchat website box copy

 

4 x 4/Slumber ©️ some date in the past and really who knows and who really cares?

Enjoy Your Ride [on Merely A Thought Monday]

loop copy

 

Navigating a transit system can be confusing. The skill is knowing where you are relative to the end-of-the-line and which end-of-the-line is the direction you wish to travel. It’s a process of orienting. Here I am now. There is where I want to be. Inevitably, learning the system comes from of getting on the wrong train a few times.

It turns out that navigating life requires the same skill. Knowing where you are relative to where you want to be. Getting lost, getting on the wrong train is a necessary part of the process. Who hasn’t looked out their window and thought, “This isn’t where I wanted to go.” Or, “I’m not doing with my life what I wanted to do.” The real challenge, so I’ve  been told, is not in the knowing of where you want to go but in being honest enough with yourself to recognize where you are now.

Recently, climbing the stairs to catch a train in Chicago, we saw this helpful guide. Loop. This train will take you to the downtown loop. I laughed. Transit-Life-Lesson #2: whether you recognize it our not, learning lessons in life happens in loops and not lines. They call them “life lessons” because they come back around again and again and again…. There is no wrong direction in a loop. So, I suppose, whether you know where you are going or not, it’s best to enjoy your ride. Your unique life lesson will most certainly come back around.

Of course, in any case, in every case, asking for help is always…helpful. So, if you don’t mind, please tell me again, where am I?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LOOP

 

roger's park feet website box copy 2

 

Aim For The Field

An illustration from my children's book, Play To Play

An illustration from my children’s book, Play To Play

Lately, Saul the Tai Chi master has been much in my thoughts. It is now September and it has been a year since he taught me a lesson that has become the new mantra of my life: orient to your own concern. Actually, he said that I should look beyond my opponent into the field of possibilities and orient to my own concern. “In this way,” he instructed, “you will no longer have an opponent.” He used the word “opponent” loosely. Any limitation or form of internal resistance is the opponent.

Beyond the opponent is a wide-open field of possibilities.

In the intervening year I have learned that I have been both my greatest opponent and the one who can look into the field of possibilities. Isn’t this true of all people? All stories worth telling (and hearing) are ultimately tales of transcending the inner opponent. If you need help identifying your personal mythic journey simply listen to the areas in life in which you say to yourself, “I can’t.” In that place you will find your opponent. You will also be surprised to find that your inner opponent is most often an orientation to other people’s concern; the fear of what others might think is a mighty inner-monster creator.

I’ve also learned that Saul’s lesson has come to me in many forms throughout the course of my life. For instance, many years ago I directed plays and, because I am also a visual artist, I was often in the position of designing the sets as well. With great love and humor, another terrific mentor watched as I struggled with my dual role. He gently showed me that I was orienting my designs according to the budget and construction limitations I perceived. I was working in the wrong order, asking “how” before lingering in the potential.   He told me that I needed to “Live first in the possibilities.” Design/orient according to the potential and not the limitations.

To live first in the possibilities is to walk the imagination without a leash. It is to let the imagination run wild. What is beyond your capacity to imagine? What is possible beyond the boundaries of belief? At one point in my life cell phones were science fiction. Today, they are ordinary.

Look beyond the opponent. Orient to your own concern. Imagine how life might change if instead of asking, “Can we do this?” we began by asking, “What’s possible?” And then aim for the field.

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.

Yoga Series 7Go here for fine art prints of my paintings

Choose Your Experience

767. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It’s after 7:00pm and I just realized that it was Sunday. One of the privileges of wandering is that days of the week blend and become one. There are relatively few patterns so markers like workday and non-workday do not exist. This has been somewhat true most of my life. The line between work and play is indistinct. My play and my work have mostly been the same thing.

This afternoon Skip and I did a test run of experiences for our new start-up business. The audience is entrepreneurs. Some members of our team are young entrepreneurs so we gathered and talked through the content with them and then threw them into some experiences. Having been a data-basher most of my life it’s an interesting flip to do things to gather data and adjust my work based on audience responses. I learned a lot today!

What came clear to me was something that I’ve known for a while but did not fully grasp the magnitude until today. Human beings come into the world oriented to the unknown and strive to pretend that we are oriented to the known. We make meaning of chaos. And, what is chaos really? It’s a made up concept. It means, “I don’t know!” It has no use outside of the human need to make story and project order onto the world. It’s like the word, “wild.” Wild is only useful when there is an expectation of tame. Chaos is only meaningful relative to an expectation of order. Both are categories. One is generally comfortable because it provides the illusion of control and the other is uncomfortable because the illusion is of no control. Tame and wild follow the same general principle. I was in the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and as the earth threw my house off of it’s foundation and hurtled me through the air, I learned that control was not mine to assign. I learned that wild is tame and tame is wild and chaos drives order and order collapses into chaos. It’s a dance.

It’s not the nouns that matter. It’s the verbs. It is the movement. Nothing is static. Nothing is fixed. The answers are not important. The questions matter, it is the conversation and the relationship that hold the real stuff of life. Questions and relationships are fluid. They move. Orient to the unknown and you orient to the questions. The questions will open you to discovery. Orient to the known and you orient to the answers. The answers will close you to rules and righteousness. This would seem obvious but it is not. The most potent revelation of all: how you orient is a choice. Choose to open or choose to close. Orient to the unknown or orient to the known. Orient to the infinite game or to the finite. Choose your experience.