Make Them Visible [on DR Thursday]

AndThenTheyDanced copy

rough sketch (detail): and then they danced

When I first met Kerri she had two Adirondack chairs in the front yard. We spent many summer evenings in those chairs, sipping wine, talking through the sunset. One evening, she brought out her ipod and speaker. We listened to music while we chatted and then a song came up that inspired us to dance. We danced that song and then the next and the next. Soon, she was playing DJ. We wiggled and roared through her rowdy picks and lightly stepped through the slow songs. The first painting I did for her is about that evening. It’s called Dancing In The Front Yard.

This summer I have been empty. I left the studio in early June knowing there was nothing left. It was time to let the cup refill. Over the summer I’ve often visited the studio. I sat in my chair in the dark and felt the place. I’ve shuffled paintings around, reviewed my life’s work and wondered, as I always do in the empty times, if I’ve painted my last painting, if the deep well will ever replenish.

The other day, as always happens, I was passing through my studio en route to the tool room and something stopped me. The empty canvas propped against the easel shouted, “Look at me!” And I did. Turning on the lights I saw them, the dancers, the dancers in the front yard, and I laughed. Dancers. Of course. What a great welcome back; a celebration. A dance. Our dance. Like a thirsty man crawling to an oasis,  I slowly entered the space, picked up the charcoal, and made my dancers visible.”Welcome back,” they whispered, as I dusted off my hands and reached for my brushes.

 

Danced phase 2

a process shot for Skip, step 2: underpainting

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AND THEN THEY DANCED

(Lydia! I remembered two days in a row! Progress?)

Art. Love It. Own It. Fall 50% Off Sale.

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September 1 – 16

It’s easy. Peruse the collections. Pick your piece. Love the sales price. Contact us.

 

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Design A Single Week

smaller product recap 5:12 copy 2

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

Hold Them Close [it’s DR Thursday]

a painting morsel for your DR Thursday from studio melange.

cropped I Will Hold You - Society 6 copy 3

For the entire span of my artistic life I have painted mother’s holding their children. I don’t know why . Once, years ago, I set up the many mothers-and-children paintings that lived in my studio and sat for a long time pondering them. I liked them all. As Horatio has said about my work, they were/are motion in stillness.  Beyond that, I have no words. Most of the important stuff, I’ve learned, lives beyond language.

Kerri chose this morsel in honor of the coming of Mother’s Day and calls this morsel, “Closely I Will Hold You.” From studio melange, a quiet nod of gratitude to moms everywhere.

CLOSELY I WILL HOLD YOU gifts & products

CLOSELY I WILL HOLD YOU product box BAR copy 2

read kerri’s blog post about I WILL HOLD YOU CLOSE

www.kerrianddavid.com

Closely I Will Hold You – designs & products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

I Will Hold You In The Storm ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

Look For The Mountain [On DR Thursday]

A mountain morsel for this DR Thursday from studio melange.

Kerri laughed her most devious laugh when I asked, “Where does this morsel come from?” I didn’t recognize it as a slice from any of my  paintings. I usually know immediately where the morsel comes from. This one baffled me.

“Guess,” she said, laughing that laugh again. I knew I was in trouble.

Usually, when I hear this particular devious laugh, I look behind me. Or, I check to see if she is clutching cleverly concealed water balloons. DogDog knows this laugh, too. It means he will have to work very hard, go through all of his tricks, probably twice, before getting the cookie that she holds just above his reach.  He always looks to me for support and I tell him, “You are on your own, Dogga.”  I know better than to redirect her brat impulses on to me.

And so, like DogDog, I guessed. And guessed again. And again. I did tricks. I searched my folio site. With each wrong guess, her pleasure at my bewilderment increased, her laughter goading me on. I looked to DogDog for help. He dropped to the floor and pretended to be sleeping. I was on my own.

Finally, exhausted, beyond begging, she dropped a tiny hint. The painting no longer exists.

Thanks to Skip I’ve made it a practice of taking process shots which means Kerri has made it a practice of mining my process shots. Many of my paintings don’t make it to the finish line. They are either not composed well, are ill conceived from the start, or I overwork them and have to scrub them and start over. Sometimes they serve as rough drafts and i abandon them when I see the better path. This morsel comes from one of those – a painting that did not make it. It was poorly laid out. It broke the rule of thirds (and I didn’t want to cut the canvas to correct the problem).

Kerri jumped up and down with joy when I put it together. She knew that she was going to re-introduce a painting to me. She knew, given the right framing, I’d see the beauty of the unfinished piece. So, the morsel: Mountain in Yellow Sky. And, for my purposes, the beauty in the loose painting that no longer exists: Together On The Beach.

 

It is potent blow-back to help me see the old anew. When I said, “I think I need to learn to stop painting sooner, to redefine for myself what is a rough draft and what is not.” she laughed that laugh again. The trouble I am in is so much bigger than I understand.

 

 

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN IN YELLOW SKY products we’ve designed are sold at society6.com

mountain in yellow sky product box BAR jpeg copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MOUNTAIN IN YELLOW SKY

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

mountain in yellow sky/on the beach ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Go On A Fool’s Errand

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“I paint the way some people write their autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages of my journal, and as such are valid. The future will choose the pages it prefers. It is not up to me to make the choice.” ~ Pablo Picasso

 

 

The further I walk down this life path, the more I identify with this quote. A younger version of me would have thought it interesting but not much more. A younger version of me wouldn’t have admitted to trying to pre-determine the choice for the future; trying to determine what others see. A forgivable fool’s-errand as I am certain I am not alone in my folly.

There is a flip side to my fool’s-errand. There are things I see in the paintings that no one on earth will ever see. I am the channel. It is the privilege of being an artist to express from personal experience what cannot be fully expressed, only approximated. And, in the attempt to fully express the personal (another fool’s-errand!), a common ground is created – art is a universal meeting place, a crossroads. It’s a paradox. It is also a truth: individuals create common ground through the experiences they share and the stories they tell about those experiences. Society is a creation just as a painting is a creation. Society is an expression just as a painting is an expression.

The future will choose the pages it prefers because it will choose the pages it relates to, the pages it understands, the pages that inspire, remind, or give pause.

For me, at this point in my autobiography, it is enough to paint without regard to validity or investment in value of my paintings. It is enough to discover yet another facet of my life as an art-fool on errands .

See Art Everywhere

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Together we read the local paper every morning. Yesterday there was an essay from the executive director of a new ‘creative space’ making a case, financial and otherwise, for why the community should value and support the arts. Everything he wrote was true. Everything he wrote has already, as Kerri likes to say, fallen into the moat.

Fifteen years ago I might have written that essay. I am an artist and need no case made for the necessity and essential nature of “the arts.” However…. In a past life I consulted with schools and many times found myself in the position of lobbying the school board to support arts programs. I jumped up and down making a case for the arts and rarely achieved my desired result. Until, one day, a word-angel grabbed my tongue and instead of using that mystical word “arts,” I replaced it with the phrase “experiential learning.” Doors blew opened. Angels sang. Kids made movies, painted paintings, held poetry slams, wrote musicals, made plays…came alive. And learned.

Our mistake is “to make a case” for the arts. Our mistake is to define it narrowly, relegate it to museums. It is not a separate thing. It is everything. It is everywhere. The design of our cars and blenders is an aesthetic as well as an engineering process. The apps on our phones (the very design of our phones) requires artistic as well as technical skill. Every piece of marketing that clogs our streams requires an artistic sensibility. We live in age of narrative, of artificial intelligence, of imagination run rampant. We story ourselves on Facebook and Instagram and share our pins on Pinterest. Step back and listen to the competing narratives we call The News. Listen not to the content of the question but how it is asked; these things are not accidental, they are designed, targeted to influence and move our imaginations. The “arts” are not lofty nor dusty, they are throbbing, vibrant, and central to every nuance of our lives. Why do we insist on  keeping them in such a tiny little box?

Stephen asked me more than once, “Why don’t people value the arts?”  He is a prolific painter, brilliant, and exhausted from living on the margins. “They do,” I’d say, “they just don’t know it.”

Kerri and I said goodbye to a few more paintings yesterday. They found their right home and that is more than gratifying.  It is the moment of completion of the painting (or the play or the composition…or the car, couch, and coffee mug) when it finds an audience or its home. It’s a life cycle, deeply connected. It is everything. It is everywhere.