Be A Pirate [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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When we were little, for our birthdays, my dad would disappear into the basement and make magical constructions from boxes. Squealing, we’d race down the stairs and jump into the airplanes and trains and mazes he created. When it was his night to cook, we feasted on fantastically shaped pancakes, the chef taking rowdy and enthusiastic requests from his diners. There were snowball fights and broken windows (“DAD DID IT!” we shouted to mom, throwing him under the bus). There were midnight raids with a squirt gun dubbed The Green Avenger.

Being a pirate came naturally to him. And, consequently, I and my brothers and sister have no doubt where our treasure is.

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

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BEING A PIRATE

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

sometimes you have to be a pirate ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Enjoy The Puddles [it’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

 

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Puddle is a fun word to say. Try it. Puddle. Muddle. Fuddle. In fact, when fuddled or muddled, there is only one thing to be done and that is to find and jump gleefully into a puddle. Essentially, become puddled.

Chicken has a decidedly Buddhist side. If he had three simple rules for spiritual growth, one would certainly involve puddles and play. Speaking to we too serious adult-types, he might say: you can never control the rain, but you can most certainly control how often you play in the puddles .

On this Chicken Marsala Monday, from studio melange, leave behind your muddle and go to the puddle side of life [begin by reading this post out loud to someone you love – puddles are more fun with friends].

ENJOY THE PUDDLES gifts and cool things to remind you to play

read Kerri’s blog post on ENJOY THE PUDDLES.

www.kerrianddavid.com

enjoy the puddles nugget & designs ©️ 2016/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Put On Your Rubber Boots [It’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

A Chicken Marsala Monday nugget to help kick-start your week.

We were clearing the room of furniture. We needed wide open space to do our work. It was early in our collaboration and my business partner and I were facilitating a workshop for a group of high powered lawyers. “They’ll never do it,” she said.  The office was fairly ostentatious, granite and polished wood. “They’ll never do it,” she repeated. “You’ll never get a bunch of lawyers to play.”

I’ve long believed (and proven to myself again and again) that everyone, regardless of status, role, or title, wants to play. Create safety and ferocious playfulness rises to the top. And, more to the point – especially when facilitating workshops, with play comes open-hearts, vulnerability, and the capacity to speak personal truth. Pathways forward become obvious.

Status is a great liar, role is a very thick protective mask. There is no better road to honesty than laughter. And, most often, all that people need to find the honesty-road is permission to play.

A few hours later, suit coats tossed aside, sleeves rolled up and ties strewn hither and yon, we were no longer working with a room full of lawyers; the people behind the role had emerged and they were playing mightily. In their play, great truths emerged and fortresses fell. They laughed. They shared.

From studio melange on Chicken Marsala Monday, we suggest that you put on your rubber boots. Give yourself permission to play.

PUT ON YOUR RUBBER BOOTS reminder/merchandise

 

 

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puddles CHICKEN TOTE BAG copy

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go play in puddles LEGGINGS

puddles FLOOR PILLOW copy   puddles CHICKEN SQ PILLOW copy

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BEACH TOWELS

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read Kerri’s blog about PUT ON YOUR RUBBER BOOTS

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kerrianddavid.com

put on your rubber boots ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

DR Thursday

thoughts from the melange to give lift to your thursday

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this is a morsel of the painting Earth Interrupted I. Kerri calls this morsel Quarter Earth

I’d completely forgotten about this painting. It is so utterly different from everything else I’ve ever done that after I painted it I rolled it and never showed it. In truth, it was an experiment, something I didn’t at all take seriously. At the time, I was discontent with my paintings. I was bored and uninspired. I’ve worked long enough to recognize that my discontent signals an empty tank, a need to rejuvenate. Rest and refill the creative tank.

Earlier in my artistic life, these periods of emptiness caused me to panic. What if that’s it? What if I’ve lost my muse? What if my creative well is permanently run dry?  In my panic I’d try and force things to happen, which you can imagine, served only to magnify my empty-discontents. There’s nothing like a good panic, a deep investment in creative-lack-theory, to generate a serious case of artist block. It took me a while to learn that I run in cycles, just like the seasons, that my creative spring ebbs and flows. Blocks are not necessary.

Now, when I hit one of ‘winter’ phases, in addition to taking it easy, I’ve learned the best thing to do is play. Experiment. Loosen the grip, spin the dials, re-open the eyes. Leave the studio and pretend I’m Andy Goldsworthy, stack rocks, arrange leaves, take walks and photograph random textures. Make snowmen. Scribble with crayons.

The morsel for today’s melange is an ancient map of my long-ago play. Paper sacks and paint and palette knife scribbles. I usually throw these things away or paint over them. But, this painting, so utterly different, created so many years ago, must have whispered, “Wait. Just put me aside and wait. I have something for a future you.” I’m so glad I listened. At this very moment, drying in the studio, is Earth Interrupted II. Earth Interrupted III is on the easel and already Earth Interrupted IV is calling me.

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Earth Interrupted I, mixed media 48″x 53″

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QUARTER EARTH MERCHANDISE

quarter earth FRAMED ART PRINT copy

quarter earth LEGGINGS copy

quarter earth TRAVEL MUG copy

quarter earth TOTE BAG copy

read Kerri’s DR Thursday thoughts

purchase the original painting, Earth Interrupted I

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

earth interrupted I & quarter earth ©️ 2012, 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Look For The Two Points Of View

My latest. As yet untitled. It’s about dreams and angels.

It is the time of thanks giving in these United States and this week when I say my quiet thanks I will include Horatio in my list. Our conversations are life-giving and art-inspiring. And, best of all, tracking Horatio’s thought path is an utter delight. He is an expansive thinker! Here’s an example from our recent call:

“I’m the last person to really see my work,” I said. “Kerri routinely stops me from ruining paintings. She forces me to leave them alone until I can actually see what I’ve painted.”

Horatio said, “You have a parallax problem.”

I thought to myself (who else would I think to?): Parallax is a great word! The last time he flung that word at me I looked it up. In essence, divergent perspectives when looking at the same thing from two different points of view. You might say our political parties have a parallax problem.

Horatio continued, “All religions say, ‘Love your neighbor.’ All religions say it. Love your neighbor.”

What!? I thought. How did we get to neighbor-love from parallax? Grab the reins and hold on!

“The fundamental human problem is to know yourself.” Horatio said. “And artists confront that problem every moment that they stand in front of the canvas or sit down at the piano. Every moment is an exploration of the self, what you see, what you believe.”

From parallax to loving your neighbor to knowing yourself.

“Self. Other. That’s it!” Horatio continued: “That’s all there is! Isaac Bashevis Singer said that the purpose of literature [he was a writer but you can insert any art form] is to 1) entertain and 2) to educate. IN THAT ORDER! You cannot educate first! Playing matters! Fun matters! You must engage the heart first. It opens the path to the other thing.” [take note all ye test makers and proponents of head-driven education].

Parallax: differing points of view. Love your neighbor: a universal aspiration amidst the raging parallax. Know yourself: the fundamental human problem and the singular pursuit necessary to approach the universal aspiration. Heart first: the only route to all of the above.

“An artist has to play. Experiment. Step across the knowns into the unknowns. Question all of those assumptions. Doubt what they see,” he said.

It’s a beautiful paradox, isn’t it? The route to knowing yourself, the route to loving your neighbor, is to doubt what you think. In fact, it is to realize that the river of nonsense incessantly running through your mind is nothing more than a deflection from actually coming to know your self. It is not to be believed. It is the ultimate fake news. It is a great day when you recognize that your inner monologue is entertainment and not education! It’s a great day when you recognize that you need another person’s perspective in order to know your self. You need it precisely because it differs from what you see. Clear vision requires two points of view. It’s called perspective.  Having two points of view opens the door to questioning. It makes probable the birth of a possibility.

“It’s all about relationship.” Horatio concluded, “Now, the only real question surrounding the artist is, in the midst of all of this navel gazing, in the thick of all of this dedicated pursuit of the self, boundary-crossing-questioning, will your neighbors want anything to do with you? Will they want to have you around at all?!”

Oh, yes. Parallax.

Mix Beautiful Color

photo-6This magnet-sentiment was on Jim’s refrigerator:

It’s never too late to become what you might have been.

It is particularly poignant because both Jim and I are surprised, dare I admit, disoriented, after finally producing The Lost Boy. It was over a decade in coming. I’d stopped believing that it would ever find a path to the stage and, instead, would remain a good story for dinner conversation. Now that it’s out of the box and rolling around in the world of possible-next-productions, I hear Tom’s voice ringing in my ears, “Readiness is all.” It couldn’t happen until it was ready, until I was ready.

For the past decade, coincident with the development of The Lost Boy, I have been telling stories at conferences, with symphonies, during organizational trainings, and other random stage performances. I have inadvertently learned to tell a good story (or better stated while slaughtering all grammar: to tell a story good). 5 years ago I couldn’t have performed the play as I did last week. I didn’t have the chops for it. I do now.

Years ago, after being wowed by Jim Edmondson’s performance of King Lear, I asked him what he’d learned from doing the role. He replied, “I don’t have enough colors in my paint box to do it justice. Not yet.” This giant of American theatre blew my socks off with his performance, but felt that he fell short. He couldn’t yet fulfill the demands of the role. He knew there was more to grasp and his artistic arms were not long enough. He knew he was not yet ready. No amount of accolade or sock-less fans would change what he knew: there was more to the role than he could reach. More age, more life, more skill was needed. He taught me in that moment what it meant to be an artist. The compass is internal. The capacity is ever expanding if you work at it.

I now believe that, to produce The Lost Boy, I also needed to find the right reason before readiness was available. For years I thought I had an obligation to Tom. I thought I had to finish it for him and tell his story. That was only partially true. The real obligation was to myself. I had to finish it for me – and it took a good deal of readiness for me to see that. It had to become my play. And, in becoming my play, I can now see that I have a world of color in my paint box – and a world of color that I still need to develop. That is the name of this game of mastery. There is never an end. There are just more and more beautiful colors to find and mix and share.

 

End And Begin

photo-2My fascination with this play grows every day. It has had a hold on me for over a decade. I’ve told the story of The Lost Boy to everyone I know. And now, as we approach opening night, the story of the production, the timing of the production, the people coming out of the woodwork for the production, Tom’s relatives appearing with additions to the narrative that Tom originally relayed to me – is equal to or exceeding the marvel of the play itself. The story around the story is, in some ways better than the story itself. Or, perhaps it is an extension to the story, the next chapter. Roger once told me that he believed the most interesting aspect of the story was not the discovery of a trunk plastered into the walls, not the story Tom felt an imperative to pass on to me, but the story of my time with Tom. “I want you to tell that story,” he said.

I have a file of recordings that I made of some of my conversations with Tom. They were in a format that made them inaccessible to me. I kept them but have been unable to listen to them for several years. A few nights ago, on a whim, I searched for conversion programs and in less than an hour, I was listening to one of the recordings. It was like opening the trunk that had been plastered into the wall. I listened to one of our conversations. I listened to our laughter. I listened to the questions I asked and his thoughtful and generous responses. I listened as I told him that I believed the real story was not Johnny’s or Isabelle’s, but his. He considered it but could not see himself as anything other than a messenger. My suggestion to him was prophetic.

On a lovely August evening in 2013 I was on a pier in Wisconsin when I received the call that Tom had passed. I sat on a bench and talked with Marcia, Tom’s widow, for over an hour. After the call I walked with Kerri and as we watched the sun set I told her stories of Tom.

My attempts to produce the play while Tom was alive (though too ill to perform the piece) hit walls of brick and stone. If I wanted disaster to strike I only needed to attempt to mount a production of The Lost Boy. I’d all but shelved it and, although I’d rewritten it so I could perform the story, the script seemed incomplete, somehow awkward. When Tom passed, the end of the play became apparent – I saw the flaw. Tom needed to join the story, not tell it. I did a final rewrite and the play was ready.

I’ve been amused because, after so many obstacles, this attempt is almost producing itself. It is as if we couldn’t stop the transmission of the story if we tried. Jim said, “I think Tom is working his magic from the other side.” The other night, in rehearsal, just as I worked the section about Isabelle (Tom’s great grandmother) reaching through time, ringing a cow bell to summon Tom, the bells from the neighboring church began to toll.

It made me laugh and I recalled a question he often asked: where does a story end? Where does it begin?

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