Climb The Rough [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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It’s an odd quirk but Kerri likes to watch mountain climbing documentaries before she goes to sleep each night. We’ve seen most of the world’s catalogue of climbing videos, Everest and K-2. I feel as if I’ve been to base camp. I sometimes shout at the screen, “NO! Don’t you know that the weather can turn on a dime!”

We’ve watched the story of the team that discovered George Mallory’s body. He fell and broke an ankle. Fatal on Everest. We’ve watched footage of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their summit bid.  We’ve watched documentaries about the Sherpa people, the dangers of the ice fall, and the emergency doctors at base camp.

I tease Kerri and tell our friends that she needs to watch someone fall off a mountain before she can get to sleep. She protests, “I don’t need to see them fall!” The life and death struggle is soothing enough, a gentle entry into slumber.

The message from the climbers is as beautiful as it is simple: if you fear failure you shouldn’t climb mountains. You will fail far more than you succeed. You will attempt. You learn. You choose to be wise and live rather than push to the summit and then lose your life. It is the ultimate reminder that a healthy process is much preferable to the achievement of the goal. They remind us that most climbers die after the summit. They die coming down because they forget that the goal is not to summit, the goal is to summit safely and come back alive. The goal is life. The summit need not happen today. Live and take your chance tomorrow. The only failure on the mountain is to die when you didn’t need to.

It’s a great metaphor. Life is like that. No one does this life without more than a few rough patches, more than a few falls. When you recognize that everyone has a mountain to climb and, regardless of the mountain, it is all about learning, all about the experiences that may someday bring you either to the summit or to the recognition that the summit was actually never the goal. It’s about the appreciation of the experiences.

There will always be another goal. Another summit. However, the experiences you remember and appreciate will be the struggles. The easy stuff is easily forgotten. The hard stuff, facing the doubt, finding a new edge, makes for a great life story and helps us understand that we are far more capable than we at first realize. Everyone is far more capable than they imagine and would never go beyond the limits of their imagination without the rough patches on the way up the mountain.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ROUGH TIMES

 

 

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Mix It [on DR Thursday]

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True confessions: I never clean my palette. I like the messy build up of color. I like the chunky texture. It serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings past. And then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. Unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that I will achieve. It is accidental. It is free.

This might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. I love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. It is the true liminal space. I begin with pure color. I smashed the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue I intend. On a palette, color becomes intention. And then, once transformed, with a brush or knife I lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, I place it onto a canvas. It transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. An image emerges. More color is called for.

And, somewhere in this call and response of color, I become like the palette. The pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. And, in the process, perhaps I, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. Unfettered. Accidentally interesting. Free.

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake

 

read Kerri’s blog post about my PALETTE

 

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Use 1000 Words [on DR Thursday]

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Horses FullSize copy

this may or may not be complete. 48″ x 48″ as yet untitled

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read Kerri’s blog post about this PAINTING

 

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Make Them Visible [on DR Thursday]

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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?)

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.

 

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earth interrupted VII,    mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

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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

 

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

In Beauty I Walk [it’s Two Artists Tuesday]

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“I am only so beautiful as the character of my relationships, only so rich as I enrich those around me, only so alive as I enliven those I greet.” ~ Derrick Jensen

I know many many artists who do what they do for love; their motivation is intrinsic. Their work is beautiful. I don’t mean their finished pieces (although they, too, are beautiful). I’m referencing their relationship to their work. It is lively, mysterious, expansive and generous. And, in order to stay healthy, they’ve long ago abandoned the notion that they might make a living through their artwork. Some do. Most do not.

I know many many artists who no longer do what they used to love to do. In the absence of an extrinsic reward (money), they began to see their love-work as worthless. They reduced themselves to a monetary equation and found themselves lacking. Considering their love without value, their well went dry. Their muse withered.

In our confused times it is the fortunate person who understands value as something greater than dollars and cents. Love, beauty, joy, family, generosity, learning, community, surprise, mystery…all words of relationship, all valuable beyond measure. All defy easy quantification.

From studio melange on Two Artists Tuesday, a gentle reminder to look to the space between, to value the process of living, the right-now-relationships where beauty is always to be found. Walk there.

IN BEAUTY I WALK gifts and cool stuff

daisy tote bag copy

read Kerri’s blog post about IN BEAUTY I WALK

www.kerrianddavid.com

‘in beauty i walk’ image & products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Slow Motion Rain [On DR Thursday]

A DR Thursday dance  from studio melange

MASTERlarger slowmotionrain copy 3It seems my life these days is one big meditation on “not forcing” outcomes. I’ve been here before so I suspect this falls in the category of “life lessons.”

The Chinese have a term for this meditation: wu wei. Do nothing. In creative communities it’s known as flow. Athletes train, actors rehearse, but when opening night comes or race day dawns, the advice is always the same. Let go. Trust the work. In other words, cease pushing and get out of your own way.

Working from tension, pushing too hard for outcomes, causes injury. It jams flow.

The final pose at the end of a yoga practice is called savasana, or corpse pose. It is to surrender, not in the sense of giving up but more of giving over. It is a release of tension. My Earth Interrupted paintings have become for me a kind of savasana, a letting go. As Jim used to teach me, you’ll know you are in “that” place of flow when it feels like a dance of giving and receiving and you have no need to distinguish which side of the dance you are on. Both/and. Give/receive.

Kerri calls this morsel “Slow Motion Rain.” It comes from a moment of dance. Or, as we like to say in our house, “Woo Wee!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slow motion rain product box BAR jpeg copySLOW MOTION RAIN gifts and cool products

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earth interrupted IV ~ mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

read Kerri’s blog Post on SLOW MOTION RAIN

www.kerrianddavid.com

slow motion rain designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

earth interrupted iv ©️ 2018 david robinson