Risk The Adventure [on DR Thursday]

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On Monday, I pulled out the Chicken-Marsala-rough-draft folio. I was searching for a rough concept sketch. It was an early-Chicken idea, a joke mostly, but I thought it would be a good choice, an encapsulation of the melange, for our anniversary week. In it, Chicken Marsala is a nascent angel en route to his very first assignment. He is in full resistance. His mentor angel is pushing him forward. She’s trying to convince him to that this first mission is ideal, a cake-walk, but he knows better. It’s a mess. He’s being assigned to an aging couple. Newlyweds. Two artists. Chicken screams, “But they’re BOTH artists!” The mentor-angel responds, “Get in there, tiger! They’re lucky to have you!”

How many times in life, in your moment of resistance, have you heard, “It’ll be good for you.” Translation: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. The problem with this bit-of-wisdom is that being killed is one of the options. In the face of hungry tiger, who doesn’t need a push!

I found the sketch of angel-Chicken but got lost looking through the hundreds of drafts and idea sketches in the folio. If you are looking for something to lift your spirits on a cold and bleak winter day, flipping through the Chicken folio is guaranteed to bring some sun and a smile. He became a festival of optimism. He jumps for the joy of jumping.

The  joy of jumping. That is a much better and more accurate encapsulation of the melange. It is not a story of survival or resistance. In fact, at this one year mark, by measures of survival, it makes no sense at all. Our original intention, making a living, has long ago given way to something more essential. We are doing it because we love doing it. We write for the joy of writing. By measures of joy, of vibrant living, nothing else makes sense.

We regularly slip off of rocks and find ourselves sitting in the water. It is the necessary risk for doing what we love. Life rule #1: Have the experience first; make meaning of the experience second. “Risk,” as Chicken has taught us, is just another word for “Play.” Jump. Welcome the adventure. And, see what happens.

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read Kerri’s blog post on RISK & ADVENTURE

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here’s the full panel

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heart in sand happy valentine's day copy

Reach With Wonder [on DR Thursday]

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“One of the reasons that we wonder is because we are limited, and that limitation is one of the great gateways to wonder.” ~John O’Donohue

I loved this canvas before I painted Cloud Watchers on it. It was old and used. Chunky with layers. I can’t remember how it came to me but I do remember thinking that it was the Velveteen Rabbit of canvas. Loved. Well worn. A long history – that is to say – filled with lots and lots of story. Perfect.

And, how appropriate that it is living a next chapter as Cloud Watchers, part of a series that  I call ‘narrative.’ All narratives – inner and outer – are projections. Life’s stories are image transfers, meaning imposed just like the meaning we place upon the movement of clouds. There’s a duck! Look! There’s a dragon, a dinosaur, an elephant. A fear. A goal. An opinion. Mr Magoo! Belief! There’s Thomas Jefferson! The Buddha.

We reach with wonder from our isolation. We touch through imagination. We are cloud watchers full of story, filling the air with our stories. We are glorious creators all!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CLOUD WATCHERS

 

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cloud watchers/morsel ©️ 2002 – 6/2018 david robinson

Follow The Path [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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Rule #1: When a path announces itself it will make no sense. Trying to understand it will make stepping onto the path problematic. The order is clear: Step first. Make sense second.

Rule #2: A path is a living thing, a relationship. A path requires engagement, experience. If you confuse yourself into thinking that the path is about achievement then you are most certainly off the path. Achievements are fixed, like trophies. Paths are fluid, like friendship. Achievements are finite games. Paths are infinite games.

Rule #3: Paths do not speak in loud voices. They whisper. To hear the path’s announcement it is often necessary to get quiet. A path is patient. It will know you are ready to listen when it sees you turn away from the chatter.

Rule #4: A path requires a single action: pick up the paint brush, preferably the big brush, dip it in the bucket of paint, and start. The need is not to know where you are going. The need is not to be right or best or wise or clever. The path merely needs you to start.

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

 

read Kerri’s blog about PATHS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

sometimes the path forward announces itself ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Feel More [on KS Friday]

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I’m sure that accountants never sit at their desks and review their accounting of the past 30 years. Lawyers, I suspect, may review a case here and there but I doubt that they ever sit in a room, surrounded by all their cases, and consider them as a body of work. Artists necessarily review their work all the time.

Because of our melange both Kerri and I have been sitting in our studios surrounded by our life’s work, revisiting every era. She listens, pours through old notebooks, tinkers with pieces that never made it to the recording studio. I pull out canvases, flip through old sketchbooks, and portfolios. We compare notes. We share our favorites. We disavow our least favorites (“Someone else  painted that and stuck into my stack. That piece is awful!”)

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 2It is much more emotional than you might imagine. Each piece comes thanks to a potent life experience, a funny story, a period of loss, lostness, foundness, utter ful-fill-ment, the vast and empty void. We stare at what we achieved, we face what we aimed for and missed.  We stand on the edge of what next calls to be explored.

It is not an intellectual review, a study. It is a feeling pathway, a conscious opening to experience in all its many colors. There is no rational sense to be made in what we do or have done. “Making art” is a dedication to feeling more. It is a love song.

 

BUT I FEEL MORE on  AS SURE AS THE SUN is available on iTunes & CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BUT I FEEL MORE

www.kerrianddavid.com

but I feel more/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 

Think “Isn’t It Weird…?”

my new tree;-)

Wide awake in the middle of the night, we snacked on handfuls of Chex cereal and indulged in my favorite kind of conversation: “Isn’t it weird that…?” Little did we understand that our late-night conversation would set the theme for the week.

The next night high winds toppled our neighbor’s ENORMOUS aging maple tree into our backyard. The insurance company called it “an act of God.” It is a phrase implying no fault, no responsibility. It just happened. I laughed aloud when, immediately following the “act of God” designation, the insurance adjuster heaped on us a load of legal cautions, new responsibilities (the tree now ‘belonged’ to us), property line designations, and small print reminders meant to minimize financial risk and responsibility to the insurance company. The layers of irony are too many to count though I suppose if wacky preachers can assign responsibility for hurricanes and other natural disasters to the wrath of God, then it is no less ridiculous for insurance companies to invoke the fickleness of God to absolve themselves of liability.

Isn’t it weird that…?

P-Tom reminded us that the “act of God” was that no one was hurt in the tree fall. For P-Tom the act of God was a kind of intervention. A few degrees to the right, a slightly different wind direction, and the tree would have landed on our bedroom. Life does seem fragile by the slightest of degrees. We told people that we were lucky. Intervention? Fortunate? Fate? Design?

Isn’t it weird that…?

We cut a branch from the fallen tree and brought it in the house. It is now our Christmas tree.

Had you asked that branch a week ago if it would ever become a Christmas tree it might have laughed at you.

As a maple branch it had no aspirations or intentions of being wrapped in lights or decorated with silver baubles. In truth, it probably cares little if it makes us laugh or invokes a smile each time we enter the room. But it does. Or, better, we make sense of it that way. Sense making? Story telling? Either way.

Isn’t life weird?

Our work-in-progress

 

 

 

 

 

Make No Sense

these hands will change

these hands will change

The woodpecker hammered high atop the ancient television antenna. He seemed not to be bothered by his lack of progress, beak on metal. At first I thought it made no sense and then it occurred to me that progress was not the goal. Perhaps the woodpecker hammered for the pure pleasure of the sound of it. It need not make sense. This woodpecker was an artist to his or her core!

Yesterday was a “no-power-tools” day. No sharp objects were allowed. No walking near ledges permitted. I was distracted; tired to the core. Late in the day we drove 45 minutes to a bakery called ‘Simple’ in Lake Geneva. They make the world’s best flourless chocolate cake. “This makes no sense,” Kerri said as we stepped out of the bakery with our cake. We laughed and ate a slice in the car; pure pleasure before driving home.

Every time the neighbors let their dogs out, Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog runs a frenetic figure eight in the backyard, over and over and over. He exhausts himself. He is having some exotic shepherd fantasy or perhaps he cannot contain his delight. It makes no sense for him to run a trench in our backyard for dogs he’s never even seen. He runs for the pleasure of it.

We sat in the sun this morning drinking coffee. The sky was cloudless, the air was cold but the sun was warm. We leaned against the house, saying little, feeling the warmth seep into our bones. We both knew that on this day we would do nothing. There would be no visible progress toward any defined goal. The wheels of society would have to grind on without us. We needed most to stop, to sit, to stare, to laugh at the Dog-Dog.

photo-2I started a painting a few weeks ago. It is a figure falling through space. Something has been wrong all along and sitting in the sun I figured it out. The hands are all wrong. Rather than reaching for something to grasp they ought to be letting go.

 

 

Begin Here

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Begin Anywhere

In our house, hanging on the wall like a painting, is an old window frame. In the top pane is a card that reads, “Begin Anywhere.”

Earlier this week I had a great conversation with Diane. She laughed and said, “In my meditations I was whining to God because I wanted to see the plan of my life. I got the clear message that I was never going to see the plan but I could always see the next step. The next step is always right in front of me.” Dancing with what’s right in front of you is sometimes called faith. Sometimes it is called play. Sometimes it is called art.

Diane and I are good reflectors for each other; we are usually on parallel paths. For both of us, the past year or two has been a process of letting things go and stripping things back: paths, patterns, and presuppositions. It has been the mother of all house-cleanings (she had a literal flood!) and, like all good house cleaning it took some elbow grease and few hard decisions about what to keep and what to throw. After the job is done, nothing feels better than a clean house and along with the good feeling, new space, and wide-open possibilities, comes the question, “What’s next?”

Diane told me her story because my next step is so clear that I can focus on nothing else. With such a myopic focus I can see nothing else and that’s why I called her. I must do this play. I must. I cannot see beyond this dance. It is my first thought in the morning. It is my last thought falling into sleep. This step, my dance with The Lost Boy, makes no sense and Diane’s point was well taken: the next step rarely makes sense. Sense-making requires context. Sense-making is a skill of relativity – and since we can never know the plan (if, indeed, there is one), we can only make sense based on old information. That is good news for plumbers but is dubious at best for leaders, explorers, seekers, and artists.

After our call I realized that dancing with what’s right in front of me is how I paint. It’s also the key to a good conversation – and painting, for me, is a good conversation. After my good conversation with Diane, she sent me an email of affirmation and concluded her thoughts with this: “Stay focused on what is before you now and let the creations show you how and when they are ready to play.”

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