Sail The Silence [on KS Friday]

SILENT DAYS song box copy

Albert used to come by my studio each evening and pick me up. He knew me well and feared my studio solitude. He’d take me to a coffee house and sit with me until I recovered my capacity to converse. He’d wait until I was capable of crawling out of my silence. We’d laugh when I finally “returned.”

He was right to fear. I didn’t know at that time that the work of an artist – the real work – is to comprehend and navigate their silence. To sail the immensity. We live in this odd age of the individual so an artist’s life is often like solo spelunking. So many get lost in their caves – as I almost did – or their fame (same thing).

My brother-from-a-different-mother recently directed a play. It was a great success. He wrote in the midst of his play’s triumph to tell me how hard he has to work at giving himself any credit. He wrote, “It’s amazing to think how *surprising* that might be for non-artists…” Silence, as he knows, is vast. It is bigger than any single person. When a work of art comes from the vastness it is nearly impossible to claim it. I didn’t tell him that his wrestling match is the mark of a mature artist. How do you claim the ocean or the universe? Success for an artist, unlike the success of a dentist or business person, is an infinite game.

Kerri’s SILENT DAYS could be the soundtrack for the infinite game, sailing into the immensity of the silence. She knows its yearning and awe and brings it back to share with us. I tell myself that she composed SILENT DAYS so others, unfamiliar with their silence, might catch even a small glimpse of life in the boundless places.

 

 

SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SILENT DAYS

 

k&dbw backs website box_ copy

silent days/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

Live According To Your Necessity

a detail of a painting I did in honor of Dawson's arrival on earth

a detail of a painting I did in honor of Dawson’s arrival on earth

“Depending upon the lens you look through, I have been a miserable failure at everything I’ve ever done,” I said. Arnie protested but we both knew it was, to a certain extent, true. And, since our conversation I have been gazing through that certain lens and feeling my failure acutely.

This lens is not new to me. I visit it each year as my birthday rolls around. It is a lens that most artists visit from time to time. To their peril. Recently, Chris, one of the most talented and hardworking actors I know, told me that now that he is far down the road of his career, no longer a beginner, he has surrendered the idea, imperative or illusion of economic success. “I work because I have to,” he said. It makes no sense and is impossible to explain to someone who does not have “that” impossible intrinsic driver. The incentives are internal. The rewards are internal. The achievements are mastery landmarks and not monetary rewards. It looks like insanity through the lens of a profit/loss, money=morality society.

When I look through the failure lens I’ve learned I need to visit Rainier Maria Rilke. I need to seek the advice of a master. “Nobody can counsel you or help you. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would die if it were denied you to write. This above all – ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And, if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity;….”

...closer in

…closer in

My life is built upon this necessity. No amount of comparing it to others is useful. No other lens is healthy. Since moving to Kenosha from Seattle, I am fond of telling people that in my move I committed economic suicide. That is a statement made looking through the wrong lens. Here is the truth: Since my move I have published my book, The Seer. I produced and performed in what I thought was the greatest heart-project of my life, The Lost Boy. It played to sold out houses and fulfilled a decade long journey and commitment to Tom. Two months later I did what I now think was the the greatest heart-project of my life when I illustrated and Kerri and I published Beaky’s books, The Shayne Trilogy. Beaky had an author’s reading a mere two weeks before her passing. Last year I authored drew and submitted with Kerri over 25 cartoon proposals to syndicates. We are completing work on our next play, The Road Trip. And, in the middle of it all, I’ve done arguably the best paintings of my life. I am meeting my question with a simple and strong “I must.”

What is failure? What is success? They are lenses and they matter not.

I am living and building my life “according to this necessity.”

The whole painting.

The whole painting.