Tuesday, November 10, 2015
It's official. My studio space is finished, except for the wood stove and a bit of furniture. Even the neighbours' sheep wandered over for a look-see today. I have no excuses (if I ever did). If you asked me why my work sucked I'd now have to fess up and admit to being a lazy, mindless lout full of doubt and misgivings.
But wait, the confession booth is closed for now so I will have to choose another exit. When you get a new space small elves and helping spirits always leave barely legible instructions written in invisible ink on how to use said space. You knew this, right? You need to squint just so and adjust the curl of your mouth to read them but it's definitely worth the effort.
I'm sure they won't mind if I share my special note with you. The ones you've received or will receive could be a little different, based on the nature of your elves and your personal mishigas (Yiddish for craziness) You can always share your elvefull comments below.
1. Come to this space everyday. Let it's essence sink into your bones. Let your essence permeate the walls. It's all about energy exchange. That's how it works best.
2. Trust. Trust that you will know what to do here. Trust the whispers that burbble up from nowhere. If what you hear sounds anything like whinging and doubting, know that these messages were not meant for you. They are just passing through. Start singing very loudly, preferably something inspiring or silly or both.
3. Be still and quiet, especially when you first arrive. That way you can hear what's meant for you. Silence opens up the space in the same way you would pull back the curtains in a dark room, making the invisible available to you.
4. Make an offering each time before you start. It doesn't need to be fancy or elaborate. Offerings show your willingness and appreciation. It could be a whisper, a sigh or a speck of dust. Who you make that offering to (the muse, the spirits of the land, to everything that brought you to this point), those you call upon will grow and expand as you do. You will never run out of muses and beings and spirits to invoke, that way you will fill your space with the welcoming support of a thousand invisible hands.
5. Set an intention. Be clear. It may not be where you end up but it's always good to have a starting point for your creative wanderings.
6. Repeat as needed
I will let you know if they add to the list when they find me in need of fine tuning. I am looking forward to getting to know my space and work in new ways. I hope my space feels the same way about me (says she to her space in the dimming light) . I am looking forward to the light and space of new possibilities. This is the journey. May we all travel safely, wherever we are heading.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
|Beware of Low Hanging Prayer Flags|
|36"x36" each that's big for me! and they quite accidentally go together!|
To make a familiar story short, sometimes you need to come to the edge of jumping into the brink to realize you want to stay where you are. You start to really appreciate what you will soon lose: the grocery store clerk who says she hasn't seen you in a while, the stunning drive into town, the people that wave at you on your way by, the neighbours who organize the most idyllic summer evening of "boules". Suddenly you feel affection and amusement at the characters who used to seem, well, annoying. It strikes you as odd and you feel a lightness of being. You have the strange sensation of feeling at home in a place where you always had a back-up plan. You wonder if someone is putting something in the water.
Blowing a hole in the old story and watching the wind whistle through frees up new energy. Energy to build can replace the inertia of doubt. And so it's in progress, the building of a new studio. Maybe it's just a story whose time has come. I don't know.
|24"x24" Used To Be A Buddha|
The new roof is on in time to keep out the fall rains and it's fun to watch the wizardry of the old becoming new. It's always like that, the old becoming new, the new becoming old. Nothing stays the same for long. Doubt transforms into energy, energy into new things. And of course the stories, rising and falling with the movement of the mind. If only we can remember to hold them up and see them for what they are, strands of shadow and light illuminated by the movement of the mind.
Monday, July 27, 2015
|Field Notes 16"x16"|
It is a given that true art, whatever it's form, comes from somewhere other than the head. Does it come from somewhere deep inside us or are we tapping into something outside of us, or maybe a combination of both? A lot of artists will tell you," I didn't feel like I painted that or wrote that, I felt like something came through me."
In the west we put a lot of value on our thinking minds. The old "I think, therefore I am" permeates us at such a deep level we hardly notice it. We believe in the power of our minds and in part we are right. What we believe strongly influences what we do. And yet it is not the whole picture. My old Zen teacher used to say, "the mind is a good servant, but not a very good master. This sounds a little medieval but there is truth in it. Sometimes the thinking mind is not enough. Sometimes the thinking mind is the obstacle.
|How To Get There 16"x 16"|
|On Mountain Time 12"x 16"|
Monday, June 8, 2015
|Kanaskin Lake, BC|
|Above Dawson City, Yukon, after midnight|
|Rain passing through at Kinaskin Lake|
|Tombstone Park, view from Dempster Highway|
Monday, April 20, 2015
|Planning The Trip 12"x12" mixed media|
It's good advice for our art practice but really it applies to pretty much anything we might want to do.
Or more simply we might just work, just doing what needs or wants to be done. There is a freedom in that and who doesn't want to be free? And what is it we want to be free from, anyway? Freedom from our stories, our complaints, our thinking mind that never seems to stop and is so hard to please? I've been reading a great book called "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer. In lovely plain language he reminds us that we are not our thinking mind but the consciousness that can observe our thoughts. Just stepping back from our thoughts offers us a lot of space. We can even feel amused by the crazy non stop narrative that runs through our heads.
|Field Notes 11"x14" Mixed Media|
|Before Sunset 12"x12" mixed media|
And there you have it, a way to relate to the conjuring, magician like mind that is always inventing and manufacturing our reality. Perhaps more often these days, we can just immerse ourselves the greeness of this wonderful season, smell the rich scent of the earth and hear the birds readying their nests. Maybe we can step back from the stories we might tell ourselves about everything and everyone we meet. Maybe, just maybe we can live in the freshness of having a direct relationship with our world instead of having it explained to us by our minds.
Monday, March 9, 2015
|Tracking 8"x 8" cold wax on panel|
|Crossing The Earth At Dusk 16"x20"|
In slight horror, I began to investigate my relationship with my work. It was a humbling experience to see that I am not a good listener. In fact I am quite deaf to what my paintings might be saying to me most of the time. If you were my painting, you wouldn't give me the time of day. I realized I am bossy, often beginning work without any enquiry as to what might be needed, to what the painting might want, suggest, be asking for. You'd probably give me a smack upside the head if we worked in the same office.
I certainly am not at all good company for my work. I rarely just hang out with it, sit and appreciate. I think I don't really know how to be a good companion to my work. I watched a documentary a while back on Leonardo da Vinci and when he was painting The Last Supper he would visit the painting for days on end and just look at it, never lifting a brush. Now that's companionship, that's listening.
|The Trees Are Calling Your Name 12"x12"|
I notice a feeling of tenderness toward these little entities, these brave, new, embryos of paintings. I can remember my Zen teacher used to say in relation to our practice and all the goofy things we do, "the eternal can wait forever, how long can you wait?" I get the same feeling about the paintings. They are in no hurry. They humour, they tolerate and they wait. They wait for me to learn, they wait for me to see, they wait for me to listen. They are the best teachers. Unlike me, they are never bossy or frustrated. They never demand or criticize. I think sometimes they smile and wink and call gently from the corner. And then they always look so pleased when I happen to get it right. Who could ask for more in a relationship really?
Sunday, February 1, 2015
|Why I Love The Wind 16"x20"|
"Oh, I don't know", I said. It seems like I move paint around on the canvas and never really like anything that turns up. It feels like I paint the same thing over and over and feel frustrated that I'm not getting anywhere." She looked at me and said, "hmm, that sounds like the same thing you said two years ago."
"That does sound about right," I said, appreciating the honesty and her willingness to share even though I had a knife in my hand.
"So you're not getting anything you like when you paint? Do you know what you like?" she asked
"I like something light. I like some scratching and texture. I like greens and blues and neutrals, greys, soft transitions from one colour to another. But I rarely seem to get something that pleases me."
|16"x 16" Coming In For A Landing|
"I wonder if you're seeing a painting as problem that you want solved and out of the way?" She pondered
"Hmm, that's true, I think. I want a satisfying outcome without too much trouble. And it feels like I've been at this for a long time without much reward. It's interesting, because this conversation makes me think of my friend Jeane Myers over at Art It. I love the way she thinks! She really perks up when she has a creative problem to solve in a painting. That's juicy to her and she rises to the challenge. It really makes her curious and interested." (I also added inappropriately that I wanted her brain.)
"I also love that she says she learns from her paintings," I added. It seems I'm not the best student and my paintings have given up on me.
"So," said the coachy daughter, "what if you focused more on being curious about the process when you go to paint, rather than the actual painting.
|11"x14" How To Get From Here To There|
So I made some notes so I could share with you (and with me) and the next time I went to paint I tried to remember to:
-If you are used to thinking of your creative work as a problem or fraught with problems, sense how this feels and try to adopt a different stance.
-Be curious about how you work, watching what you do and how it makes you feel (miraculously I am a whole lot neater when I paint after doing this. Before I seemed to rush and a mess of brushes and paper grew around me. That made me feel unsettled as the chaos grew)
-Be curious about what emerges on the canvas. Take time to stand back a lot more than usual. Jeane talks about having a conversation with the painting. I think a lot of the time I don't give the painting enough space to say anything. I am like the friend that blathers on. Poor painting never gets a word in edgewise.
-Notice how you feel inside. When I felt agitated and tight, I found it was time to stop and refocus, otherwise I went on to mucking (which could go on for a very long time and feel very unsatisfying.) Sometimes it's just time to go for coffee, have a walk, take a break.
-Importantly, trust that you can solve any "creative situation" you find in front of you. (In other words, believe you are up to the task.) This, I found creates a very powerful, positive feeling.
-Contemplate situations in life where you are successful and try to transfer that attitude to painting. Do you write with ease, cook confidently? How do you feel inside when you trust that things are going to work out? Sometimes it's all about attitude. Maybe it's always, all about attitude?
-Sometimes just do the opposite of what you might normally do to shake things up. Do you always paint in a certain palette? Do the opposite. Stand up. Sit down. Use paper. Listen to music, or different music. Try silence or spoken word.
I have found it so helpful to consider the deeper aspects of what I was doing and how I was approaching it. I learned first hand how doing the same thing over and over is the definition of insanity (or at least frustration). I learned that focusing on the process, strangely creates a better outcome than focusing on the painting (or specific work at hand).
And I will end with a story that my coach/daughter told me about a yoga teacher that her friend called the "spiritual badger". As they stood holding a really difficult pose, he said, "and how you do this, is how you do everything in life." With many bows to the spiritual badger.