Procreate sketch for painting
When it comes to elemental life, the breath seems to be the master teacher. My trying to be present for the breath is very difficult. The breath: the first thing a new born does to signal life.The breath: the last thing the dying does to signal that they are done with this life (as we know it).
Fear- is the monster in my head when it comes to my studio practice. How do I make a body of work? What will the next painting be like? Will they/it be good enough? My imaginings about making art at times causes stress and obsessiveness about a future and opinions I have no control over.
Enjoy the moment, breath, enjoy what I have, enjoy what I am working on, and especially, enjoy the process.
I continue the effort to be aware of my breath not only for awareness potential, but I find that the breath, my breath, to be an anchor to my wandering, imaginative, never settled mind.
iPad painting study using Procreate
It all seems so well until it isn’t, and then there is the choice to be with the dis-ease/comfort. Who knows how long the pain/hell will last? Some thing happens and we said “ how could this happen to me? Is there anything random in our experience? Are we creating our reality moment by moment? Are we making choices moment by moment? I know that I give up responsibility for my life choices because of convenience, it’s easier, doesn’t create waves, don’t want to engage in an argument, laziness, fear of repercussions, you get the picture. What if I didn’t give up responsibility? How would life be different?
My painting practice for many years has been a kind of go with the flow, let’s see what the painting gives me. It worked, and I got a particular indeterminate look and feel to those works. It was, now in retrospect, missing more substantive ideas.
I have been thinking about layering images of cruelty; lynching, gun violence, bombing, etc., nature: how nature is neutral to these events and keeps to its cycle of growth and dormancy or decay, and Heaven and Earth, the warp and weft of our existence. I have been looking at rugs and weavings from North Africa, which I find to be amazingly beautiful. I want the warp and weft to provide a structure for the top most layer that will somehow acknowledge the influence of the rugs. I am eager for this new work to manefest.
While in Peru visiting in-laws there was plenty of quiet time in the mornings to exercise, meditate, paint, or write. These are some of the meandering thoughts on a variety of topics. I have been reading a thought provoking book ‘Language Older than Words’ by Derrick Jenson, visited Art Museums, ate great Peruvian food in 5star as well as neighborhood restaurants, and drew a lot in my iPad using the Procreate app. We went to the beach below Barranco to catch some cleaner air and sunshine. For me it was also and opportunity to be with children and their families playing in the water, eating, digging holes, playing soccer and more.
Page one: culture, family, religion affects our perception of the world. It is as though we have layers of sunglasses on that distort our view of the real. To remove them is an ongoing practice that requires self reflection, a quieting of the mind, and/or being smacked by a life event that is beyond our usual experience. Lack of empathy, violence, lack of sensitivity, selfishness, and being manipulated is part of that life denying blindness. Examining an unexamined normal like consumerism will reveal not only the destruction of our environment, but of lives of children and laborers who work under conditions we would never put ourselves. That blindness accepts violence as a norm, abuse as a norm, sexism and racism as a norm, and more. Our life is sustained by other life, others labor, by our bodies, and by nature in all its forms. For me, it would be unimaginable not to have the few remaining redwoods to walk among, or the wilderness areas, or pesticide free food, etc. Impermance, death, time cannot be negotiated. I am 72 years old and I know that I have a limited time left on this earth in this form. But I have children and grandchildren that I care about and I want them to live in a world that is not on the brink of disaster every other month because of some stupidity that could have been avoided. According to the author Derrick Jenson we can start listening, listening to the wind, rain, trees, animals, insects, fish, deer, you choose, we are all in this together
Sculpture of young native Peruvian with Spanish tiles at Astrid’s and Gastón restaurant
I recently had a successful exhibition at the 3rd Street Gallery in Eureka CA. After the show I wanted to take a break to reassess where I was at in my artwork but also to devote some time to my ceramics. The exhibit ended early November and I planned to take a break for a month. Of course I reflected on my desires to make the paintings stronger and clearer. I also wanted to take an on line meditation retreat on Loving Kindness, offered through Tricycle Magazine with Sharon Salzberg as the teacher. In addition, I wanted to do some outside landscape painting, weather permitting.(I have been inspired by nature in my art for years)
I don’t know if it was because of the material I am studying or just life- but I again was/am consumed with thinking about Afro American history, my family, my accomplishments, Black individual accomplishments, Black exclusion, the horror of slavery, Jim Crow, and racism. Racism which still manifests today with police shootings, discrimination, the incarceration of so many Black men, poverty and gun violence. Besides collecting Pinterest images of paintings ,ceramics, recipes,etc.; I also collected images of lynchings of black men and women, as well as derogatory commercial images of Black people.
How to make sense of all of this while also wanting to deepen my meditation practice, work in the studio again, and make a difference to someone suffering.
I can be kind, be compassionate, give of myself to others in need, be aware that we all suffer from the transitory. Nothing is permanent, remind myself that we all as humans suffer from loss; declining health, death of a loved ones, not feeling safe, aging, etc. This is what connects us-we are all passing through life, while it’s changing, trying to make meaningful choices, and finding love for ourselves and our families and friends.
After a month passed I started going to the studio to paint again.It is unlikely that my work will end racism, but it is possible, for those who get to see them, that they will reflect my desire to be an aware, compassionate, generous human being. Maybe that will contribute to making the world a better place.
This quote from Thanissaro Bhikku caught my attention,
“The material world offers 8 things: (1)material gain, (2)material loss, (3) status, (4) loss of status (5) praise, (6) criticism, (7) pleasure, (8) pain”
What about love and beauty? But I know I hang on in gratefulness, knowing that that which I cherish is impermanent also.
It has been a while since I last posted something. A lot has happened since then. There have been major illness in the family, and deaths in the family. The view that all is changing all the time is becoming more obvious.
I also attended a high school reunion which then became a catalyst to review my major life choices from then to now. Somehow it all made sense and that it was clear that I made choices, conscious or unconscious, that got me to this point. In talking to one of my former classmates about our families and how they influenced our choices. He told me about his uncles that where in the advertising business, and how they encouraged his art making and the belief that being an artist was a valid life choice. It became clear to me that our early childhood experiences really shape us as adults. The influence of friends and teachers encouraged my choices. My high school counselor told the black and latin kids that we were not college material, so don’t bother trying. By not having an opposing voice, we believed her. But after graduating, an older acquaintance from school kept encouraging me to show my portfolio of art to the admission counselor at Pratt Institute. He bugged me for almost two years before I relented. This friend set me on my course and I have thanked him many times. He told me that a another high school classmate somehow deconstructed the situation we were in and bugged him to apply to college. So we both owe a debt to our classmate Freddy. Thank you Freddy
The point that I take from this is that it only takes one person to believe in you. and they can make a hugh difference for us as individuals and for the health of the society.