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Hiroshige Stillness

There’s a lot going on in the next few days, with Thanksgiving stacked on top of a couple of other things including getting work ready for my show at the Kada Gallery that opens next Friday, December 1. Everything seems to racing at a frantic pace around here.

But even so, I took a little time in the darkness of this early morning to stop and savor some work from the great Japanese artist Hiroshige, who lived from 1797 until 1858. Every time I look at his work it feels new and wondrous, with a quality of absolute calm that always soothes. The color is always gorgeous and harmonious while the compositions have an orderliness, even in his treatment of something like the chaos of sea waves, that has a way of setting the viewer’s own internal mechanisms in their proper place and order.

At least that is what it does for me.

Take a few minutes to watch this video of his beautiful work and allow yourself to slow down just a bit this morning.

Everything will find its proper place.

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A Small Serenity

GC Myers- A Small SerenityWe are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? 

― Swami SatchidanandaThe Yoga Sutras

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I call this new painting, A Small Serenity. It is a tidy 6″ by 12″ canvas that is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, at the Kada Gallery which opens next Friday, December 1.

It’s a small and simple piece but it has a lovely feeling of tranquility in it, one that far exceeds its humble size. If anything, its dimensions enhance its sense of serene quietness.

And perhaps that is how a contagion of serenity begins, as a small seed within ourselves. A tiny feeling of peaceful tranquility that grows then bursts from us, radiating outward to infect those around us and hopefully through them to others.

And on and on and on.

The cynical part of me knows that such a plague of joy is improbable but looking at this little painting for a moment gives me the serenity to hope and ask,“Why not?” What harm could be done in being kind and calm or in wearing a smile? As the late Swami Satchidananda says above, a smile costs nothing.

So, let’s start this plague today. Shouldn’t we all feel free as birds?

 

It’s hard to believe that we are screaming toward the end of 2017. When I was a kid that seemed like a date from some science fiction book or movie with all of us buzzing around with personal jet packs or in cars that were shaped in the fever dreams of industrial designers, all swoopy and elegantly curved. And we would all be wearing jumpsuits made from sort of shiny fabric while cooking dinner with the flick of a finger like Jane Jetson.

But somehow we slogged through the years and found ourselves here in 2017, living in a much more mundane future than we had envisioned all those many years ago. Oh, there are wonders that we didn’t foresee clearly, like the smartphone. I don’t remember seeing anything that predicted the prevalence of these devices, how we are glued to them or how any photo of a crowd seems like a sea of lit screens recording the moment.

But overall, things are very much the same with many of the same concerns,worries and joys. But sometimes when I see how people of the past envisioned this time, I would like to be living in their future if only for a short while. Maybe tool around on the futuristic motorcycles and cars from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s shown here.  Then maybe pop a meal pellet and zip off to Mars for a long weekend.

I guess this is all leading up to this week’s Sunday song. I think this calls for Living in the Future from John Prine in 1980. I’ve been singing this chorus for the past 37 years:

We are living in the future
I’ll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We’re all driving rocket ships
And talking with our minds
And wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines
We are standing in soup lines

Have a great Sunday…


The Deer

Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.

-Georgia O’Keeffe
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It’s the first day of deer hunting season here. I watched two young bucks a few minutes ago in front of the studio. One was very young and small with two prongs jutting from its head while the other was older and heavier. His rack was larger, 8 points, I think. There was a familiarity between them and they bumped heads in the way bucks do when they joust for dominance except that this was gentle and almost instructive. The little guy jumped backward and the larger one went back to grazing.

Then a third buck appeared, heavier through its shoulders and neck with a rack that was thicker than the buck that was already here. This newcomer immediately took umbrage at the little guy and chased him around a bit and finally up into the pine forest that surrounds my studio. He paid no attention at all to the other buck. He came out of the forest with a twiggy branch tangled in his rack, dangling out in front of his head.

He then looked at the lone doe on site as she grazed with her hind quarters to him. He slowly advanced towards her in a comical manner. If this were a cartoon he would be tip-toeing towards her with that branch acting as some sort of goofy camouflage. But she took notice and ducked under one of my large rhododendron bushes, leaving him there alone. He put down his head to eat at the grass and the branch dropped free.

I look out now and he’s still there, looking around. I silently send him my best wishes for the next few perilous weeks. There is always a little anxiety at this time of the year for these ones that I know so well. I have seen so many of these deer on a daily basis for years that I recognize some quite well, having watched many of them grow from tiny fawns to strong bucks and does. And I think they recognize me as well and have a certain comfort level with me and this place.

It makes me feel a bit protective of these beautiful creatures. Be careful out there and stay safe, my friends. I’m talking to the deer, of course, but if you are a hunter the same advice goes out to you.

Mutual Admiration

This is a new painting for the upcoming Kada Gallery show that I am calling Mutual Admiration. It’s small ( 4″ by 8″ on paper) and simply constructed but it has what I feel is a very large presence.

It feels bigger than its size to me.

Maybe it’s the immense sense of calm it emits for me. It’s a meditative, tranquil feeling. I feel my blood pressure drop and my heart rate slow just by spending a moment or two looking at this piece.

And that’s a rare thing these days.

The Mutual Admiration comes from the two main elements in this picture. The Red Tree seems to be considering the rows of violet and green, which in turn appear to be returning the admiration as their rows converge near the base of its trunk.

Each sees the beauty, the wonder of the other.

Together, they turn their mutual admiration to the light of the sky that feeds them both and gives them a sense of something greater beyond their own beauty. And in that moment, there is a unity as though the universe recognizes their beauty as its own and embraces it wholly.

And for the time I spend looking at it, I feel a bit better. Comforted. Embraced.

That’s a lot to see in this small piece and maybe you won’t see it that way at all. That’s certainly okay. That is the nature of art.

Blood and Bones

 

This painting below is heading with me to the Kada Gallery as part of my upcoming show. Titled Blood and Bones, it has been shown before and has always drawn a lot of attention and commentary yet has never found a home. For me, it’s a piece that has always resonated deeply, always creating a strong response within me, one that feels deeply primal.

The blood in the title refers to the red of the ground and the way we tie ourselves to a place. The bones refer to the bare trees of winter, symbols of a passing of time and of age, that poke out of the blooded ground. An empty chair represents the ancestral memory that ties it all together.

Maybe it represents my own view on aging now, of my own desire to remain in this world even as I clearly recognize my own mortality, understanding that my remaining time here is limited.

I don’t know if I can briefly explain what I mean. But I think the poem below from Ezra Pound captures what I see and what I think this painting clearly says to me.

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Ancient Music

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm. 

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm. 

Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm. 

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM. 

Ezra Pound

The Lantern Is Lit

“No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door: the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.”

-Paolo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

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This is a new painting that is headed to the Kada Gallery in a couple of weeks for my show there, opening December 1. I call it The Lantern Is Lit and it is an 18″ by 24″ canvas.

Light is a big part of being a visual artist. You deal with the nature of light, using light and dark to create images. Color itself is light. There is also the symbology of light with the contrast of light and dark representing many things– good and evil, beginnings and  endings, life and death, etc.

Light in this painting is very much a symbol, one of a revealing of wonders. It symbolizes an awakening from a darkness in which we have spent much of our time sleepwalking, just following others and bumping along without much consideration of our own will and desire. We simply take what is directly in front of us in the darkness.

The lantern here is a rising sun that reveals an expanding world beyond our own closed-off one that exists in shadow. Those field rows we have mindlessly worked for so long finally move out to a far horizon with distant hills and fields that have yet to be worked, have yet to be shaped. To a place that allows for expansive thinking, a place to remake ourselves, a place to see the wonders of the world in a bright and direct light.

That’s what I see in this painting– a revealing of light that pulls us from out of shadow.

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