Monday, December 31, 2012

"... that moment of illumination ..."

Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with our busy thoughts. Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still. And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy, so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless.
 -- Saint Augustine

The original of the colorful painting below ("Sal Si Puedes") from 1993 by Alfredo Arreguin of Seattle, Washington, with its rendering of Cesar Chavez, the United Farmworker's Eagle, and the Virgin of Guadalupe among other images associated with Cesar Chavez, hangs on the wall of the waiting area of the place where I receive my medical care because I am do not qualify for affordable medical insurance.  I am moved to the core every time I see it.  I think of it often:

A few weeks ago I asked the young man working at the reception desk how he would translate "Sal Si Puedes."  He paused and then said, "Come out if you like."  Interesting that another translation is "Escape if you can." The image above only gives a very rough approximation of the power of this painting.  The painting is about 3 x 3-1/4 feet in size, and the colors are deep and rich and evocative and healing.

"I dreamed I saw St. Augustine"

Cesar Chavez, Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Day:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Visions of Johanna meditation on a foggy morning a few days before 2013

Vincent van Gogh's sister-in-law, Johanna, with Vincent's nephew, Vincent.

"Vincent undertook to nurse a victim of a fire in the mine. The man was so badly burned and mutilated that the doctor had no hope for his recovery ... Van Gogh tended him forty days with loving care and saved the miner's life.  Vincent [said Gauguin] "believed in miracles," in maternal care.
(from The Eye of Spirit:  A Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, by Ken Wilber)

"The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix) -- Vincent van Gogh 

The view from my porch this morning:

Glimpses of the younger generation of kindred spirits to Bob Dylan:

"And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev'rything's been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads 
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain"
(the last verse of "Visions of Johanna" -- Bob Dylan, 1966)

Paintings by Marc Chagall:

The Blue Fiddler

The Fiddler

From page 300 of Writings and Drawings of Bob Dylan, published in 1973:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Senegal Yellow / Cobalt Blue / Titanium White

After working through early rock and roll and then the Beatles, Tim Buckley, Laura Nyro and James Taylor, I started above painting (still in process) while listening to the "Songs of Leonard Cohen," released December 27, 1967.  I had forgotten how much darkness and bitterness and alienation there is in many of those songs.  My selective memory had embraced the tender moments and blocked out everything else.  I was 18 years old when that album was released.  My recollection is that Richard introduced the album to me, and that we listened to it in the months before he was drafted in spring of 1969. 

 Thank you, blog friends, for your continuing comments.  I hope to be more conversational soon.  My life is unusually full right now.

(Hmmmm .... the video of my painting in process appears to be uploaded, but when I publish there is a white space where the video should be)

(Update:  Now I can see the video)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Round Dance

It was on Christmas Day, when I got together early in the morning with a group of friends for breakfast, that I first heard about the Round Dance flash mobs from a man who grew up on a reservation in Montana.

Here's something from and something from Idle No More.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Can the fishes see it's snowing?" / Little Drummer Boy

... Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.

"I bet people will think there's been hippos."
"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"
"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."
"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.

"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."
"Let's write things in the snow."
"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."
Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"..."

... Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

(from "A Child's Christmas in Wales")

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Everybody's Hurting

Work in progress / artists' studios / winter birds / wanting to work

When I looked out a little while ago this morning, I thought I saw a person with a brown corduroy jacket and yellow hat standing at the edge of Scudder Pond.  I thought I could see the figure moving.  When I got my binoculars out, I saw that what I had thought was a person's head was the few remaining bright yellow leaves on a small tree, and that the brown corduroy jacket was the tree's dark wet branches and trunk.  The blurred photo only gives a general idea of what I saw.  As I look out right now without binoculars, it stills looks to me as if a tall thin contemplative man is standing there on the trail.

The gouache and watercolor painting up at the top of this post is something I'm working on.  It's something about a dialogue at the ocean at night.  I think I like it better transformed by my computer into a black and white image.  I began working on it more than a week ago, while listening to music from my past, organized in chronological order beginning with music I heard when I was 10 years old or younger:

This week I visited the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham where I saw a traveling exhibit of California Impressionist paintings.  I was drawn to the landscapes of places familiar to me but much changed since they were painted so many years ago before California was so densely populated. The images below are of the California my Minnesota-born parents moved to in the late 1930s and early 1940s and that my father's father traveled through as a young man from Minnesota in the early 1900s. As far as I know, my grandfather only made that one visit to California and the West Coast, living the rest of his life in Minnesota, although he did visit relatives in Norway in his later years.

Arroyo Seco Bridge in 1912:

Arroyo Seco Bridge in recent time:

Today here in Whatcom County there is snow in the foothills to the east.  Here's the view from the porch this morning.  You can hear the Chickadees and Red-winged blackbirds singing:

"I definitely look for things to inspire me or to get me wanting to do work.  It doesn't come all that naturally.  The thing that's helped me the most has been figuring out when I could work best.  This thing about working best in the morning with nobody around, I figured out a long time ago.  If it weren't for that I probably wouldn't get half as much done."
(Dale Chihuly)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Drawing A Sun Where There Is None"

Thanks to Doonesbury for the inspiration today.

"The way that I work is by doing a lot of work.  And out of that come ideas, refinement, more work, more ideas."
(Dale Chihuly)

As it turns out, Dale Chihuly has suffered from from depression and bipolar disorder since his 40s. Didn't know that until just now as I did a little Googling about him.   I'd always assumed he had inexhaustible energy for his work and felt envious.

There is a long-standing pattern in my life of setting out to work again and again and finding myself physically or emotionally derailed.  A few days ago after I got out my paints, I developed a headache and an upset stomach.  I have not felt well since that day, and my sleep has been disturbed.  As Sabine wrote,  "It is what it is."

Here are some of my linoblocks from the 1970s and early 1980s, my first years in Bellingham and a time of emotional turmoil and grief and searching for direction as well as experiencing periods of creative energy:

The second to the last linoblock is "Drawing A Sun Where There Is None."
The rest are untitled.

I may need to paint or weave or play music whether I feel good or not, as I seem to be able to blog whether I feel good or not.

That is a sobering and freeing thought.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Into the Mystic / Painting Music / Weaving Music

"Of course music is spiritual.  It couldn't be anything else."
(Van Morrison)