Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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Cabin stories 6: learning human

There is not a tree here the species books would call perfect. They are bent and twisted, storm-broken and shallow-rooted. They share a mere skiff of soil, what sunlight they can reach and make the best of what they have. Ironwood, cedar, birch are the oldest. Sapling maple and ash have found space too, and tall twisting rowan that drop bright orange berries in the fall.

Birch is the tallest, and shortest-lived – they fall first, in piles where green moss and mushroom speed the process of rot. Seeds from any species take root there; everywhere I look death feeds life.

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Here companionship is visible – a staying with, through weather and change. All around I see slow and deliberate acts of steady-ing and support. These beings share their vulnerabilities – a trunk too thin to support straight growth will lean on another, older and stronger. They live this way, making room, sharing strength, all their lives. They stretch their roots beneath the skiff of soil, to connect with their own mycelial network. This community  of flora and fauna knows who among them is weak, starved or injured – and they send nourishment or honour death, if death it must be.

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This morning’s brief scan from my tiny access point into the world-wide-web offers me news from Rebecca Solnit (a major hub of the human mycelial network ), who scans today’s news and puts all in context of sanity, who treks through the away-ness of Tibet, brings solar lights, medical teams and menstrual kits with her for giveaway.

I see elsewhere that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman: 1984 team has partnered with the Anti-recidivism Coalition (ARC) in California to raise awareness and funds in support of formerly incarcerated men and women.

Also a broad spectrum of successful Go Fund Me campaigns (Thank you Amanda Palmer), Avaaz squaring up against Monsanto, great new restaurant downtown, free umbrellas if you need ’em, looking for recommendations….

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These trees teach me to reclaim my love for humans. Contrary to what we hear or read in the news, we do help one another, genuinely and reliably. We do what we can to keep ourselves and each other laughing-strong so we can withstand together the ever more serious blights that threaten the world. We Stay with the Trouble, we collaborate across knowledge fields to study the warm data that inter-connects systems, we learn, we notice, we support, we link arms as companions, we resist the fear that would divide us.

Universal companionship requires a proactive sensing of signals that is not possessive, but compassionate. For me, this is a learned practise that extends beyond simple emotional sensitivity.

My humanness requires a conscious determination to crack the carapace of whatever restricts my self-awareness, to reveal the vulnerability that connects me with all vulnerable selves. To honour and sing with the voice only I have, to speak my claimed insight – gently, firmly, assertively, especially if it goes against the well-promoted grain. To pay attention, through my uniquely human skin, to the other species around me.

To see and understand pain, for what it is.

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Nora Bateson:

The revolution, the evolution is not going to be found in conference centers or seminars in 5 star hotels. It won’t be definable in righteousness or sanctimony.

The resonances will be and are where the pain has been–where there was no choice but to become unbreakable.

Where the scars are generations deep and sculpt into raw, sassy, funny, sexy, harsh, confusing.

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Nobody’s ever ready for real change. The tree snaps in the wind, the hurricane rips through an island, a city. The bullet misses, or finds its mark, your heart breaks, suddenly and without warning, in a new place. The army invades and you become a refugee, the American Government takes your child from your arms, someone who has been raped himself, rapes her. A diagnosis, a move, a new job, you fall into swooning, impossible love….

Not one of us is ever ready. But if we are human, if we allow us to fill with compassion and laughter we can claim our pain and learn how to keep growing; life from death.

We can choose to play our pathway out of trouble, learn to think differently, to haltingly, hilariously, try out a new language.

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Unconditional:

  1. without limits
  2. unrestricted by definition, requirement, or compulsion


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#Selfie 16: Demons and veils

Ground for 'Black" - one of two exploring negative and positive imagery

Ground for ‘Black” – one of two exploring negative and positive imagery

As I think I mentioned, each one of these paintings has had it’s own ‘arc’ from concept to completion, which I’m only partly in control of.  This one in particular has been a journey I wasn’t expecting.

I wanted to put the 'positive' image on the black ground, and the inverse one on white...  Here's the drawing

I wanted to put the ‘positive’ image on the black ground, and the inverse one on white… Here’s the drawing

While I drew this I was actively wondering what the empty space at the top of the square was for.  Not planned, but intuitively deliberate, if that makes sense.  Then in the middle of the night this happened…

And now the painting is about being wrapped in cobwebs.... ikes.

And now the painting is about being wrapped in cobwebs…. ikes.

Cobwebs are not my intention, nor an indication of how I feel.

Done.

Done.

Now it’s about veils, and the Self behind the face.

…just one of fourteen journeys….


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#Selfie 11 – Truth beneath the truth

This drawing took about 2.5 hours.  I erased most of the right-hand side...

This drawing took about 2.5 hours. I erased most of the right-hand side…

I’m at the stage of production for this show that’s the most intense on all levels – emotional, psychological, mental and physical.  Each piece has its’ own trajectory and arc, and I work in collaboration with this.

re-building the idea...

re-building the idea…

There are sixteen different painting ‘trajectories’ to define and follow to completion –  in 22 days –  if I’m to make my deadline of June 13.

And I shall.

One key tool I use to get this work done in a short timeframe is composite studies.  This one is a layered mock-up of the painting built from bits of the selfies posted on social media in the past six weeks.  It's about the way we build our faces before we take ourselves into the public.  Masks like filters.

One key tool I use to get this work done in a short time frame is composite studies. This one is a layered mock-up of the painting built from bits of the selfies posted on social media in the past six weeks. It’s about the way we build our faces before we take ourselves into the public. Masks like filters.

I’ve done it before, though not with pieces this large – but hey, it’s good to add a challenge each time.   Everyone has a process, or a road to completion, and mine requires utter surrender to the moment I’m in, the mark I’m making, and the reason why.  I need to meet myself again and again in all my joy and ugliness, take off all the filters and tell the truth.  Then the truth beneath the truth.

‘Clarity’ gains whole new levels of meaning.  It becomes something I can taste.

the same painting the next day with things removed and re-added differently.

the same painting with corrected drawing.  Today I will work with washes to push and pull the images, and knock the whole thing back so the final drawn images can sit on a top layer.  They should appear to float in front of the painting…

There are still bank lineups, lessons and rehearsals, concerts, meetings and phone conversations.  These are more interesting than usual, since my self-observation has become so finely tuned.  The filters I use to get simple tasks done are much more obvious to me, and I know when they’re slipping…. it’s not always appropriate to discuss the psychological effects of spring green when sunlight hits it just so with the person behind the counter who just wants you to pay for your gas.

More soberly – not everyone wants to hear a bald truth, no matter how comfortable I might be with my clarity.  Nine times out of ten it’s better to say it with paint.

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Next up: #Selfie4: Negative/Positive – 5 feet wide by six feet tall. Should be done in 3 days… or so…

Creativity is like willing oneself into madness – the kind necessary to make something interesting out of wood, canvas, paint, charcoal and …. perception, imagination, intuition, rage, hope, love….  all that.

Just nod and smile.  Or better yet, come on over & jump in to an underpainting – I’ll provide the oil pastel & canvas.  Mind the lack of filters, though…

I’m loving this.