Colour Pages #4: Red like Joan

I hold Red in my mind and thoughts rise like bubbles. They’re not what I expect.

Water2

This decision is rooted in fear.

Windsheild2

I’m stuck in Repeat.

littleshoreWave

I’m bored.

Confined.  categorized, manipulated, abused, constricted, driven, exhausted, worried, overstressed, coping.

Aren’t we all to some extent.  And isn’t this an essential part of the story.

CurbPuddle

Then another thought rises (after a Mozart Requiem rehearsal):

Music changes everything.

Wave1detail

I offer this idea in honour of Joan Watson, master of the french horn and incredible human, who calls to us all from the far-off place where we can be anything and anyone we choose to be.  I was so privileged to meet and know her.

The horn solo at the end of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite is red. Red like freedom.

It will take an hour, so give yourself the time to listen to the entire piece.  Close your eyes and follow the journey until the end.  I weep without restraint, every time.  

WinterRose

Red is alive like fire, compelling and warm and dangerous.

It’s intense like passion and its right use requires skill and discernment, its expert use true maturity.

I offer that without Red we would have no change, no challenge.

Stillness in fire, thoughts like a river that moves both swift and slow

Without the red that changes everything, without challenge, life fades into monotone.

Joan, such an inspiration to so many, was not beige or grey.

Joan was, and is still, Red.

sunlight, & ee

My studio is new and beloved.  The paintings, the sewings, the drawings and the music have all surged ahead after long weeks and months of stasis.  Patient, faithful and still, they have all waited like the good friends they are, for my return.

Ahhh.  So rich.

Bathed in sunlight I stand at one of my six big windows and listen to the conversations flowing through the room – Faure with a fabric artist guru from New Zealand about interesting new trends in upholstery;  Seamus Heaney with John Newton about Dan McGee’s gladiolus – that specific colour of luddite red; Ted Hughes roaring his laughter with hobbit-sized Edouard Bartlett about a sideways student who managed to astonish his audience; Sir Ken Robinson with my beloved Cow (a puppet made in Carnarvon 20 years ago) about the pleasures of a sharp pencil.

This morning a long-time friend and colleague sent this to me from her fridge:

I haven't yet found the title for this, but I will.
I haven’t yet found the title for this, but I will.

Here’s a bio of ee. (1894–1962), who said this in summary of three final ‘non-lectures’ at Harvard University:

“I am someone who proudly and humbly affirms that love is the mystery-of-mysteries, and that nothing measurable matters ‘a very good God damn’; that ‘an artist, a man*, a failure’ is no mere whenfully accreting mechanism, but a givingly eternal complexity—neither some soulless and heartless ultrapredatory infra-animal nor any understandingly knowing and believing and thinking automaton, but a naturally and miraculously whole human being—a feelingly illimitable individual; whose only happiness is to transcend himself, whose every agony is to grow.”

So bless this Sunday full of sunlight and total engagement with the world.  I’m going to go and paint with Seamus now.

Be well, everyone.

K

(*He meant “human”, I am sure. )

here’s the poem again – yes, she’s got it right.:

yes but even
4 or(&h
ow)dinary
a
meri
can b
usiness soca
lled me
n dis…cussing “parity” in l’hô

tel nor
man(rue d
e l’échelle)
die can’tquite poison God’s sunlight

Wind, unwind

I find it’s most difficult these days to be truly still and resoundingly empty like a huge stone bowl on a plinth.  I’m getting better at it, but it’s taking a considerable amount of focus.

I seek to do this now because it occurred to me many months ago (years, even) that I need more information about several key areas of inquiry:  the education and mentoring of young people; music and the practise of music; energies, their frequencies and the focused direction of them; and the all-encompassing idea of service, which is not necessarily obvious.

further down the trail, same day

The approach I’ve taken thus far into the exploration of these things is the one I learned – from my family full of educators, from my piano and cello teachers, at University  – an idea of ‘study’ which has become nicely embedded,

“I know how to learn.  One does Good Research (source source source!), reads and digests the material one digests, places a clear and concise question inside this newer information and eventually there’s an alchemical moment of aHa.  Then one writes and writes, which leads to know and do and take good action.  If one does this for long enough, inquires for long enough, makes adjustments based on experience and further study, one becomes an expert, a new Source…”

same walk

It’s a decent formula for inquiry.  But there’s no ivory tower anywhere around here – & my studio won’t do for this (Bob Dylan through the wall & a drum kit, my cello waiting right there to work with, those paintings, those prayer flags waiting for the next stage, that sewing machine which needs a tune-up…)

My head can only hold so much ‘live’ data, can only maintain its focus on that academic alchemical process for so long before I need to shut it down and buy groceries, schedule printers, figure out my part in the Stanford, pick up my kid in time for her appointment, and deliver the car to the mechanic’s.

Big hibiscus flower in my studio, the day after that walk. I’ve had this plant for three years, and it’s never done this before.

It’s more than okay to be busy at 49, and a mom of a (great) teenager, and to have many gigs, lots of rehearsals & several students to prepare for, to be in the last stages of building a house with my husband, to spend time (though never enough) with a family I love, etc etc.  I’m having a great time with all of it.

But I would very much like to learn & grow into a higher understanding of things, as a teacher, as a friend, a daughter, sister mom wife musician artist mentor.  To hone myself, and so better serve.

closer in

So I’m intuitively working at what seems counter-intuitive:  emptiness & stillness.  How can I hope to find the unknown thing I’m looking for if I’m busy stuffing myself with information?

This came to me one day while I was practising – I was working away, working away at a difficult passage, thinking ‘this is crazy – I should absoLUtely be able to do this!  What’s blocking me?’.  As I thought this my shoulder, neck, arm and finger muscles became more and more tense and stiff, and my energy plummeted into something like despair (close to ‘I can’t’).  So I put the cello down, and watered my plants.  Then I worked a little at my paintings.  Then I puttered and played with a textile art idea and got pulled into fascination with colour.  Then without knowing it I was back at the cello, carrying no tension, playing a piece I know well – still thinking about colour.  The notes I was playing had colours, the piece a big long skein of coloured threads flowing each into the next, weaving into fabric….

closer

After what seemed like an hour of this bliss, I came back to the place of my old obstacle.  In my mind I changed the colour of what I was trying to do, and it was wonderfully, measurably easier.

Amazing, what a little colour change can do.

Empty of stuff I don’t need, to make room for what I do.

Still, so I can appreciate it.

Happy Wednesday, all.

K – hey neat – I just found this:

” Experience teaches only the teachable ”
Aldous Huxley

…wonder if he’d agree …