the Retreat

September 07, 2014  •  186 Comments

        I have just returned to the city from spending the last 2 weeks on a retreat in the Sierra Nevada Valley of northern California. My friend Della and I house-sat for a couple while they attended a wedding in Vancouver, B.C. The experience was the highlight of this year for myself. It is an experience that would be of benefit to most of us, in how it simply involves the nourishing of the soul from being in nature. Though my life is not conventional at the moment, hasn't been for some time, yet I do exist in that place of various types of human relations, life obligations relating to earning/maintaining a living, etc. We absorb so much, daily and what do we do with it all? How does it affect us? Psychologically, emotionally, spiritually? Its not until we leave the lives of habit and routine that we generally build ourselves into, that we can have any kind of clear reference point into our own lives. Being in nature, this point of reference is taken to the extreme. And it is here that I found myself these last 2 weeks, and it is this clarity that unforseeingly came as the result of it. Waking in the morning to a mountainous valley of green forest receiving a golden glow from the sun rising in the east, I found myself effortlessly picking up pen and paper to sit in it before I had even wiped the morning crust from my eyes to transmit the inspiration that came from being in a place of such beauty. Whatever I was doing was an act of mediation, where I was involved deeply in whatever was being done. Whether it was hiking on endless trails in the mountains, swimming in the lakes and ponds, grilling elk burgers, watering the garden, catching a snake, it was all meditative in how all thought centered intensely on what was occuring in the moment. There was no distraction of being involved towards anything else. Time went by slow in this manner, to where if it weren't for day turning to night it would have not been noticed at all. Even here, it was not noticed. I woke when I woke, I slept when I slept. When, where didn't matter. This was a harmony of comradery felt in all things around me. The elements of distraction, media, communications, computer, material things of trend and fashion, and the most distracting... the element of being around other people were all non-existent. And it is from the absence of all these things, that the transmitter in the head and heart can be met with that of the world outside of the self. Without static. And it is from here the clarity begins, and I experienced it deeply. And as artist, I swam in it, and the drawings, the writings that poured forth were the photographs taken from this connection of the 2 worlds of inner and outer. And the benefit for any to find the time in one's life to take refuge if at all possible in such an environment, is how the imbalance of these 2 worlds occurs from the many distractions and absorptions we take from and live with from them, and how the communion of the 2 worlds find their way back in marriage like distant lovers re-uniting when man/woman arrives alone in nature and with nature itself alone with.

                 The definition of myself, upon recent discovery, in regards to social title of what I do is that of philosopher. The artistic aspect follows this rather than guides. One of my confusions of recent that has grown, but from this retreat has been cut through is that I draw and paint. The confusion has gathered from taking the results of these creations on a professional level of exhibitions, promotion, etc. and having met all types of artists and seeing all types of arts, yet in both finding very little relation towards either in what is at the center, ambitions of my own practice. With painting for example, so much of my experience with others has been the focus on the elements, the aesthetics of painting itself. Design orientation as the motive, where the inspiration is about color, shape, texture, etc. and the experimentation within a compositional frame. Such things aren't fascinating to me. I'm more interested in the person's life than what they paint. And seldom do I see this thru a person's work in this manner. Not that this is good, bad, or trying to define what art is or whatever, I am simply stating the beginnings of my own relation. I would rather spend a day with a farmer that lives a life of contentment and walk into his world, than see a retrospective of the worlds greatest painter. When I taught briefly on the college level, I had a great conversation with one of the model's while we were on break before setting up the next pose. He was an artist, and we talked of our process. He would describe his inspiration came from seeing the shapes of light fall on an object, and how he would be drawn to translate the response to canvas with color. My inspiration came from hearing this man's struggle with getting older and how a physical injury had bed ridden him to where he had to come to terms of having defined himself for so long on being an athlete and having a Bruce Lee body, only to take up smoking, drinking and gaining weight and suffering a depression from not being able to continue the lifestyle of running and gym work that he had made routine for years like eating breakfast first thing in the morning. I wanted to paint that! The class I was teaching was anatomy, which involved 'Life Drawing'. The interesting aspect with this is again, my relation to this term is more personal. But like the conversation with the model mentioned, I understand the conventional definition of what is being spoken about. Life Drawing, working from a live model as opposed to from a photograph. I did my share of this in learning the principles of drawing, painting, and it was exciting but the excitement transferred onto broader things once I received the education I had reached for. And so with the principles learned, life drawing for myself became defined in drawing from life. Experiencing the life journey and making the invisible abstract aspect of it visible in sharing, expressing thru the aesthetics of the visual arts. The artist in the shadow of the philosopher.

        On my retreat, I created a body of work consisting of drawings. I wrote much as well and have incorporated some of the writings into the drawings. The process of all the works was intuitive. Never knowing where each piece would go, I would begin by scrambling lines on paper and at some point an image would begin to take shape. It was always a journey of following the shape to fruition, a mystery revealed in each piece. This process was a reflection of the heart of where I found myself in the arms of nature. There was no work to be done, but just sway with the wind as if I were one of the many leaves on the branches of the surrounding oaks and pines that swayed in the force and music like a soft orchestra came forth from in the spaces of infinite leaves on infinite trees existing in the same universal pool of life all relating as a solid whole of so many fragmented parts. I was along for the ride and here it was came from it. Enjoy!

       This upcoming week, along with sharing the pieces created I will be creating an auction bid where if the viewer is interested, they can purchase the piece. I will be doing this from my blog page, where I will share background on the piece at hand. 

"Forward on The Path", ink on paper, 5.5"x 8.5", 2014"Forward on The Path", ink on paper, 5.5"x 8.5", 2014        The accumulation of this idea of self that grows bigger with age. An abstract representation of who we think we are sculpted from the clay of the daily experience of our lives. Life giving it shape, not our own hands. This is the difference between reaction and creation. Conformity and individuality. The clay head gets bigger with time, and becomes so heavy and though we grow weary of carrying it upwards each step we know no other way of doing so. We have no existing reference point of comparison. "Thats life", "that's the real world" we casually say with tired arms and legs. But its when the happy accidents of our lives trips us up and the weight we hold onto so desperately falls from our hands and shatters to pieces that the world becomes a feather. Some float on and enjoy the groundlessness. Others cant get beyond the fear, how the pulsating of the dormant heart beats so alive and there is for once no shadow of a weight to hide it. The heart of the human core is exposed in the universe's light and it burns like looking at the sun for the first time. The fear cultivates the desperate act of senseless of putting all the pieces back together until the weight is heavy enough to continue carrying up the stairs. And it is does get lonely if one remains a feather, gliding up the stairs easily losing all sight of a society of Sisyphuses that get stuck at the bottom falling and climbing with the weight of their life burden of creation. And the feather should be the symbol of freedom, because the experience of it is. So fragile, so vulnerable, so easy, so light, and so trusting and so open in floating in accordance with the winds of the world and seeing it all from vantage points of the high and low. This is a tall order and not for all. The antithesis perhaps could be likened to a rock, and many settle for this. Settle for less when there is so much more. If anything could come from this writing, its the awareness that there is so much more.


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