The Conversation Artist

 

To be read in the voice of Charlie Sheen:

 

I’ve given up the writ-

ten word, given in to

the limitations and mirrored

reality. so that i can focus

on the art of conversation.

like me it leaves no trace

at least no paper trail

no more trying to be

published, polished

no more trying to be

what i think They want.

Is there any other art form

in this day and age that could

have a more profound effect?

A conversation can’t be

commercialized, and sold,

it’s not profitable, unless

you’re in on it.

A conversation is love

an art form that is

the truest expression of life.

Wood Block Project #1

So I’ve had this woodblock project post sitting in the drafts pile for a while now and I’ve been working on some new woodblock designs. So I figured I should show off my first attempt as well! I had this vision while I was trying to fall asleep. While I knew I wasn’t asleep the shadowy image on the wall, looking over me, sure made me feel like I was in one. The shadows and light layered over one another which brought about a hue around the edges and seemed to move the figure like some kind of 3-D image.

It was clearly a face on the wall, as it always is. Once I looked deeper though I realized that a lamp shade is what made up the mouth shape, slits of light were the eyes, the convex ceiling was the top of the head. The two walls join at an angle which really made the figure pop. It was at this point that I figured I either had to draw the Buddha figure watching over me lest I be haunted by misfortune. Over the following days I worked out the sketch, changing proportions and trying to find the right shape. This is what I settled on.

PSX_20180210_192316

Now I have only had one chance to try a woodblock and that was a while ago. So its really no surprise that while carving the block I had some gouges and imperfections, though it was fun I wasn’t sure if the end product would turn out.

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“Top Knot”

I ended up needing to go back and cut a little deeper in the nose, and mouth area. You can see along the border where the knife slipped and some of the smaller areas are really gouged at. I’m still looking for some good quality paper to put a black and white draft on. I had some black paper around the house and wanted to try some prints.

WP_20171230_14_49_17_Pro

Not exactly as excited as I was when I started. The raised face takes away from the cool outline. This was the better print that turned out after trying a few. While I was working on the nose I took a bit too much out which you can see clearly here. I also had a tough time getting a smooth print. You can see where I lifted the block the little bubbly areas that I think are either from too much ink, or not the right type of paper, or both. I’d like to try this image again, I think it’s really cool and could look great on a t-shirt.

This weekend I plan on sketching a new design, I’d like to make a nice archival butterfly picture for my wife.

Spring Sprung Frogs

Last night the kids were watching TV and I wanted to sketch. I started with the intention to clear my mind. I wanted to have no conceptions, no ideas in my mind before putting pen to paper. To draw a line with no judgment, opens a world of possibilities and makes the work a lot less worrisome. Though to just decide to drop the narrative in one swift moment and release is such a subtle piece of business. For someone like me the subtlety  of such business would take a long while on my cushion, with silence, and it still might not even come. So, it didn’t exactly work, at least not in the way I expected. I sketched a loop and a line across the base and this was all the mind needed to form an intention; with just these two lines it had become clear that it was a frog. Now to say that having intention is the same as conceptualizing is, I think, the subtle difference between being liberated from, or being tied to an idea. Because intention is just at this point frog, and a willingness to change if the idea of frog turns into something else. Conceptualizing would have been to take it further; Pacman frog sitting near a serene creek with a mountains and trees in the backdrop. Which then becomes a little more rigid, and fixed, and eventually gives rise to the judging mind. The artwork then becomes only an expression of the shackles of limitation. I formed the body and began to cut in a few tufts of grass near his feet, then gave him a familiar frog smile. At this point I saw the distinct horns of the Pacman frog we saw at the pet store earlier in the day. So I went with it and continued adding rocks nearby. I wondered what he would look like in his natural environment, not backed up in the glass corner of a bare terrarium. This wonder gave rise to the rest of the picture: a Pacman frog sitting near a serene creek with mountains and thickets nearby.

PacmanFrog1

Not exactly masterful. Maybe whimsical. Not timeless, but fixed to a particular time and memory. Immediately after I finished I noticed a few spots that I could have made better; I could have added more detail to the mountains, made a stretch of treeline to give it depth, and added detail to the frog, or at least created bolder lines. But alas the kids were done with the TV. The reaction of my son was really what it was all about. His smile brought the picture to life.

Within the past few weeks while I walk the dog at night you can hear the little tree frogs from different wetland preserves around the neighborhood croaking in sinuous unison. My son and I love the croaking, a constant wave of croaking. We’ll go to the chain link fenced preserve and see if we can spot any venturing out of the pond and onto the river rocks. The noise is very loud, so much so that we don’t even bother to try to talk over it. Usually though it only lasts about a minute or so until we’ve been spotted and word gets out to shut off the croak box. Then silence descends and its as if there was never anything there at all, because to get a glimpse of them is nearly impossible.

Not only this bit of inspiration but I’ve fallen in love with the master Hakuin Ekaku and his work. He evokes such uncompromising commitment. Some prints are so childlike that the viewer can’t help but feel overwhelming joy. His lines are bold and in his work is the essence of Zen, there is perfection in his imperfection.

M__1E20

 

And so of course I’ve been working out my own sumi paintings of frogs.

 

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Spring has suddenly become more obvious; the cherry trees are in full bloom, birds are nesting, the frogs are croaking in an undulating rhythm that makes one sure there is some kind of mating dance accompanied with it, and you may have noticed that the produce in the grocery store has been grown a little bit closer to home. This brings to mind the theme of new beginnings that comes with spring, the ceaseless beginnings and endings that make up life on earth, and the reminder that we also live in a way that is reflective of the seasons, even if we realize it or not. We can use art as a way to get in step with the natural rhythm of the mind and body. By being willing to open up to the intention frees us to accept outcomes and circumstances for what they are and deal with them more fluidly. For when we get stuck in an idea, or a concept we become fixed and rigid.

So needless to say clearing my mind from outside as well as past influences didn’t exactly work, however I did find that open spot, free from judgment, which allowed the creativity to flow. I might even say for a minute I got a glimpse of being free from the concepts of this fleeting world of form.

Sumi-e Attempts 1 & 2

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Mt. Rainier on a Rainy Day

I’m pretty sure I posted my first Sumi attempt a while back, though now that I’m looking for it I don’t see it. After many mistakes and mishaps I finally did something else I thought worth sharing.

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Rainy Day

There is so much to learn with this amazing art form, and recently I’ve been experimenting with the amount of water, and color tone. Oh yeah I guess brush strokes, and technique, different effects of the paper and on and on. I’ve found that the more technique I learn from books, the less I know.

I started with a traditional bamboo painting, which I thought turned out really well. My wife was even surprised at how good it turned out. Then I started digging through books and videos to discover more traditional and varied techniques, only to find that I couldn’t even replicate what I’d already done! It was a miserable few weeks as my confidence dwindled. I finally had to take a step back from painting bamboo. I feel like its the attempt to learn techniques in this way that requires students to invest hundreds of hours of work. Mastering the skill only comes when one can finally forget all that was learned from books in the first place.

For now I’ll keep experimenting. That really is the best way to learn (for me anyway). It gives me the freedom to make mistakes and inch my way closer to discovering the art of the ‘controlled accident’.

Sumi-e

12/29/17

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This picture really got me going this week. This was taken at Tyee High School in  SeaTac, WA.

 

 Creativeness manifests in so many different ways, it is the spark of ingenuity. Creativeness is submersing yourself in a task; giving it attention, and care, without ego. Universes are created in a flash and a bang of Ingenuity. With a skillful approach and  Ingenuity relationships flourish.

I had the chance to play with my sumi-e supplies from Xmas…

Rainy Day Hike Along Mt. Rainier

I’m extremely excited about trying this new medium. I tried to clear my mind of a preconception, and encourage myself to just play around and try new techniques. The brush flows with an effortless fluidity. It really is enamoring, this sumi-e. I plan on putting this on a black mat. And then I’ll search for a nice frame, or maybe I’ll learn to make one myself… Heheh.

How did Creativity strike you this week? Drop me a note, if you’d like to leave a comment.

Wood Block Project #1

So I’ve had this woodblock project post sitting in the drafts pile for a while now and I’ve been working on some new woodblock designs. So I figured I should show off my first attempt as well! I had this vision while I was trying to fall asleep. While I knew I wasn’t asleep the shadowy image on the wall, looking over me, sure made me feel like I was in one. The shadows and light layered over one another which brought about a hue around the edges and seemed to move the figure like some kind of 3-D image.

It was clearly a face on the wall, as it always is. Once I looked deeper though I realized that a lamp shade is what made up the mouth shape, slits of light were the eyes, the convex ceiling was the top of the head. The two walls join at an angle which really made the figure pop. It was at this point that I figured I either had to draw the Buddha figure watching over me lest I be haunted by misfortune. Over the following days I worked out the sketch, changing proportions and trying to find the right shape. This is what I settled on.

PSX_20180210_192316

Now I have only had one chance to try a woodblock and that was a while ago. So its really no surprise that while carving the block I had some gouges and imperfections, though it was fun I wasn’t sure if the end product would turn out.

WP_20171222_19_43_32_Pro
“Top Knot”

I ended up needing to go back and cut a little deeper in the nose, and mouth area. You can see along the border where the knife slipped and some of the smaller areas are really gouged at. I’m still looking for some good quality paper to put a black and white draft on. I had some black paper around the house and wanted to try some prints.

WP_20171230_14_49_17_Pro

Not exactly as excited as I was when I started. The raised face takes away from the cool outline. This was the better print that turned out after trying a few. While I was working on the nose I took a bit too much out which you can see clearly here. I also had a tough time getting a smooth print. You can see where I lifted the block the little bubbly areas that I think are either from too much ink, or not the right type of paper, or both. I’d like to try this image again, I think it’s really cool and could look great on a t-shirt.

This weekend I plan on sketching a new design, I’d like to make a nice archival butterfly picture for my wife.