Archives for posts with tag: Contemplation

In silence and solitude, where our conversation with the universe takes place, I lose myself, hoping to return with more than what I carried into that vastness, more than the substance I encompass and its portrayal, which is projected into the aether until a mutual exchange blends consciousness with the mysteries of existence in a single breath, inhaled and exhaled, and carried in a vibration, where I am both a part of and severed from the tangle of life and it’s myriad impression… always a memory (with each passing second), a memory that is integrated within the Self who is also consumed and discarded before the next draw of breath. And in that flow, both giving and receiving, everything that is conceivable, and its antithesis, are unified, though each expression becomes a different interpretation of the same encounter, a different point of view that is not in opposition, but in perfect harmony within the same focused confusion that created the world and all of its compliments and contradictions.



During these last long days, amid the whirlwind of internal change, my consciousness has finally alighted upon the moment, a precarious position I created out of uncharacteristic impulsiveness, indulging in what I often deny myself. All the while, the oppressive cold of winter prevails as a reflection, prolonging its stay while intermingling with rain, which pervades and saturates my escape. Wherefore I remain. Within.

But in that great distance, tucked away in my own unfathomable depth, where I am perched in silence, I meditate and pray. Though I also listen, not only to the heart’s beat, which is only proof of life, but again, to the rhythm I am to become, the cadence of a continuous flow. And I am almost there. I can feel the reverberation as I once did in the womb. I recognize the life force just as I could perceive my mother’s voice, not as a sound, but as a frequency that traveled through me. She was at one time all I knew of nature, before I embodied my own, and now, before I am able to express a greater whole (of which I am only a part).

I had to go back home, to the beginning. I had to subdue the growing cacophony, feeling worn and threadbare, feeling pinned beneath the weight I never had to learn to lift on my own; for I am propelled by Love, eternally aware that I am also saved the selfsame way, with nothing truly at risk except, perhaps, remaining the same… Only dreaming of tomorrow, safely, from my cradle of Love.

If you previously missed the opportunity, here is the Matisse interview I’m referencing now for the second time.

I had to touch on the subject of “Suffering” that was discussed in part two of the interview, because I share Matisse’s sentiments and combative attitude toward a generally accepted view of what art is. But more important, despite the overwhelming risk and sacrifices involved and the stigmas associated with pursuing a career in art, I am quite grateful that a filtering process of privation and perseverance exists, to sift through and separate the “Sunday painters,” as Matisse calls them, from practiced craftsmen who are inherently driven to create, oftentimes by a force or Will not entirely their own. That’s not to say that the “Sunday painter” is incapable of creating great art, but simply, that dabbling doesn’t make one an artist.

My predilection, as an example, is a love/hate relationship that I ultimately had to come to terms with, accept, and consciously embrace as an intrinsic attribute that has shaped my life. It is as necessary as eating and sleeping for me, not necessarily a passion as many would like to believe. We are inseparable, my brushes and I. So it can seem unfair when popular opinion permits anyone who wields a brush or pencil or who models a piece of clay to be considered “an Artist”, whether such urges are entertained on a whim, out of boredom, or serious interest. That sort of general acceptance erodes the arena of fine art by cluttering and confusing the marketplace in a way that no other profession really has to indulge. It’s the equivalent of saying that just because I wrote mommy a letter, I’m now a writer, or, because I have an opinion about the state of our economy, I’m suddenly an expert economist, or that nursing my own minor injuries qualifies me as a doctor; so on, and so forth. In no other field do such unsubstantial efforts constitute “authority”, except in art. So I agree with Matisse wholeheartedly when, concerning art students, he says, “They should be given a volley of blows with a stick and led back home,” because then we’d know with absolute certainty which of them have any real conviction.

But my stance on the subject is entirely a passive aggressive one, purely steam (as we come full-circle), because the truth of the matter is that without a muddled art-scene… the struggle that informs and fuels my creative energy may also not exist. “It is necessary that there be a straining. It is necessary that life be hard…” Matisse declares. And one may have to be an artist to truly appreciate what that means.

I’ve experienced, first hand, the subduing effects of being well fed, and it’s not as productive as one would think. In fact, my hunger (both literally and figuratively) is the very source of my contradiction in this discussion, but also, what allows me to brush off the mild annoyances without insult or injury. Although I won’t go so far as to say that starving is necessary to create, a stimulus of some kind is, and starving just happens to be mine. It is a driving force, to EARN my place (among the stars – because if I must dream, I dream big), perhaps even an aspect of my ingrained work ethic that is defined by the desire to be exceptional at whatever I do (so as to make the task worth doing). As a consequence, however, I tend to experience an oppressive heaviness, a stifling lethargy when satiated, almost as if contentment extinguishes my desire to strive for “more.” Maybe that’s a healthy attitude. And maybe it’s not. It’s an eccentricity I barely understand and can only attempt to explain as a conflict between a physical Self, my human element, and the Spirit, which seeks transcendence, inasmuch as the conflict has become a recurring theme in my work. Despite the fact that the body houses the Spirit, there is no denying that these dueling aspects require contrasting stimuli in order to function, flourish, and mature. And the very question of which to indulge has become a decision I face almost every day. I have to ask myself, “Do I want to feed my body, or feed my Spirit?”

More often than not… I willingly choose the Spirit.

While in the process of preparing my submission to the West Austin Studio Tour, a friend of mine discovered and shared an article that helped me find my own words (for an artist statement with which I always struggle). The article is an engaging piece that truly resonated with me, a long-lost interview with the famous French painter, Henri Matisse. (link provided below)

As I explored all three parts, which cover a broad range of topics, Matisse seemed the spokesperson for the artist collective, tackling difficult questions with insight and eloquence while setting the tempo early with an unpretentious response to “the significance of subject” in the artist’s work. And it is in this brief statement that I found direction. He said, “The subject is me, and what I see.”

While seemingly simple and vague; “The subject is me…” is actually a bold statement, especially today, when more and more artists tend to reject the tradition of painting altogether and instead resort to long-winded explanations about nothing (please refer to  my last entry, “Whatever, Dude”).  🙂  But I don’t mean to paint in broad strokes here. Out of context, anything can and will appear trivial. My criticism is directed at those who abuse the use of rhetoric for lack of talent.

I used to take a firm philosophical stance when describing my work, not as an attempt to feign meaning, but because I honestly failed to recognize how inherently fundamental my process is. In fact, I am only now realizing that the bulk of my work is nothing more than an ongoing series of abstracted self-portraits, because, no matter what I start with, in terms of subject matter, the end result is ultimately filtered through the lens of my own experience and understanding, which perhaps distorts any truth I think I know about my subject. Yet, even such an assertion could hardly suggest that the work is frivolous or lacking in substance. It simply means that the passive viewer must also become a more careful observer in order to encounter the implications presented in a conversation with the quintessential Self, the inner dialogue that is outwardly expressed in all human endeavors.

(to be continued…)

Submission deadline: Feb. 20th

For your reading pleasure, here is the complete interview:

Because I have to get into a rhythm of writing, I am forcing myself (once again) to improvise, whether related or not. It doesn’t matter. The point is simply to instill the discipline, first and foremost. (Right?) I understand that. And yet, here I am, leaving another incomplete post in my drafts folder while reverting back to this exasperating cycle of saying nothing (in so many words).

I’ve made time, every day this past week, to sit down and write, even if I only produced a few lines. I wanted to be prepared, d@mmit! And yet… nothing. I seemed to stumble on the same roadblock every time, getting caught up in revisions upon revisions until the topic was exhausted, incoherent, and useless. I even tried to comfort myself by saying, “I’ts okay dude. This is part of the learning curve.” Only to retort, somewhat quizzically, “Whatever, dude!” (as I made rude gestures into the mirror).

I know better. Write first. Think later. That’s the trick. But it’s exactly the thinking/revising that restrains me. That’s where my technical and creative sides collide in all-out war without prisoners. One part of me wants to inspire with sincerity and depth, while the other wants to woo you with poetic devices, even if you don’t understand what the hell I’m saying. And… perhaps you don’t have to.

All I know for sure, right now, is:

#1. Nothing is easy. (Wait. Think about this one. It’s ironical.)

And 2. You should see my drafts folder. It’s quite impressive!  🙂

As I begin to understand my own journey through the wilderness of Life, presently seeing steps and passageways instead of obstacles, I’m also discovering how to breathe. And because I want to experience, I walk through my day, taking time, not only to smell the roses, but also, to consume its flesh with every faculty I possess, to perceive and preserve its essence, intact. We become an ingested whole in that encounter, its meaning revealed in our shared intonation when, in that very moment, I become its velvet petals, expressing Life’s own lust and longing to be devoured… so it can bloom again.

I traverse each day as if it were an unending dream, undaunted now by the threat of disappointment. And I inhabit a Will that wants to savor the myriad nuance of feeling, infinite in interpretation and portrayal, assuming the vast implication offered in every second seized, where a message is conveyed and stretched across relentless fathoms both deep and dark; expressing light; expressing Life, which is The Light. It says, “We are free, and self-determining.”

For those of you who don’t know me personally… I’m a total fat@ss! (at heart and in spirit, at least) But, neither my appetite nor the measures taken to counter its effects are of any significance here. Oh, no. The heaviness I’m addressing is more abstract and of a more melancholy nature, one that seems amplified this time of year, almost out of necessity, as if human potential, like a seed, requires stratification in order to germinate and develop into a fully realized dream.

As a studio artist, I am naturally a homebody, an introvert who requires little coaxing to stay in. But in the winter months, when the body goes into hibernation mode and the mind idles in standby, remaining indoors can feel enforced, somehow negating its comforts. Worse yet, when restlessness finally settles in and urges me to seek alternative diversions that draw me away from the canvas, my imagination turns ever more inward, sights set on the condition of my character, inspecting its contents and evaluating them for viability and sustainability, which inevitably leads me to question whether I’m being realistic (about anything); my aspirations and desires, fantasies and dreams. And to this, my answer is always a resounding, “Yes! (with an expletive)” – Though, not before a serious inner conflict is waged and won (in whole, or in part).

Only one lingering uncertainty persists, that of Love. (I know. I can hear all the big, warm hearts gushing. Awww!) But the truth of the matter is… I’ve left little room for it, never having needed its intoxicating impressions to feel whole. Though I’d also be entirely remiss to deny hoping for it (someday). I simply don’t know if I am (dare I say) programmed to appreciate such a relationship. Hell! I can hardly take care of myself, let alone, a wife and child (or multiple children, heaven forbid!)

And still, the thought surfaces… as if a universal, biological clock does exist, ticking away and urging us on without prejudice.

I’m a romantic, through and through, who knows how to Love fully and without regret. And I am a dreamer, as all artists are. But I know wholeheartedly that there will never be a “right time”. That will simply be a choice I’ll have to make when inspiration strikes. That’s what makes pondering the thought so pointless, like so many unnecessary pounds that need to be shed. Falling in Love is an incomprehensible and illogical occurrence that seems to take place against unfathomable odds and at moments when one least expects it, ready or not. So for now, I guess that lucky lady will just have to wait until such lawlessness finds me a worthy subject.

Until then… I just had to release the echo.

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