Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fragmentation and a Cheese Grater

"The most awkward means are adequate to the communication of authentic experience, and the finest words no compensation for lack of it.  It is for this reason that we are moved by the true Primitives and that the most accomplished art craftsmanship leaves us cold." 
(I would like to start by just mentioning that I realize the word 'Primitive' is outdated.  It assumes that anyone who isn't part of the "educated normal" is categorized by society as basic, unintelligent or naive.  This quote is by a philosopher of art, among other things, who lived from 1877-1947 so he himself was part of a different era.  While it is an ignorant word to use now, his quote brings to the forefront the possibility of understanding that artists that are thought of as 'primative' are in fact tapped into their authentic experience, something that "educated normals" have been seeking for as long as we have existed.  It brings into question who is really more primitive?  If artists such as Henry Darger have the tools and capacity to make strikingly meaningful, authentic and beautiful art in the face of loneliness, poverty and other debilitating effects of his traumatic childhood I would ask, how are those profound skills primitive?  Is it not more primitive to not have the ability to tap into that autheticity? Just a question... on with the show!)

I am reading the book Zen and the art of making a living By Laurence G. Boldt.  I have been inspired for a long time by another of his books, The Tao of Abundance, and this is along the same lines in terms of being full of inspiring information but also offering practical tools for seeking out "real" work that is a rewarding, full expression of the true self and acts as an invaluable contribution to society.

Boldt recognizes how out of fashion it is these days to talk of spirit and true self.  This passe reputation seems to be in direct correlation with our culture's sworn allegiance to science and industry: to all that is concrete, controllable and able to be known through our five senses.  I am not suggesting that science and industry are somehow bad or invaluable.  Our concrete senses are essential to existing in the concrete world.  Without them we would not have bodies or brains to think about such fascinating topics.  I wouldn't have this computer, the tea I'm drinking or the adorable but semi-irritating cat sitting on my lap.  The problem with being an exclusive lover of science and industry is that it exists in a framework of fragmentation.  

A good metaphor is color: digital color is divided up into separate compartments because it exists in pixels.  The vary nature of pixels in that they are separate bits that make up a whole.  From what I can understand, every color pixel has a name or code that indicates it.  Non-digital color, like on an artist's palette, is fluid and the mixing of colors makes a totally different substance with a totally different color that is directly connected to the colors that created it.  The newly mixed color may not have its own name but exists all the same. 
The important thing to notice is that both types of color make up a bigger picture (literally).   They are both valuable and they can communicate with each other (hence the fact that I can take a digital photo of my painting and post it on the web).  

The problem with any fragmentation is when one fragment is unaware of the bigger picture it makes-- the way and reason for which the fragments are actually connected.  They appear separate by our senses if looked at one by one.  Without being aware of this connection, meaning goes out the window.  Connection goes out the window.  Our energy goes out the window.  The pattern becomes how to make more separate bits, how to control them and how to find somewhere to put them once they do exist.  Any why?

deep breath...
(rice paddies in China)

I have to take a deep breath and look at the beautiful landscape above because in my daily experience I often feel like I am continually rubbing against a cheese grater, fragmenting myself so that some of me can go over there and try and be one thing, some of me can stay home and be another thing.  All the while I'm not realizing what I'm grating up, how tasty of a cheese I am or what the kitchen is like that I'm being grated in!!  Ok, I know I'm going overboard with the cheese imagery, but I am totally serious.  I'm exhausting myself!   Now, granted, I am doing it with a bit of foresight-- hoping to make a killer pizza or eggplant parm in the end-- but I must be delicious already or I could never make a delicious meal later, right?  I am fragmenting myself with hopes of finding interconnection later while I am totally missing the interconnection in my life right now!  

To tie in the initial quote at the top (which inspired this whole long winded extravaganza) I am inspired by the idea that true authenticity needs no high craftsmanship to be expressed.  I am interested in relaxing a bit in the camp of trying to do something the "right way" and to just start trusting that wherever I am, I can be in my authenticity and whatever I make or express in that authenticity will be "adequate to the communication of [my] authentic experience".  I can trust that if I start to see my life as it is right now as one, big beautiful picture, and not a hot cheese grater on wheels, that I am already part of a beautiful bigger picture that would be (is!) a shame to miss.

"Lupulgna" by Makinti Napanangka, an Aboriginal artist.

 "Women's Dreaming" by Tanya Napangardi, also an Aboriginal artist (same website).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Etsy Shop

**Grand Opening**
My new etsy shop is officially open!
I've listed 6 different greeting cards and two variety packs.
I have hopes of including art prints of the paintings soon.

Each 5.5"x 8" card is printed on 30% recycled glossy card stock. 
(they can be printed on 100% recycled matte card stock if requested)
Their envelopes are 100% recycled.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inspiration as a Taste of Transcendence

My studio today: packed to the brim like a party put on hold, waiting to bust out again.  It has been put on hold in a very real, tangible sense as I have been away for much of the last few months.  While away at my final weeks of yoga teacher training, though, we did 24 hours of silence.  In that silence I heard my creative voice speak up loud and strong.  I spent the day drawing and writing tons of ideas that suddenly surfaced in the space I had created in my silence.  It's the same space I create when I am home in my studio... if I can keep from distracting myself.  

As I practice many things in my life, I have often asked myself: what do these things have in common?  If I can find a common thread then perhaps I can overlap them more and simplify while also seeing their interconnectedness.  The commonality I have found is their direct relationship to inspiration.  Without inspiration I would not want to do anything.  If doing is a metaphorical act of expiring, or breathing out, how would that be possible without first breathing in, inspiring!  

Some thoughts on inspiration:  I believe that we are all naturally inspired by something(s) and that the inspiration we have is due to some sort of glimpse of transcendence of the everyday mundane.  The everyday mundane is full of names, labels and "should/shouldn't".  If mundane can be transcended, suddenly a cup can be a hat, a deep, magical pool of water, an eyeglass, a musical instrument... the possibilities are endless!  How strange the world is that we live in!  How strange our bodies are!   Really look at your hands with their long, delicate, fleshy and sensitive appendages that do a million things without us really having to think much about it!  What a weird color they are! Texture!  Variety of temperatures!  If we become to stuck in believing that everything we see fits with the ideas we already have in our heads, there is no space or freedom to be creative in anyway; to see anything in new, unique way.  In that mundane world, what is the point in doing anything, other than because we are afraid of losing what we know.  When the mundane can be transcended, just imagine the fun and fluidity in life!
(This is a sculpture in progress.  It is jammed up between the doorway (left) and my earring racks (right).  I wonder every time I'm in there to make something new, what will happen when my studio is so full that I can no longer enter?  Maybe it will explode and cover the world with colorful scraps that people can collect and glue back together into new sculptures!)
(This is on the bulletin board in my studio where I put inspiring things.)

But what if we don't know what inspires us?  After all, our culture doesn't talk much about the importance of inspiration so we may not know it when we see it.  Even artists (or perhaps especially artists because happiness/fluidity in the studio is such a heavy topic with many artists I know) find that the sparkle of inspiration falls away unexpectedly, leaving just the things: paint, paper, clay, dust... and the question, what's the point?  Why am I even doing this?  
I can only tell you why I'm doing this and it is directly connected to why I love art in general.   I believe that art is the manifestation of the transcendence and inspiration that I am talking about.  It is proof that there is something more than just stuff, labels, the mundane.  Everyone needs to know that this transcendence is possible, whether we make art or not, because the truth is, this stuff-- this computer, my hands, the weather, paint, my new cat friend Calliope-- won't be this way forever.  It is the nature of the universe to change.  Being so caught up in labels and rules is a set-up for fear as it could change any second.  So what else is there?  That's why I'm doing this: to manifest glimpses of magic, sparkle and what is sacred.  It is one way that I exhale.

I also believe that if the artist is inspired while making their work (or while coming up with the idea) that the work will be imbued with that inspiration and thus offered to the viewer as a taste of transcendence.
(My overflowing book nook by my bed.  A place for rest and thinking.  Delicious!)

May you and I find peace and delicious inspiration!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love, Work, Play and Inspiration

When I returned home last Friday night from my yoga teacher training this is what I found!  Mikel had cut "Megan" and "Yogi" out of silver paper and hung it in the dining room before leaving for work that morning.  So cool!  

I am officially a Kripalu Yoga Alliance certified instructor!!  The transition back into the "real world" has been strange, colorful and slow.  I can already feel the everyday stress pulling my eyebrows together and twisting me up into a puckered pretzel.  I met with another yoga teacher friend yesterday for tea and he told me that I seem stressed or sad.  The truth is, I am loving my life here in NYC pursuing my "real" work yet I just feel like I am pulled in a million different directions in the effort to get my work flowing.  I have a hunch that if I do less in my day and if what I do is done with mindfulness and zest, my eyebrows will more naturally relax on the sunny beach of my brow and my body will only reference a snack food if I ask it to (twizzler-asana? mmmmm...)

So here's a big question lately: is it OK (healthy?) to use my youthful energy to pursue my dream job as if I'm wildly chasing down a pack of deer?  And if so, will it actually come to fruition the way I dream, with both rewarding hard work and delicious leisure?  OR, is my life now the way it will always be so should I therefore allow deadlines to be less strict, my opportunity radar to take a weekend off and my feet to be resting so sweetly up on something comfortable at least once a day while I take deep breaths?  After all, if my life will always be like it is now doesn't it make sense to incorporate daily what I wish to be in my day forever?

I think it may be possible to do both: work hard and relax hard.  If I had a chalice right now I would lift it to "live today like I want to live every day!!"  

Now to put that into action...
For my "work hard" category today I hooked up our new printer that my sister and her husband gave us for Christmas.  (I feel to supported in my crafting dreams!)  I started right away today printing some greeting cards and my new business cards.  It's like magic!

To help me practice relaxing and enjoying life a bit more, here's Calliope who is trying to adopt us... and who I am having a seriously hard time refusing...  She has some mad crazy relaxing skills.

The key to all of this happiness-in-life stuff, in my opinion, is finding inspiration.  My inspiration for the day (well one inspiration) is this artist, Pim Palsgraaf.  

Sweet love, sweet work, sweet play and sweet inspiration!  I wish it for everyone!