Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Joy of making art

I have just finished another acrylic and painted chalk artwork, and my joy of making art is full open.  This series of 47 paintings (this is number 3 so long way to go) are based on dreams I had when creating my Journey Oracle Divination deck.  These Oracle card dreams may have been the origin of the images, and are contributing the title for each painting, but so much more is beginning to go on.  I am having conversations with myself about how joy in art making is a gift, yet it is a gift that must be earned. 

It is easy to become tangled in the clinging webs of ego and self-doubt. Is this image OK?  What does that even mean?  What will others think?  Why do I care what others think?  Is this effort not serious enough? What would make it more serious?  What does that even mean? 

What would seem a most dramatic meander through self-appraisal and judgement becomes a most simple process of mark making, and herein lives the joy.

The treasure in art, for me, has become the doing, and not the thinking.

And yet to honour this gift of joy, to be worthy of receiving it, I understand I must struggle and sacrifice. This is how the gift is earned.

The struggle, the sacrifice, is in making an offering of something of equal value in return for this treasure.

And like a pearl, that offering is built by slow layers, by working every day, by believing there is always more to the story.

Are you getting to finish your story?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Little rituals as art

What is a little ritual?  Something ordinary.  A moment when awareness sees the ordinary as something other.  A gesture.  A pause.  A stepping out of time.  

Sometimes a little ritual is left by other hands.
A glimpse into another sense of meaning.

Sometimes a little ritual is our play
that moves beyond us into its own meaning. 

The ordinary is simple.

Yet the experience of simplicity can lead to a profound silence.

  A little ritual is a celebration.  A present moment changing. 

 A thought held in a timeless moment 

A little ritual is really seeing, even if just for a moment.

"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot,
but there are others who,
thanks to their art and their intelligence,
transform a yellow spot into the sun."
Pablo Picasso

My reflections on the present moment, silence and little rituals has been inspired by Ajahn Viradhammo, Abbot of Tisarana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Ontario.  
Thank you for your beautiful teaching. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Preparing a drum making workshop

In drum making, much depends on preparation.  Long before the participants begin to work,  the workshop materials are coming together.

Hides are stirred twice daily for 7 days in a hydrated lime and water bath. 

Frame drum hoops are made weeks in advance as each one is composed of 4 laminated strips of either ash or spruce wood. To allow for proper drying only one strip is glued into place each day. This workshop of eight drums required 32 days for gluing up hoops, not counting the filling and sanding after the hoops were laminated. 

Tools are a big category of preparation.  Scissors, ulus and buck knives, hole punches, and awls are sharpened and gathered.  Rubber gloves, old towels, and aprons are also a high priority.

Creating work stations for removing the hair and flesh from the deerskin involves solving logistical puzzles of space and sturdiness.

This system of sawhorses and PVC half-pipes held in place with wooden brackets makes a successful  "deer hide train" that is ready to for the work to begin.

And once the work begins, so does the excitement of having a new adventure.

Drum making is also hard physical work, with lots of messy moments.

But the payoff is the creation of a beautiful frame drum, made with careful attention to each detail.

The learning goes beyond the physical experience, and becomes a total immersion in quiet concentration.

Thanks to Donna Williams and the Experiential Program at St. Michael's University School in Victoria BC, and to the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort on Cortes Island, for saying Yes to these remarkable six days of traditional drum making in early June.