Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Art as metaphor for life

I read this quote, "there is a difference between what we see and what we are aware of" at the beginning of  How To Read Water by Tristan Gooley.  I know there is a lot going on in art and in life that we either fail to notice, or choose not to notice. So in art and in life, what is the difference between seeing and being aware?

A dream image.  What are you seeing?
A horse running, a dog tied up, more horses inside 
a small fenced area, a woman picking up something,
 a tree, birds in a turbulent sky.

Our mind struggles to make a sensible story of this
and so we add in the impressions of our feelings. 
The horse is charging aggressively toward you.

The dog is friendly and secure,
but likely in danger from
being trampled by the horse.  

The other horses are in a cramped, small pen,
  when the entire area is also fenced. 

Why isn't the woman doing something 
about all this?
Why didn't she stop it?

So this is what we see, and this
 is what we either fail or choose not to notice.

Is the horse angry, or in a panic?

Is the dog really tied up?

The small pen has wire that only comes
to the horse's knees, so are they 
able to leave with just a little effort?

When we are aware of the feelings, assumptions and expectations we are bringing to a situation, we are able to do more than see it.  We are awake to what is going on, separate from our first impressions.  

Just like the messages in an oracle card reading require us to experience loss of comfort, heightened alertness and unexpected discoveries, we discover a depth and layering of revelation when we are aware of what we are seeing.  

Being aware of what we are seeing in art becomes a metaphor for being aware in life. And that awareness is able to expand and transform into meaningful action and self-knowledge.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Illustrate a children's book

Here are some insights about illustrating a children's book based on a recent collaboration with Kathy Sager.  She has already published one children's book and runs a licenced day care from her home so she is the children's story expert, and I am the art expert.

My style of art does not lend itself to cartoon figures, and the biggest insight occurred when people liked the photo-realist animal images.

They felt that when children saw the raccoon in the book and maybe later saw a raccoon on TV or out the window they would recognize and relate better to the real animal.

I do not have children of my own and so did casual research by standing in the grocery store aisle or at the library looking at children's books.  I discovered that many books have pages of only one or two images against a simple coloured background, which I wondered if kids find boring.  Not much to look at while Mom is reading the story.  I decided to go for a more complex detail, with shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces. 

I really appreciated how Kathy created a story that had a problem: two sisters want to plant their garden but the winter snow is still on the ground because the warm sun has not returned.

And then the story has a way to solve the problem: their Mother tells them the legend of how Mother Reindeer flies to the sun on Winter Solstice to bring back its warmth. 

And then the problem is solved:  
the sisters dance in the returning sunlight,

and Mothers and Fathers 
take care of their children in the warm new day. 

One of my favorite suggestions was that children like to find recurring creatures, and also that it is interesting to have more than one story happening--one in the words and a second "back story" that unfolds only in the pictures. 

I am a Goddess Grandmother to Zyla, who is called Bug 
by her closest big people.  
And so Bug came into the story,

 and got to go for quite a ride!

She certainly made a fashion statement,

and had her own story to tell about her adventures.  

Of course there is lots more to learn as this storybook 
about Mother Reindeer 
begins to travel toward publication. 
So stay tuned, the Journey Oracle is on a whole new journey.  

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Go on a meditation retreat

Here are some discoveries of things to do while on a meditation retreat at Birken Forest Monastery. No internet connection, no inquires for Journey Oracle cards or new drums to prepare for the webstore, so now what?

Celebrate mud? Glorious mud!

Sticky, slurpy, muddy slurry that glues itself to everything it touches. 

Precious start to spring and seeds lucky enough to drift and drop
 into its wake-me-up matrix of softened soil and life-blessing water. 

Celebrate doing just one thing at a time.
It is hard to just do one thing; to cultivate a moment free from all distractions.
There is only this cup of tea...no book, no journaling, no conversation, only this cup.

Celebrate just sitting. For hours a day rather than minutes. It is not easy to be only in the company of one's inner voice as it expresses a constant stream of likes, dislikes and delusions.  Especially when the intention of such sitting is to come to inner peace and quiet.

None of this is easy.  Perhaps this is the deep illness of our present times—we want everything to be easy. To quote David Suzuki, we worship the great god Relief From Inconvenience. AI makes it easy to have information about, well, just about everything but what is the advantage if we have no wisdom?

Seems like the device is now our significant other.  On a meditation retreat one's direct inner experience is the significant other.  Not an easy partner to warm up to.  But just like the transition from winter to spring—when we discover rigidity and so let our surface opinions soften, we let go of some of our preferences and prejudices.

The inner struggle to hold onto focus, and achieve concentration, 
can at times feel a lot like mud.  
Glorious mud. 

May my practice enable me to be one of those lucky enough seeds.