This is a photo of a spirit rock. No, it doesn't refer to the remarkable meditation center in California. But it certainly it relates to meditation. A dear friend made it, covering the tiny stone with her hand-netting and adding those tiny beads She gave it to me as a housewarming gift. Both of us know that doing this kind of work is highly meditative--it's why I'm so drawn to art at this point in my life, along with a daily meditation practice.
Stones have always held a lot of symbolism for me, especially river rocks with their smooth round shapes and heft. They are symbols of wholeness, endurance, and comfort.
I will enjoy this sweet gift for a long time. It is so lovely to connect with much-valued old friends.
"A rugged stone grows smooth from hand to hand."
"Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience--priceless and irreplaceable."
--Henri J.M. Nouwen
Meanwhile, I cannot decide if I'm enjoying the "sketching and watercolor" course or not. I'm a bit puzzled by why I'm having so much trouble with the watercolor and specifically with the brush (watercolor brush). If it weren't the 2nd brush I've tried--with similar issues--I'd say the brush is leaking. Too much water swishing around, and you can see it's leaking outside the bounds of the apple (yes, apple...not a tomato) above. I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's just say I haven't had this experience before, not that I've had much experience at all. I'll keep going with this and see what happens. It's tough not to just grab my colored pencils, though.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble.
In watercolour, particularly, it's almost always better to chuck than fix.
--Joe Joseph P. Blodgett
...Really? Guess I'll find out.
This is my first try at an assignment to sketch and paint some fruit for Jane LaFazio's course. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Hey, I can only get better, right?
That just has to be true. This is not my best work, to put it mildly. Ha. i assume I'll improve with practice.
After all, Oscar Wilde said: "Bad art is better than no art at all." Thank you, Oscar.
Trying to arrange for some work to be done in my kitchen, I had given a local contractor nine dates to choose from. He chose today, the last date I gave him, saying he'd be here "after lunch." I didn't have much hope, I will admit, as I've had a bad experience with him in the past. Using him was not my choice--he's the contractor the company uses for its installations.
Of course, it's now 7 pm and despite my calling him around 3 pm (voicemail), he didn't show up and hasn't contacted me.
Good thing I am reading the following book, which I am thoroughly enjoying:
I am loving this book--although not sure I agree with all of it, but it is a lot to take in. It's very well written and funny. And yet...I wish he had not used the word "true," in the title, which smacks of dogmatism to me. Probably a reflection of my upbringing, but it makes me uneasy.
Anyway, it was no coincidence that I was reading this today.
i heard the sound of crickets last evening for the first time since last year.
to be more specific, i heard one lone cricket, and then about a block or so later, a second lone cricket. there is something about their sound that makes me so happy.
today i experimented with drawing a cricket (thus, the "hope" part of the title, as it was only the second day since i broke my wrist (mid-june) that i began to feel i was getting better. more about that later...
here is the very silly result--the first sketch is a cartoon cricket (from the jiminy cricket species), and the second one only a tad more realistic. both were done from youtube videos that i found when i typed in "how to draw a cricket."
below is my contribution to IAST 209 (the "it's a string thing" challenge). i was so happy to feel well enough to try this tonight. this makes two days of less swelling and pain, i'm almost afraid to feel hopeful, but i'm going with it tonight!
my last post was about in-somnia, but last night before bed i did a pre-somnia tangle and, for the first time, didn't wake up in the middle of the night.
i'd been wanting to try the tangle "kandysnake," which was new to me. once i put that one on the tile, it cried out to be joined by "footlites," (one of my favorite tangles) and then i connected them with "beadlines."
THE HAND UPDATE:
a page from my journal. i still have to wear the splint at least 80% time, but last week it was 100%. it's still incredibly painful but it's less painful than last week when i was beside-myself-uncomfortable.
i think things are heading in the right direction, even though it could still be weeks before i am fully functional again. two months ago today was the break.
this is my 3rd cast, technically a splint with velcro straps that i can remove to shower, etc.
i was very excited to get it. feels like--and is--progress, but for some reason, my hand and wrist look far worse than they did in cast #2. both are very swollen. see the picture in my last post to compare.
i'm told this is typical at this stage but i feel like i'm traveling around with a Frankenstein Hand. i'm doing hand exercises several times a day and now, for the first time since the break, am in real pain. hence, no Zentangle® or blogging. but i did manage to draw this.
and yes, it actually looks that way. it doesn't resemble my other hand at all.
"nevertheless, she persisted."
i am persisting. i'm determined to get my hand back.
Even just looking at that tile encourages me to take a deep breath and relax.
This next one is busier but was equally fun to create.
This morning I stumbled across an excellent post on meditation and people's misconceptions about it. It's quite short and is by Arnie Kozak, a guest blogger on the wonderful Susan Cain's site; you can read it here. He really touches on the most common assumption about meditation--that it's about "stopping the mind." It isn't.
But drawing frequently does stop my mind and pulls me into total absorption on the one line that I am drawing in this moment. Thus, meditation and drawing serve the same purpose in different ways for me.
"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
My first title for this post was going to be "Miserable Selfies." Because so many selfie-sketches (as opposed to selfie-photos, where everyone is consciously smiling) make the artist look grim. But the fact is, I am so far from miserable it's funny. I'm actually incredibly happy.
Oh yeah? Then why do I look so miserable?
Such a good question...I look at a lot of sketching and visual journal websites and I often notice how totally grumpy everyone looks in their hand-drawn selfies. People who don't draw often see these and complain, "But you look so unhappy! I never see you looking that way."
No, actually, what one usually sees in selfie-sketches is a face devoid of any type of expression at all, and that often makes the artist look entirely miserable--because we just aren't used to seeing others with no expression. Think about taking the subway; you often see expressionless people there, and they can look quite miserable (they might be, on a crowded subway), but in fact, we have no idea about their interior states.
In fact, I was in a state of delight drawing this. Not that you can tell! But it has been months, perhaps over a year, since I've spent more than a minute drawing anything representational. This hardly qualifies as a great piece of art; I'm too out of practice and I don't pretend to be a great artist even when I have been practicing. I know I have a lot to learn. I did this on a post-it with a ballpoint pen, in about 5 minutes. When I finished, I looked at it and felt GREAT. It was so much fun to do! Even if it closely resembles a mug shot.
And it does resemble a mug shot--it appears someone has just slugged me in the jaw and knocked my mouth off-center so that it has settled under one nostril rather than being balanced between the two. (I hope that isn't true in real life) And what happened to the nose, which is also migrating to one side of my face and looks vastly white?
Perhaps the cubists were onto something, when you look at that face. Ha.
I DON'T CARE. The point is, I did it. I drew something and I had so much fun doing it. It felt great.
Practice at selfies does allow one to eventually add expression to the face. (Check out Rembrandt's selfies or Frida Kahlo's selfies to see masters at work.) But you know?...this actually WAS my expression while I was drawing, because I was totally in the present moment, totally focused, totally absorbed, and not thinking of anything else.
So I may look miserable, but I am happy, happy, happy with my tiny drawing. I feel more practice sessions hurtling in my direction.
The daily small painting, a small resource and time commitment, is an exercise in absolute focus for that time period. It's like a meditation, really.
- Gaye Adams
Long ago and far away...or so it seems...I spent an entire day drawing. Ahhhhhhhh...
In reality, it was recently and not that far away. But I have traveled such a distance interior-ly between then and now.
What I am referring to: I had a chance to sit and tangle for an entire day a couple of weeks ago, and experienced all the benefits: the inner silence, the lovely calm focus, the lack of worry about outcome, and the great sense of peace and timelessness.
All these things can also come from meditation, although since meditation (vipassana) invites us to turn towards and become aware of whatever is present, there are frequent times when meditation asks us to sit with difficult feelings or sensations. A very wise process, though sometimes a turbulent one.
The only difference I find between drawing/tangling and classical meditation is the incredible focus that drawing evokes, and how that focus prevents me from being aware of anything else. Sometimes this is more useful than meditation.
Since that one lovely peaceful day of drawing, life has ramped up and things are, at the moment, confusing and unsettled. I am sitting with this in meditation and just observing that.
But clearly there is a place for both practices in my life, meditation and drawing, during times like this. Both feel as precious to me as breathing, and both lead me to clearer perspective and inner peace. Each method works in its own way.
Every day I meditate.
But so far, I have not mastered the practice of daily drawing or tangling. I see the benefits of both, and I always make time for meditation. But too often I do not make time for drawing. Instead I pay bills, or work, run irrelevant errands, or knit while watching television. Or--although this is nearly as beneficial--I work on designing, dyeing for, or hooking my latest rug. Rug hooking is incredibly meditative. But it still doesn't have the effect on me that drawing does, and the past couple of weeks have proved to me how true that is. I frequently feel I want to draw, but tell myself that other tasks are more important.
But are they?
Life is complicated. Drawing, breathing, seeing, following just that one line at a time, is so very simple. Perspective in drawing...perspective in life.
The viewer of art can go into a kind of meditation, a bit of a different sense or feeling.
- Dorthe Eisenhardt
I believe that painting should come through the avenues of meditation rather than the canals of action.
- Mark Tobey
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society