Thursday, 3 May 2012


I have been concentrating on cats lately and here are a few -

Saturday, 21 April 2012

some realism

I've taken a bit of a realistic turn lately and am posting the results.

"Lemon nasturtiums":


Monday, 9 April 2012

simply baking

The ego is demanding – this is because it can’t do simplicity.  It wants – it needs.  The more, the better.  It’s not happy with the judgement of “good;” it wants “best” or “better.” 

I was reminded this fact yesterday when I wanted to bake a pound cake. 
An internal fight occurred:  Baking!?  Are you sure?  Can you cope with the mess, the time, the cleaning-up afterward?  Won’t it be a bore, a chore, a waste of time?  Couldn’t you do something else instead?   Something better with your time?

It’s important to listen to these complaints if only to get to know one’s self better.  It's not that I don't like baking; it's that the ego sometimes has these little strops/tantrums to try to trip us up from our own fulfillment. 
There’s a tremendous amount of mental programming that goes on, consciously and unconsciously about the value of an activity.  Little advertisements telling us the relative importance of who we are and what we're doing.  There’s also the question of recognition: will I get adequate compensation from this activity in the form of money or accolades or other ego-boosting stuff.  “What will I get out of this?” 

On the other hand, doing things for the sake of doing smacks of meditation.  It’s being alone, not getting recognition or awards, resting in one’s own satisfaction.  There’s something scary in that – something that deserves exploration. 
A great story to illustrate this:

About a month ago, my husband and I went to the wonderful Isle of Wight.  Something happened to the plumbing in our rented accommodation so the owners bumped us up to a much nicer place – one fitted out with an amazing magazine-quality kitchen.  At first I felt jazzed cooking with the best appliances, etc. but after a while there was a let-down feeling.  I could almost hear the air escaping from the tires.

There I was doing the same cooking!  At the end of the day, it was still the same activity, only bolstered by expensive surroundings, and there was something false about it.  I felt the emphasis being taken away from the most important thing which was the food and the spirit of cooking, which never needs more than a few simple instruments and some ingredients. 
Isn’t this what we’re all looking for?  The spirit to do things.  The focus has to be on spirit, and if it's on anything else, we're not going to be satisfied.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

progress is personal

The idea of progress can loom over you like a spectre.   “Am I getting better?” can - and often is – an unhelpful question because “better” encourages judgement.  It encourages competition between point A and point B.   
Artists tend to get judged by historical summaries: “Here is the work she was doing at Point A” and “here, at point B.”  Then, there is a discussion about improvement, teachers, influences and so on. 
How does A related to B?  Is it a constant straight line?   And what exactly occurs?  That is what isn’t talked about.  We assume that the artist has done a lot of art, but after that, there is an X factor when we just don't know what went on.  
How one improves and evolves is a complete mystery.  The one thing for certain about the process is what I stated before: you keep doing it, and progress can peep out at you at strange times because the process is very personal. 
For example: 
Working without forcing  - means that your energy is improving. 
Drawing symbols that invigorates you - means you are much more connected with the symbol system than usual. 
Putting in detail without strain - means that your focusing more and that you feel like celebrating the symbol more.  
When your heart starts to open, this may not scream "accomplishment" to the world - but it's essential to the process.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

essence of candy

money & art

I was struck by this quote by John Ferrie:
Paint like nobody is watching and paint like you don’t need any money.
I think the last bit is the clincher.  One of the reasons why I think art is not celebrated as it should be is that the question of “will I eventually make money at this?” has wheedled its way into our collective unconscious.  It is a feeling that acts like a virus: it replicates into a million different ideas and fears so they aren't recognisable as progeny of the original concept.
One of the ways it plays out is the instinct to play it safe.  Playing it safe means creating stuff that you know will sell.  Is there anything wrong with this?  Technically no but it doesn’t do much for being fulfilled.  
Playing it safe means – basically – copying.  An artist sees what is popular (or what is selling) and tries to copy it.   This happened to a friend of mine, when someone tried to copy everything she did down to her business cards!  This was a desperate attempt to create a short-cut to “success,” because the ego is only interested in LOOKING successful.  It’s not really interested in the deeper aspects which actually lead to success because it knows that it can’t provide that!  So it focuses on stuff which fortify the superficial aspects of success. 
Money is obviously an idea that equates to being successful so the ego is obsessed with that idea.  It’s out there trying to make us off-balance with the idea of Money! Money! Money!  But we need to be vigilant against those cries and hold out for something more meaningful.  This eventually does pay off.  The pay-off is in the form of a thousand other things, along with money.  Money is not the source of money, as Adam Smith would say.  Value is the source of money and value is where we should put our focus on.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

in praise of...participation

You may have heard about a certain event that’s happening this year here in London.  I believe it’s called the Olympics.

This is an event that features the best athletes in the world.  Am I impressed?   Not really.
Maybe it’s an age thing.  I’m find myself not caring about who’s best anymore.  Is it important?
It’s the same in football – lots of money is being poured into this area but only 1% of the population are actually playing the game.  What’s happened to the spirit of participation?  Are sports becoming an arena only for the best, i.e. the professionals who are making money and amateurs who make it to major competitions?
I find that this spirit is lurking in the arts as well.  This idea of being good.   It’s a difficult debate: yes, on one side there’s a quest for achievement and accuracy but on the other hand, there is also the joy of doing.  There is the ethic to encourage people to do art even if they are at the beginning stages or don’t seem to have “skill.”
 Are we encouraging participation just for the love of it?  There’s so much to be gained from sport and art even if the mind says we’re not good at them!  Art is too much fun not to do!  And sport – there is no better way to keep in shape and keep healthy.
There’s always going to be a wide range of accomplishment but in our society there is an over-emphasis on achievement rather than participation.  Certainly more people would benefit if there was an emphasis on participation rather than achievement. 
The human ego is impressed with competition and who’s better than who, with winning, titles and awards.  The human spirit just wants to participate, to experience the joy of doing.  Until we learn what’s clearly more important, the activities that should belong to all of us will continue to be dominated by the very few.