I believe that authenticity matters; hiding who we are stifles growth opportunities for the individual and collective. So in this blog I write about all things that genuinely fascinate me: art, spirituality, the puzzles of personhood--and their ongoing interplay. For some, learning the artist's thoughts contaminates the experience of the art, and I respect that. It might be best to avoid this blog and visit only my gallery pages. Personally I can't get enough of the stories, ideas, and people behind art, so this blog is most appropriate for an audience similarly curious and open-minded, and who won't take offense at challenging perspectives and taboo topics. It's especially for those who are aware they're undergoing a spiritual awakening and seek to feel less alone in that process. I wouldn't be at this better place in my life if it weren't for the wayshowers I found online who helped me understand what was happening to me and to the world, and I hope to pay it forward by doing the same for others on the awakening path. But most of all this blog is for me, as writing helps me clarify my thoughts and record my progress like nothing else.
Why do I tend to go monochromatic with my cairn paintings? Again, I didn't know why right away; I just knew I liked it. There's something stripped down and elemental about it, reminiscent of old, water-damaged black-and-white or sepia-toned photographs. One night, preoccupied with this question, I sat for a long time just staring at one of my test paintings done completely in garnet, and some words came to me, which I ended up scrawling across the top of the paper: Monochrome clearly connects opposing extremes along continuum of single hue.
There's a magical element I like adding to my cairns: levitating stones. Didn't know why at first. Maybe I do now.
The cairn below started out with my standard approach: washy, eroding, in my favorite Payne's gray. But it wasn't particularly interesting; it needed something. Then I noticed that thin, dark line that naturally forms at the edge of a watery shape as it dries, where suspended pigment concentrates. What if I exaggerated that boundary? So I did. And my gut reaction was, there's something exciting about this.
'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed.
- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
I started painting cairns in 2014 and I didn't know why. It just seemed like a nice thing to paint. Kind of new-agey, a little Zen. Starting with very stylized stone shapes in pale stone colors. One stacked on top of the other in a fairly uninteresting, uniformly tapering arrangement.
Later I added space between two or three stones at the top as if they were levitating. For no particular (conscious) reason, just to add some interest.
It was the strangest painting experience I can remember.
The art class in second semester of my junior year of high school focused on painting, and that day the art teacher had put out some cheap watercolor pan sets for the students to play with, the kind kindergartners typically use. I had tried watercolor in the past and found it frustrating when I felt I couldn't control it with the wet-into-wet technique, which uses a lot of water, and somewhat boring when I could control it using less water.
But something was different this time. I didn't start with any ideas about what to paint and I didn't think about technique. I loaded the brush with purple and began with a big splash of it on the left side of the paper. I then added pools of dark blues and greens. Sharper shapes soon appeared to peel and spin off in lime, orange, and fuchsia. I watched it all happen as if in a daydream with detached curiosity. At some point the painting suggested a reorientation so I turned the paper vertically and built the abstraction upwards with lighter blue. At the top a sphere formed in deep blue-green, with iridescent swirls of pale pink and yellow. It resembled a dark pearl emerging from a colorful vortex.