Friday, July 31, 2009

brief head trips

How do you quiet the mind? How to you stop thoughts that go on incessantly and cease to close? At times, I am confronted by situations, conversations or happenings that seem to linger in my head long after the incidents. Being still, focusing and concentrating on something else, like a book or listening to someone else, helps alleviate the head ramblings. Letting go and just letting it be; allowing the universe to go its course, unwind itself to answers and the whimsy of life allows this freedom from the mind, freedom from obsessing.

The painting above reminds me of my sometimes ongoing chatter of the mind. Medusa was completed by Caravaggio, one of my favorite Renaissance painters. What I love about Caravaggio is his realistic and intensity of spirit which forces you to meditate on the action of the painting. Medusa is one of the Greek heroes; a woman with hideous and snaky-haired head. Myth says that by looking at her she could turn you to stone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

decisive moment and some shadows

It crossed my mind the other day how involved I have become with photography. To me, it is immediate gratification, it tones the eye and it is used for my painting studies. The other evening, my class and I were looking at a range of Cartier Bresson's work. Bresson took photographs by a process called the decisive moment; simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, precise organization of forms which gives the event it's proper expression. His black and white photography emphasized the smallest thing - a kiss, an embrace, children running; human details that are universal.

Monday, July 20, 2009

not for sissies

I practiced yoga for years in Los Angeles but until recently, I restarted with a new form called Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga. It is an intense cardio exercise and it takes shape in a variety of 26 poses held in a heated room. By the end of the session, I am usually drenched. Above, I posted a utube clip on Bikram. I would recommend this practice for everyone; a mental and physical challenge ranging from acute complexity to simple design. Personally, it keeps me calm and centered often rejuvenating me with additional energy throughout the day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

good-bye solo and being magnanimous

The other night I took my class to see the independent film at the Bear's Tooth Theatre. The film called Good-bye Solo takes place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, directed by Ramin Bahrami, and involves a Senegalese cabdriver named Solo who befriends William, an old Southerner. William wants to be taken to a mountaintop in the wilderness where he will end his life. It is a story about friendship, and it is filmed in an existential manner; dark, brooding but photographed beautifully. I wasn't impressed with the film though; it being very bleak, quirky and off beat, tired me at times (making me think maybe I had seen too many films?) Currently though, I have begun to think about relationships and how we treat each other. I didn't believe in the character Solo, who went out of his way to attach himself to this man; someone he didn't even know but wanted to save him from giving up on life, his persistence overwhelmingly questionable. I asked my students afterwards if they thought people like that existed, and some responded "yes." I wondered, often surprised by naive responses, if I had become cynical and jaded. On the other hand, I learn from my students; how we are all capable of being magnanimous - a possibility of openness and genuine giving. Let's hope so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a gift horse.......maybe

Last night I was on the phone talking with my sister and telling her about my agenda; my long summer days in Anchorage, my sufficient studio time, my nature outings and our fabulously ongoing sunny, warm weather that we have been having to add to everything else. She commented and expressed "sounds like quite a life you have." I am suspicious of too much happiness and I realize how abundant my daily gifts are but little things go unnoticed and I often take things for granted. In French, ennui is the perfect word that I sometimes feel in between my joys - a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction or better known as boredom. Doesn't that sound terrible after all the wonderful things that I have in my life? Dare I even mention this part of speech? Maybe this is an American phenomena. My contentedness has an opposite force; the little upsets that annoy me, that I never fail to whine about such as a teaching position that would possess greater substance in my career, or a fuller banquet of art venues that I miss terribly at times. I strive for these attainments but perhaps I am looking a gift horse in the mouth..........well, maybe.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

project piece

Ken started working on an extensive sideboard project as a wedding gift for his son and his new wife. (We attended the ceremony at at lodge in Stanley, ID; beautiful sage coated hills with grazing cattle in the background made for an excellent venture. We rented a car in Boise and drove up through Ketchum which took us close to four hours.) Anyway, above is the start of this project which has three shelving cabinets.
Above is the back of the sideboard which was recently finished. And below you can take a peek at the elaborate labor involved in constructing this piece of furniture. Each slab was an inch thick, each applied individually, glued and nailed. Ken spent three hours or more sanding the back. There are 74 pieces of these redwood planks. The finished piece will have drawers and a wine rack built above with more shelving. Quite an endeavor! I will post pictures of the finished product in the next months to come.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

night light

Lately I haven't' been sleeping well because of the Alaskan light. I lie in my bed listening to all the sounds of the evening. We live close to the inlet, so the birds are very active, their noises prominent. Also, I think I intentionally stay awake so I can keep these moments, study this time and keep it near to me. This night light of the summer will go away in the upcoming few months ahead of us; the seasons of fall and winter on it's back and the pitch black of the night returns. Above is my painting titled, the night of the summer stars, a poem stanza that I snatched from Carl Sandburg.