“what you learn in art can never be used: if you give in, it’s called imitation.. “

I came across this in one of my recent readings. It went on to state that art is a way of exploring, creation, reflection and searching that continues day in and day out. Most of what we make being unusable.  And a sizeable amount of our efforts ending in failures if we are truly and deeply involved.

“Making a lot of beautiful things that are like a lot of other beautiful things is manufacturing, not art.

Our mind is a wilderness. As artists, we are explorers along the frontier. We run into dead ends, box canyons, sheer walled cliffs. The vein being mined runs out. Sand runs through our fingers  after drilling for water. Hacking at weeds reveals only stone. Abandoned, woozy and sweating under the sun, not even the vultures will circle. We continue to place one foot in front of the other but never relent. Understanding the importance of staying on this path that appears before us; we cross the wasteland and sooner or later enter a paradise that is ours alone.¹

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The path of an artist, a warrior, of life – it’s much the same.

Recent work over the past several months has taken me in many directions. Much of it has been spent re-visioning, imagining, and visiting ideas that I had previously left off for reasons of time, focus and other pressing needs. Over time, original impressions have had time to mix with the mulch of daily life. Many of them fermenting and decomposing until ultimately they have provided a rich medium for lush new growth.

Ongoing reading on contemplative enquiry and Goethe’s approach to the world has renewed a long held interest in the history of pigments, the foundations of how we perceive and understand colour and a renewed interest in painting, watercolour and visual comprehension.

Throughout this I have been revisiting work by Ivan Illich on the conceptual nature of the world we live in and it’s relationship to language, body and our human nature. Taking a much harder look at the literate world as we slide into a post-literate future; the nature of ‘stuff‘ and how it enters into our imagination, behaviour and belief and the social structures we use to support it all.

I have taken to shooting pictures almost exclusively with my phone at the moment. It intrigues me how our phones have managed to conquer and command massive parts of our lives and former equipment, devices and tools in an iron fisted grip as strong as that of the Roman Church at the height of it’s power. A catholic tool that mediates, interprets and binds all experience to it. It’s caused me to poke about in pre-history and the period before the end of the 12th century in a very disjointed and inexplicable way.

My current focus is more on apprehension and comprehension than the technical pursuit of ultimate sharpness at the moment, although I still have the gut feeling that a kind of hyper-realism is necessary for our time.  All this underpinned with the sound of Indian Classical and vernacular Brazilian music

A thorough sojourn in the wider social experience of our age has convinced me to return to writing more thoughtfully and trying to comb apart some of these strands over the next couple of months as I return to this blog. Never a dull moment, it’s great to be back.

¹ paraphrased from a reading on art by Deng Ming Dao

sunday – djembe

I’ve been really blessed this past week to make my way through a good portion of Naná Vasconcelos’ discography as I worked on rebuilding one of two djembes I picked up recently.

And while I’d like to share all the details including how I got here from my last post  ..it’s probably not worth it and better to just jump in mid-stream.

This is actually the smaller of the two.  Never having skinned a drum before, and certainly not from scratch, I risked being in over my head but at least I could limit how deep.

I want to personally thank Leo at  tree frog percussion  for providing valuable information along with the replacement goatskins and cord I purchased.  His passion and dedication to building high quality percussion instruments is outstanding.

If you want to take a course on building your own drum from scratch, percussion classes or purchase a handmade  instrument, I would highly recommend him.

 

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original condition

 

 

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bottom of foot – original condition

 

 

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after sanding

 

 

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..and oil

 

 

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top rim – original condition

 

 

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top rim – original condition

 

 

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after filling and sanding

 

 

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tuning weave

 

 

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finished project

 

 

 


 

If you’ve never listened to Brazilian musicians, and in particular the genius of Naná Vasoncelos – here are links to one of his concerts with another Brazilian great Yamandu Costa.

 

 

foto friday – before & after

In the end, the real value of a photograph is as a document. Everything else is window dressing.

I’m not sure where I first heard this, but I’ve had alot of time to think about it over the years and I would have to agree. No matter what. Cropped, clipped, mangled, or manipulated, photographs are ultimately a very personal document. Sometimes it can shed light on our condition and sometimes it’s just a picture.

There’s something special about the whole field of before and after photos that just never gets old. I never tire of stumbling across the welcome surprise of someone who took the time to properly document some change. It never fails to put a smile on my face.

And althought these shots are not great, they’re my current contribution. The before from the 14th of February and the after from the nite before last.

A day later the room is complete and awaiting it’s final ‘beauty’ shot.

 

 

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It’s also the reason I haven’t been posting. This is only one of at least five rooms to undergo this kind of transformation in the last month. Our house goes on the market in a couple of days and between the packing, remodelling and organization, there is precious little time for much else.

fast & furious friday – remington ride

Things still speeding along at a wicked pace with little time for a deep breath let alone pictures.

Danny Gatton is one of my favourite guitarists and sums it up best with this quick little piece.

I owe a personal favour to Roy Buchanon in mentioning him lest he ever again be forgotten. His influence on guitarists like Danny, Vince Gill, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendricks, and Gerry Garcia is legendary and he changed the course music forever. Personally, he was the first musician to shake my world in a way no other did.

There is too much I’d like to say about guitarists at the moment and instead leave you with a little piece from Roy to carry you through the weekend.

 

on the move – caravan

I’ve been looking for something that would sum up my February and think I may have found it.

I love February almost as much as I love jazz and Jaun Tizol & Ellington’s – Caravan. And that would be a lot.

Then every once and a while a special version that comes along and remakes everything from scratch. That would be this February.

With a little listen, you will understand the type of month that’s going on better than I could ever explain it. And while it’s kinda cool in it’s own way, it looks as if we’re moving into the Oscar and Dizzy version for March. And that’s really something else :)

Happy New Year to One and All :)

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Happy New Year and best of wishes one and all, May you find peace in your heart, health in your life and cheer amongst those who are close to you. May your blessings be shared and your troubles halved, and may you find courage, strength and laughter in the months ahead.

Thank you to all who have followed this blog and have made this past year a wonderful pleasure.  My hat goes off to you  ..Happy New Year :)

 

 

 

 

wisdom wednesday

Since my stroke back in 2014, I have been struggling just a little bit harder with a number of mental health issues. Mostly they have centered around organization, planning and memory, but sometimes, it’s a little more overwhelming.

The last couple of months have been a case in point. I’ve had the pleasure of travelling around North America since the spring, a chance to take my eyes ‘on the road’. I’ve spent a fair bit of my life travelling, and it has always been a combination of inspiration and pleasure. But like life, things never remain the same.

I was way out of my comfort zone without knowing it, and it took some time to figure out what was going on. Not having a reliable routine, or stable expectations were far more important than I thought. The constant press of new situations were difficult to process and internalize.

But most of all was the building sense of loss  – of mobility and resilience and skills. Things that were once easy were now hard. That I was proud of were now gone. That I owned were now lost. And the grief was hidden and hard to control.

Thankfully I am blessed with a caring and wonderful partner, three dogs and a program of recovery that has given me a life filled with grace.  And I’m not sure that I have any words of wisdom other than to say, take time to love those around you, spend more time with nature and make sure to be good to yourself.

I learned that before water flows, it must fill all the hollows and this is good enough for me to know for today.

Glad to be back – and many thanks to those who have continued to follow, you have often been in my thoughts.

 

 

mindful monday — although more powerful, are we any smarter?

I still believe that this series of lectures are the most important things I will spend my time considering in this decade.  I can only urge you to listen and decide for yourself.

maps of meaning part 1: monsters of our own making

maps of meaning part 2: games, fear and order

maps of meaning part 3: genesis, paradise and the self

maps of meaning part 4: evil, religion, truth and the force within