“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.

 

 

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 :)

wednesday listen up

I woke up this morning thinking of songbirds even though there’s not much singing going on these days, outside the house or in. The woods are silent and it seems too cold even for the cheeriness of chickadees.

Bu it’s not just the winter. This urban environment we inhabit is a little short on warblers, meadowlarks, vireos and thrushes. Fortunately this morning though, there was a particular songbird singing in my head. Mama Cass Elliot. And she had me whistling away for the better part of an hour.

Melody is something I grew up in. It was the basis of my world. The wonderful ‘Sounds of the Sixties’ are still very much in my heart. Sounds of freedom, possibility, hopefulness, joy, happiness and fun.  The unabashed innocence of late spring and early summer in the face of a weary world.

The 5th Dimension, Association, BeeGees, Hollies and Supremes. Radios never far away. And they never blasted anything  ..they filled the air. And clear above the rest there were two voices that put sunshine in the bright blue skies of every day. True songbirds that filled my heart with a pleasure and joy that only music can. And they seemed to actually be the spirit of the times in a way no others singer did.

 

 

 

wednesday listen up

junior-brown

There’s a lot to say about Junior Brown, but there’s even more to say about what he’s doin’. Most people have no idea how deeply American music is intertwined with the rich and complex sensibilities of often obscure and exceedingly talented musical giants.

Musicians who crossed what we’d call hard and fast musical borders in order to be the best.  Earl Palmer, Buck Owens, Jack Teagarden, Woody Herman, John McLaughlin, Joey DeFrancesco.

Combining acadian creole, country swing, latin rythms, jubilation choirs and lowdown blues. Never far from dance and never far from celebration and always filled with a capacity to change our personal world for the best. My hat goes off to the traditions and roots that have built a vast and wonderful musical culture.

And in hopes of removing some of the constraints that keep us listening almost exclusively to the products of a ‘musical industry’,  I’d like to open the doors a crack every Wednesday, to shed some light on the individual musical passions that have underpinned our sensibilities and continue to carry us forward. Like Junior Brown for instance.

*  note:      If you’re using a portable device to view this I’d suggest a good set of headphones or stereo speakers would be very  beneficial. Just sayin’.

picture tuesday – to brenda with love

paquito-rivera

 

When we start out, we never really know where we’re going. We follow the sounds, the smells and the things that touch our hearts and lead our souls.

It often occurs to me that taking a good photograph is not necessarily hidden in the subject matter as much as it is what the photographer brings to it.

Blending a lifetime of experiences and inspiration together to bear on a single moment of understanding and expression is a wonderful experience and even more satisfying when it can be shared.

I will be away until next wee and am sharing some of the joy and celebration that has gone into my understanding of the world.