Tuesday, October 23, 2007

baby days is up

The picture here is just so there's a visual from my limited electronic photo files to introduce baby days.

It took several years to complete the story and not because it took so long to draw and write but simply that I kept finding other things to do. What began around 1990 was finally done by 1994 and except for a few photocopied versions sent to friends it's never been outside it's portfolio.

If you go next door to take a look please remember to click on the entire archive or it will stop after 6. It's an odd and very sentimental piece so if you're prepared for such a thing I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did when I decided to look at it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No results yet but..

You probably weren't wondering how a silk painting gets done but I've had this one underway for the last couple of weeks and it will be a few weeks more before I know whether or not it was worth the time. The original inspiration was Tibetan thankas but there's no way I'm the least bit qualified to try painting a real version since the symbolism of every line and color is ruled by ancient tradition. I may not know much about it but I do respect the theory. So instead, I decided to try a tribute to the form.

We have little old lady (drawn from an old photo taken of one of my English aunts on a visit to the London Zoo in 1947) and a little dog holding a traditional Tibetan parasol. The words in blue are the Tibetan script of the great compassion prayer - Om Mane Padme Om and the working title of the piece is 'Going Om'. Okay, it's a bit corny but it's my painting so I can do what I like and I rather like the idea that Tibetan Buddhism is getting incorporated in the western world. I also like the thought that any of us can become realized - not necessarily enlightened but open to those indescribable moments of grace.

May all sentient beings know happiness and the root of happiness; may they be free from suffering and the root of suffering; may they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering; may they dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.

The four Paramitas are a good meditation while painting or otherwise engaged. What an amazingly different world this would be if everyone understood we keep on coming back til we get it right.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

there was a time..

A long time ago a woman who'd had a child almost an equally long time ago found herself reminiscing about just how wonderful it had been to be a young mother and just how beautiful babies and little children are. So she sat at her table one day and started drawing a book.. not a children's book but more like a grandmother book. Now she's thinking about a whole separate blog so that anyone who's interested can read the story and maybe have some good memories too. Or maybe this is just a silly idea that's come up on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Time for a little musical visual interlude.. mmm Cornelius... tonar

Saturday, October 6, 2007

making friends

He's called Baba Ganoosh - a little guy who pretty much demanded a physical (although limited) existence a couple of years ago. He can't stand up because his legs are too wobbly but he can sit in full lotus position (which I never could). He also has a wonderful and enigmatic smile.

I won't describe the torture involved in manifesting his little form - sculpture wire, bandaging, clay, carving, hair, beading, hand sewing, leather boots, painting - well, okay, I pretty much did describe it and it took a long time. Difficult as the process was it's nothing to the time and effort it takes to make/keep human friends. I hardly ever know where my friends are but I always know where Baba is.

Books can always be relied upon to provide distraction, entertainment and instruction so I read quite a lot. Occasionally I read one written by somebody I'd really like to have as a friend and so on behalf of Barry Hughart I'd like to recommend his wonderful novel, 'Bridge of Birds'.I've linked to an old interview with him since he's a most elusive man and difficult to catch up with but you'll get the general idea. The book is a delight - hilarious and often profound - but rather than writing a lengthy exposition, I'll end this post with a few words from Master Li, he who has a flaw in his character:

"The world of men is a world of incomprehension. Our senses are woefully limited. Our brains are but tiny candles flickering in an infinity of darkness. Our only wisdom is to admit that we cannot understand, and since we cannot understand we must do the best we can with faith, which is our only talent. The greatest act of faith we are capable of is that of loving another more than we love ourselves."

We could all do with flaws like that. Happy autumn or sad, reflective autumn - whatever feel best, my friends.

Okay, that was boring. Why would anybody be inclined to read a funny book having read such a serious paragraph? So here's another:

"Well, beauty is a ridiculously overrated commodity. Over the past eighty or ninety years I have known a great many beautiful women, and they've all been the same. A beauty is forced to lie in her bed in the morning in order to gather her strength for another battle with nature. Then, after being bathed and toweled by her maids, she loosens her hair in the Cascade of Teasing Willows style, paints her eyebrows in the Distant Mountain Range style, anoints herself with Nine Bends of the River Diving-Water perfume, applies rouge, mascara and eye-shadow, covers the whole works with two inches of the Powder of the Nonchalant Approach, squeezes into a plum blossom patterned tunic with matching skirt and stockings, adds four or five pounds of jewelry, looks in the mirror for any visible sign of humanity and is relieved to find none, checks to make sure her makeup has hardened into an immovable mask, sprinkles herself with the Hundred Ingredients Perfume of the Heavenly Spirits Who Descended in the Rain Shower, and minces with tiny steps toward the new day, which like any other day, consists of gossip and giggles."

"That's part of it!" I cried. "Lotus Cloud hops out of bed and plunges her head into a pail of cold water, bellows 'Aaarrrggghhh! runs a comb through her hair, and looks around to see if there's anyone handy who feels like making love. If such is the case, she hops back into bed. If not, she jumps into whatever clothes are lying around and leaps out the door - or window, it doesn't matter - to see what wonders the new day will bring, and since shes views the world with the delighted eyes of a child, the day is bound to be marvelous."

That's better! Have a marvelous day yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dark rainbow over Pdx

In a city known for rain there are also a lot of rainbows most of which are of the standard breathtakingly beautiful kind you see when the clouds blow away and the sun returns. This one, however, reminded me of a dream I'd once had where a rainbow appeared in a night-dark city sky. The colors were wrong, portending some huge and dangerous event. This time it was a rainbow before a storm and when the storm arrived it was ferocious, uprooting trees and taking out power lines all over the city. The transformer near our place was struck by lightning and the post supporting it lay in the street for hours afterward.

There are a lot of things that strike me in a similar fashion when I look at what's going on in our world today. How is it that Bush and Cheney haven't been impeached? Why is the American military still in Iraq? Why was 911 never properly investigated? Why don't millions of Americans have health care? Why is it that 70% of the population is in favor of all of the above and nothing gets done?

For a long time I kept hoping that events and disclosures would force a change - that Abu Ghraib, the Downing Street Memo, Guantanamo, Enron or Something would force a turnaround. We've witnessed outsourcing, economic meltdown, infrastructure collapse and multiple massacres under the current administration and things only appear to be getting worse. Nothing has been enough so far to produce some kind of shift and the marines haven't landed on the White House lawn carrying fresh orange suits for the occupants.

There are a lot of desperately poor people in this country as well as far too many who are preoccupied with taking more than they need. Divide and rule is the name of the game. It's so much easier to channel people's anger towards others who look different or who have different beliefs than it is to take on the real problems. I'm afraid that when the storm hits this time it will take out a lot more than a few trees and lamp posts.

This does all sound pretty negative but considering that the metaphorical train is still building up speed and the track has almost run out, my only option was to get off when it slowed at the last bend and wait in resignation for the inevitable result. In the meanwhile I'll do my job, donate as I can to chosen charities (including change to the guys downtown), read, paint and keep on trying to influence a few hearts here and there.