Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Opening Presents & A Dart To The Heart

This little painting is a work in progress, as we all are. And like us, it feels like it is vulnerable and standing on the edge. Like us, it can go in a variety of directions. The moment always holds both danger and possibility. As my Zen teacher says, "we have more options than we think.

But I will pull back from the brink of the metaphorical. This mixed media piece is a continued exploration of a matte textured background in shades of grey combined with a shiny, drippy enso. This enso has a hint of ultramarine blue with some chartreuse and black. The line drawing of the Buddha still needs work, some refining (as do I, which is part of what always makes us a work in progress!). As I say this I am conscious of that Zen idea of holding 2 seemingly contradictory possibilities in our minds at once. We are fine just the way we are AND we can do better. Is that confusing? Only if we want to carve the world into opposites.

There is so much at play in creating a painting that parallels our everyday life. We are always exploring the background, don't you think? Feeling and creating and responding to the texture of life around us, to what life brings to us, to what we encounter. We move from dark to light and back again (like the little yin/yang amoebas). And like this line drawing of the Buddha we are continually inventing ourselves, drawing some aspects of our character with deeper and more definite lines, erasing and lightening the traces of what doesn't work for us, if we are attentive and skillful enough.

And the recycled pattern pieces in this work open a conversation as we might expect words to do. The dart to the heart... I liked that idea for a variety of reasons I don't need to explain, the piercing of the heart, that tender, vulnerable part of us. But the idea of the "dart" is used in Buddhist thought. The first dart is regarded as the event or instance of suffering. The second dart is the mental anguish we create or "add on" to what happens to us. The idea here being that pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The other pattern pieces that found their way into this work are the little cutting line scissors that the Buddha holds and the words "back facing" which can speak to us in different ways.

So while life and art talk back and forth to each other, sometimes whispering, sometimes shouting, I never start a piece with an intention to "say" something. I become aware of some hinted at meaning as if I was an independent observer. Life imitates art. Who said that? And there is the natural synchronicity of things if we are willing to just look. It is happening all around us, all the time, the conversation between what goes on in our lives and the small things that pop up; our thoughts, our dreams, how the colour of our shoes matches the scarf of someone that we are drawn to, how a line in a poem that we read in the morning, somehow fits perfectly with something that happens to us later in the day.... It is about being open and aware and receptive to life with a capital L. It is after all the season of presents (presence). And as with all presents, they require opening.


  1. so many lovely connections between creating art (or art creating itself?) and creating our lives (or life creating us?)...and being witness to the unfolding of a work/play of art, our own inner experiences and the connections between inner/outer self, self/world, self/art, art/world...all one stream of beingness.


  2. We are fine the way we are AND we can do better. Better is such a loaded word. We are fine the way we are AND we can change as needed - sort of the idea of evolving to meet the needs of our most current circumstances (there is no better in evolution, just changing to adapt to the world around us).

  3. the thing I love about a line is that it can never be changed, only incorporated into the growing, working on progress. For some reason, my mind put the dart at the Buddha's head until I scrolled back up to see it was at the heart.

    have you considered playing with Burmese script? the lines may be interesting.


  4. "It is about being open and aware and receptive to life with a capital L." Yes! The *idea* of "better" is only for the sense of "me", the individual self. From the place of Presence there is nothing to improve. Simply remember to open to Presence, where you dwell in the Lotus of the Heart, perfectly as you are. Bows to you -- C

  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU

  6. If you haven't seen Jill Bolte Taylor's 19 minutes on TED do so. The implications for enlightenment are quite staggering.

  7. Hi Carole,

    I'm writing an article for Tricycle magazine about online Buddhism and blogging, and would like to include you in the survey I'm doing to help shape the article. If you're interested, e-mail me at ngthompson04(at)yahoo.com.