Thursday, June 24, 2010

Simplicity 5364

Here's a little mixed media piece I just finished. I love working with vintage sewing patterns these days (although nothing gets sewed which in my case is probably quite fortunate). There's something about the translucent look of the paper when it melts into the canvas or panel. I love the lettering and images for no particular reason that I understand. And I do seem to be obsessed with these tar gel ensos lately too. This piece is called Simplicity 5364, a little nod to the pattern title from whence this Buddha came.

I heard a little gem of simplicity at a day long meditation retreat I attended on Sunday. It was suggested that when working with "right speech" from the eightfold path, rather than thinking of it as a rule, we could use it to look at our intentions. Why did I just say that? Why did I criticize or speak sharply or whatever it is that happens to fly out of our mouths. Examining our speech in this way is an opportunity to go deeper. Often we might find our words were motivated by fear. Maybe it's fear that we might not get what we want. Anger might cover up our hurt, some tender spot that's been poked by someone. Does some circumstance make us feel small or vulnerable or unconsidered?

I like the idea of considering what motivated my "wrong speech" because it gives me the opportunity to get to know myself a little better. Often that wrong speech just pops out and then we go on to justify what we've said (or done). But if we stop and do a little archeological dig, we might find that just a certain look on someone's face can trigger insecurity in us which then might prompt us to say something less than friendly. We are filled with these Pavlovian responses that murmur along like little underground streams. Our awareness can help us unearth these little streams, even dry them up in some cases. But if we know where the streams are at least we won't drown in them. Okay someone turn the hose on me, enough streaming (and without video, oi!)

I have been enjoying the simplicity of just painting and gardening. The more time I spend in the studio, the more I seem to settle into it, the more I want to get back in there, (kind of like sitting meditation, don't you think?). I have a few more new pieces to post (gasp!) and 7 pieces found their way to Starfish Gallery in Ganges today. If you're in the neighbourhood, pop in for a look.

And the garden.... As well as simplicity, it is a source of sheer joy for me. I could just go out there in the morning with my coffee and stay for the day. As the day wears on and I tire I tend to get closer to the ground. It's quite funny to watch. Eventually I am down there at eye level with the cilantro and the slugs, happily doing a little hand weeding. Who is that woman crawling through the garden? But I am tired and happy. There are the pleasing rows of freshly watered plants, the bursts of orange california poppies and the divine scent of a yellow honeysuckle, a smell so large it fills the entire garden in the evening.

I will end with a lovely garden quote that has a very dharmaesque quality. It's from a little book I love called "Zen Gardening" by Veronica Ray. "The principle value of a private garden is not to give the possessor vegetable and fruit... but to teach him patience and philosophy, the higher virtues, -- hope deferred and expectations blighted." - Charles Dudley Warner.


  1. Mmmmm yum... cilantro and slugs... a new salad mix! :-) What a beautiful enso, Carole. I'm looking forward to a weekend in the garden, following your recipe of re-tiring to eye level and crawling with the snails. Thank you and can't wait for the new posts!

  2. My list is like the use of sewing patterns, the color sings, agree with my heart about the growing love of studio time...more time = more love and although my garden is so small...I so understand the pleasure of your garden that you speak of...cilantro and slugs!!

  3. "...hope deferred and expectations blighted." :)

  4. I love your work!
    thank you for sharing!

  5. The new work is gently divine and I hear and share your love of those magical tissue paper patterns.

    Your writing of your garden world is garden currently carries the wafting aroma of gardenia...tonight I'll sleep out in my tent to celebrate La Luna in her fullness with the scent of gardenia circling my dreams.

  6. This is my first visit to your virtual studio and I find myself very content. Your comment about finding yourself closer to the ground as the day progresses is a riot and so true (for me). I've been playing with some paper patterns inherited from my stepmother and find that I love the way the arrows, slashes and instructions in various languages add new layers of meaning to a piece. Re your comment about observing your speech: I remember a talk by a spiritual teacher in which she advised to ask ourselves: "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?"

  7. Thanks everyone for dropping by especially when cilantro and slug salad were on the menu as Genju points out!

    Genju - I look forward to hearing about your gardening adventures and wonder what your found salad mix might look like!

    Blue Sky Dreaming - I know from your blog that your list of art materials is long and your renewed adventure with oil paints is exciting and looks wonderful.

    Patricia - yes I think we all learn in some way about "hope deferred and expectations blighted" ah, to do this with grace!

    Joseph - Dharma and art, a nice mix which is well explored in your photos. Love that last one

    Merci 33 Well I am going to follow your lead and sleep outdoors tonight too, under the full moon. Only in my part of the world this will require long underwear, a wool sweater and a down sleeping bag - invigorating!

    Hannah - Welcome. Yes, the arrows and strange little markings are such fun. I love to rifle through them looking for different and interesting ones. And wonderful questions to ask before we open our mouths. We would probably speak a lot less, especially considering "is it necessary?"