Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today Is For Softening

Ango, a zen practice period, means coming together in peace for meditation, study and work. An ango lasts for about 90 days. This winter I've imagined my painting practice as an ango loosely following the practice at Hokyoji. Except I'm here. Alone in my studio, sitting and painting with Mr. Munchkins in his white fur okesa. Instead of chanting we purr. Sometimes my husband joins us. Even though we have a room set aside for meditation, over the years zafus and zabutans have moved into my studio next to the easel and tables.

I love this season. Everything is strangely fragile. Though colors are soft, at times the light is too vivid for me. For several weeks I've worked night and day on a new painting and today I feel like washing all the color away. I want a painting that speaks with quiet energy like this end of winter season. The image you see here is an early detail of the larger painting that's almost finished now. I'm moving toward a quieter palette with more earth tones. So today is for softening. It's for softening my mind and heart, and for softening the contrasts in this new painting moving it closer to these muted winter days. This new work is inspired by images of a Japanese garden in St. Louis, Missouri. I visited there a few years ago in late winter. A frozen pond reflected the sky in a sheen of water on the melting ice. A tangle of stems from crumpled dead lilies reached toward the sky from deep in the ice. I see an abstract. A metaphor. I want to spend every spare moment painting. I'm frustrated I'm so slow— with so many images waiting for the brush.

8 comments:

  1. I love this - how the mind and the painting are softening at the same time. And in response to what you want to convey, the feeling that you mean to offer up in your work. I know this place of working on something for a long time and then just wanting to wash it away when it doesn't seem quite right. And yet I feel your measured wisdom in your response.

    It sounds idyllic, your art studio/zendo, with Mr Munchkins purring and a visiting husband. sounds like the studio is a "heart" place.

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    1. My studio is a wonderful space and I'm grateful to have it. But it's not always idyllic. There's much gnashing of teeth and hair pulling over the artwork (and out of the artwork- lot's of cat hair). And sometimes I feel "invaded" by my husband's sitting, since he has commandeered MY spot. Ha! A few attachment issues here! :~)

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  2. I love that your diligence and fervor in your art work expresses what is in your heart and mind - moving into those deeper layers of softness beneath the surface... This post is so rich in life metaphors, softening our hearts and minds towards life, and the contrasts in the everydayness of living; opening to that soft space and allowing for expression to unfold, however it does... I am not surprised that Mr. Munchkins and hubby are attracted to this quiet, soft space as well...
    Got an extra Zafu :)

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    1. Thank you Christine. Yes lots of personal metaphors that really spoke to me when I first saw the pond. I've been noticing hard edges a lot lately- both my own and in my paintings. It's quite a big leap for me to work with this... to let boundaries soften when "sharp and clear" has been so important for such a long time.

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  3. There is something to be said for quiet strength. Brightness and brilliance are not always necessary or even desirable for something to be beautiful.

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    1. Quiet or bright, there's so much wonderful artwork everywhere— isn't it just mind boggling awesome?!

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  4. What a good combination of words + picture. I've learned interesting things from your text. I wish I could see the entire/complete painting. Have you finished it?

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    1. Not finished yet. Soo close. Thanks for your comment!

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