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there is a place [d.r. thursday]

alki cropped copy

a morsel of ALKI BEACH

there are those places – where you sit and your breathing slows down.  the blue of sky calms you, the warm sand molds to your shape and the water beyond where you sit lulls you and quells the inner mixmaster of your thoughts.

for me, many many years ago now,  that place was crab meadow beach.  i felt some kind of kinship with the seagulls and the lure that shoreline had on them.  off-season still found me sitting on the pebbles along the waterline, in the sand gathered in small wind-dunes, on the cement dolphin or walking, walking, walking, ankle-deep in a surf that changed daily.  a place where i could sort out growing up, it soothed me, challenged me, spoke to me.

it’s not always a beach.  or the top of a mountain.  or a quiet lakeside cove.  or an inviting stump on a thick woodsy trail.  most of the time we don’t all have access to these things on a daily basis.

but there is a place.  where you can find the silence you need.  for david, this is often in front of his easel, a fresh canvas waiting or an unfinished painting beckoning.  this painting – ALKI BEACH – reminds me of that place.  the places nearby, the places within.  the rocking chair in the room upstairs, the adirondack chair in the backyard, the piano bench.  the place you draw the seagulls close, whisper your thoughts to them and send them on their way back into the world.

David Robinson ALKI copy 2

click here or on painting above to view ALKI BEACH on davidrobinsoncreative.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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maturity in season of life. [two artists tuesday]

maturity with background

this came across my desk last week. “maturity in season of life.” part of a minister of music job description, i was struck by the unguarded language, the bow to what only time and experience can teach.  i have never seen this written as such before.  it was bracing in every GOOD way.  it was appreciatory.  it was a breath of fresh air.

in a society that seeks to remain youthful and puts less emphasis on maturity in season of life than on staying young, we need remember there’s a place for everyone.  some places require youth, fresh and breathing hard from the sprint.  other places recognize the need for the steadfast wisdom of the ages, a decision-maker-doer who brings a lifetime of positive and negative experiences and knows how to differentiate between them, has an intuition built on time and the ever-growing wealth of lessons.  the seesaw has room for both; the fulcrum can only balance with both.

as two artists living together, we are more than aware of the challenge of ageism, the challenge of time spent in our artistry and how that relates to value.  more than a thousand times we have each been admonished for thinking we need to be paid when we should be grateful for the “exposure” we are being “granted”.  more than a thousand times we have each been in a place where we have had to explain why our artistry needs to be financially rewarded just like anyone else’s work.

indeed, pay scales have been built to reflect time spent and job descriptions use verbiage like “pay is commensurate with experience.”  experience.  maturity:  “the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner.  being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society (read: job) one lives in (read: one works in).”

i recently was having a written messaging chat with a hard-working young adult whose job is in the arts.  with these challenges facing him every day, he said that people do not realize that “they’re paying me to know what to do if things don’t go well.”  intuition.  working on the fly based on training, knowledge and an ever-building bank of experiences.   he will continue to face that challenge; it will only deepen.  how is that maturity measured?  how will he be paid for that maturity, for that which he cannot describe and for which others cannot fathom?  for some reason, in this society, it is easier to answer that question if you are doing a numbers job, something seemingly more concrete, more measurable, more quantifiable.

but maturity in season of life touches others as well and we have dear friends who have been ‘let go’ from their jobs simply because of their age.  now, their companies would never testify to that and are careful to avoid such language – for that would set them up for all kinds of legal problems – but it has been clear to our friends, struggling to find a new way in later days of their lives.  few and far between are those who are able to benefit by pointing out the error of their ways to the company that is undervaluing a later human-on-this-earth season.  other friends are fortunate enough to be working somewhere that has deeply valued the long time they have spent in their work and these friends have retired with spoken words of gratitude and wishes of continued good living.  where is the fulcrum?

in this particular document that came across my desk, the whole phrase read, “maturity in season of life and maturity in ministry experience.”  shockingly, they are seeking this as a qualifier and they are willing to pay for it.  speaking directly to that qualifier that beautifully honors the wisdom of the ages, there are things that, as a minister of music at 19 i did not know.  there are things that, as a minister of music at 32 i did not know.  likewise, as a 30-years-as-a-minister-of-music at days-away-from-60, of course there are things i do not know.

what i DO know is that every experience i have had as a minister of music has built upon the last.  instead of a chasm where learnings have dropped rapid-fire into an abyss, i have learned what the important stuff is and how to attempt to keep those things foremost.

like anyone in any job, mastery is commensurate with time spent, with growth in that work, and yes, without exception, with maturity in season of life.

“take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.” (desiderata)

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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my palette. [k.s. friday]

her palette - the piano

yesterday david wrote these words about his palette.  as i read his words, i realized he was conveying many of my own sentiments.  with his permission, i have only slightly modified his words this morning to express my own artist palette – my piano.  the re-posting of this, and even using the same verbiage, reminds me of the intertwining of all soulful expression.  bear with me as i experiment, my words in red, an exploration of two artistic planes running parallel.

true confessions: i never rarely clean my palette the music stand on top of my piano. i like the messy build up of color. color is found in many forms but mostly notebooks and pa-pads, scraps of paper, snippets of tracks recorded on an iriver or an iphone. i like the chunky texture pile. it serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings compositions past and future. and then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that i will achieve. it is accidental. it is free.  it is idea, melodic gesture, poetry waiting for notes, phrase waiting for the rest of the lyrics.  ready.  waiting.  free.

this might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. i love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. it is the true liminal space.   long before the space spanning the route taken from introduction to coda.  i begin with pure color. i begin with the rest, silence inbetween the notes, the place for breath so you can hear the vibrations of sound.  i smash the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue i intend. note upon note i build a melody, smashing note upon note i build a small unaccompanied orchestra of harmony, the hue i intend.  on a palette, color becomes intention. sound becomes intention.  and then, once transformed, with a brush or knife i lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, i place it onto a canvas. i play, i listen, i play again.  i lift it from the keys of my palette and place it onto the canvas of paper, attempting to capture the fleeting moment it has created and etch it into a piece of music that can be repeated, played again.  it transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. it transforms yet again relative to the air in the room, the echo of an intention, the listening ear it touches.  an image emerges. more color is called for. it emerges, this composition of music, and more color is called for.

and, somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette. the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. and somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette.  the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful.  this!  can there be a more pure statement of artistry? and, in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. unfettered. accidentally interesting. free.  and in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind.  unfettered.  accidentally interesting.  free.  the rest between the notes.  the breath of music on the air. 

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake  i paint.  i write.  i compose.  i don’t know what is enough until i know what is more than enough.  truth. 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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his palette. [d.r. thursday]

palette copy

we really never know what it takes to do someone else’s job.  we don’t know all the tools used, the research done, how training and experience play into it, how someone perceives their own work.  we can only guess and, often, fall desperately and even arrogantly off the mark.

walking into d’s studio my eye is drawn to the easel standing in the far corner.  closer to me, though, is an old cart with an old wooden box holding paints and brushes.  there is another cart and on that is this palette – layers upon layers of color and texture, clay pots of water standing next to this widely-understood symbol of “artist”, often associated with the beginning of the process of painting.

now, i’ve painted a few paintings in my life.  i bought very large prepared canvases and dug around in the basement for leftover acrylic house paint to use on my creations.  without a palette, i brushed and re-brushed and threw paint until i knew each painting was done.  and then i hung them on the walls.  in one case, i painted right on the wall and put a clearance frame around the section of wall that i painted – a nod to a painting without the cost of canvas.

all of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how d paints.  for i do not know all the tools, i do not know the process of mixing color or the technique of stretching canvas he uses, i do not know the tricks of the trade he has accumulated over decades of honing his expertise.  nor do i know the knowledge base he brings about other artists, other painters and paintings, the use of light and dark space, the way the viewer’s eye sees, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions he has learned through many, many years of study and practice.  i can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes or doesn’t take for him to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create.  i can respond to his work but i cannot define it, nor would it be meritorious for me to even try to do so.  out of respect for his work, something that is one of the very things that defines him, i know that i really have no idea.  what i can do is appreciate his talent and every last thing that he has done to bring him to this place where he paints beautiful paintings and it seems to take no effort whatsoever.

with regard to anyone and the work that they do, i would hope we could each remember – with humble respect – that we really have no idea.  we can just be grateful that we are each a spoke in the wheel on this good earth.  our palettes, the places from which we begin, are different.  and we can’t do it alone.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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make others happy. [merely a thought monday]

pt barnum quote

wendy aka ben aka saul brought the movie so that we could watch it together.  the musical the greatest showman was completely entertaining.  there are so many quotes and moments in that movie that are worthy of repeating but the one that is on-screen at the conclusion is by far the umbrella quote.  “the noblest art is that of making others happy.” (p.t. barnum)

so often, it is the arts that people turn to for a breather, for something beautiful, for something to relieve their stress.  a person will listen to music, gaze at a painting, get lost in reading a book or watching a play, feel their breathing slow down during a ballet, sink into a poem. invaluable offerings of peace, of happiness, the arts give pause.

it is humbling when someone tells me that a piece of music has touched them, that a song has made them weep, that something i wrote made them stop a second and ponder.  it is my job as an artist to do my best to reach out with my work.  i can’t determine if it will resonate with anyone; i can only “put it out there” as they say.

it is more often lately that i bemoan the priceless value of the arts that coincides with the oft-price-less earnings of the arts. for what better work than to make others happy.  what better work than to be part of what people turn to when they need to breathe, when they need beauty, when they need to de-stress.

it is noble work.  however you achieve it.  for at the end, will we remember anything other than what made us happy and, more importantly, how we made others happy?

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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a painting is born. [d.r. thursday]

andthentheydancedprocess

i have a unique front row seat to paintings in process.  running downstairs to throw in another load of laundry or seek out a tool i need, i will glance at the easel in the studio to peek at what’s up next…this time, the sketch of two people dancing made me stop.  it immediately made me thinking of when we have danced in the front yard or the kitchen or out on the deck or on a mountain trail.  i got lost in the tango and wandered back upstairs, no new laundry spinning in the washer or tool in my hand.

the next time i looked at the easel i found these two people emerging and color exploding off the canvas.  i have learned, in this time of living with a brush-in-hand-artist, that this is the under-painting, a place that involves steps at which i often want to tell him to stop!wait!it’s perfect!  sometimes he does – stop.  other times he keeps going, for the vision in his mind’s eye is beyond what is on the easel and there is more to develop.

it’s a unique place in the front row.  maybe more comparable to back-stage or the green room or the recording studio before “record”…a place of preparation, a place of reflection, a place of swirling beauty, a place of possibility, a place where the-painting-someone-dreams-of-hanging-on-their-wall is being born.

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unleash the power of your crayon. [chicken marsala monday]

unleashthepower WITH EYES jpeg

on my piano in my studio is a teeny sign with a big message.  it reads, “if you asked me what i came into this world to do, i will tell you i came to live out loud.” (emile zola)   it’s a reminder – a reason for being.  true for each of us, it’s unleashing the metaphoric crayon of our creativity, our thoughts, our knowledge, our gifts, our voices.

there is an extraordinary amount of power in those crayons..the place in the middle that we open…the heart from where our concentric circles start rippling out…where the crayon meets the page, the song is composed, the painter paints, the activist writes.  “loud” (for the sheer sake of being loud) and “out loud” (simply having a voice) are two vastly different things.  and, if you are paying even the least bit of attention at all to world events, we are privy to both in our lives these days.

after living all this life so far, i hope now that the crayons i pick will help to ripple out things that are good, things that consider others, things that are not hurtful, things that are fair, things that are kind.  the power of a crayon unleashed that is “out loud” not “loud.”

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