reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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co-exist. [d.r. thursday]

marc chagall quote

at a time when i couldn’t afford paint and knew nothing about painting, i painted.  i was drawn to big canvasses and the household cans of black and white paint in the basement workroom.  there were housepaint brushes on the workbench, many with twisted brushhairs and dried wall paint from previous projects on the handles.  they felt good in my hand.  i didn’t know what i was doing, but i was compelled to do it.

and so, my paintings are black and white.  layers of white on black and black on white and white on black on white and black on white on black.  i brushed on paint; i stood back and spattered paint.  i kept going until i felt “stop”.  when i ran out of canvas i taped off a rectangle, ventured out with the leftover from a can of khaki interior paint, and painted on the wall, later framing the box with a clearance frame, broken but not obviously so.

in that time of a compelling need to paint, to preserve emotion-in-black-and-white-on-a-canvas, i wonder what my paintings would have looked like had i access to all the colors in between?  where would i have gone with mountain meadow green or razzle dazzle rose or canary or cornflower or atomic tangerine or fuzzy wuzzy brown?

anyone who has merely stood outside and looked up at the sky knows that the colors of life are as transient as breath.  they morph and change in the moments that go by.  capturing color is like capturing the wind.  one cannot see color without light reflections, refractions, wavelengths, shadow, absorption.  they work together so we might see the twilight sky, rainbows and unicorn horns.

is black black without white?  is white white without black?  is cerulean blue without scarlet?  is any spectrum complete without all others in the band of light, without all the wavelengths?  any spectrum at all?

do we actually realize that none can exist without the other?

“all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” (marc chagall)

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batting averages and painting. [d.r. thursday]

the story of a miss

ty cobb’s career batting average over 24 seasons was .366.  this is the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats.  i know that is an extraordinary batting average and yet my math-brain looks at that and thinks, “wow.  that’s shy of 37%!  only 37%!”  what if only 37% of my recordings were complete?  or 37% of dinners cooked all the way?  or 37% of the work for our employers done?  or 37% chance of wearing appropriate clothing outside our home?  disregarding the possibility of grading on a curve, my school-brain thinks, “37% does not look like an A!”  so when david went on about how his painting has been a miss, i thought, “well heck! you need to lower the bar a bit!”

artists are harsh.  we are generally not self-congratulatory, although there is definitely a percentage that defies that.  we have a vision of where a project is going and we will jump at the chance for perfecting it every time.  there is a point when you know; the time has come to stop, start over, wipe clean the slate.  (pfffft – can you hear lifting up the cellophane on those cool vintage magic slates made of cardboard and equipped with a plastic stylus?)  david walks away from the easel, huffing.  i walk away from the piano, sighing.  the muse has left the room before us.  at least that is what we invariably think, when it’s our own work.

and yet, it’s so often the case that i will stare at his work, downstairs on the easel and think, “wait!  stop!  don’t do ANYthing!  it’s perfect!”  but it’s his project and his creation and he fought with the vision he had in his head.  they disagreed; they went to battle and the easel reigned supreme time and again as he walked away, disgruntled.

for me, the third iteration of this painting (see above) is the moment.  he could have stopped right there and i would have loved it.  it had a dreamy,  surreal quality to it.  it was graceful and lovely.  i’d say at the very least a .375.  ty would be proud.

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hope in the midnight sun. [d.r. thursday]

EARTHInterrupted7.THIS ONEJPG

EARTH INTERRUPTED VII 48″X36″

we drew heavy curtains to sleep in the land of the midnight sun.  my grandmother mama dear and i were in the arctic circle in finland and, much to the fascination of my eight year old mind, the sun refused to set.  i remember a twilight like no other – a time of in-between that just lasted and lasted, not day, not night.  it was stunning and magical and wreaked havoc on circadian rhythms, necessitating new practices.

EARTH INTERRUPTED VII makes me think of that twilight, that time in the river of not-this-not-that.  a time of waiting, it appears that the telescope zeroed in on earth detects an interruption, a wafting darkness.  in this time of pandemic, it would seem a portrait of covid-19.

but, as in all other times of darkness, there exists a glow of light.  the blackness is dissipating, the shape of the earth is visible, the twilight is vibrant.  this painting offers radiant hope.

just like pulling back the curtains in lapland, the sun will rise and we will have awakened from the strange twilight.  we will have lost much to the dark.  we will have learned new ways, employed new rituals.  we will be tired and wary, cautious yet sure.  we will have crossed the river of the midnight sun into a new day.

view this painting on david’s virtual gallery

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EARTH INTERRUPTED VII ©️ 2018 david robinson

 


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there is a place, a canopy. [d.r. thursday]

canopy

CANOPY 48″x48″

there is a place on a washington island road where the rest of the world disappears.  you are walking alongside forest and can see the sky as you look up, tall trees framing blue, the sound of sandhill cranes and red-eyed vireos accompanying your steps.  and then you enter this place.  the trees gently arc over the road and you are covered by a canopy; we have sheltered in this spot during more than one sudden rainfall.  even in the bright day, the green above you – which turns to brilliant umber, rich red, flaming orange during summer’s release on the forest – allows for little light.  and at dusk, while the sun sinks into the water hundreds of feet away, walking in the middle of the road, it is dark-dark, the canopy a lure for night creatures, safe in the shadows.

there is a place in a tree in the yard of my growing-up house outside the window of my old room where the branches invited sitting.  for hours i would sit there, write, ponder.  in the summer the maple seemed to grant me privacy from the world, its branches full of leaves and canopying my little spot.  a shelter.

there was a place in the wooden structure in our backyard that had a yellow awning that made a fort.  when My Girl and My Boy were little they would play up there for hours, The Boy lining up matchbox cars, The Girl often reading a book.  a special space, this little fort, it was hard when it was time to dismantle it and pass it on to friends with little ones.

these places of shelter – places of canopy – provide such a sense of protection, a sense of being held from harm – from the elements, away from others, in our own private place.  much like our homes, they can give us pause, a deep breath, safety.

in this time of distancing and stay-safe-stay-at-home, i look around our house and give thanks for its canopy of shelter, for the way it holds us from harm, for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it keeps us safe.

view CANOPY on david’s virtual gallery

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CANOPY ©️ 2009 david robinson

 

 

 


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apples and bananas. [d.r. thursday]

Eve copy

EVE 48″ x 48″

like many of you, i have laid awake many nights now.  exhausted when i lay my head down and then, voila!, wide awake.  the middle of the night has many monsters these days.  it used to be that as i lay awake and would get hungry and hungrier, i would convince david that the perfect thing, rousing him from sleep, would be to have a 3am bowl of cereal together.  since we went dairy-gluten-free i’ve substituted and have chosen a banana in the wee hours.  somewhere i read that bananas are sleep aids, so waking david up to have a banana seemed like i was helping him.  but now, we have no bananas.

we need to go to the grocery store.  but it’s complicated, with disinfecting wipes during our trip there and being absolutely careful upon our return home to wash everything or store it for a period of time.  it’s important, vital.  we step back from the person who is a  personal-space-invader.  we make room on the walking path for those coming the other way.  we marvel at the recklessness of large numbers of people still gathering in spaces.  we weep for those who have succumbed to a disease that is apparently sorely underestimated.

this painting, eve, is a beautiful landscape of color and shape.  eve, religiously historic as the first woman.

is it possible that the apple of eve and adam, the one in the story from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, could now be seen as a casualness toward the spread of this pandemic, a cavalier attitude, a lack of regard toward social distancing or the peril facing citizens, medical personnel, workers at essential businesses?   the apple that, in the story, changed everything, for all time?

another reason to choose bananas.

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EVE ©️ 2004 david robinson

 


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just being there. [d.r. thursday]

k.Dot Dogga BCat copy

there are moments when both dogga and babycat seem to be on the same page.  sweetly tuned in to our every emotion, they put aside their own agenda to curl up, their warm bodies tucked in against one or both of us, just being there.

in this time of necessary and vigilant waiting, as we defer to healthcare workers, scientists, the experts, all in their prodigious work, perhaps this is the most potent aid we can offer.  to curl our warmth and any practical and safe help we can muster around each other.  to acknowledge each other’s worry, each other’s fear, each other’s process.  to be tuned in, to listen, to offer words of comfort.  to stand with each other, hold each other’s hands, even from afar.  to quietly just be there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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lost. [d.r. thursday]

Peri Winkle Square copy

lost.

in these times.  the emotional upheaval is exhausting.  worry is the crux of insomnia.  we measure every step, every decision.  we look to each other for reassurance, for a fast-receding touch of normalcy.  we feel…lost.

in these times.   we remember other times we felt this way.  other times of confusion and fear, of social responsibility and adherence to new rules, new realities.  too many calamities to name, it seems.  too many times…lost.

this little book Peri Winkle Rabbit Was Lost was the product of such a time, as david created it – a one-of-a-kind – in response for a call for a children’s book that addressed the tragic hurricane katrina, a book given to children that offered empathy for the plight in which they were standing, their lost.

we, as artists, do what we can to offer comfort, to bring a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

we, as people, look to the arts for a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

in these times.  standing in the darkness with each of you.  maybe together we will not feel as lost.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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PERI WINKLE RABBIT WAS LOST ©️ 2005 david robinson

 

 

 

 


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we are women. hear us roar. [d.r. thursday]

Modesty detail

a little modesty: mixed media 28″x22″

ohmygosh, women are beautiful.  women are strong.  women are underestimated.  women are courageous.  women are tender.  women are emotional.  women are smart.  women are bold.  women are modest.  women are utterly and undeniably amazing…

sharing two previous posts that i could not pen better than i did when i wrote them.  thank you for indulging me this repetition.  with love to the great big tribe called ‘womankind’. xoxo

WOMEN. WE’VE GOT BACKBONE. (dec. 1, 2016)

wordswomenwevegotbackbone-jpegliving with an artist means you get to poke around inside their passion. you get to see the things that paved the way, that set the stage, that were behind the scenes. you get to hear the stories of mountains climbed and deep valleys (read: chasms) scaled. an artist’s story is not a straight line and an artist’s art is fluid.

it also means you get to go through the piles, so to speak. i’ll play songs for him that never made it anywhere, onto any album, nor any stage. he’ll show me paintings or sketches that didn’t get framed or hung or shown or even looked at. sometimes i will just go downstairs into the studio and page through the painting stacks, traveling in time through my husband’s work. color and space and frenetic movement and paintings that breathe air; all tell a story about the place he was in when he painted them.

in a recent stroll through paintings, i stumbled upon this one. i pulled it out and sat down – right there on the floor – to gaze at it. there is just something about it.

grace.  strength.  i was struck by the beauty of its simplicity.

it made me think of so many women i know. my beautiful girl kirsten, who made her first turkey after spending a day on a snowboard on mountains she had never even seen a short three years ago. linda, tossing hay to a horse with a pitchfork and hugging alpaca, never before retirement dreaming of such a thing. marykay who wisely makes brownies (gf!) for every occasion, creating inroads for people to talk and share and become a part of a whole. jay, who is zealous about the children she works with at schools, a social worker beyond compare.   jen, who stretches herself to learn new things at all times, while standing strong for her husband, stunned by changes in their lives over the last year. which brings me to randi, with a similar story and the same dedication and generous spirit. daena, who grades papers and reads elementary school novels in-between playing her handbell parts, because she is more than prepared every school day. susan, who, singlehandedly, day after day raises three young men and teaches them to see this very strength and grace in women. sandy, who quietly and fervently and proudly stands strong for the LGBTQ community. heidi, a writer who bravely serves up pizzas with a frantic pace, because it helps her family. dianne, who tirelessly works side by side with her pastor husband, keeping a full-time job and volunteering for, well, everything. beth, who posts a picture of her stunning chemo-bald self every time another friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. my sweet momma, who was kind every single time and didn’t see differences or lines, even in pain, even in dying.

the list is unending. and it made me think this: WOMEN. WE’VE GOT BACKBONE.

because it’s true. in this time in our world, who of you cannot think of a woman or women you know who are the picture of strength, the picture of grace. i want to celebrate these women. i want to encourage these women. i want to honor these women. i want to celebrate, encourage, honor each of Us.

please forward this to women you know. not because there is a link to purchase Stuff – but because it is a Truth and as many women (and men) as possible need to see it…just to be reminded. add names to the list. in our herculean (and extraordinary) lives, let’s make this a herculean (and extraordinary) celebration.

i can’t think of a better time to further the celebrating, encouraging and honoring than right now. at a time when each of us WOMEN needs to be seen as strength and as grace.

we ARE women. and we DO have backbone.

WOMEN. YOU MADE IT THROUGH. (dec. 6, 2019)

made it through songbox

“i want women to see that you do not get pushed around.” (* attributed below)

this piece today is dedicated to all the women who have made it through, all the women who are making it through, all the women who will make it through.

your fire has brought you to the edge of the battlefield many times and you have still made lemonade; you have still prevailed.

you have made it through intensely emotionally abusive relationships.  you have picked up the pieces and you have moved on.

you have made it through physical or sexual abuse.  you have risen from the ashes.

you have made it through terrifying health scares.  you have pulled up your boot straps and determinedly plodded through with massive courage.

you have made it through society’s prioritizing of body image and appearance.  you have been measured by your cleavage or lack thereof, by the indent of your waist, by the clothing you choose, by your hair.  you struggle to remember you are beautiful.  you stand tall.

you have made it through vacuumous times, the middle of chaos, the middle of multi-tasking.  you have created.

you have made it through physical summit experiences.  you have scaled mountains.  you have boarded down untracked chutes.  you have trained your body with weights and exercise.  you have run.  you have skated.  you have pedaled.  you have breathed in and sighed an exhale.  you’ve run thousands of lengths of playing fields.  you took the next painful recuperating step.  you dove to the depths.  you have been on world stages.  you have risen with hungry or fevered children night after night.  you have competed.  you have given birth.

you have made it through falling.  you have made mistakes.  you have been human.  you have forgiven and you have been forgiven.

you have made it through an education steeped in gender-inequality and bias.   you have chosen to learn more, to actively seek the resources, rights and opportunities due you, to resist against the discrimination.

you have made it through a system that undermines your success and devalues your value.  you have fought for your place.

you have made it through financial challenges of single womanhood, of single motherhood.  you have been scrappy and, without complaint, you have layered onto yourself however much it took to get it done.

you have made it through work situations where you’ve questioned how you would be treated were you to be a man.  would you be yelled at?  would your professionalism be questioned?  you have asked these questions.  you have stayed, holding steadfast, or you have moved on; you have decided what is best for you and moved in that direction.

you have made it through the skewed-world fray into leadership roles where your every decision is challenged or thwarted.  you have overcome; you have triumphed.

you have made it through being-too-young and through aging.  and you are not irrelevant.

you have made it through.  you have spoken up, spoken back, spoken for.  you have written letters.  you have marched.

you have been pushed around.  but you have pushed back.  and, just like the tortoise, you have made it through.

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©️ 1997, 2000, 2008, 2016, 2019

(*this quote is attributed to nancy pelosi)


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this underpainting. [d.r. thursday]

underpainting

an underpainting is raw.  an authentic beginning, an authentic step in heading to a “finished” product.  often i am the one who asks david to stop…stop here.  there is something that speaks to me from the canvas of underpaintings.  something that says, “look.  i am here.  i am not perfect.  i am not done.  but i exist.”

maybe it’s the connection to real life, to humanness – the not-done-ness, the not-perfect-ness, the here-existence – that appeals to me.

it is a suggestion of completeness, but not yet really measurable or judgeable.  it is a tendency toward finished, but not contrived or overly-intended.  it is a step in the direction of a painting that an artist deems done, but a step, a ‘done’, we each see through our own eyes.

it is a parallel of life.  a start.  a blank canvas.  raw color.  authentic steps.  imperfect.  not done.  but here.

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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our daisy. [d.r. thursday]

daisy framed copy jpeg

if there is an icon image for us, this would be it. the full image of david’s daisy painting includes language:  you said, “i’ll be the one.” yes. you are. 

i was the one holding the daisy.  way back when now, in baggage claim, thinking he would have no idea who i was, i texted him i would be the one holding the daisy.   we hadn’t ever met yet, but our backandforthandbackandforth email letters had been going on for about six months and it was time to see the face of the other half of the backandforth.

i was nervous in the airport waiting.  i got there early, which, in and of itself, is a feat because i am not a way-too-early-to-the-airport person.  i visited the mirror in the ladies room a number of times, checking my outfit, my hair, making sure i had no food in my teeth (linda can tell you bill t. had made me paranoid about this).  the evening before, i agonized over what to wear.  a nice outfit?  a dress?  leggings and a tunic?  i ended up with my favorite old jeans, my boots and a big oversized black chenille sweater.  i needed to feel like me.

the girl in the airport restroom was waiting for her fiance to return from the service; their wedding was merely two months away.  she asked me who i was there to meet and i told her the (short) version of the story.  she laughed and said, “ah.  it’s obvious.  you two will find out you are soulmates, ” which made me laugh.  clearly that was silly.

i only knew his face from a tiny photo on a website.  i had seen photographs of his coffee cup in various settings and his paintings (which i loved), but not his face.  the identifying daisy in baggage claim – in my belief – was necessary.

that daisy was quivering when this guy with jeans, boots and a black shirt and outer jacket was walking toward me and i realized the girl in the bathroom might be right.  a kind face and easy stride, he walked up to me and, laughing, we hugged.  we skipped out of the airport, the daisy cheering us on.

the rest is history, as they say.  there have been uphills and downhills; the roller coaster for two artists living together would challenge any six flags amusement ride.  life beginning together as two grown-up adults is navigable but requires much negotiation.  two people with different pasts – one of us with children, one of us without – is full of lessons and storytelling and learning curves.  the smack-dab in the middle of middle age brings its own neuroticisms; the late 50s is not necessarily a time that you feel at the very apex of feeling good in your body.  we pay attention to health and diet and know our time together is not the decades and decades of our parents’ times together.  we try to maximize moments.  and we sometimes struggle with the feeling of starting over.  not the resilient twenties or thirties of our first marriages, yet starting again with much of the same arduous uphill climb.

so in the roadtrip of this life together were i to assign an icon it would be this daisy.  because this daisy in the painting on our wall reminds us:  i’ll be the one. yes. you are.

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daisy ©️ 2012 david robinson