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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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you come to realize. [k.s. friday]

you come to realize songbox copy

“sometimes it takes longer to understand and appreciate what is around you.” (liner notes)

it’s the ah-ha! you feel when you realize that it’s ALL about perspective and even this moment will soon disappear into vapid space.  yet this very moment is the one that counts.  we simply can’t waste it.  there’s no time to not appreciate it, no time to throw it away while yearning for the next.

i have come to realize this over and over and over, through loss, through mistakes, through absolute joy, through reminders spoken, seen, felt on an excruciating gut level.  we are all repeated students of this lesson, for we are all human.  we are all human, for we are all students of this lesson.

on an everest documentary we watched the other day there was this quote:  “it’s not that life is so short.  it’s that death is so long.”  if that doesn’t make you spring into action – noticing life – i’m not sure what will.

 

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YOU COME TO REALIZE from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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when the fog lifts. [k.s. friday]

when the fog lifts songbox copy.jpg

“…the other end of the process of living through uncertainty…” (liner notes)

sometimes when we drive along third avenue, right around the corner from our house, the fog totally obscures lake michigan.  you would never know it was even there.  you can’t see where the shoreline is, you can’t see the expanse of lake.  further down the road, you can’t see the beach, the waves, the jetty.  it is as if, for this time, the lake and the sky are one; neither exist and both exist.

this duality, this co-existence…is what this piece is about.  the presence of clarity and the presence of haze.  when i read my liner notes this morning, i sighed.  i wrote them in 1997 – (a shocking) twenty-two years ago.  i was 38.  i must have thought there was an “end” to uncertainty then.  and, at the time, i must have interpreted the fog, the mist, in a somewhat negative way, as something to get “through”, relief at the other end.

and then the fog lifts over the lake and there is differentiation of planes.  the sky becomes sky; the lake becomes lake.  until the next fog rolls in.

this month i will turn 60.  it takes me a few seconds for that to sink in each time i think about it.  were i to re-record this piece now, i would slow it down.  i would linger in the fog a little longer, not so afraid of it, of its mystery.  i’m still learning to embrace the fog, still learning to watch for the sky when it lifts, still learning that both can co-exist:  clarity and uncertainty.  nothing is really clear in life.  nothing is absolute.  we keep stepping. it is truly all a little foggy.  i now think it’s supposed to be that way.

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WHEN THE FOG LIFTS from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 


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transience. [k.s. friday]

TRANSIENCE songbox copy

“…dawn turns to daylight. to dusk. to full darkness. always to dawn again…” (liner notes)

brad's snowman

brad built a snowman in the woods while we were snowshoeing.  with a nod to our wit and creative pet-names, he cleverly named it “snowman-snowman”.  he was a charming snowman and we lingered by him for a bit, all chatting in the quiet woods.  because he is, well, a snowman, we left him behind as we continued on the trails.

yesterday we went back to the woods.  there was still snow, even more in some places.  but when we got to the spot where the trails split off, i, sadly, saw that snowman-snowman was no longer there.  i didn’t talk about it.  the magic of snowman-snowman was still in the air despite his absence on the trail.

we hiked a bit farther into the woods and when we stopped for a moment, i started packing together some snow.  it was that really-good-packing-snow, so “valentino” came together easily.  we searched for his eyes and the perfect nose, tucked a feather-leaf in his ‘cap’ and fell in love with our little snowman.  his magic was instant.

our snowman

transient.  all daylight.  all snowmen.  all of us.  life.  it’s a minor key.  all-consumingly-beautiful.  gut-wrenchingly-fleeting.  every reason to revel in every ray of sun, build a snowman, embrace those you love, bravely live every moment.  even if our footprints aren’t still visible, our magic stays in the air.

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TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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bridge. [k.s. friday]

bridge song box copy

“when one door closes another door opens.”  how many times have you heard that?  people fail to address the hallway in-between.  ahh….that hallway in between.  full of mystery.  full of questions.  full of wondering.  full of not-knowing.  it can be freeing; it can be torturous.  bridging from now to next.

two to three months after my big brother died, my sweet momma continued to have nights when she could not sleep.  she would rise from bed and go down the short hall to the bedroom that served as her office.  in that short walk, she would pass the entrance to the living room.  one night, as she passed the living room, glancing in she saw a depression in the very top of the recliner, the way it looks when someone is sitting with their head against the back of the chair.  this chair…the very one that my brother sat in so many times in the last months of his life, close to the front door so that he didn’t have to go too far and become too tired.

my momma, not given to fanciful imaginings, decided to walk into the living room to find out why the headrest of this chair gave the appearance of someone in it.  she came around to the front of the chair and found my brother.  he was sleeping in the chair and did not stir while she stood there.  she never said a word, just silently watched for a couple of minutes.  her heart full, she quietly walked to her office.  an hour or so later, when she was ready for bed, she walked back down the short hall, this time glancing in to the living room to see if the headrest was still shaped as it had been, if my brother was still there.  the recliner had returned to its normal state.  my brother was no longer there.  she went to bed and slept, her time in the hall of grief a little lighter, a little less encumbered, a little less painful.  mysterious, full of questions, full of wondering and not-knowing.  freeing and a little torturous.  but moving into next.

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BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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(it is) as it is. [k.s. friday]

AS IT IS songbox copy.jpg

ken calls this my MUSH album.  he is an amazing producer and i feel fortunate to call him my dear friend as well.  he produced 14 of my albums and, although one of my albums and a few vocal singles were done in nashville, now i can’t really imagine any other recording projects without him.

MUSH stands for made-up-shi* and is aptly named.  this album came at a really inspired time for me.  artists have their highs and lows, inspiration-wise, and this was one of the highs.  i’ve mentioned the story before, but i’ll short-story it here again:  i had a list of titles – titles i wanted to use eventually for compositions; i carried a notebook and scraps of paper everywhere i went.  i had this list with me as i recorded two other full-length albums in nyc at yamaha artist services.  in-between recording the two other albums, i would choose a title and play it.  simply play it.  my heart is laid out in the tracks of this cd; every title was meaningful to me, every piece tells what it means.

AS IT IS is the title track so it’s interesting that i gave over the melody line to a flute, the only piece on all of my albums that has a flutist playing.  it’s also rare for me to step away from the piano and, in the production-post-initial-recording phase, play a keyboard.  but life is like that. you have to give over sometimes.  the texture changes.  the melody isn’t yours to own; sometimes you are support staff.  make peace with it.  it is as it is.

AS IT IS:  life.  we are right here…where we are supposed to be in this part of the journey…the best time is now.  simply because life is as it is. (liner notes)

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AS IT IS from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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last i saw you. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you songbox

the last i saw him was not the last of this world being this world.  but it was the last moment my world was the same.  i wrote about this yesterday.  it’s all fragile.  like a soaring violin note bowed over a line of piano, it’s ephemeral.  it will vanish in the next moment.  we keep hearing the line in our heads; we keep hearing the cello passionately talking to us; we keep those we have never seen again close.

i wrote this piece to speak to the last time i saw my big brother.  i listen to it now and it is also about the last time i saw my sweet momma, my poppo, my uncle allen, my grandparents, my adored high-school-english-teacher andrea, my not-really-a-triplet-from-elementary-school-on-dear-friend kenny…  it’s about the last time i saw people i’ve loved forever.  it’s about holding on to shared moments with my living-far-away-children.  it’s about the last time – when i don’t know when the next time is.

LAST I SAW YOU is the gossamer strands of connection between us.  it’s how we hold that and honor that.  for me, just know it is a statement of enduring love.

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LAST I SAW YOU from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood