Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Quote of The Day

 I said: what about my eyes?
God said: Keep them on the road.
I said: what about my passion?
God said: Keep it burning.
I said: what about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: pain and sorrow?
He said: ..stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

~ Rumi 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Quote of The Day


 In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love.
-Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall, Green Landscape (1949)

Solar Stone - Seven Cities

Still taking me to amazing places.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Idea for Making Armatures

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

D*Note - Shed My Skin

I'm running.. through the fields
Laughing.. dreaming..
I'm driving.. through the mountains
Breathing.. a new life

I don't mind what people say
No, I won't look back for another day
Wanna shed my skin and walk away..

I'm floating.. through the river
Twisting.. and turning..
Running through the suns
Searching.. a new life

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Subconscious Servant by Birge Harrison's


 Take from Birge Harrisons book Landscape painting

Has it ever occurred to you to inquire who it is that mechanically writes your letters for you while you do the thinking; who plays the notes of the piano or the violin while the musician is intent upon the interpretation; who frequently goes on reading the printed page when your thoughts have wandered far away ? It is the subconscious servant, the eager helper, who performs for us daily a thousand little unrecognized services, saves our lives often by the rapidity of his action, and watches over us with constant care lest, by our own thoughtlessness, we come to any harm the willing assistant, without whose tireless aid we could none of us sup-port the strain of a single day's existence.
The human brain is divided into two entirely separate compartments, which might be compared to the two stories of a mansion, in the upper of which resides the lord and master who does all of the planning and ordering, while the ground floor is inhabited by the well-trained servant, who not only carries out the orders that are telephoned down from above, but, without any direct commands, attends to all the mechanical details of the household, protects the master from outside invasion, and watches over his physical needs—the conscious ego and the subconscious servant. But if the servant is to be a thoroughly capable and intelligent assistant, he must be well and carefully trained; and this fact is so well recognized that the years of our adolescence are mainly devoted to this object.
In order to appreciate how well the work is carried out and how attentively the pupil has listened to his master, you have only to call upon him for, say, the letters of the alphabet or the multiplication table. He will reel them off for you at a rate to make the head spin. He has charge of all the stored-up information of life; he is the guardian of the treasures of memory, and he keeps his treasures all pigeon-holed and tabulated, and ready for the instant service of the master—but upon one condition —that his services be so frequently called upon that his powers do not become atrophied through lack of use. It is not in the simple capacity of a bookkeeper, however, that he serves us best. Having personal charge of all our stores of knowledge and experience, he is able to correlate quickly, and can often hand us in a flash the solution of a problem which the reasoning ego might have taken hours to reach, or might never have been able to reach at all. There are numerous records of cases where mathematicians or other searchers after truth, having labored long and fruitlessly to solve a certain problem, have waked up some morning with the solution clear before them. The little sub-conscious servant had taken the thing up during the night and handed them the answer in the morning. The subconscious never sleeps. It is only the reasoning part of our brains that needs the recuperation of slumber.
Genius is the term by which we designate the man or woman who is gifted with a subconscious nature of unusual power or activity ; for the so-called flashes of genius represent the beautiful and perfect correlations and harmonies that can only be compassed at the source of things, and without the bungling interference of reasoning man. Instinct, intuition, and inspiration are other words which we use to describe this phenomenon, but they all mean the same thing.
There is no man, probably, who has more need of the help of this faithful subconscious servant than the artist, for so many of the mental processes of art must be instinctive. Moreover, in the purely mechanical sense, painters, and especially landscape painters, are peculiarly dependent upon a well-trained memory. When I was a student in Paris a certain celebrated painter was helpful to me in many ways and gave me much good advice. I was in his studio one day, a month or so after his return from a trip in Holland. He placed upon the easel one after another eight finished pictures and showed me a dozen canvases rubbed in with the warm gray which he preferred for an undertone. "Those also are finished," he said ; "all that remains is to put on the color." Each picture represented a different time of day, the effects varying from high noon to midnight. The motives had been stored carefully in the memory and the pictures all painted after the master's return to Paris.
It was a marvellous feat to have carried all these varying effects simultaneously in the mind without con-fusion, and I did not dissimulate my astonishment.
"Well, mon ami," he said, "I discovered when I was quite a youngster that all of the really beautiful effects, the things which I particularly wished to paint, would not wait my pleasure. They were often evanescent moods that lasted but ten minutes at most,—or they were night scenes. So I began to make studies from memory—one little study every day. After five years of this training I found that I could reproduce fairly well any scene which I had been able to study for ten minutes; and now after twenty-five years of practice my memory has become automatic; so that if I fail with any of my canvases it is not because my memory fails me but be-cause of technical difficulties or poor judgment in the selection of the motive. On several occasions I have painted effects seen from the window of a flying train. I should advise you to begin the same kind of study."
I took his advice, and after twenty-five years of the same kind of practice I can at least corroborate his statement in regard to the automatic working of the thoroughly trained memory.
But even where the effect is more lasting, and where a painter might have two or three hours to work direct from nature, I believe that the final picture must always be painted from memory; and I seriously question if any really great landscape was ever wholly painted in the open. A picture painted direct from nature must necessarily be hasty, ill-considered, somewhat raw, and lacking in the synthetic and personal quality which is the distinguishing mark of all great art—unless indeed the work is really done from memory while the painter is standing before nature—which might be the case if he had had time and opportunity to ripen his vision.
Of course one must paint what one sees, but one must see through the mind as well as through the eye. I do not mean by this to assert that young painters can entirely dispense with study direct from nature, or even that the veteran would not do well occasionally to carry his easel into the open air. The student indeed must paint for many years direct from his subject, must pry as closely as ever he can into the secrets of nature; but I would have him at the same time constantly train the subconscious servant, so that when the time comes that his services shall be needed, he will be indeed a "good and faithful servant."
The wonderful synthetic charm of Japanese art is largely due to the universal custom of the Japanese artists of working wholly from memory. Any one who studies their drawings of birds, of fishes, of animals, and of flowers would find it hard to maintain (as I have heard it maintained in regard to memory painting) that they thereby lose the character of the subject. It is only when the memory is deficient or insufficient that this danger arises. A pretty story illustrative of this is told of an American traveller who, while in Tokio, had purchased an embroidered picture of a waterfall which he desired to have appropriately framed before leaving Japan. He was directed to the work-shop of an expert woodcarver, who accepted the commission ; and after consultation a design was selected whose principal decorative motive was the tortoise. Returning in a couple of days, the patron found the artist at work upon the nearly completed frame, which was indeed a beautiful and most artistic creation. While they talked, something stirred among the shavings at the back of the bench. It was a live turtle which had served the carver for a model. The poor man was all blushing confusion.
"The honorable gentleman will pardon me," he said. "I am a simple artisan. Had I been an artist I should not have needed the turtle here to copy from."
One of my own most interesting and illuminating experiences was an inter-view which I once had with an eminent Japanese artist. At the time of my visit he was at work upon a large screen of which the principal motive was a crouching leopard ready to spring. I watched him as with three or four long supple sweeps of the brush he placed the beast upon the silken background, a marvel of sinuous and savage force.
"It is a wonder!" I exclaimed. "How do you do it ?"
Oki smiled.
"In Nippon," he said, "we do not study art in the American way. We don't sit down before a thing and copy it. The master takes his pupils to the cage of the tiger, and he say : `Look at the tiger's leg and the shape of his paws; look at his eyes and the way his ears lie back upon the head ; look at his long body and his sweeping tail; see how he crouches as he walks.' Then we go home and each one makes a drawing, and the master say all those drawings very bad. And the next day we go again to the cage of the tiger and look at the things we do not remember; and we go again the next day, and maybe we go every day for one month, two month, three month—but in the end we know that tiger." And he certainly did know his tiger.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Importance of Heroes

Text taken from:

Uses of Heroes | Introduction 

This text is an exploration of the importance of heroes; why they initially become important to us, and why they continue to be useful throughout our lives.It may be tempting to think of the idea of having heroes as an immature one, as something that we all grow out of eventually. This is perhaps due to the importance that we attach to them in our youth, a time when they seem especially significant. Popular opinion can also have us believe that we should be able to rely on ourselves, and our own egos may add to this impression.The dictionary tells us that a hero is a person admired for their courage or achievements. I’d like to use the term here in a slightly broader sense, as someone that we look up to and admire, for whatever reason. Hero is a masculine term, but for simplicities sake I shall use it here to speak of both men and women.

Uses of Heroes | Early Importance 

From an early age we become familiar with the idea of heroes. The first heroes that we come to know are perhaps those who look after us at a young age, our parents or guardians. These are the first people that we look up to, and, once we come to understand the idea of a hero, they may be the first that we choose to class as such. The fact that heroes matter to us so much when we are younger is indicative of their fundamental importance. When we are younger we are unsure of who we are; we may be building an identity or searching for one, and heroes help us in this process by embodying qualities that we wish to assimilate. A good example of this is comic book heroes. In many superhero comics we have characters who portray universal qualities - those that we value as a society: justice, honour, bravery, empathy, kindness, and so on. These traits are brought to the fore; painted in bright colours and presented within moralistic story lines. The heroes of these comics may be simple, and wear their morals on their sleeves, but their importance to us as children is a microcosm of how heroes will matter to us for the remainder of our lives.

Uses of Heroes | Experience 

The demands of our lives can often limit the ways in which we experience the world, as can the conditioning of the society that we live within. It is easy to become carried along; to lose ourselves in the sea of pre-described experience that is made available to us, and to accept that this is all there is, or all that we should expect.Part of the joy of youth is in the sense of adventure and creativity that we show towards life. There is no urgency about youth, and no real demands are made on our time. We can enjoy languor without guilt; passion without embarrassment. We don’t yet know the conventions of society (or don’t yet care about them) so are free to make up our own rules.The process of adolescence can serve to detach us from this state, as we begin to become aware of, and to conform to, the various pressures of societal conventions. The process of becoming who we are as adults can be seen as a struggle against this conditioning; a struggle that, in a sense, attempts to reunite us with the uniqueness of our childhood selves:

‘’The fact that the conventions always flourish in one form or another only proves that the vast majority of mankind do not choose their own way, but convention, and consequently develop not themselves but a method and a collective mode of life at the cost of their own wholeness … conventions are soulless mechanisms that can never understand more than the mere routine of life. Creative life always stands outside convention … The mechanism of convention keeps people unconscious, for in that state they can follow their accustomed tracks like blind brutes, without the need for conscious decision. This unintended result of even the best conventions is unavoidable, but is no less a terrible danger for that.’’

In going against convention, we may be treading an unknown path, or an ill-advised one. In doing so, it is often helpful to have another to look to for inspiration or consolation. In lieu of (or in addition to) such persons in our immediate environment, we can look to heroes for this function.In glimpsing the world of someone that we admire, we are reminded of something fundamental, something that is all too easy to forget: that other worlds - other ways of experiencing the world, other modes of life - exist outside our own. To many this realisation can be both bewildering and frightening. To some, it can be an inspiration.

Uses of Heroes | Self-development

It is probably true that as we get older we become surer of who we are, but the potential to grow remains throughout our lives. Carl Jung, a pioneering and influential psychologist, advocated a path of self-development that he referred to as individuation.

‘’Jung’s concept of integration is not in fact that of a static mental condition, although it is sometimes misinterpreted as being so. In Jung’s view, the development of the personality toward integration and mental health is an ideal which is never entirely reached or, if temporarily attained, is bound to be superseded. Jung thought that the achievement of optimum development of the personality was a lifetime’s task which was never completed … 2’’

Jung believed that we should always seek to grow; that, despite never being able to reach an ‘ideal’ state, we should always be striving to be the best, and the most, we can be. As our identity solidifies, the process of change that we go through may become slower and less dramatic, but our ability to develop remains.By the time we reach adulthood we will possess a number of self-schema - these are generalizations about the self, derived from past experience. For example, a person may believe themselves to be shy: this belief – ‘I am a shy person’ – will impact upon future interactions and experiences, and can lead to the building of new schema, based around the idea of shyness (‘I’m no good at public speaking’, ‘I’m no good at talking to the opposite sex’, and so on).To change and to grow can be a trying process, and may involve letting go of ideas that we had formerly held close. It is perhaps no surprise then that we eventually reach an age where we believe that ‘we are who we are’. In thinking this we close a door within ourselves, which may come as a relief for some; however, as Jung pointed out, we are never beyond growth.

‘’… for the average person, the undermining and destruction of a cherished vision of reality can be a shattering experience. Such an upheaval is comparable to the disturbance a man suffers when a person in whom he has had ‘basic trust’ turns out to be unfaithful or untrustworthy … Schemata, philosophies, religions, scientific theories, and even aesthetic prejudices, can all act as bulwarks against the basic, cosmic anxiety which we all suffer when we realize how large and how indifferent the world is, and how small and helpless is each individual in it. No wonder we resent having our cherished illusions shattered, our traditional way of looking at things challenged.’’

If we are always growing, then it follows that there will always be people that we look up to; we may not call them heroes, but these people play as important a role as those that we admired in our youth.

Uses of Heroes | Permission 

We have seen that when we are younger we look to heroes for qualities that we wish to realize within ourselves. It is worth noting that our perception of these qualities can be both conscious and unconscious - we may be drawn to a person without a thorough understanding of the subtleties of our attraction, whilst in other cases the basis of our admiration may be quite obvious.

In admiring these qualities in others, we are also recognizing them within ourselves; they may exist only in embryonic or partially realized form, but our detection of them within another is often a signpost towards our own potential.

‘’The youth, intoxicated with his admiration of a hero, fails to see, that it is only a projection of his own soul, which he admires.’’

In looking to a hero, we are marking out a path for ourselves; from the point at which we currently exist towards that of the person that we admire. In this way, heroes can show us what is possible.For example, we may wish to enjoy life more, to inject more joie de vivre into our day-to-day existence. This realization is itself a start, but it can be tricky to know where to go from here, or how to do it. To have someone who we can look to that embodies this attitude provides us with direction; their actions and words light a route that may otherwise have been dark, and inspire us to venture along that path ourselves. In identifying with a hero, we give ourselves permission to be like them, and to assimilate those characteristics that we admire.

‘’The most important permissions are to love and to change and to do things well. A person with permission is just as easy to spot as one who is all tied up.’’

Attaining permission to do something is often a unconscious process. For example, a fundamental benefit of Art School is that it gives its students permission to be creative. Being surrounded by others who are creating, within an environment in which creativity is a day-to-day normality, facilitates an inner shift. The process of Art School allows the student to think of themselves as a creative person, which then enables them to go on being creative for the rest of their lives.Heroes can provide us with permissions in much the same way. In looking up to someone you bring them into your life, and this proximity is crucial.In becoming close to certain people, we may find ourselves able to think and act in ways that previously seemed unavailable. For example, if a person who is used to the company of largely introverted people were to suddenly become friends and spend time with an extravert, it may free them up in unexpected ways; things that were formerly unacceptable become normal and opportunities arise where before there were none.The closeness of this person allows us a glimpse into another way of being, and their company affords the opportunity to assimilate elements of their persona. In truth, what we are really doing is opening up areas of ourselves that had previously lain dormant or undiscovered. This is a process that many of us may have experienced whilst growing up.A similar thing can also happen with heroes; in bringing them into our lives (with the affirmative, ‘this is a person I admire’) we are privileged with their company, and through this proximity we may be afforded a variety of permissions.

Uses of Heroes | Fictional Heroes 

In our day-to-day existence we generally get to see very little of other peoples lives. We witness a certain amount of those closest to us – our friends and family – but our experience of them is limited. We don’t have access to them in every situation, at every moment, and so our idea of who they are is generally based on what they allow us to see. By giving us a glimpse into the lives of their characters, films allow us to experience other people in a unique way. In spending the duration of a film with a character we may bear witness to a number of thoughts and interactions that we wouldn’t be able to observe in real life. Whilst most of these characters are fictional, and their interactions artificial, we can still draw value from observing the way in which a character interacts with their world. In spending time with a film character, we are allowed to enter into their persona. We can temporarily adopt their outlook and mannerisms, and see the world in the way that they see it. We are removed from ourselves, and are allowed to reflect upon who we are from an altered perspective – a dichotomy is created, between the character and us, and from this all sorts of useful self-analysis can arise.As an example, lets take the character of Wayne Campbell, from the film Wayne’s World. The reality of this film exists at a distance from our own; whilst the world he inhabits is recognizable, much of the film is fantastical. However, the way in which Wayne interacts with his world, and with others, holds truth. Wayne is an upbeat character, and his positive persona is reflected in his interactions; through being in his company, the idea of positivity is fore-grounded, and we may be led to question it in relation to ourselves. Do we admire his positivity? Is positivity something that we value? Are we as positive as he is? Would we like to be? A lot of this analysis may be near-unconscious, and may be represented as a simple like or dislike of the character; however, it is analysis that can affect us, and is relevant to our experience of our world.To use another example; the character of Otto in Repo Man affects an air of disenfranchisement. His world-view is largely negative, and through him we witness the interactions of a young disaffected person. We are asked to identify with Otto, and through this we may make a series of judgements; am I disaffected like him? How do I feel about this? Do I agree with his outlook? Whether we end up liking Wayne or Otto, in spending time in their company we have been compelled to make judgements about their character. In making judgements about others we are inevitably drawing comparisons to ourselves, and reflecting upon our own personality.In this sense, fictional characters like these can operate as heroes. They create opportunity for self-analysis, and through insight into their interactions they facilitate self-development.

Uses of Heroes | Possibilities

‘’The whole value of history, of biography, is to increase my self-trust, by demonstrating what man can be and do.’’

There can often seem to be a great distance between our heroes and us; whilst we may recognize aspects of ourselves within them, their accomplishments can make them seem unattainable; almost other-worldly. This may be particularly true if the person we admire lived in another age.Whilst we can appreciate the achievements of our heroes – perceive talent, or genius – we must realize that our admiration of them also contains the invitation for us to achieve. Heroes can show us what is possible, and it is this that is their primary use.

‘’To feel the full value of these lives, as occasions of hope and provocation, you must come to know, that each admirable genius is but a successful diver in that sea whose floor of pearls is all your own.’’

Circumstances may have led us to believe that we are destined to tread certain paths, or forbidden from following others. This is an easy trap to fall into, and once in it we can find it very hard to climb back out; our own negative self-schema can conspire against us, and things may be worsened by the constricting influence of other people.It is easy to get lost in the sea of other people’s ideas and achievements, and to believe that our own accomplishments are of less worth. A negative outlook can flip the role of a hero, from an enabling, positive presence, to a stifling one. Most of us need people around us who realize our worth, especially if we fail to see it ourselves. These people lift us up; they are localized, with their sights set on us, and in this sense they can provide the perspective that we may sometimes lack. They see our achievements for what they are, and through their eyes we see what we are capable of.This positive network can be furthered by the presence of heroes. For example, in finding out about the life of someone we admire we may realize that they are more normal than we’d at first thought; the details of their lives brings them closer to us, and makes them more attainable. Heroes are there to enable us; to know their lives and achievements is to know what is possible. They should not act as full stops on our ambition, rather as provocateurs or pacemakers.

Uses of Heroes | A Reminder of Who We Are

In the flow of daily existence it is very easy to get pulled out of shape, and to forget who you really are. We probably all experience moments in which we lose sight of ourselves and become, if only momentarily, people that we no longer recognize.Friends and family tend to be our main antidote to this - the safety and familiarity of their company normalizes us. Their expectations of our character, based on knowledge and experience, can be a positive force, re-uniting us with our true selves.It is often hard to maintain the integrity of our personality – as psychologist Anthony Storr points out, ‘people often express the idea that they are most themselves when they are alone.’ In going out into the world and interacting with others - those who don’t know our history, who we really are – we are bound to be pulled out of shape. Conflicts can cause us to act irrationally; certain situations may provoke lapses of character; peer-pressure and other forms of social conformity can limit us. There are many situations that remove us from ourselves, and its natural that we need ways in which we can counteract this.We’ve seen how our heroes can be a reflection of the positive aspects of our own personalities, so it follows that in connecting with them we are also able to re-connect with who we are. This could be through something as simple as watching a particular film or TV programme, listening to a record or reading a book. In doing so we connect with the ideology of our heroes; we’re brought into their world, which is also a reflection of our own.Cultural paraphernalia (such as books, DVDs, records and posters) can act as an assertion of our identity; it can be a relief to arrive home, to a place where you are surrounded by your own objects, because these objects remind you of who you are. In much the same way, to know who your heroes are, and to have them in mind, is to know yourself.

Uses of Heroes | Hope 

We’ve seen that heroes can have a variety of uses. When we are young they aid us in defining who we are, and they can remind us of this when we lose sight of ourselves. They can also guide us in the process of self-development, and can show us how to experience the world in ways in which may have previously seemed unavailable. In this age of easy-celebrity it can seem that heroes are offered up to us all too often, and for too little. It is perhaps easy to forget that one of the most important things we can hope to gain from these people is an understanding of ourselves.The pressures of daily existence can all too easily push us into living a life we neither desire nor recognize. At their simplest, Heroes provide us with hope – they show us that there is another way, and that we are allowed to choose it, if we wish.

The only Constant is that you are.

You will sometimes meet someone you believe is a soul mate; you feel the connection on many levels, perhaps instantly. And as you get to know each other more, you begin to feel the connection deepen and you feel that you must have an arrangement with this person that predated this lifetime.

Do not assume, however, that this soul connection necessarily means that you are meant to be happily togeth
er for this lifetime. It may be that you are meant to be friends and allies, helping each other out. It may be that you are going to help each other in ways that even involve conflict and separation, but with an end result that is beneficial to you. It may be that you are going to learn some lesson from each other and then go your separate ways.

What you need to do with all relationships, including those that have that instant and deep connection, is let be. You need to allow all of life, including close relationships, flow and evolve. You need to let people be who they are, not what you want them to be. And above all, you must not try to control, push and prod, manipulate and orchestrate relationships.

Have the courage and the heart, the centeredness, to follow your own path, to be who you are and love being who you are, no matter what. Shine out and show us who you are, so that people who are looking for someone exactly like you can find you. Do not allow setbacks or even major betrayals to dampen your shine and your being.

In life’s journey you will encounter much, narrow paths blocked by avalanches, forks in the road shrouded in fog, deep valleys of darkness and bright sunny days in meadows of golden poppies. It is all a part of life. And as you walk your path, other people will join you for a time: a dear friend, a lover, a spouse, children and parents. And then they may go away.

And through it all, the only constant is that you are you, that you have a core of truth within you and a path to walk, and if you allow your core of truth to tell you which fork in the road to take, if you allow that internal compass to tell you which mountain to climb, then you will do well indeed and have a fulfilling, interesting life. If you go chasing after others, trying to make things be other than how they naturally are, then you will find yourself suddenly awakening in a deep forest without knowing where to turn. You will find yourself lost and confused, because you have lost touch with your own personal truth.

And when this happens, you must just sit down in the forest, become very still, and return to yourself. You must reach down and find yourself again before you continue walking, or else you will simply go around in circles, becoming more desperate and alone and lost.

You are everything you need to be, just as you are, right now. You are the center of your own life. You are the beacon that shines and shows the way.

Be glad when others walk beside you, enjoy their company, connect as closely and deeply as you can, but always, always, shine your own light and walk your own path and allow them to do the same.