Thursday, 29 October 2009

Bowl of Images...

yes, a bowlful of images ON a bowl.. the 1st of many, and all because I happened to see a pile of wooden bowls & plates for a tenner at a local market.. and I'm intending to paint them all. One & a half down, five & a half to go. I prime them white, & then go outside & see what calls to be drawn on them. With the 1st one I didn't get across the grass at the back of the studio - I thought I was heading out onto the fields, but no, it was a warm day, my eyes wandered over docks, buttercup, vetch.. the 1st bowl was filled with shapes in no time.

The one above is in fact the 2nd one I started, but the 1st I have finished painting. That time I barely got out of the door. At the back of our barn where my studio is are some fuchsia bushes.. they would have jumped up & down if they could! In fact they were really, or that was their effect in energy terms. This one drew itself really quickly.. honest guv, I just hold the end of the pencil.

It feels such a great way to draw, letting the shapes arrange themselves around the bowl. An obvious step, now that I have made it, from the way I have been working on my canvasses. And there's SO much more to do! All over the land here are more plants, trees, places that are intimating they want to join in this process too. This could go on sometime...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

New Artwork...

I have been writing that I have started on a new series of paintings, and here is the 1st finished one.  I have always been disatisfied with the process of going out drawing & then making a painting in the studio,  so,  I have taken to going out and drawing straight onto the canvas.  Duh!  I find it a much better way of working for me. 

I treat the whole process as part of my spiritual practice,  and so it is an extension of meditation/prayer/journeying/dreaming  to go out on the land here & ask the Spirits of the Place for the next painting.  Thats what they have invited me to do.  This way I stop in unexpected places , where I feel 'called' to,  & draw the multiplicity of extraordinary shapes I see around me. leaves, shoots, branches, seeds...   its endless.  It becomes an abstract drawing,  but each element is something I have observed on the fields here.

The rest of the process happens in the studio,  where I decide on a pallette of colour, & how it can best bring the painting to life.  This too is an endless dance,  each colour added affecting all the rest,  the balance of the picture.  And this too is working with the Spirits,  the 'unseen' world,  especially when unexpected combinations suggest themselves...   an excercise in trust again.
Its a scary, joyful,  very time-consuming way of working..   and I wouldnt want to be without it..

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Shaman dancing power in

Well its been a while since my last post, & a lot's been going on,  not least the wonderful Conference on Shamanism at Gaunt's House earlier this month. A long w/e where many of us involved in contemporary shamanism met, networked, made ceremonies together & were blessed with inspiring presentations & workshops.  The circles I sat in there are my inspiration for sharing this painting this time.  

Many of us work in circles , on our own and with other people, circles into which we call our Spirit Helpers & Teachers,  call on our ancestors, pray for healing, call to the Spirits of a Place, make prayers,  blessings & celebrations,  ask for help & give thanks.  Circles which make safe sacred space in which we can both  face our fears, &  open like flowers to the light. 

I painted this one  to describe my seeing/feeling of sitting in a circle of people whilst a Shaman danced with his Spirit Helpers and his Rattles  and moved around us all, calling in the Spirits before the work we were to engage in. My experience was of power like many threads becoming ordered, weaving the shape of the circle that then held all of us and our work.  The painting - I hope -  says more than these words,  or I wouldn't be a painter.  I don't know why the figure is in 2 halves - I did realise during the painting process,  but got  firm NO from my Spirits each time I thought of changing it,  so thus it stays..

A big thank you to the power of the circle,  and to Mother Earth who is always supporting us.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Pebble Labyrinth

I made this labyrinth in our barn out of pebbles from the gravel in our yard. I made it for the winter solstice 2007 - and my partner & I walked it each day.  It is 6 years now since we bought our home here in West Wales,  but that winter was the 1st one since we moved here lock stock & barrel & sold our flat in London, where he had still been working during the period of renovating this place. 

I made the labyrinth in a sacred manner with the intention of walking it as a meditation or ceremony,  but I didn't know how it was going to support & feed us through the shortest days of our 1st winter living here together..
We walked it every day from the solstice until after new year - without having planned that, it just grew that way.  It was a very gentle ceremony, one of us would play music, or sing, or make a rhythm as a focus of support while the other walked, & stayed in there as long as they needed to.  It wasn't something we talked about at great length either,  but it held  & fed us  through the quiet winter holiday days that year. 

It is a beautiful thing to walk a labyrinth - there are many different shaped ones from different cultures,  and what they have in common is one route in to the centre & back out again - as opposed to a maze which is a puzzle presenting you with choices.  They are ancient symbols , open to different interpretations, & for me  an experience of gentle clarity & focus..

After that I sewed a labyrinth on a big cloth , which I have used as a ceremony with small groups of people here since ;  and now I am planning an outdoor one,  here on our land, which will have the space to be much bigger.  It is calling me..  but it wont happen until after our neighbour has cut the field for hay..  & that in turn depends on the weather. 
When the time is right no doubt it will feed us and those who walk it, and above all the land itself in unforseen ways.. 

Monday, 10 August 2009

one step at a time

Looking through some photos of my work for my next post I found  this monoprint which I haven't looked at for a while.  Yes those are prints of my hands & feet imposed on the drawing, so you can imagine the scale.  As is the way with these things I came upon this when I need to hear its message again..  

When I made it I was  following intuition in a fast series of drawings as I have described before,  &  it came with a strong physical knowing of what it  feels like to be rooted like a tree..

I have been enjoying time with friends during the gap since my last post which is lovely,  but there's always that other pull  " but you haven't been in the studio.." & then  - which seems downright perverse - its hard to get back down to work.  What's the lesson ??  One step at a time.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

enjoying the land..

well,  despite my good intentions its been a while..   I've been busy with shamanic work - doing journeys to ask for help for people, which I love doing. 
Also I am on a roll with new paintings and they take a lot of time & energy. The way I am working is slow,  building more abstract ones this time,  with shapes taken from drawing out in our fields,  then spending a long time mixing colours so that they will work well together.. serious play.. And once again being guided by my Spirits.  Sometimes I don't know where its going & its another nervewracking excercise in TRUST !!

The paintings  I have posted above are from a while ago, & work with those same principles really. They are contemporary with the 1st one I posted up in June.  After that 1st image came from journeying with my Spirit Helpers,  I did loads more, filled a sketchbook & then many of them became full paintings.  A group of them, like those above, are quite small - 8 by 10 inches in old money - like chips off the original experience & image..

Something I haven't even mentioned here is my lifelong love of many kinds of music. I play CD's a lot when in my studio.  Today Bach's B Minor mass came to mind & I listened to the whole thing while painting.  My Shamanic path is about surrendering my gifts to Spirit  to be used to speak out in the world , & my current paintings are a celebration of this land.  I felt buoyed up by the beauty of Bach's music & his text about spirituality, death & life.  I'm not a christian, but I feel that Bach's faith was so true that  his music resonates with the beauty & pain we all know on our different spiritual paths ,  beyond the limits of his religion .

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

ABUNDANCE - Don't forget to PLAY !

Sometimes I do lots of monoprint drawings in quick succession,  which always takes me somewhere unexpected.  This one is called ABUNDANCE & was the final one in such a series. For printing like this I ink up a board with oil paint with a roller, & lay a piece of paper over it, & draw mostly with my hands.  When I peel the paper off, the image is the other way round, a mirror version.  This figure is a goddess of abundance, with her 2 pairs of hands showering fruit & flowers, stars, birds & the moon..   I wasn't in a happy place at all when I started drawing,  but doing a series without stopping to look or think much, allows change to come in,  & this image was a joyful surprise at the end.  Time to say thank you!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

This Tree watches me..

When I sit at my laptop at my kitchen table,  and look up out of the window,  this Tree is directly in my line of view.  Of course it doesn't look like this now,  in July,  I took this photo last winter.  I immediately see a face in it,  a stern, older face;  & even now when She  (as I think of her)  is hidden in waving summer leaves,  I am aware of that strong structure inside.
She reminds me to have respect for the Tree People.  

I am lucky to live in a very lush part of SW Wales with many beautiful Trees,  many species grow well in this damp climate. Everything is growing like crazy at the moment. This morning I strimmed the grass on the flat area behind our barn where I like to do Chi Kung outside - there's not much flat ground here - and it was a joy to perform those ancient meditative movements there in late in the afternoon in  intermittent sunshine, looking across the grass we leave long,  full of 'weeds', wildflowers,  butterflies & bees.  My brain was tired after a stretch of concentrated studio time, for which being out on the land is the perfect antidote.   Also its where the paintings come from in the 1st place,  so I also do my Chi Kung in gratitude to the Spirits for the paintings I am working on now,  which are directly related to this land , but too new to show here yet.  I have plenty more to put up here though, so I wont leave such a long gap till my next post. 

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Labyrinths & the 3 worlds of Shamanism


After the 3 Gates of Enlightenment I talked about in my last post, I come to another 3 - The 3 Worlds of Shamanism,  the Upper,  Middle,  & Lower Worlds.  The Middle World is like a Spirit layer of our everyday reality,  where the shaman  goes for help with issues that have a direct presence in daily life now; the Upper & Lower Worlds are other worlds where different kinds of help are sought, depending on the what question is being asked of the Spirit Helpers  by the shaman.  The shaman acts as a go-between between the Worlds & a catalyst for  the help, healing,  or power the Spirits bring .

When I painted this picture I was alone at home over the Winter Solstice.  I had become interested in the ancient symbol of the Labyrinth,  which I often work with as a meditation ceremony.  Walking in to the labyrinth,  following the path to the quiet place in the middle,  stopping & being there,  then coming back out to the rest of the world...   sometimes I go with a particular thought I need to make space around...  sometimes several of us gather & witness each other's walks in the sacred space of ceremony ...   sometimes its a simple thank you to the earth...  like an inbreath & an outbreath ... 

The painting grew in slow gentle layers as I sat by my woodburner in the dark  of the year.  The figure is standing in a heart-shaped labyrinth & is also in 2 more - above & below.  It relates both to the 3 realms my Chi Kung movements flow through,  the Heaven, Human & Earth realms  (yes, that's a 3rd  3 )  and the 3 worlds the shaman visits.
As with many of my paintings ,  it is on a deep sided canvas,  & so the picture goes over the 4 edges too.


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Sea and Chi Kung...

Its a real hot summer day out here in West Wales & I was lucky enough to have a swim earlier.. which set me thinking about my painting  Shell Fish  above..  
It came from working with a oyster shell I found on a local beach,  I loved the shapes in it & wanted to draw it,  looking at it in different ways,  with different sets of eyes, so to speak.   I used my Chi Kung practice for this. The system I work with (its one of very many) uses gentle movements to move chi or vital energy round the body,  along the meridians,  or pathways, that acupuncture uses.  So different sets of movements nourish different parts of the body,  and the layers of energy our bodies are part of.   There are 3 key areas  which correspond to those recognised in many other ways of looking at the  mind-body-spirit too   -  and the poetic name for them in Chi Kung is The 3 Gates of Enlightenment.   One is in the centre of the head,  one is  in the chest - the heart centre,  and one is in the belly - the dantien,  or hara .   I have experimented with doing the Chi Kung forms (thats the name for a group of movements)  that feed each of these areas,  and  looking at, for example,  this shell just after working with each area - with the eyes of that gate. I find I see/feel/know differently each time & it can completely change how a painting is developing.   Its something I would like to develop further & explore with other people.
The painting above had quite a hard birthing - some of them have to be lost & found again.  They seem to be going well & then I do something that doesn't work Aaaargh!!  But if you don't take the risk you probably stay somewhere too safe & bland,  so I take the risk,  & sometimes I blow it, & sometimes,  like this one,  I end up somewhere unexpected.  I didn't know that the scribbles,  the movements, the mix of media would end up giving me the fish in the shell or the movement of the sea either.
So I thank the Spirits who help me & work through me,  just as I thank them for the joy of swimming from a busy beach round to deserted one today,  & the gift of having some time being the only human there with the sun, the expanse of sand, the cliffs,  & the birds   before the tide dropped & others walked round to enjoy it too.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Summer Solstice thoughts..

I have a stone in my pocket which I met at the Summer Solstice on the Isle of Coll several years ago,  when I was on a course up there with my shamanic teacher, Jonathan Horwitz.  The stone has stayed with me ever since & given me many teachings -  a great gift from the universe.  Last  year it gave me this painting ,  which is not  "of " it but rather "about" it.  Several other stones have now given me paintings too,  so this painting became the first of an ongoing series and I may share others on this blog on other days.  I had a strong feeling that this stone had a wish to teach me in this way,  so I sat with it,  talked/dreamed with it, and used Chi Kung to open to seeing it in new ways.  The painting has gone on to a new home,  and I am still learning from the stone..
Today I walked  on the Preselli ridge,  not far from here, with our local Wildlife Trust,  and a geologist showed us some of the different rocks, including where some of the stones at Stonehenge are thought to come from.   Right now radio 3 is on & Stephen Johnson has just commented on the warmth of Cotswold stone...  I dont believe in coicidences..    
Like many people I have a collection of stones from different places that have come with me from walks ..  as my shamanic practice deepens I am careful to ask them whether to take them,  & they often say no...  but I do wonder what paintings the stones that have come to live with me may give me,  several have intimated they would like me to work with them.  
So here is another facet of my work.  I have made my 1st entries here varied to show you that I work in a variety of ways ,  and on this lightest, longest day,  I look forward to continuing the different threads I have started as the year stretches on.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

And All The Rest

And All The Rest      is the title of this painting.  
(And this is underlined because I cant find any way of stopping it,  & believe me, I have tried everything...)
As you can see by the section I have enlarged, the girl who is reaching to the moon is dressed in a collage of consumer ads,  & her shadow is made up of objects too..
I don't know who she is but she waited in my sketchbook for a long time before being painted,  & I think she's a bit desperate,  reaching & reaching ...   
I don't want to speak for her,
What do you think ??

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Listen to the Earth..

I took this photo on a woodland walk in mid-Wales. Looking back at it today it speaks to me of the Earth , of the land we walk on every day, often so unaware that Mother Earth is always  - yes, always  - supporting us.  When I allow my shamanic practice to slow me down enough then I can know this more deeply. Then I give myself the chance to feel a bigger, slower, more ancient way of being..  
How slowly this root grew... what a great system its connected to...  what a different time-scale it inhabits ... and yet it seems to move,  to spell movement, to refer to other things...  a snake ?  a fluidity  like the sap somewhere within ?  ...
It reminds me of the practice of Chi Kung,  long slow movements with long slow breathing, which allow the flow of chi, the body's vital energy, to move more freely ...  and through this slowing down  I glimpse a more effective way of  my body being & being able to move, whether fast or slow,  and when I'm really in practice the glimpses join hands , and time spreads and there's more room in my life. 
So why do we lose that knowing, again & again ?  that's being human  -  but what matters is to keep allowing it to open our hearts again & again  -   
Listen!  its calling right now....    

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

you gotta start somewhere...

...and this is my 1st ever blogpost.. 
& I want to speak about  this painting which I did  a while ago after a shamanic journey ( more about that process below). 
 What I wanted to share was that I became the height of the grasses & met the Spirits who run through the grasses & flowers , up the trees & along the branches...   and where they run, beautiful plants grow from their footprints..  They took me running & dancing with them, & there was such joy & healing in their passing, & the interweaving energy spreading out from them..

My Spirit Teachers give me pictures to paint,  I also do journeys to ask for help & healing for people,  & I enjoy creating ceremonies for people , to mark a significant moment, perhaps, or as part of healing the energy of a place..

I'm blessed with living out here in a beautiful rural place, and the wisdom of the land,  the rocks, the trees, the sea,  the animal & bird life will inform all this..

I look forward to writing more about all these things,  and posting pictures of my artwork, which includes drawing,abstract pieces & installation work too..  

This is just a taster for what you may find on this Blog,  so come back soon....