I’m always trying to grow and discover my own work, and sometimes I find my deepest inspiration within the work of other artists. I’ll see paintings or photographs and performances that blow me away because they have something in them that is blazingly true and original. To see it is always to see a kind of bravery or courage. At times it is shockingly brilliant, sometimes deeply touching and vulnerable. It’s as though being met by a stranger who I immediately know as someone familiar. Art shares its story through our empathic humanity. We know truth in art because we’ve felt it in ourselves but it comes as a surprise because it comes as the Other who already knows the Same.
Through dreams in time slipping away things pass as moments of rapture
It took me years and years of unbalanced, clumsy, lost attempts to wake up. Finally I found a teacher who I trusted and I went for a retreat. It was during the winter in the Catskills and it was snowing. The snow brought a gentle silence into the world. I was so hungry to realize, hungry to wake up, I’d been trying and trying to break through for twenty years on my own and only ended up confused and frustrated. In the big huge beautiful zendo, my teacher, sitting in the front of the room gently reminded us all that we don’t need to try too hard to wake up. He slowly and evenly said ‘The snow. The mountains and the trees, they already know why you’re here. Trust them to show you....’.
Ave Maria and painting clouds tonight. It's so soothing to watch and feel the paint find its way across the surface in brushstrokes. As it meets and joins the layers below, Ave Maria sounds of the delight of it all and the space is filled with light and rhythm. Something beautiful happens when every part finds the same perfect rhythm.
Tonight the sky is slightly overcast and there are no stars out. The moon is glowing in a beautiful soft atmosphere. This world is so mind-blowingly amazing it's uncanny. I painted all day and still feel like I didn't get close to reaching my desire to share it.
Mon desir est fort et intemporel. Toujours c’est avec moi. I don’t live for a second without knowing it.
les nuages ne comprends-tu pas? ils sont mon coeur. ils sont si tendre.
Apporte-moi tes espions et je montrerai la lune
Apporte-moi tes peurs et je te tiendrai dans mes bras
respire doucement quand tu as peur
mais soyons gentils nous sommes tous des êtres humains
Tonight there were clouds in the sky and the moon was a little crescent of light glowing behind the clouds. I thought of how important it is just to know it's still there. Obscured, barely visible, just a sliver of light, but still up there doing everything it can for us. It's incredible.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
― Vincent Van Gogh
Tonight the moon was a bright crescent hanging low in the dark sky.
Look at the moon and you will see my heart, you’ll see what color it glows, whether it’s full or half or just a sliver, covered by clouds or crystal clear. It is always so beautiful holding itself aloft in the night sky, brave and softly glowing, dignified and vulnerable. My lovely moon that thrills me.
One way that painting and buddhist practice support each other is that they're both dedicated ways of seeing exactly what is in right front of you... a kind of waking up to the unimaginable beauty right before your eyes... discovering ways of truly appreciating it, ways of feeling it with every bit of yourself, ways of opening to it and allowing it to find its true expression, and trusting it. That's where the expression of death comes from in buddhist practice. True closeness is a kind of trust and openness so profoundly intimate that both things die to themselves in that moment. We spend our lives skittering around intimacy and communication. As they say, the breath breathes itself but simultaneously I am the breath feeling itself breathe. It is the sensation and willingness to love that overwhelms the subject, an utterly vulnerable and private practice...the intimacy of death, rare and ecstatic.
Painting is just letting the world advance in the way that it wants. I just stay open and it comes forward to appear in exactly the way it wants to. And now from all these years painting my heart fills up so fast... One moment I think of someone and suddenly my heart is overflowing
It is to be completely overwhelmed by a sensation or an idea, to lose all resistance. To surrender to a color or a feeling, or another human being's face and eyes, another's touch. The overwhelming depth of my own love greets me as a stranger capable of dissolving me. How do we love? As human beings how do we go about loving each other? It has to be from our own vast hearts, open as our eyes are to the eyes of another. In a moment that feels like it could explode, and to hold on throughout it and trust it. We look away to protect our hearts precisely because we know their tenderness.
Reality is completely beyond description. I hope and hope to be able to capture an aspect of it in a painting, to reveal a bit of the transcendent beauty of things, to point to the unimaginable. I feel a constant inability and it's not for lack of skill or precision. It's from having seen just how magnificent this world is. It's from standing on the beach in the middle of the night and seeing the moon above the ocean. It leaves something glowing in my heart. From years of looking, feeling and letting this world in the task of somehow representing an aspect of its beauty seems impossible. But of course I'll never give up. the glow is always there in one way or another.
It takes every single instant of my attention to try and express the beauty I see and feel in the world. This world's presence is amazing. To try and paint it in the first place is kind of ludicrous. A cloud is already perfectly itself. Why am I painting it? Their beauty and presence inspire me... the fact that they float through the sky in the first place is mind-blowingly amazing. And the challenge of actually doing justice to a cloud in a painting takes every single bit of my mind and ability because I am so amazed by them. It takes a calm mind protected by privacy.
Painting something is to already be fascinated by it. Whatever that inner beauty or mystery is becomes clearer throughout the process of painting and probably it’s many things. Painting a cloud or even a bowl for example, means my entire mind and heart are wide open to the cloud, wondering what it is, feeling the slightest changes in tone, color, and an infinity of unnameable characteristics. It is to love the cloud completely as a painter. But it is also to be completely vulnerable as a human being. Painting is not a way to own or control or aggress. It is simply to love, from the palette, from within color, from within vast openness, from silence. From within the morality of protecting my subject, I paint with the clearest intentions to celebrate the truly transcendent qualities of what I’m looking at.
It takes me years to figure out what I want to paint. Usually that's because I'm trying to relate to some quality of what matters to me. My buddhist teacher always tells me 'keep the heart open.' And I agree with him. No matter what, keep the heart open. Because living with a closed heart isn't living. So that's what guides my painting. My open heart. Clouds, mountains, the natural world, these things open my heart. I'll find it every time and I'll know it when I do because my heart will open so wide it's amazing.