Contemplating what is done, what is made, what is being
First light ;
It’s a long time I’ve been
at stones, at water,
Thoughts and memories,
ideas and learned notions
crowd in on the presence before me,
and within me.
Most has been surpassed,
is only a dream,
a big shape in some other expanse.
The other day I hefted a stone
The motifs have come down to
rock & water
lake & mountain
sky & horizon
river and more rock
Life, being-of-itself, burgeons forth through all forms,
like wisps of exhalation or vapor, in effortless
waves and volutes :
Stillness and radiance.
Immanence; not transcendence.
The vastness of landscape throws us back on our own interior vastness.
I have painted complexly, but
am drawn now to simplicity and restraint.
It’s enough that rhythms and forms
exert a little pressure on each other,
as in the paintings of old East Asia, where
landscape has always been understood metaphorically.
Besides my own experience in wilderness,
these have been my primary sources.
The motifs can be anything that pits vastness against intimacy:
coastal waters and rocks;
the sagebrush of the desert
from the Okanagan to Sonora;
sky and land of any artless, self-willing expanse.
I am ushered by enormity of wilderness
into silence and light.
My mind opens as the sky opens, resting nowhere.
The stability, the firmness, of the buttes and mesas
—and the yielding of the valleys and hollows—
are my own steadiness.
Repetitions of pattern in rock,
of biomorphic forms, even of weather,
find rhythms in my being,
as numerous as my own false and beautiful selves.
Now, I can count four ways of making art:
- by direct response to the world ‘out there’
- to mental objects ‘in here’
- to ideas, or primal intuitions
- and painting as painting: forms found in the tearing of paper, spilling of ink, carving wood, smearing tar & paint,
ink-rubbed impressions of sidewalk cracks, of sticks and stones, coaxing chance,
delicate laying of gold.
So, where is mind? Is there any part of this that is not mind? How does meaning arise in relation to a thing observed, a sound heard, a touch, a shape or color? What makes form significant?
I don’t know.
It all emerges from nothing.
Every particle of the observed world,
every thought and furtive breath of intuition,
my hands, the bits of material that they
assemble into a ‘painting,’ all of it
emerges from this mind.
Where is this mind?