Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Routine Magic

Poor old Lucky, our retired cowpony, the last of the ranch string, stopped eating a few weeks ago. The next morning he was down & couldn't get back up. His eyes were tracking back & forth, so I think he had some kind of neurological degeneration. Carl had gone to the airport to get someone that morning, so it was several hours before he could make a trip up here to shoot the old guy. Sad to lose a beautiful friend; we all miss him. Carl took his body up to "bone hill," and I tied a redtail hawk feather to his mane. I invited a friend who learned ceremony from the Indians to come & do one for Lucky on a weekend when Carl's grandson Sacha was here. When she took out her feather-fan, there was a feather that had come loose somehow & was lying on top. She gave it to Sacha, saying it was for him from Lucky. That was a redtail feather as well...

Sometimes I hesitate to learn too much about painting for fear the magic will go away. But then I remember what Michael Cardew said in Pioneer Pottery: "The artist today must be conscious of what he is doing. Yet the inner springs of art are always unconscious. There is a natural apprehension that if one starts meddling with these and brings them out into the open, they may dry up and the shoots may wither. But it is an apprehension that must be overcome, since all mental and moral progress in the past has required the enlarging of consciousness and the widening of its field, and has been the direct result of that enlargement. However much we may enlarge our consciousness, the underlying fund of the unconscious always remains untouched, and seems in fact to be inexhaustible."

Painting is a means of combining the material & spiritual realms, and if we focus on composition, value, edges, proportion and other analytical concepts, it doesn't mean we have to let the spirit escape. It's always there, and if we honor it, the magic will be there too.

In fact, inspiration and routine work together very well. Keep a notebook open to a blank page, set aside a few minutes a day for reverie, invite the "right brain" in by playing music, make personal acquaintences among the elements of water, fire, earth, air and their various permutations (clouds, clay, incense, you name it). Eventually, meaning will walk up & greet you.

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