Currently in the uncomfortable “between” period, nearing the end of a series of work and thinking a lot about what to create next. Always in these periods the same questions push on me with an incredible weight – what is worth creating? What is most genuine? It’s the age old problem of the blank canvas.
I sometimes surmount this by not asking “why” and simply putting pencil to paper. But I know by now that questions like these – and the painful silence that follows them – are incredibly valuable. They create a space, a crack that might let something otherwise unnoticed in. They make room for something new.
“Thinking” is not something that has ever provided me answers to these kind of questions. The mind is a goddamn hamster wheel and just spins on in the same ways until impeded. So in the silence of the big questions the game seems to be to pay attention, to listen.
Begin stream of consciousness.
Dinner with the incredible David Chaim Smith. Recognizing the state of ecstasy a portion of my being was lifted to just by being around him and from this being reminded of the power of transmission. From that, being reminded that this is the foundation of my desire to paint – to transmit energies through the energetic connections that can be imbued into a painting, that the painting has the potential to take on its own beingness that exalts the viewer in its presence. Thinking about the common comment that my paintings are so much more powerful in person – the difference between being with the teacher and being with a photo of the teacher.
A comment by David that someone had an experience that was just “picking up shards”, picking up energetic fragments, in his telling, not a real transmission. Feeling, “This is what I do, I pick up the broken pieces and paint them.” Asking myself, “Does this have value?”
Walking to the studio. Remembering conversations with my partner about the loss of matriarchal ways. I’ve always felt that this came not from some overthrow on the part of the patriarchy, but rather with the power of disseminating information via the written word.
Remembering Amodali Zain speaking on her exploration of female initiatory magical formulas and praxis at the 2014 Esoteric Book Conference. She used the phrase “fluid, intuitive gnosis” to speak about the feminine ways of knowing. The words hit me over the head. How do you put that kind of information in books? You don’t. It can only be transmitted. It is a beingness and it passes away with each teacher.
What are my lineages? I studied Tantra with Swami Vivekananda Saraswati in my 20’s and he taught me much. But the emphasis on 3rd and 7th chakra development left me questioning what I would be learning if I had a lineage of Tantrikas to study from. Most of these women could not write. Practices lost in the sands of time.
I learned Lakota ways but even the women there were honest about the fact that the women’s songs had been lost. We danced in a ceremony for men, because the women’s ceremonies were no longer practiced.
The paths that call to me are in shards.
Sitting in the park, I remember that in Guatemala I learned that Mayans compare women to hollow reeds in the lake.
An image flashes in my mind of a t-shirt my friend made for me in high school that said: “The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact.” I look up the passage and see that Hippolyta replies that if they are all imagining the same thing, there must be some truth to it.
End stream of consciousness.
So, this becomes the praxis: There must be a willingness to not know. The transmission of information comes from the space within the reed, the emptiness, from waiting in the void and listening for a clear tone to sound. The process of unearthing the fragments of what has been hidden or lost. It is certainly imperfect and it might be imagination or madness. It might have value or it might be clouded my own crap, the thinking that gets in the way of the listening.
Its been a week or so of collecting all these impressions. I return to the studio with the renewed intention Let me be a clear channel for that which wishes to speak, in the service of all that is beautiful. Other then that, everything must be let go of. There is no point for me but that in the creation of a painting. And if I am successful, I believe each painting is a pathway, crumb by crumb, fragment by fragment, back to a whole truth.