Summer Silhouette

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Silhouette of dry grass in the late summer sun

This picture makes me feel warm and restful. It reminds me of the long shadows of an autumn evening. Many leaves are changing their colour, and though it is getting colder, on sunny days it still feels quite warm. It feels gentle and yet full of life and vigour.

It tells me to rest and enjoy the fading warmth. To collect my strength before moving on again, but I think also to maintain a certain poise and readiness for when the time comes to act again.

“Doing” is very much emphasised in Western culture, and resting and quiet observation are undervalued. But if we wish to “do” things well we must learn to rest well and observe carefully. I’ve always thought of myself as a patient and observant person, not given to haste.

Shadows provide a place for relaxation, shelter and a hiding place. There are plenty of species that need some shade to grow, like fungi. This autumn we’ve been looking for edible mushrooms, mostly woodland species that prefer shade and the shelter of trees; we’ve also been given logs for growing shitaki mushrooms, and they need some shade to grow, though not too much.In the summer I am acutely aware of how I need shade. In the middle of the day, when the sun’s shining bright, I will actively seek shade, instead of standing in direct sunlight.

Shadows protect all living beings and give them space and time for rest and recuperation, to give space to grow and find shelter from summer heat or predators. My “shadow self” has protected me, from others and from myself. If I do not understand my shadow self, or rather its contents, it makes sense that they may be “hidden” from me, it could be damaging to myself or others if I didn’t know how to handle those contents. It takes a work of introspection and understanding to properly handle the shadow. Sometimes the shadow also hides what is not yet ready to emerge. The womb protects the baby and the soil protects the seed until they are ready to emerge into the world. I feel I have a developed a lot of my potential. I also feel I have a lot more potential to develop and that bit by bit I am recuperating many things that I had hidden. At present, my training in aikido is showing me a whole world of untapped human potential that I never realised I had. The ability to be calm in stressful circumstances, my innate athleticism and also my ability to teach and help others advance in their own learning. I have a lot more confidence in my body about what it can and can’t do, and yet still these limits are being pushed further than before.

I can gradually and continually push my limits, revealing new abilities and qualities in me. This isn’t something that miraculously appears overnight, but is something that takes a lifetime of development. I feel  at peace with what I don’t know of myself; either I will eventually know, or if I will not know it is because I don’t need to or it is not the correct time to know. I continue doing what I am doing; there are many seeds that have been sown and they are gestating. Some are now emerging or will emerge, and I feel everything is unfolding as it should.

 

Forest Weaving

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I went for a little walk around the forest, picking up things as I went. I even cut a few hazel sticks to use for the structure. I call the finished art Forest Weaving.

Forest Weaving feels like the forest in mobile form. I am in my house, the forest is outside, and yet the forest is also in here with me. The various components aren’t separate but comprise parts of the same being. It is the forest in the form of a web in the same way I am the universe in the form of a human.

In a way that each individual thing is a unique microcosm of the macrocosm, I can see the distinction between me and Forest Weaving, it is there and I am here, yet we are unique representations of the macrocosm, of the forest surrounding us, the Earth we exist on and the whole Universe.

There is a common identity shared throughout nature, and we all share in the same being. This doesn’t undermine or dissolve our differences, but enhances them. And our differences don’t separate us but make us unique expressions of the whole.

With this awareness I don’t feel so different or separated from others, I feel we all share a commonality that cannot be shaken off with losing Being. We are all participants in the Same Thing, not separate objects floating around, at times interacting, at times not.

I have an essential identity that I share with others. I feel  a sense of common participation with all things. I feel this is an essential part of who and what we are. Harmony is more essential to existence than disharmony. When we feel harmony deep down, we are in contact with out common  identity. It reminds me to pay attention to when I feel harmonious and when not.

 

 

 

Man in Nature

 

More art and reflections from Eco-Art. 🙂

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My self-portrait was me as the Green Man. I’ve always been fascinated with this symbol showing that humanity is at one with nature, and I’ve often taken the nickname Treegod on some forums.

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The next picture was an experience I had recently watch about sixty ravens flocking together to migrate. They were hanging around the cliffs above my home.

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The two pieces of art woven together, showing that experience and experiencer are united.

I call the artwork “Man in Nature”.  I really get a sense of identity, that my person is really a part of my natural attractions, that my experience of seeing the ravens (and this happens every autumn) isn’t just something I experienced, it is something I am connected and identified with.

When “man is in nature” I don’t mean an object within a context, I mean that this man and humanity in general are completely submerged in nature and cannot be separated from it. I have a sense that I am myself a collection of webstrings and that they run through and beyond me, and perhaps what I call “boundaries” are just another type of connection.

The “deepening of bonds” arises naturally from this awareness, with no need to “use” it. Or maybe it isn’t deepening of bonds, but deepening the awareness of the bonds we already have. We already have deep bonds with everything and everyone around us, but we aren’t always aware of that.

This really reinforces and makes real the idea that observed and observer are really part of the same expression of reality. When we experience something, we are part of that experience. What I feel corresponds well to what I think. I feel that the experience of the ravens is something that is very much within me and part of me, and I a part of it.

I think we often go day-to-day without considering how deeply we affect and are affected by the world. Each day has a deeper affect on me than I care to consider, and this is worth really taking notice of and deepening my awareness and understanding of it.

What Did the Thaw Reveal?

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This was an Eco-Art exercise using icecubes with paint.


I wasn’t sure how to do it, or what to do with it, so just experimented with making different marks and patterns. These mostly got lost the more paint I put on it, as did the colours, which turns more “muddy”, and yet the patterns and colours weren’t completely extinguished by the process.

I tried to do it almost straight away and it did paint, but not so thickly. Then, as they started getting more thawed, the blocks of ice would get “puddles” stuck to their bottoms, which I could then use to make bigger splodges on the paper. I suppose I could have spent more time,  but I ran out of paper. I think I may need to do this several times again just to get the “hang of it”. Well, I’ve already done it twice.

The slow release of the paint mixture does require some patience, and a real willingness to let the process happen as opposed to forcing it. My frame of mind was “getting it over and done with”, for a number of reasons (priorities and use of time, etc.), so I perhaps didn’t make use of it as much as I could have. At the same time, the learning of this technique is also “slow” and may require many times to get the best out of it. I feel I’m now equipped with a new way of creating art, as a practice and in life in general, and that this has a lot more potential to thaw and release interesting, new things.

So I look at them and ask myself what did the thaw reveal in these pictures? I feel one has more dynamism and more internal structure, revealing more details. The other is more undifferentiated and “muddy”, a bit like what happens after the snow thaws. They are done, more or less, the same, with the same mix of colours, and the same process, but different results, but essentially they are “the same”.

The next time there is a frost or snow I’ll look at the mud left behind to see what details are left behind, it may look undifferentiated, but it may also reveal interesting details within that.

There are many things within me waiting to “thaw”, so natural potentials await their appropriate time, but also many “unnatural” things that haven’t been given the chance to grow and blossom. I just love this image.

I can relate to the feeling of being frozen and having my true potential locked up within me. I can also relate to the fact of thawing. Accessing this potential isn’t something we can provoke, we just need to give it the opportunity to thaw, and natural processes will take over.

There are many processes in nature that “lock” energy and matter into certain forms and then “release” them (such as photosynthesis and leaf shedding or digestion and defecation or sweating).

But this is all part of the flow of things; everything goes through this process in one way or another. This is a process I will take more care to observe in as many different ways as possible, and I think it’s important to observe how I “lock” and “release” energy in my life. Locking is okay, as long as release comes after it, following natural processes.

Patterns in Nature

IMGMore work from my Eco-Art work. This time recognising patterns in nature whilst on a walk with my dogs, and using a zentangle to represent it.


Patterns are used for several reasons: structure, form, transportation, communication, advertising, travel and conservation of energy. It depends on the pattern in question. There are so many purposes! Most of mine show patterns of how plants grow, veins on a leaf, rings of a tree, plant stalks and flowers, all of which have different purposes, multiple purposes.

For humans it can be very important to recognise these patterns, because they allow us to recognise what things are, what they are doing and how they are doing it, and whether they are good or bad for us! If we recognise them for what they are, patterns help us with identification, but they’re also how our lives are governed, through the structure of our body and senses, the structure of our behaviour and environment.

Whatever I say here is only a fraction of the benefit of sensing form and design. It encompasses most if not all life processes. Name one biological or ecological function and we’ll be met with a plethora of forms and designs. Form and design are the basis of my existence. Without them I couldn’t exist. “I am form and design, therefore I exist.”

I feel I’ve touched the tip of a very rich iceberg. I’ve observed a handful of precious patterns in nature, represented in the zentangle, and do you know what I figured? There’s an infinite variety of zentangles! Structure is omnipresent and of infinite variety and function. I feel there is a richness of pattern that we are ignorant of that gives life its own richness. I feel that there is a huge potential here for healing the human mind.

Eco-Art: Autumn Blend

008This is something I did for my Eco-Art course last autumn…

I went for a walk with my dogs, and whilst I did that I searched for items that could be interesting in my artwork. I picked up leaves, twigs, twigs with leaves, stones, hazelnuts, nettle tree seeds, acorns, a feather and a snail shell. Then I wondered how I might make it into a “touch art”.

My idea was to put them into a little bag I have (perhaps a bit too little for all the things I have, I’ll get a bigger one) so that the only way to interact with them is to touch them, without removing. Some of the items reflect the time of year, and it would be interesting to make this a practice for each season.

I call it “Autumn Blend”, as it is composed of items from the autumn. What does the autumn feel like? The answer’s in the bag. I’m intrigued, since the whole point is not to look at all. I know what I put inside, but I’m intrigued by how it might feel.

Senses connect us with what is happening with our environment, but touching the items in the bag made me feel that I was also connecting with my own body. Through the senses we connect with the existence of our bodies, and I feel that though I use my touch often enough, perhaps I don’t pay as close attention to it as I normally do. It made me feel closer to the power of my own finger tips.

I think it may be one of the more concrete senses, in the sense that it is a reliable way of confirming the existence of something, even more reliable than “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I touched my cat and he reminded me that touch is a way to comfort oneself or another. If we feel lost or unbalanced, touch can help counter this.

 

Eco-Art: Movement

I’ve just finished an Eco-Art course, and I’ve decided, with a bit more time on my hands, I’d share some of the reflections and art here:

IMGP2697Yesterday it rained, and I watched the rain’s constant splashing on the house’s roof. I watched the effect as it hit the surface and expanded sideways. Afterwards I went for a walk with my dogs in the forest and saw that branches had bent lower with the weight of the water. There was a lot of silt that had been displaced down the valley, as temporary streams covered the paths. A tube we use to divert water to a small lake was blocked and the water was going another way. I unblocked it and the water once again went down it to reach the lake.

Everything is, was or will be in constant movement. The growth of plants towards the light shows their history of movement, bits of mould silently appear and we wonder “where did it come from?” Any change is a sign of movement. And as we sense things we are receiving signals that have moved through time and space to be sensed.

Water is really something that is in constant movement, and always in a state of flux from one state to another. I’ve just finished my painting Rain Splash, experimenting with water dropping down and hitting a surface, making its shapes. The water is “at rest”, and yet not at all. On a molecular scale it is drying, the moisture being absorbed into the paper or evaporating into the atmosphere.