When did I start the draft of this post? I didn’t look, but it’s been a while. I’m slowly getting more bold to actually post what I’ve made or has arrived in my awareness, anyway.
I have to decide if I’m including the image that I’m speaking about here. I have a lot of reluctance to do that, but maybe it would all make more sense if I did. It was included at first, then I pulled it out, now it’s back.
Who is this woman, faceless, but full of these forms and these colors? Half underwater, half ashore . . . not unlike another image I made decades ago called The Mermaid Comes To Shore, her tail morphing into these ragged crooked legs to walk on land. Now this image. . . She faces that oceanic realm again, a choice of return, perhaps after learning something that can only be known on shore? Shapeshifting, the hardest work known to anyone. . .
Almost five years ago I went into a local tea shop. I came in to experience the atmosphere and see what it was like to sit and doodle there, an exploration that I call, after Paul Klee, but backwards from his phrase: “letting a line take me for a walk.” This funny image was the result, the beginning of a whole practice that has been developing over this subsequent time. First the moving meditation, a line or lines emerge on the paper, with water soluble ink. It can’t be too soluble, just a bit, so letting the ink dry afterwards a bit helps, before I wet it with a brush, blurring the line more or less. In this image it’s a fine line and didn’t blur much. Then comes the hard work of becoming more intentional: form emerges out of the background through color. I use Derwent’s Inktense Pencils and begin coloring shapes that I start to see in the overlapping lines, partly shaping some–or just begin coloring and then see what begins to form, as I mostly did here. It’s such hard work that it can take me years to do it. This piece is not finished yet. Unless it is, of course, which at this point is more likely. I actually pretty much have to enter a certain state of consciousness, which is a sort of resonant consciousness that is far over?–or far different than the awareness I’m often in and once I’m out of it, it can take quite a while to re-enter. It engages with what I call rhyming color, the color has to rhyme, by which I mean I feel on some level that it hits the right echo, the right chime of–what is needed, of greater wholeness. I can’t exactly speak of how to describe it, but the process has been teaching me for years. Every once in a while, I’ll even interfere and make a shape do something, though whether I need to do that I can’t say, but it happens and things flow on.
But this year, it’s so difficult to achieve the still attention I need, as I am slowly releasing so much of who I am that I have little real focus. This is both the process now within me and the process I see in the world around me, so doubly dissolving and chaotic, unfocused . . .
I had never given this image a name, but as I looked at it, what I saw was the image of the woman on a shoreline that first formed on the paper when I began and then the importance of her foot, which I had seen before, but it was the most focal in this moment. So the image was now today named: “Dipping Her Toes In.” Maybe that’s a permanent name, maybe only a facet that has applied for naming today. I see how this image chimes with my nowness, the rhyme I am engaged in with this presencing-moment.
It’s curious to look at this simple scan, which shows what doesn’t matter as well as what does. The blobs of color, the overrun lines, these aren’t very important for the process, but the wrong color in the wrong shape can derail me for a significant period to absorb or come to terms with, years or maybe forever. In this case, it’s not exactly an oracle of error, though that, too, but an oracle of finding what’s really right (though it’s always really right as well; it becomes what is, seamlessly, seemlessly). Such a big deal, this becoming, sometimes an overwhelming, but a curiously wondrous process of purely flowing, a magical feeling, a participation in something that is beyond me, a healing, a whole-making, that I understand only at certain moments and then forget again, but the sense of flowing so deeply remains. Who am I that it matters? I can see that it doesn’t, yet it does. And I have only this for answer. And that it somehow combines the simplicity of letting the line wander, taking me where it will, and then it adds in my intricacy-needing formative mind, that will sit and whittle it all into something suggestive over a long period of time.