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December 2012

December 2012


I'm noticing the tension that arises in my drawing practice between 'being open to anything new' and 'judging the results'.

Further expansions. The 'expansion' meme continues to unfold for me, persistently growing, and playing out alternative readings. In situations like this, where visually similar images appear regularly in my improvisations, my strategy has always been to suspend analysis and draw the theme over and over, playing out variations, and trying to penetrate to the meaning, hoping for a sudden insight that will release the need to repeat it. But my experience is that the image stays around as long as it likes and usually something dramatic shifts in the outside world before the process moves on.

Alluvial Fan. Once I recognized the pattern, these 'expansions' started popping up in my Google image searches, along a stream in my yard, in music videos, NASA image of the day, and in my daydreams; repeating themselves in my drawings like a mantra.

Today I took an moment to study the sixty or seventy examples I've drawn so far. I focused on the subtleties since I know the composition so well. I looked at the moment of initiation, the inflation, the increasing complexity, and I tried to foreground the underlying felt sense they bring to me that a bigger idea is growing.

Can I ever learn to focus on just one thread? I always seem to be overwhelmed by creative potential, head-spinning in the midst of expanding possibilities and fresh ideas competing for attention. Each formation invites procrastination, yields to my logical analysis, and opens to endless improvisation. I stagger back to the task at hand, wishing I could, just this once, stick to the golden path.

Neoclassical growth.

All possible worlds continually.

Expanding into another dimension.


Inspiration bursting in fully formed. Some days a flash illuminates an entire idea at once, instantly, in my mind; a model I can examine, [ There it is! ] a sensory experience I can recall and test against an artwork that follows.

All this seeking and searching and wondering and spiritual angst has worn me out. All this deep reflection in a small dark place, untamable ideas in my head, and diving to greater creative depths takes its toll on a psyche. Must be time to beam back to Earth?

Expanding into the blue. Guilt mixed with excitement. Not to get too chatty on the first day out in my new voice, but it does feel liberating for the moment to just let the words flow.

"Why the change?" I hear all the change alarmists ask and the answer is "What doesn't change?"

Then the cry, "but what about sticking to [insert label here]" and I answer with an orthogonal move into the unexpected.

I'm ready to say it more directly, not coded into a story, not hidden in a meditation, not pointed to with metaphor, but in my own words, emerging automatically, open as wide as the drawings. I want to continue to document any and all aspects of my daily creative practice, anything that I can sense, revealing all imperfections and quirks.


At the end of ten and a half hours in the air, the flight attendant passed by my seat and said, "You are really talented being able to draw through the turbulence."

I wasn't trying to draw through the turbulence; I was trying to draw the turbulence.

I arrive in paradise. The grass outside is flat, brown, and looks burned. The mountains behind me are faded red.

Turns out that Oahu is surrounded by water but in the middle of a drought. The wet season is two months overdue.

My detached, soft edged, jet lagged mind adapts to live in this new place. I conserve fresh water.

In the afternoon we go to the beach and have an absolutely spectacular swim.

It's hard to find time to practice when I travel, I'm outside my daily routine, a guest of my in-laws, my kids and a beach nearby. But drawing practice is a must, like breath, and food, and sex. I sneak around the TV during the lull time between breakfast and sunscreen, and I sit, with pencil and paper, and note the surrounding palm trees.

Water cycle. A few welcome showers playing peek-a-boo with the sun.

Logic meets mountain.

Okay, I had a crazy coincidence today and you can make of it what you will. I swear I had no hint of this story until it happened.

So, I was just sitting and drawing 'work' images today. I was trying to design frames for my show next fall, when I got a funny feeling that I needed to put that work aside and make an improvisational drawing.

I switched my mind to use my 'automatic drawing' technique where I basically doodle blindly and make up a story about the marks. Okay. Whatever. The design work was hard and boring. I could use a break. I got a new card, put a pencil in my left hand, relaxed into the chair, closed my eyes, cleared my thoughts, and followed my breath. Eventually, as I got deeper into a meditative state, my hand began to move, that's normal. Then I kept my eyes shut and let my hand move until I felt like I had made enough marks. I opened my eyes.

On first glimpse, absolutely no story came to mind. That sometimes happens. I considered tossing the card in the trash and starting over. I was ready to call this one a warm-up when I saw a shape that looked like it was waiting to be filled in with cadmium red. I decided to stay with it. Painting colors on the card sometimes helps me see the story. I worked with colors in the same automatic fashion, relying on intuition, but the story still didn't appear to me.

I could see that, for some reason, I was not following my normal color sense. My tendency, as you may know, would have been to turn this scribble into a tree or cover broad areas in shades of ultramarine blue. But today I sensed very strongly that the colors should be bright red, orange, and yellow - so I squeezed out fresh gouache and went for it.

After finishing all the colors, I imagined I saw a figure, but it was vague and the head looked animal-like and funky. Who was it? No clue.

I went to dinner and an hour later, returning to the drawing table, I saw it - Quetzalcoatl was here!

I have never given serious thought to this myth but here he was - the winged serpent, part man part god. And, upon searching his history online, I found out that he is the deity behind the Mayan prophecies for 2012; the very entity that is supposedly due to return at the Mayan calendar's end... which happens to fall on the winter solstice 2012...in three days! How odd that he shows up in my drawing today?

Apparently, as predicted, Quetzalcoatl has returned on time!

My perspective oscillates. From one point of view I am an explorer searching for the source of my creative ideas. From another, an expanding universe creates me.

Expansion. Exhaustion. Reversal. Reflection. What does it mean if the apparent motion in the image I've drawn for months suddenly flips around and heads the other way?

And all those things...

Catch and release...

Riding the waves.

The light begins shining on a completely new day.



A buddha and a beach babe share the shoreline.



Similar spirits sharing.

Here is a phenomenon I never imagined until I experienced it with my own eyes. When I'm standing in the water looking out toward the horizon on sunny Lani Kai beach in Kailua, the peaks of the waves glow purple.