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August 2013

Cat and crow.

Beginning to break out of the box.


Color and line develop a new relationship on a lazy
summer afternoon. Abstract and abstracted are getting
along nicely. Paul Klee stops by for a visit.


Nine friends,
Starting home through a forest,
Crossing a river,
Where is the tenth one?


Pilgrimage. Each new artwork is its own journey; initiation, innovation, endurance, compromise, and completion, all stages open to the space of creativity, dependent on arising, encountering resistance, defining limits, and equally separate from the meaning of the results. Coming into being outside of heart and mind, there is no logic or love to explain.

Outside of heart and mind there is nothing to explain.


Love locked with the unknown.


Imaginary Bodhidharma doesn't imagine that he isn't facing
an imaginary wall of an imaginary cave for not nine years.

Q: Can you give me any insights? What I mean is, can you tell me what it is like for you; your experience of meditating? Not that hearing it will help me with my own practice, I know, but for my own comparison, my obsessive need to know. Can you share a little bit of what goes on inside your mind, you know, about the contents of your meditation?

A: Just sitting.


Roundtrip road trip revolves around W. K.


Turning on a positive light. Noting my experience while easily embracing the source.

A blessing in the woods while contemplating
the relationship between 'the movement that is myself'
and my self being moved by art.

Color improvisations
dancing around
line's limits;
can't be contained.


Colorful expansions
Interleave lines,
Through late summer heat,

While through me,
And everything really,
Creativity unceasingly unfolds.


My first step into an unknown territory,
the same as every other step,
a beginning and an end.

Crossing a charnel ground,
sacrificing infinite possibilities
for one reality,
one moment in the creative process,
revealing everything always.

Finding an object of concentration that chases demons away.

The drawings of the last few days have a new vibe; but no clear symbol. My continued artistic growth requires me to work through what I don't understand. I press on into new territory holding brush and pencil.

Okay - I don't know if I should write this story down because nobody else knows about it. But the coincidence factor and downright synchronicity of the situation, plus what is being revealed to me, compels me to write it down just to clear my mind; even if I don't post it.

It all started when I made a drawing about a charnel ground. That drawing scared me so much that didn't post it right away but held onto it for days, maybe even a week, because I thought someone was about to die. The vibe I got from it was so disturbing to me that I didn't want to share it and freak everyone out.

I have always made a conscious effort to keep my art positive and optimistic, especially in my writing, but I feel the balance shifting. I am approaching some deeper feelings at the risk of people not liking what I write or draw. Facing fear is part of artistic growth. So is going outside of expectations. Just know that if I write about a charnel ground, I am not personally morbid or depressed. It is part of a process. I am being pulled along some thread of fascination to discover how similar creativity is to destruction.

And really the only reason I have even heard of charnel grounds is from some Tibetan Buddhist stories I have read where they describe the whole process of cutting up bodies and leaving them out for birds to eat. The hardcore meditators get sent to the charnel ground to sit and contemplate impermanence amongst the remains. Also especially lustful young monks are sent to look and I suppose become disgusted with decaying bodies. Yuk. Not erotic, that's the point.

As the charnel ground drawing appeared I remembered these stories. I tried to visualize sitting in such a place. I doubted my ability to undertake such an exercise. How would I face it?

Given this as background, tomorrow I will reveal the synchronistic events that followed.

I made today's drawing a couple of weeks back; at the same time that I made the charnel ground drawing. That charnel ground drawing sat on my drawing table until four days ago when it felt like the right time to share it.

Then two days ago I was working in my studio when I heard a loud 'baa'. It sounded like a goat which is unusual since there are no goats around. A commotion broke out behind the barn. I went outside to investigate.

Our neighbor's dogs were attacking a baby deer, a fawn, spots and all. I wanted to save the deer, chased away the dogs, but then I saw the animal's neck was broken, eyes glassy, and it couldn't stand. It looked me in the eye and gave one more cry. In shock I stepped back and the dogs swooped in to finish the job.

The deer was dead. I went back inside the studio and tried to sort out my reaction. You can judge for yourself what you would have done. I have played every scenario in my mind and the outcome doesn't change.

The chemical mix in my body was intense, the grief, anger, and confusion of what just happened. I felt helpless. I centered myself and tried to be more mindful of my sensations. Tried to note what I was feeling. Something deep was coming up, flooding me with dread. I was imagining the feeling of finding myself in this scene again, not with a deer being killed, but a person. I felt great compassion for anyone who was forced by circumstances to witness another person's death. It must happen all the time, all over the world. And not with anonymous animals but loved ones. It felt different than imagination. Insight of the scariest kind.

Deep breath. Some time passed. A few sips of coffee. What now? Do I bury the deer? It would be impossible in our rocky yard to dig deep enough. The groundhog I buried last year was quickly dug up. Throw it away? Burn it? My mind turned to a book I read last year called "Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death" by Bernd Heinrich, a series of first person essays about observing animals decaying in the wild. This thought suddenly joined into the thread of fascination that had led me to read about charnel grounds in the first place. I would not interfere with the decay but observe it - hitting me full force that this was a mini charnel ground. My wondering about my own ability to visit a charnel ground would not be tested with a human, thank goodness, but with this deer.

I have been back there many times to see the decay, it is rapid, first animals feeding and now bugs. And I must say the smell is noticeable. But when I am there I try to only think of impermanence, how fleeting life is, how sudden it can end, and how attached we are. And from this kind of meditation I have started to see more sides to creativity. I guess I had always equated creativity with growth, the optimistic approach, but now I can appreciate more viscerally that something must end for something new to appear. The carcass of the deer decaying is its own creation.

I was pretty somber inside after this happened which eventually led me to write down these thoughts. The final coincidence happened an hour after deciding to post the story. While driving my car, I had to put on the brakes suddenly. Out of the bushes and right past the car came skipping and bouncing along, at full speed, TWO fawns, full with life!


Walking home through moonlit fog,
Dampness brushing my skin,
This feels special.

Considering time apart from this
Heightens the precious taste
Of the present.


When the map doesn't match the territory.

Sitting with frustration; no clinging to unmet expectations; letting the frustration expand, letting it explode, debris scatter, picking up the pieces, making something new, owning the behavior, being responsible, making apologies, seeing the causes, releasing identity, watching emotions fade, and noting the impermanence of the self.