Zen & the Arts - Field Notes

“The Relatives.” Acrylic, 18″ x 24″ (2017).

Artist’s Note: I’ve been a sculptor for twenty years but painting is newer to me. Paint splashes around. I have no clue where I am going until I see what’s arising and what needs to be seen. Since I’m untrained I don’t know the rules so I can’t break any. It’s very freeing.

There are no rules in Koanville either, as far as I know.

I can say that painting helped save me during this very hard year. My grand baby was diagnosed with Leukemia. Torn and shredded we walk through. What do we do when we are broken hearted and there is no negotiating? A friend says we all host the impossible.

Painting helps me when I cannot find my way. This particular painting came out of an experience at an end-of-the-year retreat. I was meditating and the word “clarity” caught my interest. Suddenly, my dead relatives were walking by my chair, making a warm-hearted Yiddish visit of sorts. They were colorfully dressed, greeted me with affection, but insisted: “Hey! You’re Alive! Hey! You’re Alive!” I laughed, maybe this was clarity?!

The next day I was painting and these three faces appeared. Only when it was finished did I realize, “Oh! My relations came to visit again!”

Koans can visit like that as well: “Hey! You’re Alive!”

And they are both correct.


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