Sunday, August 27, 2006

Richter & Bonnard & Arsty Musings

What a weird combo, but this week I have been re-looking at the paintings of Bonnard and Gerhard Richter...
(sorry for the semi-offensive links!)
Bonnard's paintings have always intrigued me. I find them to be very sweet and intimate, but there is also something "off" about them... It has to do with the combination of such quiet domestic scenes with such severe and unexpected perspectives. I find that this seed of tension keeps me interested in the paintings, unlike - say - Renoir, whose work is just a bit too sweet for me. I also find that the unexpected perspective angles are a bit startling and that the slight distortion helps me to look at the image with fresher eyes. I like the combination of painting from life and distorting life (with color and perspective) for emotional effect. All of this leaves unaddressed Bonnard's amazing use of color.
And then Gerhard Richter... pretty darn different! His paintings have percolated back up into my consciousness because of his beautiful use of "blur". I have been reading some interviews with him and starting to learn more about the ideas behind his work. On a purely visual level though, I have been thinking so much about his candle paintings. I saw a retrospective of his work at the SF MOMA a couple years ago, and the candle painting they had really blew me away. It was so luminous and waxy and soft and light... I found it very moving. So I am looking at his paintings, which have such quietude and stillness, and intellect.

And lately, candles have been recurring to me as something I want to come back to over and over. Candles, mirrors and hummingbirds. Delicacy. Softness. Blur. Melting. Dissolving.

It's an interesting shift to go back and forth between these two artists, and observe the different ways in which I respond to their work: use of color, of brush stroke, balance of emotion and intellect, public vs private...

ps. sorry for the lack of pics... Blogger is not cooperating with me!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Featured on Yahoo!

Pretty cool!
I just found out that my paintings of the world leaders were featured on Yahoo Picks. I checked my stats, and it looks like about 140,000 clicks so far!


Monday, August 14, 2006


This week, in my practice and in my teaching, I've stumbled across something that feels very important. In my classes this month, I've been talking about balancing discipline (tapas) with contentment (santosha).

I used to find contentment to be a very confusing concept. I felt like if we were truly content, then how could we ever grow and transform and set goals. These days... my understanding of contentment is a state in which one could accept things as they truly are - and work with that.

On the other side of the coin is discontentment: the inability to accept things as they truly are.. and the struggle to work with parameters that are not real. In my practice, it is interesting to see the instances in which I push a bit too hard or for the wrong reasons... When I don't want something to be hard, or I don't want an old injury to still hurt, or I just get impatient and want to achieve something now because my ego is ready to achieve it (even if my body isn't).

Luckily for me, this isn't a hugely predominant experience in my daily practice, but it is certainly there... sometimes in a more subtle way, and other times in a quite obvious way.

I guess this week, for the first time, I really realized how excessive pushing is a sign of deep discontent. A sign of a deep lack of acceptance about the reality of the situation. In the instance of yoga postures, it's a sign of deep lack of acceptance about the body and the self. It's a form of violence, anger, and self-aggression. I guess it could be said for any of the instances in which one ignores the messages from their body: overeating or undereating, over-riding gut instinct...

This insight feels important for me... in my own practice at home, and in my practice as a teacher. In this world filled with violence and struggle... it's humbling to find so much violence and struggle in my own heart and in my yoga practice, of all places.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Passage from "Wherever You Go, There You Are"

"The only way you can do anything of value is to have the effort come out of non-doing and to let go of caring whether it will be of use or not. Otherwise, self-involvement and greediness can sneak in and distort your relationship to the work, or the work itself, so that it is off in someway, biased, impure, and ultimately not completely satisfying, even if it is good."
~John Kabat-Zinn

Interesting to think about in relationship to art-making... Thinking of whether an artwork will "be of use or not." And also thinking of the way in which our hidden motives present themselves, whether we know them or not, in the final product, whether we are able to see them or not. When we can "smell" something is awry in our work or in the work of others... maybe this is part of what we are detecting.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mixing Colors

I love, love, love color mixing. Yesterday I spent about an hour just mixing colors... and didn't even get around to painting until today. Working on a portrait of young Queen Elizabeth with her dog.

Mixing colors is so meditative. I love the focus, the quietude, the subtle variations, the insight. What if you just mixed all the colors and never painted the picture?

ps. weird. sorry the picture is rotated. Blogger did that all by itself, and I can't figure out how to undo it!