reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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tennis with diebenkorn and pärt. [two artists tuesday]

“now, the idea is to get everything right – it’s not just color or form or space or line – it’s everything all at once.” (richard diebenkorn)

each time i have stood in front of one of the ocean park series paintings, i have been totally engaged. the light, the color, the form, the line, the space – richard got it all right in these. they are fantastic abstracts, luring you in. we left the san francisco museum of modern art with a richard diebenkorn book, one of those coffeetable type books – large with gorgeous illustrations and text. i keep it in my studio, to gaze at and sink into.

i do not know much about painting. at all. i have learned, though, that composition is, across the medium-board, still composition. a painting, a song, a dance, a poem needs someone to receive it, someone to interact, to respond, someone upon which it may fall. and for the artist, though imperative to do the work regardless, it creates the space for the flow to go back and forth, like a tennis ball across a court. each bounce and bounceback adds a little wisdom, a little emotion, breath. as i stand in front of richard’s ocean park paintings, it is as if i can hear his even breathing in my ear.

i stood on the dock up-north, gazing down at the water, light and sun playing on its surface. were i to have chosen colors to paint this, and not the black and white of the paintings i have spattered – the only paintings i have done as an adult, i might have chosen these tones. they are the colors i love to be surrounded by. this would be an abstract painting of getting outside without getting outside, to be there without being there.

but i did not paint this. nature took care of the color and form and space and line and i merely captured what nature made easy. there are many of these now – photographs of the abstract – all with strings tied to my heart and memories in my mind’s eye of outside. i keep thinking they would make a good coffeetable book…”getting outside inside”….a title, an invitation…for those sulky days when one needs the bounceback of the breath of the woods or the water, the space of the mountain trail or the rocky beach.

the gift of glassy lake reminds me that there are other mediums to explore, textures i might consider. i imagine richard diebenkorn and arvo pärt, on two sides of the court, two dimensions, lobbing the ball back and forth. abstractionist and minimalist – both extending an invitation. i start to answer.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

images of water ©️ 2021 kerri sherwood


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no timely manner. [d.r. thursday]

now i understand. at least, i am beginning to understand.

my sweet momma and poppo would linger…watching birds, gazing at flowers, studying the horizon – be it shorefront or mountainside, cityscape or tiny town or rural farmland, slowly taking it in. in the hurry-hurry of my younger years, i would scurry past, noticing but maybe not really.

i am moving slower now. not because i can’t scurry, but because i am choosing to list to the linger side. though we still watch re-runs after re-runs of joey hiking and climbing and backpacking and pitching tents any and everywhere, imagining ourselves in those canyonlands keeping up, imagining ourselves on the pct or the john muir or the colorado trail, i know that our pace would not match the pace of joey or the exuberant younguns on heading somewhere or walking with purpose or the meticulous norwegian xplorer. we would be slower, lingering, lingering. i’m not sure that would get us from point a to point b successfully or in a timely manner, but i’m thinking that our definition of ‘timely manner’ may have to just be different. because now – in the middle of this grand middle age – is different.

for now i want to watch the birds and gaze at flowers up-close. i want to stop and stare, drop to sit on a nearby log and take it in. i want to notice the intricasies of all of it, the undertones, the overtones.

as i look at the close-up of this milkweed trailside i am struck by the layers of detail. it somehow makes me recall decisions between the major chord and the relative minor, a continuum of impact. it makes me think of melodic gestures, a spectrum of color and of grace. a horsehair brush extended from the heights of the universe, painting perfection in the woods. artists’ hands waving paint on canvas, cupping clay on a wheel, flying over the white and black on a piano, coaxing lines that make you weep from a cello. all the same. creation in all its iterations.

on the call pat told me that the music – my music – had harmonics, tuned with the universe, that made her travel. humbling.

for i see that is what my momma and poppo were doing. traveling. they allowed the beauty around them to touch them, to slow them down, convincing them – in all the infinite glory that beauty -and art- can muster – that ‘a timely manner’ was relative, that time was relative. that time spent in a slow linger was precious.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

linger on DAVID’s online gallery


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waiting. and waiting. [k.s. friday]

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on an unusual foray into facebook-scrolling, i came across a post by a friend that quoted tom petty.  “the waiting is the hardest part,” it read.  yes.  the hardest part.

i remember d telling me that arnie’s mom had an addition to the adage that when one door closes, another one will surely open.  she said, “it’s the waiting in the hall that’s hell.”

i feel like i am waiting.  just like this sunrise, there is a division of light and dark – a line you can see.  the hall.  it’s not still dark.  it’s not quite light.  it’s the in-between zone of co-existence.

i suppose we can co-exist with waiting.  we can co-exist with not-knowing.  not-knowing about tomorrow.  not-knowing where it goes.  not-knowing what will happen.  not-knowing if dark will linger or if light will overtake the dark.  not-knowing how the story turns out.

questions on the keys.  answers somewhere in-between the notes.  quarter tones of ambiguity.  i stand an arm’s length from creating.  i wait.  there is no sign, there is no clear indicator of any return-on-my-creative-investment.  the hall doesn’t provide a reason to write.  it is not a door.  it is full of question.  it is a gathering storm of hope.  it is a waiting place.

the hall is just for me.  jumbled and clear, both.  a stew of hearing all the old notes floating – thousands of them – and seeking the new ones.  lyric snatches appear on scraps of paper, waiting.  melodic gestures fall from my hands as yearning to keep-on-keeping-on falls from my eyes.

i’m trying to be patient in it.  to reconcile all the other mysteries and issues and complexities before i step closer.  to do the ‘other work’ first.  to be solvent and steady.  for the time on the bench to be worthy.

why does a composer compose?  why does a composer wait?

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WAITING from JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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boundaries. [k.s. friday]

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we were lost when we brought dogdog home from the farm.  it had been a long time since either of us had a puppy; our dogs had long lives and after that it had been years.  the first few days we literally followed dogga around inside the house, like he was a toddler in search of an electrical outlet or a cabinet without childproof latches.  jen and brad brought us pizza and wine and assured our deer-in-the-headlights-look that all would be well.  so we read pretty much anything we could get our hands on and discovered (re-discovered?) the fact that puppies really like confined spaces.  smaller spaces make them feel safe, secure; they are calming.  it worked.  dogdog was happy to be in the kitchen-ala-three-gates-in-the-doorways.  he seemed to sigh with relief at the end of the day going into his crate for sleepynightnight.  he was a happier puppy and we were (legit) back in our bodies.  boundaries facilitated maturing (for all of us.)

there is a whole lake out in front of our littlehouse.  the yard is big and full of green grass and flowers and grasses and trees.  the deck has space and flower boxes.  and then there is the rocking chair.  in between two closely-placed-spindles, perched on the lower rail, this little tree frog found a place of solace.  snugly in this warmed-by-the-sun spot, he lingered for hours, the tight place perhaps restorative for him, perhaps simply a sanctuary, its boundaries affording him the freedom to stay.

boundaries are underrated.  we need them.  to flourish.  the constraints serve us.  our clear boundaries for others create balanced lives.  drawing boundaries.  growth depends on it.

early on, given, say, three chords – and only three chords –  to compose with limits the angst of analysis paralysis.  it gives a place to start, a direction to go, discipline and yet, boundaries that reach only to the sky.  it eases up the balking-at-it of artists.  it facilitates the creation of a composition.  it facilitates artistry.  it facilitates energy.  pushing the walls of these boundaries back little by little opens an artist when he/she is ready, when he/she feels safer.  one step at a time.  one rocking chair spindle at a time.  one kitchen-dog-gate at a time.  one muse at a time.

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BOUNDARIES from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood