Posts for Tag : Art and the Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching – Fourteen

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond from.

Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.

Grasp, it cannot be held – it is unintelligible.

These three are indefinable:

Therefore they are joined as one.

From above it is not bright;

From below it is not dark:

An unbroken thread beyond description.

It returns to nothingness.

The form of the formless,

The image of the imageless,

It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.

Follow it and there is no end.

Stay with the ancient Tao,

Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of the Tao.

LAO TSU

***

I started to think in earnest about how to achieve a huge mural in the spring. Something I’ve not done before. I visualised standing before it smiling, a photo being taken, the children happy, inspired. Creative visualisation before the event.

And then an epiphany walking past two big paintings on my wall.

‘Just be you! Paint your art!’

It doesn’t sound much of an epiphany, but it’s as though I had blocked the flow thinking I should be someone else ie a mural artist who knows what she is doing!

The epiphany said – let it flow, it will come, you cannot push water into the pool, it flows into the pool and becomes a pond. You can do this.

I walked, feeling excited, laughing at my own idiocy. Biting wind, drifting snow. Then started drawing out ideas, letting them flow. I know now that it will come together and I will enjoy the process, no longer scared and overwhelmed. It’s as though I have found the straight line, the path, my brain no longer bouncing from side to side with possibilities.

The straight line – self worth.

‘Stand before it there is no beginning

Follow it there is no end.’

Later a conversation with an artist friend and a penny dropping. A great big AHA moment.

Me – You’re the queen of perspective

Ronnie – I just think of a clock face

Me – (penny dropping) OMG, I CAN do perspective. A clock face, that’s BRILLIANT!

I am looking forward to drawing from life today, playing with the clock face. And to continue letting ideas flow for the wall.

Tao Te Ching – Thirteen

Accept disgrace willingly.

Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?

Accept being unimportant.

Do not be concerned with loss or gain.

This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?

Misfortune comes from having a body.

Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

LAO TSU

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Stop: head on books, knees up, hands on rib cage, let go. surrender, allow. Let things give for a bit. It’s called Constructive Rest.

My Alexander Technique table. Maisie just in from the snow, letting go.

‘Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.’ Lao Tsu

Care is needed: our beautiful planet is in crisis, the way we are going is unsustainable. Time to choose another way: allow oneself to stop, to be unimportant, to care.

A call for action!

“If we stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself” FM Alexander.

It sounds easy, but we are all so identified with our habits, the past, in our sense of self, our needs and aspirations, we forget to question appropriateness.

I hear people say ‘when things return to normal.’ Normal is heading for disaster! Disgraceful destruction and selfishness!

The world has slowed down a bit. That has to be good for the planet, surely? Maybe the virus will help us see that everything is everyone’s problem.

‘Care for all things.’ Lao Tsu, The Book of the Way.

What can I give?

Not, what can I get!

****

Alexander Technique audio here.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Ten

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,

Can you avoid separation?

Attending fully and becoming supple,

Can you be as a newborn babe?

Washing and cleansing the primal vision,

Can you be without stain?

Loving all men and ruling the county,

Can you be without cleverness?

Opening and closing the gates of heaven,

Can you play the role of woman?

Understand and being open to all things,

Are you able to do nothing?

Giving birth and nourishing,

Bearing yet not possessing,

Working yet not taking credit,

Leading yet not dominating,

This is the Primal Virtue.

LAO TSU

****

One line – ‘Are you able to do nothing?’

The art of non doing – Alexander Technique.

Tired yet still striving. Why?

Lockdown with no job, yet restlessly pursuing. What?

The how to finding flow – stopping!

If I didn’t have animals I would have stayed in bed.

To do nothing

Or to non do and allow. Trust.

To be, not being lazy.

Walk Maisie. Slow down enough to see. Walking the question ‘are you able to do nothing?’

On the way home – a zero in the snow. And then a spiral.

81 verses in the Tao.

8 – infinity.

1 – at one, the one…

The infinite feel that is present within each of us when we let go. The feel of the infinite – Alexander Technique hands on, riding in balance, a spiral, simply walking the snow.

‘Everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves spriallically.’ Don Burton

*****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Translation of The Tao Te Ching – Gia-Fu Feng, Jane English

Tao Te Ching – Nine

Better stop short than fill to the brim.

Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.

Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.

Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.

Retire when the work is done.

This is the way to heaven.

LAO TSU

*******

The woodpecker tree. Mid winter, a tree dying but not dead. A call to plant trees. Knowing what to draw.

The drawing started more complex but rubbed out branches and two horses standing beneath it. Simplifying. Creating decay. Allowing space. These drawings take hours.

Heart shaped holes. Valentines day in February. A drawing for next years calendar.

And then more work on a painting already framed. The remains of the paint used in a quick 5 minute colour sketch of the remains of the day. Twilight sun reflecting from the roof of a red barn way off in the distance.

A breakthrough – inspired to do more quick landscape paintings.

A day with direction.

The Scots Pines in the background are some of the trees that have inspired my horse tree drawings and paintings.
Drawing inspired by this woodpecker eaten tree.

Tao Te Ching – Eight

The highest good is like water.

Water gives life to ten thousand things and does not strive.

It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speech, be true.

In ruling, be just.

In business, be competent.

In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.

LAO TSU

****

Go backwards to go forwards – words come to mind.

Walking backwards – remembering how it enlivens the back, empowers forward walking, changes habits. Imagining Alexander Technique hands on my back, calling my presence back, back to your back, come home.

Maisie looked confused, wondering which way we were going? Good question Maisie!

Another day spent tidying artwork, looking for space, slightly frustrated. I want to sit down and paint and let the beautiful words from the Tao flow through. A day’s not long enough! A lament!

Again – go backwards to go forwards…

I work on a painting in oil for a short while, adding a layer. Backwards to resolve. Backwards to complete.

Then walk Maisie. Bitterly cold wind, a hat, a hoodie, the hood of the coat. The words – slow down enough to see.

It takes time to slow down. The irony doesn’t escape me, days pass fast. So much to do, self care a challenge. Maisie needs to run. No time for the Tao!

The beech trees are dying, their ancient feet in water. Remnants of wire scar their trunks, grimacing faces. Tree people.

I photograph the same trees over and over for years.

The last photo homeward inspires.

The woodpecker had eaten a tree.

An idea for a drawing pops.

And there it is! Reconnecting to an idea during first lockdown: I attempted to write a children’s story to illustrate. A story felled when a friend pecked holes in it. I cried, heartbroken.

No blame, time changes everything.

I’ll paint to plant trees.

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Painting – ‘Ascension’, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm Work in progress.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Six

The valley spirit never dies:

It is the woman, primal mother.

Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.

It is like a veil barely seen.

Use it; it will never fail.

Lao Tsu

*****

Another cold day. Wind stealing energy. Walking with Maisie, feeling low, thinking about the word ‘valley’ in the verse.

Allowing down. Falling down. Going down to go up, like a ball hitting the ground to gain energy and momentum. A space surrounded by mountains, obstacles.

Finding one’s feet to allow the push of earth to take us up. Actually allowing descent, the lows, not fighting them.

Valley, a metaphor for death.

A surprise realisation of rekindling passion for the Alexander Technique through the Tao. I’ve not taught since messing up my foot.

A fallen tree. Enough roots holding the earth to still grow. Deer prints to the stream.

Resting, holding one of the huge boughs in my arms. Something unexpected. The tree moved on my shoulder easing in the wind, spirals of fluid falling, pulsing, down the branch to the ground. Feeling stunned. The branch seemed too huge to move yet alone to have such a sensitive voice. The feel of a tree. A release through my shoulder to the ground. A burden falling.

And then the green man…

****

Later, a layer to a large painting – looking for chiaroscuro, depth and warmth. Vandyke brown, alizarin crimson, linseed oil, turps.

Cold hours in the studio absorbed, driven crazy by anatomy. A horse going up to go down. A crown above its head – symbol for these times.

A front hoof striking my leg two winters ago in enthusiasm for hay, a mistake, a dent in the leg, a muscle spiral weakened… and I am sure the cause of the plantar plate in my toe weakening, snapping like a twig.

Words releasing judgment – I am the painter not the painting.

Resurrection, 100 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Four

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used but it is never filled.

Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!

Blunt the sharpness,

Untangle the knot,

Soften the glare,

Merge with dust.

Oh, hidden deep but ever present!

I do not know from whence it comes.

It is the forefather of the emperors.

Four Feathers, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 40 cm
Letting Go, Ink and Acrylic on Paper