Posts for Tag : art during Covid

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

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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 – Seven

Heaven and earth last forever

Why do heaven and earth last forever?

They are unborn

So ever living.

The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.

He is detached, thus at one with all.

Through selfless action, he attains fulfilment.

LAO TSU

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I didn’t paint yesterday, creativity ‘unborn’, instead I moved paintings around, searching for space. It is a year since I agreed to do an exhibition in a castle and framed a lot of work.

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many paintings she didn’t know what to do!

Covid cancelled that exhibition of course.

Choosing to detach from social media for now. Untangle the web! Caught like a spider and finding no joy. Time to step back.

‘If we keep doing the same thing in the same way, we get the same results.’ FM Alexander.

Honour ones own feelings, all of them. It sounds so easy yet we forget and override ourselves.

Backing up a horse to find power, elasticity, forward motion… step back, detach.

‘Back into your back!’ as we say in the Alexander Technique world and follow your joy!

“Wherever you are, what ever you do, be in love.’ Rumi

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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

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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…

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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 – Five

Heaven and earth are ruthless;

They see ten thousand things as dummies.

The wise are ruthless;

They see people as dummies.

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.

The shape changes but not the form;

The more it moves, the more it yields.

More words count less.

Hold fast to the centre.

LAO TSU

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The verse made me think of the sea, the wind, the forces of nature. Another windy bitterly cold day. I felt tired, low.

I found abandoned paintings of seashells in my studio and reworked the small canvases into seascapes.

I wondered why I had given myself the task of going through the Tao Te Ching, The Book of the Way. But I feel rudderless, drifting, and the words are considered sacred, holding meaning to be understood. It is a way to learn from – lessons in the flow of nature.

Does the word dummy means quiet?

or

People are foolish how we treat the planet, dummies indeed.

‘The more it moves the more it yields’ an Alexander Technique like phrase. When we fix our bodies we become stuck in our attitudes, our emotions, our life. Most people are fixed, held together by tension. ‘Yield’ yet ‘hold fast to centre’. Move from the balance point that aligns everything. It is so simple yet a challenge to return to.

I miss the children I used to teach, I miss teaching.

‘The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows’ – the tides, the tides of breath. A sea shell washed up on the shore.

‘The shape changes but not the form.’ We are all connected by breath, by life, on our small precious planet. Now more than ever we should see this truth!

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www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Three

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarrelling.

Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.

Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

If people lack knowledge and desire, then intellectuals will not try to interfere.

If nothing is done, then all will be well.

LAO TSU

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Feather Study, Acrylic on Canvas

Feathers, found treasures. Still Life.

Painting, I thought about friends in hospital. The feathers became angels sending healing – a wing, a prayer, a focus to mediate on, to stay steady and send love. Feathers holding light, air, space.

A long day painting, absorbed by delicacy.

I read the text many times, ‘strengthening bones’ resonated.

Wing feathers flying through the air. Miracle structures. Lifting up.

Walking to strengthen bone…my injured foot, delicate but functional.

The day was cold, bitter. I didn’t walk.

Maisie, my dog, didn’t want to be out in the day more than necessary either.

Swan Feather, Acrylic on Canvas
Feather Study 2 – Acrylic on Canvas

Drawing – A Line Around Thoughts

‘Drawing is a line around my thoughts’ Gustav Klimt. 

I love this quote. It expresses drawing so clearly. Following a line, a train of thoughts, as the hand draws across paper, as the mind flows through the hand, allowing oneself to see where thoughts lead.

Drawing is a withdrawn, introverted pursuit – simply being quiet and drawing. What a brilliant word withdrawn is though – to disentangle, to draw back, and with that a sense of power like an archer drawing back a bow.

Drawing, although simply following a line, can be a great adventure. At its best it’s drawing down inspiration from some mysterious space. Worlds appear before ones eyes as you discover shapes, let ideas flow and bump into characters along the way.

For the last three years I have completed a drawing a day in February and would like to do the same this year though this morning I feel I need to clarify my intentions and set a goal as Covid continues to confuse and upset with close friends in hospital. Art starts to feel irrelevant. Yet, somehow Klimt’s words stand out like a beacon.

‘Drawing is a line around my thoughts.’

Withdrawing into a flow of line is probably the simplest and best idea for the coming month yet this year feels really challenging.

An easy flowing line – a peaceful flowing life, a clear intention and as the Japanese say an expression of an open heart.

We use the expression ‘to draw a line’ meaning to create a boundary or close something down.

Where does one draw the line sharing artwork? I don’t know at the moment. It feels egoistical, nonsensical and unimportant to keep sharing online. Yet withdrawing from connecting with people and the wider world one of the only ways we can doesn’t feel a positive option either, so I am coming to the conclusion all I can do is hope to do some good through drawing and see what happens 28 Drawings Later.

Here is my starting place intention – I want to continue to plant trees this year, to continue to do my tiny bit for the planet in this beautiful corner. I also want to paint a large outdoor mural in the spring for children with complex needs.

So hopefully drawing through February will help to both clarify my ideas for the mural (something I have never done before) whilst creating a folio of drawings to keep raising funds to plant trees into the future.

So I choose to not withdraw from being online, which part of me really wants to, as the slowness of art and the speed of social media have always felt like uncomfortable bed fellows, but aim instead to move fearlessly forward into February with Klimt’s word to inspire and see where I get to 28 drawings later.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe Kirsten

Some of January drawings –