Posts for Tag : Tao Te Ching and Art

Tao Te Ching – Twenty Two

Yield and overcome;

Bend and be straight;

Empty and be full;

Wear out and be new;

Have little and gain;

Have much and be confused.

Therefore wise men embrace the one and set and example to all.

Not putting on a display, they shine forth.

Not justifying themselves, they are distinguished.

Not boasting, they receive recognition.

Not bragging, they never falter.

They do not quarrel, so no one quarrels with them.

Therefore the ancients say, “Yield and overcome.”

Is that an empty saying?

Be really whole, and all things will come to you.

Lao Tsu

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Accepting what is, letting go and being open to all things… sounds easy enough!

Over the last three days I’ve finally prised my oyster shell-like mind open and discovered a pearl. Since art school I’ve told myself an unexamined, ridiculous story – ‘I don’t like acrylics!’

Over the last three days I’ve painted acrylic on board and LOVED IT.

A new medium AND surface equals a whole new country to explore. Exciting!

When we stop putting road blocks up in our thinking, life flows again. How many other road blocks have I created in my art and life?

It is so simple, yet the blocks are like bad spells cast in our minds. They control and define us. Some spells we put on ourselves, others are put on us! Common negative spells cast on artists are ‘Artists are mad!’ or ‘You’ll never make any money being an artist!’

It seems to take work to change one’s mind, conscious awareness, but once done it’s so simple it makes you laugh!

Letting go of my negative acrylic story has allowed a new door. There is so much potential for fun and best of all acrylics aren’t toxic. My lungs are happy!

And then I heard this…

‘Don’t fall in love with your painting too soon, you’re dating it, not marrying it!’ Nick Winton, Artist

Hilarious and freeing and applicable to lots of things! I’m definitely going to date my new arty friend A. Crylic!

‘Street Cats.’ Acrylic on board 50 x 60 cms

I think there are 31 cats in the painting. It’s a two way painting. Turn it upside down when bored!

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Snowdrops by Kirsten Harris
Acrylic on Board

Tao Te Ching – Twenty One

The greatest Virtue is to follow Tao and Tao alone.

The Tao is elusive and intangible.

Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet within is image.

Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form.

Oh it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence.

The essence is very real, and therein lies faith.

From the very beginning until now its name has never been forgotten.

thus I perceive the creation.

How do I know the ways of creation?

Because of this.

LAO TSU

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Decluttering my studio this week and not painting or writing – un muddling my studio and brain! Finally prising my mind open to embrace acrylic paints and have beginners mind and experiment. Instead of saying ‘I can’t use them’, ‘I don’t like them’ and ‘I prefer oil’, I’m saying ‘I wonder what I CAN do with them’ and ‘they are not toxic, hurrah!’.

It feels so good having got all the half finished unresolved oil paintings out of the way last week. It feels like a new beginning AND the snow drops started blooming this week too. Spring is springing in more ways than one.

Simple shifts of intention and clarity of focus can be hard to find but look so easy written down. I have struggled to get here! It is long overdue to embrace working with acrylics as my lungs can’t cope with oil any longer.

I had a couple of sheets of 8ft x 4ft ply delivered and am waiting for a new fine tooth saw to arrive to cut it up into boards to paint on. I’m moving away from canvas too. A whole new beginning. A whole new practice!

So in the spirit of the Tao I am embracing the formless and the unknown, allowing my art practice to change and actually feeling excited about acrylics at long last! Yay! Faith in the unknown!

This painting made a weeks or so ago ‘Walking with Trees’ is acrylic, pastel and pencil on paper. I found myself enjoying the flexibility I found. A stepping stone drawing.

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www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Twenty

I’m stepping back from the business end of art to enjoy art’s fun.

In a world where it seems ‘all about the sale’ and making a living, it’s been a challenge to disentangle from trying, but I’m feeling my inner flame beginning to burn brighter the more I do. It’s exciting! What a challenge it is to return to the self and quieten the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’.

It’s as though social media was beginning to extinguish my flame. The addiction of sharing and getting ‘likes’ is a nonsense but it’s kind of what happens, I’m ashamed to say!

From starting out as an artist to being an artist now, things have changed so much. From painting quietly and showing work in progress to the odd visitor to the studio to sharing regularly on social media and going world wide instantly. No longer an artist in a local community but part of the world wide stage. It’s kind of exhausting. Exhilarating but exhausting.

And the ‘to do’ list to so called ‘being successful’ gets longer and longer too. I fail at so much of it!

The business end seems to engage a different side of the brain – business feels like ‘the serious adult’, art ‘the happy, playful, creative child!’ It’s easy to get stuck in the middle somehow where neither are really working.

So I’m really trying to listen to how uncomfortable all the art sharing has got for me and allow the creative arty child to have time to herself.

As FM Alexander said “If we keep doing the same thing in the same way we will get the same result.” To change and give ourself new choices we have to stop, pause, allow ‘non-doing’ and see what happens.

This verse seems to invite a disentangling from brain nonsense and be OK with what you are feeling.

“I am nourished by the great mother.”

What a beautiful line!

I didn’t realise the horse I spotted in the photo of the puddle before going in studio showed up in a painting until this morning. I had another fun day resolving old work or in the case of this simply painting over something.

Tao Te Ching – Nineteen

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,

And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up kindness, renounce morality,

And men will rediscover filial piety and love.

Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,

And bandits and thieves will disappear.

These three are outward forms alone: they are not sufficeint in themselves.

It is more important

To see the simplicity,

To realise one’s true nature,

To cast off selfishness

And temper desire.

LAO TSU

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The Tao Te Ching is loaded with ideas so selecting what resonates.

‘To realise one’s true nature’

I think that art is a kind of seeking of one’s self. I guess it’s what motivates to keep making artwork. The joy of ‘Aha’ moments, happy accident, skills coming together, letting go. The pure sensory pleasure of colour or paint on canvas. The thrill of an abstact line turning into something recognisable. The expression of pure feeling…

Great week in the studio resolving problem paintings – the also rans in the reject pile. Quite a big reject pile – I seem to have a lot of problems, some going back ten years!

I want to clear my studio to really learn how to work in non-toxic acrylic paint. So resolving oil paintings seemed like a good plan and instead of wanting to burn the problem paintings I felt on fire this week.

It would appear artists creates problems to solve. A crazy game but the best fun when it comes together.

Simple ideas applied – design, differences and values.

The work came alive and with it me too!

It’s the best feeling being in the zone. Dubbed the zone by children I taught Alexander Technique to at school discovering it was something they could access for themselves through a bit of Alexander Technique ‘forward and up’ thinking. A real ‘life skill’. I used to feel on fire every time I taught.

Today – intention to pack my oils to the shed and create space for acrylics! This is BIG! This is putting myself into being a beginner as I really don’t like acrylics or know what they can do but my lungs really, really don’t like oil paint!

I am finally motivated to give acrylics a real go, rather than simply fiddle half heartedly.

Beginners mind! The first three ‘give up’s’ in this verse perhaps instructions as to how to find it!?

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These four paintings of speeding cheetahs were part of a series I did about ten years ago and had got stuck with. Happy with the energy in them now, and they definitely portray the feel of shifting forward and my ignited energy this week. Although they don’t really represent themes I am interested in painting now, my ‘finisher/completer’ is doing a happy dance!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Seventeen

The very highest is barely known by men.

Then comes that which they known and love.

Then that which is feared,

Then that which is despised.

He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.

When actions are performed without unnecessary speech,

People say, “We did it!”

LAO TSU

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Detail

Tao Te Ching – Sixteen

Empty yourself of everything.

Let the mind rest at peace.

The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.

They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.

The way of nature is unchanging.

Knowing constancy is insight.

Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.

Knowing constancy, the mind is open.

With an open mind, you will be openhearted.

Being openhearted you will act royally.

Being royal you will attain the divine.

Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

LAO TSU

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I’ve spent a few days sketching ideas for the mural, but I think writing down what I want to achieve might start to clarify ‘ten thousand things!’

So, what do I want to say? My Shirley Valentine wall moment!

Vibe – fun and magical, a place where the children can find imaginative freedom. Smile generator.

Scale – The bigger I can make it the more impact and fun. Need scaffolding! Wheelchair height detailed elements, bigger shapes higher up.

Comical elements – in the form of good ideas and the way I draw – expressions, action etc

About – the natural world and freedom of imagination

Incorporates – wildlife, trees, flowers, animals, birds, insects and perhaps a magical unicorn too. So much potential as to what to paint and how to paint it that the ‘ten thousand things’ become overwhelming. Let ideas rise and fall until I see what is left. I love the words in this verse – ‘the way of nature.’

The Way of Nature – a working title for the wall!

3d elements – planters planted with brightly coloured real flowers. Real nesting boxes attached to drawings of the trees. Eric said he would make some boxes. Could attach bird or other cut out shapes to the front of the boxes, so the nesting holes became mouths. Other 3d ideas?

Colour – Paint the walls a colour first. Get rid of the white! Maybe section areas into key colour elements and get help from the groundsmen to do the big painting job! Good plan. Pale greens and blues for one wall. Maybe reds and brights for the other.

I am realising that good planning is key to the success of this

So here is a thing –

Anxiety, caused by living in the future!

Depression, caused by living in the past!

Creativity, freed by living in the moment!

So my task is to keep staying present with ideas and let them come. That presence is what I think is meant be ‘constancy’ in the verse.

The wall will start to come alive with the planning I do now. Keep planning! Enjoy the planning! It’s a learning curve.

I’ve noticed moments of anxiety over the past couple of days when I jump too far ahead with the project and moment of feeling low when I think because I’ve never done a huge mural before I’m not capable. Past and future mind games. Best avoided by noticing and letting go. Lying in Alexander Technique Constructive Rest for a few minutes usually changes my mind!

This mural is a wonderful challenge – learning loads already.

So another thing – fear and excitement are much the same feeling. Label this excitement, so as not to keep hitting the wall!

Photo – second wall that I can paint.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk