So here it is, roughly in the same state, but finished. I decided to paint a picture in black and white to keep the parameters simple while I learn about technique. I have much to learn, and I'm not precious about painting, or poetry for that matter, but fairly happy with the result.
Occasionally I see a tree that I am in awe of. A tree that evokes a sense of presence. This tree is somewhere on a hillside, otherwise denuded of trees, above San Bosco de Ciudad de Colón in Costa Rica. The painting is nothing like the photograph of the tree, the photograph was merely the point of departure. But this is exactly why painting as a medium is still, and will always remain relevant: there is an emotional and imaginative participation in the creation of the image beyond direct representation. That's not to say that the same is not true for photography as an art form, but the process is different.
Thus far so much of my writing has been in search of a process. I've read so many books about creative writing and gleaned a little from each but only now feel I'm coming close to refining a process that allows me to glimpse the the way toward both the whole of a work and the individual words, the bare bones of what happens when I write..... >
As the sole visitor to this site you may be perplexed at the nature of this portfolio, which contains very little in the way of completed or proficient work.
I built this site, with the bountiful energy that procrastination produces and primarily as a reminder to myself to spend more time creating. It also exists as an additional incentive for me to finish things. I'm forever starting new projects. I have written hundreds of unfinished songs; I currently have a massive unassembled jigsaw puzzle of a novel in my laptop; and the poetry which used to pour through me seems to be slowly trickling back into the reservoir below.
It's a learning curve. I have started painting again and in the process realised I knew nothing about paint. I've been playing guitar for years (self-taught) and have only just realised I know so little about the instrument or even music and its structure as a whole. I've always fluked my way through with a disdain for structure, process or practise and have been pleased enough with the results to feel that there is potentially more to discover.
A lot of people, unfortunately, and a lot of my friends, sadly, have given up the creative work which has previously given them so much pleasure when it started to feel like Work. A lot of what is wrong with the world is contained within this - but I'll not veer off into the polemic at present. It's also easy when you're young - you think you're immortal - and perhaps for a moment you are.
I am fortunate enough to have had a little confirmation from the world, and a lot of encouragement from friends, that I should be bothering with this at all. I've won some short story competitions, and had a little fiction published (The Art of Sleeping is the best of these). A play (Pop Art Tragedy) I wrote at 18 was produced - the play was rubbish, juvenilia, but it made some people laugh and it was pretty amazing seeing characters from my imagination come alive on stage. I self-published a hypertext Napalm for a Calmer Heart which helped me get through a particularly tricky period of my life. I had a great band with friends in Japan (Silence Front), and in New Zealand (Near Sky Project) neither of which we got around to recording and I've taught myself enough about audio production to throw some early tracks out into the ether (Hijiyama Project).
So now I'm on a hiatus - going back to basics, practising guitar daily - learning the names of things and building my knowledge of the mathematics of music (in the tradition of jazz). I'm learning how to mix colours and playing with technique (not being a 'painter' or even having any aspiration to gain recognition in this makes this the lightest, the easiest, the most enjoyable to play with). I'm also learning about structure and cultivating the discipline required to conquer the long and difficult form of the novel - eventually, hopefully, certainly I'll get there. At which point this archive will exist as a record of the journey because it's not that you ever get there.
It's more about being aware.
If you're aware then you've already arrived.
Art is about finding what we can share
so I hope you find something here
that you may take away...
An unfinished video work, prior to dropping out of Art School. I found that video feedback could, under certain circumstances, emulate the fractal and physical mathematics of nature. As if the laws of nature also apply inside the machine. I was trying to say something about the inevitability of the emergence of consciousness within the machine, or something similarly esoteric.
This was made in the 20th century, before anyone I knew had access to Premiere or Final Cut etc. I had to use this massive non-linear editing suite called Cassandra or Casablanca that took forever and I had to book out weeks in advance.
It must have been 15 years since I painted anything
another little task to keep that particular part of my mind alive
an (unfinished) painting of a tree I encountered in a field
somewhere in memory or imagination
Since a friend recommended it Brain Pickings is easily my favourite site. Full of gems, here's some advice on how to write, and appreciate, poetry...
"Find your own way — a secret way that just maybe you don’t know yet — to open yourself as wide as you can and as deep as you can to the moment, the now of your own existence and the endless mystery of it, and perhaps at the same time to one other thing that is not you, but is out there: a handful of gravel is a good place to start. So is an ice cube — what more mysterious and beautiful interior of something has there ever been?"
~ James Dickey
What I like about this, in spite of the cutesy overload, is how stories are everywhere, they help us shape and understand our world. We live in an orchard with the boughs bending, stories dropping off the trees in every direction - there is no excuse not to make art, if that's what you want to do. The other reason I like this is its message for us grown-ups: there is a lot to learn from children, the innocence and clarity with which they see the world can remind us of a perspective that all too often we have lost.
"What is a Manifesto? It is a challenge to say what we do.
What is a Manifesto? It is a challenge to do what we say.
A manifesto. A manifesto.
Where are we now? We are here. Waiting and watching and speaking and making and doing and crying and questioning and laughing and being and drawing and painting and sanding and filming and photographing and printing and performing and drilling and casting and seeing and firing
and organising and legislating and facilitating
and learning and making
We are making art. We are always making art. it doesn't matter. It is the only thing in the world that matters. We are making art. We are always making art. It is very hard to stop us."
"The good thing about writing books is that you can dream while you are awake. If it’s a real dream, you cannot control it. When writing the book, you are awake; you can choose the time, the length, everything. I write for four or five hours in the morning and when the time comes, I stop. I can continue the next day. If it’s a real dream, you can’t do that."
~ Haruki Murakami in The Paris Review, No. 182
"I've come to the conclusion that handwriting is good for us. It involves us in a relationship with the written word that is sensuous, immediate and individual. It opens our personality out to the world, and gives us a means of reading other people. It gives pleasure when you communicate with it. No one is ever going to recommend that we surrender the convenience and speed of electronic communications to pen and paper. Though it would make no sense to give up the clarity and authority of print which is available to anyone with a keyboard, to continue to diminish the place of the handwritten in our lives is to diminish, in a small but real way, our humanity."
" What are the implications of this for an artist?
Simple. Create every day. Make it a habit. If you don't, the effort required to get started again becomes monumental. If you do, the effort required to stop becomes monumental."
" We all know that an artist's work cannot be contained within the wretched dimension of politics. For this dimension cannot hold the whole of our life and we must not restrain our social consciousness within in its bounds."