I would like to give you an example of what it is to me to experience enlightenment through another’s paintings. You stand before their art, surrounded by their paintings, engulfed in their wisdom and understanding, and are taken by their beauty as they stand apart from the world – as they stand apart from all that is doom, all that is destruction, all that brings one down. The paintings and writings are affirmation of enlightened moments and the connection to knowledge through another’s enlightened moments which brings one closer to happiness for a time.
To appreciate my paintings and writing is to further understand who I am. You don’t have to like my etiquette in life, how I carry myself in the company of others, how aptly I perform at menial tasks, but you do need to appreciate the paintings and writings to understand who I am. At last, it is what I do and what painters do.
Words fall short, but can help. Now, I don’t plan to stop speaking, that would be something! I am bound to this effort of bringing my expression into this world that is representative of not just me, but of the many voices that have ever attempted to assert in painting and writing the respectable, fashionable, and good; that are different than those meaningless gestures caught up in money and the empty passions – who’s voices are elevated above those voices that sing of beauty and truth, above those voices who’s pure gestures bring light into this world. We are at war with one another in this world and it is my hope that my paintings and writings shed light on a better way – a way that does not inflict harm.
What I would like to do now is to outline for you my thoughts. I have decided on five sections to further your understanding of my paintings and my life through my writings. These five sections begin with Visual Experience and Understanding, Philosophical Experience and Understanding, Religious Experience and Understanding, and end with a final section called Brief Thoughts and Essays.
It has come to my attention of late that my style of text could be regarded or criticized as overly serious, cleverly unfashionable, and anti-academic to today’s audiences. I have no real response to this other than to say the writing is both serious and attempts to sidestep the beaten path. Although, I wish it was the thoroughfare on which others traveled more frequently. It also has more to do with the way I live my life than it has to do with academic concerns. In my life, I have dug deep to find what I need for the painting and writing to be good. This is not to say too deep, but, it is to say it was necessary. This, I hope, reveals itself in both the paintings and the writings.
Visual Experience and Understanding-
The intangible reality and perception of seeing two different shapes or colors that appear and/or feel as one shape or color. Also, the experience of seeing one shape or color that appears and/or feels as two different shapes or colors. The shapes are twone. Or, the shape is twone.
We see a film of color appear just above the surface of a painted color as if it were floating there, an illusion, akin I suppose to a hallucination. Yet, I hesitate to call this effect an illusion because it is materially perceived. Our eyes see it. A color is seen, one that may or may not have been intended, and that upon closer inspection is not actually the color of the surface. Also, two shapes in proximity may appear one larger than the other based on the proximity of different colored backgrounds and shapes. But the shapes are actually the same size.
This definition outlines the kindred visual experience and counterpart to our understanding of homonyms, homophones, and homographs. The written word, as linked to the spoken word, is also visual wherein this definition serves a broader context. Twonism is found in both the visual arts and world at large, and I imagine it to exist within every sense realm.
e.g. – Two buildings in perspective appeared as one continuous building. e.g. – Two different colors side by side appeared as one color (vanishing boundary). e.g. – Two different colors against different colored backgrounds appeared as the same color (two colors appear as one). e.g. – The same color against two different colored backgrounds appeared as two different colors (one color appears as two). e.g. – A surface that appears visually thick when it is materially thin or monochromatic when it is multicolored. e.g. – One man and his shadow appeared as two men standing side by side.Philosophical Experience and Understanding-
The illusion of opposites: relativity, duality and dichotomy as illusion. This is to say, true opposites do not exist. It is plain to see that relative thinking and opposition are illusory so long as we recognize our capacity for invention. Invention exists in relationship to nothing. This is why we respond to it with feelings of newness. As far as opposites go one precedes the other, therefore, relative thinking is bound to assumption and prediction. Invention is bound to surprise. To see beyond relationships of this and that, in and out, and to see what cannot yet be seen or what will be seen is to manifest from within. Truth is always a surprise.
Twonism refers to the process of life, one continuous process, every beginning ending and end beginning, a seamless transformation and process. What appears measurable is immeasurable and what appears in opposition is united. e.g. – Space and time are both mental constructs. Up, down, in, out, east and west are descriptive illusions of the core thought, space. Seconds, years, minutes, months, hours and days are descriptive illusions of the core thought, time. Space and time are illusions of the core thought, process. Process refers to the perpetual interchange and ambiguity between what is known and unknown in life. e.g. – One thing is proven and then another person proves that thing to be wrong.
Religious Experience and Understanding-
God and the devil are the same. Each are different faces of the same coin acting to propel us in different ways, one toward good, and the other toward evil, but both help in awareness. I don't regard them as entities, yet I do regard them as positive and negative forces in the world. I have seen the face of each in the world, the movements of each. Without them, we would have no sense of direction, no moral compass to see the light or the dark.
The middle path, this is awareness and life. Therefore, we should not climb so high, nor fall so low. Become one with the two selves – the conscious and unconscious; the waking and the resting mind. See them as one unity and be like an insect doing – a butterfly pollinating, the moth giving its colors up to the sky. It is not this or that. Opposites give way to the center; a single medium grey cloud giving life to the world. Those people are like the clouds, perfect in every way.
From Isaiah 40:7, King James Version – “Surely the people is grass.” (Treat all things similar, as you would yourself.) From Dogen, The Mountains and Waters Sutra – “Mountains walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains walking even though it does not look the same as human walking.” (Empathize not only with one’s self and others, but with the entire universe.) From Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter #5 – “The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows. The shape changes but not the form.” (My paintings are like this; many changing shapes to carry and to emit the many nuances of a single soul.)
Poetic Experience and Understanding-
Not even there there is just cause
For, in my heart is a worm eating at me
The sweat wiped from just above my brow is amazing
I go forward like this blindly with emotion on my side
And all my days I go on like this knowing not what I do
But what I say, for, I am happy
One must forgive all
One thanks a thousand million times
Says please, welcome, and goodbye to be better
I will not tell you it comes effortlessly
But I will tell you not to lie
In this moment I am writing, not thinking, doing.
I am an insect or a bird. Now I will show,
then, be like something else, perhaps a song?
Sweet is the sound of the keys tapping, a bird,
indeed, a bird.
The buds on the vine
await to bloom and
then to fall.
I do not question this.
Too much and undone are the evil doings
For, there is no such thing as too much
One goes on this way
And forever is the path of filial forgiveness
The Way Is Broad
My sister and brother have you forgotten
The path is wider and longer
Narrow and short only in your mind
In reality Twonism is good
Thought on Painting, To A Prospective Student
Mind itself is painting and order.
It shows itself in the structure.
Let the heart guide you then.
When there is no mind, painting is difficult.
It goes this way and it goes that way,
the painting, never knowing when
and where to stop. The heart is nowhere and everywhere,
then. Both states, with mind and without mind,
with heart and without heart, are bound to arise.
With mind and with heart is best.
Sometimes one waits for order, other times one wills it.
Waiting is better, no aggression, but willing it forces a
discipline. When forced, the mind knows forced order
and the heart is stale. Understanding the hard way
comes from this. No aggression is best.
You will eventually find out that it is a mistake in
life to force anything. Either way, willed or waiting,
one goes forward having known mistakes and successes.
The painting, eventually, is free.
Realization, Being, And Oneness
So many years outside the call of a bird.
To think and to be is different, this is
realization. To be one and to speak
to a bird, this is not nonsense. I once
believed it crazy, but now we are an
Many hammers pounding in circadian
rhythm along the sides of an apartment building.
Ocean waves crest the rock face.
The wheel of the mind is turning.
Step off of the wheel, no need.
Particularly when it is early morning and
one recalls the pleasant sound of the cicada call.
Mid-summer will arrive before we know.
Unless, of course, one keeps the rhythm
—then, summer will cease to be shocking and abrasive,
more like, wanted, expected, and soothing.
Should you find The Way heavy, and peace of mind
but a distant chord in the moonlight, I say, fling it all
to the floor. Bundle up your sentient desires, passions,
and frivolous activities, and set them on a course out
to sea, away from you! Should you find Twonism a
mere frivolity of mind, then, I say, fling it to the floor!
Listen only to your longings and do away with influence.
Otherwise, take it in, and be at rest.
Where East Meets West There Is No Division
Here, East meets West.
The mind dances ancient and modern.
The Law existed and exists.
Before the beginning and the end, the Law
was The Way. I will try to define the Law.
“When up move forward, when down move forward.”
You see, there is no backward or sideways or diagonal or straight.
Stagnation is nothing and everything at once, but a word.
There is only moving forward. The coward who commits
worldly crime, it is hard to perceive, I know, but he too
moves only forward, for justice will be upon him at once.
The Law is shared by the many—the idea—
to be one with the Law. The Law is The Way.
On The Transmission Of Ancient Ways
The Way comes from the east; I transmit it west.
Medium light in the studio.
Outside a bird sings; stweet, stweet, stweet.
How lovely the sound.
A Sober Mind
A sober mind is best.
One to see the truth.
I understand that debauchery
makes friends easily, but choose
wisely those friends made upon
escape. A light heart is gained
this way. You may think these
words heavy, but I assure you
they are not false. A light heart.
One to see the moonlight clearly,
without haze before the eyes.
To see the sun clearly in the East
as it does rise. An empty mind to
perceive the West where it sets
only for a day or two.
This is life.
Some say we die a thousand deaths
before the real one, and that may be
true for some, but I, with empty
mind only die once and this I take
to my grave for a mere moment
before resurrection, as is said of dry
bones – rise again.
With pure heart and mind having
lived once, I shall, as a child, live
out again and again a life of innocence,
having banished the bad deeds. And
with the world at my feet, I lean down
to touch her. From her heart I feel the
sound of a thousand horses galloping,
a hundred frogs jumping, ten snails
slowly wandering, and am returned
to the soil. And there I lie – at the heart
of it all, with the sun upon me.
The Mind’s Eye
I have seen the circle in my mind’s eye
It represents much
It goes and goes never ceasing to stop
Twonism is like this, except, one goes slow, then slower,
then stops. Like a wheel on a device, you control your mind.
Is reproduction the only way? It is not. To see this aspect clearly
is attainment of a fundamental truth. In life we are given choices.
We have time to think and to feel. Be one. Then choose when
you are ready. Your answer will fall to you from the sky and
clear as the heat beneath your foot let it guide you home.
My most effortless paintings
capture a bit of balance.
I cannot explain the exact
arrangements that cause
this experience, only that the
feeling is there and not to be
described but witnessed.
Neither symmetry nor any
formal analyses contains it.
The clues are constantly
shifting within the mind and
senses while making and
viewing. Balance is not
merely an aesthetic concern
or act. It is not simply a
mathematics or science of
composition and color, nor is
it a paradigmatic exercise of
logic and reasoned thought.
It is a momentary state of
mind and being that successful
artworks provide. We stand
before these works in awe
and are pleasured by an
between the paintings and
our incapacity to sustain
balanced life moments.
Upon completion each painting
is resolved – We progress.
It would seem the world
has stripped me of possessions.
I have what I need.
The Way is close at hand,
very little to lose.
A few books, a few ramblings, a few
designs; this is all I have,
and each is close to my heart.
Brief Thoughts and Essays-
All victories begin with the self, even shared victories. When you say to yourself, I need to do this, and then you do it, that is a victory. It sounds simple, but it's not. Victories over others are tyrannical. True victory does not relish in another's loss. Surely we have all experienced the backlash of guilt when we attempt to defeat another. All aggressive behavior, such as verbal and physical abuse, is false. Defeat of another in this way is entirely illusion because it is not free from negative feelings, from the realization of other's suffering. As is said of the Tao, "Force is followed by loss of strength.” Victory knows only compassion. This is most significant to artwork because when it is yourself in the studio having the victories and defeats, we are not engaged in other's suffering, a compassionate stance indeed. Strength walks hand in hand with compassion. When you have truly won you will know because the experience comes without uncertain feelings. Not even the slightest concern for loss or doubt will be aroused. To experience victory is to experience clarity and gain. Not false gain bound to possession, but to that of mental nourishment. It is the feeling of harmony and reward.
I have competed and competed. I am aware now that much trouble comes from this path. But one must find their voice, then, one must share it, or continue to compete with it; and we will compete less and less, as a people, the more we are conscious of the harm it does to other living beings and to all things.
Every artist is his own leader. At the end of the day after listening to everyone, it is still you who decides to put the brush to the canvas, and that decision is always your own.
Master And Student
The master of art recognizes his role as student and renounces his prejudices for clear conscious response. He does so not in rejection of the title master, but in acceptance of his role free from illusion. When the master teaches he does not command, he watches and listens. To draw forth unrealized capacities within the student he does not teach but is taught. Extracting is giving. In this way the student leads and the teacher supports. The head that shouts from atop a pedestal grows light from exhaling thin air. This teacher is likewise considered a breathless object. Besides, who sees plainly from such a height?
With invention it is best to not think hard and then to think hard. It is helpful to be lazy and to work. Sit around, look out the window, and then get to work. Get the work and then be fat. Don’t try too hard and then do hard. Do little and do much. Have a brief walk outside and look long within. Walk within for miles and miles, and then sit on a bench outside. Watch the leaves as they rustle. See the leaves as leaves then perceive them with your mind. See the many leaves as all of humanity hustling about, then see yourself as one leaf moving as the wind moves, without effort or resistance. Without effort you may break into ten thousand pieces and give life to things. In resistance, you may not break but be broken, and life will be taken from you.
Order Of Perception
Sensation, emotion, reason, and then action. In response to an external and internal stimulus, we feel it viscerally, weigh its positive and negative effect with our mind, then we act. Or it is reaction, which is different than responding according to reasoned emotion. Reaction is spontaneous. Response involves both emotion and reason prior to action.
Good reason is initiated by positive emotional experiences and is defined by positive action. All three happen according to our perception of beauty. Beauty is found in nature and because we are part of nature it is within us and all around us.
Practice For Your Absence
The entire art enterprise is like a practice for your eventual absence from the world. How would I like to be perceived? Everything matters: morals, laws, justice, good sense, righteous behavior. It’s not any light matter. And it's very freeing if you think about it, because what's right in art is what's right to you.
Truth not in words and paint, but in expression. Fixate not on letters and marks, but on movement, the flow of existence; life. This is to participate, not to anticipate. It is a relaxed state of mind. If there are discoveries to be made, they will happen.
There will come a time when you feel as though no one is listening, no one is seeing. I assure you there will come another time when all are listening and all are seeing. You will find out what is true and what is not if you just stick around. In such brief moments the white bird of truth emerges from clouds and back. And if we watch, a glimpse is all we ever need to lead us on.
In the studio as I'm working I am not thinking about the viewer...
If you choose to go to school for art, and to continue your studio practice professionally afterwards, there are no more critiques, no more one on one meetings with mentors and professors. There will be times when you are not showing. This is a good thing. Because it will be you alone working in your studio revealing unconditioned needs, your needs, not those of others. They are unconditioned because they are each one newly realized. This is why first and foremost it is necessary that you be fulfilled. This requires not projecting the imagined needs of your viewers onto your canvas.
Therefore, only concentrate on what you need from the painting you are working on. It is difficult to know what you need in the beginning, the need is often revealed as you work. But it is always dictated by a feeling of moving forward as connected to prior discoveries.
Each painting is like taking a new step. If you are to imagine walking your entire lifetime without stopping, that would be a lot of steps. Each painting is like this, like taking one step forward. So each consecutive need is a simple one, a very small adjustment in the scenery.
There is no thing more real than the spirit, it is the life within things. We understand that no feelings have been lifted without it, yet so often it goes without regard. Unity is the essence of spirit. A painting that is gazed upon. When the positive spirit is shared, its potential is wholly realized and happiness is received. In life as in art we are compelled by it. Before the expression of spirit we are disarmed. What once were weapons of negative thinking, become tools for self-improvement.
The Ancient Speaks Of Mystery
Who in this world knows of the mysterious hold paintings have on us? Of the vast diversities of thin to thick, light to dark, muted to luminous, spirited to logical, and curved to straight? Why so many infinite ways to make a painting? Why so much dissatisfaction with past generations? A true path unfolds through questioning; the universal self reveals ten thousand ways to make a mark. Ancient values and new beginnings guide through the void and beyond the obstacle. This is the great knowing.
The Artist And Collector
There was once an artist and collector. The collector paraded his money about the artist and condescended over the artist's lack of riches. "Don't worry," said the artist to the collector, "I may not have much, but I do have moral conviction, and which is more meaningful, money or morals?" "Yes," replied the collector, "that may be, but which is more practical, morals or money?" "Indeed," the artist responded, "that may also be fairly stated, therefore, if you wish to purchase this painting I will sell it to you and one day it may bring a handsome reward, but remember, what it contains cannot be bought or sold, only gazed upon."
Morals cannot be purchased, only practiced.
I was once asked what the basic fundamentals of art were, I responded by saying that it depends solely on the person asked. You can ask an artist, art historian, an art or art history instructor, or refer to a textbook, but no matter your reference, it is subjective to that individual or individuals who supply you with the information.
Before consulting an index of terms I would consider this: the creative act, in general, stems from one or a combination of two polarities. These two poles consist of art produced from observation and art made from the imagination. Often art involves both of these, but for the sake of “fundamental understanding” I think this division provides us with a helpful lens to view our objective. From here, it is up to you to decide which end of the spectrum you receive the most satisfaction from. The fundamentals can be broken down into specifics and the list of terms is seemingly infinite. Shape, line, color, light, value, space, movement, volume, rhythm, repetition, pattern, harmony, disharmony, symmetry, asymmetry, and distortion are just a few to think about.
The understanding of such specifics depends on what familiarity you already possess, and on what direction you would like to take your art. If you already have knowledge in one or more areas of the terminology, I would suggest expanding your lessons to other fundamentals. If in the beginning you struggle with indecision, it’s not a bad idea to seek help from an instructor. Assignments aren’t always a bad thing when it comes to art making. Yes, art is about freedom of choice, but in your infancy projects can help to clarify your sensibility.
The Genius Is A Medium
I know of a young man, younger than I, that is gifted as the sky.
And I never thought of the sky as gifted until now.
But it contains the birds, the insects, the rainbows, and the sun,
And these are just the obvious things that come to mind when having fun.
And he’s black and he’s young, and I can’t avoid these aspects
When writing of him because I must be honest with you here.
This is the space for some honesty, yes,
And on this day, I will tell you, that he has inspired me to write.
And on this day, I will record, that he considers himself, at times, a mere conduit.
And on this day, I shall confirm, that he is one.
But, on this day, I shall also say that I have evidence of his further gift,
For, there have been times, like this one, that a massive lift
Has greeted my gravitous bones.
And I credit his writing and him as a man of words for the lift,
For, he has born my mind into something of the birds and insects that do fly.
Therefore, that’s the reason I will give you why Tim is gifted as the sky.
And it shan’t be odd that I mention his flesh,
For, it’s further proof that the blessed know of not one single color,
But that they know of many, and that they wear the universal color of the sky.
Yes, we do – He and I
The genius is a medium through which others communicate thought and can be seen as the scribe of a culture; a painter, a person, an individual by which ideas pass through. The source is at times unknown to him and her, nevertheless, he communicates by will, inspiration, and self; and by self only insofar as the expression serves his will and permissions. A profound echo of voices is engaged within him of which he is sometimes aware, and then, a sudden occurrence, outburst, or accumulation of subtler inspired moments is released into the world by way of birth, creativity, empathy, love, and compassion. Ok, now I will elaborate…
The will comes into play before and after the perception of the object; the object in this sense, being, whatsoever is employed by genius. And by employed, I mean, willed into being. As Arthur Schopenhauer wrote long ago, “For genius to appear in an individual, it is as if a measure of the power of knowledge must have fallen to his lot far exceeding that required for the service of an individual will; and this superfluity of knowledge having become free, now becomes the subject purified of will, the clear mirror of the inner nature of the world.” But, the scribe as I like to call him and her, the genius, is not emancipated of will entirely – only for the duration of the pure perception of the object. It is by his decision and by his discretion as to utter the words, write the letter, create the work of art, do the science – to execute his or her true interaction with the world. And that decision, always, is through will. Yet, the abundance of knowledge or creative guidance provided him by others, I can only describe as, being like a gift vested him by sources sometimes unknown as Schopenhauer wrote, by “the gift of genius”.
Furthermore, Schopenhauer went on to write, “[…] In other words genius is the ability to leave entirely out of sight our own interest, our willing, and our aims and consequently to discard our own personality for a time, in order to remain pure knowing subject, the clear eye of the world; and this not merely for moments but with the necessary continuity and conscious thought to enable us to repeat by deliberate art what has been apprehended, and “what in wavering apparition gleams fix in its place with thoughts that stand forever!” […]” And by, “[…] to leave entirely out of sight our own interest, our willing, and our aims and consequently to discard our own personality for a time […]” this is where I again come into play. For, it is by an orchestration of internal voices that I hear and perceive. But, the orchestration is there to help, positively, toward our aim and this duration of perception is bookended by a demonstration of will. Therefore, yes, I agree with Schopenhauer that it is not our self, or our “personality”, as he puts it that is the guide; it is those voices of others who guide for the duration of our perception sanctioned on either end, by will.
The Need For Aesthetics
"With the rise of the standard of living the number of things which satisfy the physical needs of man have been greatly expanded. Originally these needs might have been called: food sufficient to satisfy hunger, shelter to protect him from meteorological inclemencies, and clothing to stave off pneumonia.”
-Mark Rothko, from Art as a Form of Action
While Rothko’s words mainly hold true today, it might be said that aesthetics have not only recently been deemed necessary to the physical sphere of man’s needs, but have always been necessary. Caves were decorated, as were numerous instruments of war and dress. Aesthetics have performed their needed function from the beginning, acting to balance the physical and spiritual biological needs of man. Furthermore, in today’s world, aesthetics have gone as far as being implemented by legislature with beginnings in groups as small as housing development committees. Democratically, the proper height of grass and coloration of painted exteriors are voted upon. If one does not comply with certain aesthetic ordinances, that person is fined. I’m hoping to point out and to demonstrate the degrees to which man goes to beautify his surroundings and to ease his mind of ugliness and discomfort. It is to show that aesthetics have always been part of the equilibrium of needs deemed for survival. So when considering funding for the arts in schools and institutions around the world please recall the arts’ vital part in survival and to the enrichment of a humane and civilized culture.
Weakness And Strength
Socially, strength is commonly viewed as having a good defense, controlling one’s emotions, appearing unaffected, unmoved, and unchanged by others. In reality it is the emotionally restrained who are brittle. To expose our softer side is true strength, an allowance of vulnerability and risk. Who doesn’t recognize the instability of ice and the flexibility of water?