I haven’t posted for quite a while and haven’t been doing any writing. However, I have been doing a lot of mandala art in what I call the Folk Mandala genre. I’ve uploaded a gallery of mostly new images at the art site: https://marietaylorart.wordpress.com/new-mandalas/
As you will see I am still enamored of the romance of the mermaid and have drawn about 30 mermaid mandalas. I’ve done some research on the lore/myth surrounding these semi-aquatic creatures. Stories about mermaids and sirens are found in nearly every culture around the world. Some claim that they do not have souls and are evil creatures, who through their beauty, lure men to their doom.
Psychologically, mermaids are creatures of water, a powerful symbol of primordial life that can annihilate as well as transform. Water represents purification and regeneration. Mermaids and sirens embody these qualities also and can be symbols of both death and immortality.
“They call men to the unknown, to change and transformation, the essential passage from one space to another, from one condition to another. They serve as escorts during times of transit, danger, transformation, uncertainty, sea voyages and missions of war. Sirens call men, urging him to abandon what he is, to become something new.” (from Wikipedia: Mermaids, Sirens)
I was discussing mermaids with a friend and he perceptively stated that my obsession may be because right now I can’t walk either. In fact, for most of the last six months I have used a wheelchair to get around due to arthritis in both knees and feet. In two weeks I will have surgery to have the one of my knees replaced. It remains to be seen how this will affect my mermaid identification!
Visit my art website to view some of these latest mandalas. Thanks for your continued interest.
When I first started to blog a few years ago, I would post something at least a couple times a week. I had a lot to say and was eager to be in communication with the larger community. Fortunately, that phase passed.
I also used to go to the neighborhood park several times a week and my visits there were not only a source of renewal but the inspiration for poetry. This last year my visits have been fewer and my creativity has turned from words to pictures.
For many years I have enjoyed working in brush and ink wash on rice paper and my work has appeared in many exhibitions. This year, however, my interest has returned to the drawing of mandalas, something I first did many, many years ago when I was young and broke and could only afford felt tip pens and paper.
In the last several years my mandala art has incorporated a lot of color, a nice change from the black, white and grey of ink wash. Typically, these designs were geometric and had a purity about them. Earlier this year that all changed when I began more freehand drawing in the designs, using geometry only as an underlying foundation for composition.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wasn’t quite sure what these kind of designs might be called. For lack of any better description I’ve decided to call them Folk Mandalas. So I have been busy creating dozens of designs, some of which I have included below.
I am not a draftsman or illustrator and many have a primitive look to them. I think they might classified as decorative art rather than fine art. Designing them is a thought-free zone, bringing about a peaceful state of mind. The meditation is in the making rather than in the viewing. The medium is ink and markers on Bristol board.
Meanwhile, in the bizarre way that life works, I began teaching a small mandala class for the geometric designs. This led to an invitation from a local senior center to teach, followed by another senior center. Then the city library called and asked if I would be interested in giving a demonstration on an art day they have planned. Next week a local paper will have an article on mandalas.
Life is funny, isn’t it. Some things that you want badly and pursue, never happen; and other things that kind of poke along year after year suddenly catch fire. Go figure.
If you go to my art website, you can see a sampling of these new type of mandalas listed on the Folk Mandala page. http://MarieTaylorArt.wordpress.com. Thanks for visiting.
Three of my pieces will be in an art show next week at a local city hall. The exhibition theme is “Nature” and this show is not juried, there is no entry fee and no 50% commission. Naturally, I liked the price. Here are the three I entered. They are smaller – about 8 x 10 unframed. Also below, I have been playing with some new designs for mandalas. These are more freeform and less abstract.
Thanks for stopping by.
For some reason, Saturday evenings seem the perfect time for curling up in my bedroom chair and reading poetry. One of my favorite go-to books is “A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry,” edited by Czelaw Milosz (1911 – 2004), a Polish poet, prose writer, translator and diplomat of Lithuanian origin who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.
After reading this collection many times, I finally got around to reading the book’s introduction where I found some very interesting and provocative observations about art and writing. In quoting Schopenhauer, Milosz states …
“Among works of painting, Schopenhauer assigned the highest place to Dutch still life: ‘This is shown by those admirable Dutch artists who directed this purely objective perception to the most insignificant objects, and established a lasting monument to their objectivity and spiritual peace in their pictures of still life, which the aesthetic beholder does not look on without emotion: for they present to him the peaceful, still frame of mind of the artist, free from will, which was needed to contemplate such insignificant things so objectively, to observe them so attentively, and to repeat this perception so intelligently.’
“The secret of all art, also of poetry, is, thus, distance.”
I pondered that last statement – the secret of art is distance – for quite a while. At first I felt I disagreed, thinking of the subjective art and writing so popular in the last century. But then I reconsidered. If I substituted the word detachment for the word distance, I saw another interpretation.
Any art that is too personal or too subjective runs the risk of egocentricity; one of the characteristics of great art is its universality. If an artist can create from a distant or detached position he will be in that peaceful, still place that invites the muse, and the audience, to enter.
In another section of the Introduction, Milosz says the Old Chinese and Japanese poetry has had a significant influence on American poetry since the turn of the century (20th). “Undoubtedly, what accounts for much is the very discovery that we can understand them, that through their lips eternal man speaks, that love, transience, death were the same then as now.”
This is exactly what I had discovered during my reading of the poetry in “The Book of Luminous Things.” I understood so many of the poems at an intimate level – the sadness of the Chinese traveler when parting from his friend 700 years ago is as real and immediate as it is today; the loss of the loved one just as poignant as that which took place a thousand years ago.
Good poetry enables us to speak to each other across the continents and across the centuries. What makes us human is not the color of our skin, not our politics, geography, philosophy or religion; it is our experience of this happening we call life.
After painting for the last several months, the quietness of autumn is drawing me back to words. As I reread some of my favorite poetry books, I’ll share them with you.
Winter Dawn by Tu Fu
The men and beasts of the zodiac
Have marched over us once more.
Green wine bottles and red lobster shells,
Both emptied, litter the table.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” Each
Sits listening to his own thoughts,
And the sound of cars starting outside.
The birds in the eaves are restless,
Because of the noise and light. Soon now
In the winter dawn I will face
My fortieth year. Borne headlong
Towards the long shadows of sunset
By the headstrong, stubborn moments,
Life whirls past like drunken wildfire.
I have created a small art book with the pictures I recently painted and paired them with some passages of prose and poetry. It is available for free download as a PDF. Hope you enjoy it. I am also posting this at www.sacredgate.wordpress.com so sorry if there is duplication.
The Journey Home ebook:bookpdf2
I have recently finished a cycle of painting and for the first time there is a theme to the images that were created. I call it “The Journey Home.” I am including some examples here on a separate page (see nav bar at top of this page). I am also putting together a little book with the picture series accompanied by prose and poetry; it will be available on line in a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.
I started a new cycle of art making a couple of weeks ago, and, as usual, do not have a method or destination in mind. I try to approach the ink and watercolors and rice paper with an empty mind, just as I did when in kindergarten, not expecting any particular outcome and always a little surprised at the end.
As can be expected, there are a lot of ‘botched’ attempts with this approach, usually the result of too much rather than too little. It is really not a practice I would advocate for an artist ‘serious’ about making money or a reputation. I am painting for fun, to be surprised, to meditate, to explore.
This also puts me in mind of some pondering I have been doing regarding writing. I made my living as a commercial copywriter for many years, writing poetry, short stories and essays mainly for my own enjoyment. In the 90’s I made several concerted efforts to get some of the creative stuff published but except for a few poems nothing caught.
In my reading lately, I have noticed how many professional writers have a list of 20, 30 or even more books to their credit. Now they, my mind tells me, are the real deal, the real professionals who have dedicated their career to their craft.
So then how do I measure my output, my success or lack thereof? Am I by definition a writer simply because I write? Or, is there a measure of commitment or public acknowledgement or commercial success in which I do not meet some standard – either self-defined or societal?
As usual, I arrived at no conclusion but I was reminded how I am defining my ‘self’. I am not a writer or artist; instead, I write and I do art. I am at the age now when roles are optional and there is no need to play any. Rather than do, it is time to be. So I be writing and I be painting and I be sitting in the sun.
When this art cycle is over I will add some of the better pieces to my gallery. Meanwhile, here are a few previews.
It’s been a while since I mentioned anything about art so today I have collected the bits and pieces of the last few months. I was in five art shows from October through February and was happily surprised when I sold several pieces. I finally ordered more art paper so for the next month or two will be working on new pieces – a new change of pace from all of the writing I have been doing.
Although I am dubious about its efficacy, I have joined the Pinterest crowd and have two bulletin boards – one on ink art and one on mandalas (http://pinterest.com/marietaylorink ). I’ve read many sterling testimonials by artists saying that Pinterest is a great promoter of their art. I will keep you posted – no pun intended.
A fellow blogger discovered my art and has asked to use some examples on his website. He is a Ch’an (Chinese Buddhism) practitioner based in England. He has much to offer. To visit his site, click here: http://liberationinallplaces.weebly.com.
Finally, I will be pulling the plug on the Marie Taylor Art blog at the end of March. If you are interested in spiritual topics, poetry, reflections, sacred texts, etc. visit my other blog http://sacredgate.wordpress.com. It is a weekly posting showcasing an example of the sacred text from various spiritual traditions with a very short bio of the writer and my personal comments.
Thanks for your continuing interest and comments.