It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. – Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I have opened a store in Etsy to sell my art called “Life from Art”. I only sell and ship to the US for now.
The first name I chose had been taken by someone else. It is strange to go through the naming process and find another person had the same thought. But most of my life has been guided by a myriad of Plan Bs. In fact, Plan B would be the name of my never-to-be-written autobiography. But the name Life from Art rings true for me on so many levels. Sifting through my memories, I find three constants: Art, Hope, Love. These simple words and their countless synonyms have been my guiding lights.
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. – Kurt Vonnegut
One dictionary (there are countless) defines Art as: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination…The art is in the doing not the theory. Yesterday, I was overcome by the need to create. This has been a basic human need to me for as long as I can remember. To put it in a prosaic context, the patterns in the bathroom linoleum in my childhood home entertained me as I performed my daily bodily “rituals”. One day I took a pen and paper into the toilet and drew a face I saw in the flooring. Coming out of the bathroom, my father asked, as he often did, what the hell were you doing in there? I showed him the drawing, and pointed out the spot on the floor. He just shook his head and smiled, as he did when he didn’t know how to express himself.
These three paintings are an expression of my heart. Yesterday, to celebrate opening my art store, I spent most of my waking day painting. The minutes and hours passed un-noted. I had not intend to spend the day creating, but my thorough enjoyment of art took over. The day started with a quote from Leonardo da Vinci – A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light. I painted a canvas black, meditated a few minutes and began with the circle of the Wuji – the primordial universe. In Taoism (Daoism) all things flow from this ultimate state. This is the source of reality, life, creativity. This was the first time in my life that I spent a day creating – just painting. Me, the brush, ink, pen, paint and canvas. I did a few other things but ninety percent of my waking day was spent painting. The theme of these three paintings is the limitless nature of creative expression.
In school, I relished art class. Recalling the smell of crayons or pastel paints on wet newsprint instantly brings me back to childhood. When I taught kids in China, I always included a “hands-on” component to give them a chance to express themselves, a rare opportunity for them. I had bags of markers and crayons for each kid, and their eyes would light up whenever I took out my “art bag”. But as I told them art is not just drawing or painting. We express ourselves artfully in thousands of ways from cooking, conversation, home décor to poetry and painting. These artifacts of our unique personality brighten life with hopeful energy. To create is to live hopefully.
Hope will be forever be linked with wishes and dreams. Hope is the scent of magic when we first wake, and the sweet whispers that send us to sleep at night. Having twice stood at death’s door, I wear hope on my face like psychic armor against the long dark days and nights that may lurk up ahead. Part of my living on updated Plan Bs includes the necessity for positive thinking. My novels, my poetry, my art flow from golden grains of hope nourishing my heart and soul. I started this blog to try and spread a little hope and positivity. We must never give up. Even on the darkest days there is some light. Feel the hope in your heartbeat, your breathing. Know that you are unique and worthy of love.
Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star. – e.e. cummings
Love is a word with eight billion definitions. Love moves us up the sides of the mountains. Love is not defined by others but by your heart and soul. Love is a hopeful expression of life. Love is Art, and Art is Love. And, for me, I continue to create a wonderful part of my Life from Art.