Saturday, November 30, 2013

Touching the Earth

I Am Healed Because You Are Here

After much time experimenting on the computer with Photoshop I'm back in the studio, making.

The act of touching the materials I hold so dear - cloth, thread, wood, etc. has a distinctly therapeutic effect on me. I return to my appreciation of simplicity and I take those gentle steps towards building a relationship with myself and the objects I encounter along the way.

In thinking about this process and how I might write about it on this blog post, the phrase 'touching the earth' popped into my head. As I sometimes do when these phrases come to mind I 'Google' them to see what comes up. Touching the Earth brought up the following mindfulness practice from Thich Nhat Hanh at his Plum Village website:

The practice of Touching the Earth is to return to the Earth, to our roots, to our ancestors, and to recognize that we are not alone but connected to a whole stream of spiritual and blood ancestors. We are their continuation and with them, will continue into the future generations. We touch the earth to let go of the idea that we are separate and to remind us that we are the Earth and part of Life.
When we touch the Earth we become small, with the humility and simplicity of a young child. When we touch the Earth we become great, like an ancient tree sending her roots deep into the earth, drinking from the source of all waters. When we touch the Earth, we breathe in all the strength and stability of the Earth, and breathe out our suffering- our feelings of anger, hatred, fear, inadequacy and grief.
Our hands join to form a lotus bud and we gently lower ourselves to the ground so that all four limbs and our forehead are resting comfortably on the floor. While we are Touching the Earth we turn our palms face up, showing our openness to the three jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. After one or two times practicing Touching the Earth (Three Touchings or Five Touchings), we can already release a lot of our suffering and feeling of alienation and reconcile with our ancestors, parents, children, or friends.

I'm grateful to have found this humble reminder that we are not separate - as much as our minds seem to like to tell us we are. We simply need to continue to practice touching the earth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All Aboard the Good Ship Lollypop

For almost a month, I've been unable to work in my studio due to necessary re-decorating. During this time I've been mostly content creating small paper collages and working in my sketchbook. Recently, however, I've delved into the world of Photoshop. Normally I don't do much to the photographs I take. I like to try to capture the natural essence of what I see, with, perhaps, a tweak in the contrast or an adjustment to the brightness. Otherwise what you see is what you get.

Photoshop has opened up a new world of play, and has frankly become a bit of an addiction.  I've perched myself in front of my computer and poured through loads of my photographs, editing them with different effects. Difference clouds! Accented edges! Dry brush! The immediacy of the result has been intoxicating.

This has been a very different way for me to work. When in my studio, I tend to explore more deeply. An idea may be quick, but often the combinations of materials must sit and rest. They must germinate and articulate. They must slowly take root.

I'm quite fond of the images I've created in Photoshop and I'm sure I'll incorporate this process into my practice. I've had great fun seeing what wants to be tweaked, enhanced, darkened, or drawn on, but I'm now having a little bit of the feeling that I've been living on a moving ship and eating cake for every meal. A little buzzed from all the sugar, slightly disconnected from my own body, and rather far away from home.