About Me

My photo
Documenting a period in my development that could become pivotal

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is my family heirloom Aracapana statue art?

1)A craft object has a functional purpose.
2) Art does not need a function other than being the expression of the artist.
3) Craft can be very well made but still not be considered an art object.
4) Art work can be within the limits of a tradition while utilizing expressive variations. Originality is a tall order for Aracapana which has been made maybe a million times. These were my ideas when I wrote a paper for Survey of Visual Arts.

I would like to revise the criteria for art based on my further involvement in our family heirloom. Art is partly in the process of the maker to add originality to a traditional object. It is also partly the process of the people who experience owning it. In the case of our Aracapana statue, it nolonger functioned as a religious icon for Buddhists, it was a found educational toy for my ancestors and myself. The body language of the raised arm and the angle of the wrist took on a slightly different meaning when the sword and other ornaments were removed. The features of the face looked similar to some of the Widler children. So can a doll be an art object?






Fall 1959 I had an art assignment inwhich I was supposed to draw some object from my home. The art teacher thought I had no right to draw something from another culture. But I felt very familiar with the small statue of Aracapana. I had played with it and felt it represented my connection to China where my father lived as a child.



















This page from an album was begun in the 50’s. Grandfather Emile Widler gave me one of the albums he had made for The United States service men stationed in Tingtoa after World War II. He gave the servicemen cameras and photo albums to be both educating and entertaining. Grandfather said I could put anything I wanted to in the Album. One of the first things I put in the album are stamps like these on Egyptian art. During the Persian Gulf War, I added a transparent page with a reproduction of Aracapana. It is the with page folded back at the left.















I painted Aracapana as a teacher and scholar during the 1990's.




Art inspires new connections and more confidence in the people who experience it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

update on Aracapana (Manjushri) heirloom story


My kyagda sword was tipped with rays of fire. I never had a power grip on my kyagda and long ago two of my fingers were broken and the solder that held my blade was filed away. I remain brandishing a handle.

I was a bronze Aracapana about 3 5/8” tall. There were millions like me complete with swords. My forerunners were first made in the 3rd Century everywhere between Persia to Nepal and later up into Tibet and China. But I am from 18th Century Nepal.

Diane owns me now and I remember when she shed tears over me. Her xenophobic high school art teacher thought she should not try to become an artist because she didn’t understand his assignments. For one of these assignments she drew pictures of me as an object from her home environment. He said she shouldn’t draw images from another culture. He could not accept that she felt connected to Asia.

Diane was right more than she knew at the time.

I was made in the style of a Nepalese monastery in the 18th century about the time of the formation of the United States of America. When I was casted by the lost wax method, the metal cooled and solidified. The clay mold was hammered off. Then my kyadga blade was soldered into my left hand. In some paintings the sword is straight and others depict the sword with curves depending on the style of the art. But always my sword is the first thing the viewer notices with good reason.

Diane was very uncomfortable with my sword and could not believe I had one. First, she drew me with a dagger pointed up and outwards exactly as I appear in my broken state. Then she made analytical drawings of the angles of each part like drawings for making a sculpture of me. One of the drawings had a very shortened form of my sword like a bigger dagger pointed towards me. In recent years she painted me as a scholar in cap and gown replacing my sword with a chalk and my books with an eraser.

In 2009 she learned that my sword is a mental weapon. It could be depicted as actively firing like nervous system cells in the human brain. Or my sword as understood by the Buddhist who made me, was magically giving off rays of fire as a spiritual force destroying the darkness of ignorance! There is no need to be Buddhist to think of questioning as cutting or burning wit. My kyadga can be seen somewhat like the light saber ignited by the Force in science fiction Star Wars. The Widler family who passed me down from generation to generation had other ideas. I will first relate how I became a Widler family heirloom. And then from my point of view I’ll reveal what I meant to each generation – finally with how Diane changed.

Early in the 19th Century, a turban wearing Jewish rabbi carried the wares of a merchant to the Nepalese monastery where I was made. He had left his wife and family in Jerusalem for a year to search Northern India and the Silk Road for the lost tribes of Israel. He must have been on a highly motivated mission to risk his life in route across high Himalayan passes where his steps were slowed down as he breathed hard in the oxygen thin air. The once well beaten path was along the steep denuded slopes of scree where virgin forests had been cut. Erosion was taking over. Streams flooded over roads. Landslides were sweeping away or obscuring the path at regular intervals. If the physical challenge wasn’t enough, there were bandits. Young men who could not make a livelihood in these highland deserts robbed all the travelers who passed in their view.

He wanted to find a place where Jews had been respected in the past. Even with the discouragement of the difficulties of the road, he held on to the single most compelling rumor he heard in his home, Jerusalem. He heard that there was a place where the lost tribes lived in harmony with their neighbors. He was disappointed but still a little hopeful when he arrived at my monastery.

The monks welcomed the rabbi. They were excited to please him as soon as they tried the eye glasses and found reading far easier. Some were amazed at all they had missed. They marveled at the smooth and sharp needles. And the dyes were of shades they hadn't seen before. They couldn't remember the last time a merchant had stopped at their monastery. The Silk Road trading was thriving between 250 BC to 600AD. Then trade was declining for 1200 years. Most trade between East and West was by sea. Nepal, however, is isolated from ocean ports so it was unusual to be visited by merchants. Very seldom pilgrims came with goods to trade.
The monks were ready to give their most valuable religious art for what they needed. They showed the rabbi an early Aracapana. He was fleshier than me and the features were distinctly Jewish with a high forehead and long hooked nose. He was made in the 3rd Century CE when merchants on the Silk Road traded goods, religious ideas and craft technology as far as Persia in the West and China in the East.

The rabbi said he didn’t want to take their ancient treasures. They were too heavy to carry. He wanted a humble memento of what Judaism had in common with Buddhism. One made recently like me would demonstrate our common roots from a time when the arts of our two great religions were dependent upon ideas they traded. Maybe even ideas from crafts people who were members of the Lost Tribes of Israel!

The rabbi thought the lotus plant that wraps around my left bicep was like his leather straps called tefillin that he wears when he repeats his prayers during the week days. Both the tefillin and the lotus vine hold a script close to their heart. Jewish men wrap the tefillin around their bicep. The tefillin represents symbolic emphasis to the verse “And you shall place these words upon your hearts” (Deut 11:18) Aracapana’s books were scripture mantras of the heart. They also both wore a shawl or draped cloth over their shoulders and arms when they chanted. To the rabbi the sword was like the pointer used to point to the words being read in the holy poetic scriptures always with a questioning mind.

The rabbi merchant understood the “ah ha,” “Yureka” smile of Aracapana’s face as he cuts what is real from the babble. The first Aracapana was made in the 3rd century when Buddism was transformed by new renovations called Tantra. Like Jews of the time period they recognized the importance of having teachers and practiced chanting mantras.

Aracapanas like me are proof of our religions’ common exchange of ideas. Our relationship of sharing ideas on the Silk Road is well known, but the comparisons are rare and not in detail. If our similarities were more widely appreciated, our differences would be more easily bridged enabling an era of peace the rabbi thought.

When the turban wearing, Jewish rabbi approached Constantinople, the bandits overtook him. Luckily he had removed all my semiprecious stones and more precious metal ornaments. In his religion I was a graven image and he was not allowed to keep me unless he broke me in some way to destroy any mystical power. Removing my ornaments also destroyed my monetary value. He really didn’t want to hurt me. He tried to be careful with his file when he removed my kyadga blade.

When the bandits didn’t find anything valuable, they pushed the rabbi on the ground where he hit his head on a rock. They looked me over and said I was too common. Every Tantra Buddhist owned a statue of Aracapana like me. Aracapana was very popular as a bodhistiva, the ideal teacher, who could be a Buddha but wanted to remain a teacher on the tenth final level of becoming a Buddah. The ideal bodhisativa (teacher) to Buddhists is like Jesus is to Christians. The Buddhists who made me knew about Christ. Nestorian Christianity had been one of the other religions that developed from Constantinople along the Silk Road into India and China. The early Christians knew the Three Wise Men from the East.
The rabbi lay in the road unconscious until he was found a short time later by young Yitzhak Widler, who carried the rabbi and me to his home where he cared for us. The rabbi suffered from amnesia for the rest of his life. He never was able to recall who he was or who his family was or where he was from. The rabbi never returned to his Palestine family.

Yitzhak was a merchant and so was his son David. David married Ethel. They took me with them when they set up a home in Shanghai at the end of the 19th Century.

Ethel was widowed in 1904. She sold her property in Palestine while she kept me on one of her fire place mantels in her dining room with her Oriental treasures that reminded her of the Mediterranean. The rabbi and merchant Widlers had the idea of selling art to museums all over the world so people would come to understand each other through the emotional body language of art. The Widlers wanted to see museums of Oriental Art in the East and the West. Ethel encouraged her children to take an interest in the arts and thus in the wild Shanghai of globe-trotting opportunists, the Widlers consistently promoted the arts in their adopted country.

One son had the Fine Arts Store where he exported handcrafted embroidered linens. He collected bronzes and cataloged them for a museum of their dreams. His sister brought about the opening of the Shanghai Art Museum of Chinese and Oriental Art.

Ten years after the death of her husband Ethel was challenged by her youngest grandson a three and a half year old by the name of George. He was a typical active little guy who spent his first years in the Channel Islands. He could only speak Russian. The family decided no more Russian, because they would settle in Shanghai. He needed English to succeed. Ethel’s English was the best in the family because she spoke English daily to her sailor boarders. So she became George’s head start helper.

Ethel allowed little George to play with me while she served him hot chocolate from the Chinese export silver dragon server into a child’s silver cup. She pealed one after another of the mandarin oranges for him and told little George my story in English. She then played games with him. Thus he was well prepared to adjust to Shanghai and attend the Church of England Cathedral School.

George likely forgot the details of my journey, but understood the Jews of Shanghai believed they had an ancient connection to the Far East which they believed made China an ideal home forever. He thought the situation out for himself: his confidence came from playing with me like I was a doll. He had confidence to question and to develop ideas on his own. George learned to think with a sharp wit. He did not believe everything he was told. Although his parents wanted him to stay in China, staying in China, he did not.

In 1940 George’s mother came from Shanghai to San Francisco bringing me among some keepsakes from his childhood times with his grandmother Ethel. George was a scholar. He kept me on his three legged table along with his math notebooks and textbooks, mechanical pencil and eraser. He spoke or wrote little but when he did he was very clear and succinct. He cut away all verbosity. He did not think of me as a protector of scholars, I was just a memory that reminded him of his dear grandmother. He was not swayed by any magic from me.

George admired my contended face and being inventive he found if he chanted some words he would be calmed like me. He used to chant “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” every morning as he shaved.

George didn’t allow his daughter, Diane, to touch his math books, pencil and eraser but he allowed her to play with me all she wanted to. She and her girlfriend gathered all their dolls together for my coronation as Queen of England. She made me the queen of her doll family. She spoke as though I was speaking to her dolls, “Now, Raggedy Ann and Andy; you too Jamaican Negros; and you Bozo the Clown, Davy Crockett, Jenny June China Doll, and all of you story book dolls and even Madame Alexander, Heidi, listen to me. Stop fighting all the time and just make peace.” I was among her smallest dolls but I was so powerful the way I held myself with my right arm up. Later I became the Statue of Liberty welcoming the downtrodden of the world.
Playing with me as a doll added to her developing ability to visualize. She felt special because she was connected to the exotic Orient.

Then in 1962 when Diane was a student at Portland State College in Portland, Oregon, she studied me for a research paper in Survey of Visual Arts. She polished me before reading that my black patina was prized by collectors. The patina is an indication that I am truly old. She learned my identity as intended by my makers. I was not a goddess but a male. In her college days and for years afterwards she thought of me only as a possibly valuable art object and I was locked up in a safe.

Then in 2009 she observed little boys who enjoy kicking balls, hitting with sticks or playing video games where they can feel the thrill of being a superhero. She realized scholars had the same joy and “ah ha” “Yureka” moments as Aracapana does when he flicks his kyadga. He enjoyed studying like winning a fencing match debate. Studies were like a martial art. She remembered studying with her father. Every multiplication fact correctly answered was followed by a swift chop of the hand to the arm rest of our living room couch.

If I were alive, I would tutor the same way. My right arm held high would not remain still for any length of time. I still hold the handle to a missing kyadga blade. My wrist is half way through a flick inwards or half way back up straight. If my sword was whole, I would be moving it up or down in a motion that says “No, no, no.” It would be pointing to my head. I would, however, not be physically threatening to myself or anyone. My non-aggression is in my body language. My right hand is in the sign of a consoling OK. My face is calm and smiling. My grip is not a power grip. I hold the sword firmly but I could not give much of a physical blow. The pinky finger that once was straight up is now entirely gone. One of the grasping fingers is also broken off. If they still remained they would call attention to my relaxed grasp. My sword has another particularly interesting reason for being my most striking accessory. No pun intended.

Diane was bothered by my sword that was pointed to my head. It must have been curved strangely she used to think. But now as she painted a picture of me a new idea materialized, not exclusively Buddhist.

The way I hold my kyadga is a model for the boyish thrill of proper critical thinking. My critical brandishing of my sword is aimed at my own thinking and heart. The other hand over my heart has three fingers extending out in a quiet reaching gesture while the thumb and forefinger make an “o” shape saying Shalom.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vase Body Language




These are some shapes similar to these vases on either side of the George Washington's portrait in the Rotunda of our Capitol Building in Washington DC.
Yesterday's blog analyzed the body language of the vases that symbolize to me the people of the United States and their law making.
The paper cut-out vase today has a larger liberating neck. The larger the liberating top portion of the vase is, the less effective is the stabilizing power of the body for holding together the contents. The wider the foot, the less apt it will be tipped over.
The Rotunda vases are proportionately narrower at the foot and the bodies are more elongated, aspiring, buoying upwards to the little liberating necks. The shoulders are wide and strong as compared to the narrower foot making the vases vulnerable.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Precious Vase - Legislation

May there be new beginnings of peace this Christmas.
In the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian on either side of the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington are arched niches

holding two large ceramic vases that are tall enough to carry a very large presence. These vases were on National and International News. In front of them and the painting of George Washington Nancy Pelosi held the press conference after the passage of the Health Care Bill by the House of Representatives. There must be some symbolic reasoning here.

Analyzing the body language of the vases they symbolize desirable law making. Their symmetry says balance. Their elongated bodies say law should buoy up the people. The shoulders are formed by hands that are pushing inward. The shoulders push the inner space inwards. They say laws should be stabilizing and add to balance. The shoulders are just above the heart meaning the laws should be made with a good heart. The neck says it is opening up and liberating. The glaze wafts in waves rising up in the chaos of smoke like the many differing desires of the people that are considered and buoyed upwards by legislation by the people.

Analyzing the relationship of the arches to the vases, The arches are far stronger like the arches of the Roman Aqueducts that carried life giving water to ceramic vessels that stored the water. The arches can also be compared to the structure of a temple or to the structure of a government and the vases can be the people under their own laws being buoyed up, stabilized, balanced with equality.

Vases like these are displayed in throne rooms like the Emperor of China's past. 1642 AD The "Great Fifth" Dalai Lama presented tow vases to the Manchu Qing Emperor of China to remind him of their common Buddhist religion in Manchuria. The vases replaced the traditional exchange of wives carried out to insure peace between two nations. So here in the National Gallery of Portraits the large vases places the United States as being an evolving government with stature. Or it could be interpreted as a religious symbol regarding the religious respect to nations of differing aspirations.

The portrait was also dignified presenting President Washington in a style befitting of a King only he was dressed like a well to do dignified citizen. The gesture of his hand addresses us and just below his hand is the goose feather pen and ink well used to sign laws and treaties. The painting was made at the end of his two terms of office. Stormy times were over and the future was bright with promise like the rainbow. There was some symbolism in choosing to have the news conference before these national treasures.

There was a controversial bill passed by the Senate today. The two arches holding the vases may be one for the House and one for the Senate. Or they might be interpreted as being the shape of the Ten Commandment Stones. I am not sure yet how I might paint these or sculpt them. Law is important and precious and could be a subject for my precious vase series.
I have never made a vase that closely resembles another work of another artist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Precious Vase - Work


This one I didn't really know what it was when I made it. I had to ask it and the answer was it could be functional. It said it could do a better job of holding and displaying pens and pencils than the cup that held too many inferior pens and pencils. Most of the time the pen was dry, or the eraser was too old and hard, or the pencil was not sharpened. Now life will be more peaceful with a working vase. Working vases maybe my next painting. After all vases that hold flowers also work.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Precious Vase - 3rd painting of Laughter

I like to put the movement of life and mirth in these vase paintings. Maybe they will become a children's book or table top art book. below are my cut-outs that are both my inspiration and also a pattern for a plastic bag stencil. Using the stencil I get some nice sharp edges when I smear the paint on with a rag without a brush. The shape of laughter is a found cut-out negative space between two cut outs illustrating growth. Laughter happens when we are caught unaware and we drop our with strained guard.




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Meaning of Aracapana for the descendants of Silk Road Jews



My kyadga sword spits rays of fire from the pointed tip. I am a six inch tall kyadga sword brandishing Aracapana like millions of others. My forerunners were first made in the 3rd Century from Persia to Nepal and later up into Tibet and China. But I am from 18th Century Nepal.
The Widlers owned me for generations. Each had different ways of seeing my kyadga.

If I were a being with awareness, I would have stories to tell. Well, just suppose for a few minutes that I could tell all. My stories would be of how I came to be a Buddhist religious statue. Then from my point of view I could tell the story of the Silk Road Jewish merchants and all the yearnings of the Widler family ancestors who owned me.

I was made in the style of a Nepalese monastery in the 18th century about the time of the formation of the United States of America. I was first made in wax and then covered with clay. When I was fired in a kiln the wax melted and the clay hardened into a mold. Then molten metal was poured into the clay mold. When the metal cooled and solidified the clay was hammered off. I was polished. Then my kyadga blade was soldered into my left hand. Mine is missing so there is some question as to the shape of my sword. In some paintings the sword is straight and others depict the sword with curves depending on the style of the art. But always the sword is the first thing the viewer notices with good reason.

My sword is not a physical weapon but is depicted as actively firing like nervous system cells in the human brain. Or my sword as understood by the Buddhist who made me, was magically giving off rays of fire as a spiritual force destroying the darkness of ignorance! There is no need to be Buddhist to think of questioning as cutting or burning. “Caustic questioning” is an example of cutting into false information. The kyadga can be seen somewhat like the light saber in science fiction Star Wars. The Widler family had other ideas.

The bun and the ancient mantra scripts and lotus completed my identity as the protector of scholars as intended by my Buddhist makers. Possibly these additions would be just ornaments to the Jews on the Silk Road - the ones who owned me. Put suppositions aside maybe I could make an educated guess as to what they thought of me. Please be convinced by comparing me as the teacher of Buddhist wisdom with Jewish scholars and teachers.

Shortly after I was made in the early 19th Century, a turban wearing Jewish rabbi who carried the wares of a merchant visited my Nepalese monastery. He had left his wife and family in Jerusalem for a year to search for the lost tribes of Israel. He must have been on a highly motivated mission to risk his life in route across high Himalayan passes where his steps were slowed down as his breathing was difficult in the oxygen thin air. The once well beaten path was along the steep denuded slopes of scree where virgin forests had been cut. Erosion was taking over. Streams flooded over roads. Landslides were sweeping away or obscuring the path at regular intervals. If the physical challenge wasn’t enough, there were young men who could not make a livelihood in these highland deserts. They joined the bandits who robbed just about all travelers.

The Jewish rabbi continued on motivated to find a place on earth that was more accepting of Jewish ways, a place where Jews could come and live in peace. He wanted to find a place where Jews had been respected in the past. Even with the discouragement of the difficulties of the road, he held on to the single most compelling rumor he heard in his home Jerusalem. He heard that there was a place where the lost tribes lived in harmony with their neighbors. He was disappointed but still a little hopeful when he arrived at my monastery.

The rabbi excited the monks. They were welcoming as soon as they tried the eye glasses and found reading far easier. Some were amazed at all they had missed. They marveled at the smooth and sharp needles. And the dyes were of shades they hadn't seen before. They couldn't remember the last time a merchant had stopped at their monastery. The Silk Road trading that was strong between 250 BCE to 600 CE had been in decline for 1200 years. Most trade between East and West was by sea. Nepal, however, was isolated from ocean ports so it was unusual to be visited by a merchant.

The monks were ready to give their most valuable religious art for what they needed. They showed him an early Aracapana. He was fleshier than me and the features were more distinctly Jewish with a long hooked nose. He was made in the 3rd Century CE when merchants on the Silk Road not only traded goods but also exchanged religious ideas and craft technology as far as Persia and China. The rabbi said he didn’t want to take their ancient treasures but wanted a humble memento of what Judaism had in common with Buddhism. Some recent Aracapana like me would demonstrate our common roots from a time when the arts of our two great religions were dependent upon ideas they traded. Maybe even ideas from crafts people who were members of the Lost Tribe of Israel!

The rabbi thought the lotus plant that wraps around my left bicep was like tefillin when he repeats his prayers during the week days. Both the tefillin and the lotus vine hold a script close to the heart. Jewish men wrap the tefillin around their bicep. The tefillin represents symbolic emphasis to the verse “And you shall place these words upon your hearts” (Deut 11:18) Their tefillin held leather boxes holding scripture - one bond to the hand and one to the head. The Buddist Aracapana’s lotus holds the mantra of the Heart connected to the left bicep.

The rabbi merchant understood the “ah ha” smile of Aracapana’s face as he cut what is real from the babble. He also noted the bun on the head being like his own turban. Aracapana was originated in the 3rd century when Buddism was transformed by new renovations called Tantra. Like Jews of the time period they recognized the importance of having teachers and practiced chanting mantras.

The monks handed me over to the merchant because I was light weight and easy to carry. I was hollow and my body was slender. I was made hollow because the forests of large trees were gone and fuel for the smelter was fed by small sticks. Less precious metal was available. Buddhism was on the decline and the monasteries were poorer.

All Aracapanas like me are proof of our religions’ common exchange of ideas. Our relationship of sharing ideas on the Silk Road is well known, but the comparisons are rare and not in detail. If our similarities were more widely appreciated, our differences would be more easily bridged enabling an era of peace. The rabbi and merchants Widlers had the idea of selling art to museums all over the world so people would come to understand each other.

The turban wearing, Jewish merchant carried me back towards Constantinople. When the bandits overtook him, luckily he had removed all my semiprecious stones and more precious metal ornaments. In his religion I was a graven image and he was not allowed to keep me unless he broke me in some way to destroy any mystical power. He really didn’t want to hurt me. He tried to be careful with his file when he removed the kyadga.

Nothing of value was left of me when the bandits stopped him. When they didn’t find anything valuable, they pushed him on the ground where he hit his head on a rock. They looked at me over and said I was too common. Every Tantra Buddhist owned a figurine of Aracapana. Aracapana was very popular as a bodhistiva, the ideal teacher, who could be a Buddha but wanted to remain a teacher on the tenth final level of becoming a Buddah. The ideal bodhisativa (teacher) to Buddhists is like Jesus is to Christians. Nestorian Christianity had been one of the other religions that developed from Constantinople along the Silk Road into India and China.After one bandit gave a disgusted examination of my broken body, he threw me on the ground at the rabbis’ feet.

The rabbi lay in the road unconscious until he was found a short time later by young Yitzhak Widler, who carried him to his home where he cared for the rabbi who suffered from amnesia for the rest of his life. He never was able to recall who he was or who his family was or where he was from. The rabbi never returned to his Palestine family.

Yitzhak was a merchant and so was his son David who married Ethel. They took me with them when they set up a home in Shanghai at the end of the 19th Century.

Ethel was widowed in 1904 and she kept me on one of her fire place mantels in her dining room.
Ten years later she was challenged by her youngest grandson a three and a half year old by the name of George. He could only speak Russian. Her English was the best in the family because she spoke English daily to her sailor boarders. So she became George’s head start helper. She allowed little George to play with me while she served him hot chocolate from the Chinese export silver dragon server into a child’s silver cup. She pealed one after another of the mandarin oranges and told little George my story in English. She then played games with him. Thus he was well prepared to adjust to Shanghai and attend the Church of England Cathedral School.

George likely forgot the details of my journey, but understood the Jews of Shanghai believed they had an ancient connection to the Far East which made China an ideal new home forever. He thought the situation out for himself: his confidence came from playing with me like I was a doll. He had confidence to question and to develop ideas on his own. George learned to think with a sharp wit. He did not believe everything he was told. Although his parents wanted him to stay in China, staying in China, he did not.

In 1940 George’s mother came from Shanghai to San Francisco bringing me among some keepsakes from his childhood times with his grandmother Ethel. George was a scholar. He kept me on his three legged table along with his math notebooks and textbooks, mechanical pencil and eraser. It is interesting that he spoke or wrote little but when he did he was very clear and succinct. He cut away all verbosity. He did not think of me as a protector of scholars, I was just a memory that reminded him of his dear grandmother. He was not swayed by any magic from me. He looked in the mirror as he shaved each morning and on his face was the same contented smile I have as he repeated "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

George didn’t allow his daughter, Diane, to touch his math books, pencil and eraser but he allowed her to play with me all she wanted to. She and her girlfriend gathered all their dolls together for my coronation as Queen of England. She made me the queen of her doll family. She spoke as though I was speaking to her dolls, “Now, Raggedy Ann and Andy; you too Jamaican Negros; and you Bozo the Clown, Davy Crockett, Jenny June China Doll, and all of you story book dolls and even Madame Alexander, Heidi, listen to me. Stop fighting all the time and just make peace.” I was among her smallest dolls but I was so powerful the way I held myself with my right arm up. Later I became the Statue of Liberty welcoming the downtrodden of the world.
Playing with me as a doll added to her developing ability to visualize. She felt special because she was connected to the exotic Orient.

Then in 1962 when Diane was a student at Portland State College in Portland, Oregon, she studied me for a research paper in Survey of Visual Arts. She learned my identity as intended by my makers. I was not a goddess but a male. In her college days and for years afterwards she thought of me only as a possibly valuable art object and I was locked up in a safe.
If I were alive my right arm held high could not remain still for any length of time. I do not hold a dagger. I still hold the handle to a missing kyadga blade. My wrist is half way through a flick inwards or half way back up straight. If my sword was whole, I would be moving it up or down in a motion that says “No, no, no.” It would be pointing to my head. I would, however, not be physically threatening to myself or anyone. My non aggression is in my body language. My right hand is in the sign of a consoling OK. My face is calm and smiling. My grip on the sword is firm but not strained. I could not give much of a physical blow. The pinky finger that once was straight up is now entirely gone. One of the grasping fingers is also broken off. If they still remained they would call attention to my relaxed grasp. My sword has another particularly interesting reason for being my most striking accessory. No pun intended.

Then in 2009 she observed the intensity of little boys who enjoy kicking balls, hitting with sticks or playing video games where they can feel the thrill of being a superhero. She realized scholars had the same joy and “ah ha” moments as Aracapana does when he flicks his kyadga. He enjoyed studying like winning a fencing match debate. Amazingly she understood that her family would not exist, except for what they learned from my being their toy. Diane does not owe their thinking skills to my being Buddhist. The way I hold the kyadga is a model for the boyish thrill of proper critical thinking. Diane is still thinking about the sword. The critical brandishing of my sword saying "No, No, No" is not like she played it with her dolls. The intention of my makers was to show the sword points to my own mind not others.

Precious vase : Laughter


Here are two vase paintings of laughter. I cut a stencil from a plastic bag. The first painting I started and then put a plastic stencil on top do do final definition of the vase. The second painting was started with a print from the first painting
.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Planning paintings

I feel like I am doing exercises like in Basic Design 101. My random cut-outs are on display on my bulletin board where I make small changes in their contours.How many of the most precious values we have can be expressed in the gestural shapes of vases? How much space outside of them could be filled with arrangements? How much do little changes in curves and angles change my response to them? After thinking about them, I add labels of what they suggest to me. I rearrange them to compare similarities and contrasts. All of this is rather academic, but hopefully my paper cut outs will work out some feelings for my real paintings in the precious vase series.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Precious Vase - a new approach to the series


From construction paper I cut random vase forms. Then I studied them until I identified the most precious value that they exude. My earlier vases and paintings started in exactly the opposite way - taking a concept and then fashioning a form. click on the image to evaluate their labeling.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter inspiration - soup

The temperatures in the mid-Willamette Valley are below freezing. On Sunday we had a power outage. I would go out and paint in the barn but my acrylics and oils are not drying properly. I made Tye Spring Rolls and dipped them in hot spicy sweet and sour sauce. When there was just two left I dumped the rolls in the chicken soup. The tapioca covering desolved into an overall thickening. Delighful to sip by the wood stove fire. Maybe Iwill cut up some paper like I did the food and make a collage. And maybe not. It is a good time to curl up with a book or write holiday greetings. I wish all my visitors warmth and peace.
This is two pages of an accordion folded book painted as we walked along the Provo canyon trail.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Precious Vase - Second Wedding Vase


My first vase painting for weddings looked like two co-dependent necks walking on a cracked egg. This one has strong colors with both partners equal in their individual growth connected at their feet by a common reservoir- a heart. And as long as they may stretch in their individuality they are connected by a bridge. This vase is inspired by a vase in Rain's collection. She purchased it from a Navajo trader.
The painting is oil on a deep cradled board block.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Precious Vase - Respect

Here are two variations on the same theme - Respect: Self-Respect, the Expectation of Receiving Respect, Respect for Others, and Respect for the Earth.

These two are not the final painting on Respect.
I am keeping a sketchbook by our television so when I see on the news vases in the presence of high governmental officials of the world, I can sketch the shapes for analyzing their body language. Are they defensive and sealed off from others and put forth a message of being stable, and invincible? Or are they trusting and giving. Do they appear to expect to be respected? Do they need to be divided into shields of protection?
Do they need ornamentation or does their regard for themselves come from within? Do they give off an illuminating sense of goodwill?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Precious Vase - Dreams


This is one that was not dreamy enough until I worked on it some more.
"My DreamsVase Holds Waters as Big as all the Oceans" is oil on a deep cradled board.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nature, art history, and the abstract


Working towards communicating feelings, I feel bound to realism in these two paintings. In these paintings I am gaining inspiration from Cezanne and a contemporary acrylic painting posted earlier. I look at color first and then try to draw the most basic forms. The second painting is still at the color stage. It may remain as is if it would just stay light when it dries. In abstracts from nature it is more difficult to say the painting is finished. Often it is not. It is best to do another and come back later to it.
The top painting is 28" x 22".
"November Storm Abstract" is abstract by nature of fog's veil that reveals and conceals. This one is 16" x 20".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Challenge of Cezanne-like perspective


Landscapes are a challenge when they create a path from the near ground transitioning up and up to a mountain like Mount Saint Victoria in the Cezanne painting. The previous post had some pictures of some studies in which I was not only relating to Cezanne but also a contemporary working with acrylics which darken as they dry. Even more challenging is to incorporate a sense of movement through an abstract that suggests landscape. With the beautiful bright colors of acrylic it is difficult to get the nuances of transition.
Coming Friday, November the 20th are some of my paintings that strive to capture the stormy atmosphere of Oregon's November.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Classic composition challenge














The small painting is the inspiring painting by Jan Browne. It is in "Rain's" collection. I am challenged by the many over lapping forms receding back with many color changes here and there and all over. Yet she employed just a few colors.


The big painting of mine is a study. It is the one that favors the cool colors especially in the top half of the painting. I carried it too far.




The painting below was how it stood before I worked on it today. It was a hoot to do a single point perspective in the foreground and a tipped in your face perspective of the distant mountains like Cezanne.





A question for the acrylic painting artists out there? How would you feel if another artist used the composition or colors in one of your paintings as a starting point for expanding their exploration of their own work? Or should we stick to dead artists who used only oil or watercolor?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Two abstracted from collaged photograph accordion folded paper




For students of last Saturday's workshop, here are the resulting paintings done from my accordion folded paintings on location. At our North Albany march I recorded nature's colors andlinear energy. I was looking at nature adjacent to both agricultural and housing developments. The paintings were made around photographs previously described in an early post.


These paintings are acrylic on untreated canvas painted before the canvas was stapled to stretcher bars. The first canvas is 28 by 22 inches. And the second is 20 x 16 inches. The canvas was moistened with a spray bottle. The paint was poured or whipped or pushed on directly from the tube. Also used acrylic medium and interference color as accent.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

First paintings from photo/painting collage

This abstract, "North Albany number 1" is suggestive of the landscape's vitality as I experience it. To show the energy, I am selective, keeping what is most expressive. The details of form are secondary and lost while the color is about my internal emotion accented with pulsating lines of contrasting color. The abstract is a visual poem. My process was to trick myself into developing a departure from what I have been painting. In the previous post, there is a photograph of this painting as it developed on the floor of my studio. Next to the painting was my reference material from the field. The collaged accordion book had photos -both mine taken of North Albany and some free photos by Martha Marshall.
This first painting went very well. The second and third are still incomplete after two days. At the end of the second day I started a new accordion book painting shapes from more photos of Martha Marshall. Her Tennessee landscape is somewhat like North Albany but just enough different to really get my senses sharpened to seeing my own backyard. My own living space had become so familiar that I was blinded by the everydayness of it.



Then I took photographs of my neighbors Angus.
Checking on Martha Marshall's blog with more inspirational free photos I noticed that I was always looking south from my house and studio. I was taken by the importance of walking all around to find shapes that will resonate with my feelings. I need to look at how lighting effects the rhythms of man made architecture, the animal, and the plants of my world.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Painting from Accordion Folded Photo, Watercolor Study


There are many ways to use accordion folded watercolor paper books. They make great greeting cards. They store well in a shoe box along with photos for keeping memories. Here I will talk about how in the studio they stand up like a card next to my paints and pallet as an inspiration. I walked to a North Albany field a half of a mile from my house. I was traveling light with a camera and paper and field painting supplies. The stubble grass and distant shapes were similar to the free images Martha Marshal shared on her blog, Artist's Journal. She offered images as a starting point for others to use as inspiration. With just my camera and my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box I worked around Martha's photos pasted to my accordion folded watercolor paper. The object was to compare the photos to what I was seeing. Then I worked at matching the colors and textures and linear qualities employing the Koi set of colors and a brush containing a reservoir of water. Later I added photos taken on location to the collage. Finally I painted lines around the parts of the study that appealed to me. I wanted to find emotional content for a painting in progress of dream clouds. I will in a few days publish the dream cloud painting.My experience with going lightly in the field and more will be the content of my hands on workshop. All supplies are furnished free. The watercolor workshop at the Fall Creek Festival is just a week away. There is still time to register leaving your choice of work shops and vegetarian preference for lunch at 541-487-5512 or e-mail oregonhatchery.researchcenter@state.or.us



November 7, 10:00 AM to 4 PM. This year the family friendly workshops also has special children's activities in addition to workshops in leather working, fish printing, card making, wire wrap Jewelry, and basket Making in addition to my watercolor exploration.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Making space for a winter oil painting studio

My husband is devoting several days to clearing the way for a 13' x 13' space in the corner of the shop. He hung a florescent light above. And made a trip to Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army. Discarded stuff included corroded wire, a 40 year old propane stove, Jeep gas containers, a broken chain saw, and sheep medicine for sheep long gone in our past.
On the easel is a painting in progress. At first it was a Precious Vase of Self-worth. After talking about it with others and searching the meanings given to self-worth, I found the concept too ambiguous for what I mean. So I am making a grouping of vases expressing respect - self-respect, the expectation of receiving respect, respect for others and respect for the earth. Respect is not a value like a money value, it isn't something earned like a gold star you receive as a reward for something. It comes from within and is something that makes you want to be caring and do the right thing. Respect is most precious to me personally. I have asked others what is precious to them. My series of precious vases illustrate many wonderful answers. For me personally the most precious thing is respect.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Accordion folded watercolor painted on two boat trips one day apart


To see an enlargement please click on the image.

An example of an accordion folded watercolor

This was painted on a hike up on the Nature Conservancy Trail. It reminds me of all the wonderful inspirations on a day that was partly sunny between rain showers. To see an enlargement click on the image.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Accordion Folded Watercolor Journals about Hiking or Boating

Update of a post from November 1, 2007 also true for this years work shop, November 7, I will be teaching two workshops starting at 10:30 AM lasting an hour and a half each at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center. I will be presenting safety musts for artists and the environment. Participants will gain skills for painting memories while journeying through the wilderness either on foot or on a boat.

Backpacking and white water rafting in the wilderness was the nursery so to speak for my accordion journals. I wanted to keep my backpack less than 30 pounds. So I brought black lead just a stump of lead and no wood covering. The paper was simply an index card. On rivers at first I used index cards but later found I could just fold cotton rag watercolor paper and keep it in a zip lock bag. In recent years I have experimented with different folds. The equal sized pages folded as a box is suitable for wrap around views. Mostly the folded paper is for my own memory.

Full Sheets of watercolor paper 22" x 30" can be cut many ways to being 5" tall and then folded.

Sometimes the paintings are nice enough to give as a card. The box is a favorite of mine for gift cards. Sometimes I want to look at the paintings over a long period of time and I have put them under glass and framed them.





I use the accordion journals in numerous ways. They stand up rightwhile being used as reference for larger paintings. They are memories of places made stronger by focusing maybe on the criters or the color or the linear energy. In the workshop participants will think about the short comings of photographas and select what short hand notes they will place on their accordion journal. There is no reason to duplicate photogrphically nature while standing on at rail or moving along in a boat.





The accordion folded journals are easily and conveniently stored in a shoe box. They store neatly as compared to my sketch books of various sizes and thicknesses.









Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Precious Vase : Marriage

Update ; October 21, my marriage vase was inspired by this Navajo wedding vase in Rain's collection. I made the painting when I did not have a photo available at the coast surrounded by cool colors. And I question why I didn't choose to depart from my surrounding cool colors. Also, I question the shape. Maybe I should straighten the necks and place a bridge across as this one has. On mine one neck was supportive and the other in a gesture of protection. This is an outmoded concept of marriage. More commendable is having both partners as equally strong. They have a bridge connecting them as they diverge from their heart roots. In this vase the liquid fluids within the vase are equally available no matter how it is tipped.




The body of the vase is like an egg and two necks are on top forming an intertwined relationship. The idea of the two necked vase is from a Navajo American ceramic piece that my blogger friend, Rain acquired from a trader. Rain's vase was made a few decades ago. The vase was spiritual for the Navajo with an ear of corn on one side symbolizing fertility.


I am having a conversation with this painting as I work on it and am listening to what it says about the marriage relationship. I hear that the body egg shape of the vase holds the liquid oil or water. Eggs are a fertility symbol and also are symbol of a fragile relationship. Like walking on egg shells. The way the necks are configured here, the liquid inside would be conserved when the vessel is tipped. I thought it would look like the necks are embracing unlike the Navajo one. This painting idea is on hold until I visit Rain and examine hers.


This painting is acrylic and the first of the season. The weather is getting colder and my oils are drying slowly. What took three to four days during the heat spell now takes weeks. When I am painting on location I do not want to use any more chemicals then neccessary and minimize clean up. I haven't had to clean a brush in three weeks. Painting in acrylic after being spoiled by oil is difficult.