June 24, 2010

The creativity just flows through this place... :)))

So, I was checking the lunch menu at the Casa de Luz website, one of my very favorite places to eat in Austin, when I had the surreal experience of seeing my talking head pop up out of the blue.  I remember the day this video was shot, but had not given it a second thought until....bam there was my mug and sketchbook... :)))

video on Casa de Luz homepage   
youTube version

June 21, 2010

If you are what you eat
then playing with your food
is self-discovery

mmmmmmmm  summer simplicity..... high energy....slow release....and tastes like Aztec summer on your tongue... :)))

Wasa Multi-Grain Bread 

Avacado spread on like butter (insta-guac)
layered with mango chunks  (add fruit of your choice...try Prickly Pear.....omg!!!)
drizzled with the original Try Me Tiger Sauce (slather hot sauce of your choice!)

June 11, 2010

creative practice...

Dhamma (Pāli: धम्म) or Dharma (Sanskrit: धर्म) in Buddhism has two primary meanings:
  • the teachings of the Buddha which lead to enlightenment ( The Universal law of nature )
  • the constituent factors of the experienced world (The characteristic of elements)
Meditation on and practice of the first, expressed through moments of drawing and painting the second...only this...nothing special.
copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

June 10, 2010

Mamma goose and her babies living along side the docks at the Texas Rowing Center

copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Auditorium Shores      Austin, Tx
copyright 2009 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
 Beets Living Food Cafe  "Uncommonly Good!"   5th st.  Austin Tx
copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Auditorium Shores gazebo,  Austin, Tx
copyright 2010 b. scott shaevel.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Essential Elements

Summer 2010 marks a period of transition and awakening.  In sifting through tai chi, chi energy, and the previous essential's post I have finally arrived at the core.  The foundation of my practice... the spiritual center that unlocks the many gates along the path to awakening to my true nature and creative practice.  Zen philosophy has always resonated with me, and I can remember spending many, many hours at the James Madison University library, as an undergraduate drawn over and over to the zen books, while studying psychology, art, and martial arts.  But the conceptual philosophies I came across in books never penetrated very far under the surface, and only tangentially resonated in the activities of my life, and certainly did not form the core practice of my search for a sustained creative practice.  The resonant search was always there, but never fully awakened and integrated.

I have recently arrived home.  It was always here...and its nothing special.  But it means everything.  It is the core of my creative practice and everything manifest will flow from it.   I was in the right direction when examining Tai Chi...but this only uncovered the true core essential element of breathing and flow, pointing to a spiritual core.  Examining Tai Chi, i found it to be another creative art manifesting a spiritual core.....which led me to the realization that what was missing was my mindful awareness of my spiritual core, which I have found , coming full circle,  through the gate of zen practice.  Not zen philosophy which is of little consequence, though instructive and necessary for learning.  But zen practice.  Experience and practice in Being and Seeing.  This is my gateway to the sustainable, meaningful creative practice.

My current spiritual community home is the Austin Zen Center.  Attending regular zazen sesshins, services, and participation events sharpens the single point of mindfulness and is the first spiritual community (other than a martial arts dojo, or my studio) that I have felt at home, at peace, and that I was fully alive and in the moment.

Since my last post I have also decided not to pursue the typical commercial or art community activities in the vain effort to "market" my practice.  Commercial or community art connections will form organically from my zen creative practice and from no other direction.  As such I respectfully bowed out of the Casa de Luz and Jones Center ArtHouse projects.... not that they would not have been meaningful community connections, but that they happened to coincide with a transitional period that required realignment of intention and purpose.  All that follows from this point forward will be a stream of mindful practice along my chosen path.  :)))

February 9, 2010

Arthouse at the Jones Center 2010 FIVE X SEVEN

Just confirmed an invitation from the Arthouse at the Jones Center asking me to participate in the 2010 11th anniversary of their signature benefit event, called "Five by Seven".  Arthouse is asking Texas-based artists, as well as those who have strong ties to Arthouse or the state, to donate their creativity to this project.

Arthouse will send me four 5" x 7" boards on which I create work(s). All pieces are submitted using the 5" x 7" format (in any media) and signed only on the back side, so they may be displayed anonymously - the artist's name to be revealed only after the work is purchased. Each board is priced at $100, and all proceeds directly support Arthouse's exhibitions and public programs, which are always free of charge.

The fundraiser is on Friday, May 14, 2010 with a preview party for participating artists and their guests on Thursday, May 13. Following the exhibition in Austin, "5x7 On The Road" travels to Houston and Dallas as well as Abilene, where the show co-benefits the Grace Museum; we are looking at the possibility of other cities and venues as well.

Not sure how they heard about me, since I haven't exhibited anywhere other than on this blog, but I am glad to be invited and really looking forward to contributing some artwork to the cause!

February 4, 2010

New Commission Project

I've confirmed with Jinji at Casa de Luz that I've been commissioned to provide 5 drawings for use in their new and expanded 2nd edition community cookbook!  These drawings will be done digitally in greyscale pen and ink style showing different scenes including:

1. The Casa de Luz front entry gate and pathway;  2. The arbor framing the entry way to the dining room; 3. a dining room "runner" handing a plate to someone making eye to eye contact with a smile of gratitude seated at a round dining table that suggests multiple people;  4. The kitchen with staff cooking; and 5) a person looking outside their home window into their garden of fresh vegetables and food items (suggesting that these fresh grown items will be cooked using the cookbook).  I'll be working from reference photo's supplied by Jinji, and will be journaling the project process and results as it unfolds.  This is a very exciting project and a wonderful introduction into the Casa de Luz community! :)))

Creative space...

Maximizing creative energy within a grounded space is the intent of the studio area.  Over the past couple of painting sessions I've fallen in love with exploring the use of the palette tray as a microcosm of paint, color, and brush stroke alchemy.  Another area of exploration has been engaging the blank canvas and connecting with the ground support of the painting, the surface plane.  The freedom of trial and error produces dynamic moments of insight and progress, internalizing both what works and what doesn't with equal abandon.   The moment that the eye lingers, and the finger brushes the blank canvas a relationship begins...the moment that the paint loaded knife/brush touches the surface plane the dance flows...as you look/listen to the painting surface the dance becomes a dialogue...all the while, intent (creative dialog), breath, stroke, and paint trace the dynamic orbit of the Moment.

Working with a sponge, modeling paste and pigments (black, Bronze Yellow/Mars Yellow; Yellow Oxide) I explored moving into the surface and beyond the "blank" into interesting surface textures that set the background stage for exploring color and composition.  While doing this, a couple of discoveries come into focus.

I've always been deeply moved by a variety of music genres.  There are few things I like more than being part of a group appreciating a live music performance.  But in the studio, music is the vibrational lubricant for the painting process.  The rhythms, notes, melodies each infuse and inform the painting stroke as part of the flow of Chi in the space.  Like iTunes, I made the dangerous discovery of Amazon's mp3 Downloads and quickly downloaded two CD's (sans the CD and packaging) for instant studio flow.  Currently playing in the studio is Tommy Emmanuel ("Center Stage"), guitarist extraordinaire, and Organissimo ("This is the Place"), funky jazz with a Hammond organ in the mix.

Another discovery, in terms of creative momentum, is that the natural creative process is not a matter of working on a single piece to its completion but is a fluid movement among several image surfaces, including sketches and more finished pieces, each with its own immediate focus, stage of development, and need for rest (to allow paint to dry, to get a fresh eye, etc..).  This creative process facilitates working with ideas and experimentation on individual pieces as well as within a series of related work, which creates a cumulative process of discovery and production.  The creative internal dialogue moves and breathes from peace to piece.  Talk about results!  The creative practice went from being blocked to currently working on a 6" x 6" paper study and corresponding 6" x 6" x 1.75" cradled panel, a tryptich consisting of three 4" x 4" claybord panels, 2 individual pieces on 5" x 7" claybord panels, and an 8" x 8" panel.  Truly amazing....and the result of a natural, unhurried, dynamic pace that is guided by the pieces themselves, completely devoid of ego striving to complete any particular piece, and free of inhibiting thoughts and fears, concious or subconcious, that in the past have resulted in a corresponding diminishment of focus and follow-through (creative Chi).   In the Now, there is a fully relaxed trust in the process and gratitude for the opportunity!

Something in the Air...

Essential elements ... awareness | balance | air (breathing).

Participated in my first class at Casa De Luz Center for Integral Studies, in an Ip Sun (which translates to Moving Meditation in Korean) Tai Chi class with Master Vince Cobalis.  The center environment is a hidden treasure in Austin that fosters a relaxed contemplative air as you walk onto the grounds, that deepens the more time, and breaths, you spend there.

I arrived early for the 8pm class and sat quietly soaking in the natural calm of the courtyard with the intent to relax, become aware of my energy, and open myself to the new class.  When Master Cobalis arrived he graciously and with genuine connection welcomed me.  He's the real deal, and I can tell that he will be a superb master to learn from.

I comfortably immersed in the class, and enjoyed the flow and group energy, very nice and welcoming class, worked both with the group and with an individual instructor. She reviewed my posture, breathing, body alignment while teaching me the "12 step" form allowing me to mirror her until I internalized the form and could flow through it on my own.  I have the form steps internalized and have been practicing the form throughout the day yesterday, and will continue to practice it throughout the day until I have the next class this evening.  The class is Tues. and Thurs. evenings (with additional classes available at the training academy of Grand Master Yi, Master Cobalis' teacher, and founder of the World Tukong Moosul Federation)!

Awareness of my inner energy and life force (Chi) and learning to consciously blend it with my intent, breathing, and movement is a core element of my studio creativity.  Whether that's expressed through contemplating  possibilities and sitting in stillness with the uncertainty of the creative process, or while dynamically immersed in a brush stroke, pastel mark, or wield of the palette knife.

February 1, 2010

Pure Flow....

If the awareness, cultivation, and expression (sharing) of Chi energy is the fundamental life force behind creative practice then the relationship to one's tools (palette, knives and brushes, etc...) and mediums (paint, pastel, ink...etc...) is essential.  The palette knife, like the samurai sword, is the immediate extension of ones awareness, focus, and application in the moment.  The paint or any medium is quite literally the manifestation of creative intent, Chi, taken form.

When a guitarist (or any musician) takes instrument in hand the potential for creative vibration is directly transferred from the mind/energy through the body to the finger/pick and into the string....the micro variations in physical application radiate through the musician into and through the instrument...outward to the observer/participant/appreciator.    The palate knife (brush, sponge, rag...), then, like the guitar pick, is the means of transferring Chi directly onto the surface plane.  Sound vibration is the creative life force of the musician made manifest...visual vibrations emitted from the surface to the viewer via the interaction of the wide spectrum of mediums (paint, color, gels, etc....) and light is the creative Chi of the painter made manifest.

Enter Jerry's Artarama, the fun house (or tool shed, however you prefer to look at it :))) where I went to wander the aisles of creative potential!  My intent was to pick up an array of palette knives to begin exploring the range of expressive marks and painting methods inherent in each.  Mission accomplished.  There are knives for mixing paints, scraping paints off of the surface plane, and knifes for troweling paint on.

[Caution semi-educational marketing blurb ahead...] 

The Ultimate Painting Knives!

These Italian-style painting knives are made from polished stainless steel, tempered to provide just the right amount of give for the perfect painting response. Each blade is fixed into its wooden handle with the aid of a brass collar, and the comfort-grip handles feature a deep walnut stain for beauty and durability. 

With 60 shapes to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect style for every painting endeavor. Each series "T" knife features an offset, trowel-shaped blade, making it easy to work the knife into the painting. Series "F" knives feature a traditional, flat blade perfect for mixing. Series "S" knives feature scraper blades for shaping, contouring and scraping designs into your compositions, or for removing color.

Oh Joy....!  Who knew?!  Tossing the plastic palette knives I used the other day to enter the world of paint sketching into the archival pile of "art toys" I thrilled to the touch of these knew blades... They immediately made their function known when I held them.... The real deal.

I picked up a couple of sponge applicators to explore as well....

An intuitive purchase I didn't expect was to upgrade my mixing palette.  Like the plastic palette knives I had lying around, I had grabbed a small plastic travel water color palette that I was using to mix colors.  If paint, mediums, and colors are the direct physical manifestation of Chi energy...then the paint palette is the mixing cauldron, the crucible, within which experimentation and recipe's for paint consistencies and color are worked out....where all paint will manifest before being loaded to the knife/brush and transferred to the surface plane....with this appreciation I invested in a Golden Panda Porcelain Palette Treasure. 
[Caution semi-educational marketing blurb ahead...] 

Classic Butcher's Tray Palette - Measuring 11.8" × 15.75" × 2" high, this impressive tray is smooth at the bottom and is heavyweight so it won't move about when you are painting. Much better than metal coated tray palettes this is made to professional standards. Use it for virtually any media from watercolors to oil colors. 
The result of having the right tools in hand this evening was a revelation.  Sponge applicators were the right tool for laying down a color field, while the palette knives danced and sang as colors were mixed and strokes practiced right in the mixing tray....Immediate feedback on color mix and stroke potential.   

After my first session using these new tools I discovered that the combination of palette knives and mixing tray is exactly that....a treasure.  In using them for the first time the world of color exploration opened up.  Mixing colors has the feel of blade to whet stone energy transferred directly to paint...potential made manifest, a quickening of anticipation as paint is loaded onto the natural blade for the intended mark....and painting happens... pure joy!  Two hours evaporated like the early morning mist on a spring lake.  New color combinations were explored and internalized...the feel of the new knives was experienced and applied. 

Pure flow!  :)))

January 30, 2010

Focus of Study: Qi(Chi) and Creativity

Chi and Creativity  Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist
Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching (Blue Snake Books, 2007)

[from the back cover]

The capacity to create is part of being human - whether that means making art, writing, teaching, cooking for friends, gardening, giving a massage, nurturing relationships, or following a spiritual path.  Nourishing and maximizing your vital energy, or Chi, is an essential part of fulfilling your human potential.  In Chi and Creativity, authors Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching present a wide range of strategies to harness the power of Chi and cultivate the inner artist.  They offer an integrative process that includes exercises in Chi awareness, Chi Kung, art, journaling, guided imagery, and meditation, to generate inspiration, awe, and energy for living a creative life.

January 28, 2010

A little knife music....

A facet of trusting the creative process is recapturing a sense of wonder, play, and discovery.

Using a pad of Strathmore Wet Media multipurpose paper I allowed myself the freedom and intention to play with color and the dynamic tactile variations of marks and strokes made with a palatte knife.

This simple, direct, kinetic exercise felt like a bold, uninhibited, spontaneous, dynamic dialog between the viscosity of the paint, the loading (and double loading) of the knife, and the movement and pressure of the stroke to paper.  Within the session I began to explore the relationship of my breathing, posture, and intention to the transfer of paint into kinetic marks onto a variably thirsty paper.  The resulting marks are fluid, dynamic and visually interesting.

This intuitive sketching process of exploring color and mark making feels wonderful (ask any 5 year old), and yields surprising insights both visually and into the nature of the materials themselves. This exercise points the way towards a process for building  experiential breathing/muscle/intention memories to inform future exploration and compositional applications.  Endless possibilities for exploring the infinite variability of dynamic marks in paint... It's like practicing my handwriting, but with absolutely no right or wrong, good or bad....just Is.   :)))

Focus of study: Trust the Process

Trust The Process:  An Artist's Guide To Letting Go
Shawn McNiff (Shambhala, 1998)

[from the back cover]
Whether in painting, poetry, performance, music, dance, or life, there is an intelligence working in every situation. This force is the primary carrier of creation.

If we trust it and follow its natural movement, it will astound us with its ability to find a way through problems—and even make creative use of our mistakes and failures.

There is a magic to this process that cannot be controlled by the ego. Somehow it always finds the way to the place where you need to be, and a destination you never could have known in advance.

When everything seems as if it is hopeless and going nowhere . . . trust the process.