Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

A Gatherine of People

“In all men I see myself.  Not one barley corn more, not one barley corn less.  And the good or bad I say of them, I say of myself.”  Walt Whitman


You’ve Got to be Joking!



My quote today is from the controversial Bagwan Rajneesh..

“Whenever you see seriousness,

Know well something is wrong – 

Because seriousness is part of a diseased being.

No flower is serious unless it is ill.

No bird is serious unless it is ill.

An awakened man realizes life is a song.”

It could be said our lives are built upon the idea of limitation and struggle.  Could it be that out sense of limitation comes from seeing ourselves as separate and struggling to survive in what seems a hostile world?

Peak moments arise when this separate sense of self vanishes.  These primal experiences can be experienced during prayer, love making, meditation, music, art or whenever separation from life dissolves.  In this state the person returns home to their source or God if you like.

Meditation can happen while gardening, cycling, running, doing housework and in all those repetitive things we do.

All the more reason to make music, make art, write, photograph, meditate and make love!

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

Fat Man


“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Unknown


Success and Taking a Line of Action

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My quote today is from the amazing Georgia O’Keefe:

“Success doesn’t come with painting one picture.  It results from taking a certain definite line of action and staying with it.”

I guess this means working on a theme, developing your own style and working it over and over again using different mediums and approaches.

What does this quote mean to you?

Deliberateness and the Hand of an Adult



For a child, there is no separation between their intention to draw and the marks they make.  They do not hesitate, make judgments or backtrack.

As adults, to regain this sense of deliberateness, we must return to what we instinctively knew as children. Fear lies between “I want to do this” and “I will do this” and we must be alert to it’s sneaky ways.

Are you an artist who judges each mark and fears it is not good enough?  Painting and drawing requires an absence of judgment when stepping back and looking at your work.

To “wait and feel” before you make your marks usually puts us in receptive rather than active mode.  This can allow feelings to guide you and reflect so beautifully in your work.

It takes a lot of patience to just wait.  It also takes a lot of discipline to take a break from your work every 45 minutes or so.  This is so beneficial and I am guilty of not doing this when a work is going well.

I leave you with this quote from the Tao-te-Ching:

“Let life ripen and then fall; force is not the way at all.”

When The Self Disappears

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“When the self disappears, the brush paints by itself, the dance dances itself, the poem writes itself. There is no longer a gap between subject, audience and life.” John Daido Loori

Have you experienced a disappearing self?



What is a Koan?


Koans are what appear to be paradoxical statements designed to frustrate the intellect and create doubt.  In doing this the koan dismantles the way of solving problems and opens up new dimensions of consciousness.  Koans are used as subjects for meditation in Zen monasteries.

Koans go beyond words and ideas to a direct experience for the individual.  The answer to a koan is your own intimate and direct experience of the universe.  A koan cannot be solved intellectually, the idea is to sit with the question, not the solution

Working with koans requires a strong teacher-student relationship.  The Zen master checks the student’s understanding and provides valuable guidance as the process of resolving the koan occurs.  Ideally, the koan is solved through a flash of insight.

Here is an example of a koan to get you thinking:

“I’d love to give you something
but what would help?”
― IkkyuCrow with No Mouth

Personally, I don’t do koans, they do my head in! 🙂

The Mysterious


Reclining Woman sketch by Gustav Klimt.

My quote today comes from Jens-Hemming Sorensen:

“A face, a leg, a split open ball – you never get the whole story.  And isn’t that what’s best when contemplating art.  Not being presented with all the answers in advance.”

How wonderful this drawing is.  Klimt just lifts just a corner, making the work so much more interesting and mysterious than having everything served up at once and leaving nothing to the imagination.

I am trying to master this skill and with great difficulty I must say.  How much is too much?  Your comments will be most gratefully received.

Man is a Thinking Reed


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My Quote today is from D.T. Suzuki:

“Man is a thinking reed but his great works are done when he is not calculating and thinking.  “Child-likeness” has to be restored with long years of training in the art of self forgetfulness.      

When this is attained, man thinks yet he does not think.

He thinks like the showers coming down from the sky, he thinks like the waves rolling on the ocean, he thinks like the stars illuminating the nightly heavens, he thinks like the green foliage shooting forth in the relaxing spring breeze.

Indeed, he is the showers, the ocean, the stars, the foliage.  When a man reaches this stage of “spiritual” development, he is a Zen artist for life.”

I can’t say I am at this stage although do have a funny feeling that all of nature speaks to me by constantly expressing the truth of the universe.  Can you hear it? Can you see it?

Come Said the Muse…

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My quote today is from the amazing and unforgettable Walt Whitman:

“Come said the muse,

Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,

Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,

Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,

Enclosed and safe within its central heart,

Nestles the seed perfection.”

I read into this that among all the technology, chatter, traffic, images, disturbances and fragmentation of everyday life there lies within us the seed of perfection.  This eternal flame is enclosed and safe within our hearts. You are perfect as you are and everything you aspire to be you are already, yet you do not realize it.