Thursday, June 3, 2010

Striking a Balance/ Take 2

I was lying face down on a dock this morning, peering through the space between two weathered gray boards.  Water rippled beneath me and I could see the sepia colored sandy lake bottom.  A momma merganser and her flock strolled on the nearby beach.

Me? I found myself wondering once more about this elusive thing called balance. 

I'd arrived in northern Minnesota two days before to celebrate my in-law's 60 wedding anniversary. I'd worked up to the time of my flight, trying to bring closure to my upcoming exhibit, "Striking A Balance".

Before I left, I went over to my artist friend Linda's house with  several collages. "Are you crazy?" my sister Amelia said to me. You're leaving tomorrow and you've got to focus!" I pleaded temporary insanity and thought about the need for a good visual editor.

Over the years, I've developed a healthy respect for a judicious critic before a show; someone who loves your work and can tell you the truth about what's missing. It's a means of seeking balance, because in the process of exploring a new direction its easy to lose your way. I also wondered if I could use Linda's suggestions to tweak my own inner balance and find my way back to the center.

Linda took one look at the rice paper covered panels I'd made for mounting my collages and prescribed multiple, multicolored glazes. I mixed the washes and began brushing on layers of deep yellow, olive and sepia. After several hours, I was about to leave when Linda pointed to the collages I'd brought and stated definitively: "That one's finished, that one's finished, but that one's not."

"Oh my word!" I thought to myself. It isn't crazy enough that I'm trying to do this all today, but she's gone and found another fly in the ointment! It seemed that I wasn't going to find my elusive inner balance just then. Back home, I picked up a Diet Coke and headed upstairs to the studio.

Four hours and 10 matte medium covered fingers later, I emerged, satisfied with what I'd acheived.
I plopped down on my bed and riffled through "Sacred Therapy," a book I'm reading, and found this passage:

Healing into our wholeness involves learning how to gracefully navigate our lives between these opposite poles of yesh and ayin, form and emptiness.

Intuitively, those words sounded right at the time, but they didn't really make sense to me until today, on the dock. Stripped of my "doingness" in the studio, I'd discovered ayin, or emptiness, right here in the space between the weathered boards on the dock.


  1. I'm sure your show will be well balanced and wonderful. Glad to hear your life is as well.
    Were your ears burning today? I had lunch with my friend Diane in Davis and we were talking about you, both exponding on your wonderful art.
    Mazol Tov to the anniversary couple!

  2. I really like your post-- and striking a balance hit a chord inside me-- I have been feeling out of whack- out of balance myself-- it only takes one small rejection and I become filled with self doubt and 'emptiness'-- but reading your post helped and I am going to continue my search for balance myself.

  3. Even though it took an extra trip to the studio sounds nice to feel satisfied with your efforts before a trip. Hope you have had a good time.

  4. Lynn, My ears were indeed burning--and thank you for your mazel tovs! Making it to 60 years is a true accomplishment. And, my mother-in-law is a great patron and lover of the arts so it was fun to show her the work via iPhoto.

    Donna, I'm touched by what you say. One of the insights I had while writing this is that the making of art and everything that I do surrounding the work is part of my spiritual path. The term "spiritual path" is over used but it most closely captures what I believe. So much of what I've done with my work recently hasn't come easily and I'm trying to see it all as grist for the learning mill:)

    Beth, Thank you for your kind words. It was lovely to travel to a new geography, and especially one with so much water!

  5. Amazing work. Brings joy to me! Thank you

  6. Wow! Great post...I can FEEL the balance on the dock. Too bad CA is so far away from OH...I'd love to see your show.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog too.

  7. Thank you Stephanie! And thank you for visiting!

  8. Susan, Wish you could too! The dock was a great place to look for insight...

  9. Hi Hannah...I found it the perfect medicine to lie on that dock peering through those boards at the water along with you.
    thank you for that visual.
    Your process described here is calming in itself...funny you're expressing a bit of fluster and yet it comes across as very centered awareness that...surprises happens all along the way.

    Like Susan I would so enjoy being able to visit you at your 'Striking a Balance' opening.

  10. Thank you Iona--I do love lying on my stomach on some nice hot boards--something I did a lot growing up in the Midwest. Perhaps the calm you sensed came from being next to the water again--or perhaps bc all the way through, I try to see each part of my process as something worth being present for--and even savoring...(although that doesn't always come easily!)

  11. Lovely post!! The visual of just lying there looking at the water flowing is so calming... And I agree with Donna (Merci) your process is so calming.
    Wish I was living close to CA.. wouldve loved to come and see your show.

    All the best to that and a hearty congratulations to your in-laws. 60 years indeed is such a long time.

  12. This post is a perfectly balanced story of the need to breath before an exhibit and the hectic state of trying to "create NOW."

  13. Joyita and Hannah,

    I does seems that a little water gazing is the perfect antidote to stress. Thank you for your good wishes and thoughts:)

  14. I'm thinking of balance as a mobile - everything moving in the breeze, each thing taking its turn being up and down, but the whole staying in integrity. It's a dance, not a static balance for me. A time to feel energy and create and a time to feel tired and rest.

  15. What a wonderful image Leslie. I'd never conceived of balance in this way, but you're right--each piece of a mobile is in motion and while nothing is static because each piece is always moving in relationship to the whole--each piece has its own role. I like it!