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Thoughts & Notes

On the subjects I paint

Self-Discovery in the Ground Beneath my Feet

Thinking & Exploring Life Through the Making of Art

Journal Entry: Art & Discovery : Digging in the Dirt

Reading Time: 7 minutes

A Path to Self-Discovery in the Ground Beneath my Feet

Journal Entry: Art & Discovery. Sifted Layers of Meaning #1. Series: Digging in the Dirt. Abstraction in pointillist painting.

“The unexamined life is not worth living, ” so said Socrates. But, can life be over-examined? Can it be picked apart, bit by bit by an unrelenting mind, until nothing positive remains? It seems to me, that there may be a conscious balance required, in this regard.

Sifted Layers of Meaning 1

A Methodology of Self-Discovery

Peeling Away the Layers

Digging in the Dirt, is a journey of self discovery. This Journal Entry: Art & Discovery, records some of my observations as an artist. There are insights to gain in my art practice by casting a light, guided by intentional mind, into the shadows and depths.

Illumination is hopefully found, when I engage my subconscious mind in any conversation that includes artmaking. Whether or not the dialogue leads to enlightenment … sometimes, sometimes not. This mental digging through my past and present, becomes tangibile as I paint or write. I can feel it beneath my fingertips.

Making art is the manner in which I think. Its how my brain works. Consequently, both my brain and art provide tools with the power to examine my personal life and the world around me. It is instinctual.

I think it is impossible to do one without doing the other, so I look for personal context as I do both. Through the making of art which is, the stuff of words and paint, I continue on my journey.

“I’m digging in the dirt, to find the places I got hurt, open up the places I got hurt.”

Peter Gabriel: Singer/Songwriter

Art & Discovery

Standing on Solid Ground

An exotic spiritual flower, dependent origination and ‘self’ are a continual unfolding. I am because other things are, my paintings are because I am, they and I both continue to become, yet again, something else as this journey through life continues.

This interconnectedness between all things is as supportive as it is disorienting. In thinking about it, I eventually arrive at; what, ultimately, is the point, here in the ecosphere? I can’t answer that for you, I’m here working on it.

Seemingly stable beneath our feet, dirt is a living organism. It is subject to short-term fluctuations. Digging and peeling away at my inner layers, to find deeper understanding, I am contending with environmental and societal fluctuations in norms and the consequence of impermanence.

Journal Entry: Art & Discovery. From the Broken Ground Comes Beauty. Series: Heavy Metals. Digging in the Dirt reveals insight into self. It is a voyage of self-discovery.
From the Broken Ground Comes Beauty

The desire to escape into fantasy can be very real. I have acknowledged and contend with the fact, I am a dreamer. But I am a product of dreams as well as stars. What else would the stuff of art, be made from?

Sometimes I feel grounded, but often I’m adrift, flowing in the river of time. The desire to cling to the known is present. I have some inner knowing acknowledging the truth of, the need to let go, in this stream. Rooted in time and awareness this Journal Entry: Art & Discovery, is an unspooling.

The Lithosphere

A Search for Analogy & Metaphor

“We are beginning to encounter ourselves – not always comfortably or pleasantly – as multi-species beings already partaking in timescales that are fabulously more complex than the onwards-driving version of history many of us still imagine ourselves to inhabit. The work of the radical biologist Lynn Margulis and others has shown humans to be not solitary beings, but what Margulis memorably calls ‘holobionts’ – collaborative compound organisms, ecological units ‘consisting of trillions of bacteria, virus and fungi that coordinate the task of living together and sharing a common life, in philosopher Glenn Albrecht’s phrase.”

Robert MacFarlane: “Underland: A Deep Time Journey”

If Robert MacFarlane’s above words lead to a truth, then its I’m a ‘collaborative compound,’ an ecological unit,’ I consist of ‘trillions of bacteria, virus and fungi that coordinate the task of living together.’ Strata and layers of life, what is to be found in the depths of artmaking?

We may not think it as such, but soil is a heterogeneous medium and a crucial component in terrestrial ecosystems. Its solid components form aggregates; an interconnected system of voids filled with water and air.

In this ground, I find fertile metaphor. Thoughts, moods and flesh form in aggregate. I am a cauldron of emotional and physical feelings, cognition, perception, predispositions and volitions. I am awareness itself in physical form. If only I always knew what I was doing.

I am rooted and growing from the rocky soil of my depths. The ecosystem that supports us is rooted and resting upon the lithosphere. It is this rocky crusted region of the Earth that behaves elastically. It does so on time scales ruled in the many thousands of years. In the depths, I look for signs of my elasticity.

Journal Entry: Art & Discovery. Unearthed. Series: Digging in the Dirt. A journey of self discovery in artwork, using pointillism and mixed media.

Contained within the spaces that make me who I am, are stories to be unearth, gemstones of truth, myths and hidden mysteries.



Proverbs & Answers

Through the tools of inquiry gained through Buddhist philosophy and meditation, I strive towards the shattering of delusional thinking. I like saying that even when I don’t achieve it. Sometimes, I am just lost in whatever racing thoughts there are.

Trying to fully engaged in the process of artmaking, I am aware of how much work remains, in the time this life has left. Increasingly, I feel there is less and less of that precious elixer.

I remember, I am a voice, as well as body, mind made artist. There is a driving need to find profound meaning. Is the meaning to be found within or without?

I search for better ways to express perceptions, looking for clarity. But I do not exist, on the timescale of the lithosphere, and the answers always look deeper than where I am. Is there is any comfort in the words, ‘laugh the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone?’ What comfort is there found in words? In art?

“Our faith must be alive. It cannot be just a set of rigid beliefs and notions. Our faith must evolve every day and bring us joy, freedom, and love.”

Thich Nhat Hahn: Vietnamese Buddhist Monk & Peace Activist
gallery-ocean world

Truth sheds light onto darks days. There are days when I feel like the fish of proverb, unaware of the water in which it lived. Ignorance, fear and imagined danger lurk in the shadowy depths.

Tinker Butterflyfish

I am aware of the medium I live in – the water. But, sometimes I forget my stories are just stories. What an illusion thoughts and dreams can be. And yet, it seems to me I must reach for them, in the making of art.

Is the totality of the world, is the medium were I live, one in which I can make changes? If so, to what degree?

Notebook Post: Painting Exploration

The Power of Words & Thought

My artwork is how I approach some of this. It might just be a psychological cleansing, a flushing away of debris and the discarding of unneeded baggage. This Journal Entry: Art & Discovery searches through my inspirations and interior world for something solid.

gallery-symbols & cyphers

There are mantras to recite. Words only, if on the tongue, and not in the heart. There are days I struggle and days I don’t. In life and in art making. In both, I arrive at gratitude and appreciation, or strive for it.

Series: Symbol & Cypher

The ecosystem provides me comfort. I rejoice in the beauty of what I observe around me. But, where is the shadow of desire and the crippling fear it casts? It too, is part of the landscape. As is the mountain, the desert, the ocean.

In the dark, in the light, I am not alone. Fumbling around as I do however, keeps me aware, I am only one part of something greater. There is much beyond my control.

A general definition of the Ecosphere, or Biosphere is the global ecological system. This system integrates all living beings and their relationships. Therefore, it includes their interactions with the elements of the lithosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and the atmosphere. These themes are explored in Ecosphere art and thought.

Journal Entry: Art & Discovery

Digging in the Dirt: Excavation

I dig to unearth accounts of the world, my world, that do not serve me well. As hard as granite, I find old habitual ways of thinking … and always stories.

But stories, if believed, can transform the world for better or for worse. Even when they are not true. Change in the world is needed, but what stories are we told and, which ones do we tell?

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

C.G. Jung

It is within the script of art, of dialogue and narrative, I search for the real. I search for what is valuable and for possibilities. Solutions to questions, answers to inner voices. I can think of no other way to engage with the world save through art.


Transformative Journey


Confronted in life with metamorphic processes, sometimes I wish I were more like a caterpillar. I would exist fully in the present, unconcerned with what was to come. Would that be Nirvana in this lifetime, in this confluence the Buddhist’s call Samsara?

Series: Insect Specimens
Monarch Butterfly & Caterpillar

I have some questions concerning nirvana. But, I do concerning most faiths and philosophies. Desire is an ever-present companion and the past is always with me. Do I perceive present as turmoil and the future as bleak? Will that make it so? How has time changed the shape of the past?

I imagine pitfalls along the way. In any archeological self-excavation, there will be discovers and false leads. Art is a tool to dig through the past, search for connections – both the real and undreamt.

Fluctuating between states of caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly, the transformation I seek is elusive. To be all at once. I stumble in the dark. I get lost sometimes. I feel fear and know pain. It is all part of the human experience.

We seek without, I know I do. But, I know enough to know that some of the answers remain within. My art is a roadmap of the journey. I am grateful if you’ve joined me.

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