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Cooperix
09-07-2018, 05:53 PM
Conversation one: INSPIRATION

You should entreat trees and rock to preach the dharma, and you should ask the rice fields and gardens for the truth. Ask pillars for the Dharma and learn from the hedges and walls. Eihei Dogen

Hello againÖ

OK letís talk about inspiration.

How inspiration comes to us, what inspires? words, images, sounds, music, smells, nature, recipes, gardens, ideas, people, the dharma, zenga painting? what inspires us to do what we do/make?

Oxford dictionary definition: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
One of the Latin words for inspire is incendo, to inflame, ignite. Thatís what it feels like when inspiration lights me up. I get jumpy, excited, focused, warm or in the words of the definition inflamed. And itís a delightful state.

Iíll tell my story of inspiration with the Rakusu ProjectÖ
Taigu had posted several Rakusu sewing instructional how-to videos on the Treeleaf forum. I watched the first out of curiosity and within minutes, the beauty, history, ritual nature of the garment made we want to replicate one in paper as a 3-Dimensional drawing. Flash of inspiration! No thought.
I made the first, loved the process of working with paper in that way and made a second and third. All illustrated with graphite drawings of seeds, insects, grasses, all favorite subjects of my drawings. Another video by Taigu about then: he mentioned the Japanese mendicant monk Santoka Taneda and he may have even read one or two of his haiku. I ordered the book ĎMountain Walkingí immediately and when it arrived a few days later, I realized I had already been illustrating his haiku. His words opened me to a whole new way of expression. Over a 2-3 year period I made 60+ Rakusu illustrating his haiku. The next step, inspired by the first 2 was to choreograph a performance/ installation (something Iíd never done). I love words and had never combined them with my artwork but always wanted that marriage. The sewing of paper has continued taking me in all sorts of new directions.

First the Rakusu inspired, the words continued to inspire more sewing and the finished product inspired the performance. Inspiration begets inspiration.

In my experience inspiration cannot conjured, I must be open for it to appear. And I believe my practice helps.

Please share your stories and/or images, sounds, words if youíd like, that reflect your encounters with inspiration.

Gassho,

Anne
~st~

Meitou
09-08-2018, 11:04 AM
Anne, I thought this would be quite easy to write about but it's proved suprisingly difficult for me to get it down into words. However...

Firstly, found objects. Since I was 13 years old and discovered thrift shops and jumble sales, I've been drawn like a magnet to second hand, recycling, repurposing, however you want to say it. Although I do love to draw and recently started to revisit painting, I really love collage, especially from scraps of discarded paper, material etc. Our community has now adopted pretty strict regulations about household recycling and recently I've been looking at the (huge amounts of!) packaging I'm discarding every day as a new source of inspiration - corrugated paper, labels, envelopes, cardboard, netting etc. I've started to repurpose old books by painting the pages over with gesso and making lovely thick textured sketch and collage books out of them. I often go through old sketchbooks and cut up the artwork and use that too in new collages - a great practice in not being precious and attached to what I do.
5321 5322


Photography
Horizons - where the sea meets the sky. An island girl, I've spent a large proportion of my life gazing outward to horizons and trying to understand the feelings they evoke. I've found a link between the spaciousness of the mind and that unreachable untouchable place where sky and sea appear to meet. A few years ago I discovered the work of Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, whose seascapes have inspired me to find something more in my own photographs of the sea here where I live. My own snaps, taken on a cheap smartphone cannot in anyway capture the movement inherent in Sugimoto's work, but I continue regardless with love and respect for his wonderful work.
Seen everyday - litter in the streets, building sites, manmade objects offset against natural surroundings, urban landscape, looking up, down and closer at the stuff we see every day and take little notice of.
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Drawing and painting etc
Still life - I automatically and intuitively group everything around me, I'm surrounded by what I call living still life, which in Italian is known instead as Natura Morta - dead nature.
Self portrait - laziness really, I've always got a familiar subject at hand to draw, and besides, Frida Kahlo..

Artists both present and past. it's a continuous and joyful education to learn from wonderfully talented, inspiring people. Here's where social media comes into its own - the pure, self indulgent pleasure of scrolling through Instagram for an hour is food for the soul.
And arching over all, the Japanese aesthetic of simplicity and wabi sabi, nothing missing, nothing broken, everything impermanent.

Thank you to anyone still reading [morehappy]
Gassho
Meitou
satwithyoualltodaylah

attached thumbnails because limit reached - lemon slice after a night out, still life with parsley

Kyonin
09-08-2018, 05:24 PM
Hi Anne,

As a graphic designer I am often asked about what inspires me in my work. I always say that life inspires me, you just have to learn to see things a new.

It's easier to say it, of course. Sometimes I can come up with a nice illustration based on a forest or a city or even trash on the ground! And other times I turn to see the past and how other cultures communicated with each other. By looking at art from other countries and times, you can learn a lot.

And of course ideas flow when I simply remain silent and focus. Sometimes I don't even know what I want to do, but ideas just flow. I guess that happens when you just allow life to surprise you. The moment you think you have life figured out, creativity suffers... IMO anyway.

Gassho,

Kyonin
Sat/LAH

Cooperix
09-08-2018, 05:50 PM
“I've found a link between the spaciousness of the mind and that unreachable untouchable place where sky and sea appear to meet.” Meitou

Meitou,

The clarity about where to put your attention is apparent and the products of your vision reflect that clarity. Every ‘thing’ can inspire, it’s a matter of being present and clear.

The fascinating aspect of inspiration to me is how different the channel of inspiration is for us each. How you are open to the magic of the subtle horizontal space between earth and sky, sea and sky. And because of your sensitivity to it you bring us that beautiful image, so we too can experience it.

Maybe that’s what inspiration does, it moves an artist to point out something that we may not have noticed in that way. Whether its trash, or the spare/harsh beauty of a lemon wedge on rough concrete.

Wow. Thanks for the response. Lots to think about.

Anyone else? Musicians? writers? Your inspiration might look totally different.

gassho,
Anne
~st~

Tairin
09-08-2018, 07:54 PM
Hi all

I am a musician (guitarist) and composer. My inspirations are many. I was originally inspired to play guitar after watching two videos: Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and Pink Floyd at Pompeii. Why? I always loved music but in these videos Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour opened my eyes to the possibility of making sound scapes with the sound of an electric guitar plus some effects. Couple that with the do it yourself spirit of punk scene in the late 70ís and early 80ís, I was off.

Iíve been making original ambient music ever since.

I love playing music and really prefer to make music live rather than programmed. There is something about the immediacy of what you are playing now and knowing that no matter what youíll never be able to replicate this same moment in music. Performed music is truly now in this moment.

I play in an duo these days. Most of our music is improvised. My buddy plays synth and I play guitar. We donít get to play live much in front of an audience anymore but we get together almost weekly and record our sessions. Things that work get compiled into CDs which we release on the web.



gassho2
Tairin
Sat today

Cooperix
09-08-2018, 09:16 PM
The moment you think you have life figured out, creativity suffers...Kyonin
Performed music is truly now in this moment...Tairin

Kyonin, I suspect that's what the Buddhist sayings 'don't know' means and 'beginner's mind'. I find I cannot go looking for inspiration. Just doesn't work that way for me.

Tairin, I've always been fascinated by the immediacy of creativity in the performing arts, dance, music. I think it's there for painters too. Once years ago I commented to a musician friend how focused and present he was performing and how spell bound he appeared. He said it was such a wonderful state that he felt that was why some musicians do drugs, trying to recreate that flow.

_/\_
Anne
~st~

Tairin
09-08-2018, 11:38 PM
he felt that was why some musicians do drugs, trying to recreate that flow.


No drugs here but I agree that the flow can be truly magical when it happens

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and LAH

Eishuu
09-09-2018, 01:41 PM
I think I find inspiration by keeping the door open. I try and write poetry/haiku every day, even if it's dreadful and then I'm grateful when a wave of inspiration arrives. I also try to never turn away an idea when it comes knocking. I often wake up with images in my mind that feel like the start of something -- if I ignore them then they usually completely disappear whereas if I tug on the thread an entire poem appears out of nowhere. I like the way Mary Oliver talks about her relationship with the muse. She says you have to turn up; you have to show you are reliable. It's a relationship that you have to nurture. If you turn up regularly then the muse will start to turn up when you do. I've definitely found that to be the case. I made a commitment at the start of the year to write a haiku a day. I have already more than doubled what I aimed to produce by the end of the year and had no idea where the journey would take me. So I really believe in making a commitment to creativity, however small. I think it has consequences.

I kind of feel that my muse is really my unconscious, and getting in touch with creativity for me has been about developing a relationship with my unconscious, learning it's language, being there to listen. I have found it helpful not to filter, not to try and make things pretty, but to write whatever comes even if I don't have to show anyone or publish it. If I try too hard to construct something then it doesn't work and it doesn't seem to speak to people. It has to be authentic.

I am a little limited when it comes to stimuli for inspiration being housebound. I read other people's work pretty much daily, and I use my memories and imagination. I pay attention to dreams and often use them for inspiration. Also I try to pay attention to daily life.

That's all I can think of for now. Great topic!

Gassho
Eishuu
ST/LAH

Meishin
09-09-2018, 09:28 PM
Hi,

Thank you for this thread. It's great.

An artist friend looked through a stack of my photographs yesterday. She pointed out details I had never noticed. Once she mentioned them, I saw them too.

I respect photographers who pretty much know exactly what the finished image will turn out to be. Ansel Adams, for instance. But my own work is more from the gut. I do compose in the viewfinder. What leads me to compose in that way I haven't a clue. But I know it's a sense that can be trusted.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat Today LAH

Meitou
09-10-2018, 01:13 PM
Firstly thank you Anne for your kind words of support, I have a hard time seeing myself as any kind of artist, but your words have lifted and motivated me.
Thanks also to everyone for so many thought provoking contributions, I've been really inspired to think harder and look deeper at what I'm doing.
It seems to me that we all recognise that sitting around waiting for inspiration doesn't work, it never happens, nor can inspiration be grasped at or forced; but something within steps up and responds to something without responding in turn to something within. It reminds me of this from Dogen's Genjokoan which I'm reading at the moment - the context is different but I can relate to the sense of it ..

Conveying oneself toward all things to carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion. All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization
I've been constantly searching for ways in which my practice can inform my creativity, but looking deeper at my work, I can see that perhaps it's been doing that all along - and in the same way as our awareness is obscured by the clouds of thought, I just didn't see it.

Gassho
Meitou
satwithyoualltoday/lah

Tairin
09-10-2018, 01:27 PM
I've been constantly searching for ways in which my practice can inform my creativity, but looking deeper at my work, I can see that perhaps it's been doing that all along - and in the same way as our awareness is obscured by the clouds of thought, I just didn't see it.

Great observation. Don't force it. Don't make creativity and Zen (or whatever spirituality you follow) become one. Just let them flow naturally. They already are one.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today

Meishin
09-10-2018, 03:12 PM
I can see that perhaps it's been doing that all along - and in the same way as our awareness is obscured by the clouds of thought, I just didn't see it.

Yes that's true, I believe. My understanding is that this thread is for posting work as well as describing the process by which we come to the work. I've had no luck in posting images on Treeleaf. Always too big or something. So I'm going attempt to link this to Flickr. The image I hope will be available is a sample of the process. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jhpsych/44275712452/in/photostream/

This was taken just after we rounded a corner into a courtyard in Basel, Switzerland. I took it immediately and only later saw the shadows pierced by light, the focused woman at the fountain, and the dog staring at me. Of course there was also the fountain itself as well as the windows framing the scene and the road leading off into....

There is always the need to be open, without preconceptions. There is always being awake. There is serendipity. There is not "I am a photographer." There is not "what is the subject?" There is act before intellectualizing. (Later one edits, polishes.) There is no time thinking of some imagined outcome. And finally there is throwing away 99% of the shots.

I hope I have understood the purpose of the thread. Thank you, Anne, for starting it.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat Today LAH

Meitou
09-10-2018, 03:47 PM
Yes that's true, I believe. My understanding is that this thread is for posting work as well as describing the process by which we come to the work. I've had no luck in posting images on Treeleaf. Always too big or something. So I'm going attempt to link this to Flickr. The image I hope will be available is a sample of the process. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jhpsych/44275712452/in/photostream/

This was taken just after we rounded a corner into a courtyard in Basel, Switzerland. I took it immediately and only later saw the shadows pierced by light, the focused woman at the fountain, and the dog staring at me. Of course there was also the fountain itself as well as the windows framing the scene and the road leading off into....

There is always the need to be open, without preconceptions. There is always being awake. There is serendipity. There is not "I am a photographer." There is not "what is the subject?" There is act before intellectualizing. (Later one edits, polishes.) There is no time thinking of some imagined outcome. And finally there is throwing away 99% of the shots.

I hope I have understood the purpose of the thread. Thank you, Anne, for starting it.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat Today LAH



Yes, the photo shows beautifully and I really like what you say about a sense that you can trust. Without 'seeing' him/her, you nevertheless found that wonderful moment of the dog looking at you. I find that I'm at my most open and intuitive when taking photos - it's exactly as you say, the act before intellectualizing. I have an immediate response but only the vaguest of ideas about what I'm actually responding to- it's usually only afterward that I can tell if I've captured something or not, sometimes there's a great moment, which isn't even the moment I thought it was. The process is almost instantaneous, I like that too.

If my images are on my computer they are generally too large too, I usually downsize them using old school Windows Paint, starting at around 600 - 800 pixels. They seem to work better if I upload them directly from my phone gallery which also accesses my Instagram posts, I only just learned that this week, every day is a school day!

Gassho
Meitou
satwithyoualltodaylah

PS the photos immediately before and after, awesome, love the gallery shot.

Kotei
09-10-2018, 05:35 PM
Hello all,
thank you for sharing.

I find inspiration in examining thoughts, that seem to hold somehow a contradiction, that is not easily or not at all, sayable in words.
Some of these are expressible with different techniques.
I see this in the found item collages from Meitou. Discarded waste, that is living a new, preserved way.
Also in the picture of the sea, meeting the sky. There is not a millimetre room between the two, and yet, all our daily life happens in that little gap.
Works that show passing time in a frozen moment.
...

Also ideas, conceptual works, that, from a certain point on, eliminates the artist from the process.
I see this in some traditional Zen arts, like Suiseki (displaying found, unaltered stones on a fitting stand),
garden design, that evokes certain emotions, in reaction to given surroundings and changing, growing plants,
also in Sekishi's algorithms, that alter pictures to something he may have not exactly thought about.
In Meishin's way of taking pictures, in contradiction to Ansel Adams's way (loved reading 'the making of 40 photographs').
An automatic art generator, gathering data from the web and automatically combining to a picture/wordcollage. The artist being the people on the net.
I see this in conceptual art like 'social sculptures' as described by Beuys. Seeing Treeleaf as such a Social Sculpture, Jundo, the Unsui, all of us, sculpturing the Social Sculpture Treeleaf. All of us being the artists.
Performances. Music, Concepts, Improvisations, working with people.
Growing germs on culture medium.
...

Gassho,
Kotei sat/lah today.

Nenka
09-10-2018, 06:49 PM
I'm often inspired by randomness. I keep almost all of my metal scrap, experiments, failed projects, broken stones, along with beads, founds objects, and other "good stuff." Most of it is kept in trays and from time to time I bring out the trays just to take pieces out and lay them next to other pieces. That's how this piece, for example, happened: I had a bundle of scrap sterling silver wire that I fused together one day just to see what would happen, and an unknown blue-ish stone in my collection. I had both for probably three years until I put them next to each other and knew they had to be!

5358

I think Eishuu is right about "keeping the door open." Or to use another metaphor, someone once said that creativity is like a well that you can tap into, rather than something you "have" or "don't have." I think that's pretty accurate. Sometimes you hit on something and sometimes you don't, but you have to go to the well over and over.

Gassho

Jen

ST/LAH

Cooperix
09-10-2018, 07:19 PM
All of us being the artists…Kotei

Good discussion. Lots of references directly or indirectly to intuition.

The book ‘The Zen of Creativity’ (referred to in a previous post by Kokuu), which hopefully we will read and discuss after the first of the year, was written by the late John Daido Loori, an American Zen teacher. He was a well-known photographer. He says ‘[c]reativity is also an expression of our intuitive aspect. Getting in touch with our intuition helps us to enter the flow of life…’

Meishin, your photo speaks to this. For me entering the flow of life is what opens me up to inspiration because I am, at some level, paying attention. But it is always, always a gift to feel that pull of creative energy. And when it goes away (or I’m not open) for a while I feel bereft, empty. It’s a state of grace, as a friend of mine described being in the creative zone.

Kotei, your muse seems to be in the form of the ineffable! I love that.
This might be an interesting topic of discussion down the line...'how we express the ineffable' through our art.

Scientific American put out a special edition last year The Mad Science of Creativity. Lots of provocative articles in there. I am currently reading one on dreams:
‘Brain areas that restrict our thinking to the logical and familiar are much less active during REM sleep. Such disinhibition is a crucial part of creative thought.’

SO Eishuu, you are on to something there. I personally have never solved any aesthetic dilemma while dreaming but it’s evidently not uncommon. Both the novel ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ came from dreams to name just 2 examples mentioned. Lots of science and mathematical breakthroughs.

Here are websites of 2 artists that I think you might find interesting when considering inspiration.

The painter, Susan Myo On Linnell is an ordained Renzai Zen monk http://www.12k.com/artist/steve-peters/ ("http://https://www.susanmyoonlinnell.org/"
Sound artist Steve Peters [url)

gassho
Anne

~st~

Meitou
09-15-2018, 08:51 PM
Things seen every day, ordinary nothing special things, suddenly become inspiring, for their colours and shapes and their interraction with the spaces they are in. In the moment before the mind produces labels and concepts such as food, rice, tomato, place mat, beans, photo, etc forms can be seen just as they are.
5356 5357

Gassho
Meitou
satwithyoualltoday

Kokuu
09-16-2018, 08:55 AM
Hi all

I am a writer, primarily of short poems (haiku etc) but also some longer pieces. For me, I need an initial spark of inspiration as a way in, and the rest seems to take care of itself.

A single moment provides that spark, most often from nature, and then there is a flurry of words and images from other things I have seen read and experienced that come together to produce the finish piece. I have little control over what comes, only to filter the relevant/good from the not so good. Pieces may also sit and mature with additional inspiration coming to change it later.

Being open to what is coming, and not having a fixed idea of how things are going to turn out sems most important to me.

I have also noticed there are particularly good times for inspiration such as dawn and just before sleep (always have a pencil and paper by the bed but the turning on and off of the light to record inspirations can get tiresome!). This seems to be because the conscious mind gets out of the way and allows other material to come through. The same can happen in meditation but it is important to put that down during sitting. Interestingly, Irish poet monks were said to have sought inspiration in the darkness with a practice called 'poetic incubation'. This is not unlike meditation but with the focus on creativity rather than sitting with everything as a manifestation of all that is.

Being busy and doing often shuts off inspiration. It tends more often to be found among the still and quiet spaces.

just sitting
my body
becomes the east wind

Gassho
Kokuu
-sattoday/lah-

Doshin
09-16-2018, 02:41 PM
All this has called to me to pause and think of the place in my life where art resides. My father was a painter, he was the first of his family to go to college and there he studied art. I remember as a childing watching him apply his skills to canvas, mostly landscapes and still lifes. I never thought of myself as an artist. However my wife told me years ago that I express myself in landscaping. Others have said that as well so now I see art in ways different than those glimpses into it as a child watching a canvas come to life. I used to write articles for several magazines an ocassional journal, one small book, but they were technical and required an approach that in restrospect I still would not label as art. I never tried poetry until I wrote one and shared here in the forum a week or so ago. However I did write a series of magazine articiles in the 1990s about personalities in the herpetology world and there I tried to bring humor and insights and it was with those that I felt creativity/art in the process.

To the question of Inspiration I turn to nature. Sunsets, sunrises, flowers appearing, a lizard running through the grass, an elk bugling at sunset, owls calling and so forth. My home encompases paintings, prints, weavings, sculptures, artifacts collected in the wilds, and more. Their common theme is wildlife, that which is central to my Inspiration and motivation.

Gassho
Doshin
Stlah

Nengei
09-19-2018, 08:40 PM
This is my first Art Circle post, so greetings to all. gassho2

I have always thought of myself as struggling with creativity. I think of myself as a technical person; a scientist. The creatives were others in my family. But I spent a lot of my life making music, at least up until the point where science became overly demanding of my time. My grandmother was a painter, and my mother is a painter. My oldest sister is a potter. I have dabbled in music, photography, and drawing. Now, I am a painter.

Something that my creative side has taught me is to find peace and pleasure in being mediocre. I don't expect anything from the art that I do. Every once in a while thoughts of going pro creep into my brain. This is an ongoing issue that I have, the desire to turn everything that interests me into a profession. But art forces me to the process. I have to look beyond (or maybe before) the finished product and wallow in the making. I think that is why painting appeals to me. Yes, I can go alla prima and try to produce a painting in a few hours (I suck at plein air painting). But really what works for me is the gradual, extended process of building a painting from the ground up, progressing through many layers that take weeks or months. This gives me an intimacy with the scene that I don't think I could get in any other way.

Process photo. (https://josephalexanderstudio.smugmug.com/Artist/MNat/i-9jjcz6Q/A)

Finished painting photo. (https://josephalexanderstudio.smugmug.com/Artist/MNat/i-qgDpmRG/A)

I started associating art with practice through my experiences at Zen Mountain Monastery. Daido Roshi convinced me that some sort of art practice was an essential piece of the puzzle. I work at creating with a breath. It is one thing to position, focus, and press a shutter-release in one outward breath. It is another thing with oils and canvas. I did figure out that the goal is other than to produce a finished project in 20 seconds.

Inspiration... sometimes that is hard to put my finger on. The most inspiring thing to me is the work of other artists, particularly the Renaissance bad-boy Caravaggio. I get a lot of inspiration from the world around me, and what I see every day. A lot of the time what I see makes a great scene to my eyes, but not such a good scene on canvas. I like still life work. I like setting up my model, sketching it, roughing it in, and watching it pop out of the canvas. I also get inspired by simply picking up books about art and looking through them, especially if they are about a particular technique or style that I am interested in. I often find myself looking at stuff just sitting there, and thinking about how to put in the darks and lights to make it come to life.

Gassho
Joseph
Sat/LAH