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Thread: Zen of Creativity Chapter 11

  1. #1

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 11

    Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don't have answers. So I let the mystery settle into my music. I don't deny anything, I don't advocate anything, I just live with it. -Bruce Springsteen-

    Greetings all creatives! We are back. We took a brief hiatus to get us through ANGO, the holidays and Jukai.

    The New Year brings us MYSTERY!
    John Daido Loori in this chapter has us consider how mystery informs our creativity. How to look for the questions rather than the answers. And each of us who makes a mark on paper, writes a line of verse, puts together a lyrical musical measure, builds gardens or sculptures, cooks a special meal, puts thread through a needle knows about mystery. Why are we compelled to take a particular photo?

    In fact, ‘creativity’ is a mystery. Lots of consciousness studies have tried to explain this astounding human trait.

    One of my obsessions over the last decade or so, has been studying astronomy and astrophysics. My fascination with the cosmos has introduced me to the vast and beautiful mystery of the universe, which has made me also recognize the mystery that we all live each day. And I hope for this mystery to inform my art. (I will soon post some images of pieces I am currently working on that directly reflect my keen interest in the cosmos.)

    JDL is again asking us to follow our intuition when making art. And what is intuition other than a mysterious knowing?

    Please share how mystery informs your life/art. JDL generously shares his mystical experiences with us. Any to share in reference to art making?


    Here's Meitou
    ...


    'Don't expect, either in life or in art. Open yourself to discovery. Enjoy the mystery. '
    John Daido Loori

    Hello everyone and welcome to prompt 11.

    Both Anne and I have taken the key word Mystery as our themes for talking about this chapter and using it as a creative prompt - within our creative framework I think mystery is easy enough to feel, to experience, but how to express it? Is it possible to grasp at this ephemeral and ineffable concept and make some kind of shape out of it? That's our challenge this time.

    As Anne looks outward to the stars, so I look deep into the oceans – some of you will already know how much I am drawn to the sea, to the horizon and how often I photograph it. Abstract seascapes also inform my painting and drawing. This week I'll post something else I'm drawn to photographing – a certain drain cover just around the corner from my apartment. Why? I have never thought about it until now, or at least I've never applied any kind of analysis to what draws me to it. What do I see? This is the mystery that I'll be exploring this week.

    Is there something, a theme, in your writing, photography, painting, crafting, gardening etc that you come back to again and again – something that you are constantly drawn to but when you reflect deeper, can't explain what the attraction is? Explore that this week and if you feel inclined come back here and post your findings – remember this doesn't necessarily have to be an piece of artwork or photography etc, it can also be your thoughts, a discussion.

    Enjoy!

    Gassho

    Meitou and Anne

    we both sat today

  2. #2
    Hello again,

    Here are two pieces directly inspired by the beauty and mystery of the cosmos.
    3.5" (8.9 cm) cubes, cedar wood blocks and the surface is bee's wax and powdered pigment.

    cosmosadj.jpg

    bows to all,

    Anne

    ~st~

  3. #3
    I can't recall any artwork that I produced from this, but I tend to have powerful dreams sometimes. Years ago I had one dream that I called my "Butterflies and Hurricanes" dream because it reminded me so much of a favorite Muse song. It was during a particularly turbulent, dark time in my family's life, and I felt that I had nowhere to turn, no one to ask for help or advice.

    The message in the song and the dream were the same-- look within and trust myself, I was stronger and more resourceful than i realized and i would find a way through. It took me years to understand this, and i still struggle with it.

    So, no artwork, but i ended up re-creating myself and my life, changing the direction of my kids' lives and helping my husband out of a bad situation. Mostly by learning to trust myself and use what I know, always working to learn more.

    Not bragging, just my intuition and dreams are a big source of my creativity in making decisions. I hope to create art again some day. For now I continue to journal privately, frequently.

    Gassho
    Meian
    St lh


    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  4. #4
    Anne, seeing your beautiful paintings, I'm wondering if part of my difficulty is being too specific?

    For years, I've focused on drawing my ideas as objects, even to scale. Then I am disappointed when it doesn't turn out as I think it should.

    Perhaps I may consider the abstract and formless for a while .... counter my perfectionism.

    Thank you for sharing your creations.

    Gassho
    Meian
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  5. #5

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 11



    I come back to dogs over and over again. I have given it some thought and these are probably some of the reasons:

    I had a tough childhood and dogs were very comforting.

    Once one of our puppies drowned when I was about 14. She stepped on the cover of the pool thinking it was solid ground and sunk. I was inside the house in bed and think I heard her crying but did not realize what had happened. Maybe too lazy to get out of bed and check. This has caused a lot of guilt throughout my life and maybe I treat dogs very well trying to make up for this at some level.

    After divorcing, I went through some tough times going back to school for premed courses and medical school. I had a Dalmatian who was my companion. He was run over right in front of me by a car going 50 miles per hour. I feel responsible as I did not have him on a leash and had had a few beers. Very traumatic.

    As a psychiatry resident I moonlighted as an emergency room physician in local small towns. In order to be able to do this I had to take the Advanced Trauma Life Support course. In this course the participants practiced inserting chest tubes in an anesthetized dog (a black German Shepherd). The practice on the live animal probably saved human lives but the dog was put to sleep afterwards. I was a participant.



    Dogs are such joyful creatures! How can one not want to photograph them nonstop and show them to other people? I would love to take pictures of dogs other than my own (I have 6) but I don’t have access to more models

    Physicians use vision a lot for work. This is another reason why I like pictures.

    I am sure I could go on and on why I do this or that or where creativity comes from but ultimately it is unknown and this is a good thing.

    Things just are. It just is.

    That’s all.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-17-2020 at 08:09 AM.

  6. #6
    We always had German Shepherds when I was a child. I love those dogs. They were my best friends. I inherited my mom's dogs when she died and stayed bonded with them, very strongly. But I couldn't handle it when the dog would eventually die. My family decided -- enough. We now have a chihuahua.

    I never stopped loving German Shepherds, and I always love your photos. I really miss my dogs. You can share as many as you want around me.

    Thank you for your poignant story, Jishin. Fond and sad memories.

    Gassho2
    Meian
    St

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  7. #7
    I will write more later, as there's lots of juicy stuff here from Jishin and Meian. But for now I agree with Meian, Jishin keep showing us your dogs! So much love and respect in those images. And if you head west drop by, my dogs love to be photographed. Truly they keep me sane.

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~st~

  8. #8
    Thank you Meian and Anne!

    Anne, I may say hello this spring or summer in person while traveling by car and taking pictures. This will give me an excuse to get more pictures of Penari (the tiger in the Albuquerque zoo).

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  9. #9
    Jishin,
    That would be wonderful. I understand they have a brand new penguin exhibit at our zoo that's pretty special.
    Also, Finnegan and Sophie would enjoy posing. And to meet a fellow treeleafer in person would be great! join us for a sit...

    gassho
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  10. #10
    The message in the song and the dream were the same-- look within and trust myself, I was stronger and more resourceful than i realized and i would find a way through. It took me years to understand this, and i still struggle with it.

    So, no artwork, but i ended up re-creating myself and my life, changing the direction of my kids' lives and helping my husband out of a bad situation. Mostly by learning to trust myself and use what I know, always working to learn more.
    Meian,
    I have always felt the most radical art project is re-creating ourselves. So job well done. Artwork indeed!

    We are so often our own worst critic. SO a project does not come out as visualized, but usually something else has taken the place of the original concept. I have to learn to flow with that and see where that's leading and what it's telling me. Sometimes I've got to toss it, but other times if I listen it takes me to a new idea/place. Making art can be one disappointment after another, boy I know that one. It can break my spirit, but it can lift it as well. Good luck. If you do make art again, would you consider sharing?

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post
    We are so often our own worst critic. SO a project does not come out as visualized, but usually something else has taken the place of the original concept. I have to learn to flow with that and see where that's leading and what it's telling me. Sometimes I've got to toss it, but other times if I listen it takes me to a new idea/place. Making art can be one disappointment after another, boy I know that one. It can break my spirit, but it can lift it as well. Good luck. If you do make art again, would you consider sharing?

    Anne, thank you for this perspective. I have often wondered about this -- about "flowing with what is" to "see where it leads" ..... I would hear that within and want to go with it, like a beckoning deeper into the forest (a Middle or Lower World type of experience), but usually the voices of the Censors take over and drown it all out -- and the specific hard lines return This has usually happened when I'm anticipating judgment and criticism (again, voices from the past), so part of what I have been working on is learning to interrupt that narrative when I recognize it.

    I do believe what you're saying here, that something else would emerge if I allow it to, and could offer something interesting and enlightening if I give its voice safe space.

    In answer to your question ..... yes, I would consider sharing, if I do create something, or maybe even attempt something. Thank you for asking.

    I just remembered ..... a few months ago, i thought i had become obsessed with drawing infinity symbols in rainbow colors, until i realized that they looked like mitochondria ... it seemed i was drawing myself as mitochondria in protective cocoons ..... during a time when i was quite ill. if i find the drawing (it's unfinished), maybe i'll snap a photo and post it here, if desired.

    Edit: it seems that i draw things, or create things, but mostly block out that i've created anything at all? i really don't consider myself an artist, though. but i remember things i've drawn or created at the oddest times, for various reasons. my kids have found lots of my artwork over the years and i have little memory of having created most of it, or why. Strange.

    gassho
    Meian
    st lh
    Last edited by Meian; 01-17-2020 at 10:42 PM.
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  12. #12
    I just found a few of my old water colors from dreams and abstract stuff. I had last shown them to a dear old friend of mine many years ago, he died in 2017. He and his partner had encouraged me in this -- and now, this forum.

    Gassho
    Meian
    St

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  13. #13
    Yay Meian! Thanks for finding those paintings and posting. They are dreamy and rich with movement. Color choice is interesting to me, so subtle and soft but at the same time assertive.
    They make me wonder what was on your mind! But really that hardly matters with a mark on paper. It becomes itself simply nothing more. At least that's my opinion. It ceases to be us.
    Make more art. You have a way to put emotion down.

    Bows
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  14. #14
    So much to love in all of these posts. Jishin, I really felt pain when reading about your back history with your dogs, I've had to have two cats put to sleep this year and although I know I gave them the life they wanted and would never have had if I hadn't taken them, and that an end to their suffering was the most loving thing I could do, I still carry dark feelings of guilt - could I have done more, what did I miss etc and also about their siblings who I know were drowned in a bucket by their owner - what could I have done to save those lives, given that there was no way I could take on two litters of five kittens? But these dark nights of the soul, the sadness and the melancholy that surrounds them also play a vital role in how we choose to love, how we face and put aside our own inevitable suffering for their sakes. Stepping into that suffering with an open heart is also in my opinion part of the great mystery of what makes us tick, what moves our hearts, what makes them open.
    Meian I also have had dreams that have taken on a power in my waking life, trusting intuition is a huge thing - a couple of times in recent years I've gone against my intuition and felt the wrongness of that so deeply - but where does it come from, what guides it? More mystery and it's a wonderful thing.

    I have some idea of what opens my heart right up - my response to the sea is wrapped up in my past, my present and probably my future, I believe there is a deep connection between where we come from geographically and who we are - even reflected in the Dharma name Meitou that Jundo chose for me. In the last couple of years I've become very interested in ideas around psychogeography, sparked by a book I read about the Thames Estuary, which exerted such a pull on me, it was like a magnet to my heart and yet I left that area when I was 17 and have only returned twice. But still the sea calls me home. In another post I'll put up some of my artwork involving abstract seascape.

    On a lighter note, just around the corner from me as I walk down to the sea front, there's a covered storm drain that I happened to glance at one day - by now we are old friends and I take photos of it regularly, noting how the change of seasons affects it, how its proximity to a bar and a club inform some of the debris that collects in its grids. Why I feel such attraction toward it and indeed other drain covers is a real mystery to me. I love natural beauty, but I'm profoundly drawn also to urban landscapes and imagery. I feel there must be a sense of connection and belonging, or perhaps a wish to belong to my environment, coupled with the shapes and surface patterns that I see around me. Here are a couple of collages of what I call My Favourite Drain, taken over the last couple of years.

    drains 1.jpg


    drains 2.jpg


    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattodaylah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  15. #15
    Hello,
    thanks for posting and for showing your fascinating works.
    I am too, fascinated by the oceans and astronomy.

    Anne, you're always working with so interesting natural materials that add another dimension.
    All heavy elements have been forged in the stars.
    I, made of stardust, like your glowing stardust pictures, made of dust that is made of stardust by Anne, who is made of living stardust, too.
    Everything just formations of stardust... Indeed a mystery.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Hello,
    thanks for posting and for showing your fascinating works.
    I am too, fascinated by the oceans and astronomy.

    Anne, you're always working with so interesting natural materials that add another dimension.
    All heavy elements have been forged in the stars.
    I, made of stardust, like your glowing stardust pictures, made of dust that is made of stardust by Anne, who is made of living stardust, too.
    Everything just formations of stardust... Indeed a mystery.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.



    More stardust out here

    Doshin
    St

  17. #17
    Thank you Kotei.

    Yes to stardust, and so poetic a mystery.

    Bowing to the mystery of it all.
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  18. #18
    Here is my take on Prompt #11

    No digital effects, just soap bubbles and light...
    I recommend watching the 3 minute video in full-screen and HD.



    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  19. #19
    What can I say? mesmerizing, enchanting, beautiful, worlds within worlds within worlds, mysterious, moving. And that's from soap bubbles and light.
    Wow.

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  20. #20
    I am back on my cat kick. I got extremely lucky this weekend. I went to the Forth Worth Zoo on Friday and it was empty. It was raining and cold. Cats apparently like to come out during the winter. Makes sense. This is the first time I truly got good shots of lions and tigers. I did not even know that they had a white tiger. Awesome.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Here is my take on Prompt #11

    No digital effects, just soap bubbles and light...
    I recommend watching the 3 minute video in full-screen and HD.



    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    LSD trip. Awesome.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  22. #22

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 11

    Took this one too at the Fort Worth Zoo at 1/15th shutter speed (slow to make the water silky). I didn’t use a tripod so its not as sharp as it could be but it came out ok I think.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-21-2020 at 03:38 AM.

  23. #23
    Hi all

    This is a very lovely chapter! Mystery seems to be the heart of both art and Zen practice. Rather than having preconceived notions, we open our whole selves up to the world and see what is there.

    I remember my school art teacher saying to draw what you see rather than what is in your head, which is very much like Shikantaza. Throw away the concepts and sit directly with life!

    The areas I seem to return to again and again in my writing are trees, the moon, rivers, rain and crows. All pretty well worn subject ares in haiku but each still has more mystery to give.

    winter night
    we each take turns
    to be the moon


    Lovely to have the Art Circle back. Thank you for your efforts, Anne and Meitou!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  24. #24
    Just like a cat sharpening claws.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Hi all,

    I think I've written about / posted output from my "pixelsorting" projects before, but "mystery" is what has kept me working on them on and off for most of my adult life.

    The short version: I've written some cellular automata software that "sorts" the individual pixels in digital images based on the content of those pixels.

    A very simple example:

    FOR each pixel in an image:
    IF the amount of blue in the pixel in the SE is more than this pixel
    THEN swap this pixel with the one to the SW

    There is a little bit of "formalism" in this for me in that the rules must adhere to these two principles:

    1. The actions must be "non-destructive". E.g. pixels are only ever swapped with each other, never overwritten.
    2. The rules and actions must be "local". E.g. they can only look at or swap with the 8 pixels that "touch" the current pixel (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, or NW).

    One of the great mysteries about playing this type of thing for me is that emergent behaviors emerge from VERY simple rules. And they are dependent upon BOTH the rules themselves and the content of the image. Eg. a given rule might produce beautiful crystaline formations on one image, and literally do nothing on another image (for example, lots of blue or lots of high-contrast elements might activate a rule, while lots of red and low contrast might cause the rule to do nothing at all). So when I feed photos to the system, I never have ANY idea what it is going to produce.

    Anyhow, I've been working on some new rules on and off this month, and thought I'd share the output of two of the new rules with some photos of the trees and mountain visible from our house:

    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/a3rt4atj1r...final.png?dl=0
    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/ozkjpu5bos...final.png?dl=0

    Finally, for fun here are some older images that still resonate with me:

    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ntkv0wghi...t-006.png?dl=0
    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/i56a49e9mm...77-01.png?dl=0 <== A great example of the mystery -- the white blossoms on the tree turned into streaks of texture, but the sky and the bird are completely untouched
    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/pg4xn586m2...44-02.png?dl=0
    - https://www.dropbox.com/s/fm4tzlpy0i...t-024.png?dl=0

    Gassho,
    Sekishi #sat #sortedpixels
    Last edited by Sekishi; 01-21-2020 at 07:02 PM.
    sekishi
    石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I am back on my cat kick. I got extremely lucky this weekend. I went to the Forth Worth Zoo on Friday and it was empty. It was raining and cold. Cats apparently like to come out during the winter. Makes sense. This is the first time I truly got good shots of lions and tigers. I did not even know that they had a white tiger. Awesome.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Wonderful photos - thank you!

    Have not read this chapter yet and need to read through this thread - thanks for setting the ball rolling again,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

  27. #27
    Shekihsi,

    No wonder you are the engineer!. I have not a clue, total mystery how you achieve those wild and beautiful images. Even with your explanation. I enjoy looking for the clues of the original image. Not always so obvious.

    And Jishin, my next visit to FtW I will get my brother to take me to visit the cats at their zoo. As always stunning shots.

    Kokuu, I've hoped you'd add a haiku to our thread. And a lovely one, to celebrate last week's cold night full moon.


    So much mysterious creative energy here.

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~st~

  28. #28
    Very cool Sekishi.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  29. #29
    Again Jishin, so happy to look at your excellent photography, the tiger, the waterfall, these so photographic skill as do all you have shared. Thank you.
    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  30. #30
    Thank you Tai Shi!

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

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