The Portals or Exercises 10.09
Live like there are gods in everything
These two dozen Exercises are meant to short circuit resistance and jump start the creative process. It is not a linear or progressive activity. You are looking for the Portal of the Moment. It is probably in this list somewhere. It will likely be a different one tomorrow. Your intuition will get drawn to one or some of these approaches more than others. That’s the signal to go with. There’s no one place to start. You have to be alert to changing opportunities to look behind the visible, the evident... at the borders, the folds, the cracks
We want to quiet the critic, the clock-watcher, efficiency expert, the Product Developer, the Utilitarian. This is a chance to meet the reptile brain. Look over this collection of items like it’s a menu in a local restaurant and you are hungry.
1.Experiment with Attitude
See yourself as a Researcher. You are an experimenter. Your life is a laboratory
Assume that everyone you see, everywhere you go, everything you do is important… but you may not be aware of it. The stop at the fast food restaurant, the walk down the street, the passing of the mail man
Pay new attention to coincidence, accident, frustration, annoyances, ignorances, weather, anxieties, close calls, hunches and intuition … Greet them like friends; learn more about them; don’t ignore them
Assume there is a plan, but you forgot it. Or maybe you only know part of it and you have to bluff your way through the rest. Imagine that everybody else is bluffing too.
2.Practice Selective Perceptions:
Spend 15 minutes just noticing the Shadows
Spend 15 minutes just noticing the Smells
Spend 15 minutes just noticing Temperatures
Spend 15 minutes noticing how you breathe
Watch the same place for a few weeks and note the changes
Dm Tree photos
Notice or Focus on just a single Element:
on Fire, on Air, on Earth, on Water what happens?
3.Re-Visit your own Biography as a Wayward Artist:
A Primary Portal
In what ways are you already a “maker”?
List what you make: food, song, trouble ?
Select a special object and tell others why it is special
What objects do you collect? Look around as if you were an estate appraiser and list the objects in your life. DM story of mothers candles
What food do you eat? Cook, buy? Talk about Food
Are you your own Cook?
What Elements do you work with: Air, earth, water, fire, ether materials…
Recall experiences in the Forest, Trees, Woods, wood, making, building?
Assume that these objects are magical decoys, lures, bait...
Who or What are they trying to attract?
How do your objects charge and discharge? …When does something lose its meaning, its charge?
What part of your body seems most prominent?
Do you have a movement with an arm or leg or hand? A special way of walking?
Do you have a sound?
What smells are you aware of, respond to. Do you have a smell?
What are your lingering concerns, worries, diseases, complaints, addictions, discomforts Dan's Ganglion Cyst Poem
What parts of your body make themselves most aware to you?
FAMILY What have you inherited?
Story Themes: family ‘wisdom’..in stories, jokes, memories “we always”
Tendencies, ways of seeing, “symptoms’’… Ethnicity: Irish fatalism,
Salvational, Resurrectional, stoned and crucified and risen... Misunderstood
Whose voice says: “never perfect enough” or Good Job
Are there Family physical traits/ patterns of handling material; nose, your “walk
What are your family jokes, the sense of humor? For joy or anger?
Make poems and gifts to ancestors, relatives
When do you feel most alive?
Are you: Victim or victor? Mom or calling “Mom?” a BOX or BOWL
Explore your griefs and sadnesses. What are they?
Are there life-long goals, hopes, longings?
Write a secret. Leave a secret or advice for someone coming after you.
What would you have like to have known (Patrin/herm)
Make a legacy and trail marker.
Make an object for the otherside
Meeting the archetypes who deal with your theme: personal, cultural, collective Explore Trickster, Enki, Hestia, Dionysius (joy), Apollo (SOL) Luna Diamons: what does your Guide want
Pema Chodron urges “lean into the sharp points”
What are your sharp points, What do you avoid??
What are you “old wounds”… interited wounds?
Do you have unfinished buisiness?
Can you make something to help finish it?
What do you do regularly?
Being as non-judgemental as possible about these behavior:
what is this habit helping you say or continue to believe in?
4.Experiment with TIME
Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared. A where have they gone, the amblers of yesteryear? Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars. Have they vanished along with footpaths, with grasslands and clearings, with nature? Milan Kundera
Have a long-term activity; I try to keep a moss garden free from weeds!
Try something to finish in just a few minutes
Work with the Time of Day, the Time of the Year
5.Experiment with Making Right NOW
Just put three things together in the next fifteen minutes,
what jumps into your hand? where does your eye land?
What’s fallen lately? or blown near? Or seems out of place?
Using Gravity, Put 3 things together that can rest in the palm of your hand.
Using string or wire, Put 3 things together that can rest in the palm of your hand.
Desk Exercises: have five items on your desk and rearrange them often
FENG SHUI: a Chinese proverb says that if you want to change your life,
move 27 Things.
What happens if you just change something's position, from outside to inside, up to down, shelf to floor?
What happens if you change/shift size, materials, proportion, position, add motion, enlarge, miniaturise
Play with ratio of order/disorder geometry/free form casual/formal
6.Experiment with Movement:
Make objects that shimmer, flicker, bob, tip, twirl, flutter
7.Experiment with ephemerals the transients, the fleeting:
rain, snow, ice, dawn, fog, smoke, twilight, liminal, leaking, something only glimpsed. effervescent, evanescent
This can be done in the course of daily routines.raking leaves, bundling newspapers, shoveling snow…
Look at books by Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Drury, Nils Udo
8.Encounter the Exotic:
Learn about something new: Kuba Cloth, Mud Cloth, Ikebana, Bonsai
9.Make a Map
to Special local Places of beauty, antiquity…. finding Genii Loci
10.Wander somewhere What do you experience
11.Poetry Read it. Write it. Read it out Loud. Memorize it.
Try Paint Chip Poetry
Here are some of my favorites
12.Collect metaphors: Is life really like a box of Chocolates? eg cooking, restaurants, windows, doors. Follow errant images Twist the metaphors around a bit:
What else are you making? doorways, windows, bridges, coffins…see Dream Interp material
13. Explore Tools
What is you personal history with tools? Are you “handy” What tools do you own, do you really like the feel of?
Start making with just a few simple tools see what happens Maybe just a drills, an awl
Make a tool.
Explore the rhythms, demands, pleasures of the tools
14. Explore Materials
Start with an empty container: cigar box, coffee can, candy tin,
glass jar…where does it take you?
Work with something fresh and moist
Work with somehting hard and dry
Work with something brittle
15.Explore unusual crafting techniques What can be said with plaiting, braiding, sewing, notching, gravity, lashing, pleaching, stacking, arranging gluing, welding, soldering, drilling, wedging, . The grammar of combined techniques is dazzling! Each evokes or resonates with each of us personally and then has a larger cultural meaning. But essentially crafting is about joinery… to joine re-ligare To bind back religion.
Using the mortise/tenon, Put 3 things together that can rest in the palm of your hand.
16. Make “Smalls”: dreamcatchers, willow fetishs, bark frame, bark box, peach pit carvings, origami, whirligigs, willow whistles, whimmy diddles
17. Matter Emotions… Look at the list of feelings and emotions pick a few and make things that convey those feelings. Use symbols, stones, sticks, paper, movement, color, sound.
18. Make a few Imaginal Cards: small casual collages
19. Memorials make something that helps you remember a person or event
20. Making a new identity: Beheading/Maskmaking/Redressing
Birch Bark Masks, rework old clothing
21.The Baton/Wand Start with a Stick, shape it, add to it.
What's it turning into?
Give it away
22 Experiment with ambiguity
Make something that means a few different things;
Try to hold opposites together. Don't they really belong together?
23.Experiment with Sharing and Giving
Potluck model: What can you bring TO this? Story: Trish dream catchers Share your making with children in school: have the pleasure and distress of engaging 20 or 30 children in something you are passionate about.
Make a series of Gifts for your selfs: the unrecognized s’eflf,
24. Bring the Wayward Artist to the Workplace, the Marketplace
Hey, what if the Wayward Artist was artist in residence at the Dollar Store, The Mall?
see David Whyte’s work, Mindfulness in Marketplace
We are working with the Low Tech, the Casual:
We are seeing, finding, arranging, dissembling, resembling
Try pater-n and mater-l, geometries and natural materials to retain animation of nature and indication of hand
Make a simple understructure and an elaborated overstructure
regular materials irregular ways.... irregular materials-regular ways
select, re-position, combine, enlarge, shrink, appropriate, join
WHY? to see and reveal the less visible; to hear and speak the less spoken
Art/Spirit travels accidentally, at a glance This is called “flow”
Questions after First rounds of Making
Who Visited you while you were making?
Who dropped in to admire, to comment, to judge?
In what ways did this making
connect you to your father?
connect you to your mother?
to your older s'elves?
to your deferred s'elves?
your other s'elves?
In what ways did this making disconnect you?
Look for Patterns in your Materials and Making major currents, themes, stories, myths
All objects are magic decoys.
Who or what are you trying to attract (or repel) with what you’ve made?
Does your work create dialogue/interaction with other people?
What else are you making? Follow the Image:Chair is seat of power, Trellis is a structure for growth Bench is a modest seating for more than one. But are your objects ALSO doorways, windows, bridges, coffins, screens.
Consult your Discomforts? what is your body saying? They’re often Dressed as Resistances, Complaints, Whinings, the eeeees : if onlys, buts
Recognize your “Old Ways”: rituals, space, time, attitudes, need for help, judgments…
“What if I did it differently” Just try a change… Invite in what you usually avoid… Experiment with levels of the need for control, straight, scale, order… what happens?
Resist safety of Function: the forest need not be a Garden; The stick need not be a Chair
Start Again!… the Tide come in and out twice a day. It’s never and yet always the Same
WRITE POETRY! DM's Collection:
Being that the crow is darker than its shadow
It understands much about shades of black
It is amused by the concept of “black or white”
For the crow, everything is always both.
The Oaks and Beeches have held their leaves through the winter
In the March air, they klackle to softly waken the earth