While sorting through piles of sketches I found this one on illustration board.

Rehearsal at Wings Conservatory

I doubt I will every add paint to this sketch.  It has become smudgy and is destined for the waste basket, yet I hesitate.  When I look at it, I am transported back to the evening of the rehearsal, dancers stretched their limbs behind the grand piano while singers warmed up their vocal chords and the accompanist loosened his fingers.  It is a captured moment in time.  Not all scribbles work well as time machines. For me, this one does.  I don’t think it’s strong as a drawing, only as a visual transporter.  For that reason alone I’ve kept it until the next round of sorting through the pile.

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Oil painting inspired by Vieira da Silva (30" x 40")

In 2004 Nicole and I drove from northern Portugal across Spain to Barcelona where we discovered the paintings of Vieira da Silva.  She achieved a sense of speed through vast space using only a high key palette.  Upon returning to my studio, the impact of seeing her work was reflected in a series of paintings.  The painting illustrated here currently hangs next to my bed.  If all my paintings except for one were to be destroyed, this is the one I would choose to be saved.

Last Sunday, while standing in the center of a large gallery in the Philadelphia Museum of Art staring, as if for the first time, at Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase I experienced short flashes of the painting above as well as the drawing illustrated below.  I had seen Duchamps’ Nude several times before.  Though I liked it, I didn’t feel a close connection with it.  That was prior to my Zakar Art and my Orb Journal Entries.  That was also prior to my recent John Ruskin Exercises.  The moment must have been right, an overlapping of influences that caused a perfect storm within me as I felt myself overwhelmed by Duchamp’s painting.

In hopes of a better understanding of my reaction, I gazed back and forth between Nude Descending a Staircase and the paintings in that gallery, many that I also responded strongly to.  Duchamps painting, in my judgement, far surpassed the others that attempted to depict a degree of form within the broken down shapes of objects.  Duchamps shapes moved freely, connected yet mobile, through an illusion of expansive space.

Figure turning 360 degrees

During the same period of time that I was painting the series inspired by Vieira da Silva, I had returned to the study of anatomy so that I could moved figures through space without being limited by the pose of a model.  Just as I captured the movement of a dancer in the quick strokes of my Zakar Art, I wanted to depict a figure’s movement in a more rendered image that represented a series of positions. I wanted the effect of layering positions atop one another as if one were to layer the photographs of  Edward J. Muybridge.

The John Ruskin exercises have taken me full circle back to my roots, roots that I had not acknowledged.  Though I still don’t see the entire picture, it is becoming clearer.  The Orbs are the link.  The Ruskin exercises have led me back to the orb Journal Drawings, developing another skill to explore further.  I have a long way to go and I’m excited about the journey.  I feel that my diversity is no longer holding me back as I jump from one medium to another and one genre to another.   Through my diversity I am approaching something deeper, closer to my core, that I will soon express through my drawings and paintings.

The drawings below depict this morning’s orb sketch as it developed.  It was drawn with a medium nib, Waterman fountain pen. It could go further, but it won’t.  It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I’m going to paint outdoors.

'Dancers' Watercolor

I received an email from a young woman who wrote …

“I was wondering if you would mind if I got one of your pieces of art made into a tattoo. I know I don’t have to ask you but I wanted to.”

After replying to her that I was delighted and curious as to which image she had chosen.  I was also pleased that she had taken the time to notify me of her intention.

She let me know which image she would use and told me why she had chosen it.

“The reason I am getting it is because I met you a very long time ago at an arts festival and I told you I couldn’t draw and you told me to just watch these individuals dancing and just draw their movements. My lines turned into images and it was the most amazing feeling and I’ll always remember it…saying I couldn’t do something and proving to myself that I could. You called me an artist. It was amazing. Thank you.”

A brief encounter can change a life.  We often don’t know when our words or our art has changed the life of a stranger.  What a treasure it is when the person whose life was changed reaches out to acknowledge that special moment.

I’m looking forward to being present when she gets her tattoo.

Gyrotonic-Brenda-8-Chris-Carter-watercolor-ink-zakar-artDuring the past two weeks I was given the opportunity to experience two very different experiences of Zakar Art. The first was a result of painting during the Zumba fundraising event benefiting The Butterfly Project. At the benefit I met Dorian, a wonderful energetic woman who is opening a center for Gyrotonic Exercise in Flemington, NJ. She asked me to visit her studio and paint her clients working out on the Gyrotonic equipment. The second experience was painting during a Kirtan Yoga session at Easton Yoga in Easton, PA. The Wild Lotus Band, based in New Orleans returned to Easton Yoga, offering us an incredible opportunity to experience the energy and balance of their rhythms and vocal chants.

Kirtan-yoga-wild-lotus-band-11-chris-carter-art-062809

What continues to delight, amuse and amaze me is the different strokes and flows that come out of me with different music, movement, people and environment. I was like a newborn heading into the Gyrotonic experience. How would I incorporate a machine with a body and be happy with the balance of the flow? How little I trust my instincts and the thirty odd years that I have held a brush in my hand. How little I trust the forty three years of meditating. Perhaps I will learn to trust that it will pour out of me as long as let the energy of others pour into me.

Thank you, Dorian. Thank you Sean and the Wild Lotus Band. What a privilege to have been asked to paint to your dedicated energy.

"Mosquitos" performed by Busterman, choreographed by Christian Von Howard

"Mosquitoes" performed by Busterman, choreographed by Christian Von Howard

Twice within a week I experienced the disconnect between my eye and my hand as my brain searched for a familiar pattern solution and came up empty.  I felt myself shift from free flow to confusion as my brain searched for enough information to create a new pattern.  Instead of sending Mosquito moves or Zumba moves to my hand, it sent odd fragments of ballet, bar dancing and jazz.   My arm and fingers drew the sweep of a Pat Sonne move rather than the wonderfully angular shapes of the two dancers performing “Praying Mantis”.  My brain was at a loss, but my body kept moving, grasping at images from the now distant past.

I recall the evening, several years ago, when I paintied Pat without ever looking at her, though she moved beautifully across the dance floor to the original compositions of jazz.  Tuesday night was practice night at Indulge for the 16 piece orchestra.  I began to paint the music rather than the movement, tapping into my memory of the movements I knew so well from having painted Pat three nights a week for a couple of years.  The need for new body movements led me to painting at dress rehearsals and performances of the Roxey Ballet and Wings Conservatory.  The difficulty in capturing the essence of the new style of movement surprised me.  I thought the connection was strong between my eye and my hand.  I didn’t realize that the middleman, the brain, had to create a new set of directions to send to my hand.

Zumba Event in Califon, New Jersey

Zumba Event in Califon, New Jersey

In addition to unfamiliar movements, I found myself confounded by a new form of energy driving the movements of the women at last Friday evening’s Zumba event.  I had no prior knowledge of the phenomena, Zumba.  As the Zumba website defines it, it is ” … a fusion of Latin and International music that creates a dynamic, exciting, and effective fitness system.”  I thought that my belly dance class was incredible, bonding women of all ages, sizes and levels of experience.  Even that experience didn’t prepare me for the energy of the wild, sneakered, women last Friday night. The auditorium of the Presbyterian Church in Califon, NJ was transformed into a mutation of a gymnasium, dance floor, ritualistic bonfire and a “Freeing of the Spirit” workshop.  The music started; Deirdre took to the stage and led the 100+ women on an hour long journey of stretches, gyrations, shimmies, shakes and giggles, stopping only for water breaks to keep the sweating, smiling, delightfully happy women hydrated.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I will need at least two more sessions of painting during a Zumba class before my brain will come up with a good set of directions to send to my hand.  I look forward to that opportunity!