Like a real pond

After working on my drawing at the secret bunker studio, I took photos as I usually do.  Then got an odd notion.  Why not photograph the picture from below as one might see it if it were mounted high upon a wall.  (Sometimes that’s the only way you can photograph pictures when they’re housed somewhere.)  And as I saw how distorted the image became, I inclined to indulge the distortion in extravagant ways.  After that I was in search of distortion, the stretchier the water’s topography, the better.

When you’re photographing the real fish, their movements and the wave patterns are often stopped artificially or alterred greatly from what our brains tell us we see.

Photographing the drawing from every angle across its flat plane, I saw the fish begin to “swim” even more — round the curved edge of the earth’s watery.  Like koi explorers they looked to drop off the edge of the space-time.  And the blues widened like a curtain furling.

If I were to use these distorted photos of my drawing as reference images for other pictures, I could draw the distortion right in and jazz riff something new.  Or one could combine the distorted sections into a new “whole.”

Collage is possible, or rescrambled puzzle pieces made more puzzling.  Lots of improvisations possible as one follows the path.  Or the wave.  The fish wave.

I decided to treat my drawing like it was a real pond.  With real fish, who move.



One of my first intimations of the koi paintings came while my daughter was a crawler, though I didn’t know it at the time.  I was studying Monet’s water lilies, the nympheas, and also the works of Joan Mitchell and Emily Kame Kngwarrey all of which seemed linked in my mind to the rigorous scribblings of my toddler, her bold vigorous lines.  In naptime breaks while she slept, I was able to recapture aspects of my previous artist’s life, and sometimes I made fast, big drawings like this one (which I recovered from a pile at the secret bunker).

Koi Pond Maintenance

Whenever I clean my house, which I occasionally do, I do! — those who know me look skeptical, I like to look around afterwards and marvel —  marvel, I tell you — at what I’ve accomplished.  I don’t think it should be any different with drawing, painting, art. 

Indulge the sense of satisfaction over the amount of work accomplished.  Whatever it is you do, in the having done thus much of it.

For me it is fish.  Count these fish and you will have counted a lot!  And I really stocked the pond today.

Puzzling over the Box and finding some enlightenment

Reading parts of The Puzzle Box again. Wish I could have read with this sort of understanding while Paul Squires, the poet of Gingatao, was still living.  Read just now the Tiger Meditation near the end.  I had felt something very similar only it was the spider in the web waiting in poised stillness that I felt, a spider that would always be waiting, alway just before the moment it seizes the bug, the moment just prior.   Strange too it was the spider because I’m afraid of them, yet that’s where I saw it most clearly — in the beautiful orb of the spider (and her descendants) that have built on the porch summer after summer. 

The Tiger Meditation

One night when I was becoming increasingly frustrated with a Scott Joplin waltz that just wouldn’t swing she appeared beside the piano having just despatched some troublemaker and told me this story.  I went in search of the earliest religious rite that is still actively practised and I came across this along the way.  Imagine you are the top predator in your area, in this case , a tiger.  But you are not a hungry, angry tiger.  You are a satisfied, content tiger asleep, yet tiger-like, still somehow alert.  Asleep in a tree on a branch which overlooks the only path to the only water for miles around and it is a hot, dry afternoon.  Asleep but aware, alert for the first trace of scent or snap of twig, the first vibration of the approaching, thirsty weary creature in need of a cool drink.  And in that moment just before the first trace, immediately prior to the first vibration and alive to its inevitability, in that moment remaining.  And looked back over her shoulder as she swung and waltzed away.

— Paul Squires, The Puzzle Box

The spider’s web is the work of art or is the fabric of consciousness, is the sense of the self existing, having identity, knowing oneself as an “I” — or as Paul might say an i.

I understood it prosaically, but got the message too — and from the source (was the spider taught me).  Just a different animal.

When your eye focuses on the web, the world beyond and around it is blurry.  When your eyes are focused on the world, you miss seeing the web with the spider in it.

The tiger is a strong meditation, the spider a small one — abstract, theoretically, without emotion, more naturally machine-like, emptier, compact, quick, easy to disappear, ultimately spiders hide and are hidden, they are more anonymous, small black or bright ball with legs, with most spiders the venon is harmless.

Paul was more a tiger, whereas I have wanted to weave and hide unseen, in invisible orb web, but sticky and catches things, flying things, winged flying things.

Wild flowers growing indoors

I was going through a pile of drawings at the secret bunker when I rediscovered this one.  When my daughter was a crawler, she often scribbled over drawings as I was making them.  I drew on the floor so that we could work “together.”  Or else I taped my paper to the wall at a level she could reach.  Lots of drawings on the floor we made during that all to swift and brief season (she’s almost a teen now).  I think her scribbles always livened things up.  Sometimes it seems like they were the best part of the drawing.  And not in an “abstract” sense — not at all.  Her scribbles had the force of real ideas to them, which is very different from adults trying to be “random” or whatever.  It’s just that these were two-year-old’s pre-speech rigorous gestures and their meanings are rather opaque though forceful in grammar.

I was reading another of the late Paul Squires’s poems and it fits this picture so marvelously well that I republish it here, though you can find the original at Paul’s gingatao blog and get the total Paulesque experience.


Those who say that flowers have no sound have never heard the generousity of tulips in your smile nor watched the synchronicitous flight of gulls like white orchids at the whisper of your touch. They have not been released into the world of sunflower splendour or tiny blue delphinium delight nor set the direction of their dreams by the scent of apple blossom on a chilly night. They doubt the giggle of gardenias when I demonstrate my geranium brain again and are blind to that outrage of yellow hyacinth in the corner of your eye that warns of lightning strikes. I thought of them again this morning when I heard you laugh circus pink camellias into an azure sky and I hope that if they are reading this they experience now as I did then a truly gypsophila anticipation.

Paul was not afraid to depict beauty, as you can see.