Lapis meditation

Detail -- lapis lazuli pigment on kumohadamashi paper

Bev Byrnes — Detail of nihonga painting — lapis lazuli pigment on kumohadamashi paper

“Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.

There is here no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


. . .

“The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention….

Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives…

Every relationship, every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it.

…without attention we live only on the surface of existence.

It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched.

We need to be fully present in order to love a single thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it.”

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Quote by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, from “Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart.”

Drawing by Fiona Robinson, charcoal and graphite on paper

Drawing by Fiona Robinson, charcoal and graphite on paper



on the secret of seeing

photo of morning tree at Magnuson Park, Seattle

photo of morning tree at Magnuson Park, Seattle

(the following is excerpted from “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard)

“If Tinker Mountain erupted, I’d be likely to notice. But if I want to notice the lesser cataclysms of valley life, I have to maintain in my head a running description of the present… Like a blind man at the ball game, I need a radio. When I see this way I analyze and pry. I hurl over logs and roll away stones; I study the bank a square foot at a time, probing and tilting my head.

But there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go. When I see this way I sway transfixed and emptied. The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut.

When I see this way I see truly.  As Thoreau says, I return to my senses. I am the man who watches the baseball game in silence in an empty stadium. I see the game purely; I’m abstracted and dazed. When it’s all over and the white-suited players lope off the green field to their shadowed dugouts, I leap to my feet; I cheer and cheer.

But I can’t go out and try to see this way. I’ll fail, I’ll go mad. All I can do is try to gag the commentator, to hush the noise of useless interior babble that keeps me from seeing just as surely as a newspaper dangled before my eyes. The effort is really a discipline requiring a lifetime of dedicated struggle; it marks the literature of saints and monks of every order East and West, under every rule and no rule, discalced and shod. The world’s spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind’s muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash, cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects act and rest purely, without utterance.

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise… I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”



Show opening — Yakima Valley Museum

My work is currently on view, through September 30th, at the Yakima Valley Museum. Below are photos from the opening night, a well-attended event thanks to the patrons and outreach efforts of the Yakima Valley Museum and the Yakima Light Project, as well as a wonderful article in the Yakima Herald Republic talking about my work and process. The show also features the work of artist Erin Schulz who paints beautiful still life and figurative works, much in the same style as my own work. At the start of the evening, Erin spoke to the attendees about her work and the recent resurgence of the genre of classical realism, and I spoke a bit about my painting process and the matter of making my own painting oils and pigments. By the end of the evening many of the paintings were sold. Of the ten paintings I have in the show, nine have now sold, so it’s back to the studio now to create new work. A big thanks to all who made this show happen, and to all who attended (many thanks to Dianne LaBissoniere and David Lynx who provided some of photos below).

display showing some of my pigments and oils and the tools I use

display showing some of my pigments and oils and the tools I use

picture of myself and the new owner of the painting, "Blouse"

picture of myself and the new owner of the painting, “Blouse”