Have you looked at the sky today? It's an exercise requiring so very little of us, yet often when posed the question, the answer is not "YES". Subtraction is the mighty trick for reclaiming small portions of our (choked) fixed 24 hours and a tool for getting to "YES". It begins with saying “no thank you” to those responsibilities, commitments, myths, invitations, bad habits and assorted other detractors that make less of you, instead of make more.
Subtraction is limb #2 in SUPERFLOW, a soon to be published book designed specifically to light up that artist in each of us so that we might access the superpower that is our creative muscle. As we slowly emerge from this all-depleting life chapter, our creativity is here at our disposal. In 10 refreshingly light chapters (brimming with insights and guided practices), SUPERFLOW offers the sequence for seizing it.
The SUPERFLOW approach to flexing our collective might was crafted to serve as a functioning modern-day playbook for channeling the beauty, we each uniquely see, out through our most authentic lens. Its content invites artists of all levels and all mediums to consider a new game plan for making art. SUPERFLOW's structure is unique in that it is a duet of 2 components which stem from the Tibetan term for the word enlightenment, a union of two words "sang" and "gyey".
The first half of the book is dedicated to “sang”, meaning a clearing away ofthe delusions and bad habits of the mind, and the second half to “gyey”, the developing and bringing forth of our true nature. After a deep exploration focused on creating those conditions which makes space for our true visions to emerge, SUPERFLOW's second half ("gyey") guides the reader through a process for expressing their creative notes. Throughout both segments of the book, its pages detail experiences from my 2 decade long spiritual practice, and my life as a working artist. They also makes space for a host of shared wisdom from artists of all disciplines. A series of powerful practices invite the reader to engage directly with its teachings as they unfold.
The SUPERFLOW sequence is a structure of principles intended as a game plan for reclaiming a bit of you — a doorway into living your purpose. So many of us cling to the false narratives that we are somehow not creative and have no business engaging in the making of art. SUPERFLOW busts through that fog extending readers both a permission and a framework for following their imagination - at an easel, sitting down at the piano, behind the lens of a camera, at a potter's wheel, with a keyboard or sketchpad... endless margins.
I share this approach for lighting up the artist in you not claiming to be an authority figure of any sort. But, there is tremendous satisfaction in making one’s formula for breakthrough available to another. In its application, I continue to personally witness small SUPERFLOW epiphanies both in my own creative endeavors and in the pursuits of countless other artists and artists- to-be. The accompanying before and after image examples illustrate the difference this playbook can make.
There's a term in the Sanskrit language... "Ehipassiko". It translates loosely to, "come see for yourself". SUPERFLOW the book will be available in wide release in early summer, and I invite you to do so. Please stay tuned for virtual and in-person creative workshops which will offer transformative experiences for lighting up the artist in YOU... and lots of space for looking at the sky.
SUPERFLOW: LIGHT UP THE ARTIST IN YOU
PALM BEACH PHOTOGRAPHIC CENTRE
BREAK OUT BEYOND THE ORDINARY IN YOUR CREATIVE LIFE
4 (VIRTUAL) 2 HOUR SESSIONS: 10 AM - 12 NOON
THURSDAY, MARCH 11
THURSDAY, MARCH 18
THURSDAY, MARCH 25
THURSDAY, APRIL 1
The term "soul companion" often conjures up visions of human beings, in harmony speaking a language all of their own. A recent experience behind the lens found me extending this concept out beyond the margins of its typical application. The shoot had me recalling that a place has a soul all its very own and in recognizing and honoring that truth, we can achieve a similar harmony... where process truthfully replies to its echoes.
Addison Mizner defined the architecture of South Florida. Establishing his signature Spanish and Mediterranean style in the 1920s, he went on to design more than 50 Palm Beach villas and Florida mansions for the nation's "leading social families", as well as the famed Everglades Club. A romantic and freewheeling visionary, his designs often took on the air of movie sets from Hollywood's golden era.
"A prose portrait suggests the atmosphere of the sitter's identity, not just their physical appearance."
Many of Mizner's timeless dwellings live on here, where I now make my home. There is a sacred quality to their light and energy, an irrefutable soul, a timelessness which staggers. I recently had the chance to photograph under one of his roofs, and stepping into that glorious energy had me hearing that halt loud and clear, and its (re)direction to speak back accordingly. So, I stepped out of my routine. I reposed and got intentional with my equipment and the capture's approach. How might I craft the setting's soul companion?
PLACE + PROCESS
What is a soul? Loosely defined it is, "the immaterial presence or actuating cause of an individual life". Few are created equal. And yet these lives have ways of finding an "other". In getting quiet, pausing with place and reading its essence, there comes an opportunity to stretch this definition out beyond its borders in the pictures we make. Through tuning the creative process to its very key, we can honor the soul of a place, and... discover its companion?
The companion images in this post were created in Palm Beach using only natural light and the Lensbaby Velvet 56 and Sol 45 lenses.
i am not then
THAT was before
i am not when
BUT i could be
… some day
what i am is NOW
and, at it i may glance
or, offer myself HOLY
Ease of mind, peace in the body, fields of quiet contemplation. There are countless routes to such destinations. Inhales and exhales are the usual suspects no matter the chosen course. Not the mechanical inhales and exhales which sustain our physical selves. Rather, the variety which nourish the soul -not restricted to meditation or prayer or any other framed view.
Fade far away, dissolve and quite forget
What thou among the leaves has never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
In my work as both a photographer and a writer, I have long held a prism up in study of the assorted manners in which we as a culture "exhale"... the ways in which we (as Keats so eloquently terms it) "dissolve". BREATH TAKING continues these threads, probing gestures and instances of subtracting ourselves from the grid of life. My intent in the book's pages, filled with fusions of words and images, is to reflect back truths of the mosaic of practices and experiences in service of breathing… and those hints of glory which take our breath away.
Here’s a bow to breath taking whatever the shape... now more than ever? Purchase BREATH TAKING: The Language of Pause...
Among the many outlets in which I have taken refuge over these past several months is the podcast MEDITATIVE STORY which combines rich personal tales in the foreground with lush soundscapes in the back. Tucked in among the storytelling are one or two meditation prompts. As the podcast's personally narrated stories unfold, they extend to the listener a swift unwind, taking you right back to being read to as a child. Cannot recommend it enough!
In a recent episode, entitled A Cowboy's Rule for Listening, the poet Waddie Mitchell speaks straight from the heart of growing up on his father’s ranch in Elko, Nevada. We hear how as a young boy he watches the cowboys around him (or buckaroos) with awe, silently absorbing their stories and manners. From that deep listening he masters how to shoe a horse, start a colt, lead a crew and tell a tale. Through the buckaroos he learns that adventure and freedom aren’t things to seek elsewhere.
Throughout Waddie's storytelling he makes sacred the act of listening, impressing it as a privilege to be enjoyed. His mastery of taking slow, deep notice clearly have everything to do with his power of story and its telling. As he crafts his account, he is absolutely in and of himself, not any other person. Without consideration or distraction of extraneous factors, he is right there - in the raw materials of his life.
As I took in Waddie Mitchell's quiet imagery of the sounds and smells and routines of his rather ordinary ranch life. I was reminded of the goods we have right here before us in every moment and how in seizing that bounty we make the pictures and the poems that only we can make. His story didn't capture my attention with glamor and intricate language, but rather by a poetry that he was able to patch together in the simple act of planting himself fully and sharing that experience's unfiltered essence.
I get to listen...
Creatively, we plot and we study and we calculate... and, these efforts at times do have their merits. But what if we just got back to listening and observing, and learning that way? Isn't it true that, time and time again, when we pause all of the striving and just come back home to ourselves, observing the nature of things as they are, that's when the real magic happens?