The Karate Kid and Balance

I was born in 1975, and when I was a kid, Star Wars was huge. The other B-movie kind of saga which had a big impact on me in the eighties was the original Karate Kid trilogy. I started doing Seido Karate when I was about eight, and made my way to yellow belt, but I stopped there, because it really wasn’t providing me with that something sacred which I hoped it might.

All of these years later, I think of when I was diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome as the chaotic factor in my life which was out of balance in a big way. Then, one day, a friend told me about a Chigong master who was coming to town and doing individual healings. He advised me that Zhineng Chigong was what I needed, and so I committed to learning it. My teacher told me that Chigong was the original martial art, because healing and consciousness precede the need to learn to fight. The blissful feelings it brought about, along with the positive culture, and techniques I could incorporate into my daily life were providing the disciplined sacred space that I needed.

Fear, worry and self-doubt are all part and parcel of being diagnosed with any disease (especially when Western medicine tells you there is no known cure!). Michio Kushi, in his Macrobiotic theory, talks of there being a background and a foreground, and that usually our preoccupation is with the foreground, which is occupied by our fears, vices, and perceived flaws. The background is the positive things which are going on in our lives, often brought about by our efforts to remedy the negative.

So I don’t think my aim is to become a Pollyanna, brimming with positivity  no matter what, but to develop something like dialectic reasoning, as Mr Miyagi does effectively in this scene where Daniel is focusing on the foreground of the Karate tournament (the object of his fear). Mr Miyagi reminds Daniel of the lesson about balance, and shows him the photo of Ali (the object of his love and happiness).

I like to think of the Cobra Kai as being the disease, as its credo seems to be ‘No Mercy”.

That little master is the wise centre in us all.


Three Mixed Media Collages with Circle Motif

Circle #5

Circle #4

medium blue back inner and outer circle black segs framed frontal


Well, as you can see, I have been continuing on with the series of works devoted to the centred circle motif. For these three pieces I went with a lighter tone of blue for the background, and a subtler texture, by way of using finer sea salt with the watercolour.

The circles, cut from paper primed with sand texture, and poured onto with various acrylic colours, you will notice are slightly smaller than the black circle onto which they are glued. This is for practical reasons, and I think it gives the added effect that one is peering into a portal. The segments cut out of the circles I see as suggestions of euclidean space in three dimensions, and as relevant in two dimensions as quantities, judgments, or phases in a cycle which contains its own novel feeling, atmosphere, or mood.

We use the term “sync” a lot these days, and maybe the third piece could be seen being “out of sync”. Two dimensions, or entities co-existing, but not resonating, perhaps.

Symbolic Abstracts Exploring the Circle

For the series of abstracts I am currently working on, I have chosen one symbol: the circle. Why the circle? Well, there is no particular preference for any geometric shape, it’s just that I had to chose one, and then allow the series of works to evolve around the use of this shape.

It is a very inclusive symbol, and seems appropriate for bringing together my technical and stylistic approaches to reference philosophical and psychological themes.

I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s writings where he cites the circle as being the best symbol to describe the hero’s journey, which I like to think of as a healing journey.

Here’s a little dialogue he had with Bill Moyers in regards to the circle.

The hands-on mixing of colours, building up of textures, and making intuitive decisions is what I think of as the existential aspect of my artistic practice, whereas, the introduction of measurement and proportion incorporates the metaphysical and rational Platonic aspect. I want the works to be expressive, as well as decorative, chaotic, yet ordered, small in size, while expansive in their effect.

A4 size circle with green for web

A4 size circle with green close for web

After painting the shape of the circle, I then cut a circle out of pieces of paper which had first been coated with a base colour mixed with sand texture gel, and had had some acrylic pouring and blotching done to them.
I then sliced out a section from this textured circle to reveal the colour underneath add further interest.

These sections could be thought of as phases in the mythic journey, or just as phases in time. The thing I don’t like about analogue clocks and watches is that they can trick us into thinking that we just repeat the same cycle over and over, like clockwork, but don’t account for the unique weather, mood, or challenges of any particular cycle, or phase within that cycle.

Circle on blue with black and black frame for web

Crircle on blue with brown and square frame for web