Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘art’

Lost Somewhere In The Arctic

Thought I’d drop a line for anyone that might have wondered “Where’s Pazlo?” Though it’s not really that unusual for me to hiatus from the blog for periods of time, it seems like forever since I properly managed my main blogroll.

Many folks I’ve met through the blog are writers. (Of course there are a lot of other talents shared, but we’re talking specifically writing now).

As described in the past, I myself was drawn to blogging as an outlet for my writing Jones. I love to write, and have penned poems and radio scripts, songs and philosophical ramblings among other things, and done a lot of journaling.

An inspiration caught up with me. What was once a vague spark. One of those “someday, I’m going to write a book” things. The first idea for Armchair Zen was that it would be a scratchpad and testbed for my modern zen interpretations, a practice pad and a work in progress, that in some fantasy world would end up as something of a book. Herein, it is referred to as a “blook”. A blog that reads like a book. I think this kind of inspiration and concept is not unusual in the blogosphere.

Way back in the last century, my best human friend Jeff and I would sit at typewriters all night, all weekend, composing a variety of creative oddities. We “published” a newspaper (though I can’t quite remember the name). We wrote a long commentary-narrative about a league playing a bizarre game called “Destructoball”, in which teams tried to hand off to the other team an explosive device before it went off. (Totally inappropriate these days)

We wrote scripts for our radio series “The Adventures of Mr. Pazlo”, a sort of The Pink Panther meets Monty Python show, heavily influenced by a group called Firesign Theater. Pazlo and his partner Mr. Butto were private detectives, and the scripts loosely chased after a case which was really just fodder for a lot of one-liners. After completing the scripts, we’d spend a long, sleepless weekend recording the show, doing all the voices and sound effects and even mock commercials on our mock radio station KOMA.

For sheer volume, I think most of my writing was journaling the decade spent with my son-in-law Matt, discovering the thrills and agonies of radio-controlled aircraft flight. We taught ourselves to fly machines with 5-foot wingspans and real (glow) motors. We strapped cameras to airplanes long before Go-Pro, and created an entire world of L & B Aviation, daring bush pilots, and even named the little plastic pilots in our little balsa airplanes.

Fast forward to this post. I’ve neglected writing herein, as well as on Chowdogzen and Life In Engleville. Nor have I done much posting on my photo site Crescent Moon Studio. I started to write something, just a story, totally fiction. Not really sure what I was to do with it, but that’s pretty much my life. I have songs and poems and a story about two guys learning to fly called “Sun Dogs”, I have oil paintings and water paintings I’ve done, and all these things occupy my own little space, my homestead. An unshared creative bonanza!

Well, I’ll tell you a curious thing that has happened to me. Maybe this happens with other authors of fiction. I’m writing more or less “for myself”, for more things to add to my secreted “body of work” in my house (and on my blogs). Well, the story started slow and was a bit clunky and it didn’t matter ’cause it was “just for myself”, and I decided I would not concern myself too much with rules of writing, including story boarding. (That’s when you sketch out the whole theme or plot, to give yourself a roadmap to follow as you write). I started writing, and characters were born and developed. I kept adding and thought “maybe I’ll just treat it as a serial for now.” I’d write each chapter as I pleased, following some continuity, but with no ideas really where the story (and its characters) would go. (Actually, this is also the way the screenplay was written for that famous film Casablanca. The writers themselves were eager to find out how the story ends!)

And that’s what happened to me. Like the writers on Casablanca, I found myself wondering what would happen next. I’ve been pinned down, somewhere in Siberia, with my characters as their lives unfold before me. Whenever I finish a chapter I find myself eager to hear the next episode! I’ve been unable to put time into anything else because I desperately need to find out what happens.

In fact, right now, there’s a young man and a sled dog team that are about to be trapped many miles from home by a blizzard, so I need to wrap this up and get back to them. This is a unique and wonder-filled experience for me, and I’m having the time of my life. So, I hadn’t planned on really publicizing it much or promoting it ’cause as I said, it’s just ramble-writing for myself.

I must admit, however, that the story and the characters have grown on me. I almost miss them and worry about them when I’m gone!

So if you want to entertain yourself a bit, or discover that what I find fascinating is actually quite boring to other people, scroll down the right side of the home page to the Blogroll, and join me in the frozen lands of the Arctic, for Sasha of The Chukchi Sea.

Presently, it’s a serial without an end, so I hope you’re good at hanging patiently if you start reading the story.

More another time, on the ways some fictional characters in a fictional place have stolen my heart, and all my attention and time!


Seek peace,



Art for Art’s sake

If you look around some really old places on this planet, like caves aged a few million years, you’ll find art.

Primitive cave paintings depicted the things and events of everyday life.

People, animals, hunting, the sun.


Arts and visual expression appear to be as old as mankind itself.

Found in a cave in Germany, a small carved figure, dating back about 40,000 years.

We can understand modern art. Taught in grade school, Art Colleges. Folks may produce art as a hobby or as a profession.

We can work our day jobs and order art supplies from Cheap Joe’s, and retire to our comfy studio (or bring a plein air easel outdoors), and enjoy making art.

What, I wonder, would compel someone to spend time on art in the cave-dwelling days?

Back in a time where we had to constantly be on the lookout for saber-toothed tigers raiding our dens, eating our babies.

Humans are compelled to create something to a greater degree than any other animal. Sure, a few animals make rudimentary tools, like using a stick to pull ants out of a nest, or smashing mussels on a rock to open them. Also, some animals seem to enjoy decorating their homes. Typically this would be a bird, hence the common phrase “a shiny thing to put in my nest”. These birds collect colorful or shiny objects and decorate with them, ostensibly to attract a mate. This seems counter-intuitive, since most nests are built to be unseen by predators to the greatest extent possible. Eggs and hatchlings will need to “hide” in the nest until they can fly and rely on their own defenses. It seems as though a prospective mate would desire those that demonstrate effective camouflage. You’ll need to ask the birds on that one.

Humans paint. I paint. I use modern pre-stretched canvases and buy paints already mixed to consistency (as opposed to powdered pigments used by the masters). Going back 50 or 60 thousand years, humans used berries and barks, blood, colored sands and anything else that could produce a color to paint with. They painted their faces, they painted each other, they painted cave walls and precipices, they used paint to mark their livestock, decorate their hide homes and who knows what else?

While no other animal has made that leap to defined expression via visual media, humans didn’t stop with colored waters. As we advanced, we started making pottery and…you guessed it…we painted it. Then we went on to carving things from shells, bone, ivory, wood. Now we’re up to sculpture, and we often painted those, too!

You know the rest of the story. As time marched on, humans continued to develop the general class of activity & objects known commonly as “art”.

Okay, so let’s say we’re half way through “modern” recorded history, say we’re around the year zero, or maybe approaching the Renaissance, perhaps it’s 1300 a.d.

It’s easy to understand how the wealthy might have the time and resources for art. A king’s portrait painter, artists engaged by a Pharaoh to paint the history of  one’s reign inside a pyramid or other tomb. Royal weavers might make tapestries for royal families to hang in their royal houses. But what about the common man?

Regular everyday people who didn’t have a pot to cook in were painting, sculpting, carving, scrimshawing, weaving and whittling to their heart’s content with no thought of reward or return. One could hardly call it an instinct, but it is amazingly universal among many disparate cultures spanning tens of thousands of years from far-flung places by folks that could never have known one another. Sure, in a few instances these things may be religious icons or relics, bear some magical powers to bring rain or improve fertility.

But mostly they’re just art for art’s sake, in its truest sense.

The Artist

The Artist

Whether you paint, sculpt, draw, write, sing, act, or do none of these, next time you non-consciously and idly draw a doodle while you’re talking on the phone you’ll know that this ancient “instinct” lives on.

Next time: What about celestial tracking? Stonehenge? Did we really need 90-ton boulders to track the things that came around to exactly the same place every year?


Be at peace,



Creativity and Seeing

When you think of it, folks in the blogosphere are creative people. It takes a creative whim to want to write something intended for a general or unknown audience. Whatever may be your “homepage”, everyone posts stories and pix about their lives onto their little piece of the cloud, but in most “social networks”, folks are addressing a specific invited group of family, friends and acquaintances.

Searching for red 128

The original thought here was to compose an entry encouraging you to embrace your creative side, and express it in any way you can. It’s an ancient instinct for humans, (an instinct shared by a number of animals that decorate their nests). Go all the way back to face painting and cave paintings and you see a legacy of the human desire to create something. Something with a message and value to others. Something that will connect us to another human being brain-to-brain and heart-to-heart. Something that will exist and speak for us, stand on its own, even if we are absent or long-gone.

Language, of course, made it possible for us to do this with the characters on the printed page. To describe joy and beauty and anguish and heartbreak, humor and sadness, wonder and imagination.

Many folks have a great apprehension against calling themselves writers or artists. I refer to myself as “amateur”, in the sense that my artistic pursuits do not achieve widespread success in the forms of notoriety, acclaim or income. (Well, I did make money playing in a few bands and making signs in my younger days.) Okay, let’s say no great success or commercial success or whatever you want to call it, but does that mean the art is any less art?

Well, some of that’s a topic for debate another time. What I’d like to share at this time is the wonderous influence art has had in my life and my perception, even my understanding of human perception. And fish perception if you lump fly tying in there. Some people are artists at fly tying. I’m not even amateur. More like a hack. But seriously, the French call it “to fool the eye”, and I guess if you can “fool the eye” of a rainbow trout, you’re an artist!

October rain

So here’s your “Seeing” test. Okay, it’s not really a test at all, it’s just an observation and study of your brain’s powerful perception of the real world. One at a time, imagine these plants:

A tulip.

A maple tree.

A lilac bush.

Are you imagining what these look like in your mind’s eye? Go back if you must. It’s not a trick or a race.

How about a rose bush?



Okay, okay. Enough of the test. You were supposed to be imagining these plants. Pumpkins was a great last-minute thought. Did you see orange pumpkins? What color were the roses? How about the lilacs? What kind of birds are below?

Always leaving.

If you thought these were Canada geese, you are correct. Okay, so how do you know they’re Canada geese when all you can see are these black specs? (My kids said every photo I ever took of a bird showed a speck.)

Was the tree full of leaves? The rose full of flowers? The lilac in bloom? Were there orange pumpkins?

Did you see a bare maple tree without leaves, in the snow? Did you see a lilac tree in winter dormancy, or covered with green leaves of summer, yet without blossoms? Did you see pumpkin vines and blossoms, but plants without fruit?

Odds are, you saw all these things in full life and bloom. Like a story book, a stereotype of what a rose or pumpkin looks like. Even the geese were identified by pattern recognition!

What do you see?

When I took up oil painting, I had to learn to “re-see” things. In painting it’s referred to as “unteaching” that which we’d been inadvertently “taught”. Tree trunks are brown with green lollipop tops. The sun is yellow, the sky is blue, clouds are white, the water bright blue. All those things may be true at some times, but what about colors in the clouds? How about white water and brown water and water the color of whatever is reflected in it? Is a leafy tree colored green in the light and gray in the shadows? Are shadows black?

Thanks to my “amateur” attempts at oil painting, I have learned to see what is really there. As I course through my days I see the spectrum of colors the water droplets reflect into a cloud. Sometimes you can see the red or green or blue, and grays and purples are frequent. Sometimes the sky is bright cerulean blue and sometimes bold aquamarine and sometimes a pale blue, a frosty pastel.

Sunrise spectrum.

Trees are anything but lollipop-shaped, (except for a few oddities), and grow with a purpose, reaching and climbing, expanding their girth as they age. Trunks are gray and brown and black with green, and white with stripes, sometimes smooth, sometimes ragged. Leaves in shadows are the same color as those in the light, so how do we perceive this? What of color saturation, hue and intensity?

It is by trying to recreate that which I see that has led me to seeing what is really there. Now I am constantly observing, re-learning, truly understanding what the world around me looks like.

Many times I see things and say “If I painted that just the way it is, you’d say it doesn’t look real!”.  Try reading an entry-level book about painting, drawing or pastels. “Drawing from the right side of the brain” is standard fare for artists, and teaches us this very concept.

Even if you don’t indulge your creativity in these forms of art, I’ll guarantee they’ll help you to see!

Be at peace,



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