Monday, September 19, 2011

Art Chess - Object arranging on the coast of Maine

Working with found objects on the coast of Maine
My husband, Guy, and I collaborate in designing temporary arrangements.

One person starts the arrangement by placing the first object, which defines the space.

The second person adds a new object in relation to the first creating a tension that defines the form of the arrangement.

Finally, the first person adds a third object that is the energy that arises as a natural consequence. 

We work with the open attitude of wonder and curiosity about the immediate area of the rocky shore, selecting large boulders as the setting/canvas for each creation and selecting our objects from the immediate vicinity. While each arrangement is a spontaneous creation made in minutes, there is a feeling of "just so" that arises with each placement. 

Since we take turns with each placement we are always starting from a fresh "Square One", that reminds us to return to "don't know mind" and look with fresh eyes, a key practice in contemplative design. 

This practice is adapted from the object arranging exercises I teach in the Shambhala Art training program, a 5 part class that mixes meditation and the creative process, first developed by my root teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  In his writings, he refers to the roles of each object as Heaven, Earth and Human for the first, second and third strokes/objects placed.  In truth, all creations whether they have one, two, three or more elements, include these principles in the form of a vision(heaven), a form(earth) and energy(human) that arises from the joining of Heaven & Earth. 

If you are interested in learning more about this process here are two resources for classes and more information.
Shambhala Art International Rebekah Younger's website

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Color your world

Today was the kind of drab gray day that is typical of this time of year in Maine.  Snow melting on the ground, foggy air and leafless trees, damp and chill.  The sun when it does shine stays low in the sky, so the light is weak even at mid-day.  In this neutral colored world, I am reminded of how much I am fed by color.  I know I am not alone in this need for rich saturated hues, whether they be the warmth of yellow, the passion of red, the cool depths of blue or the vibrancy of green.  Did you ever notice how color affects your mood? On a gray day we may feel drab and gray ourselves.  Sun and blue skies may uplift our mood.  When I moved from California to Maine, I knew that the quality of light would shift dramatically in the long winters, so I painted the walls of my home warm sunny colors to offset the winter whites and grays.  I am truly amazed that so many Maine homes have white walls when there is so much white here much of the year.

Color is reflected light and those light frequencies do resonate in us.  We can actually be fed energetically by color.  Likewise we can feel overwhelmed or jolted awake by color that is too intense or clashes with its surroundings.  While we each may have our favorite color, there are properties to colors that are near universal. We see it reflected culturally in our use of language.  We speak of seeing red when we are angry, having the blues when we are down or feeling golden when we feel enriched.

Notice what colors you have in your world.  What does it say about who you are?  Do the colors energize you, relax you or do you feel jarred or drained by them?  Understanding how you react to color is vital to creating environments that are harmonious and effective for life and work.  In one client's office two walls were a khaki color, that felt oppressive and drab.  Just shifting the shade to a clearer shade of celadon green lifted his mood while keeping a sense of calm in the space. Another client's home office and meditation room had a large round red rug that filled the room.  The magnetizing energy was overwhelming for the small 10'x10' room, overpowering any sense of peacefulness that might have been created by the altar and furnishings.  Putting a neutral rug in the space, especially a light colored one would brighten the room and create a sense of spaciousness and calm.
I am reminded of a great quote from master colorist, Georgia O'Keeffe in speaking about her paintings, "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."  Ultimately that's where color affects us too.  In the place that is beyond words.  Our direct experience as a sensate being.  Paying attention to how you color your world will help you in developing spaces that work for you on all levels.

If you would like help in coloring your world, I am available for consults, both on site and remotely.  Contact me at: contact at

For more information on the psychology of color these are some useful links.