Sick of going ‘roon and roon’ with the mandalas and needing to connect with my, creative, inner child.
So it was no real suprise to find myself playing in mud again.
I get so lost in it.
It fits every need in me.
Just soil/earth and water. Nothing else.
And so giving. Endless possibilities.
This time I have been exploring printing techniques.
I am very excited by some of the effects created, but still have little control over them!
The print dictates the image, rather than having a plan!
Earth speaks through the medium.
I make a mono-print and then ‘draw out’, by simply moving ‘earth about’, what image I see ‘sleeping’ in the shapes made.
This mud art is very difficult to photograph well,
All these experiments are done on white paper, even using photoshop editing on them is prooving difficult.
It is impossible to simply replace background on these as much of the subtlety is lost, and, in some instances, seemingly impossible to loose ‘the blue’ of white paper.
To the best of my ability I have reproduced these images as true to their real appearance as possible!
This print below has to be my favorite.
(See the top picture in this post, top left, for a truer idea of the colours and subtle texture in the mud, after applying linseed oil fix.)
This wee mud fairy was clearly calling to be ‘drawn out’ of the mud!
I have been experimenting with adding pigments/fixatives to the mud.
But this does not work.
The pigment stains the paper in a way that then does not allow further, effective, manipulation of the mud before it dries, which is more than half the fun!
I discovered (during the creation of Delta State) that I can add pigment to the dried, finished, piece if I require it.
I am also experimenting with some alternative fixing methods, as I feel these prints loose a lot of texuture when the linseed oil is applied.
More muddy experimenting to follow!
My oldest son was taken into hospital this week and required emergency surgery to remove adhesions on his gut, so all in all a very worrying time.
Feeling somewhat lost and all ‘washed up’ I turned to my mandalas this March.
The process comforting and, sometimes, rewarding.
Exploring new ways to construct them, to somehow loosen the geometric hold of them, all the while procrastinating, putting off more serious commitments.
Quite a crop!
Some are more satisfiying than others…..
(click on first image in each gallery to view full size with title)
wet willow mandalas
I saw my first bumble bee this month enjoying the shining crocuses golden pollen!
random one off mandalas
Decided that to compare techniques I’d make a selection using the same image. I have always found mosses and lichens to be a favorite form to mandalize and very plentiful here.
A daffodil is the perfect natural, 6 point, ‘flower of life’ mandala anyway!
I find more Beauty in the real flower than could ever be contained in these artifical, symmetrical, manipulated forms though …… yup, having a mandala crisis too!!!
Farewell to social media!
Good riddance to all fake illusion!
Ears under assault only from the huge, wooding, trucks that rumble by with their heavy load, tearing up our only access with their ‘mother fucking’ wheels.
My husband pissing like a horse in the bathroom, the radio in the background.
Only birdsong, the weather this morning, and strong black coffee for stimulation.
This is enough.
I have suffered enough!
I have seen the Matrix.
Stared out the spider.
I now turn my back on the whole affair and simply walk away from this ‘net’.
I no longer desire to be ‘caught’.
It seems now such a foolish ambition.
And such a waste of, increasingly precious, Time.
May the only screens I ever see again be blank.
Inviting me to fill them.
With my own words.
My own creativity.
Farewell too to eternal, samey, box-sets and the buffering wheel.
In the evenings let us lie in the wash of crappy, satellite, TV, with nothing much on of real interest.
Surfing through channels and instantly gratified.
Talking though it all and tearing the advertisements apart.
Offering each other cups of tea.
Chatting about our days.
Sharing space in unity, gathered around that single screen,
while wondering at all the inanity going on in the world.
This is other people’s lives.
Once I decried television as the ‘drug of the Nation’ with its force-fed narrative, I had no idea, then, what was to follow.
Now it seems like an old freind.
At least it does not pretend to be what it is not.
Enough of these tailored, curated, ‘cult of the individual’, bubbles that pull us all further apart!
How can Nature even have a chance to captivate and call us, out of our own heads, into the fresh world all around,
With so much choice, provided by so few, to view?
I see more beloved trees on this screen these days than I do in real Life! Despite living where I do!
I caught myself just in time, before each flower, each sunset, became little more than a photo oppurtunity.
Real views are mainly sky (and I do not mean the telecommunications company)
The real webs made by spiders.
The real hives made by bees and wasps.
Clouds are made of water droplets and store nothing but rain, though sometimes ice.
To compute means to process, a computer is nothing but a processor.
If servers provide a service why then do I then serve them?
Home is where we live, and so much more than a landing page.
(There is no land here.)
A board can never be described as a Mother.
I once believed the internet gave us all a voice, but now all I hear is a roar.
If opinions are like water, this is now a waterfall so loud, no sense can be made of it, other than acknowledging its raw power and influence (or should that be effluence?!)
The water is brown and filthy, like the run-off from a municipal waste disposal facility.
All good work diluted by grey water.
Every droplet recorded and, expensively, stored by the Machine.
A rich harvest randomly to be analysed by employed scientists of behaviour and psychology.
Who work for an elite who seek to control the flow.
The Machine now trusted by its programmers to weed out the chaff.
All at the mercy of the algorithm.
The likes of children, brought up by the Machine, considered more profitable than any elder’s warnings.
I gave my whole self to IT so willingly!
Blinded by this blue Light and the prospect of, perhaps, being seen and heard.
I have ridden those rapids and find myself, now, bruised, going round and round in eddies of foam,
Swirling , restless, over a deep, dark, pool, just below the falls.
Pushed to the edge with broken trees, discarded plastic, and old news.
Holding onto the rocks to catch my breath.
Gathering my strength to haul myself back onto the bank.
Kat Robertson March 2021
This is my world.
My whole horizon.
It is Beautiful.
And it is all that I need.
I am its only Guardian.
And this tiny world needs me.
I Care for it.
I have some agency here.
And only here.
Any illusion of becoming real in a virtual world is now dissolving like a bad dream.
A nightmare of 4 years.
I have found a place.
Out of the wind and rain.
In the shelter of rock and tree roots.
On a bed of dry leaves and under canopy.
The moss drips at the entrance to this shelter.
Only here do I feel safe.
Watching the whirling world.
While embedded in this spot.
More in common with this tree, this soil and this rock,
than with all those glittering projections.
Melt into the landscape.
Blend in, become invisible.
Just another tiny particle.
If that makes me inhuman,
Then humanity itself now alienates me.
I perceive, as alien, this planet from Deep Space,
With alien senses, hear the ‘hum’ of Earth,
And whispered stories
Of stars and distant universes and of our, as yet unexplored, potential.
I feel Earth’s cold and lonely passage,
I see how very precious She is.
Now I must take such care about which culture I take root in.
I choose a culture that is not ‘on screen’ and more akin to fungal networks.
The Machine now builds a ‘cage’ around the Earth and I find have become mistrusting even of our Father Sky.
Even the Air I breathe, the space around me, now polluted with our, focused, radiation.
This Fire in our oxygen is dry. So very dry. I become wizened.
If I am to be caged, then I choose this place.
For I find myself in good company among the lichens and branches.
Better to tune to their frequency and breathe their fresher, moister, air.
If this is an illness then please feel free to diagnose me.
But I will not be taking any medications, for they are only added layers of complexity and over-looked side effects.
If ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ why do we keep inventing layers we do not need?
Using more fuel to fuel our already fuel-driven lives.
Crudely drenched in the stuff.
Sometimes I see the whole world on Fire.
Sometimes I need to swim, to wash those charred layers off, to re-hydrate.
Where I go swimming I imagine rainbows are left swirling on the surface behind me.
It only takes a drop.
I do not need much.
I have found a place.
Out of the wind.
In the shelter of rock and tree roots.
Dry leaves and under canopy.
From here I can watch the whirling world.
And ride out this wild weather.
Kat Robertson February 2021
I made this gif (below) of my tiny world’s horizons, in an accelerated spin, after doing some research into NFTs. (Non-Fungible tokens).
This would make quite a good one.
I was almost persuaded by the hype, for I have much unmarketable, digital artwork, shared here, on this blog.
But, on looking into it all more deeply, when tapped, it all just has that same, hollow, ring.
I will surely become poorer for little reward and I do not like to gamble.
I work and someone else becomes richer. Same old, same old.
Painted as an ‘evolution’ I see it as another desperate grab in a dying world. Another chunk torn out of reality.
I find I am a bit charmed by the idea of it though.
All artists live in a kind of unsolvable riddle, a koan of existence.
The virtual nature of this proposition is attractive, but if I find real relief in stepping away from the screen what would possess me now to put my real money, and learning time, into a virtual, screen-based, economy!!??
It simply makes no common sense.
My digital artwork remains for sale, in high resolution, through my mandala shop, for £3.50 or so. Why would any fool be persuaded it was worth £1000’s, even if it did prove virtually marketable??
I am also, now, thanks to this ‘advance’, even more fearful of art thieves.
Today yet another marketing entrepreneur has chosen to follow this blog. I may have mentioned this before, but most of my ‘followers’ are media types (and psychiatrists!) who never comment and rarely like. No like minded community being built here. Not all, but so many ‘licking to be licked’, standing on other’s shoulders to see better, with no regard for their well being.
I saw one of these new nfts ridiculing ladies of my age/demographic, depicted riding a social media ‘rocket’, waving her lipstick and handbag.
This seems to be the general tone.
“Let’s dis the Gen X mothers, just as we make ourselves all disposable”.
As may be obvious from this post I am struggling now. I am not OK.
I was worried that I had no Love left in me, until I remembered that Grief is an expression of Love and now I find that Gratitude, for what remains and Grief, for all that is lost, are, prehaps, the only appropriate expressions. I cannot stop being an artist, but if any future, alternative, occupations become necessary I have been considering training as a death doula …… at least I would be useful……
Delta State a
Inspired by Grayson Perry’s Art Club to do some drawing.
It has been a while.
The prompt was ‘Dreaming’.
I did a few random searches on ‘dream states’ and was reminded that the name of the brainwave, associated with deep dreaming, is ‘Delta Wave’. These brain waves, electrial impulses, now recorded using electroencephalography (EEG).
I meditated on these words and an image began to take form, behind my eyelids.
I really enjoyed a return to charcoal (probably still my favorite medium of all time!). Burned Tree.
I used a plastic stylus to invisibly carve ‘rivers’, running from the centre out to the edge, each reaching a ‘delta’ at the edge.
Then, when I took the charcoal over the page, it worked like a rubbing, the ‘rivers’ remaining white.
I worked it up from there, getting lost in the ‘mountains’ and land forms that appeared and disappeared with the swipe of an erasor or the rubbing blackness of my finger. Enjoying all the accidental illusions.
As I worked I began to wonder if I had made a mistake making the centre ( that had also clearly became the pupil of an eye) so very dark?
Perhaps the rivers should run from the edge and become delta near the centre? With the ocean as the pupil?
No possibility to change that now.
I introduced soil pigment and was amazed at the sheen it had to it when used with charcoal in this way.
And eventually reached a point when the piece could be worked no further.
One of those pieces when the best versions lie hidden under later layers.
I googled ‘river deltas from space’ and sat, open-mouthed, gaping at the Beauty of these branching, sediment carrying, ‘tree’-like, neuron, blood vessel, veins of Life.
Each finding their own way, pulled by Gravity, following paths of least resistance, at last to join, the Ocean.
I learned that, apart from the threat of rising ocean levels, our world’s great river deltas are actually sinking.
This is due to damming and other human-made, water diversions, higher up stream.
The sediment is no longer washed down to the sea.
Less and less, new, silty land is being created. Fewer nutrients feeding our shores.
This natural barrier to coastal erosion removed by our own, ignorant, subtraction.
(Sub-traction. Ex-traction. These words now haunt my Dreamtime. Our human obsession with all things ‘traction’ so tied up with removing the very earth’s surface we seek ‘traction’ upon! Mechanically hauling ourselves forward. At what cost? ‘Progress’ and ‘traction’ becoming the same word in my kookie mind……)
The real irony is that these deltas provide such rich, fertile, plains, on which huge numbers of humans have made their homes.
And now they are the first to suffer ……
I created a ‘sketch’ mandala using Nasa photograph of the Great Ganges River Delta from space.
Delta State b
I loved the colours of this mandala and resolved to work again with this vision.
This is something I rarely do as my experience is that, everytime I attempt to re-do, better, a vision, it looses rather than gains anything! It seems always to become more contrived.
This time I used my mud preparation and ‘drew’ the rivers through that with a wet brush.
It made sense to try using actual soil/earth, with the direction this idea was moving in.
I sought out my beloved Prussian Blue watercolour and painted an ocean around. I soaked the paper around the ‘mud Earth’ with water and delighted in watching the sediment joining the ocean, the exact same green from the photo mandala glowing through, as the soil met my artifical watery blue…..
It became clear to me that the ‘pupil’ was now an ice cap. A polar region. Each river now beginning as a glacier.
The centre of the ‘eye’ became frozen, white.
Perhaps also a dreaming/trance eye? Pushing the subconscious, mental ‘sediment’, out into a wider ‘field’ …..?
In truth, I did not like this version much.
The rivers did not flow and they reminded me more of roots.
The mediums used seem to clash somehow. So many elements I loved, but overall I found no Beauty in this work.
I learned a few new tricks with mud, but again reached a point of no return. Over-worked.
(I was also reminded how extremely difficult it is to photograph this mud art. These images do little to represent the original, but are the closest I managed to get! It is something to do with the colour/quality of the mud. In edited pictures it always looks more ‘pooey’ than to the naked eye!)
Delta State (final version)
I sat with it again.
One more attempt.
This time only soil/earth on paper. Pure Mud art.
I worked slowly , more mindfully. Mapping out the precious deltas.
Working in negative.
Only adding what needed to be added.
Never ‘taking away’.
The rivers and oceans were the page itself.
Water is Life.
I took great care to leave them alone, not to ‘dam’ them.
Where they met the ocean, I used my finger to sweep the powdered earth out into the white paper ‘ocean’ surrounds.
This time a definite , snow-capped, volcano, began to take shape.
Lying in the centre of this ‘earth-eye’.
It’s crater, the focal point.
I found, again, great pleasure in simply moving the mud to create valleys and mountains, seeing how the terrain morphed and and changed, with the slightest sweep of the brush.
A joy to work with such a slow drying medium. Even when it has dried, it can be rehydrated with water and softens again.
Water and Earth, with the brush playing the part of Weather and Time.
Then it was finished.
I fixed the piece using linseed oil, which, again, changed the finish.
I feel it lost some of the ‘magical detail in its terrain’, but this step is necessary, to stop the whole thing crumbling to dust.
(Note to the cynics out there, I will not give away all my secrets, but this method of fixing does work! I now have mud art pieces that are over a year old and show no signs of crumbling! )
The photographs do not really do it justice, but it pleases me.
It now is.
Another piece of physical evidence to prove my ‘doing’ …… to document here …. to qualify my existence …..
I did enter it to the TV show, but hold little hope of being chosen. Image not screen-grabbing enough? Not really Grayson Perry’s style either. I do not have a mobile, so did not record my video ‘on my phone’ as requested. I do not do Zoom or other facetime apps, so would probably prove to be a bit of an awkard body, even if they did choose to feature ‘Delta State’!?
I did enjoy working to this prompt though.
Words often provide the gateway to the image in this ‘artist’s way’.
I may revisit this idea again, sometime.
It has traction.
A creative attempt to summarize/record my, month-long, participation in this remarkable project.
My original, published, ‘cool’ captions and inspiring ‘Earth quotes’ became lost to the ether when I chose to delete my Facebook account…..which is just as well….as with hindsight it seems I was not really listening…..some of my posts where only text and gone forever now ….but this is all the visual work I shared with the group….cobbled together, chronologically, and with new meaning.
It all began with Nuts.
Those prefectly designed, well travelled, nuggets of both nutrition and potential.
(Reminded now, also. in hindsight, of an Egyptian Nut.
Daughter of vital breath and heat, a star-covered naked woman, bowed over the Earth,
With her head in the West and her feet in the East. A bridge between the Earth and the Sky.)
I wondered how this ‘tree’ would grow from there…..
The endangered red squirrel became my constant companion on this journey.
And, as always here, the Wind.
Winter Hawthorn showed me her sharp, protective, thorns…..
The Beech hedge whispered ‘Sssssh…..ssssh’……
Mole spoke to me of staying buzy, but remaining underground, unseen…..
Mosses demonstrated how to cling on and thrive, on only cold, ungiving, stone……
But I was not really listening …….
And worms writhed in the compost heap of my mind, giving birth to strange new, artifical, creatures….
I have a well-weathered head.
Colonized now by Nature.
Worn away by Time.
Still able, though, to see those ‘Spots of Light’ and bask in their Radiance.
Celebrate their Beauty.
That is, until I see when I venture out, again and again, our trashing of everything Sacred …
And I am returned to Grieving.
Yet, I was reminded, in that Darkness, there is always Light.
You only have to find new ways of Seeing.
It is Imbolc.
A time of Rebirth. Of Future. A Time of New Beginnings and Returning Light.
Humble Snowdrops blaze a fanfare.
Spring is on its way.
The soil gives way to green, urgent, spears of New Life, pushing up toward the Sun.
Even, inside our winter home, the houseplants put on a show of wondrous, exotic, blooms.
Out walking I was shown something weird, almost alien, something that I had never encountered before.
Earth spoke to me again of all the unseen wonders that she holds.
That Living can only ever be learning.
I cracked open my first rotten egg in a long, long time.
The smell was of Sulphur.
I learned that Humans create more Sulphur now than is released by all the Earth’s volcanos put together.
So Humans smell, to the Earth, of Sulphur too.
A smell associated with Decay.
And the breaking open of her Crust.
Then we were invited to dig deep and find our authentic Howl.
Always a tough one.
It turned out my Howl is, and has always been, my felt Impotence in affecting any real Change
Through what I am able to do, through my own unique gifts.
Earth told me it was OK to share, again, some work I have already done.
For it is Work that has not lost Value through Age.
Just as I have not lost Value.
Work created when I first began to Give the Earth a Voice online.
(Though, at that time, I thought I was Alone in doing so.)
Sharing this Work, reminded me that I have been Standing here a long, long Time already.
And brought home how committed I am to doing it still.
Rarely witnessed and, in the main, uncelebrated.
As undeserving of applause as a weed in a lawn.
A rock, the moss or a twisted tree.
A sea squirt.
Or a hooded crow.
This is not a show.
A creature of magik and alchemy.
Who no longer needs to shout out “I am here!”
Because, in the course of this experiment, the only One who really matters told me that:
She Loves me,
that She is Sorry,
that She Forgives me
and is Grateful for all that I do.
And when I heard that back….
I just Let Go.
I AM HOME
and that is where you’ll always find me.
Kat Robertson. Standing As Earth. Imbolc 2021
I am staring at this screen.
How to condense the Experience?
The above barely scratches the surface.
Now only recorded in pages and pages and pages and pages and pages
of messy, scrawled notes, avid, crazed, chanelled, journalling …processing …..too much to edit.
And this trail of shared artworks.
I have deleted my Facebook account.
Deleted all social media accounts.
I am too much to edit.
It was Earth that called me to withdraw from all that fight to be seen.
The fight to feel heard.
While I celebrate all who are able to continue this work of being visible online.
Who have those skills.
I have become exhausted from trying to find new ways to say such a simple thing.
There simply are no words left in my limited vocabulary.
I can tell you how I felt when I first saw the online invitation.
YES! YES! What a brilliantly simple idea!
Let’s ALL Stand AS Earth.
Earth, my true Nature, guides me now to simply write of the WEATHER during this month long experiment #standingasearth on Facebook.
The Weather of Standing As Earth
It began with a, freezing, Siberian Wind that howled from the East.
Screaming over vast, populated, landmasses,
Carrying all that stale air,
To meet the ocean
All the way from China, it came hurtling through, at tree-breaking ,wave-hurling, speed,
Onward over the Atlantic, toward the East Coast of the Americas.
It was hard, sometimes, to Breathe.
The Land became hard too, as iron.
It’s Life Blood frozen.
Impermanent diamonds grew in the Mud.
And the Trees grew hair of Ice.
Until the very Dryness turned it all to Dust.
Dust that came Alive, like dervishes, like dancers,
Rising, with the gusting wind, up from the Ground.
Gritty in my eyes.
Making me Cry.
And then it Snowed.
And all became Still and Silent.
And all became Clear and Sharply defined.
Blueish and Breathtaking.
The Light alone, a sensory orgasm.
And then, it all, inevitably,
The winds have never stopped blowing.
They are blowing still.
They have just swung around a bit and radically changed direction.
I found I had been blown off course.
I found myself, full circle, called back into the Mystery.
I found I was, already, HOME.
Kat Robertson. Standing As Earth. Imbolc 2021
My last post on Facebook, after realising I felt I had shared way too much, and deleting my account, was this.
It hangs on the wall of my ‘artden’.
And, while not my own words, says all I really have left to say of any worth.
My continued prayer is only that more of us will find this Truth and try their very best to LIVE BY IT.
And each find their own ,unique, Balance.
(N.B. I have only just realised that when a person deletes their Facebook account, they disappear, also, from all groups. As if they had never been there at all. I experience a deep sadness about that, as I fell in Love, with new brothers and sisters, and Earth, over and over again, during this month of participation …….. despite not joining in on Zoom! Now guided just to rest in the Knowing that we are, all connected, through the Forest floor. )
And then it snowed!
We do not get much snow here in Argyll, West Coast, Scotland.
It rarely lies for long.
This is due to the Gulf Stream that flows along our coast.
(This Gulf Stream is also the reason we have some pockets of pristine temperate rainforest locally, havens for tree ferns, lichens and mosses, and why palm trees can thrive here!)
When it does lie I become very sensorily heightened.
I am a snow lover.
I love the Peace, Mystery, Wonder and Magik that it brings with it.
I love how it slows everything down and shows us a brand new, pristine, crystalline, world.
I love the memories it brings with it, of places I have lived that get real snow, snow that lies all winter, metres thick, in Poland and Germany.
And, prehaps, carried in my DNA, some deeper, past life, memories too.
I also love to get snowed in, but here that barely ever happens…..
As a child my Finnish mother taught me how to make snowlanterns. Known as ‘snölykta’ in Sweden.
What a treat to see it glow in the light of the waxing Wolf Moon ( 5 days from full)
I have included a link to another blog (above) that shows how to make these, but took a few pictures myself.
It really is very simple and a lovely activity to do with children.
See how it flickers in the wind.
A beacon on the hill.
(I forgot to mention….if it is windy where you make one of these….it helps to fill in the gaps with a thin layer of snow. After a while the inside melts, making a glassy ‘lining’… which make it more windproof.)
My teenage boys are not as excited by the snow as they once were, so I dragged my 16 year old son out to play with me.
I let him decide what our snow sculpture would be this year.
After a little thought he said he would like to make a CHAIR!
This made me laugh.
Coming from a teen who has barely moved from his chair, in front of his PC, for months now, I suddenly saw this as a perfect example of ‘Lockdown Art’!!
Orignally going to be a ‘snow throne’ it turned into a, rather chilly, armchair!
These photos were taken at night, in the torchlight.
A mysteriously inviting piece of snow furniture that lasted only one night.
I was contacted by my dear Treesister, Victoria Rose DeAngelis (who I have made mandalas for before), with an interesting idea!
She sent me a ‘free’, computer generated, image of the COVID-19 particle and asked if I could turn all the ‘red bits’ into hearts around the Earth.
She wanted to begin spreading an Earth Love Virus on TikTok!!!
I said I’d see what I could do and this was the result.
I am a particular, (pardon the pun), fan of her W.E.I.R.D. (Wonderful, Exciting,Imaginative, Radiant, Delightful ) fun approach to Living Life to the full and Spreading the Love, worldwide, from her home in Conneticut, USA.
Though primarily aimed at younger children, I believe she shines so bright that all those, who are young at heart, can feel her infectious, remarkable, energy!
I certainly ‘get it’!
You can read more about Victoria and all facets of her work here on her website ‘Spirit Tree Wellness’.
And I could not resist making this wee gif of it too….pulsing, pushing, the Love around our dear planet Earth….
SHARE LOVE NOT FEAR!
This is my favorite mandala of 2021 so far…..
It speaks to me of Stasis.
Of this Lockdown.
The Land is all frozen hard and still.
We are all like bubbles trapped in ice.
I have water containers all over our patch. This small bucket was floating, inside another bucket, full of rain water.
I pulled it out and found this heavy piece of ice attached, hanging on, improbably.
I left it on the table outside.
It took an entire week for the ice to fall off. It has been so cold recently. Staying in minus all day too.
I heard it fall from inside the house with the thaw.
The picture of the bubbles, inside the ‘inner bucket’, is the photograph I used to make the mandala.
And I loved this little character that appeared during making this!
All is frozen hard.
Stunning patterns in the mud.
Water moves the Land.
Kat Robertson January 2021