Hello Friends and Art Supporters!
It's been amazing to see photos of my drawings go up on people's homes and studios in Norway, Canada, Sweden, Dubai, the UK and Philippines. Thank you for sharing. After all the wonderful responses to the Sun Salutation series, I am very excited to share with you my latest batch of prints.
For the Ashtangis out there, the Sun Salutation series has expanded into a two more sequences: a Closing Series and Finishing Series. I've also added in this release a few more individual yoga postures and transitions that you might be able to recognize, and some stacked, group postures which you may not.
This round of prints branches out from yoga, and includes some quieter moments spent at the bustling Mahabodhi Temple, in Bodh Gaya, India. And, after many conversations with some breath-obsessed, free-diving friends, I also added in some images inspired by this very dedicated and disciplined, underwater explorations.
Check out the updated Prints! sections.
I hope you enjoy!!!!
All the Best,
Yoga & Drawing: “The Art of Observation”
October 7-14, 2017
With Sarah Pierroz
About the Retreat
Come and cultivate an experience of peaceful expression! Samahita Retreat’s yoga instructor and artist Sarah Pierroz would like to invite you to join a special week of yoga and creative drawing.
We will begin each day with contemplation, meditative techniques and focused breathwork in the Kaivalyadhama tradition, flowing into an Ashtanga Vinyasa class. We will tune into breath and move the body to explore the nature of motion and stillness within, with guided classes at the start of the week and then moving into assisted self practice. Open to all levels.
The afternoon sessions will be centered around different drawing techniques investigating motion and still-life studies. Drawing from observation, we will develop concentration, strengthen hand-eye coordination, investigate new ways of making lines and practice switching dominant hand tendencies. We will make studies from nature, local temple architectural scenes, a posed model, and by using our imagination. We will learn how to capture the essence of movement through contour, blind contour, gestural, and abstracted shape drawing techniques. Drawing paper, pencils and erasers will be provided: do bring your own watercolors, colored pencils, pens, camera, etc. to fuel your inspiration.
There will be plenty of time for your personal creative projects, relaxing by the pool or beach, with access to excellent detox and spa facilities and complimentary herbal steam room, and indulging in delicious, healthy Thai meals together. The retreat also includes optional early morning silent cycle classes, sunrise beach walks, excursions to the local night markets for shopping and street food, a boat and snorkeling trip, and time to explore the island.
The week’s classes will feature:
- Meditation techniques and breath work
- Guided yoga flow classes
- Gentle movement sessions
- Drawing classes, explorations and reflections
For more information click here
Hello Friends and Art Supporters!
I wanted to update you on my latest drawing project "50 Dropbacks". The more I show this image, the more positive responses I have received. So many friends relate strongly to this posture for the fear it helps to overcome, to the strength it reminds us we posses.
During the past two weeks at Samahita retreat, Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor have been reminding us about the joy and release that can come from letting go of any exceptions of our actions. To dissolve into the moment, to open up and let life "stun" your typical patterns into oblivion, to throw your usual storyline and thought process to the wind.
So, for my next series of drawings, I am going to break down the experience of making the image into a new pattern.. I will hand draw the image fifty times, treating it as a vinyasa. I am curious to see how repetition will affect the act of drawing - the quality line, speed, ease, as well as the emotive experience and thoughts which arise. Will it feel more peaceful? mechanical? hastened? Can I keep the same attention for each one? How will the image change after it's been repeated over and over again. What sorts of thoughts will come up in this process? Care to try this challenge with me?
1. Create a quiet, clean space to approach to the task at hand: Clear the surface of all items, devices, except for a stack of papers and a fine pen or sharp pencil, and a timer.
2. Note how you feel, the thoughts that hang heavy in your mind, the weight of your breath, what your posture feels like, where you are tense.
3. Consider the image that you would like to focus on. It may be a particular posture, or a random tea cup, an apple, or a simple geometric shape like a triangle. Look for the fundamental line or essence of the object. Draw that. Keep it simple.
4. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Keeping the line clean and confident, draw your "triangle". Do not try to erase or redo. Let it flow.
5. Consider the thoughts that are coming up in this process. How do you speak to yourself when you draw? Is it possible to draw the image without grasping to any thoughts about it? Can you look past the storyline of your gaze?
5. When you are finished, sign and number your work. Repeat 50 times, or until the timer rings.
6. Note your thoughts and breath and state afterwards.
7. Not finished? Set aside a moment to focus for another 25 minutes. There is no rush. Just approach the task the same way each time. Enjoy those "triangles".
Need some more inspiration?
For me, this process relates nicely to a poem by Wendell Barry on "How to be a Poet", which encourages us to watch what arises from silence spaces. (I've added the full version below).
Hope you enjoy!
If you would like a copy of this special Dropback image, please let me know. You can either order online by clicking the button below or send me an email for more information.
p.s. I am launching this newsletter, could you kindly share this with any friends who you think might like it?
- $95 USD each
- Black ink on UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper 220g
- Individually signed and numbered by the artist
- Only 50 images will be released!
- Paper Size: A3 (29.7 x 42.0 cm, 11.69 x 16.53 inches)
- Image will be packed in a recycled shipping tube and shipped by Thailand Post, taking approximately 2-3 weeks for delivery.
How to Be a Poet
By Wendell Berry
(to remind myself)
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
I had the pleasure of being awarded an artist-in-residence at Quetico Provincial Park this August. It was a fair-weathered, sun-soaked, cumulous cloud-rolling, fowl-gazing, beaver-dam hopping, paddling adventure. One trip took me through the backcountry, from Beaverhouse to French Lake, another went from French Lake down to Chatterton Falls and back up again. After threading through massive, white-capped lakes, into smaller pools, some as still as glass, then some impossible, mucky, swampy, reed-invaded waters, river paths thwarted by sneaky beaver engineering, and more solid, winding portage trails, I know I've barely scratched its map.
I thought I would simply be observing and considering the experience of the daring en plein air painters like those in the Group of Seven, but even in a short time, I encountered important stories in visual history: the contrasting artistic renderings of the romanticizing Frances Ann Hopkins and realist Peter Kane, the cabins and wooden castles which naturalists and reclusive souls boarded themselves into so that they could listen the currents, pictograph messages fabricated from animal marrow, fish oils, and natural pigments, splattered over rocks by those who lived in the area thousands of years prior, and the complex cultural clashes between the Lac la Croix reservation, the park, its surrounding communities, and the interest of logging and mining companies.
A place of ever-changing light, ever-changing movement, water, weather. The feeling of Quetico can hardly be captured. Back in Toronto, now I look to the sketches and beaverboard studies of Lawren Harris and Tom Thompson, who also straddled city and tripping life. I visit the AGO to see their legacy, their hot mashed splattered attempts to trap the wild and vibrant light of the Canadian landscape in a way that the city-sheltered Impressionists would never dare. I attend classes at the Toronto School of Art and OCAD, and learn most about how MacDonald pulled together a team of burly, yet sensitive, visionaries to find a National artistic language.
I barely understand how deeply nature touches me. And stretch to explain that to others. It is an experience words can not adequately capture. Drinking water fresh from the lake, dodging dangerously concealed rocks, riding currents that can lull and cradle the canoe and at the same time sweep everything you depend upon far from your reach, feeling morning air invigorate and stir the lungs while the light orchestrates a rising animal kingdom, identifying soaring wings that effortlessly expand and contract across the lakes, and tasting the truth that nothing surpasses the flavours offered by an open flame. At this moment, I still don't know what I carry with me, but the canvas calls. While I work on a piece to help the Quetico Foundation support others to explore this space with a silent auction in fall, I am certain of this - I am completely humbled by Quetico's wild, wild beauty.
“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
One bike. One change of clothes. One toothbrush. One small pack on my back. Six glorious days of cycling this infamous loop in Cape Breton. Through a National Park, three massive climbs, trials to jump off and hike along, instructions on how to respond to bears, coyotes and wolves in pocket. East coast kitchen parties with fiddles and guitars and small town fun, laughter at the beginning and end and everywhere in between. "You're cycling this alone?" I would be asked, too often, along the way. "Yes, solo, but never alone," I would respond.
I've been asked about the backstory for this image a few times. I made it for my niece Abi, who has the dancing spirit flowing in her veins, reflecting when I was younger dreaming those same ballerina dreams under different circumstances...and yes, you can now order this print on-line and we'll get it right out to you! yippie!
A Place to Land
- Sarah Pierroz
After school. Another September yellow bus ride. Rain lightly drizzles outside the dirty rectangle window panes, which frame rows of deeply worn leather seats. Pony tails and messy curls and fringes bounce as we bump down along a long stretch of broken asphalt. We pass driveway after driveway, empty of any cars, into the older 'burbs.
In every front yard, garnishing a mid-size, exposed brick bungalow, a captive oak or cedar waves from a patch of dry grass, straining at the well-worn seams of snap peas, with buried carrots and radishes, while rosemary and chamomile pierce through the thick carpet around. Old flavours transplanted into the vegetative New World. A cold snap will come soon but the soil is so fertile here, it would be impious to cultivate it only for decoration.
We are in the last seat, at the very back of the bus, with the tall kids and the aspiring rebels, preparing to catch the building wave of momentum before the colossal speed bump gating the residential zone launches us high. Arms slap into the air, bums jump up. We are air borne.
All is suspended.
Our heads graze the rusted roof, leaving iron freckles on own crowns. A pause of shock, then an conscious inhale, then pure glee. The younger children at the front whoop and giggle for another. Neither can we contain our happiness, but we quickly move our attention to other, more important, prospects.
It’s our stop. The driver pries open the door with his ungracefully thin bicep. Spewed forth, we sprint down the slabs of dampened sidewalk to her house. It's smaller than mine, but she has the pink and white, Care Bear covered plastic boom box. And the best tapes, too. And no unruly big brothers poking into our imaginings.
Garlic greets our faces at the screen door, a pungent wall.
“Remember to drop your shoes outside,” her baka calls to us from the kitchen.
We peel off our soggy shoes and socks, and leave them out on the porch. Without a sound, we tip-toe into her bedroom and change into outrageously mismatched, dance outfits, then to the kitchen to greet our beloved Baka. She is tending to an orchestra of bubbling pots and steaming pans on the stove, her feet beside a small mound of discarded, earthly, spud peels.
“Dobrodošli little ones” she says. The words puncture past her plump limps. She turns and greets each of our cheeks with warm, steamy palms. Her hands are always busy. She moves to the counter to pinch and form and flatten small golden orbs, and slaps them down into a pan of scalding, sizzling oil. We dive into our seats at the table and wait in anticipation. Baka piles each thickened and puffed potato pancake high onto our plates. We rub more salt and more garlic into its soft skin. Any delicate, brittle bubbles burst under our small fingers. We claw onto the next bite, savouring and devouring and munching our collation. I forget her name for them and never bother to ask. Another language lost.
Sated, but with no time to lose, we race to the basement. Its walls are painted carefully in some shade of intentional beige. Chattering, flittering, we skim over the thick carpet to the far corner of the room and onto a brown couch, bursting with a jumble of threads outlining yellow blooms. A relic of nostalgia, or inertia, or perhaps a habit of poverty, but no one has the heart to throw the old thing out.
Dirty Dancing soundtrack crackles on.
Patrick Swayze dance moves begin.
Her baka lets her listen to it; but my mum thinks the music a curse. Perhaps Baka cannot hear it down below, or more likely she does not understand the lyrics at all. There are no Yugoslavian translations for her to grasp, just spits of hankering syllables and low beats busting up the stairs. We are too young for its salacious innuendo anyway.
“What about some Serbian station, Katia?” Baka calls down in her foreign tongue.
“No,” she punctuates back up, in English.
Baka continues cooking with monastic patience, now carefully basting and roasting meat, and pinching the dough thin for spinach pies. Under her thick black skirt, she taps her foot to the complex Motown rhythms and flourishes of brass, and looses the croqueted shawl from her shoulders.
Meanwhile, just after that famous, log-balancing, dancing song, we pause, exhausted, and collapse on the floor. While catching our breath, she places her left hand on her stomach and her right on her chest and tells me that her father said her country doesn’t exist anymore.
“It fell apart yesterday,” she says.
“But it's still here, look.”
Our tiny pink fingernails clumsily trace its black contour on a plastic globe, as we ponder, heads cocked, in doubt. What did it matter anyway? For us, for two small girls, now in matching community park-t-ball shirts, striped socks and hand-stitched, bubblegum-pink tutus, it surely doesn't.
What we care about: uncovering and catching little green frogs and slender preying mantises in the burgeoning tufts of sun-streaked, autumn grass, and calling them Mr. Pudge and Dr. Tibbir; jumping from the highest branches of wild trees, through the scent of English roses and oleander, far from any brambles; Bearing witness to fireflies, toad songs, and shooting stars, at night, and dreaming of all the marvels awaiting us at the end of the dark sky. We want to feel and do everything there is, all at once, right now. This suburban landscape is our kingdom, and we scour its every inch.
“Let's climb,” she says. Fearless, she soars to the highest vantage point around: the top of the big tree behind Mr. Fan's backyard. Lifted, she is struck by wonder. I am much more cautious, and fear being knocked out breathless, so I only venture half way up. I silently hold my regret at staying behind, an omission that is certainly a sign of weakness. Still, she never teases me for it.
Our camaraderie is our natural default at school, given our shared penchants for random, spontaneous wiles, sweet juice boxes and peeling glue off each other's fingertips in one swift rip, in order to preserve and compare their impressions, before tossing them into the nearest bin.
No matter how much we try, we never look quite like the other girls - the well-mannered ones, who sit quietly and eat with nibbles; the ones with long lashes, and petite doll-frames, smoothed curls and confident airs. We are the unruly deviant ones, exploring our edges.
But when that febrile melody comes back on, and that smooth, sonorous voice, everything eating at our guts fades away. Renegade Degas impressions, we are. We rock out our soft, prepubescent hip bones and not-yet-existent breasts. Strike flamboyant poses. Jumping off every stick and branch of furniture in the basement. O, jungle, our clear eyes sparkling.
We can't stop. Soaring off the couch arm, into a moment of thrill. An impervious delight. Our spry, scabbed legs pierce through the layers of pink fluff skirts, and bound down softly onto strategically placed pillow forts below.
Whirling, plummeting, Comrade Pink Pony and Comrade Pig Tails drop down. Little bombs onto an unsuspecting terrain. Like the ones her family escaped, in the middle of the night past the old olive groove, the forgotten path down the mill, bouncing down a long stretch of river, past smelly old fish house, heaving through a darkness of confused whispers, avoiding choppy flares, hiding in shadows, ruffled noises.
All is dissolved.
Whole hands shushing tiny lips. Burrowing into Baka’s plump arms, while the wise cast their identities from over the rocking gunnels. No one could cry for all things lost. It would set off a sonorous ripple that they would never recover from.
She only acknowledges these moments when she mutters in her sleep. Those nights we stay together, after we tire of flying and roost in our basement haven. When we press ourselves together tightly, side-by-side, sewn safely into the one cover. We are cozy under a canopy of carefully pressed, My Little Pony sheets, under a freshly stuccoed swirling ceiling, domed by a dream moulded of her father's insoluble aspirations.
Deeply she drifts, flayed by a raw dream from toe to crown. The place she can't consciously remember, yet always feels the ragged edges of. A place to which she can't go back.
Destroyed places never truly vanish.
She wakes, but does not know where to place her dreams. They shrink back into the dark to wait, small, ticking packages. Neither dares herald their return.
Peel away the song,
back to the breath,
the careful hand position
get to the point
there is nothing to do at all.
with eyes open,
broken by a thin stick
"remember the source"
some words from (a real poet) Gary Synder.....
How rare to be born a human being!
Wash him off with cedar-bark and milkweed
send the damned doctors home.
Baby, baby, noble baby
One hand up, one hand down
“I alone am the honored one”
Birth of the Buddha.
And the whole world-system trembled.
“If that baby really said that,
I’d cut him up and throw him to the dogs!”
said Chao-chou the Zen Master. But
Chipmunks, gray squirrels, and Golden-mantled ground squrriels
brought him each a nut.
Truth being the sweetest of flavors.
Girls would have in their arms
A wild gazelle or wild wolf-cubs
And give them their white milk,
Those who had new-born infants home
Brest still full.
Wearing a spotted fawnskin
sleeping under trees
On wine or truth, what you will,
meaning : compassion
Agents: man and beast, beasts
Got the buddha-nature