Puzzling

"Puzzling", Color Image, 2013, Machine Shaped, Hand Sanded and Finished Scrap Wood

“Puzzling”, Color Image, 2013, Machine Shaped, Hand Sanded and Finished Scrap Wood

Inspired by my pops, who made a number of awesome scrap wood sculptures in his day; over the span of a few afternoons last summer, I reused some of the scrap wood hanging around our garage to create Puzzling.

My initial vision was of the mythical Atlas holding a world which had the mythical Atlas sitting on it, holding a world, which had the mythical Atlas sitting on it, holding a world…  This is what emerged as I worked with the wood available.  The self-recursive element remains, though Atlas in his Greek form didn’t really reveal himself.

Everything except the “wave” shaped piece in the lower left is wood harvested from the woods around where we live.  Much gratitude to our neighbor and his family up the road.

"Mount Cahill", 2010, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor Paper
"10/23/2010 - CIE - They Tried to Teach Me - Postcard, Front", Nick Milburn, 2010, Original Chalk and Poetry, Photoshop

Autodidact | They Tried to Teach Me

"Autodidact", Nick Milburn, 2010, Chalk on Paper, 18" x 12"

“Autodidact”, Nick Milburn, 2010, Chalk on Paper, 18″ x 12″

They tried to teach me
the infinite possibility
living inside as my soul
could be sold for some shiny metal
they called gold
but they couldn’t reach far enough inside of my mind
with their warped rhymes
to alter the golden etchings of wisdom
that reminded me who I am
my soul
is priceless beyond material prosperity
no matter its apparent luminosity
for all that lusters does so
because of the grandeous exchanges of energy
between earth and sun
without the animation provided by solar radiation
and the disintegration of established vibration
spiraling onwards towards resonation
there could be no soil
no boil of life in the waters of emptiness
it is the heat of the universe that powers our cars and all our homes
our businesses and body parts
no matter how deeply we may wish to depart
this sphere of time is not our doing
but we are indeed the art
of the universal heart.

Innocence, Non Sense, Sentience Header

Innocence, Non Sense, Sentience

Over the span of a few hours in 2008, I sat down in a circle on the floor with four blank pieces of hot press watercolor paper, acrylic pigments and mediums. Moving between sheets, in no particular order, I painted this series of images. The overall subject, in hindsight, is about finding a healthy balance between the various impulses of self; about “finding a plateau upon rocky pasts so that one can start a fresh hike into the future.” Put simply, on that night, in that moment of my life, I wanted nothing more than to move forward in a healthy relationship with the amazing woman who is now my wife.

"First Steps on a New Journey", 2008, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor Paper, 18" x 24"

“First Steps on a New Journey”

First Steps on a New Journey depicts two sprouts coming eagerly out of the ground and seeing the world for the first time.  While firmly rooted to the ground, in the breeze they discover that they can dance, and begin to do so.  Growing side-by-side; going nowhere, anywhere and everywhere at once.

Dejected Righteousness and Somber Flower: Love Internal, incidentally paralleling the modern dualist conceptualizations of “feminine as passive” and “masculine as active”, depict the bipolar representation of the transculturally genderless dialog between “the need to honestly accept how things are in the present, even the horrible” and “the desire to always make things better, even the good”.

"Somber Flower: Love Internal", 2008, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor paper, 18" x 24"

“Somber Flower: Love Internal”

In the animist spirit of Gaia, Somber Flower reflects the Earth, personified, feeling the (often horrendous) choices human beings make. She is the pained Inner Child I have seen, and see, in others… in strangers, in friends, in family… in lovers. She is also my own scared inner child. Curling inwards. Twisted in existential anguish. Tears of frustrated disappointment. Trust, violated. Emotional washouts of pigment. “Why!?” she cries. The starkness of life, realized in the heart of a flower, the jadedness of adulthood following a ravaged childhood.

If we could feel the total amount of sadness being felt on the planet at any given time, would we die? Somber Flower attempts to feel it. She can’t help not to. Even so, she refuses numbness. She feels for us; is the ever-feeling aspect of us. Even as she knows the amount of pain we bring unnecessarily upon ourselves, she is there to comfort us. She is Quan Yin. She is compassion. She is not only a child, but a mother and grandmother. The beheld and the holding. Not only the seed, but the soil, the darkness and moisture, the sprout, the sapling, the tree, the fallen branch, and the moss and fungus which brings it all back to nothingness, and then, once again, into life.

"Dejected Righteousness", 2008, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor Paper, 18" x 24"

“Dejected Righteousness”

Dejected Righteousness reflects the (archetypically patriarchal) desire to “fix reality”, to turn righteously-felt-as-unnecessary sadness into momentary (and passing) joy. “He” is a being taken up with the idea that the world is full of wounded children — and they must be saved. He is the mistake of not approaching others, respectfully, as co-partners in human struggle, but rather “maiden-damsels in towers,” he, “the sage-warrior/hero, come to the rescue.” Covered in war paint, ready for battle, armed with nature, a thousand truisms blindly memorized… he arrives at her arched window, triumphantly… expecting, a band… at least some trumpets… definitely, a kiss… Somber Flower tells him “Yes, I’m sad, but I’m okay. Are you okay?” He breaks down. She ends up holding him that night, a defenseless knight in shining moonlight.

"Key Hole", 2008, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor Paper, 18" x 24"

“Key Hole”

Key Hole represents the process of realizing that the world is full of pain and sadness, and then coming back full circle to rediscover the joy of being in non-sense. Hinted at in the earth toned thought-bubble of Dejected Righteousness, the blended androgenic symbol living within spirals of brushstrokes, captured in wash, brings to mind that finding balance is a process, a happening, an event — not an object which can be possessed and certainly not purchased. It also reminds that it is something, once found, which can easily, again, be lost.

Igniting Roots: Lovers’ Fire Dance is the actualization, the fruit of the process of facing the starkness of reality and, simultaneously, accepting and rejecting it. The masculine and feminine are brought together into a genderless-sensual expression of passion and joy unfolding. The earth in its naked and savage beauty is celebrated in spirited firelight. Consumed and simultaneously illuminating through the rigorous sweat of midnight dancing and the subsequent ecstasy of having faced and shared real truth, two find themselves in love.

"Igniting Roots: The Lover's Fire Dance", 2008, Acrylic on Hot Press Watercolor Paper, 18" x 24"

“Igniting Roots: The Lover’s Fire Dance”

Letting go of the preconception that sadness must be stopped or prevented, avoiding the mistake of embracing it as one’s identity. Coming to know that tears can be transformational and the experience of having overcome pain is what brings depth and meaning to psyche. In the embrace of honest sadness, in the surrendering of the quest to fix things, in the deepest act of the physical: emotional and spiritual grace is discovered… the heart’s love is given the chance to dance.

Realizing that I cannot help another without helping myself, that I cannot love another without loving myself, that I cannot save anyone, other than myself, that my war is with no one other than myself, and that nothing is in actuality ever totally and/or permanently broken, even in the deepest shudders of past trauma – completing this series, internally as much as through paint – brought me full circle and prepared me to move forward into a compassionate, loving, honest, passionate and sensual future with the love of my life.

Namaste.

Process Photo, 2008

Somewhat fuzzy glimpse of my workspace during this series.

“Reflecting by Campfire″, Nick Milburn, 2009, Airbrush and Graphite
Image

Hestia’s Compassion: Reflecting by Campfire

“Reflecting by Campfire″, Nick Milburn, 2009, Airbrush and Graphite on Foam Board

“Reflecting by Campfire″, Nick Milburn, 2009, Airbrush and Graphite on Foam Board

When Erica and I first reconnected, we spent many nights sharing truth over gently crackling campfire in her backyard. Nothing consumes the unconscious, facilitates trance, silences the ego, integrates the past, fertilizes the imagination, or makes possible the future… like a friendly campfire. Above, an early airbrush and graphite experiment from this time; below, excerpts from a stream of consciousness poem, “Laying in Your Studio”, from the same period.

… I am in your backyard
a fire is burning
we are taking turns feeding it sacrifices …

… I am in your backyard
a fire is burning
we take turns dancing with shadows
the almost full moon …

… I am sitting with your soul by a fire
speaking the unspoken
the sun sets
the moon rises …

… we are sacrificing pasts silently via fire
dancing barefoot
for all intents and purposes, naked
for all to see
the beauty of our divinity …

… I am bored with any form of spirituality
that doesn’t take into account natural, primal, instinctual ecstasy,
or at least gardening …

… I am sitting by a fire
taking turns with you being teacher and student
speaker and listener
drummer and dancer …

… sitting with you by a campfire
unsure sometimes whether we are in Dreamspace
or we are awake…

.. I am sitting with you by a campfire
i am standing with you in a tree …

… restless
sweating
overtired
overemotional
crying
we’re alive
we’re really experiencing this
and dreaming it
simultaneously,
that’s enough to bring the tears
I break down
I am falling in love
a gateway opens into the fortress of my being,
I am vulnerable
I do not know what will occur
I do not know if my heart will break again
if I allow myself to continue to let it open
I release
fear of what may come
I acknowledge vulnerability
I relinquish self doubt
I silence fearful thoughts
I close my eyes
I let the words come through …

… we are tying knots with rope
untying knots in backs
we are sitting by a campfire
sharing truths
are we awake? …

"Weaving Bench #2", Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

Weaving Benches

"Weaving Bench #2", Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

“Weaving Bench #2”, Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

"Weaving Bench #2", Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

“Weaving Bench #2”, Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

"Weaving Bench #1", Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

“Weaving Bench #1”, Nick Milburn, 2012, Birch and Hemlock

DSC05367

A set of weaving benches designed and built for use at looms by the fabric artists of SafeArt in Chelsea, VT.

This is my first real attempt at mortise and tenon joinery. With the first bench I was aiming to get the fundamentals of the design down, and confirm structural stability, given that these benches might be “worked” relatively hard, depending on the weaver. With the second bench I got a bit more artistic, added three adjustable positions for seat height, and the bench top is intended to fit somewhat loosely to allow for rocking on the slight warp of the wood.  Sanded and finished with low- toxicity polyurethane.

Unconscious Geomathematical Evolution

Overview

Structure periodically manifesting out of chaos as a result of temporal and spatial symmetry; order as an experiential illusion.

Ugh…

This is my first successful (useful) rendering of a Macromedia Flash movie into a format playable by YouTube.   Unfortunately the process of “translating” a 1900×1200 (or larger) vector based animation project into a 320×200 MPEG causes massive degredation in quality that either I don’t have the processing power to compensate for, or the technology itself is incapable of handling.  I do have a tendency to design mandalas so complicated that the applications I am designing them with cease to be capable of sustaining further development, so I accept full responsibility for everything ;)

Development

Some screenshots of the making of this movie below.

Gallery

The Geometry of Life