Monday, October 27, 2014

The Flow of Water

Illustration: Gentle waves by John Hopper, 2014.

The flow of water has been a means of inspiration probably for as long as we have lived on the planet as humans. It is our lifeblood, it is our saviour, it makes up a large proportion of our material body, and it has been the source of endless creative observations stretching through poetry, to dance, craft, and into the fine arts. 

Water comes in so many forms and so many moods. It can be placid, playful, angry, wistful, joyful, melancholic. Often the character role that we give to water can be more to do with the projection we ourselves give it, than the actual character that the water holds.

We see so many different qualities in water, many of which are played back on to our own human character. We see ripples, stillness, undulating waves, trickles, cascades, all have been used at one time or another to help explain what it is to be human, what it is to have the spirit of a human.

Water inveigles itself into and through our lives. We cannot live without it and so it tends to move through and around our communities, in the form of streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. We appreciate the reflection that stretches of water give us, and we appreciate the lively sound that running water brings us, as we do the gentle lapping of water in a mild breeze.

Illustration: Cascading water by John Hopper, 2014.

Water, by its very nature is cyclical. The great cycle of water is one of the greatest miracles of our world. Starting as raindrops, water collects itself into a small trickle; it gathers more of itself to itself as it travels downstream, forever gathering more and more water to itself until it becomes an unstoppable flow, water with a mission, water with a goal, the need to reach the ocean. Water is then gathered through convection up into cloud formations, which travel with the aid of weather fronts, until they reach land and raindrops fall to repeat the process again. A seemingly endless cycle, which is a cycle that allows for the repetition of life. 

We should always be aware, but so few of us seem to nowadays, that without these continuing cycles across the planet, there would be no life for us to live. We take so much for granted and believe that whatever we do has little if any consequence, very much a case of not understanding or refusing to understand that all life choices have consequences, that actions deliver effects, and most importantly that a sense of responsibility must come as an integral understanding for all individual and combined actions.

As far as creative inspiration is concerned, there is no real beginning or end to the possibilities that can be gained from the observation of water. It is always changing, often many times in a day, every day of the year. The surface of water in its tranquil reflection can show us the mirror of land, the changing colour of sky and cloud, the sheen and sparkle reflected from the sun. A slight breeze across the surface of water can bring any number of abstractions to those same qualities, giving an endless inspiration across a lifetime.

Flowing water brings with it so many different qualities. It gurgles and gushes with excitement and wonder, it cascades and crashes over rocks and boulders, it can also flow smoothly and quietly, drawing its flow through wide arcs across deep green valleys. Plants along and through streams often trail with the flow of water, endlessly dancing with the moves that are life, and life is made to seem abundant along its banks, telling us that this is the source of all the life force of the planet, and that to appreciate it is to understand it.

Illustration: Undulating water by John Hopper, 2014.

I could write a whole book concerning the flow of water that runs through and around our lives, and there may well be just such a book coming out at some point in the near future. To me there seems no greater ambience for understanding than sitting beside a stretch of water. The tranquil reflection on its surface of  trees, sky, and cloud, the busy yet calm and considered life it engenders around it, seen in plant, insect, bird, and mammal, brings on the part of the individual participator, a deep understanding of themselves as a life, but more importantly an understanding of themselves as part of the integral complexity that is all life, life as it is really lived and not as we so often imagine it to be lived via our urban lifestyles.

I am lucky enough to experience this every day, and I know that I am lucky to have been given this window on the real world, and never take it for granted. I just hope that everyone at some point in their lives get the same opportunity to experience this cycle of life for which the flow of water is such a vital part.

Tangled weed on a sun-dappled shore
Silent breeze moves the water gently
Flowers vibrate, grass glistens, seeds pop
The damselfly explores
The bird's wing flutters
The lake lies still, but moving
Everything is in a moment
Arriving and leaving endlessly
The circle and cycle of being
The wheel may turn
But underneath all lies
The clearness of silence
The settling of peace

John Hopper 

Further reading links:

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Infinity of Perspectives

Illustration: Morning Moon by John Hopper, 2014.

Personal perspective is always of prime importance to the artist. How an individual artist views the world around them, and how that individual artist then interprets that view through their work, is one of the fundamentals of the creative world, always has been, and always will be.

However, it would be right to say that there is an infinity of perspectives. This viewpoint becomes more apparent when you realise the true scope of perspective. To confine perspective to the human experience for example, is to realise the narrowness of our perspective as a species. When perspective is widened to the experience of all creatures, regardless of species, and then widened even more to include earth, sky, water, perspective becomes infinitely broad, and complex, with each perspective being one facet of a multi-faceted jewel that is life in its entirety. 

If you then bring everything back down to the one human experience, the one individual perspective, important as that is, as are all perspectives, it can be seen that that uniqueness is one but one flavour, one subtle taste of the staggering complexity of the lifer force that is us all. 

Illustration: Midday Moon by John Hopper, 2014.

What can be seen from this is that no perspective has precedence over another; all have equal value, no matter how oppositional they may at first appear to that of our own perspective. 

There is a school of thought that says that without perspective nothing exists, that perspective is existence and lack of perspective is a lack of existence. This implies that the unique experience of any entity whether it be rock, dragonfly, water, tree, human, is capable of projecting an environment as they perceive it through their unique experience, and that consequently every entity produces a unique and individual world that they inhabit.

So if in many respects perspective is the individual, what happens when you change your perspective, as many do, are you then a different individual. If you change your perspective a number of times over your life path, are you then a series of individuals with unique perspectives that occupy the same life?

As there is perhaps no such thing as an absolute truth, there is perhaps no such thing as an absolute perspective, just a complexity of experience, an interweaving of every entity's perspective, producing a delicate web, a web that gives the potential for an infinite number of interchangeable experiences. 

Illustration: Evening Moon by John Hopper, 2014.

This potential for the sharing of experience can perhaps best be summed up in the old story of the man dreaming that he is a butterfly. When he wakes he wonders whether he had been dreaming that he was a butterfly, or is he a butterfly that is now dreaming of being a human. Each perspective, butterfly or human are of equal worth and of equal value, they are just different perspectives on their own worlds.

Of course, if you disagree with what I have just written, which would be the world seen from my perspective, then your disagreement would be part of your own unique perspective. However, agreeing, partially of fully, could also be part of your perspective. Whatever the outcome, your full perception of the world is your own. It is part of your life journey and should never be considered of less importance than that of another.

The life of a creative artist is complex and multi-layered, but it is one that should always contain the element of sensitivity, the sensitivity to understand that there is always more than one perspective, always more than one way of seeing the world. To be able to place yourself in the realm of a butterfly, or the realm of a bird, ocean, sky, tree, or fellow human is to understand empathy. To try to see through the perspective of another is a step towards that ultimate sharing of experience, the ultimate infinity of perspectives.

Further reading links:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspirational Issue 1 is Published!

Illustration: Front cover of issue 1 of Inspirational, 2014.

Today sees the release of Inspirational. The first issue is on sale and features the inspirational and aspirational work of the artists: Elizabeth Bunsen, Melanie Ferguson, Louise O'Hara, Shannon Weber, Jude Hill, Dietmar Voorwold, Amy Genser, Joanie Gagnon San Chirico. Each of the eight articles featuring the artists and their work looks at how each individual perceives the world around them and how that perception in turn feeds the ultimate projection back on to the world, through the artist's work.

This is the first issue of a regular project that looks to feature the best in contemporary creative art. Inspirational is meant to be a valued addition to the creative arts media that already exists, but it is also unique in wanting to show another facet of what it is to be a creative individual, and what it is to see the world through that unique perspective.

Illustration: Sample pages from issue 1 of Inspirational, 2014.

Inspirational has been purposely produced in a downloadable format so that it can quickly and easily be downloaded from anywhere on the planet, it also helps to save some trees, and that has to be a good thing for everyone.

Inspirational is in a PDF format, so can be easily opened and read either on a computer using Adobe Reader, or through a tablet using a PDF app. All of this information and more is available on the dedicated Inspirational page where issue 1 can be reached, purchased, and downloaded from HERE. Alternatively, the dedicated Inspirational page can always be reached by going to the tab at the top of this page immediately under the banner heading.

Illustration: Sample pages showing part of the article featuring the work of the artist Amy Genser from issue 1 of Inspirational, 2014.

Although the price is in US dollars, any and every currency is automatically accepted and converted without you having to do anything but click.

Please enjoy this first issue of Inspirational. It has been a lot of hard work, but has definitely been something I believe has been worthwhile doing. 

The next issue of Inspirational featuring a new set of inspirationally and aspirationally unique artists and their perspective will be on sale in January 2015. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Empathy and Connectedness with Nature

Illustration: Small transient homage to nature. Photo taken by John Hopper, 2014.

When I personally walk within the natural environment, I hear the trees swaying in the breeze, hear the water rushing over boulders, the complexity of bird song, and the flitting buzz of insects, I can always sense a continual presence beneath all the layers of sound, a foundational manifestation of nature, one that exudes that quiet, stillness, rest, being. It often appears as if the long struggle of life is just the struggle for that one moment of being, the stillness, the being at rest, contentment with the moment of being.

Life, in whatever capacity, is full of mystery and full of never-ending revelations. Sometimes revelations show themselves through their staggering complexity, such as through the visions of microbiology, but often they are shown through their utter simplicity, such as the silent flap of a butterfly wing. Each and every one is valid and each and every one goes to make up the whole. Perhaps in many respects, complexity and simplicity mirror each other, sharing and complimenting the same process that is nature.

Illustration: Autumn tree against blue sky. Photo taken by John Hopper, 2014.

We all discover the natural world in our own way, our paths are varied beyond reckoning, and even though they are paths that have been well trod by others, they are unique to us. Even though the path of discovering nature is one that can never really appear to be original, to each and every one of us the path is always new, always unused, because every path of discovery, every path towards creativity, every path of revelation, is a new and untried path for that particular individual. It does not matter how many people have walked what many would see as the identical path, they are mistaken, as there is no such thing as an identical path, and no matter how many generations have gone before you, or how many generations will come after you, your unique path will still be special and unique to you and your moment in time.

In many ways, the natural rhythm of life reminds us of the dichotomy that produces the impermanence and continuation of life. The dual nature of brief single lives and the never-ending continuity of the framework of life, the never-ending cycle, is a legacy we all share, irrespective of whether we are human or butterfly, whale of raven, giant redwood or amoeba. All are part of the wonderful consciousness, an intimate member of a framework that encompasses everyone and everything. It is this acknowledgement, consciously or unconsciously known, intellectually or emotionally perceived, that fuels the creative artist in us all. 

Illustration: Cobweb highlighted with morning dew. Photo by John Hopper, 2014.

One of the unique tools and driving ambitions of what it is to be human is to find the means to express the wonder of perception, that we are part of a greater and wondrously diverse consciousness than just that of ourselves. Whether we express this understanding through dance, music, the written word, through fine art, craft, design, or decoration, outward expression is often a need and a must, rather than something to fill an empty afternoon. The drive to express ourselves in whatever nature suits us best, is not one of vainglorious remembrance, an ego-driven need to be remembered past this life time, it is one of mirroring the understanding, projecting the perception that life is much deeper a dimension than we are often led to believe in our human-centric world. We are wondrous souls, whether we are participating artists or not, we have a deep dimensionality to us that is staggeringly vast, complex, and unmistakeably wondrous.  

Life, if seen as a reality, is rich and curious, multi-levelled and complimentary, it dynamically and vibrantly resonates with the vibrations of everything and everyone, but more importantly, would be lessened without that particular and unique vibration of that individual that is you.

Further reading links: