Friday, October 6, 2017

Big Medicine Stomp

When I was a young boy, maybe ten years old, I would get these feelings during the full moon. One summer day I decided that I would make a circle in the garden by stomping on the dirt. That night as the full moon was rising, I snuck out of the house and went to that circle. I stomped around the circle until I got tired. A few days later my mother noticed the circle and asked me if I had made it. I told her that I had. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that I felt like stomping. She told me to stop doing it. It was packing the dirt in the garden. I stopped.

The feeling never left me. Sometimes as the full moon was rising in the summer I would go out in the yard wherever I was and stomp around in a circle. I didn't know what it was or where the urge was coming from. I felt the urge rising up out of the earth and into my feet. In 1992 a friend invited me to go with him and attend the stomp dance at a friend's place in Stillwell, Oklahoma. There was a feast at noon on the stomp grounds and the ball game in the afternoon. The ball game was between men and women. The women used their hands to throw the ball at the top of a pole in the middle of the stomp grounds while the men had to use short sticks with a woven cup at the end to pick up the ball and toss it. There was another feast between the ball game and sundown. All day long I noticed a fire burning on a small mound on the East end of the stomp grounds. As it grew dark everyone moved over to the fire and arbors around it. There were seven arbors in a semi-circle around the fire. One of the Elders shouted out a call in Cherokee and the stomp dance began. As I watched the first round of stomp all those urges from childhood forward suddenly made sense. I had been trying to do the stomp dance.

A few years later I had a dream that it was time to bring the fire back to the East. I knew someone who had helped setup and get the stomp dance going at Big Cove over in North Carolina a few years earlier, but I didn't mention this to the ones bringing me the dream. It was related in the dream that there would be Teachers that would come and help me do the stomp. I did the best that I could to honor the dream starting out with a mound on the grounds where I was living. It wasn't long before a lot of people were coming to take part in the ceremony. Somehow there were people from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia attending the stomp dance. It was still my job to mow the grounds and cut the firewood for the fire. After a few years I moved the stomp to a different area with more room so arbors could be built and a pole set up for the ball game. Still no one came to help with the task at hand. The feasts were always good. Everyone brought lots of food to eat. That was good.

Over the years I've learned a lot about stomp dance, mostly from doing it. There's a saying that I hear a lot. “That's my old stomping grounds.” It usually implies that the person went to a particular place to meet other people with the intent of hooking up for the evening. Stomp dance is a lot of things and courtship among the young people was part of it. Seven stomp dances would be held each year starting with the fourth full moon after the winter equinox. This would usually coincide with Passover for the Hebrew people on the other side of the planet, but stomp dance is much older as a ceremony. Each stomp dance during the warm season is associated with the planting, growing, and harvesting of corn. The final stomp dance of the year is called the Big Medicine Stomp.

In the time before the White Man came and disrupted the natural sequence of life here on Turtle Island, the villagers would fast for four days before the Big Medicine Stomp. All fires would be put our in the lodges during this time. Everyone would observe this time in silence and meditation as much as possible. In the evening of stomp day the wood would be on the mount but no fire would be started. The dance would began and the fire would be renewed. There has always been some speculation as to how the fire got started, but it hasn't happened that way in a long time. That was what the dream had shown me, that it was time to bring the fire back in the Old Way. The next morning the fire would be moved to the council lodge, and from there it would be carried to all the lodges in the village. Also during this time all the wrongs of the past year would be forgiven. There were seven sacred villages, called Peace Villages today, where a person could go and stay if they had done something wrong to someone. The morning after Big Medicine Stomp they could leave the Peace Village without fear of being harmed by that person or a family member. Throughout the society of the Ani-Yun-Wiya (Cherokee) the resentments and crimes were forgiven and everyone started the next year with a clean slate.

Over the years there have been other dreams, visions, and challenges for me. In 2003 the Seventh Challenge of a Cherokee medicine man started for me. During the next seven years I lost everything. During this time I had to survive by wits alone. The wife left me. Most of those who had been taking part in ceremonies with me stopped. The box kept getting smaller and smaller. In February, 2007, the property was auctioned off in foreclosure. I did the Big Medicine Stomp in October of that year and then packed what I could into my car and drove away in early November. I completed the Seventh Challenge in January, 2010, which is parallel to experiencing nothingness in the practice of Buddhism. I got there by following the spiritual teachings of my ancestors.

Normally a person would complete the Seventh Challenge, where they would have been banished from their village until they completed the challenge (or died trying), and returned back to the village. In my case there is no village to return to. This is White Man's world now where property is owned by individuals who have the right to say who comes and goes. Maybe things will work out so I can go back to my old stomping grounds one day. Meanwhile the ones who brought me those dreams are still here. I am of the Seventh Generation. Now the Ninth Generation is coming of age. Maybe they will wake up one day with a dream about a fire and a group of people doing the stomp dance. When that time comes I'll be here to share what I know of the challenges of manifesting a dream. Hopefully they won't have to wait until they are almost 40 years old to make sense of those dreams like I had to.


Oliver Loveday © October 5, 2017 5pm EDT Full Moon waning

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Shift of Chronus

“Shift of Chronus”
(Inscription: Kronus | Chroous)
3.5 x 5 inches | 8.9 x 12.7 cm
Strathmore 50 lb | 74 g/m
January 13, 2010

Shift of Chronus, January 13, 2010

I never did figure out the right word for the title of this drawing. There was a word in there somewhere which was supposed to mean something about a shift in hue, like chroma. But the word kept coming out like another Greek word, which relates to time. Actually they are the same thing when it comes down to the laws of physics. The drawing is an attempt to show a time shift in human consciousness. Creativity addresses time, space, and functions outside the natural order of chronology. Without an awareness of time, we would not comprehend space or the distance between two points in physical reality. During periods of creative activity the artist experiences the sensation that time has been suspended, but as the pencil, paint brush, wood carving chisel, guitar, or stage charts are laid down, the hour is much later than we thought. It's easy to understand how these experiences with creativity can lead to an interest in the time-space continuum
The drawing continues this process of reclaiming markings from the past. The curl of air in the upper right corner was a frequent visitor to pencil drawings some thirty-five years ago. As a landscape, the drawing reminds me of a watercolor painting I did in 1983 entitled The Aegean Sea where the water vapor rising out of the water is made visible in the painting. The surface of the sea (or land) is below one's point of view now, as the horizon is not visible in this landscape. There are only fugitive elements of atmospheric embellishments visible. The air has been slightly bruised with the lightest of markings from the pencil. The wind blows it all to the East, or North, or leeward in the rising escape from gravity and transcendence into a new time zone. Like the journey of a person seeking spiritual truths in a world gone stark-raving mad, the new awareness of the bigger picture starts to gel and thicken in the curl of Chronus. My new word for the day.

Oliver Loveday © 052311:2pm EDT 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tunnel Vision Tapes 4 Regent of Sorrows

 4. Regent of Sorrows, January 12, 2010

I think the title comes from a poem but I don't remember where. If I had my library of poetry books handy, I would be looking through one by a poet from Chile, but I don't, so I can't. That's the sorrow of it already. I had to look the word “regent” up again. From the dictionary: “A person who rules during the childhood, absence, or any unfitness of a rightful ruler.” But this isn't a person. This is art. Like the blues that flows from the lips of a singer lamenting the loss of a lover or a sharecropper who sinks into the tormented sobbing of knowing that insects have destroyed this year's crops, the pencil marks contain my sorrows. These sorrows are too great for one man to embrace, so I invest the powers of containment in an expression of pencil marks on paper. At the center of the field of whiteness resides the illusion of a landscape viewed from overhead, thrusting up out of an unknown body of waters. Or is it the image of the lower part of a heart suspended in raw air with marks around it as though to protect it from further harm? Yet the circle is open as the heart is open, in spite of this field of sorrows, like a regent who is only temporary at best, and perhaps self-serving with ulterior motives at worst. It is due to the lack of recourse otherwise that demands that a regent be named and trusted in spite of misgivings, that such matters arise.
I really like this drawing as it has incorporated some of the drawing techniques I enjoy doing. A sense of solidity dissolving into formlessness at center stage while other lines define boundaries in the flatness of the paper and other marks show the gesture of the hand in celebration of the dance. At the core of dance as a spiritual exercise is the awareness that everything we do is a dance. As my arm dances in space around me, the dance is recorded by way of the pencil grazing the surface of the paper and leaving a trail by which the dance is captured in visual space. Dance, by God! Yes!

Oliver Loveday © 051211:12:10pm EDT

“Regent of Sorrows”
5 x 3.5 inches | 12.7 x 8.9 cm
Strathmore 50 lb | 74 g/m
January 12, 2010

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tunnel Vision Tapes: Number 3 Blue & Green Mask

 3. Blue & Green Mask, January 9, 2010

I don't like doing portraits of anyone else because I'm prone to leave out details that they expect and include details they would rather not see. I guess that's the reason I prefer to do masks instead of faces. This isn't really a mask, but I added the word to the title later. Whatever. The task at hand, from the artistic challenge, was to do a face with the fewest marks possible. I nailed that “problem”, to use the shop talk of artists. What I would really love to be able to do is recreate the pencil marks in metal and be able to suspend them in air with no visible means of support. That's the limitation of physical reality that an artist escapes from when an image is created on the flat surface of a two-dimensional work or with a computer and digital imaging. I think I wrote down Blue & Green at the time because the drawing had a sense of there being a blue and green hue about the face, like theater lighting. I don't know. I just wish he would stop staring at me from the paper of the sketchbook. Time to flip to another drawing.

Oliver Loveday © 051211:11:40am EDT

“Blue Green Mask”
5 x 3.5 inches | 12.7 x 8.9 cm
Strathmore 50 lb | 74 g/m
January 9, 2010

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tunnel Vision Tapes: # 2. Snow, January 9, 2010

I love walking during a snow storm. The snow absorbs all the sounds of the environment and renders the air around me silent. There is only the sound of snow falling on snow, like the sound of blood flowing through my ear drum when there are no other sounds. The landscape is blanketed with new fallen snow and rendered pure with whiteness. Nature has reduced everything to white in a sea of nothingness.
Walking along the city streets before doing this drawing, I'm also seeing a promise of something else. The snow blankets the landscape so the evidence of destruction to the natural world can't be seen. The snowy landscape holds a promise of sorts for me. I see into the future for a brief instant and know that time will fall upon this landscape like snow and remove all the markings of the Western Industrial Culture from the landscape.

Oliver Loveday © 051211:11:20am EDT

3.5 x 5 inches | 8.9 x 12.7 cm
Strathmore 50 lb | 74 g/m
January 9, 2010

The Tunnel Vision Tapes: Introduction

There is a common thread throughout most “positive” spiritual disciplines throughout the world which is the understanding that we create our own discomfort we experience through expectations and desires. To become clear of these takes a lot of discipline which involves instructions and training for most people. Self-awareness and meditation are essential tools in this process. Other methods include visual imagery, sound (music and the spoken word), physical exercise (martial arts and/or yoga) and diet. One term that is used to name the goal of liberation from selfish intentions is emptiness.
Emptiness is cause for anxiety in the human experience. Something about there being nothing there to give a sense of locus or substance may cause a person to panic. This anxiety motivates the human mind to create something where there is nothing and it is through this drive for “being” that causes each person to generate an internal cosmos that defines their reality. Our physical reality evolves in conjunction with our internal cosmology and becomes an extension of our internal reality, giving a sense of time and place that yields a concrete presence from which we function. Sanity is borne out of a degree of harmony between the accurateness of the internal cosmology and the “real world”. This is the natural order of life from within the human psyche. Thus, it becomes unnatural for a person to indulge in the discipline of seeking out a state of awareness where they become immersed in “The Silent Stillness”. The human ego is most comfortable when surrounded by a physical realm that reinforces the concept of completeness derived from the interaction of places, events, social relationships, and possessions as defined by their sense of being. Yet the human spirit is driven to seek out this “otherness” that provides a sense of maturity in the growth of the human psyche.
It is with this in mind that I reviewed a series of drawings created between January 9th  and February 16th , 2010 and added the comments to each drawing as a way of providing verbal references to a “visual journal” from this time period. Certainly the journey to this point in my life could, has, and will generate many other writings from many different viewpoints, as would the journey of any “seeker” who has left a trail of artifacts along the “Path”. The name I've given the 3.5 x 5-inch sketchbook these drawings were created in is from a line in a poem written during this same time period.  During the same time period I worked in the sketchbook a discourse about the role of the Muse in creativity was taking place, and this resulted in several drawings where were given titles and subjects related to this discussion. Another topic that was being discussed during this time period was of the spiritual journey and momentary marking of an “arrival” that would be more relevant in the context of Cherokee spirituality. I've tried to keep most of my comments in a universal context except when the drawings referenced Buddhism, Native American spirituality, or I felt like venting a bit in the moment. I'm human also, as there's only so much universality in any one person.
A sculptor has the benefit of working with materials that are already there as part of the creative process. As Michelangelo is quoted as having once said, to carve an elephant, all one has to do is remove everything that isn't elephant. A potter has a lump of clay to form into a container. The emptiness within the container is as important as the physical presence of the object, as this space provides containment for seeds, liquids, or a sonic chamber for a musical instrument. The modern artist has pieces of steel that can be welded together to form a sculpture. The painter, on the other hand, has an empty canvas with which to stand before and answer to. The draftsman has the blank sheet of paper that challenges the artist from the onset of creativity. Every mark is going to become an element of the final work, no matter how good the artist is. A wrong mark can be erased, but the erasure leaves a blemish on the previously untouched paper. Somewhere between the anxiety of emptiness and the anxiety of potential error, a work of art is created with pencil on paper.
The formal training of a sculptor includes concern for “negative space” which is the area around the physical or “positive space” that is being created. A bronze sculpture of a ballet dancer with arms held up above her head creates negative space between her arms and hands. The sculptor defines this space as part of the work. Rembrandt is quoted with having observed that the space around a subject is as important as the subject in a painting. He was concerned with capturing a sense of dynamic interaction between the “air” of the Holland landscape and the physical objects being depicted in his work. In each discipline of media the artist is aware of the emptiness that physical object generates. In order to define and show “emptiness” (or this “mystery/mystification” that remains unseen) the artist has to create the contrasting element of “something-ness”. This unseen Mystery becomes visible in the blank regions of a drawing where there are no pencil marks. It is easier to show nothing this way than it is to show the wind blowing across the Dutch landscape, yet one can look at paintings where some effort was made to do this and get a sense of “wind-ness”.
This Mystery comes to us through the human effort to confront the unseen aspects of reality in search of self/no-self beyond the physical realm. The schools of thought that support this discipline provide many Paths from different parts of the world. A universal  spirituality, that awareness of the presence of spirit in reality and the ability to have an intentional dynamic relationship with the unseen spiritual forces around us, can be utilized in any activity. Those that offer instructions that seek to balance Karma and guide us in methods to reduce destructive elements from our lives get us there quicker. The discipline of meditation will guide a person to experience this Mystery, but along the way the need to filter out metabolic stimulation like the sound of blood flowing through the ear drums during meditation will generate a process of fragmentation like the space between the lines in a drawing becomes the negative space that defines “emptiness” in works intended to do this. The duality of a circle drawn on a sheet of paper to define emptiness, as in the art work of John Cage, illustrates how we have to fragment in order to arrive at a sense of wholeness in the effort to become at ease with an awareness of the “otherness” that results in this spirituality. It isn't the awareness of emptiness that is the goal in all of this. It is the discipline of shedding anxiety when experiencing emptiness that allows us to become free from bondage of fear within one's sense of self. The “Tunnel Vision Tapes” sketchbook is a visual account of this moment in time that occurred for me somewhere in the middle of the five weeks or so it took to do these drawings. The anecdotes about each drawing will add narrative to these marks along the trail in and out of this moment in time, as it were.

Oliver Loveday © May 12-23, 2011 10am EDT

  1. Cubist Mask , January 9, 2010
As a child I thought I had no imagination. When other kids would look up at clouds and point out elephants, pigs, and horses, I would look up and see cumulus clouds. In that rare moment when it was so obvious a blind man could see it, I might see something else beside just clouds. What I came to understand later was that my imaginings were directed elsewhere and there is nothing wrong with seeing the world for what it is. When I opted to study art in college this lack of transference in my imagination-stunted creativity reduced me to something of a human camera. I could do creative writing. I could whistle a symphonic movement never before heard. I couldn't “visualize” to save my life. When it came time to do an exercise in “Cubism” in drawing class, I had no idea what my professor was challenging me to do. Cubism would be something like making a lot of paper cubes and joining them together to create a sculpture of a model or physical object, then doing a drawing of this sculpture where there are no curved planes in the drawing. I got that part of the exercise now, but back then I was drawing a blank and doing really bad art in the kindest manner of speaking.
Cubism is well documented as an “art movement” within Western culture, but the deeper source of inspiration is lost to the (tribally-disenfranchised) civilized people who haven't been informed that the rest of humanity doesn't fragment reality into dysfunctional elements like the sacred and profane. The African tribal masks that inspired contemporary artists (to break down the subject matter into cubical elements) were depicting spiritual images of a very different nature than the Western Culture became concerned about with Cubism. I could intuit those tribal concerns much easier than I could visualize the abstraction from reality with Cubism. I'm aware of the spiritual elements associated with ceremonial objects, so I can say stuff like that. I finally did the math and got on with Cubism. It helped to do a sculpture first. That realist in me needed something physical to go by. So Cubist Mask isn't that steeped in Cubism. It is steeped in a long string of works named “masks” given my interest in theater, realism, and the hidden things behind the mask. It's a place to start. Maybe I named it Cubist Mask in honor of that effort to break away from realism and began to visualize images outside my physical reality. I remember it was almost painful to do this when I first got started doing art that required that I function as something other than a human camera.

Oliver Loveday © 051211:11am EDT

The Tunnel Vision Tapes can be downloaded in their entirety via PDF at these links.

TV Tapes #1, TV Tapes #2, TV Tapes #3, & TV Tapes #4.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scroll-Making, Contemporary Art, and Star Maps

It started with pottery sometime around 1974, really. I was an art student taking pottery. One day I was going through the graduate studio and notice the decoration on some plates. It was a simple splash of red iron oxide slip under a whitish-brown glaze. For whatever reason I connected to this stroke of “controlled accident”. It comes from Japanese Zen pottery, the graduate student told me. It sent me out there. I felt a sense of freedom just looking at it. It wasn't that good, his effort, but I got the spirit of the intent. That was what mattered. I started doing it on my pots. I did some raku firings and that was even more invigorating. Liberating. I had found an expression of freedom that allowed me to shed all the constipated forms of art that surrounded me at the University.

It wasn't long into my studies that I broke away from the common form, bowls, teapots, plates, cups, and started creating sculptures. I loved doing slab pots. I was good on the potter's wheel and good at hand-built pots, but form and function in clay sculpture just took me to the slab. I would throw a ball of clay out on the wedging table until I had a slab and then place it on a support form and add another, clay slip in between, joining them, until I had a form. Then I would splash under-glaze slips on the clay. There was a rhythm to this. It was like music in solid form. I felt free. I wanted to be able to control these splashes on the clay better. I started to practice with tempera paints on newsprint. It was cheap student grade practice material. I would show my newsprint pad to friends. They liked it. I got better. I could make the splash curl around the pot where I wanted it to go. Other students tried to imitate me. My instructors would try their hand at this style I was developing in my work. They tossed them.

"Blue Mud"
Stoneware and Porcelain
7 x 11 x 13 inches

It was just a matter of time before it happened. I wasn't just practicing any longer. I was doing paintings with watercolor on watercolor paper. I read everything about the Japanese Zen painting style that I could find in the library. I memorized all the pottery photographs from the Shinto school of pottery that I could find. I did my background work as a student with no real hands-on instructor at my side. I looked at all the action painters' work from contemporary art. They were off doing something else. We may have been going down parallel paths, but their concerns were clearly different from mine. I found out about sumi-e ink on rice paper. I used rice paper for woodcuts in printmaking and loved that paper. I went to a international student day on campus and discovered that one of the booths had art supplies for sumi-e ink on rice paper painting. I bought a couple of bamboo brushes, and ink stick, and an ink stone. I was doing more with this splash than just decorating my clay sculptures. I was banging the walls of the Universe with the spray from my brush.

After graduating from the University with a degree in Fine Art, I moved up to a log cabin in the mountains. I had to walk in a good twenty minutes from the road. It had a fire place. I bought a gas camping stove and carried water in for cooking and tea. I was a hermit. My mother had given me a roll of paper. I stapled it to the floor of the porch and started painting on it with acrylic. It took weeks to complete the painting. I rolled it up. I knew it was too long to ever display in a gallery. I never thought of it as a scroll painting. No one has ever seen it since then. I unrolled it a few times and looked at it but I never showed it to anyone. At least now I know what I am doing. I bought ten rolls of rice paper from a vendor at the Knoxville World's Fair in 1982. He wanted sheets of paper so a calligrapher could write people's names on it in Chinese. I used that paper for years but never once thought about rolling some of it out and making a scroll, or doing a long painting. It just never occurred to me.

"Red Apples"
watercolor on rice paper
12 x 10 in.
January 26, 1986

A recent conversation back in the winter about my painting style, which has developed beyond how I started out decorating pottery, and a friend mentioned that no one has ever done a scroll in my style of painting. I contemplated this for a few months and could see why no one had attempted this. For one thing, it is a logistical headache. I solved some of those problems back in 1976 with that roll of paper on the porch. That would not be possible where I am living now. I have been painting on small sheets of rice paper for several years and pushed my techniques even further than before. On numerous occasions I've produced videos of myself while working, holding the camera in one hand while painting with the other. The results are more of a performance piece than a documentary. I like it that way. I see this as a dance. One should feel the energy of the body in relation to earth, gravity, physics, zip of the wrist at the release of ink from the bristles. I am dancing. I am alive. I have awakened.

It gets complicated trying to do a scroll painting like this. It has to be a continuous painting. If it were displayed on the wall completely rolled out it would need to look like a continuous painting from start to finish. When an artist is doing a landscape scroll painting he can roll it along with no problem. When it comes to splash, that isn't going to work. Rather than go at the challenge head-on, the best approach is to come around from the side, as in go with what I already know first. Using what I have to work with keeps it even more simple. I have newspapers and old fountain pen ink. It is February. It is snowing. “art_snow” started out in the snow with ten sections of newspapers placed end to end. Blue-black ink happened. The next day red ink happened. On February 23, 2015, black ink happened. Each day in the snow and wind I splashed ink, chased newspapers around with the wind, and documented as much as I could using my iPhone 5c. On the 23rd the wind was brisk and I had to pile a lot of snow on the newspapers to keep them from blowing away. My hands got so cold that when I tried to change the camera settings from video to photo my fingers were so cold that the heat-sensitive screen couldn't detect them. So I stopped taking photographs and took everything inside. Over the next few days I attached the sheets of newspaper end to end with clear acrylic polymer to create the scroll. That was a good dry run at what the challenges were when using what I had.

“art_snow” scroll
ink on 10 sheets of joined newspaper
22.75 x 234 inches | 57.7 x 586.75 cm
February 27, 2015

On April 11, 2015, a shipment of art supplies arrived and in the box was three rolls of rice paper. I sat and looked at them real hard. I pulled them out and felt of the paper. Sometime in the afternoon the smallest and shortest of the three ended up in the back yard. Wet-on-wet sumi-e ink brush marks and splash went down. The wind played with the paper several times, threatening to turn the paper into a kite. I waited until the ink was dry before rolling the paper up. With a title, date, and signature this style of painting, this approach to scroll making, happened. I don't know if it had ever been done before, but I know it is possible. “Pillow Float” was a lot easier than “art_snow”.

“Pillow Float” scroll
Sumi-e ink on Hosho rice paper roll
8 inches x 20 feet
April 11, 2015

It doesn't take long before the peacock spreads his tail feathers and we get some color in the mix. “Grass Float” brought in the watercolor. It also brought in the process of working on a small section each day. I started out with about three feet of paper rolled out. The next day I rolled out an additional three feet and worked on everything that was exposed, so the previous day's work was tied into the new work so it would appear like that continuous painting that gives the impression that it was all worked on at once. The next day I would roll up the first three feet and roll out three more feet of fresh paper from the other end. This started on April 24, 2015, and ended on May 7, 2015. As usual, over 1000 photographs were taken to document the process. After the scroll was completed I started photographing the scroll from start to finish. The camera on my iPhone died on me, so I haven't completed that process as of this writing.

“Grass Float” scroll
Watercolor and Sumi-e ink on Shuji Gami rice paper
18 inches x 30 feet | 45.5 cm x 9.144 m
Completed: May 7. 2015

Now to think back when things were simpler and manageable, disregarding the dead camera on the iPhone. The camera on the front, I call it the “selfie camera”, still works but that leaves me shooting blind if I point it away from me. So the next roll of paper goes down on the “work space” on the bank out back where the retaining wall provides a natural bench to work on. First marks are made with pencil, then oil pastel. I'm rough on rice paper. Next comes the watercolor. The next day I unroll more paper and do the process. Every other day I add the sumi-e ink to the mix. The next day the previous day's work that got the ink gets worked on, so marks go over the ink. Also, I don't roll up all of the previous day's work that is completed. I leave a few inches exposed. So there's a bit of overlap going on all the way through. It gets complicated. “The Sacred Texts” scroll was started on May 8, 2015. I thought about taking a break in between these two.

Lacking good documentary photographs for this scroll, I decided to scan the progress on the flatbed scanner. Since it is 11 inches x 60 feet I can do this. The scanner bed will take paper a little larger than letter size. Even so, I'm overlapping some to make sure a little of the previous scan is visble on the next scan. There was about 15 feet of work already completed when I came up with the idea, so I went back and scanned that. Now the problem with scanning the scroll as it progresses is that some of the previous day's work is exposed, so I need to scan any areas that got wet. That makes those few inches of the previous day's scan stale. That doesn't bother me. What might make this problematic is the decision to post the scans to my “virtual gallery” on If someone wanted to purchase prints of all the scans and recreate the scroll, the prints won't match up perfectly. The best way to document the scroll would be to wait until it is finished. I don't need the stress at this point in the process. So the Universe gets what I'm dishing out.

“The Sacred Texts”
Pencil, oil pastel, watercolor, and sumi-e ink
11 inches by 60 feet
Started May 8, 2015
Completion date not determined as of this writing

Doing a scroll comes with a mental awareness that is different from regular reality. It is bigger than I am. I can't experience the entire scroll at once, not even in creating it. This gives me an experience somewhat akin to watching a movie. I think about the scrolls that are created to be presented as a performance. Children get a roll of paper and draw cars and buildings on it. They roll it up on a stick on either end and put it inside a cardboard box and create a story screen. Once the scroll is rolled up and I hold it I feel how sturdy it is. I think about how people used to use scrolls before there was bookbinding. They are very easy to transport in lands that are arid or with watertight containers. Making scrolls, working with them, and looking at them gives me a sense of connectedness to humanity over a long period of time. Looking forward, there is information in these scrolls that will transcend time. My style of painting transcends language barriers. It transcends physical reality. The information is just as tangible, will be tangible, to anyone for an unknown period of time on this planet or anywhere else where visual physical information is perceptive. It is bigger than me. It is bigger than all of us. I love science fiction. I could write a novel about any of these scrolls making a journey to the stars and beyond, used for a star map, liberating ego-bound seekers, and once in a while used in a “story screen”. In this movie star travelers use scrolls to navigate with. In this physical realm, we are the star travelers waiting for our maps to be replaced. I'm working as hard as I can. Love.

Oliver Loveday © May 21, 2015, 2 am EDT

For more information about my art work, please visit Loveday Studio.