art by Arlene Kim Suda

pay attention...

pay attention…

State of the Studio: Sept 2015

Posted on October 1, 2015 by aks

Sacred Yamdrok Lake, Tibet (2015.09.27)

I can’t predict how these state of the studio posts will progress over time.  It’s wonderful and also disquieting living with this much uncertainty given a chosen path dedicated to art.

So September was really about slowing down, reflecting, and moving (hitting the road). I can’t help but feel that there is something big for me to learn through being willing to keep moving – whether it be more travel or venturing into new places and spaces in life I haven’t yet travelled to.

Here’s a summary of studio life last month:

1. songwriting

Two songs came to me in September. One about moving (Walking Song).  Another about going deep into the shadows of life to be able to see the opposite (Everything Matters) – what I’m finding is that the darker the shadow, the brighter its light.

And here is one more (from pre-September) also about the struggles to find and follow purpose: New Story (practice version)

Can’t help but feel like these would be good played in the background while reading this post (though I’m still really self-conscious about my pitchy voice!)

2.  slowing down and reflecting (a lot of ‘looking east’)

After a busy month of ‘firsts’ in August — a 1st open studio, a 1st happy hour featuring an installation of my art at an office space, a 1st performance open mic style — September has been about slowing down a bit and reflecting. I’ve been caught up in this flow of activity without necessarily being intentional about what I choose to flow with.  Am I an artist? Am I a songwriter? Is this my career? Is this all just a hobby?  Big questions that highlight the duality of trying to find purpose in life – feeling a certainty that this is a path I must take, but also having to struggle hard through so much uncertainty almost every day to carry it forward.

3. travel and moving

“And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.” – Jack Kerouac

This was a quote I saw on Twitter (by @DailyKerouac, on 9/25/2015) [ I swear the universe sometimes speaks to me through Twitter ] while I was traveling in Tibet and it spoke to me about being willing to really live new and different experiences and to take risks – not just physical ones like ascending up to 16,500 feet but personal ones like opening up your heart and being vulnerable and exposed. The fantastic benefits often come only after being truly open to all new possibilities.

I will write a separate post about travels through China – in particular Beijing and Tibet – later this week.  What I am discovering is that these experiences are just as much a part of my ‘studio’ experiences as being in the studio painting and drawing.


Sketch from sacred Yamdrok Lake, Tibet (~14,500 feet)

4. background projects

Two projects that I have going in the background are ones that I do feel I will intentionally move forward (slowly) in the coming months:

The Canonical Hours Project

I have had this desire to bring together poets from the past with the ones living here with us today. I used to lament that I didn’t know where all the living poets were and then I had this realization that poets are all around us.  We just don’t identify as poets yet. I think for many that word comes more easily after we have dedicated our lives to a body of work.  BUT WE ARE ALL POETS in varying stages of knowing what our poetry is.

So this project is about giving living poets a chance to co-create with a poet of the past, W.H. Auden via his poem, The Canonical Hours, that takes us through time (specifically 3-hour intervals in the day). I would like each participant to be able to add their interpretation and energy to one (or many!) of the canonical hours of the day by creating a sound, image or poem. They could be inspired by the hour of the day, the words in Auden’s poem, or even something another participant created.

The Quiet Warriors Project

Similar to the Canonical Hours Project, this is a project celebrating collaboration.  I’m sticking with the ‘quiet warriors’ theme because I believe we have to be warriors to choose a life that honors art and artistic creation.  More to come in the next few months…

  • Inspiration for…

  • Archives