sipping tea, sensing presence

Introducing the practice and paintings of Bev Byrnes.

 

As boundaries between subject and object dissolve, the phenomenon of presence becomes amplified.  Presence, in this context, is something ‘beyond’ what is seen; it imparts an unseen and yet ‘felt’ sense of illumination. It is this presence which ultimately guides and shapes the direction of my work. 
– Bev Byrnes

 

Bev Byrnes: Bowl with Mandarins, detail

 

It’s probably a given for artists whose practice concerns itself with presence that entry into their creative space will call for quiet, for silence and stillness. As poet Mary Oliver puts it,  Stillness. One of the doors / into the temple.  My own imperative is to establish stillness and silence, both externally and within: I sit down and shut up and empty and keep on emptying…

For Bev Byrnes it starts with a tea ritual.  She’s a serious tea drinker and a true connoisseur.  She writes:

Every morning begins the same.  The dawn quietly fills the studio with gentle light.  To my right, a brown clay water kettle set on a low flame to keep the water hot.  In front of me a small, low table, cut from a slab of rough wood; teacup and teapot at the ready.

 

Bev Byrnes - Studio Tea Ritual

 

The sound of water simmering.  The smell of wet tea leaves.  The stillness of morning.  The taste of the tea.

Drinking tea this way is an exercise in mindfulness.  It quiets inner chatter and brings energetic coherence to the body.  This daily ritual is an important part of the creative process that plays out each day in my studio.  As the focus of the tea session washes the mind clear, an inner silence grows.  From here the work proceeds.   […]

The way the creative process “plays out” might be to birth a highly realistic still-life painting in the tradition of northern European early Renaissance painting, or, perhaps it will initiate a conversation with handmade water-based paints and the processes of Japanese nihonga painting.  She says she loves each approach equally.  To me, there’s something quite remarkable about this bi-hemispheric capacity.  It’s the mark of an artisan fully at ease with her materials, free to wonder where they will lead as she follows them into the great (un)Knowing.

 

Bev Byrnes: Studio set-up for 'Three Bowls'

 

Usually the realist paintings are a still life of a few simple objects lit with the soft light of a north-facing window.  The first layers of paint are straightforward descriptions of form but as layers accumulate and observation becomes more subtle a felt sense of presence grows.   […]

Some paintings are more abstract in nature.  The beginning of these look like haphazard mark-making.  They get the flow going.  From this point on, it’s a matter of listening. The listening must be silent and clear, with no owner, and sometimes it would seem to the mind there is no good coming of it.   […]

 

Bev Byrnes: Landscape of (un)Knowing, detail

 

This post is just an introduction, an appetiser…  
Please view Bev’s page at the artisans’ gallery, where her thoughts are shared in full and you can see more of her stunning work.

 

Bev Byrnes: Red Onion and Winter Squash with Birch Sticks, oil on panel, 12”x24”
 

seeing – painting – being


artisans’ gallery


Images, from top:
Bowl with Mandarins, detail
Studio Tea Ritual
Work in progress – Studio set-up for ‘Three Bowls’
Landscape of (un)Knowing, detail
Red Onion and Winter Squash with Birch Sticks

All images provided by, and copyright Bev Byrnes.


wherever the eye falls is the face of creation

New at the artisans’ gallery – photographer Mitchell Doshin Cantor

Mitchell, who is also a Zen teacher and member of the White Plum Asanga, currently leads the Southern Palm Zen Group in Boca Raton, Florida. He is also a long time student of Peter Matthiessen.

 

Wherever the eye falls
is the face of creation.
– Sufi saying

 

The study, practice, and teaching of Zen have contributed as much to my photography as has any practical instruction. Fortunately, photographers who were technically rich as well as spiritual masters have guided me. I have received great benefit from their teachings. I now wish to share my photographs so that others can be enthused to trust life and its voices, audible and inaudible, in ways that these teachers have helped open for me.

 

Mitchell Doshin Cantor: Bridgewood Buds

Bridgewood Buds

 

There is … no need to ask what the image means nor why or how it was taken. For me it is enough to relax into the power of the moment the shutter is pressed or the printer is activated; to have no fear of trusting the truth of that moment.

– Mitchell Doshin Cantor

listeningwiththeeye.com


Mitchell Doshin Cantor at the artisans’ gallery


related posts:

everything is this Knowing

the radiance of things as they are

water seeing water