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Actually Writing http://stephanstansfield.com Becoming Art Mon, 27 Aug 2018 11:29:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.23 Upon Return: Discovering The End of A Cycle (and the Blooming of Hope) http://stephanstansfield.com/upon-return-discovering-the-end-of-a-cycle-and-the-blooming-of-hope/ http://stephanstansfield.com/upon-return-discovering-the-end-of-a-cycle-and-the-blooming-of-hope/#respond Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:16:10 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=233

The end of a cycle returns and we’re back to where we started.

Beginning anew.

Once again.

Fresh and fore-folded.

Waiting to bloom in summer’s spring.


Doesn’t it all seem so easy…

And yet, there is a reminder of that constant immediate nag –a pulling towards.



Craving it’s very self.

The anxiety born of uncertainty, an attentive pulse upon the knowledge of our own ignorance, or perhaps the realization of a being so purely liberated that one cannot help but sense the enormity of a rawness rooted in unrealized power, the human gain,  an immediacy of freedom -perhaps, at last!

All of this, strangling the will into a chaotic happenstance.

 They both know they’ve escaped the cycle of society’s dancing woo. That game we’ve all played and continue to entertainAnd yet, the carnal craving to unite possesses them both.
(Mere attachment, the underestimated hand of possession drives them both forward hopelessly.) And yet, sincerely, recklessly, and regardless, their play continues.


Of course, the end of a cycle implies a new beginning. Some other turning, almost causative, a spinning of the wheel –Dharma.

A wide-bellied, grinning fire-mouth glares from the back of my perceptive lens.


“What shall you do now?” The Beast speaks in silence.

It’s a trap.

Doing anything implies cyclical return. Even with one step, you commit to climbing a combative ladder. So, I stand there. Neither thinking, nor doing. In fact, nothing. The Beast flares.

Swirling passion.



Choose, dammit!

Or, be frozen.

Unto dust.


An excitement of spring reminds me of the beauty of the fall.  Another question perturbs the moment, “How do we, or will we, survive the winter?”

Well, we have. Time and time again, we last.

I look outside the window through the panes of silica and notice the clouds melting away into a tumultuous sea of blue sky. The sunlight blooms. Golden rays align and still, there I stand. The overriding prominence of an immediate grace is hindered by another presumption.

“What to do?”

“Enter again? Avoid?  Be?”



Duality is presumptive. Comparison relinquishes our true nature. Stuck, we are in three poisons.

It’s an overwhelming sensation; attachment that is, but not to what is. To purge oneself in a bitter victory is to depart from the world, as they say, to fly solo, at least momentarily and reconnecting without possession, judgment, or expectation of another form is nothing short of a miracle, our very  nature.

Am I falling back to where I was?

Speculation provides.

Glowing polyamory. Can we love more than one?
Those eyes. True, contact? 
   No, touch.
More play.
This goes on…

Is it in the how to do this or just more repetitious Why?

Mild-mannered and premature speculation override the presence of an attentiveness needed most at the fore-front.

I’m lost in this new world, though rambling has ceased. At least, for the moment, questioning stops. I remain. Again, like it was before but quieter. The difference is with the end of a cycle there is a pause of recollection. A surging revival, Dante’s escape, surmounting from a Herculean hellhole.  A brief blast of bitter despair goes sullenly. By now, it’s continued long enough to see the whole span –span. Now, if we can only prevent repeat, is this even possible? Repetitively embracing new feats. The fear of originality, mystery as origin, sinks in. This newness surrounding me is swallowing. Old behaviors, in new phases, and a familiar self, one avoids.

To void, we say in a midnight’s cheers and she’s out. That innocent laugh where her hand sinks into her sweater and the sleeve guises her maroon-stained lips whilst she’s laughing. Never has there been a more innocent moment between usAt least, for now. That’s all we have. 
Kiss me. 
Kill me, it’s been so long since I’ve felt this way
Unfamiliar madness driven by vague lust.
Falling for dangerous beauty.
Again & again, a reposed disposal. Dumped and dittled. Have me. Use me. Just don’t bare me.
 Outcries of premature remorse. 
We must always consider the fade.

We are reaching the primal core now and there’s no looking back. Truly, a new cycle with old familiarities. We repeat –no escape. Our reproach? Commit. Do until done. Thou wilt, not my way but through me is all that matters. Past the confines of even, self-imposed discipline. Further, yet further! This strange being lingers away the day. Overcome the temptation to react as you used to. Use this to grow in some new unscathed, reasonable fashion.

Either way, you are spiraling. Down seems to pessimistic. Rising this early seems unlikely, a casual narcissism at best.

So we spiral:





At least until, we notice the cycle has returned. Full course. We are back to where we started. The bottom. The top. Here. There. An ‘I’ remain as the screen changes. As all is new and full of life, we all are not so different. Thoughts are. Ideas are. Plans are. Expectations are.  Wishes are. Dreams are. The plays I imagine, my personal speculation about how things will go which is usually misconstrued, are. And then we realize the vicissitudes of a cycle are unavoidable.

Rotting remnants that need to enjoy solitude and company before they are gone. Today, nonetheless! No more black or white scenes on the screen. Blend, I say! Blend!

Let us bow to blend!

And praise the grey –and the non-grey. The uber-grey and the unter-grey. Life, this life, is about combating grey, to see it from new angles, new interiors of living properly, perceptively, and more thoroughly. Through a wider scale of emotive resonance, compassionate compatibility, a sympathetic glare, and a much wider transition of breaking attachment through the transformation of perception –escaping how we see the Other and accepting our encounters with each other in vast arms of embrace, as we would our very selves.

But enough grey for now.

Platinum cut braids, shadows of dark eyeliner remain, subtle bareness, and those lips alive God, those fucking lips.
Woo me every time, a smile.
Force my hand gray, and shine light upon my buried entrenchments.
O’confineth by such is thine heart
Which has broken unto me
Hath not we lost
This , very race
For while is our search
And at once! 
We were born.
Into the cosmic gray
And all was floating
and all as right
The good was finally golden.
As it always was
For once

Allow the blend to vibe.

Until we reach again the confined conviviality of the heart, I say to you again, be grey of glory. Lessen two.  For I am sure that yours is split –grey, and mine is too.

We are melting in experience.

Where colours abound.

And if seen properly, illuminated shades spark up and down our lives into a motion beset by the stars of hope allowing us the fortuity of being in a moment, this moment of Every, and finally accepting where we are, and as we are. And as life remains, if only we’d return to accept where we’ve always been.

Remain here.

For the while is ever-present.



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The Absolute and Art: Astrid Fitzgerald’s Vivid Take On Transformation http://stephanstansfield.com/the-absolute-and-art-astrid-fitzgeralds-vivid-take-on-transformation/ http://stephanstansfield.com/the-absolute-and-art-astrid-fitzgeralds-vivid-take-on-transformation/#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2016 18:02:41 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=204

This, and all works below, are attributed to artist Astrid Fitzgerald.

Born in Wil, a tiny northeastern city in Switzerland that is almost entirely devoted to Catholicism, Astrid Fitzgerald evolved to escape the confines of her religious dogma becoming nearly the absolute definition of a Renaissance woman.

Before our introduction of Ms. Astrid Fitzgerald, I feel obligated to admit that by now, I cannot be any more awed.

Astrid’s art reflects more than the creative spirit of humanity, its underlying notions of a just God, mathematical laws, and at times stubborn logic. Astrid Fitzgerald has learned to reinvent the ancient golden mean, the emergent spark of the universe, and the unity we, all of us, are searching for throughout our lives. In my own creative process of writing this article, I’ve cultivated a deep appreciation for number, form, and particularly Astrid herself. As with many great artists, Fitzgerald has yet to receive all the innumerable gratuities that a consciously focused & creatively aware society grant toward recognizing profound art; personally, I doubt her unique contributions to the artistic world will be largely recognized in their time –as most great art is rarely, if ever, appreciated during the lifetime of its crafter.

The beauty of Astrid’s creation lies in its constant transition, information, and subtle development. Besides writing, Astrid draws, paints, works with pastels, collages, and constructs. Her work holds onto the delicate edge of transcending the material realm of her modern day contemporaries, allowing the manifestation of a style that is all too entirely her own to name, yet her inspiration is clear. Behind the great body of work she’s crafted draws a recollection of the human spirit from the ancient Greek Pythagoreans, Confucius, and the ancient art of Vedanta. Her perennial paint manages quite a lovely integration of East and West.

Let it be known that I fell deeply in love with Astrid’s art upon first sight of it. The greatness of an art for Art has an overwhelming effect upon the initiation of the unaware.

To be honest, it has taken me awhile to write this piece for if I had not taken time away from my examinations of every surface and depth of each piece of Astrid’s art, I most certainly would have not had the time to write. In allotting myself some space, I’ve found a tranquil sphere to base my writing. This, I hope, will be beneficial for the reader and assist any support garnered for the artist. Had I not paused in my high ambitions to share Astrid and her marvelous work with the world, I most certainly would have ruined the concentration of any reader through an overtly abused spew of misused exclamatory marks lending itself to an initial draft predisposed as overly burnt toast.

No. 879 – Quantum XXIII – Pastel on paper, 1995

Staring at that Which Stirs

My first encounter with Astrid Fitzgerald was quite synchronous.

It began in a dream.

In lucid awakening, my hands stumbled about the darkness of the room trying to grasp my phone out of the recollection of where I’d set it before falling asleep. When my manhandles finally locked in on the familiar rectangular frame, I quickly jotted down a word I’d remembered hearing in a dream right before being woken up. When morning came, I did a quick Google search of the unfamiliar word, and wham! Search results led me to a book Astrid Fitzgerald had written entitled Being Consciousness Bliss. Now, the irony of this situation is that the subject matter of this particular book relates directly, in fact specifically, to an interest that I am currently researching, studying, and writing about. Satchitananda, a Hindu-based conception that explores the subjective nature of the world, its realities, and the essence of a Brahmic-based philosophy. Digging through the search engine trail, I eventually stumbled upon Astrid’s art, her personal website, and various online galleries where I spent some time browsing her work.

At first, the desperate materialism of my mind’s mechanistic twist & grind wanted it all. Art for the sake of having it, hanging it, and nothing more or less than property posted as a plaque. It was an all-consuming purge on the morality of my mental sphere and I needed to step back. Breathe. Something wasn’t right. It was as if an inner Logos had unraveled barely enough for us, in our rollings about the world, to find each other. Together, at last! And yet, here I was ignoring this beautiful moment for the sake of personal possession. However this chaotic connector found us, it was I alone staring at the computer screen beckoning for a lasting taste of the imagination. But, what remains? Surely not this framed art I wanted to use as decorum to alleviate the bareness of white walls of space throughout my apartment. As if that would satisfy my urge. Inspiration strikes us all from time to time and yet without sufficient attention we can easily play deficit to a pristine moment of universal unraveling, as if it were a mere terrestrial propriety.

Only Noticing

Through perfect symmetries, rounded edges, and the blending shades of mysteriously placed lavender lines, Astrid has found ingenious ways of making swirls straight, twisting triangles in their strict geometric form, and driving solid spheres to the point of dissolution.

From afar, her art may look simple and easily hand drawn with a straight edge, but a keen eye will quickly see that there is much more depth to Astrid’s work than what’s first imagined. Behind each piece lies a wholesome, untold essence. Meticulous patience, virtue formed, steady hands, parabolas of potential, and various peculiar qualities which altogether may seem invalid hint at an unquestionable uncertainty behind the drawer’s hand.


No. 875 – Quantum XIX – Pastel on paper – 36″H x 30″w, 1995

Intuitions of The Primal Forces

“The images arose while meditating, that is, “holding in mind” a particular quality such as infinite silence or infinite dynamism. Afterwards, I would begin to sketch whatever came flooding into my mind’s eye.”

Astrid depicts various abstract symbols throughout her work.

Personally, I enjoy her online art exhibit entitled Intuitions of the Primal Forces. The 8-minute video is set to a background of light piano music accompanied by a significance of Carl Jung quotes which point the viewer toward a comprehension of the artist’s motif. Astrid’s collection on the Unified Field is an exploration of consciousness, the transparent balance behind nature, and the holistic dynamism of its every form.

Within the first two minutes of the video gallery, the viewer sees various depictions which can be accurately interpreted as a representation of the Buddhist notion of Dharmakaya. Less widely known as Adi-Buddha (in the esoteric texts of Vajrayana Buddhism) and the fourth state of conscious known as turiya (which is actually the word that was spoken in my dream) in Advaita Vedanta, Dharmakaya represents primordial peace, eternal co-relation, and non-duality. In these works of pastel, Astrid plays with the duality of form & consciousness through use of various depictions of the Taijitu by transforming their internal symmetries, melting Yin into Yang, and abstracting the inseparable, inconceivable harmony between them into an arrangement devoid of duality.

Like the image above, Astrid explores the structure of what appears to be an eye. This archetype can be seen a few times throughout the video. In the background of this image, as well as the majority of her other intuitional soulscapes, the clarity of Tathata (Zen’s thusness) can be seen. Astrid’s depiction of suchness is a critical part to nearly all her portraits of the primal force. Later in the gallery we see that even the more glittery, statically-illuse Tathata manages perceptual revolution. What was once veiled as unchangeable transforms into a continuous process of change lending to the view that even the artist herself may have touched upon her own illumination.


No. 321 – Encaustic and Collage on Wood, 12″H x 15″W x 1″D – 2009

Striking the Suchness of Simplicity

At first sight, Astrid’s art looks too simple.

As any Taoist master will tell you, simplicity is the ultimate form of complexity.

I realized that there was much more to her art than mere imitation, old logical rules, and formulas learned in boring seventh grade geometry classes. Astrid’s complete originality lies in her cosmic approach. Each image is designed to express the height of becoming in a single instant –framed. Her designs achieve a certain coordination and concentrated balance, or what Buddhist’s refer to as samadhi –a sort of balanced, absorbed concentration, and this can equally be seen throughout her works. Suchness expressed clearly in each form.

As a philosopher artist (according to Roger Lipsey) and as the art’s creator, I’m sure Astrid realizes the depth of her art. Whether she cares about being properly recognized, I assure you that she deserves a spot in the history books. Tomorrow’s art is here and whether the world as a whole is ready for it or not, Astrid and her creations stand as another tale before their time –in fact, outside the temporal.

The greatest discovery in our observations of each piece of art is the prophetic paint’s ability to demonstrate how behind we, society as a whole, truly is. There is no longer any glory in killing each other to survive over plant matter, destroying the innocent lives of human beings over religious conflict like the never-ending situation in Gaza, oppressive militarism, global Holocaust for the sake of short term profit, and economic arbitrage must stop. This is why we desperately need to realize the creative capacity within ourselves, this is why we need more Astrids or at least her art to show us how to expand and to motivate us to overcome our petty, territorial instincts allowing us to open to those inner, non-temporal depths we are capable of experiencing, sharing, and that each one of us must eventually reach in order for the search to stop. Let us then walk toward the potentials we are capable of achieving and set a path to unlocking them.

No 412 – Collage – Casein on Paper – 27″H x 22″W – 2013 (from Astrid’s personal site)


On That Which Never Stops

Astrid’s art is about realization. The realization of a wholeness above and below searching, inside and out ourselves, apart and together forms, and the interlocking connection of an us, of a humanity that erases borders, race, religion, and self-established barriers that aim to prevent an actual unity from becoming. Our especial habits must be overcome. Art is Astrid’s answer. It’s function aims to enlighten the individual from his/her self-confined state of individual containment, cultural protection, and financial net of safety allowing consciousness to unfold through a series of visual stimulation signaling a reliance of greater, natural, logical, and underlying order we can actually have faith in. This is not mere belief, but the transcendence of all beliefs.

Surely this force is as unspeakable as Astrid’s art is.

Yet, for centuries men and women have tried to express that unseen force to the public, a feat most assuredly beyond all word.

Still and so, let us become all we should be in all our utter attempts to express the inexhaustible.

Perhaps, it is the spirit within us, or that ineffable Tao,  Paramatman, Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, or one of Islam’s 99 names for God that we are attempting to share with others.

Maybe, it’s the experience of an experience about experience that wants to be experienced.

Certainly, I don’t know.

But, if I did and this is, I believe, what Astrid’s art is trying to accomplish, it’s that sharing our experience of that glittery guild which coats the world so finely in an all-encompassing cloud of golden dust has become so mysterious, so illusive that we have forgotten it is there simply out of repetitive ignorance. We are so accustomed to seeing it, day in and day out, that change as a constant appears motionless. Her art reminds us of our common bound, our gloom & doom, and our only certainty. Don’t you see what we all share?  Right there, in front and all around. You’re standing on the peak! And it’s dissolving before your eyes. With every turn of the cheek. So little time is left to do so much with. And we begin again each day the battle.

Though I hope I have in no way under served the quality of her mastercraft in my attempt at clarifying how beautiful her art stains the canvas and how magnificent our lives can be. Her courageous and necessary attempt to secure the chaotic unknown into an orderly fashion which can then be remotely framed, hung on the wall as decor, and serve as a friendly reality check before we walk out the door each day to serve the technocentric world.

Moreover, it’s a reminder to be human. It’s a reminder about chance, uncertainty, and the misfortune we may all be subjected to suffer. It’s about us being an integral part of Nature and the inherited limitations of creaturehood. It’s about a sacrament towards the whole – an attempt at easing our imagined hole. It’s about living in a greater paradigm and with greater purpose and with greater awareness than our ancestors were accustomed to and dissecting our measly projections of how we think the world works and our ability to control it to something greater. It’s more than where it came from, it’s where we are going, it’s where we always are.

Astrid is the definition of a conscious creator, a person who by judge of her character has touched upon actuality itself, that which is beyond self. As she continues to expand her potential as an artist, we see in her art a place that most of us have yet to reach, explore, or realize. This moment of absorption leaves of us only with a choice: do we favor the vices of accretion or the incentive to change? Astrid’s art assures us longevity is possible and that we too, if we allow ourselves expanse, can most certainly become more than our imaginations.

No. 65 – Acrylic on Shaped Canvas – 43 1/2″H x 75″W (from Astrid’s personal site)


If you’d like to support Astrid, check out her personal site, galleries, on Amazon, and this.

If you enjoyed this piece, than please be sure to read her interview with Geoform.


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The Distance Between Us Is Growing Apart http://stephanstansfield.com/the-distance-between-us-is-growing-apart/ http://stephanstansfield.com/the-distance-between-us-is-growing-apart/#comments Sat, 09 Nov 2013 04:10:37 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=185 Mosaic-II

M.C. Escher’s Mosiac II

The distance between us is growing apart.


That look on your face in the picture that you just posted of yourself on Facebook disgusts me.

I am… not like that.

It’s the look of you admiring yourself, your photogenic self-gluttony, posting pictures of yourself everywhere in your own albums and being the star of your own show. Oh, beautiful you!

Self-conceit makes me sick.

And as I continue to scroll a bit further down my newsfeed, I am occasionally greeted by the sight of a friend still able to arouse my laughter by posting a silly joke. At least we can both appreciate his sense of humor.


The distance between us is growing apart.

I keep thinking how ignorance must be bliss because enlightenment has become incredibly lonely, difficult, despairing, and frustrating at seeing how different you are from the others. And even though I know we are the same, something screams:


I keep thinking how I am not like any of these people. I can see through their disguise, their pleas for recognition, their attempt at connection, and their hope for acknowledgment.

I know I’m not better, or more special, or even enlightened, whatever that means. Are not we all and fail to see with integral sight? It’s when we start feeling separate to our common cause that issues arise and the obvious becomes oblivious to the obsolete.

I see your determination, lacking.

I see your isolation.

I see you striving, about.

I know you are trapped in the smallest room of existence. Closet space is tight and cramped for comfort. Your friends share the same narrow hallways you do. You see each other every day in the back and forth. Passing each other casually, small talk is all you talk. The boredom of our brothers should be more uplifting.

Scrolling these aisles has never been easier. Digital neglect is beginning to feel like an absolute. An anticipation to do something meaningful shakes me from avoidance to involvement. I feel like something is missing by skipping through all these posts, their entire world, and I can see where they are misleading. The majority socially share every nuance of their day hoping for comment, favoritism, or any gesture of recognition verifying their weak attempt to touch base with the human element.

Elemental causes have turned into rudimentary effects. Oh, conditioned beasts!

The most insightful picture I saw today was either a picture of a cat or someone’s pre-workout selfie showing off their brand new neon-colored Nikes. I still wish I had a pair.

The most illuminating notification I received today was, “LOL. This morning I went to pour milk into my bowl of cereal and missed. Now there’s a puddle of milk on my countertop and I have nothing to wipe it up with. FML” The wisdom of the crowd never fails to amuse me.

We put a man on the moon nearly decades ago. This year we’re able to live longer than ever before. Access to the information age rests in the palms of our hands. We have open access to more consolidated knowledge and free education than ever before and still our biggest concern is playing Peggle, decorating our personal public profiles, and trusting others to teach us what they think we should know without ever bothering to ask ourselves why we don’t get a say in our own education.

The distance between us is growing apart. I am not like you in the sense you may think.

You may not even realize that we are different.

I know we are both caught in this web, subtly shaking the lining, and I know: I am stuck.

I am stuck in this strange loop.

Repetition consumes what I am.

Einstein’s theory seems more and more like the Law, especially from the confines of this sticky mass. And while you’re trying to wiggle your way out of the widow’s web making it worse with each shake of your hips, I lay here; still, my best attempt to slip through this gooey mess is dissolution. If I’m lucky, I’ll manage to squeeze through a hole that was missed, or at the very least, I’ll hand myself over to the fanged tooth bully and give this black-bellied bloodsucker a first go at consuming me, relieving me of duty, and at least grant myself freedom from purgatorial fate.

I want to go. I want to leave. I want to escape this venom within me.


I want it to submit, so I do.

I quit.

I stop fighting it.

Resistance is nothing when it has nothing to resist.


All my shaking makes it worse. Being around you makes it worse.

“Where are the people that will help me?” I wonder.

Beyond the wall of doubt I hear a whisper. “Help you from what?” the voice says as if it knows a better way. My awkward innocence braves the question that seems to have arisen from nowhere, but rather an uncharted, unscathed depth that had been ignored years ago. “From my demons,” I reply. The voice speaks without words but somehow I manage to comprehend the entire reply. “Those demons are for you and you alone to face. No one can help you defeat what’s inside your own head. Only turning and facing the demon, letting it devour you, absorb you, and swallow you whole will the show be finished. Once, it finally swallows its own tail, devouring itself, and drifting into that which cannot be swallowed will the struggle end.

The point is there is none.

The nothingness is real and alive. It’s frightening.

It oscillates between us, in us, and without us. Being evolves from it. Becoming something we will retire in dissolution. There’s no one that will save you save for yourself. I hope this is enough to deter you, convince you, or guide your way.

Enlightenment is not what you think. I recommend you stop striving for it. It is separating us.

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Rivers, Tides, and The Void of Andy Goldsworthy (A Glimpse Into the Ambitious Art of Transcendence) http://stephanstansfield.com/rivers-tides-and-the-void-of-andy-goldsworthy-a-glimpse-into-the-ambitious-art-of-transcendence/ http://stephanstansfield.com/rivers-tides-and-the-void-of-andy-goldsworthy-a-glimpse-into-the-ambitious-art-of-transcendence/#respond Thu, 26 Sep 2013 04:43:04 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=148 Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

Image Source: Clearly Ambiguous’s Flickr

 “My art is an attempt to reach beyond the surface appearance. I want to see growth in wood, time in stone, nature in a city, and I do not mean its parks but a deeper understanding that a city is nature too-the ground upon which it is built, the stone with which it is made.”

-Andy Goldsworthy

British environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy has recently become one of my favorite artists and someone who I believe to be one of the most original and magnificent artists to have lived during the past century.

He has spent the last four decades constructing art that elevates the environment birthing it.

His signature style is has been dubbed by some as “land art,” but Andy Goldsworthy is more than just some landscape sculptor with an enthusiasm for nature. His ability to perform underneath nature’s elements, time restraints, and unpredictable fluctuations allow him to surpass the limitations of the everyday artist working from the comfort of couch cushions.

In short, Andy Goldsworthy does what others simply cannot.

It’s arguable that most people do not even possess his uncanny ability to think is such unfamiliar creative directions.

More importantly, his artistic detachment sets a bar that few can reach (or let go of).

To better understand Andy as an artist, start by reading his philosophy of art.

Image Source: Iuri Kothe’s Flickr

The Integral Philosophy of Andy Goldsworthy: In His Own Words

“For me looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. Place is found by walking, direction determined by weather and season. I take the opportunity each day offers: if it is snowing, I work in snow, at leaf-fall it will be leaves; a blown over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.

Movement, change, light growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it, these processes continue.

The energy and space around a material are as important as the energy and the space within. The weather—rain, sun, snow, hail, calm—is that external space made visible. When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it. It is not independent of its surroundings and the way it sits tells how it came to be there. In an effort to understand why that rock is there and where it is going, I must work with it in the area in which I found it.

I have become aware of raw nature is in a state of change and how that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Often I can only follow a train of thought while a particular weather condition persists. When a change comes, the idea must alter or it will, and often does, fail. I am sometimes left stranded by a change in the weather with half-understood feelings that have to travel with me until conditions are right for them to appear. All forms are to be found in nature, and there are many qualities within any material. By exploring them I hope to understand the whole. My work needs to include the loose and disordered within the nature of material as well as the tight and regular.

At its most successful, my ‘touch’ looks into the heart of nature; most days I don’t even get close. These things are all part of the transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient—only in this way can the cycle remain unbroken and the process complete. I cannot explain the importance to me of being part of the place, its seasons and changes. Fourteen years ago I made a line of stones in Morecambe Bay. It is still there, buried under the sand, unseen. All my work still exists in some form.

My approach to photograph is kept simple, almost routine. All work, good and bad, is documented. I use standard film, a standard lens and no filters. Each work grows, strays, decays—integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expresses in the image. Process and decay are implicit.”

Andy Goldsworthy

The beauty of Andy’s art lies in his ability to create visual masterpieces which maintain their natural wonder while maintaining their inherent dissolve.

Unlike most artists whose works of art hang around the world in museums protected by cabinetry, glass frames, and security panels, Andy’s work remains where it started. Slowly decaying back into its origin, each piece remains consistently involved in nature’s flow. Decay and impermanence serve as essential motifs within each and every piece making his work closer to a symbol of creation than an expression of art.

After hours of laboring, Andy demonstrates the quiet strength of his character by witnessing his artwork disappear before his eyes. Luckily for us, Andy documents his projects via photography and video; two means of documentation that neither grant enough justice nor recognition to a man who brings light to such noble art.

The Void of Andy Goldsworthy

One of Andy’s signature and recurrent symbols is [the] Void which has been documented in various styles across the globe.

Within each piece Andy embeds one of humanity’s greatest fears, impermanence.

The beauty arising in his depictions of the Void masquerade the fear inherently embedded in each piece allowing a sort of fear bypass for the user. Witnessing his art, one cannot help but intuitively feel the symbiosis of every brilliant creation’s invariable doom allowing his art to transcend the normal boundaries of death’s certain panic.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Andy 2

Andy 4

Andy 3

Andy 5

The brilliance of Andy’s work, besides its impermanent dissolve, is his continual struggle in crafting each piece. Andy’s true character shines through his persistence to complete each piece of art. After witnessing a fragile work collapse numerous times before completion, Andy resolves to try again, sometimes failing numerous times before reaching an end result to his liking and perfection. Watching his determination in Rivers and Tides, he demonstrates the valiant strength behind his art and his triumphant resolve as an artist and human being.

Flowers, leaves, sticks, water, rotting stems, stones, and ice grant Andy the natural gifts to craft his masterpieces. His skill in manipulating the environment imbue it with a sense of transcendence making his art’s finale truly integral.

Using universal principles such as movement, change, light, growth, and decay,  Andy’s work transmutes ordinary debris into something more deeply profound than simply cut shrubbery and stacked rocks alongside a bypass.

I recently finished watching his documentary (which I highly recommend), Rivers and Tides, filmed by Thomas Riedelsheimer. You can watch it here for free (the quality isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to see if it sparks your interest) or if you have Amazon Prime you can watch it here for free.

Andy is also considered to be one of the modern pioneers in resurrecting the art of rock balancing.

After finishing the documentary above I was simply amazed to see the heart and spirit so prevalent in an artist and human being expressing the abstract vision of his existence and experience through art.

I hope that this article pays a bit of recognition and respect to a decorative artist courageous enough to immerse himself into the elements of creative collaboration, nature, and the difficulties of growing as an artist.

If his art doesn’t encourage you to want to save the environment, to be more creative, or to escape your box, I’m not exactly sure what will.


For those interested, Time magazine did a short interview with Andy.

For those in love with picture scrolling, Old Chum’s Fall Leaves collection on Flickr does a nice job at presenting a few of Andy’s pieces.

Let me know what you think of Rivers and Tides in the comment section.


Image Sources (in order): Void 1; Void 2: Void 3: Void 4


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The Most Enlightening Moment: Riddles of Existence http://stephanstansfield.com/the-most-enlightening-moment-riddles-of-existence/ http://stephanstansfield.com/the-most-enlightening-moment-riddles-of-existence/#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2013 04:26:11 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=142 Photo of Sticks Framing a Lake

The most enlightening moment occurs at the most uncomfortable time.

What time is it always?


It’s the riddle of conundrum.



It’s sitting in the silence of a car with the radio turned off.

You and another waiting.

No one is talking.

Who breaks the holy air?


It’s the awkwardness of a lull in dinner conversation.

Who dares to interrupt?


It’s silent in lieu of offence.

Who is the offended?

It belies the argument.

But, underneath where?

It follows immediately after insult.

What does this indigenous proof stain?

A slap of sarcasm, disgust, outrage


Only soft words: Thank you.

Kind to friends and foe alike.


It’s only half of it.

What remains?




Image Source: iurikothe’s Flickr (Original: Sticks Framing a Lake by Andy Goldsworthy)

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Best Albums of 2012: An Infographic From Information is Beautiful (Plus: My 5 Favorite Albums of Last Year) http://stephanstansfield.com/best-albums-of-2012-an-infograph-from-information-is-beautiful-and-my-thoughts-on-the-best-albums/ http://stephanstansfield.com/best-albums-of-2012-an-infograph-from-information-is-beautiful-and-my-thoughts-on-the-best-albums/#respond Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:42:55 +0000 http://stephanstansfield.com/?p=46 Source: InformationIsBeautiful

Source: InformationIsBeautiful

The critics did a pretty good list of the best albums of 2012.

Personally, I couldn’t really get into Tame Impala’s Lonerism or Beach House’s Bloom, but the so many people have been talking about these albums.

My favorite albums of the year had to be:

alt-j’s An Awesome Wave: This album is a masterpiece. Listen to it from Track 1 to finish.

Miguel’s Kaleidscope Dream: I listened to this again today for the thirtieth time. Miguel resembles a modern day Prince.

K. Dot’s good kid, m.A.A.d city: This album is a beautiful story of life. Kendrick Lamar tells stories about his teenage years before hip-hop creating a beautiful and complete album full of style and perfect delivery.

Ab-Soul’s Control System: Black Hippy member (along with Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock) and TDE affiliate Ab-Soul created perhaps the most unique sounding hip-hop album this year. While not as popular as Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul is showing signs of being the best rapper since Eminem. Control System might be my favorite album of the entire year. Warning: This is only for hip-hop fans. And, I predict Ab-Soul is going to explode in 2013.

Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange: If you haven’t heard this yet, what are you doing with your life. Frank Ocean exploded onto the mainstream music scene this year with Channel Orange and definitely delivers a little something for all music fans.

I would also recommend checking out Cat Power. Sarah, my girlfriend, listens to her new album and I really vibe with a lot of the tracks. Flying Lotus has been around forever and continues to make great art.

I am about to check out Cloud Nothing’s Attack on Memory. 

Make sure you visit InformationIsBeautiful’s new glossy website. They really did a great job!

Let me know your favorite albums of 2012 or 2013 by leaving a comment at the top.

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