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My work is about uncovering the truth. Looking into the reflecting pool of the estuary under cover of storm, I see, like Odin who gave his eye, just a glimmer of the truth.

I ween that I hung on the windy tree / Hung there for nights full nine / With the spear I was wounded / And offered I was to Óðinn / Myself to myself / On the tree that none may ever know / What root beneath it runs

There is a chattering mind, grasping, scurrying, anxious. It speaks quickly, saying little. Like a whipping wind it blows frantically in shifting directions. It stirs the surface of the waters only, rippling the clarity of the reflection. But where shadow strikes the surface, the glare is lost and there is a depth which becomes visible.

Work in progress on a digital painting of a Common Loon by bioregional fine artist Derek Schultz
Work in progress, a resting point at the end of the night

When I consult myself, when I confront myself at the tired end of a long road, I must admit that the chattering mind which fills my awareness is only repeating meaningless noise, filled with vapid and pointless desire, and that beneath the surface of the reflecting pool is a feeling of peace. I am seeking, through my work, this feeling of peace. My work is shapes, angles, curves, colors, textures, relationships. Can there be a geometry of peace? An angle of stillness? A color of repose? Can there be a composition of contemplation?

Detail of a digital painting of a Common Loon by bioregional fine artist Derek Schultz

The act of enrichment is the act of carving away. I am teaching myself again and again the truth which I glimpsed in the pool: I am happier when I dive beneath the surface and remain suspended in the current, letting the small anxious mind be carried away. Life is full of complexities. True art is the process of simplification, of alchemical reduction to essentials. Can I live my life in the current of true art?

My work is a living manifestation of my own quest for balance between manic, anxious action, and a meditative moment of satisfaction with the world.

Photograph of a common loon dipping its head below the water in Morro Bay, CA by bioregional fine artist Derek Schultz

Can I appreciate the beauty of sunlight on a wall, simply because the wall is beautiful and the sunlight is beautiful? Can I rest in this moment, instead of allowing myself to eddy meaninglessly on the surface, desperately trying to change something, to do something? Can I savor and relish the taste of clean water – having it be entirely enough? Can I simply feel the wind and breathe it in and be happy with existing in the world here, now? How long can I sit and stare and watch the colors of the light change across the sand and the shale reefs and the chanting surf and the shimmering water and the silent pelicans gliding before my mind wanders and demands an intercession, demands a shift in attention, demands something, demands?

Photograph of a brown pelican flying across the solar disc at sand dollar beach in Big Sur, by bioregional fine artist Derek Schultz
Brown pelican at sunset, Big Sur

Fine art print of a Common Loon by bioregional fine artist Derek Schultz
Gavia immer

The loon, the great northern diver, is a visitor to our estuary every winter. This spring I have watched them each day as they shed their drab winter plumage and grow the stark black and white patterns of heraldry for the change in season and the turning of the wheel. The journey into the sheltering woodlands of the north to raise their young, the next generation of divers, who will return.

I am learning to dive, but as I grasp toward the bottom of the reflecting pool I must come up for air. Each time I dive, I learn to go a little deeper.

First salutations to the stars.

Thanks to all relatives and ancestors.

May all beings be happy and free.

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