So to know yourself is to forget yourself. This is to say that when we make friends with ourselves we no longer have to be so self-involved. It’s a curious twist: making friends with ourselves is a way of not being so self-involved anymore. Then Dogen Zen-ji goes on to say, “To forget yourself is to become enlightened by all things.” When we are not so self-involved, we begin to realize that the world is speaking to us all of the time. Every plant, every tree, every animal, every person, every car, every airplane is speaking to us, teaching us, awakening us. It’s a wonderful world, but we often miss it. It’s as if we see the previews of coming attractions and never get to the main feature.
"Mitochondria I", mixed media and gold leaf on wood, 4' x 6', 2002. Private collection.
"Mitochondria". Each of our cells can contain thousands of mitochondria. They are used by our bodies to convert molecules into energy. They are independent, and genetically distinct from the cell nucleus, and can manufacture their own proteins. It is thought that mitochondria originated as a separate single-cell organism that became symbiotic with their hosts, as to be indispensable. Mitochondrial DNA is a remnant of a past existence as a separate organism. Mitochondria contain their own DNA, which we only inherit from our mothers, and can be used to trace maternal links (The American Heritage Science Dictionary).
“Jade Disc”, acrylic paint on canvas, 4’ x 6’, 2002.
“Jade Disc”. This disc is called a bi disc, it is a flat jade disc, with a circular hole in the center. They were used in Neolithic times, burial objects, undecorated, about 3000 B.C.E. The jade objects represent Heaven and were laid on the diseased.
Tao”, mixed media, acrylic on canvas, 4’ x 6’, 2002.
This painting represents the beginning of the universe. The red rays
piercing the disc, are the sparks that create the Ten Thousand Things in our
The Tao that is unnamable is the Source of the Heaven and
The name, once introduced, becomes the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things.
Returning (to the basis) is the motion of Tao,
Yielding is the work of Tao,
The Ten Thousand Things in the universe are born of being,
Being is born of nothingness.
Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the Ten Thousand Things. Lao
Tzu, The Tao Te Ching
"Silent Passage", oil on gessoed wood, 4' x 6', 2003.
Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching.
The reason water can keep changing its form is because it is essentially
formless. Its form is determined by what is around it. Put it in a cup, and it
will be cup-shaped. Put it in a ravine, and it will be river-shaped. It needs
no form of its own, because it harmonizes with everything around it, taking
other beings as its outline, instead of imposing itself upon others.
“Zen Drawing”, mixed media on wood, 3’ x 4’, 2002. Private Collection.
“Zen Drawing”. Enlightenment, the first principle is possible acknowledging the everything and everyone is Buddha-nature. Enlightenment is possible to everyone. Enlightenment in Buddhism, or for the Taoist sage, is not expressible in words, or logical thought. Intuitive understanding is necessary, acknowledging that eternity is here and now. Fredric Liberman
My art consists of a combination of video installations and paintings, which form an exploration of the sights and sounds of water. Focusing on a natural vista, the viewer may experience the crashing of waves, the roar of a whitewater river, and the sounds of a brook working its way downward, in the cycle of movement, back to the ocean.
Photo by D.A. Hartley
My paintings create a tactile experience for the viewer, transforming the gallery into a visual world of life sized natural forms which mirror the existing environment. The paintings are sculptural, created on large wood panels, with deep texture, stains and oils are worked into the wood. The videos are of natural events, surrounding the viewer with the gentle or crashing sounds of water, designed to include the viewer within the artwork.
Paintings in this video: “Lost Canyon”, mixed media on wood, 4’ x 6’, 2005. Private collection. “Blossom Peak”, mixed media on wood, 4’ x 6’, 2004. Private collection. “Aspen”, mixed media on wood, 4’ x 6’, 2002. Private collection. “Starlight”, mixed media on canvas, diptych, 76” x 54”, 2004. Private collection. “Old Friends”, mixed media on wood, 4’ x 8’, 2001. Courtesy of the artist. “Old Oak and Rock”, oil on canvas, unfinished, 2017-2018. ”Cypress and Basalt”, mixed media on wood, 4’ x 6’, 2006. Private collection. “Aspens”, mixed media, gold on wood, diptych, 6’ x 8’, 2006. Private collection. “Tao”, cast bronze, 10.5” x 22”, 2002. Collection of the artist.
Art Exhibitions for this series:
Water! 2008, Conley Art Gallery, Fresno, CA. Solo Exhibition
Icons, 2004, Three Person Exhibition, Fourth Street Art Gallery, Berkeley, CA.
Temporal Man in Nature, 2002, Cort Gallery, Three Rivers, CA. Solo Exhibition.
Birth of a Painting Series X, “Mountains, Clouds, and Streams”.
“The world is a world of becoming. To see being in becoming,
and becoming in being, that is enlightenment”. D.T. Suzuki
Empirical and experiential sculptural paintings, within a
natural environment, the paintings are a combination of massive sculptural
grounds, forming a reflection of nature, reflecting the temporal nature of man.
"Mountains, Clouds, and Streams", mixed media on wood, triptych, 4' x 6', 2005. Courtesy of the artist.
Nature Series: Themes of Taoism by Denise Hartley.
Sculptural paintings on wood.
“My paintings are influenced from real physical spaces that
exist in nature. The painting is intrinsic to the wood panels that I use. A
tree was cut down to create this panel; the life of the tree encourages the
finished piece. My paintings begin more as sculptural projects. I assemble, sand,
stain, and texture, with an eye to the wood grains. I apply the paint by
rubbing the surface. The surface inspires the art.” D.A. Hartley