WHAT IS EYEKU ????
As explained in the letter written below, Robert Genn of Painters Key's has coined the term "Eyeku". It is inspiring and thought stimulating for anyone. When sketching or making thumbnail sketches, it is helpful to write eyku to help remember the additional information of our senses that the image alone does not reveal. In and of itself it can be an inspiration to take you away for a moment to another place and time. They can be quite poetic, or just wonderful visualization. Write them often and always when drawing or painting. They can enhance your joy of life. Pass them on to friends for a wonderful thought of the day. Just do it!
A Last Look
The other night while hanging out at a party a friend reminded me of Walter De la Mare's: "Look thy last on all things lovely, every hour." Together she and I relished the idea that regularized, fleeting time might be added to an intensified appreciation of our world. Today I'm reviewing a system for nailing down my seeing. I call it "Eyeku." Off and on I've filled a few trip-books and ring-binders with cryptic haiku-like items. Sometimes I've used a chiming watch to prompt the opportunity. Here's a few from my patio right now:
Creamy, dappled lichen on the gray trunk and branches of a flowering dogwood tree.
On high pilings, Purple Martin young, fluffed out, windswept, waiting to be fed.
By binoculars, two yellow kayaks with yellow-haired paddlers, girl and boy, heading out.
Airedale half in, half out of the sun, carefully licking up the last of my ravioli.
The potential of this system is to regularly exercise our powers of observation, to build on the joy of simple gifts. While it's not possible to make a painting of everything within reach, nor would it be desirable, there is value in enhancing a wider life. By writing it down it becomes monumentalized and somehow more poignant. It gets you seeing potential in the little things, the mundane, the ordinary.
The early Japanese Haiku writers like Basho and Buson recognized the value of codifying simple observations. They adhered to a strict number of syllables in order to keep the form pure. "The octopuses in the jars, transient dreams, under the summer moon." (Basho, 1644-1694) "Leaves, fallen on a rock, beneath the water." (Joso, 1661-1704) "The cricket, climbs up the pot hanger, the night is cold." (Buson, 1716-1784) My Eyeku are not so pure nor so poetically evocative, but they grab the eye-stuff and hold it. Any look at any thing could be a last look.
PS: "The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation." (Igor Stravinsky)
Esoterica: What about sharing? Emailing four or five short and sweet Eyeku often results in surprising returns in kind. Give it a try. Copy your best to friends and see if they respond. You hardly need to explain what you're up to but you can add "You can reply with yours if you wish." At the top of the current clickback I've asked Andrew to put up a selection that I've recently received. I'm collecting them. They help us to realize that our universe is our constant and replenishing inheritance, and how diverse and great it all is.
Current Clickback: To see selected, illustrated responses to the last letter "Whistler's father," as well as a few "Eyeku," please go to:
Additonal eyeku -