Painting #20

This painting is based on a photograph I took on my way back from work, in the time I still lived in South Africa. This was about a decade ago. I have made several paintings of this scene in watercolour – this is my first attempt with oil.

#20: 2 Apr 2016 (Oil on Panel, 30 x 32 cm)

In this painting I tried to stretch my limits a bit by trying a more rectangular format, which places more emphasis on the foreground. I struggled to get the texture of the foreground right, and I am not too happy with this painting.

I think the problem for me is that I dislike too much detail in paintings, for example, when each blade of grass is visible in the foreground and in the distance a house with a kettle on the table. I prefer something more atmospheric.

But in this painting, with the large foreground, some texture and detail needs to be visible, and I struggled with that. The horizon with the clouds is really the star of the show and in my next painting I focused on this element using a flatter landscape format.

I have been through some deep waters filled with anxiety and fatigue in the last week, so perhaps it is fitting I post this now. Not knowing what the future brings, no sleep, anxious about work, my health – and the pain in my back closing down my days and nights.

What will happen? “Don’t know, don’t know”. How beautiful, reassuring is poetry in such days:

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
T.S. Eliot


2 thoughts on “Painting #20

  1. I think the atmospheric mood is strong. Something compelling about the contrast of warm and cool color too, the intense blue in that band of sky and the warm red brown of the field. It doesn’t seem too detailed at all. The large forms definitely hold sway and it has a wonderful, natural appearance.

    I am thinking too about the Eliot quote. He says “wait without hope,” and yet repeats “hope” three times. The same with love. To me, he does have hope and love in his longing, but fears hoping “for the wrong thing,” because he is unsure about what things are the right things to love and to hope for. Thus waiting takes the place of knowledge, but there is still longing. It’s like what we know in our active, conscious thought verses what we sense in unconscious awareness and trying to achieve the balance between those two kinds of awareness. Which as I think of it more seems like the distinction you make between detail and atmosphere, with conscious thought being resolutely detailed and specific and unconscious thought being more amorphous and instinctive. Those are just my thoughts …

    Hope things go better. The painting is lovely. First thing I noticed was the vertical format. It succeeds very well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Aletha, many thanks for your comment. How refreshingly strange to encounter someone with the patience and time in today’s world to read something and reflect on it meaningfully! You put it beautifully when you refer to “those two kinds of awareness”. There is definitely something there in an empty, patient awareness that simply WAITS. One teacher I like a lot, Ajahn Sumedho, said “it is worthless and priceless at the same time”.

      Many thanks also for the positive feedback on my painting! I hope you have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

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