Painting #31

Here is painting #31.


Despite what I said in earlier posts about my enjoyment of the painting process, all I could think of as I painted this was the starting lines of Rilke’s poem “Pushing Through”:

“Vielleicht, dass ich durch schwere Berge gehe in harten Adern, wie ein Erz allein;” (translation by Robert Bly below).

I was very tempted not to post this painting and just slip in the next one. But each lesson is after all a lesson and if only for myself, if I live to see Painting #100, it may be good to know what I struggled with when I was still painting in the 30’s.

I am a complete novice when it comes to painting abstracts – and I find they demand a level of self-confidence, letting go and self-acceptance that I simply do not yet possess. But I have found, after trying a few abstracts, my landscapes seem to improve a bit from all the trying. Perhaps it only feels good to be back on my home turf again?

It is hard for me right now – I am questioning a lot of things that seemed like certainties. Painting is one of those things – what to paint, why I want to paint. Not a nice place to be – the fruitful darkness of uncertainty.

How much I owe to Rilke:

Pushing Through

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief –
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translation by Robert Bly

Thanks so much to all who have encouraged my with follows, likes and comments. I really appreciate your visits!

16 thoughts on “Painting #31

  1. “Pushing through” is a very apt description of how we feel when we’re struggling with doubts and uncertainties, not only in art but in many other aspects of life. As you’ve pointed out, results can show in unlikely places. Push on abstractions…see progress on landscapes. Push here…improvement happens over there. To me, it’s another affirmation of how all things are intertwined. For convenience, we try to separate things and deal with little pieces. In reality, though, it’s all still connected, and in the end there is something to be gained from the struggle. I do like the abstract you’ve created. I like the vibrant colors and the feeling of life within it. At the same time I see it much like a solid wall…but, no, it’s not solid. There are little cracks and fissures, openings where little things can take root and begin to grow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your beautiful comment. Your phrase “there is something to be gained from the struggle” probably succinctly expresses what my blog is about. And yes, cracks everywhere, and – like Leonard Cohen said about cracks in everything – thats how the light gets in. Thanks so much for your encouragement, will look out for your next post!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I have to say I enjoyed, sort of, doing this painting. It just takes a lot of self acceptance to look at it and say: ” Yes, I am happy with this”, even if there are no objective references to judge by. It is scary, but lots to learn there! I get a lot of enjoyment from your photos, keep on posting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You just have to keep painting. Just keep doing it. Do not dwell. Do not doubt. Just do. You are not the first to feel this way and you won’t be the last. Put the artist curse in the closet and keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. DawnMarie, thanks so much for the encouragement. “Do not dwell, do not doubt” – those words of yours contain enough substance for a lifetime of practise and reflection. Thanks.
    Your encouragement to just keep going made me think of this passage, in the book “Art and Fear”:
    “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot —albeit a perfect one —to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work-and learning from their mistakes —the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection…”

    This passage taught me a lot! Thanks again for your encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly!!!! Just paint!!! I love that idea in the passage you quoted about those sitting around and trying to do it perfectly vs those just doing. So, Just do. You never know what is going to happen till you do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s funny, most artists must go through this self-questioning. I’ve been experiencing something similar. Making art can be so joyful and compelling, then suddenly turn into a confusing slog…sometimes in the course of just one painting. I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one who goes through this. And yes, “just do it” is an appropriate motto for these times:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pat, I have to say it helps a lot to reflect on the fact that this period of doubt is cyclical, just like everything else in nature. This helps to make it less of a personal failure to be endured, and more of a universal to be accepted. All the best to you, I hope you move from the shadows to the light very soon!

      Liked by 1 person

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