Here is my painting #42:
I felt very confident starting this painting – I liked the concept, and an earlier version (my painting #41) appealed to me. I also felt the underpainting seemed promising (image below).
But in this painting I wanted to achieve something more earthly, with mainly transparent colours and less blending. This turned out to tax my technical ability much more than I expected, and after one or two hours of efforts I wiped it all, took a break and started again.
In the end, the image is something I like, it goes to the concept I was after, but I doubt this will appeal to many others. On my iPad, the image seems true to the original with its warm, translucent areas.
I feel the rough strokes and earthy, even dirty colour links up with the anxious idea of being out on a ledge, surrounded by rock in a harsh, unforgiving environment. And yet there is beauty also?
As I painted this, my own journey with anxiety came to mind – probably prompted by a blogger who recently left a comment on an earlier post and mentioned her own battle with anxiety. For me this demon has become a useful ally – a pointer of sorts, urging me to question gently into the dread of anxiety, to release, observe, endure all the way to the bottom where boundless silence and freedom lies.
In his dense but remarkable book Lack and Transcendence, David Loy beautifully synthesises Kierkegaard’s view of Anxiety:
Kierkegaard delineates the paradox that, if there is to be an end to anxiety, it can be found only through anxiety. Understood and experienced in the right way (one who misunderstands this anxiety is lost, he says), anxiety is a school which roots out everything finite and petty in us, and only then takes us wherever we want to go. Just as we have seen with death and guilt, the path of integration is an awareness that does not flee anxiety but endures it, in order to recuperate those parts of the psyche which split off and return to haunt us in projected, symbolic form.
Closely aligned with this theme – and linking explicitly to my painting above – are the closing lines of Robert Bly’s poem “November Day at Mc Clure’s” (my apologies – I quoted this in an earlier post but cannot help doing it again!):
In their blood cells the vultures coast with furry necks extended, watching over the desert for signs of life to end. It is not our life we need to weep for. Inside us there is some secret. We are following a narrow ledge around a mountain, we are sailing on skeletal eery craft over the buoyant ocean.
Thanks so much for all those who have encouraged me with comments, likes and follows. I hope you have a good week ahead, filled with joy and contentment.