Painting #42

Here is my painting #42:

#42 Abstract Ledge 2, June 2016 (Oil on Canvas on Panel. 40.5 x 310 cm)
#42 Abstract Ledge 2, June 2016 (Oil on Canvas on Panel. 40.5 x 31 cm)

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.

15 thoughts on “Painting #42

  1. Your posts tackle several topics and bring together poetry, psychology and art. Always learning new things reading them and seeing your paintings as they evolve through this process is wonderful. I find the whole of it fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful musings on anxiety, a lot for me to ponder this morning, and thank you for that. I agree with Dawn, I do like the ledges. This one makes me think of slate and then again of books with loose pages. Love your use of light and your colors are fantastic. Keep ’em coming. The only way out is through. Have a great Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laura, I have to say hearing the paintings remind you both of slate and of books with loose pages is a great compliment for me, for some reason.
      Indeed the only way out is through!

      I have looked at your blog and your drawings are amazing. The last one of the dog and – for me – especially the bird. Stunning images. I was on my tablet and could not properly comment, but will mosey over there again some time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The ledge is such an interesting concept. In its own way it can represent both danger and safety, and oh, what a view we have when we step out onto a ledge. The light and colors are warm, almost inviting, and maybe that’s a visual representation of the idea of understanding anxiety through anxiety. As always, much to think about in your art.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. These feet of mine are still taking two steps forward and one step back…definitely an uphill climb, but I’m slowly making progress.


  4. I love that quote by Kierkegaard and this post and last but not least, your painting. It is stark, a tad anxious and yet beautiful, more of the latter, I believe. I struggle immensely with what you have written about. It is a “shifting” of sorts, art is far more than an esthetic pursuit for me, it is a molding of who I am, what I struggle with, what I hope for. I know that it will be a continuing process, one that will not ever resolve or end. I have to be resolved to live with that but boy, is it ever so painful. 🙂 wonderful painting and thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Margaret, I really appreciate your kind comment.
      “art is far more than an esthetic pursuit for me, it is a molding of who I am, what I struggle with, what I hope for” – beautifully put. Indeed it is a molding of who we are – we keep on doubting, searching, finding our feet after almost going under, moving from joy to despair. This is the fire we put ourselves in when we dare to try and create what we yearn for. It is a risky endeavour and I have to believe that – if we do it with the right attitude – it cannot but change our character for the better? Reminds me of the poem “Ithaca” by C.P. Cafavy (I quoted it in one of my earlier posts, but you can easily find it online in case you are interested).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t read Ithaca since my college days, I will go and search for it. You are so right….if we have the right attitude, so integral to the steady moving forward. I really enjoy your posts and finally took some time to read your latest. I think I will enjoy reading them because I love the in-depth view into art and life, it is definitely my cup of tea. 🙂


    1. Many thanks FraggleRocking – the idea of something in darkness, a mine or old house, is so intriguing, I am sure it touches on some archetypal image in our unconscious. Thanks so much for your encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

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