#O110: The Gray Voice

Oil on Panel. This is a landscape roughly based on the photo below. I started by painting this over one of my earlier paintings (this one) with a strong wash of Raw Sienna. Immediately it leaned into the direction of an old world painting – the sort of thing you may see behind the grandfather clock in an old farm house, next to the gun rack.



Unfortunately this painting got away from me. I fiddled with the foreground the next day and the spirit of the painting just packed up and left. I have since painted over it.

I have been through a pretty dark forest the past week, slowly getting to clarity again. Feeling deeply into the meaning of things, my paintings foremost among these.

I have been painting some pretty wild pictures. I don’t think there is an audience for these, but I am sure they have some sort of meaning. So for the sake of my own log I will  mercilessly post them in the week to come. Liberation from the stranglehold of the imaginary audience in the mind.

It is OK to proceed regardless of what others think – if you are walking a path that is lighted by your spirit. Tomas Transtromer ends his poem “After a Long Dry Spell”, as follows:

It’s all right to telephone the island that is a mirage.
It’s all right to hear the gray voice.
To thunder iron ore is honey.
It’s all right to live by your own code.
Translation by Robert Bly in The Half Finished Heaven

I think at last my paintings were not made purposelessly. Just like each meditation session is not in vain, it brings its own rewards. It is the adoption of a strategy – instead of another way of looking, being – that misleads us.

In his poem “Gerontion”, T.S Eliot wrote:

I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy knob.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities.
The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at
We have not reached conclusion, when I 
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
of the backward devils.


Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you are happy and content.

7 thoughts on “#O110: The Gray Voice

  1. Yes…..I understand the sense or awareness of the invisible audience but after all ultimately you are on your own journey, expressing yourself through painting. At least trying to express what is often inexpressible and not all people will understand your journey. I struggle with this all the time. My desire is to find my voice and that takes a lot of “wild” and often bleak or failed paintings, I rather have tried and floundered then not try at all. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and often revealing posts, you definitely have my audience. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true Margaret, each of those wild and/or bleak paintings is a stepping stone to the ones that lift and exult the spirit, aren’t they. We have to slog through them. I think the key is to appreciate them – and the mood that precedes and follows them – and to learn from this as much as we can. As Carlson said: “there are miles of square canvas behind a successful painter”. All the best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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