#O121: A Foreign Song

I have been doing sketches and under-paintings that mimic a more formless sky in which there are not such clear cloud and sky patterns. Breaking away from observation into a more purely abstract world of color and shape is difficult, but Turner is an excellent guide. I am quite happy with this painting.

o121


I have been revisiting John Gray’s book The Silence of Animals. Beautifully written, full of soul but also utterly breaking down the popular Utopian myth of progress and hope.

From my own sporadic journey into meditation, I know that something exists beyond thought-made meaning, beyond words. Gray discusses this from another angle in his chapter “Beyond the Last Thought”:

Accepting that the world is without meaning, we are liberated from confinement in the meanings we have made. Knowing there is nothing of substance in our world may seem to rob that world of value. But this nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the world that exists beyond ourselves.

Gray quotes parts of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens, which elegantly supports his thesis. Here is the entire poem:

Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Wallace Stevens
(this copy from Poetry Foundation)

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you have had a great festive season and enjoying some rest before the new year starts!

Aan my familie wat tyd met ons spandeer het gedurende Kersfees: baie dankie, dit was ‘n epic kuier en ek sal dit nooit vergeet solank ek leef nie. Julle is a wonderlike spul mense!

11 thoughts on “#O121: A Foreign Song

  1. You know as I started to scroll down and I mean probably only viewing about 30% of your painting, not even seeing the horizon line, I had an instant response. I do this when paintings that truly hit me…..feels like an inner lurch or jump but in a joyous way. There is such freedom in the sky and even though there is obvious opacity because of the paint, there is a lightness present. Isn’t that so amazing? I really love your exploration with abstracting your landscapes and of your exploration coinciding with your mind and attitude on Turner and his paintings. I read that about the last 10-15 years of his painting life, he was getting more and more loose and abstract. Some people even surmised that he was going mad. Interesting how your sky has so much to say before your foreground has the last word. Do you paint intuitively or do you go by a set plan in regards to color and marks? I am hoping to post soon after the dust settles (my grandson goes home) about an interesting way of painting lately. That book by Gray sounds interesting, heavy in fact. Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Margaret! Interesting to hear about Turner. I read somewhere that some of his most popular paintings were actually intended for his eyes only – he knew very few people would really understand what he was up to. Can you imagine how much guts that takes for a professional artist, to keep some secrets stashed away like that!
      Great to hear you may be posting again soon. No doubt the time away may have prepared some fertile ground for creative work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a wonderful quality of light — it seems to be bouncing inside the clouds, to come from inside the painting and to erupt from it. Makes me think of the word “photons” — of light as existing in pieces that can move and dance (as it were). Your experiments are taking you to some lovely places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks again Aletha! I have to give some credit to Turner for the quality you notices of light bouncing around. I have pored over his paintings in the last few weeks and shared some ideas with Margaret. I guess some residue seeped into my paintings…

      Liked by 1 person

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