#O122: A Way Known to Few

I am trying to vary my compositions and color schemes as much as I can, though I am sticking with a fairly basic palette. In this painting I started with a very dominant, stormy, red sky in the under-painting. As the painting evolved, everything took on a different form, and this is – I think – the final image.

o122

I am taking a few days off from work and have managed to make some frames for my recent paintings:


This morning I took off the shelf my old copy of the poet Ryokan’s One Robe, One Bowl. I have not visited this old favorite of mine for some time, and was delighted to rediscover the simple scenery he paints for us.

What I like about much of oriental poetry – and Zen poetry  in particular – is how the poet paints a situation for us, then leaves us there to dwell in our own inner riches, or lack of it. If we have the openness of mind and richness of imagination to walk the image out with the poet, we find ourselves transported back to ancient Japan in the blink of an eye. The poet points us to a moment, a situation, in which stillness and purity is momentarily achievable. How we find it, and how long we dwell there, is up to us:

One narrow path surrounded by a dense forest;
On all sides, mountains lie in darkness.
The autumn leaves have already fallen.
No rain, but still the rocks are dark with moss.
Returning to my hermitage along a way known to few,
Carrying a basket of fresh mushrooms
And a jar of pure water from the temple well.

Ryokan, translated by John Stevens, in
One Robe, One Bowl

Thanks for visiting my blog!

12 thoughts on “#O122: A Way Known to Few

    1. Thanks FR! Yes indeed it is tempting to only paint the sky, and many artists do that, with just a thin dark line at the bottom. I think it is a more interesting challenge to tie the two together, but the sky invariably wins! Hope your storm is over and you have some clear skies!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The three together look great! Love your frames. I am experimenting with color and style too Fritz. Some days I get something I like, but must admit I threw one away this morning. I think I need to learn how to make frames. Was it difficult?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dawn! Don’t throw it away! Scrape off and see what happens with the ghost image that remains – then work with that using the mud on your pallette. Put on some wild music and go for it. What do you have to lose!

      Regarding the frames – they are not that hard to make but you need some power tools. I build it from timber and have to cut in the grooves on the inside with my table saw, then cut the mitres. It can be tricky and the table saw can remove fingers and hands, which could make painting tricky. But it is very rewarding to do. My wife does the stain and varnish as I hate doing that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I should have! I was so bugged at it I wasn’t thinking smart!

        Well, I need my fingers and I am terrified of sharp power tools…so uh…I will just be jealous of your frames. I am more like your wife…varnishing and staining or painting is great but I don’t do cutting.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The red of the sky is still back there, behind those clouds. Evidently. The sky seems to smolder and glow. You told us the red was there, but clues in the painting itself hint to the presence of something more than meets the eye. The landscape continues beyond what the frame encloses. An evocative landscape always makes you think of the something more — of what is there if you turn right or left, if you turn around or if you go toward the horizon.

    I’m very glad to see pictures in frames!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Aletha. I am so encouraged to share the idea with you that the landscape provides clues to something more than meets the eye. I am slowly playing with the balance that sits between spelling it all out and leaving something for the viewer to complete depending on their own state of being. It is a tricky search but very rewarding – you are a real kindred spirit on this journey I feel, thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

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