#O133: for the Early Owl

This painting is quite dear to me. Painted in a curious afternoon over an earlier painting of mine which I also liked. This image seems to me a bit bland in bright light, but seen in a dimmer evening light, tucked away in a black frame in some intimate corner of books, the colors and the stories it can tell come alive. I believe them all.

o133


In the past few days I have reflected a lot on my day job and my painting – the different sensitivities and viewpoints demanded by each. At times the two feel opposed to each other, one requiring the utmost subjective sensitivity while the other requires cold, objective decision making.

For me, this apparent dilemma – which can plunge me into despair at times – is “the darkness”. Making it a “fruitful darkness” is my life’s work, or a big part of it. As noted by Arthur Zajonc in his book Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: 

An artist overwhelmed by emotion cannot continue to imagine, or to compose the lines that allow others to share in his or her feeling. The great artist is sensitive, yet imperturbable; battered, yet centered. If we are blinded by our rage, sorrow, lust, or jealousy, we will be handicapped in our actions. Like the poet, we cannot know ourselves or others, nor can we compose our lives, if our emotions overwhelm us. Life should, in this sense, become a work of art.

My painting above prompted me towards some emotional tone, but for a long time I could not place where I had first encountered it. I found it again this afternoon in TS Eliot’s poem “East Coker”. Here is a small part of that long poem:

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
...

TS Eliot, from East Coker. This version copied from
DavidGorman.com where you can see the entire poem.

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

4 thoughts on “#O133: for the Early Owl

  1. Sometimes people don’t realize how hard it is to give a dark mass of brush or foliage life or a sense of dimension. I struggle with this, not sure if it is because out of a jumble I try to make it matter or come alive or what. You managed quite nicely ….. and often it is the same with life, striving to make a “jumble” make sense or to have meaning. And….juxtaposition in life is healthy though painful, I rather go with that than with the safe and mundane. Haha…..I plunge right in without commenting on your painting until after I have my spiel….well, maybe that is a compliment of sorts? As much as I love that greyed down golden color out yonder, your handling of the foliage or bushes is what captured my imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Margaret! You hit the nail on the head with how difficult it can be to get a dark mass in the landscape to look right. A bright patch of field or flowers is much easier.
      I have learnt from books and experience to keep my dark areas thin (in oil paint), and generally also warm. One artist gave a demo and noted that warm darks at the bottom of a bush or tree gave a feeling of “underneath” – and I have found that to be true. Thin and warm, unless it is very far off, then it may be cooler.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! and that warmth also gives “dimension” whereas it can be just a lump of lifeless mass. By the way, have you ever heard of Thomas Sgouros? I am fascinated by his paintings and his idea of remembered landscapes. Very interesting concept, of course it isn’t new in the world of art but his take on it is so intriguing. Look him up and you’ll see what I mean. Your latest post and painting made me think of him. Maybe I have him on the brain but I thought you would enjoy looking at his paintings and his view on art. I know that there are a lot of people out there so intrigued that they come to close to his way of painting in chasing their own remembered landscape theme. I am wanting to explore the concepts but take it in down my own path. Hope to post once I get back from my delayed anniversary trip. I have been painting almost every day and loving it. Have a wonderful weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

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