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.
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.
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