#O190-193: Resuming my Existence

In his poem “The Man Watching”,  Rilke says: “When we win it is with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small”.  Much food for thought there – what then, is worth really wanting? If I pursue the thought “what do I want?” all the way down the labyrinth to the place of not knowing, many certainties start unraveling.


Rilke’s letters make it clear that he needed to be alone in order to fall into such a condition, to exist solitary in an imagined cocoon so that he could come apart before coming together again. In this raw, naked, fragmentary state of mind he felt both too vulnerable and too repulsive to be near anyone, except a servant. [The beginning of Terror].


Pessoa wrote:

For a long time now I haven’t existed. I’m utterly calm. No one sees me differently from who I am. I just felt myself breathe as if I’d done something new, or done it late. I’m beginning to be conscious of being conscious. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll wake up to myself and resume my own existence. I don’t know if that will make me more happy or less. I don’t know anything.


Reaching a place of “not knowing” is good for me. It makes me “see deeper into paintings” (Rilke).


For me, my featured painting for this post (directly above) touches that sweet spot between image and emotion. The way the red peers through the more muted, dark colors suggest something poignant that I cannot quite put my finger on. It relates to what Robert Henri wrote:

That time we sat in the evening silence in the face 
of the mesa 
and heard the sudden howl of a pack of coyotes, 
and had a thrill 
and a dread which was not fear of the pack, 
for we knew they were harmless. 
Just what was that dread — what did it relate to? 
Something ’way back in the race perhaps? 
We have strange ways of seeing. 
If we only knew — then we could tell. 
If we knew what we saw, we could paint it.

Finally, I will end of with one of my favorite poems by Transtromer:

The man on a walk suddenly meets the old
giant oak like an elk turned to stone with
its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall of the 
 fall ocean.

Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the
rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he
hears the constellations far above the oak stamping in their stalls.
Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly in
The Half Finished Heaven.

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


10 thoughts on “#O190-193: Resuming my Existence

  1. These are wonderful paintings. I think the abstraction you’ve been seeking has ripened with the rowanberries. These are really very fine. I personally am struck by 193 (my personal favorite) which has a luminosity, energy and complexity that seems new among your abstract pictures. A fruitful light …. It truly succeeds as abstraction (while of course also creating a feeling of place, a field and sky). They all do. They’re so evocative.

    Have you considered making them perhaps at least half again as large (I’m assuming that they are small paintings based upon the apparent size of the painting knife strokes — am I correct?) You are so interested in textural effects for expressiveness and your subject lends itself naturally to a larger treatment. Or, alternately if you think of 4 of these paintings placed against each other making a rectangle, that seems like a good size to experiment with for making a larger type — and clearly it would not be all that different from what you’re doing already. The visual incident might in fact be the same size in scale, only the image would be larger overall.

    Just a thought. Anyway, super bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Aletha, and apologies for my delayed reply. These paintings vary in size between abour 8×10″ and 16×20″. I feel a strong urge with these paintings to go to a larger scale as you suggest. On a few occasions I have done that. But (and I am probably boring you with this issue by now), in the end I put a ton of paint down and then, instead of a small painting standing around and gathering dust, I just have a bigger one.
      My paintings are really just for myself. I see it like patterns made in the sand – after a few weeks I have had enough joy from them and I let them become the foundation of something else. Sort of like making compost.
      Once or twice a friend asked to have one so I made a frame and delivered it with glee. But really, the world seems more interested these days in Twitter and Tomahawks than art. It’s the way of the world, I understand that. But I will continue in my dark dusty corner letting my ice age images see the light!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fritz, I gather that you are having a rough time of it. I hope that your methods for pain and mood management will serve you well. I am a novice where psychological topics are concerned. But I do know a lot about art. I do wish I could buy some of your paintings myself, but I have many expenses at present and I’m very far away. It is clear that you have little notion how good they are. I really hope that you are keeping them these days because — well, just because.

        Art is a bit of a mystery. How we even understand art develops over time. You probably have no clue what’s going on in your own paintings, and that’s totally okay. But certainly it’s wrong to destroy things you don’t understand — even when they’re your own things. Not only should artists stick with their ideas at least long enough to figure out what they are, whole societies sometimes need to do that and indeed sometimes Nature herself gets involved in the process. I’ll give you an example: consider the amazing prehistoric cave paintings that we’re aware of now in Europe. Some are dated to well over 30,000 years. The first of these ancient artifacts was only discovered in the 1940s. So we’re seeing these things brand new for the first time in 30,000 years. Nature had them hidden in the closet all that time. They’re basically “modern art.” I’m kind of glad that they stayed hidden during the Renaissance (and at other periods) when perhaps they wouldn’t have been well received. They fit better with the modern world. As human beings peer into the universe with powerful telescopes we’re better able to feel the mystery of these very ancient and cryptic images. Art can have a long shelf life.

        You use meditation all the time. Painting (or drawing) can be done as meditation, and I think you might be ready to give that a try. But word of caution of a “Novice to Master” sort — if you do drawing as meditation, you have to be willing to give up the “art” aspect. I have no idea what a zazen is, but I am pretty sure that it’s not something you can control. You can look at a subject — just observing reality — and as you look, you draw. You do “try to get it right,” but you let yourself be content also with screwing it up. You could even say out loud, “I am so proud of myself for screwing this up. I’m taking things to a whole new level.” You only get to step into that Promised Land if you’re willing to screw up royally.

        Imagine that you’re listening to the Zen master respectfully and his words affect you so deeply that you decide you ought to write them down — not only for your own benefit but for that of other people — as a kindness to people you tell yourself, “I’m going to record these wise sayings and lovingly share them.” But then the Zen master (who is also just a person) notices you transcribing his sayings and maybe he gets miffed (do Zen masters ever get pissed off? the one in my story does). He gets annoyed so he starts talking faster and faster. The faster he talks, the faster the novice writes. Soon Zen master is rattling off wisdom like a teenage French girl talking machine gun French. The poor novice gets exhausted! So much for good intentions!

        Nature is always going to be more difficult than your painting. If you’re Ingres or Hokusai, it doesn’t matter. Oh, and what if Bonnard my hero was sitting in Ingres’s class? Don’t you know that Mr. Ingres wouldn’t be very appreciative of Bonnard’s rare sensitivity to color and to formlessness! Thankfully they never crossed paths. Each loved Nature in his own way, but Nature was bigger than both of them — bigger than all artists of every land and every generation all rolled together. Against all that awesomeness, you are still allowed to live your own life, paint your own pictures, discover your personal response to things. And you’re allowed to keep the pictures too because they are better than you realize. It strikes me that as your imagery is maturing here, you are actually getting a lot harder on yourself. Well, that’s growing pain. Your standards have shot out a bit farther now. It comes with the territory, my friend.

        Take the time off that you need, but afterwards just get back to work and see what happens.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s