O240-1: A Colorful Non-Being

This is probably the largest painting I have made to date. At about 75 x 60 cm it is not huge by any means but it is at the outside of my comfort zone with oil painting. This image was based on a small invented landscape I did months ago. The photo – snapped with my iPhone in my studio – unfortunately does not do it much justice.

I am back in South Africa for some time, assisting with the memorial service for my father. Sifting through old boxes of keepsakes, deciding what to keep and what to give or throw away – it feels like I am moving though thick liquid.

O240: Oil on Panel, approximately 45 x 30 cm

Jet lag aside, the strange drifts of sadness and melancholy that sweeps my heart during the day makes me feel strangely alive and desperately tired at the same time. I recall reading about the painter Constable’s sadness after losing his wife. He wrote something like: “All is desolate and dark – still, the darkness is magnificent!”.

Perhaps these are the sort of things one should keep private; act like a ‘grown man’ in the spirit of Rilke’s poem:

But the grown man
shudders and is silent. The man who
has wandered pathless at night
in the mountain-range of his feelings:
is silent.

But I keep imagining someone coming across a blog post like this one – much as one finds a message in a bottle on the beach, and finding a strange comfort in it. And the thought of someone being comforted by my experience, gives me comfort too.

Pastel on Fabriano HP Watercolor Paper (approx A4 size)

Lying awake at 2 am, I think again of Pessoa and his wonderful prose. He wrote:

To shrug off all duties, even those not assigned to us, to repudiate all homes, even those that weren’t ours, to live off vestiges and the ill-defined, in grand purple robes of madness and in imitation laces of dreamed majesties … To be something, anything, that doesn’t feel the weight of the rain outside, nor the anguish of inner emptiness … To wander without thought or soul – sensation without sensation – along mountain roads and through valleys hidden between steep slopes, into the far distance, irrevocably immersed … To be lost in landscapes that are like paintings … A colourful non-being in the distance …

Pessoa, Fernando. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Modern Classics)

Before my flight to South Africa, I wrote a friend and gallery owner who had invited me to exhibit at his gallery. I told him about the death of my father and asked to postpone our planning for the exhibit.

Wisely, he said not to worry about the practicalities but to focus on getting closure. He also mentioned: “when you return you may find your painting style had changed”. I am thinking that might actually happen.

To get closer to the truth, closer to that strange melody of caution and hesitation that has never left since childhood – if I cannot get that to show in a painting, why bother? What a wonderful opportunity to delve into the heart and love the questions inside.

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





O231: Transience of Things

This painting is another attempt to render a scene I see often on my daily walk up Driver Road. The source photo together with an earlier attempt is shown below.

In this scene I am approaching a steep hill with a grove of pine trees. The sun is rising behind and to the east of the the clouds, giving it a side and back lighting that creates an aura of light and shadow over cloud and landscape.


Below is my first attempt at rendering this scene which I also posted earlier. Looking at it in this small format, I almost like the first one better, but the comparison is unfair. The first one (directly below), is much smaller and the paint applied much thinner.


In my most recent attempt, the thicker, broken application of paint creates a shimmering density of color that simply cannot be captured by camera, and the larger scale mimics something new in the landscape:

#O231: Oil on Panel (Size approximately 60 cm x 45 cm)


Much has happened in my life over the past two weeks. I cannot stop painting and my mind is wandering on far roads I have never seen; I am falling behind so fast in logging paintings. So I will have to just log some without a post to go along with each:

The painting below was painted over my earlier work posted here. I think I have since painted over it again – this may have been a mistake.

#O232: Oil on Panel (Size approximately 60 cm x 45 cm)

The painting below was at the time the largest one I ever did. Sad to say this was only about 60 cm x 60 cm. It appears to be a favorite of my friends and family. I have since put a nice frame around it (below)

#O231 Oil on Panel (approx 60 cm x 60 cm)

Here is #O231 in a floating frame I made – it is a horrible photo, color all wrong, but you get the idea:


And here are two smaller sketches:

#O235 Oil on Panel (approx 8 x 10 inches)
#O236 Oil on Panel (approx 8 x 10 inches)


In the photo above, I show the thumbnail concept sketch on which painting #O236 is based.

Almost finally, here are two larger paintings, both are favorites of mine for their density and depth of color, but I get the idea most others are not too fond of it, which is sadly fine by me.

O237: Burn-stack in Winter, New Zealand
#O238: Looking South-West, Making Good Time

So now I am almost caught up. I have about another 12 paintings to log to catch up but I am not sure when that is going to happen. Meantime I keep painting.

Last week someone close to me passed away. It was all in accord with the blueprint, but in many small ways, life will never be the same for me. Sadness blows in drifts through my day. Tasks are left undone.

In my frosty morning walks I notice the ducks – not feeling the cold because they are so thoroughly cold themselves. I recall again the poem by the 12th century poet Fujiwara No Teika:

You who fail to think
on the transience of things,
listen: do you hear,
in that far mountain village,
a duck cries on the frozen pond?

from The Poetry of Zen by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton


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

O228-30: Emerald World

This is yet another attempt to come to grip with two things that lie at the end of my comfort zone in painting: (a) interpreting an intensely green landscape; and (b) innovating the horizon line.

In New Zealand, cool greens, whites and blues dominate much of the North Island landscape. Though most of my landscapes are invented, I find that I constantly draw imagery from my 3 km morning walk through the New Zealand countryside. Bringing that back into the studio is becoming my painting practice.

Handling large masses of green whilst still keeping depth, interest and variation is a challenge, and I keep on going at from different angles. I am quite happy with this effort:

#O228: Emerald World; Oil on Panel (approx 45 x 30 cm)


I found a gem of a poem in Marie Marshall’s “Naked in the Sea”, dealing somehow with the same “problem of green”. Here are the first and last verses:

E is for the Emerald World: 
summer in all its sickening fullness 
the lush and green depth of trees 
alive with the rustling of bird-wings 
this time when the stink of wild garlic 
and of the crushed stems of fennel 
make the corners of my mouth ache 
give me the naked honesty of the desert 
of the undrinkable ocean’s sky-to-sky 
or of the dust-devils of the townscape 
because the emerald world of summer 
is a green gem of ever-hard promises
mocking the starvation-stone in my belly

Marshall, Marie. Naked in the Sea 
P'kaboo Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Below are two other paintings where I was pushing the edge of my comfort zone a bit. In the first, I was trying to keep a very light key. After this photo was taken, I unfortunately started fiddling with this painting whilst in a bad mood and managed to wreck it completely. It is now slated for recycling.

#O229: Oil on Panel (approx 60 x 40 cm)

In the painting below, I was trying to work mostly in blue and grey. I have had a few good responses to this painting, but somehow I am not too fond of it myself. It was good practice though!

#O230: Oil on Canvas (approx 45 x 30 cm)

I keep going through cycles of doubt and confidence – proving that I am alive and fairly normal. The Doubt, I believe, is one of the most feared and useful facets in an artist’s arsenal. But seeing it that way can be a challenge.

In Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, he advises as follows:

And your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don’t give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers—perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. W. W. Norton & Company.


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


O227: The Universe Moves Slightly

This is a larger version of a small oil painting sketch that I posted earlier. If you look at the earlier post, you will see that the painting had two lives – an initial confused and darker one, and then it stepped into the light. All three versions are shown below:

This latest painting is approximately 60 cm x 45 cm in size which is about the largest size I am comfortable with right now, although I have two larger paintings on/off my easel that I am tinkering with.

I am out-painting my blog!

When I started around March last year, I used to blog almost every day and had to paint to keep up with my blog. Now I am posting #227 but this afternoon I already completed #243! I guess for an artist focused on painting that indicates a correct sequence of time/priority?

I sometimes share some of my latest paintings on Instagram – those that I have not yet put into a blog post (Instagram name is @fritzjoosteartist, if you are interested).

I have to say, one of the reasons for not posting as regularly is that I have not read anything inspiring lately, apart from Marie Marshall’s book of poetry that I mentioned in my last post.

Often, doing my morning reading and walking, I am inspired by something I read and can compose a paragraph to accompany it in my mind. Lately all I see is color – no words and very little sounds.

Well in case you need some inspiration for your day, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from a poem by Shinkichi Takahashi:

The Position of the Sparrow (last verse)
Because the whole is part, there's not a whole,
Anywhere, that is not part.
And all those happenings a billion years ago,
Are happening now, all around us: time.
Indeed this morning the sparrow hopped about
In that nebulous whirlpool
A million light years hence.
And since the morning is void,
Anything can be. Since mornings
A billion years from now are nothingness,
We can behold them.
The sparrow stirs,
The universe moves slightly.

Shinkichi Takahashi, translated by Lucien Stryk in 
Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breezes Enter

Thanks to all who have encouraged me with likes and comments. A special thanks to those who follow my blog . I wish you happiness and contentment.

O226: Backscatter Memories

I am falling behind! I have made so many paintings since I painted this, I cannot really remember the person who made this painting, about 15 days ago. But the painting started like this:


and then went on to this:


This is an invented landscape. So who knows what dreams behind that hill, whereto that road over a half-ploughed field from another season, somewhere in Cullinan?

Yesterday I purchased a new book of poetry – this one called Naked in the Sea, by Marie Marshall, an award winning poet who posts some of her poems right here on WordPress. Some of these poems carry turns of phrase such as “..we will be whispered down” – phrases that take me right into silence and the wonder of not-knowing.

She starts off her poem “Leaf 22″ like this:

Time is now a commodity for wasting, 
so say the long minutes of daylight, 
and the backscatter memories, brave 
in the sky, of no more than half-dark. 

And yet each day there is a minute or two 
eaten away, a pixel here and there 
taken from a whole, day-long picture, 
and the wise, sad, glass-half-empty person 
knows she will wake up one day and there 
will be the end of the precious season.

Marshall, Marie. Naked in the Sea. P'kaboo Publishers. Kindle Edition.

As with many of Marshall’s poems, this one ends with a leap that turns my senses onto themselves:

Why do I spend my time dancing here, 
do you know?


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