Among Shadows and Ruins

In my last post I showed some of my recent paintings done on paper. These were in watercolor and pastel. At the moment, I really enjoy working on paper – just something about that natural texture and light weight of paper. However, I have become a bit impatient to let the watercolor dry before I go over it in pastel.

So…I dusted off my old bottles of Acrylic paints and started playing around with it. Not expecting anything to come out of these play sessions, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the combination of Acrylic and paper.

The images in this post are some abstract works (size about 50 x 33 cm) that have come out of these play sessions – some of these have been getting quite a lot of pins when I posted them on Pinterest, so I guess I am not the only one liking them!


I have also posted some of these on my formal website, and in doing this I found that putting a border around the image gives a much better indication of what the work would look like when it is framed with a mat behind glass. In the case of abstract work, I have always found that the border makes up an intrinsic part of the composition, so it is quite important to see it with a proper border.



A good break over the new year, together with increasing exposure to sunlight, nourishing but sparse food and lots of exercise has enabled me to put some distance between my demons and my angels. At the moment I am living with my angels mostly, but in the end I realize – they are all mine. All part of this particular life as a sentient being on a ball twirling in a corner of the vast eternal universe.

When consciousness can relax into the simplicity of bare presence, something opens up. We are in harmony with a greater intelligence, or more accurately, the illusion that we are separate from this falls away.

Tollifson, Joan. Nothing to Grasp (pp. 103-104). New Harbinger Publications. 

With a more energized viewpoint, I noted that my need to go into the studio has ever so slightly diminished – like everything else this will change – but for now I am keeping a curious eye on it. I have learned not to overthink these changes in my internal seasons too much. Besides, thinking is quite overrated. To quote Tollifson again:

Some of our thinking is useful and functional, but we can notice that much of our thinking, maybe most of it, does nothing but generate suffering and confusion. With awareness, we can begin to feel when thought ceases to be useful, when it slides over into obsessive rumination. The more we pay attention with awareness to any thought process, the more we can become sensitive to where it ceases to be functional. Ultimately, the clearest and most truly creative decisions, discoveries and breakthroughs come from a place totally beyond the thinking mind.

What I have learned to my surprise (again!) over the past few weeks is that a healthy, nourished body exposed to a lot of sunlight really does tend to host a more positive, healthy mind. The old “healthy body, healthy mind” cliche, a bit more personally experienced.

But there is something of benefit in all internal seasons. What beauty is there not also in the spirit in repose, slightly reflective and objective. I can only imagine the mood of Pessoa when he wrote:

The more I contemplate the spectacle of the world and the ever-changing state of things, the more profoundly I’m convinced of the inherent fiction of everything, of the false importance exhibited by all realities. And in this contemplation (which has occurred to all thinking souls at one time or another), the colourful parade of customs and fashions, the complex path of civilizations and progress, the grandiose commotion of empires and cultures – all of this strikes me as a myth and a fiction, dreamed among shadows and ruins. But I’m not sure whether the supreme resolution of all these dead intentions – dead even when achieved – lies in the ecstatic resignation of the Buddha, who, once he understood the emptiness of things, stood up from his ecstasy saying, ‘Now I know everything’, or in the jaded indifference of the emperor Severus: ‘Omnia fui, nihil expedit – I have been everything, nothing is worth anything.’

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


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

10 thoughts on “Among Shadows and Ruins

  1. Mmmh…. The one with the dark yellow has an incredible depth, wonderful, wonderful colours. Your palette is amazing… I really enjoy it… I’ve done many acrylics on paper myself, trippy abstracts, not sure they would fit on blog, it’s already rather a mixture.
    I’m so happy for you, all feeling well and healthy! Sound like pure bliss.
    For me, at the moment, it seems to vary on an hourly basis. Uh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind comment Sue. I have to be honest and admit that I actually stumbled onto that palette of yellow and turquoise (the Golden color name is “Teal”), but I have since used it in more paintings and the turquoise has made its way into some landscapes too.
      Post those acrylics you did! Who cares whether it is already quite a mix or not, just show the world!


  2. I share your enthusiasm for acrylic paint. All the painting that I’ve been doing lately is with acrylic. The fast drying time is something I’ve been playing with — I love being able to paint fast, which quality is, I think, usually more available with acrylic than with oil. But I feel confident that some of what I learn about spontaneity from the acrylic paint will transfer back into oil, in its own way. Glad that you are feeling good. That’s wonderful. Right now it’s 31 degrees F in Washington DC, which feels like springtime after a week of temps in the teens. I’m ready to go dancing in the streets, me and all the other residents! We’ve had a spell of unusually cold weather ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Aletha. Yes, the quick drying with acrylics is a challenge but also, like you said, it can be a blessing. I often get very impatient to progress a painting and in oil that can lead to all sorts of disasters. The only thing I dislike about acylic is the plastic feel of it on paper. Watercolor, by contrast, has this velvety, beautiful organic feel to it. Combined with pastel it is right in my taste. But the density and lustre of acrylic color cannot be disputed. I have also seen some artists apply it in layers where the patina is so interesting and rich it is almost impossible to tell whether it is oil or acrylic.
      I hope your good whether continues. Here in NZ it is piping hot. Almost did not sleep last night. That is life on this planet for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Fritz, I like these – the blue/yellow (or purple/orange? whatever) contrasts jump out for me. The black framing works too.
    Re Pessoa – it’s the journey of course-
    Many great articles behind the links in this site, one of them on the above page leads to a book by de Botton which looks interesting, both as to why we do art and wider observations on the art world it seems – I will be buying it soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alistair! Apologies for my delayed reply. Replying to comments on my iPad is near impossible (keyboard keeps popping over text), and I am reluctant to turn on my laptop lest I see some work emails that spoil my weekend!
      In any event – thanks for the info on the bool of deBottom. I have read some of his books some years ago and really liked it.
      The Kandinsky book I already have. I liked most of it, especially the discusison of colours and their emotions. I remember something like “Orange is the colour of the self-satisfied/confident man”. Great stuff.
      Wonderful that you could get that book from the library. I love NZ for so many reasons, but the good public libraries is right there at the top!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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