You Cannot Miss that Inn

I continue to be visited in my meditation and dreams by images of paths leading upward, into cloud-scattered hills where some sort of answer awaits.

In my painting this often comes out as a path toward a building (monastery) at the top of a hill:

Oil 2019 55
Oil 2019 #55 (12″ x 12″)

This image of a path winding upward always reminds me of the poem by Christina Rossetti:

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
   Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
   From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
   A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
   You cannot miss that inn.
excerpt from “Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti

In painting, as the years go by and excitement, hopes and expectations get tempered by the reality of life, I relax and paint for myself. Colors and shapes become the main building blocks of joy in painting, rather than what they represent:

Oil 2019 56
Oil 2019 #56 (16″ x 12″)

An old joy returns…



Nothing to Report

A garden path, late afternoon sunlight, late autumn. Pink highlights and cool shadows, memories of summer. I painted this over a rather somber grey abstract. I like the luscious streaks of oil paint, the abstractness of shapes and tones.

Perhaps there is a question in there somewhere, in those interactions between light and shadow. Everything points. In the face of this ephemeral life without guarantees, how to escape the shadow of anxiety? Rollo May wrote:

Anxiety is not an affect among other affects, such as pleasure or sadness. It is rather an ontological characteristic of man, rooted in his very existence as such.

May, Rollo. The Discovery of Being

Oil 2019 54

While painting this I thought of Ryokan and his hut in the forest, being overgrown by ivy year by year:

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe;
When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report, my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.

Ryokan, trans. John Stevens, in One Robe, One Bowl

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