#A5: September Skies

Late home tonight, and tired; so only time for a quick acrylic sketch. This one is a bit larger than normal, and I dashed it off in about 40 mins. Source/concept photo (below) is from back in Africa, many seasons ago.


A poem by Wang Wei after a hard day:


September skies are clear to the distance 
Clearer still so far from human kind. 
A heron by the pool, a mountain cloud, 
Either of them makes the mind content. 
The faintest ripples still and evening’s here. 
The moon turns silver and I dream, 
Tonight leaning on a single oar, 
Drifting without thought of going home.

translated by Kline, A. S.. 
Like Water or Clouds: The T'ang Dynasty and the Tao 
Poetry in Translation.


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#A4: Silence and Sentiment

My painting for the day. It did not make it to the night, but it was good practice. I do not always like the way the featured image shows in WordPress, especially in the Reader – it seems like it is being pushed into your face.

Below is what I believe the painting would have looked like in a frame, when viewed across a room:


There are probably times for all of us when things becomes clear – the beauty and brutality of life is seen for what it is – and the need to change it is muted. We strive for the meta-physic, but our life is lived in the physic.

Here is the poetry-prose in the closing scene of the astonishingly beautiful movie, The Great Beauty (“Le Grande Bellezza”):

This is how it always ends, with death.
But first there was life, hidden beneath
the blah, blah, blah.
Its all settled beneath the chitter chatter 
and the noise.
Silence and sentiment.
Emotion and fear.
The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty.
And then the wretched squalor and miserable humanity.
All buried under the cover of 
the embarrassment of being in the world:
Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Beyond, there is what lies beyond.
And I don't deal with what lies beyond.
Let this novel begin.
After all...it's just a trick.

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#A3: Streets of Philadelphia

This is an acrylic based – very roughly it turned out! – on the charcoal and chalk drawing shown below. With this composition, I wanted to see if I could invent a landscape that had more middle ground focus and also was a bit more challenging in terms of form.

Apart from some silly large acrylic canvasses I painted a few years ago, this is only my second attempt at acrylic this year. So I am willing to cut myself some slack and say – “I like it!”


This afternoon I read New Zealand born author Katherine Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party”. The story deals with the preparation and aftermath of a garden party at the home of a wealthy family. Just before the party, the daughter Laura – a sensitive person full of empathy for others – learns that earlier the day the breadwinner of a poor family (living on the fringes of their property) had fallen from a horse and died.

After the party, Laura walks to take a basket of party left-overs to the widow. Laura is deeply moved by the tragedy, but cannot help but recognize the joy inside her – another leftover from the party:

It was just growing dusky as Laura shut the garden gates. A big dog ran by like a shadow. The road gleamed white, and down below in the hollow the little cottages were in deep shade. How quiet it seemed after the afternoon. Here she was going down the hill to somewhere where a man lay dead, and she couldn’t realize it. Why couldn’t she? She stopped a minute. And it seemed to her that kisses, voices, tinkling spoons, laughter, the smell of crushed grass were somehow inside her. She had no room for anything else. How strange!

An excerpt from a poem by Wang Wei:

Oftentimes - with joy in my heart -
Alone, I roam here and there.
It is a wonderful thing
That I am aware of myself.
When the streamlet ends my trip
I settle down and catch
The moment of rising mists.
Now and then I meet
A furrowed dweller of the woods.
We chat and laugh;
Never do we want to go home.

Wang Wei, quoted in
Creativity and Taoism, by Chung-yuan Chang

It is a wonderful thing that I am aware of myself!

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

#A2: Storm Coming

Sunday. Some time to paint but caught without prepared canvas panels. I did find this one small gesso’d panel and decided to just do an acrylic version of the charcoal and chalk sketch shown below.

I am quite happy with the result and think I will try my hand at a few more acrylics again. The white gesso is quite rough and clearly shows in places, but it seems to give the painting a bit of pop and energy. I am also quite fond of this composition and this afternoon I made a charcoal and pastel version which I hope to post soon.


This morning I read an interesting interview with the artist Ying Li on Painting Perceptions. I was quite inspired by her life story and also to see how she moved from realism to very abstract painting. The following quote in particular resonated with me:

Sometimes I stay in more representational manner because I feel I really got the character or something right there. Or the painting just works. However most times I don’t trust that feeling, I try to get past that point and dig harder into the painting, to find what it is really about. At a certain point the painting gets muddy and flat and I hit a wall. It bounces back instead of going deeper. Sometimes I find I am just repeating my own paintings. I have to paint through those moments, and look harder, I find the solution is always out there, the looking part leads to the clue.

Ying Li – from the her interview on Painting Perceptions.

I have always loved the following poem – the haunting sense of someone leaving at dawn without notice:

On this frosty day, 
clouds and mist congeal, 
On the mountain moon, 
the icy chill glows. 

At night I receive a letter 
from my home, 
At dawn I leave without 
anyone knowing.

The Nun "Fahai", quoted in
Grant, Beata. Daughters of Emptiness: 
Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns (p. 47). 
Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

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Field of Boundless Emptiness

I have been quite busy at work, and at night amidst pouring rain in my dark, leaky, beautiful studio I work to prepare panels for the weekend ahead. So no new paintings to post. I am scraping the bottom of the barrel and posting an acrylic painting I made during my brief foray into acrylics last year.

Invented Landscape, 2015 (Acrylic on Canvas, approx. 61 x 61 cm)

As I noted in an an earlier post, I struggled with certain aspects of acrylics, and now I only have six surviving acrylics, and the above is one of them. I have always been attracted by the idea of a thin line of water reflecting an evening sky, leading the eye to a field beyond – a field of boundless emptiness. Continue reading “Field of Boundless Emptiness”

A Clear Circle of Brightness

I left work after dark today – no time or light to even open the door of my studio. So I thought I would post a picture of an acrylic painting I did a while ago.

A Field of Boundless Emptiness (Acrylic, 76 x 50 cm, 2015)

Last year I tried for a few months to get back into a painting routine. Having not painted regularly for several years, I thought I would try a new medium – acrylic. I painted bigger and bolder than before, and the painting above is one of about six that I kept (the others went to the big paint box in the sky). Continue reading “A Clear Circle of Brightness”