#O135-9: A Standing Ground

In the past few weeks I have had some ups and downs but always I seem to gravitate toward more abstract images. This painting was a tough riddle to solve but I am quite happy with it.


Below are some other paintings I completed along the way. Most of these were done whilst I was in a somewhat dark and confused mind space about where to go with my paintings. In these situations I remain hopeful and always heed the advice of Masefield:

Therefore, go forth, companion: when you find
No highway more, no track, all being blind,
The way to go shall glimmer in the mind.

The past week I have been on leave at the beautiful Coromandel coast in New Zealand – taking a break from work and painting. For someone with my history of being obsessively driven, this stepping away from pressure always leads to  – paradoxically – anxiety and, for the past two nights, insomnia.

Funny life – I just finished reading Bruce Springsteen’s honest autobiography Born to Run, and was struck by how he was afflicted with anxiety attacks seemingly after he had caught the wave of incredible fame and success.

I have learned a lot about facing anxiety directly, head-on, through meditation and being with what is. David Loy writes beautifully about anxiety in the larger context of life:

Anxiety is a school which roots out everything finite and petty in us…the path of integration is an awareness that does not flee anxiety but endures it, in order to recuperate those parts of the psyche which split off and return to haunt us in projected, symbolic form…The way to integrate anxiety is to become completely anxious: to let formless, unprojected anxiety gnaw on all those finite ends I have attempted to secure myself with.

David Loy – Lack and Transcendence: the Problem of Life and Death in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism

Paging through my little blue book of quotes and poems, I came across this poem by Wendell Berry which features anxiety and – in my mind – also points to a simple returning to “what is”:

A Standing Ground
However just and anxious I have been,
I will stop and step back
from the crowd of those who may agree
with what I say and be apart.
There is no earthly promise of life or peace
but where the roots branch and weave
their patient silent passages in the dark;
uprooted, I have been furious without an aim.
I am not bound for any public place,
but for ground of my own
where I have planted vines and orchard trees,
and in the heat of the day climbed up
into the healing shadow of the woods.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.


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