Forget your Life

Last week, one day after work I trudged into my studio – tired and anxious about something at work – I had little hope of painting anything I liked. But I know by now that getting that first dash of paint down is the key – after that, curiosity and magic takes over.

In this case, my lack of expectation helped me to bring a spontaneous energy to this rather complex scene. The result is one of my favorite paintings of this year. There is a certain tone of color, combined with near abstract mark-making, that makes this one special to me:

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I have been fairly consistently turning out one painting a day. More and more, I paint simply but for the love of making marks – alone in my studio, a light awareness permeating the room.

Painting on a regular basis, even when my energy is low, has helped me to paint with more abandon, less expectation and less anxiety. I am sure some of you can relate to the value of just focusing on quantity – at least for some stages of your artistic journey. If you are interested in this theme, I recommend you read through points #4 and #8 on my Creativity Quotes page.

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Apart from this little blog, I was never really a social media fan. I did a bit of Instagram, but watching how it influences my mind, self-image and anxiety, I have decided to step away from it. I am sure there is no need to motivate the move – you know already…

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I fear the days are passing too fast. So often I forget myself for hours on end. Where was I yesterday, walking amidst the crowd?

When I come back to myself I am welcomed by a familiar sense of courage – in bright awareness, second by second, anything can be faced.

I hesitate so often, carving just one more figurine before returning home. Rumi wants me to stop this:

Say Yes Quickly (excerpt)
Forget your life. Say God is great. Get up.
You think you know what time it is. It's time to pray.
You've carved so many little figurines, too many...

Tomorrow you'll see what you've broken and torn tonight,
thrashing in the dark.
Inside you there is an artist you don't know about.
He's not interested in how things look different
in moonlight.

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

If you are interested to see more of my work, or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

Your Own Code

I recently made a shift in my painting journey – I started making use of stock photos. That is, photos I buy online and then use as a source for my paintings.

For many artists, this practice is anathema.  I think there are two reasons for this: firstly, many artists frown on the use of photos – period. There is a certain allure, realness and romanticism attached to painting from life which is deeply set. Secondly, many artists believe if you are going to make use of photos – you should only use your own photos, backed up with your own actual experiencing of the spirit of the place you are painting.

I will deftly sidestep an ideological debate on these issues by stating the simple reason I am currently making use of stock photos: it allows me to paint more!

Red House Source
This photo has been the source of three paintings, two of which recently sold (one shown below). [Source: Benevolente82/OnePixel.com]
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“The Red House #1″ (oil on canvas, 11″x14”)

Let me explain: Since I have to hold down a day job, my time for painting is extremely limited.  In the week, if I am lucky, I have a small window between 4 pm and 7 pm each day in which I have the time and energy to paint.

In most instances I use the photo only as a suggestion of the “lay of the land” – an armature on which to build my painting.

On weekends, there is more time, but with garden and household chores, my time for painting is such that even on my best weekends I have maybe 4 to 5 hours for painting – which normally translates to between two and four small paintings. If I have to spend half of the time I have traipsing about in the countryside, looking for subjects to paint or even taking photos, my painting time would be cut in half, or worse.

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Source: Antonio Gravante/OnePixel.com

So my recent move to make use of stock photos has been extremely liberating, simply because my painting output increased significantly. Here is how I work, and some other observations:

  • In hours when I am too tired to paint or work, I stay off Instagram and instead look for stock photos that have a good potential for a painting done in my own style;
  • I currently use OnePixel to buy stock photos from: each photo costs me $1.00 and I have a full license to use the photos for my artwork.
  • In most instances I use the photo only as a suggestion of the “lay of the land” – an armature on which to build my painting.
  • I deliberately deviate from the photo in color and design in the early stages of painting – this immediately breaks the tendency to simply copy.
  • Photos are notoriously bad at capturing color correctly. This is one of the prime motivations for painting from life. For me, however, this is of no importance, since most of my color is invented or exaggerated to serve the abstract design I have in mind for the painting

Having said all of the above – this post is not to denigrate or dis-respect the time-honored practices of plein-air painting or making use of your own source photos. I have often painted from life – and have until recently always used only my own photos.

I understand why this is the desired way of creating paintings – so perhaps one day the time will come when I can travel to all the beautiful places I have painted or long to paint. But for now – I use what allows me to paint as often as possible in the time I have available!


It is liberating, if anxiety proviking for me to act in the face of some imagined “art authority”. But, to quote from an earlier post of mine:

It is OK to proceed regardless of what others think – if you are walking a path that is lighted by your spirit. Tomas Transtromer ends his poem “After a Long Dry Spell”, as follows:

It’s all right to telephone the island that is a mirage.
It’s all right to hear the gray voice.
To thunder iron ore is honey.
It’s all right to live by your own code.
Translation by Robert Bly in The Half Finished Heaven

How often have I realized the futility and energy-sapping neediness of feeling that you should explain yourself to others and get approval before you have a right to live by your own code. Rilke says:

What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love; you must somehow keep working at it and not lose too much time and too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people.

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

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on Instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

A Foreign Song II

I had a moody marshland on my mind.  Early morning in bed I was looking at some of my old sketches and paintings and I got this idea for a square format painting – somewhat unusual for me. Here is a quick sequence of photos showing how this painting unfolded:

I work directly on a white canvas in gray-blue that is heavily diluted with Gamsol. The paint is thin and I can control the darkness quite easily. I try to set up and keep a rhythm in the brushstrokes and abstract design. Music helps a lot!

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The design is set up…

When I am satisfied with the abstract design and balance (above), I need to start thinking about key color notes or highlights. Since this is an invented landscape, I am free to do what I want in terms of color and value. I try to find a few strategic spots where I can plonk some color:

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The key color notes go in…

With that warm orange red and the complement in the blue sky, I feel happy with where the painting is going. The challenge now is not to get to precious and lose the spontaneity in the brush-strokes and design.

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The plot thickens…

I have introduced some greens and grays. Here and there I knock down the reds and oranges that are too strong. I start bringing the sky to completion, I carefully watch the values and shape of clouds to contribute to my abstract design.

I also work on the edges of some brush-strokes to direct the eye and preserve harmony. This is the hardest part and takes the longest…I can easily overwork the painting or lose the plot somehow.

A hour or two later, and I am calling this one done. The image makes me feel melancholy-sad-happy, so for my purposes it has succeeded.

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Today I spent some time looking back at earlier blog posts. Somewhere in December of 2016 I wrote the following in a blog post entry:


I have been revisiting John Gray’s book The Silence of Animals. Beautifully written, full of soul but also utterly breaking down the popular Utopian myth of progress and hope.

From my own sporadic journey into meditation, I know that something exists beyond thought-made meaning, beyond words. Gray discusses this from another angle in his chapter “Beyond the Last Thought”:

Accepting that the world is without meaning, we are liberated from confinement in the meanings we have made. Knowing there is nothing of substance in our world may seem to rob that world of value. But this nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the world that exists beyond ourselves.

Gray quotes parts of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens, which elegantly supports his thesis. Here is the entire poem:

Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Wallace Stevens
(this copy from Poetry Foundation)

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

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on Instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

 

Taken on Trust II

The painting above is yet another view of the road down to my neighbor’s driveway. The photo below shows the source image that lead to this painting.

I pass this scene several times every day – every time I exit our own driveway; but also, my studio door is only about 20 yards away from where this shot was taken. The mountains in the back are known as the Hakarimatas. The play of light and shadow at different times of day under changing light and passing shadow is an endless source of ideas.

For this particular painting, the evening light was so warm and beautiful, particularly the shadows it made on the giant poplars toward the end of the road. I felt this had all the stuff for a striking painting.

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I know from experience that if I take a photo or computer into my studio and use that as a reference while painting, I tend to clamp down and become too realistic and controlled. I cannot stand the paintings I produce in that mode!

So my rule – which I keep to about 76.3% of the time – is never to take a source image into my studio. Instead, I study it very carefully beforehand, (outside my studio, normally using my iPad), and note mainly the structure and lie of the landscape.

I also feel into the “emotional concept” I want to convey – in this case (in order of importance): (a) warm sleepy light on waving grass;  (b) mysterious mountains where childhood dreams are awakened again; and (c) deep shadow.

In my studio, I cut a sheet of drawing paper from the 50 m roll I have standing by. I tape this to my easel back-board. This board has dried Gesso and paint on it – so that drawing with this backing is like drawing on rough tree bark. In this way it is absolutely impossible for me to get stuck with detail – I am forced to focus on composition using light and shade.

Here is the drawing – I use only thick charcoal and some grey and white chalk to bring out highlights. The black spots is there the rough backing presses against the paper:

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I am quite happy with this image which recalls the essence of my source photo. Sometimes I make four or five of these before I give up or get one I like. In this case, the first drawing attempt is merciful – it suggests to me the focus for the painting, which is the spot of light at middle right where the sun hits the grass as it slopes upward.

Unfortunately I do not have any process shots of this painting, but the very first paint that went down was warm yellow and orange right where my focus point should be. With this down, I put down the dark areas in very rough lines. I get the painting done in about 2 hours, though I am not sure. I tend to completely lose track of time while I work, which is why I forget to take process shots!

IMG_1570(Edited)
Oil on Canvas (11″ x 14″)

On a less practical note – summer days are here. The evenings are longer and I have more time to paint. I continue to ride the alternating waves of confidence and doubt that is life.

Forever wondering about my art, why I do it, what the future holds. I am learning and appreciating the play of doubt and confidence on the heart, just like the light and shadow on the Hakarimatas….

Every day – some days more than others – I have to trust that my paintings, my little efforts, have some meaning.  Trust is a big word in my world. That life could have evolved in a way that it could trust is stupendous.

From a 2016 blog post, two excerpts on trust, from poems I know:

For the mind in harmony with the Tao,
    all selfishness disappears.
With not even a trace of self-doubt,
    you can trust the universe completely.
All at once you are free,
    with nothing left to hold on to.
All is brilliant,
    perfect in its own being.

(from The Mind of Absolute Trust, by Sent-Ts'an;
from The Enlightened Heart)
Schubertiana
...How much we have to take on trust every minute we live in
  order not to drop through the earth!
Take on trust the snow masses clinging to rocksides over the
  town.
Take on trust the unspoken promises, and the smile of
   agreement, trust that the telegram does not concern us, and
that the sudden ax blow from inside is not coming.
Trust the axles we ride on down the thruway among the swarm
  of steel bees magnified three hundred times.
But none of that stuff is really worth the trust we have.
The five string instruments say that we can take something else
   on trust, and they walk with us a bit on the road.
As when the lightbulb goes out on the stair, and the hand
  follows - trusting it - the blind banister rail that finds its
  way in the dark.

Tomas Transtromer (translation Robert Bly), from
The Half Finished Heaven. (Line breaks here are my own).

 

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

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on Instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

 

Road to Ithaka

I had a long battle on my hands to get the above painting to reach the impact it was leading me to. It took several sessions over a week and in the end I was happy with the outcome, but I think the canvas felt like the old man in Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea after he at long last landed the big fish he had been fighting so long.

Here is how it started: during a recent morning walk around “Lake D” near Hamilton, New Zealand, I took some promising photos.

I chose this one to base a painting on:

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I was interested in the play between shadow and shade. I expected two challenges: first, how to make the large area of shade in the foreground interesting; and second: how to handle all that green without the painting being too cool and pretty.

Here is my first effort:

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Initially, I was quite happy with this outcome – happy enough to sign it. However, the next morning when I saw it in the sober light of the morning I scraped most of it right off. I felt the picture plane was too flat – the eye was not really going anywhere. And all that yellow green was a bit horrible.

So I took some of the trees out at the right, warmed up the tree shadows and introduced a far vista with some cold clouds:

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I felt much more satisfied with this version – it had an old world, gritty and deconstructed look that I strive for in most of my work. I had also put much more colour into the shadows. I felt I was done!

Not yet. Once again, the next morning I noted the similarity in the shapes and spacing between the four trees  (above, top left) – it looked like something made in a factory. I know similar repeating shapes with equal distances between them are a big NO in painting composition.

So once the paint was tacky again, I repainted that portion and put in some finishing touches:

IMG_1423(Edited)

Now I felt there was an unspoken message, a mystery (will this path take me to those far hills and those clouds?) and much for the viewer’s eye to complete. I am quite happy with this effort.

Thinking about the long, tortuous path that a painting sometimes follow to its final resting place, I was reminded of the beautiful poem by Cavafy:

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
...
...
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
 
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 

(this copy from C.P. Cavafy poems, 
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard)

 

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

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on Instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

Glory to Dappled Things

In the most recent leg of my painting journey I started to follow a method in which I first do a pastel study of the subject I have in mind. Once I have the concept nailed down in the most abstract manner possible, I decide if it warrants a larger version in oil.

Oftentimes the pastel version is so abstract that it is not fit for public consumption. But sometimes it is a real honey (and even more so in a frame, even an inexpensive photo frame):

 

In the case above, this was based on some memory notes and photos of the Waikato River’s edge – one of my favorite spots just a few minutes walk from my home.

Now, when doing the oil painting I put away the photo entirely and just use the pastel as a reference. I try to keep the paint as thin and dry as possible at the start, with the brush moving all the time. At the end I put in a few juicy highlights:

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I have been pondering this strange universe even more than usual. I often watch debates about the existence of a higher being. In meditation all those questions disappear into the most beautiful silence, something indescribable in its sacredness and generosity. Right here now.

Belief in a higher being or not, I will always – in my moments of solitude – sing praise to dappled things:

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The image above is another oil version of the dappled shade in the shallows on the banks of the Waikato River. I sing praise in my own way, in agreement with Gerhard Manley Hopkins:

Glory be to God for dappled things—
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
       For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
       And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                     Praise Him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 
this version copied from Poets.org

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

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

Lost in Landscapes

I have been busy in the studio of late. With the assistance of my beautiful wife I recently migrated from my old drafty and leaky studio to one in my old office. Complete with air conditioning and without leaks! With better lighting and more warmth I now manage to paint into the night…

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Another big step I took was to start putting my paintings up for sale online through the Daily Paintworks site. The paintings shown in this blog post all sold recently and it was with happy sadness that I sent them off. They are selling dirt cheap but I am so glad that others can share the joy I get from creating these paintings.

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Juggling life between work and painting, stress and friction builds up quite quickly without a discipline of a tempered pace and self-awareness. There is also the potential to lose the golden thread of creativity and spirituality completely. The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki warned against this:

When we are too involved in the idea of time, or taking care of the material world, we will lose our way. A disciple will not be a disciple when he is completely involved in dualistic practice, involved in a busy life in the busy, mundane world.

Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginners Mind

I find when things hum along, waking up to the fact of my existence as often as I can provides a source of energy, joy even. These are the moments of awareness that constitute a full, appreciated life not spent in forgetfulness.

From an old post of mine: “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)

Summer has come to New Zealand!  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.

If you are interested to see more of my work, follow me on instagram (@fritzjoosteartist), or to view or buy my work, please visit my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

The Truth Dawns

It feels as if for the longest time I have been wrestling with the challenge of painting honest landscapes. Time and time again I fall into the clutches of the picturesque, the “pretty landscape”. The past week I have been back at work on this analysis.

The challenge I set myself was to dissolve the landscape I had in mind – a view of the mountains near my home with a semi-invented foreground composition – into something more abstract. My first effort came out like this:

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Mountain View I (Oil on Canvas, 11″ x 14″)

I was pleased with the outcome, especially the warm, rich and juicy foreground. But that horizon line immediately cast the image as a traditional landscape. I set to the problem with pastels, this time using only blocks of color with little or no lines:

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Mountain View II (Pastel on Canson paper, 8″ x 10″)

I liked this one a little more. But I am quite comfortable with pastel, so this felt like cheating.

I went back to oils, this time taking away the option of lines by using only the palette knife:

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Mountain View III (Oil on Canvas, 8″ x 10″)

I felt I was getting somewhere, but was weary of the palette knife – it very easily becomes a gimmick or mannerism that an artist cannot escape from, like an actor associated with a certain role.

Finally, as the weekend approached, I resolved the idea with an image that I really love:

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Mountain View IV (Oil on Canvas, 8″ x 10″)

There is little left of the original concept, except color, rhythm, harmonies. Who knows how I will feel about this image in a week’s time? I know I felt good, relaxed and happy while doing it and after doing it. It is a good sign, but I know that art is an ever moving target, a mystery that deepens infinitely.

I have been reading The Philosophy of Samuel Beckett, by John Calder. Initially a somewhat dry read for my engineering brain, I started paying better attention in the chapter “The failure of art”. Calder quotes Beckett:

…to be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, that failure is his world and the shrink from it desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living.

By Beckett’s measure I guess I can say the past week I failed several times, and currently with attempt IV I am under the illusion of having succeeded. Slowly the truth about this journey dawns:

Slowly the Truth Dawns

To wake, and know
your heart sinks
dark and heavy,
hardening into stone...

Slowly the sea lifts its waves,
slowly the trees turn red in the gorge,
slowly the fires begin to lap in hell,
slowly the truth dawns...

Olav H. Hague, translated by Robert Hedin, in
The Dream We Carry

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

Blue Mountains Dreaming

I have been dreaming of mountains, moonlight and clouds. During the recent full moon I stepped outside at 2am. Stars abound in the New Zealand sky, clouds scurrying along the Hakarimata mountains across the river. What a universe!

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Acrylic on Canvas Paper (11″ x 14″)

Lady Izumi Shikibu lived at the border between the 10th and 11th centuries.  She must have dreamed of mountains and moonlight as well. She wrote:

I go out of the darkness
Onto a road of darkness
Lit only by the far off
Moon on the edge of the mountains

Izumi (translation by Kenneth Rexroth, in 
One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

 

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Pastel on Canson Paper (8″ x 10″)

Through busy days and dreamy nights, I keep pondering meanings and purposes – those of life, business…and painting. At times it feels as if a huge purpose holds me safely in its sway. Other times I drift as a leaf in a late afternoon storm. I try to live upright through both these views of life.

In his wonderful book The Silence of the Animals, John Gray writes:

Godless mysticism cannot escape the finality of tragedy, or make beauty eternal. It does not dissolve inner conflict into the false quietude of any oceanic calm. All it offers is mere being. There is no redemption from being human.

 

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Pastel on Canson Paper (8″ x 10″)

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

A Sense of Something Hidden

Coming back to my blog after yet another long absence, the memory of one of Wendell Berry’s poems – A meeting in a Part – pop’s into my mind. In the poem, the narrator tells of a dream: he runs into an old friend, one who has passed already to the other side of life.

The poem concludes with:

Yet I, the changed one,
ask: "How you been?"
He grins and looks at me.
"I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees."
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Pastel on Paper (8″ x 10″)

The past few weeks I have been in-and-out of a cycle of painting and reading. I am healthy, my family are healthy, my sons proud and showing signs of temperance and self-discipline – the sort that the Bhagavad Gita says leads to the ensuing of “a discipline (yoga) that ‘destroys all sorrow'”.

Life is joyfully sweet with swirls of  anxiety and melancholy that blows at times through my days. I keep being amazed by the urge to create, and the fragile line between using my painting to achieve a state of “being nobody, going nowhere”, and working with a strategic, commercial fragrance in my mind – however faint – while I work.

Recently I enjoyed Richard Holloway’s autobiography Leaving Alexandria. For most readers the final chapters dealing with the onset of disillusionment with the church – and perhaps even his faith – are probably the most gripping. But what lingered on in my mind was the impact of his childhood wandering in the hills above the Vale of Leven, north of Glasgow.

Holloway’s reflections on these childhood wandering are especially poignant for a landscape painter:

How can you make yourself one with a landscape? You can tramp over it, become so familiar with its contours that you never need a map, but you can never possess it. It is always eluding your desire, just out of reach, beyond your possessing. I did not know the word at the time, or the idea behind it, but on the hills I was experiencing latency, the sense of something hidden behind what is seen.

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Oil on Paper (11″ x 14″)

I find in my own landscape paintings, when the right chord is struck, I am immediately immersed in a melancholy memory of schoolboy afternoons spent alone in the woods near my home. In a way, each of my landscapes contain something of my childhood.

In the excellent writer’s book Bird by Bird,  Annie Lamott advises aspiring writers:

Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can. Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.

I guess in my case the same applies to painting and the source of the visual imagery that lies behind many of my invented landscapes.

The monk Nõin lived in the eleventh century. It is important that he lived. He wrote poems. He wrote:

As I approach
The mountain village
Through the spring twilight
I hear the sunset bell
Ring through drifting petals.

(translation by Kenneth Rexroth, in 
One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

 

Thanks to all who have supported my blog through follows, comments and likes. Without your motivation there would be nothing, I suspect. I hope you are happy and content.