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:

Oil 2018 82

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:

Oil 2018 85

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.

Road to Character

Phew – life moved really fast these first two months of the year! In my last post, I showed a few works done using Acrylic on paper. To be honest, I have always been a bit of a snob in my attitude towards the use of Acrylic paint as compared to Oil paint.

It guess it is a combination of the “plastic” nature of acrylic, combined with the quick-drying nature of it. And then there is that luminous, mystical transparency of oil paints. However, I have had some success with Acrylic done on paper (normally heavy Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper), and here I would like to share some of these with you.

These next two paintings were inspired by a view of farmland just west of Hamilton, New Zealand. I was driving on the freeway and as I glanced to the side I saw this open farmland, divided into blocks, with the sun and shadow playing on it.

A15
Acrylic on Paper, 66 x 44 cm
A16
Acrylic on Paper, 50 x 32 cm

The painting below is an invented landscape. It started off as an abstract but – as so often happens – it slowly evolved into yet another landscape!

A13
Acrylic on Paper, 66 x 44 cm

The weeks since the start of the year have been quite a ride. Last December, a close family member passed away after a long, brave battle with cancer.  The few and short interactions I had with her and her two young, brave children in the last few days of her life had a profound impact on me.

I decided to deeply review and look into my own life, including my health, fitness and my personal direction in life. As I hinted in my last post, this drive has had an interesting cooling effect on my enthusiasm for painting, which has since evened out again.

I am now about two months into a surprising change in my life path. What started initially as an attempt to get rid of near-chronic fatigue has morphed into a passionate drive to improve my health, fitness and baseline level of happiness – in short, my total way of being.

I started with a zeal for weight-loss and fitness, but one of the first five lessons I learned centred around the brevity of inspiration. It runs out way before you reach the goal. So I soon realized any long term transformation – if it is to be lasting and significant – will be have to be based on humility and patience. In fact – character transformation, rather than body transformation.

In the book The Road to Character, David Brooks writes:

The humble person understands that experience is a better teacher than pure reason. He understands that wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom emerges out of a collection of intellectual virtues. It is knowing how to behave when perfect knowledge is lacking.

I have managed to sustain this transformation drive now for almost two months, and I have learned many lessons on this first part of my journey – some expected and some surprising.

Although my blog started as a painting-related thing, I would love to share some of the insights and lessons learned on this journey with the followers of my blog in the hope that it may inspire you and allow you to learn from my experience. So watch this space!

In one sentence I will give you the key to absolute spiritual freedom: to be a self-actualized being, all you have to do is know, feel, think, and act like one.

Roy Eugene Davis – The Book of Life

If you are primarily coming to my blog for the sake of the paintings – I will continue to post some of my recent works, but be prepared for some motivational reading also!

Before I go – 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.

 

 

 

#O183-186: Shadows and Ruins

An invented landscape: as I made this I kept alternating between memories of scenes from a car window in my earlier life (South Africa) and my current home (New Zealand). In the end I guess all I can say is that it is an international landscape – an endangered species.

#O183: Invented Lanscape
#O183: Invented Landscape

Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!

[Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet]

#O184: Invented Landscape
#O184: Invented Landscape – preparation for #O185

One of Pessoa’s fictional characters muses as follows:

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.’

#O186: Invented Landscape
#O186: Invented Landscape

But in the end, poetry holds all in its claw. People have asked: “Why fruitful darkness?” – why not something light? But I am not alone. Charles Simic said: “Go inside a stone/ That would be my way/Let somebody else become a dove…”. and he concludes:

 I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed.
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star charts
On the inner walls.

from Charles Simic, "Stone"

 

Thanks for visiting my blog!

#O121: A Foreign Song

I have been doing sketches and under-paintings that mimic a more formless sky in which there are not such clear cloud and sky patterns. Breaking away from observation into a more purely abstract world of color and shape is difficult, but Turner is an excellent guide. I am quite happy with this painting.

o121


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 for visiting my blog. I hope you have had a great festive season and enjoying some rest before the new year starts!

Aan my familie wat tyd met ons spandeer het gedurende Kersfees: baie dankie, dit was ‘n epic kuier en ek sal dit nooit vergeet solank ek leef nie. Julle is a wonderlike spul mense!

#O87: The Day Turns

Waikato Farm (Oil on Canvas, 12 x 16″). The source photo is shown below. This is a very typical New Zealand scene – green pastures with the milking shed taking center stage. The mountains in the back are the Hakarimatas – I warmed the color up quite a bit.

o87-source

A poem by a farmer – I have always loved the idea of my tasks being in their places, asleep, like cattle:

I go among trees

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Wendell Berry, from 
A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems

Thanks for visiting!

#64: Edge of Camp

#64: Edge of Camp (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)
#64: Edge of Camp (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)

This painting was based on a charcoal sketch I made of a spot that I pass on my morning walk. The charcoal sketch is shown below – I actually like the charcoal a bit better and have since made a watercolour and charcoal painting of it – I hope to post this tomorrow. Continue reading “#64: Edge of Camp”

#56: Last Farm Standing

#56: Waikato Landscape (Oil on Canvas Panel, 44 x 30.5 cm)
#56: Waikato Landscape (Oil on Canvas Panel, 44 x 30.5 cm)
#56: Waikato Landscape (Oil on Canvas Panel, 44 x 30.5 cm)

This was an exercise in painting a landscape fairly accurately. The view is of a dairy farm that I pass each day on my morning walk. In this view I am looking north with my back to the city of Hamilton. The source photo is shown below. Continue reading “#56: Last Farm Standing”

Anatomy of Desire

I will deviate from my normal posts of paintings to share some notes about a lecture I would give to my children if they would pay attention (they often do – they are great kids!). It concerns the anatomy of everyday desires such as the desire to buy a new computer game (I am using  the game “Far Cry” as an example). Here is how it goes:

FruitfulDark: Anatomy of everyday desires

Continue reading “Anatomy of Desire”

Steep tracks by clear streams

In A.S. Kline‘s wonderful book: Like Water, Like Clouds, I found a letter from poet Wang Wei to his friend P’ei Ti:

Now I am sitting alone listening to the silence. I think a lot about the old days, when we made poems together, climbing the steep tracks by clear streams. We must wait till the trees and grass grow green again, and, idling in spring hills, we can see fish leap in the light, the gulls soar, the white dew on green moss. At dawn we will hear the birds call in the fields. It is not long till then, when you could come wandering with me. If I did not know your natural sensibility, I would hold back from making even this indirect invitation. I speak from a deep impulse, but it is not pressing.

Journal Entry: 21 January 2016

Yesterday the evening was so clear and still. All warm colours filled with birdsong. Toward the east an eerie half moon among light clouds.Kate and I walked the garden in the last light. I noted that the largest of the tree ferns I transplanted late winter last year was showing a single small green leaf at its crown – a good 2 to 3 metres from the ground. I felt joy, seeing that life had pushed on upward despite the shock of the transplant.

Awake once during the night – very dark – a light breeze across the summer air in our room. In the last moment before sleep returned, I thought about that young fern leaf pushing out into the dark unknown outside – not pressed, but spurred by a deep impulse.