Archive for April 9th, 2012

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.

–Chinese Proverb


I call this new painting Gem.  It’s an 18″ by 26″ piece on paper.  The gem part came obviously from the deep and rich colors that run through and define  it.  It reminds me at first of a colorful bracelet or brooch dotted with bright gems.  Rubies and sapphires, emeralds and amethysts all set in a citrine yellow sky.  It definitely has a jewelry-like  appearance.  Bright and easy.  Almost a trifle.

But there seems to be a feeling in this piece that goes beyond the playful interplay of the surface colors, something that takes it far from being a trifle.  There is for me a feeling of self-realization in the central figure of the Red Tree, a sense of knowing and understanding one’s self.  It’s a sense that comes from knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses,  a realizing of all that one is and is not in an instant, a flash of insight.  And though it comes in as a sudden thought at a singular moment, it is formed through a lifetime of living, taking into account all successes and failures equally.  The trials that form  character, as the proverb above states.

Our lives are very much like a gem-studded bracelet, easy to see with all surfaces shining bright.  But the gems here have underwent eons of transformation through pressure and friction to reach that easy shine.  Maybe that’s what the white ribbon of the trail going through this painting signifies for me, a long and sometimes hard road to reach that final gemlike quality. 

Maybe.  All I really know is that this painting seems easy to take in at first but lingers on the way down.  And there is a great satisfaction in that discovery of something below the surface, an added depth that belies the shine of the gems.

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