Posts Tagged ‘Gandhi’

Strength of Character

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi


This is a painting from a few years back titled Strength of Character, a 26″ by 30″ image on paper.  It’s one of those rare paintings that has always garnered a lot of attention when shown but has never found a home which has always puzzled me because I consider it an iconic piece from my body of work. 

It uses the Red Tree as a central figure and uses spare detail and strong color to convey a very simple message, one that might well spring from the words of Gandhi quoted above.  The twisted trunk of the tree tells of the adversity the tree has faced, of the obstacles of the hard rock it has forced its way past to emerge to display its red foliage which it wears like a victor’s laurels.  This piece is all about perseverance and maintaining one’s will throughout.  Indomitable.

The color in the piece is really interesting to me.  It has several layers that create a great depth in it, giving the painting a level of complexity that belies its simple constuction.  The overall effect is one that I have struggled to recreate but have never been able to accomplish with anything near the  level of grace or fluidity that I find in this piece.  This color and the fact that the painting still stays with me makes this a very enigmatic piece.

Why it has yet to find a home is not a question I can answer.  I can never say why a painting leaves quickly or stays around for a while.  The pure subjectivity of art is often hard to follow or translate, even in my own work.  But the fact that it remains has never made me think for a moment that this was anything but a painting of my highest level.  It may just take a while for others to see that.

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The Coming Together


Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.

          — Mahatma Gandhi  

How do you define joy?  Is there such a thing as joy that is the same for every person or is finding joy strictly a personal preference?  Are there people who live without any joy at all in their lives or are there moments in everyone’s lives where they experience something close to joy?  Maybe it’s not a giddy kind of joy.  Maybe joy for some is a feeling of contentment, an absence of fear, an absence of pain.  

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe joy is finding that which takes away our fears and pains.

I don’t know.  I know that it doesn’t have to be sought.  It’s just there or it’s not.  For me, it might be as simple as laying in the grass and having my dog come over and lay against my chest.  It might be in sipping a cup of tea or watching the deer graze laconically in the yard.  It might be  in laughing out loud at something I’ve seen a hundred times yet still find funny or in making my wife laugh.  It can seem so simple yet I see people who seem joyless and I wonder where their joy might be.

Certainly, they must have something which brings them something akin to joy.  At least contentment.  But maybe it’s not for me to see or maybe they live a joyless existence.  Who knows?  Just something I wonder about on a sunny morning when the sun filtering through the trees, scattering patches of light on the thick grass beneath them, brings me joy.

By the way, the painting above is a new one, The Coming Together, that is part of the Principle Gallery show in June.  It features the entwined trees I sometimes use as well as the field rows.  I really like the feel of this piece and love the texture and color in the surface.  

Makes me happy.

Gives me joy…

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