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Posts Tagged ‘New Painting’

Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.

–Thomas Huxley

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This painting, Golden Beacon, was an addition to my current show at the West End Gallery that got its first showing at the Gallery Talk on Saturday. I am pleased to say that this piece found an adoring home in the aftermath of the talk.

I spoke with its new caretaker for a while after the talk, describing what I saw in this painting and how it differed in feeling from a similar painting hanging in the show that I wrote about in an earlier post. That painting, The Center Holds, was about the individual holding strong to its beliefs and core values as the chaos of the world swirled threateningly above and below.

I see this piece in a slightly different light. It is still about strength, still concerned with perseverance and staying true to inner truths. But it is also about how that type of behavior acts as an example for others to follow. Standing up to the fear, anger and hatred that is so often sowed by agents of darkness serves as beacon shedding broad beams of light that guide others past those perils.

I see a calmness in this painting that is based on a belief in logic, knowledge and truth. And in the glow of that light, the darkness separates and flees.

I think this piece is about both finding a source of light and calmness to guide you through times of darkness and, in turn, becoming a beacon to others. My hope is that the new owner of this painting sees this as such an inspiration. I know that it will always live that way in me.

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“Mr. Fred shook hands with her, said he was glad to see her, drew out a wet Coke from the machine, wiped it on his apron, and gave it to her.

This is one good thing about life that never changes, she thought. As long as he lived, as long as she returned, Mr. Fred would be here with his…simple welcome. What was that? Alice? Brer Rabbit? It was Mole. Mole, when he returned from some long journey, desperately tired, had found the familiar waiting for him with its simple welcome.”

Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

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This is a new piece, a little painting just a bit over 2″ by 3″ that I call Toward Home. It’s going with me this coming Saturday for my Gallery Talk at 1 PM at the West End Gallery in Corning. I generally try to bring a few very new pieces to my talks to complement the works on hand.

I thought the words of Harper Lee above fit this piece. It has a sense of going home about it, about returning to the familiar. That’s something I understand.

I always look for the familiar and am attracted to those places and people that give me that feeling of having encountered them before. A natural sense of comfort that comes with knowing the landscape, instinctively sensing the rhythm of the place or person.

The Red Tree in this little piece reminds of those things that we set for ourselves as landmarks, those spots on our journey home that let us know we are in a place we call home. I know when I am returning from a road trip there are spots that, once I have passed them, I feel that I am home. Knowing that I am of that area, my mind and body eases as I finish the journey home.

It may be a small painting but it is full, at least for me.

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GALLERY TALK

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017 beginning at 1 PM

WEST END GALLERY, CORNING, NY

There will be a drawing for an original painting and other surprises, so try to make it to the West End Gallery this Saturday!

 

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I first read the poem The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats over forty years back and it left a mark. Cut and scarred me. Its first verse still resonates in my mind, especially that last line– the best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity. It just reeks of the current political bog in which we are mired.

After putting the final touches on the piece above, a 12″ by 36″ canvas, I began examining the painting, trying to discern what it held for me. Immediately, the image from Yeats’ poem came to mind of a world in disarray,  spinning out of control in dark chaotic clouds and rising tide that overtakes and drowns all hopes.

But instead of Yeats’ forewarning that the center ( or centre, as is in his Irish version) cannot hold, I saw the Red Tree standing strong and resolute against the troubles swirling around it.  It holds tight to its core, not allowing the madness surrounding it to overtake it or alter those values of goodness that it holds dearly as definitions of its own humanity. It will die before it will succumb to becoming part of the blood-dimmed tide, as Yeats put it.

I am calling this painting The Center Holds.

I think this is a strong piece although I am not sure the photo above captures everything in it, its depth and contours. It’s coming with me to the West End Gallery for my Gallery Talk there next Saturday, August 5. Stop by and check it out for yourself.

Meanwhile, here’s Yeats’ The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.                                                                                                                                                                               .
Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

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Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future. 
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

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The painting above is a 30″ by 30″ canvas titled River Angel and is part of my show, Self Determination, that opens tomorrow night at the West End Gallery.

This painting is a continuation on a theme that I have been working in recently, based on the negative space that makes up the river and sky forming a silhouette that reminds me of that of the shape of a stylized flying angel. I did a rough crop of the piece, shown here on the right, that I hope displays what I am talking about. It may not be so evident to you but my eye reads that shape immediately in that way.

Now, as I have stated in past, I don’t know much about angels and can’t attest to their existence or even my own belief in them. I would like to believe that they look over us and that they guide us in some way. There have been days when I could swear they exist, that I have come in touch with them at some moment when I really needed them, but the skeptical part of me tells me it was only coincidence.

But what I do believe is that if there are angels, they would be drawn to the eternal flow of the river, the convergence of the river with the sea and the land and the sky. This great trinity of elements– sea, land and sky– has an inherent grace that just reeks of angels. Well, maybe reeks isn’t the right word but I’m sticking with it for now.

But it is that power and grace that I see in this painting, in the way the three elements come together to create a harmony that calls out to me. Maybe the moon here acts as a halo. Or maybe the Red Tree is the symbolic representation of that River Angel.

Or perhaps the flow of the river into the sea represents the transition from human to the elemental and onto the spirit.

I can’t really say.

But I do sense a place and moment of grace and harmony here, one that, if angels do exist, would be right at home to them.

 

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The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The painting above, a 24″ by 18″ canvas, shares its title with that of my solo show, Self Determination, which opens this Friday, July 14, at the West End Gallery in Corning.

That title, Self Determination, refers to a thought that came to me some years ago. It was that we have a choice in deciding what kind of person we want to be. While we can’t always change circumstance, we have the ability to change our course, our outlook, our reactions and so many other things that pertain to how we are defined.

It’s not an original idea, as Emerson’s concise words above attest. I’m sure I could dig around and come up with the same idea from the time of Socrates or Plato.

No, it’s a universal truth. But it is one that, while seeming  self evident, is overlooked by the majority of people. We often live our lives with little consideration given to our actions and reactions as we stumble through our precious time in this world.

We just accept who and what we are as a given, even when we are less than pleased by what we see.

I know that was the case for me for much of my earlier life. Not that I didn’t think about my choices. No, I just never thought about what my decisions might be if I were the person I wanted to be. Instead I often opted for short-sighted and expedient answers, usually those that required little effort or sacrifice on my part.

I didn’t often like or respect the person I was at those times.

But once I realized I could decide what type of person I wished to be, I began to ask myself conscious questions that set a new course for myself. Gradually, I began to move toward the person I chose to be. Oh, I am still quite a distance from that destination and I still find myself disliking the person I am at times. But I know now that I am headed in a direction that is of my design and not simply living life in a default setting, letting circumstances and the desires of other people dictate my actions.

And maybe that is why I am so drawn to the painting above. I feel it is a great example of what I have been trying to express with my work– that we have an ability to move beyond expectations and circumstances to become better versions of ourselves.

For me, I want to be that Red Tree, simply satisfied with its place in the world.

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“You are not the oil, you are not the air—merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are merely the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency—your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end and remain purely as a means.” 
― Dag HammarskjöldMarkings

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Transparency is an issue that has had a lot of buzz in public discussion lately. I am not going to get into that today.

But I do have to say that it troubles me as I am someone who has become ever more transparent, more honest, through the past few decades. I used to view such openness and honesty as a weakness, as a vulnerability that would allow myself to be exploited in some way. But at a point about twenty five years back, I came to the realization that I wanted to live an open and transparent life, one with nothing to hide.

It meant admitting weaknesses and vulnerabilities, taking responsibility for my many shortcomings.

It’s a scary thing and I wasn’t sure that it was the right thing for me. But I felt it was my only option if I were going to proceed through the reminder of my life.

And it was perhaps the best decision I ever made. Sparing you all the details, I have to say that that the transparency, the vulnerability that I chose at that point, has transformed my life. It has not always been easy or perfect but it is certainly better.

The effect of that transparency is what I was seeing in the painting at the top of the page, With Nothing to Hide.  A 15″ by 11″ painting on paper, it is part of my show, Self Determination, that opens Friday at the West End Gallery.

It expresses the willingness to make oneself vulnerable, to allow the world to see how you see and react to the world. I think that might be the quality that made my career as an artist possible. In fact, I think that is the quality that many incredibly talented artists suppress, which sometimes keeps them from meshing that transparency of emotional feeling with their physical talent. Which means they often don’t reach the potential that might lay within them.

For me, I was lucky in having my painting assist me with my transparency and, in turn, that desire for vulnerability aided me in my painting. It was hand-in-hand. I didn’t know it at the time but looking back I realize how fortunate I was.

And I mean that honestly.

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If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.

― Vincent van GoghThe Letters of Vincent van Gogh

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Like many of my paintings, this new piece, Reaching Out, a canvas measuring 36″ by 18″, is concerned with the Search.

The search for something that we think is missing or that we need.

Love. Friendship. Knowledge. Wisdom. Fame. Fortune. Peace. Acceptance. Truth. God.

Answers to those needs and questions that never rest within us. Those things that define us as who we truly are and what place we occupy in this universe.

I think that this searching will always be with us, that we shall never find all of the answers we seek. I know that I will never find all of the answers that I desire. But finding just a few answers, even if only a glimpse of an answer, satisfies me for a time, giving me a prod to continue scanning the horizon even when I am most content in my life as it is.

So, I maintain my own personal search.

As, I am sure, you do as well.

For this Sunday morning music, I have chose a song that meshes nicely with the idea of the Search, written by one of my favorites, Richard Thompson. Titled  She Never Could Resist a Winding Road, this version is a duet between Joan Baez and Thompson. It’s a lovely song and nice way to begin your own seeking this morning.

Have a great day.

Oh! The painting above, Reaching Out, is part of my solo show, Self Determination, that opens at the West End Gallery this coming Friday, July 14.
 

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