Friday, 26 February 2016

Of Painting Progress

          As regular readers here will know, I have reduced the frequency of posting of late. Combined with my narrowing of the focus of my studies, this has left me more time to concentrate on trying (desperately!) to improve my ability - if any there be - to paint waterclour pictures. My first task of late, after consulting with Lucy, was to determine whether or not I had even a minimum of ability worth developing. If I have, I am determined to become at least reasonably proficient. This matters to me.
          The first task, on Lucy's advice, was to reduce the number of pigments in my palette. I have tried to do this before, but this time I really did try......hard! For source material, I turned to the work of an artist I greatly admire, Mr. Ray Campbell Smith. I selected two pictures from his, "Watercolour Work-Out" to see if I could make reasonable copies of them. The first picture I managed quite well, and the second picture also even though I began to change the colours he'd used. (Why I chose to change some colours is perhaps more detail than is necessary here.) Below are my efforts. Incidentally, that is a punched hole at the top, not the sun or moon.

The Quayside
Fishermen's Cottages

          My second task was to see if I could make a reasonable fist of painting from a photograph. For this purpose I chose an offered photograph from David Bellamy's, "Watercolour Landscape Course," another artist I greatly admire. The advantage of choosing this photograph was that he also produces a painting (which I took care not to study) for comparison purpose. I show my effort below.

Galway Thatch
          My paintings were about 26 x 18 cm., and proving to be rather restrictive. There began to emerge a tendency to use small brushes, and include too much detail as a result. Throwing caution to the winds (well not really) I chose to paint a picture from a photograph I took in New Zealand some years ago, the picture size being 36 x 51 cm., about four times the area of my initial test paintings. Sweeping, translucent washes were the order of the day; and I had fun. Below are the photograph, and my treatment of it.

Afternoon Light

          Frankly, I am staggered at the change that has taken place in my approach to painting, triggered by what I feel is a modicum of success. Instead of discarding an effort before it is finished, I now find myself eager to get onto the next one. From a short chat with Lucy to a final execution of my first "big" painting has been very short in time, but long in confidence building. Now excuse me; I have another piece to be getting on with.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

There Is No Escape

          This is not the post I intended to write. Indeed it was not my intention to write a post at all today. Yet here I am attempting to share that which refuses to be put into words. But I should first set this post in context.
          I seek truth, through inner experience, but not as a religious. It just so happens that there is a large body of writing that recalls the words of many who have sought, and continue to seek, truth - the most authoritative of which (or so it is claimed) can be found in holy writ. For me, that is a great resource but one which demands a critical approach. Any other approach, a fervent belief in the words, is nothing more than idolatry. As I have said elsewhere, truth does not reside in words but comes from experience about which all words are inadequate. Prayer and meditation, designed to improve my conscious contact with God, is my way forward. I should say at this point that my use of the word "God" is one of convenience since my belief in that which carries that name is more about what God Is Not, rather than what Is. So let's not get hung up over mere words.
          I suppose it is generally known that the current period in the Christian calender is the period of Lent (the 2nd. Sunday thereof), and I am finding this a fascinating period. Why? Because I feel a desire to assess where I am, what I deeply feel and think, why I feel and think in this way, rather than assess where I have been in the past. Of course I cannot put any of that, adequately, into words. In any case, it is all too personal. What I will do, however, is quote what I wrote in my personal diary for this morning, and that is personal enough:-

"..........And I too, allowed myself to be taken up the mountain where I saw symbolic representations of the Law and of Action. I can escape neither! "Stop the world I want to get off" is like whistling in the wind. The universe is subject to a set of scientific-psychospiritual laws - the Law. There are ways of Being and Acting that are in tune with the Law, and ways that attempt to counter - unsuccessfully - the Law. For even in attempting to break the Law, action triggers reaction, and that of itself is in accordance with the Law, one formulated in physics by Sir Isaac Newton.
          There is no escape, and no way of not acting. What a fearful, terrible responsibility that imposes, particularly as all too often I allow my ego to determine what action is appropriate. Yet when I climbed the mountain of transfiguration, I realised that I was taken up. It was not that state I call my ego that took me up. The power that raises and transfigures is the power that is the Christ, or at least what some religious have named as the Christ. Yet even then, the experience of my apparent understanding was overshadowed by the great "cloud of unknowing." And "it was good to be there!" (Luke 9:32-34) If I do not speak of the actual experience, it is because I cannot do so. Talking about the essential experience, the truth, is beyond me. Only the setting, the background, is within the realm of words.........."

          When I am back at ground level, on terra firma, once again, I wonder how I dare speak of this morning. And I shudder at the possible lack of wisdom that has seemed to impel me to write in this way. There may be reasons that I cannot yet see, may never see. But right now, it is all that I have to give.