Sunday, 16 October 2016

Let Life Shine Through

          There come occasions when I sense a longing, an urge, a need to return to some point of experience in my life. It may mean revisiting a particular location, rereading a book by a particular author, or looking again at a painting by a particular artist. These longings are not so frequent that they are a cause for concern, nor so rare that I can easily ignore them. But they do act as goads, or perhaps prompts, for reasons of which I am not clearly aware. This has happened on a couple of occasions of late. The particular incident that I am writing about here refers to the paintings of a particular watercolourist,  Ray Campbell Smith [RCS].
          This artist, I discovered, died in January of this year, a week before his one hundredth birthday. There appears to be no announcement of his death at the time, although it must be probable that there was a local announcement where he lived in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK. ["A last chance to view the renowned artist’s watercolour paintings for the benefit of Barnardo’s, in accordance with his wishes. The exhibition will take place at St Julians Club, Underriver, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RX from Thursday 13th October to Thursday 24th November 2016. Open daily until late. Telephone 01732 458261 for more information."] This bracketed information was taken from the website of SAA - the Society for All Artists.
          I find RSC's paintings symbolic of a deeply, and healthy, psycho-spiritual nature. But why is this so? I will try to answer my own question in the following way. RSC adhered to certain principles in his work. Firstly, keep to a limited palette. Often he used only three colours; raw sienna, light red and Winsor blue, for example. In English landscapes he rarely if ever used more than five or six colours. Secondly, keep detail to a minimum, and use only such detail as is necessary. For example, a picture of a dock would lose much if it failed to show some presence of human activity. Thirdly, paint with quick, clean washes to avoid muddiness, and to allow the paper to shine through.
          This year has shown me the need to "let go" of a great deal in my life. Some material possessions were lost as a result of the house fire; others were deemed to be no longer of such value that they needed to be retained. It was not difficult to see what had been discarded, or what remained. In the case of inner "letting go", what I have dispensed with has been fairly obvious. What remains is far less so. Yet the inner search and questioning must go on. There are details that seem to be important, but which are not. There are ways of behaving, ways of dealing with situations, that must be corrected or eradicated altogether. The problem with clutter, and much of what is retained in life as important can be regarded as such, is that it tends to define us in a particular and inappropriate way.
          Thus by stripping life of unnecessary detail, and reducing one's activities and interests to those which are genuinely important, and not of a pseudo-reality nature, allows one's inner life to shine through into one's consciousness. For this, RSC's paintings are for me so symbolic of right living.
          I will close this script with a taster of his work. I believe he will long be remembered in the field of watercolour painting, and not a little missed as well.


Ray Campbell Smith  1916 - 2016

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

All Things Come to an End

          The end is in sight. Well actually, a number of ends are in sight. This morning I had my second piece of maintenance laser surgery on my eyes. I am pleased to report that everything said in the comments to my previous post has, in the main, been confirmed. I now await a check-up to confirm that all has gone to the surgeon's plan, a confirmation that should come in six weeks' time or thereabouts. So the end of treatment is in sight, with [one hopes] the loss of a particularly annoying floater in my left eye.
          We now have a beautiful, oak staircase to grace our hall, built as part of the ongoing restoration work on the house, after the fire in June of this year. The electrical work has been completed, well sort of. Some changes have not been carried out, because the artisan ran out of time. But these are minor matters which, strictly speaking, did not need to be part of his current contract. We now await the arrival of the painting and decorating team, with their coterie of carpenters, to replace damaged floors, and to spruce up the decor. Appropriate materials have been chosen. In the meantime I am carrying out what work I can complete in the intervening two weeks before the arrival of the latest batch of artisans. So the end of the restoration is in sight.
          We had hoped to place the house on the market this year with [fingers crossed] the possibility of a quick sale and a move to pastures new, or at least newer. Unfortunately, as a result of the Brexit decision to the EU Referendum campaign, the pound has plummeted, and our much needed reserves for a newer house has similarly fallen. However, I hope that what falls down must also rise up - and in not too distant a future. So, although the forecast is not good at present, I do hope that opening stages of house purchase planning are coming to an end. We must wait and see.
          It has been an eventful year. Not only have we been "enjoying" a peripatetic life style for a few months, and a revamping of my eyesight, but have also been adopted by a truly lovely dog. I refer of course to our much loved "Elfie." We continue to grow ever closer both in feelings and understanding. There is now doubt whatsoever who are her adopted carers. So the end of a very changeful year is coming to an end.
          Of course, one usually waits to the actual end of a year before writing in this fashion. There may yet be more to come! On the other hand, a rest would be most welcome, and a girding-up-of-loins period in preparation for whatever fun lies ahead. So, through a still blurry right eye, and a "floaty" [grrrr] left eye, I wish you all a fond au revoir.