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Week 14: Day - To - Day Painting On Choosing A Response

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way. Dalai Lama

In light of recent political developments, I'd like to take a digression from the regular blog topic of daily painting for a moment. I have been reflecting on events that took place at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, and the consequences to my art work. In the run up to the election my abstract paintings had been going in a utterly unexplored direction (examples of these paintings are found on this site in the portfolio entitled Continuing on the Path.) The paintings (see especially And the Day Break, Life Force, Pulsation and Siren)were large, sized 40" x 30" and 48" x 30", populated with bold and aggressive shapes and a caustic shade of pink seemed to be showing up a lot. I believe all artists want to be exploring and breaking into new territory, still working on these pieces, not understanding where each painting was coming from was a psychological challenge. Studio time became an intellectual struggle for me. Artists are affected by what is happening in the world. After Donald Trump was elected I, like many other artists, had a reaction that carried over into my art. Many artists turned to political commentary, I took a different tack. I was disillusioned, shocked and scared, I turned away from the recent, aggressive paintings and turned toward beauty, toward paintings that were soothing and more readily knowable. I began to paint clouds and atmosphere. I also changed size dramatically; the paintings were very small painted on 6' x 6" canvas and on 9 x 12" and 12 x 18" paper. As time went on I painted larger canvases (8 x 8 ", 10 x 10'' and 12 x 12 " even one 48 x 36") but continued to paint clouds, skies and, occasionally, water detail. I maintained a focus on creating a world that made sense. I sought beauty to soothe my soul and the souls of those who would look on the work. There is a long story about the development of the work which started at the end of 2016 and resulted with the body of larger studio work I am working on today - that story will be a topic for another day. Suffice it to say I have 2 bodies of work ongoing; the "Day - To - Day painting", the topic of these blogs, and my larger canvases done in my primary studio. You can see the larger paintings here. I am bringing this up to point out; we always have a choice of how to respond. The human tendency is to react with the first emotion that arises. With cultivation, we can choose to respond in a way that does not do any damage to ourselves, or anyone else. My daily practice of meditation has created a space whereby, most times, I am able to choose how to respond rather than reacting automatically and thoughtlessly. If you've been following this blog you know that I began doing the daily work in response to the accident that made it impossible to stand and constrained me to lying down on my couch. Painting daily was my response. My work is not created in a vacuum, it is created as a response to the experiences I have in the world. Regardless of how distressed I am about the current state of affairs on the national stage today, my chosen response is to continue my work as it has been unfolding. Painting itself is an act of healing for me, still my work is not done for me alone. I hope to share that healing with others. I hope to bring an energy of peace and growth to my viewers.

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin​

There must have been thoughts of imminent autumn in my consciousness when I began this one because the colors took a sharp turn, and just when my plan had been to explore monochromatics for a change. Once again proving that I am a process worker and the work leads me on.

Around the time I was working on this piece and the three that follow, I discussed, with a friend, that this season in September always feels like a time of new beginnings. Maybe it is memories of school years starting, I am not sure, but I felt that energy of renewal when I looked at these pieces. I was exploring the rings in a different manner, unconsciously working on a series, a series of fragments with an all over pattern.

It was important to me to leave the borders jagged and large in these pieces. They remind me of shards or fragments or something, a puddle or a bunch of leaves and flora, that you may stumble on when walking in the woods.

For me, painting is a way I use to find beauty even if, and maybe especially if, the world is not so lovely.

​What is your way to find beauty and blessings in your daily life?

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