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Week 2 Day - to - Day Painting Practicing Hope

I learn by going where I have to go. From the poem The Waking by Theodore Roethke

Life is messy, all of us suffer setbacks and pain, each of us finds our way through. For some of us, hope is a way of being in the world. This is the third in a series of blog posts in which I discuss my response to the messiness we all encounter in life in one form or another. The firstblog explained how I came to undertake painting daily in response to a fractured pelvis which left me dependent upon others, unable to stand or walk without assistance and in severe pain. The second blogtalked about the paintings I did in the first week of the daily painting practice. This post will cover work completed between 7/01/19 and 7/06/19. Through painting daily I was consciously turning from an identification of myself as an invalid. I was leaving behind the pain and the limitations and finding a way to look for good, for beauty and joy while accepting the fact of the pain. To do this I enlisted hope.

“Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. Victor Havel Disturbing the Peace, pp. 181-182

The compositions done in the first week were all vertical, this week I began by turning my paper to a horizontal orientation. I was limited to a couch in a room in my house, my inspiration was limited to my immediate surroundings, images on my phone and internal vision. I worked without preparatory drawings. I came up with ideas by making marks and choosing colors, from my limited selection, almost haphazardly. I worked and then at a certain point, I recognized that I had created a satisfactory image. It seems to me that art making is always, ultimately, a communication of the inner life to the outer world. I invest my intellect, my heart, and energy into the work that I hope will appeal to a broad audience, yet I never know if it will be seen at all, never mind appreciated. Still I continue in hope. Here is the first one completed on July 01, 19, it is vaguely reminiscent of some landscape or place, but I swear there is no place that I know in the outer world that looks like this.

“...the essence of the Buddha’s teaching is that of liberation, that the heart and mind can be free wherever we are and under whatever circumstances. Jack Kornfield

As I wait for the miracle of my body healing itself, I must be patient with the pain which is some days unexpectedly worse than other days. I accept what comes and focus on gratitude for the help of friends, and friends of friends. I realize how vulnerable I am and how I am supported by many.

This poem from Kahlil Gibran struck a chord with me.

Pain And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain. And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. Much of your pain is self-chosen, It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

When I started to work on the next piece, I decided to continue with the outlines used in yesterday's piece, making the spaces defined by the marks and lines larger, the vacuoles have more presence. The palette is similar to the piece completed the previous day but there is a shift in perspective and focus as if I zoomed in when taking a picture of the scenery.

The more unpromising the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Victor Havel Disturbing the Peace, pp. 181-182

I start the next piece with a meditation, opening to inspiration. I am holding hope for healing with acceptance of my current debilitation in my heart at the same time. I wait with faith. The piece that emerges from the marks is a continued development of the piece from yesterday. I simplify the palette and the image,. I look and think it is a little reminiscent of the Zen art, but then again not.

This dependence on others is making me aware of how vulnerable I can be and that it is perfectly all right to be vulnerable. My recent experiences have in some sense made me aware of frailty and being torn into and torn down, yet this same experience has helped me see such sweetness in people. In my allowing and accepting the pain and physical constraints I have opened up. my spirit. I recognize that I am enough without always having to be striving toward accomplishment. I came across the following haiku which resonated with me. Perhaps this plum is a metaphor for awareness.. Now, may I release sweetness as the plum does!

To the one breaking it To the one breaking it --the fragrance of the plum. by Fukuda Chiyo-ni (English version by Patricia Donegan & Yoshie Ishibash

Starting this piece, I select saturated colors. All the emptiness of the previous painting,is filled with the color, describing a central figure which seems to be bursting, situated within a rich and energized ground.

The previous piece was comprised of deeply saturated colors and was focused on the central circular figure. The composition of next piece, is more similar to those earlier in the series where the the weight is distributed across the page. The bright oranges that would normally jump forward, fall behind the light yellow-greens, which themselves blend into the deeper space behind the orange. For all of that pushing and pulling of colors I think this is a peaceful piece. truly a metaphor for my present experience.

I found this poem by Rumi which speaks to both this piece and my state of being.

If continually you keep your hope If continually you keep your hope quivering like the willow in longing for Heaven, spiritual water and fire will continually arrive and increase your subsistence. And if your longing carries you there, it will be no wonder. Don't pay attention to your weakness, but to the intensity of your longing. For this search is God's pledge within you, because every seeker deserves to find something of which she seeks. Increase this search that your heart may escape from this bodily prison. If your spirit shall not live without the body, for whom is the blessing promised in the words: in Heaven is your provision? Translated from Persian/Farsi & Turkishby Camille and Kabir Helminski

In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from ‘elsewhere. Victor Havel Disturbing the Peace, pp. 181-182

There is a famous remark made by Eleanor Roosevelt, “When you think you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” What are you dealing with right now? What can you do to help yourself transform a challenge into a positive experience? Is there a dream that you feel is slipping away? Can you take a step to rejuvenate a faith that is flagging? What actions have you taken, or can you take, to draw on your stores of hope ?

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