Friday, 31 January 2014

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio: Part 1

I have begun working on new paintings after setting aside “The Dreamer’s Requiem” to dry so that I can frame it and  “In Silent Touch, My Purchase Seen”. Beginning new work is intense and very physical, especially since I like to begin more than one painting. In this case, I actually have begun four new canvases over a two day period, three of which you can see here.

I have now turned my attention towards the center painting and have been blocking out figures and objects that I hope will begin to tell the story symbolically, on which this painting idea rests. 

The flushing out of the theme is very fluid and one that I might share later on in the next post.  What I wanted to share today is a painting from ten years ago, which you can find in my book Pause Between Breaths (see   

 “Ancient Gates” 87”x63” oil on canvas 2004

                      "Ancient Gates"

       The soul’s purchase
            From ancient need, left unquenchable,
       Discarded, unfulfilled.  Compelling upon
            Tenuous balance this continuous thread,
       Fibrous light forever pulsing, towards
            Future unknown.

       Ancient Gods haunt this hallowed grove,
            Carved in wood immortal stand
       Time forever traveling towards haunted release.

       Selves linger mute in shadowed tomb,
            Knowing always thy past to bring, in this,
       Connection gained, sonorous note.

       Yet denied, caution abandoned, onward stumbling blind
            And deaf to heralded song, lamenting, tired I long
            For purchase found.
       Connection, undying source, river coursing
            Through all eternity, ancient need in limbs bowed stretched
            Forever towards heaven’s crown.

       My body rough, driven to seek, fallen in moment’s pause
            Upon ancient gates, and graceful, thy release matched
            By winged light,
       Energetic form held deep, pulsing invisible hands
            Hold tight, bind myself to thee.

       And I, rejoice, struck in awe, seeing, finally beyond the need
            Unburdened, falling unto myself, lineage unbroken,
            Silent, unwavering, they stand,
       Entranced, now exposed, hands offered,
            Knowledge revealed,
       Ancestral steps, without peril, no longer concealed.           

                                                November 25, 2003

Connections. A decade apart yet connected. The question you have to ask yourself is how? What does each of these pieces draw from? Physicality, intent, emotions...?

This is what I'd like to share as I progress into this new painting.  JDW

Friday, 24 January 2014

Surrendering at great depths: A View from the studio

"Great leaps in consciousness result from surrendering oneself to God at great depth"  JDW

Recently I have been thinking a lot about connections, how we make them, what is authentic, how do we strengthen those bonds and keep them true. The life of the creative mind, from my perspective, naturally leans towards long periods of introspection. Perhaps from this dialogue that is required within oneself we quickly realize that we must face our Truth.

For each of us this is a different path. This is why we tend to become isolated as artists.  As we try to pass between the twin guardians of desire and fear to find this ephemeral truth we struggle alone along a path that is uniquely ours. These are the gifts buried deep within our soul patiently awaiting the moment of reconciliation. These truths that bring to light, out of the nights’ long embrace, like a candle flame that flickers in staggering relief upon shadowed veil, the reconciliation of a deeper knowledge.   

There is a price to be paid for this unburdening, perhaps only the afore mentioned isolation, but for some it is the unveiling of secrets long protected that must be unearthed, exposed, in order to come to their personal truth.

This idea of surrendering oneself at great depths, how do we do this?

For me as an observer and as a painter I see common threads to be pulled, an unveiling of sorts, that then I can sort through to find a piece that I can identify with. Once found I can tap into a universal consciousness and letting go of my ego, apply paint to canvas in a truly personal way.  After deep exploration I hope then that these brush strokes, objects, symbols and color and movement translate into paint transforming into something universal.

We have no choice in what God reveals to each of us. However it is of our choosing whom we reveal these sacred gifts to and how we go about it. This is our sacred task, the sharing.

And in this, connections are made and gifts are given.

It is only with the knowledge invisible
 that dwells within the fringes torn,
Whispers in the deepest of memories held
 exposing the infinite fabric of dreams,
                        Stuttering in languid thought
                                    that I, now, find purchase
                        Within the dreaming of language borne.

JDW    January 24, 2014

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Inspiration: A view from the studio

I have been thinking a lot about inspiration, about success, about the constraints we put on ourselves as we travel throughout our lives. As I approach 63 years I look at my life that I have lived, mostly outside of convention, certainly not following the norm in accepted ways of having a career, and in some minds I have failed to achieve success.

Surely this has been brought home by the advent of social media, which allows one to look into the world, in my case, the art world and find out what I am not doing or what I have missed or am missing. This media has allowed me to write this blog and hope that it gets out to those who enjoy the musings, the glimpses into my painting world; and for that I am grateful.

But it also pushes against the life that I have lived and continue to live and causes an ache for something artificial at best. Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants their work in prestigous collections and museums, but that is not why I paint. Then I thought about something Thomas Merton wrote, something I came across years ago when I was reading his journals.

“Who can free himself from achievement and from fame, descend and be lost amid the masses of men? He will flow like the Tao unseen. Such is the perfect man. His boat is empty.”

To live without getting swept away by something outside ones self, to find a way to nurture our inner voice and still be a part of this life, that is the key. To flow within and navigate these tumultuous waters. To live not in the past, nor in the future, but in this moment always. That, to me, is the boat empty, always capable of filling, of experiencing life fully in the now.

It is enough to paint.

I posted the update photo below a couple of nights ago on my Facebook page and got back responses that reminded me that we all strive to make an impact, to leave behind something tangible.

I am blessed by the ability to create something out of a blank canvas and paint and if I am diligent in my reflection, in my prayer as I paint, I can transcend the ordinary for those brief moments and the result is an illusion come to life; a song in paint.

We all have a need to connect and I think we all want to inspire something, to provoke a reaction, whether it be a smile, a comment, a hug, even a silence; we yearn for this connection. As a painter I hope for that silent sense of awe in that moment of recognition that opens the door deeply into ones heart, ones soul. A big task that only seems to happen when I get my mind, my ego, out of the way and utilize the hundred’s of thousands of hours honing my craft by letting go and transcending, finding that illusive inspiration we all so crave.

Here is the painting that I have been working on these past two months. It is about that dreaming state where we let go, where we envision our better selves, where we transform from a ego’d, narcissistic mind into an energetic consciousness, a spirit based soul that lets go and embraces that illuminated truth that waits for our recognition. Born from hope, nurtured by those who have gone before us, freed from the shackles of the past and the future, alive in this moment created out of the dreamer’s requiem, it awakens our deeply held need to be, to awaken and to love.

This is success. This is inspiration for me. To embrace one’s better self and awaken into one’s purpose. It makes no difference what convention says, what is deemed as the proper way to navigate ones life. Step out side of convention and jump off the abyss that holds you back from being truly awake into your authentic life and let the convention be damned.

                 “The Dreamer’s Requiem”   68”x80” in progress 2014

JDW             January 12, 2014