Thursday, 20 March 2014

Comfort. Compassion: A view from the studio: March 20, 2014

I have been working to finish this last painting and had promised that I would post the paintings once they were all framed. These past weeks have been intense on so many different levels. We have all had to either endure or embrace this long winter and it seems fitting, this struggle; for everywhere I turn I see people trying to make sense of their place within this rapidly changing world.

Comfort. Compassion. The reaching out for solace within this chaotic rush that defines going forward. How do we step out of, as a friend put it “our own movie”, to penetrate and touch someone living in their own swept up chaotic swirl?

As I worked on this last painting all these thoughts were swirling around in my head. I look around and I see the desperate need to connect, to find purchase in a world so caught up in moving without recognizing the purpose of the movement. But how do we step outside of this, if only for moments, so that we can see and learn; understand our place among such disjointed chaos?

We can look at our personal history; try to understand those who came before us. Look towards both the grace that lies within us and the darkness that struggles within that is this dualistic contrast of light and dark that makes up the totality of our being.  Find compassion in giving and in the act of receiving. To embrace both the intellectual side of understanding as well as the emotional and spiritual side finding strength and ideas within both.

To bring a sense of the eternal into the now: this time, this place, and this space, finally gaining a deeper perspective. To find the realm of faith, not religion strictly speaking, but faith in all things, that connected consciousness that weaves through all things: The inter-connectedness, the energy that pulses and informs.

This course, stretching from time immortal carrying the heart’s desire symbolic of the creative impulse that drives us to yearn for discovery, for truth; that truth that lies within as a sacred trust awaiting discovery. Within this gesture of comfort, compassion exudes and touches this carried heart’s desire. Thus freeing, even in such abject pain, the soul’s spirit to embrace this calling true.

Grace offers enlightened energy from God’s light, and desire offers the trickle, the drop of life’s blood, gained in the darkest of night. Together is the spark, the symbolic essence of our whole self. The recognition that comes from comingling of the dark side of the self with the light of the spirit within. Both are needed; this is the dualistic nature of truth, of understanding, one we must embrace.

Within the painting all these elements come into play.

“Traces of Gifts Given”

The act of compassion
As curtains unveiled
            Pulled upon by weighted hands
Revealing truth magnified.

Golden grace in offering hands
            Pours from deep within
Balanced on other shores
            By ancestors touch,
Unbroken and sure.

These traces of gifts, given
            Unfettered, pure
Forming out of touch, loving
            Forever permeating our hearts,
Our souls.

Given, yet not to be received
            Unsure, without trust to be lost,
Yet to be discovered.

It is in this sacred trust
            Reaching, out blindly,
Contact pure, that desire, now set aside
            Finds grace within.
And in this, our own hard won truth.

February 23, 2014

“Traces of Gifts Given”  55”x87” oil on canvas  2014 

“In Silent Touch My Purchase Gained”  93”X69 3/8” oil on canvas  2013/14

“The Dreamer’s Requiem”  81 1/4”x61 5/8” oil on canvas  2014

“The Reunion of Memory”  81 1/4”x61 5/8” oil on canvas  2014 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Transience: A view from the studio: March 3, 2014

Transience: A view from the studio: March 3, 2014

No matter how hard we try to understand, to hold onto, to keep alive; all things pass, all things, in completing their own journey, wither like leaves upon the vine. No matter how hard we hold on in the end our hands are empty, holding only the transparent mist of shadows lingering.

There is an ache in this recognition as we yearn to hold onto memories shared, try to shield ourselves from the pain and sorrow at the passing.

Yet, like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said:

“Should you shield the canyons from windstorms, you would never see the beauty of the carvings”.

Contrast. The embracing of all things, the difficult breeds a toughness that opens up our hearts towards the courage of Being. Being fully awake and embracing of each and every moment.

Compassion comes from recognition. The recognition of memory, the distillation of events already shared that can be offered as a gift to the one who comes next, left like messages to be discovered.

It is in this impermanence that we can find release. The release that comes from the knowledge that no matter how much we want to be of this life, this moment, this reality, we are transitory. This is our one constant. Fleeting is our time here on this plane- a blink of the cosmic eye.

There is a freedom in this to not worry what others think, to be able to plunge fully into each and every moment; savoring the joy in being unfettered, being able to embrace the unknown and find courage in each act.

What we have to ultimately hold is the finding of beauty within the storm of chaos that surrounds us. Finding our own personal truth and figuring out a way to share it, to leave behind a world better for our passing through.

As I continue to work on a new painting I’d like to share an older painting and poem that is in my book: Pause Between Breaths: Unfolding the Artist and Studio: Art, Poetry and Space. (

Messages, like
Paper prayers tied to earthly arms,
Transparent, full of light, reduced
In shimmer, translucent gaze
Close, in moonlight night refrained.

Like veils across shadows past,
Direct, silent communication takes hold,
Now seated, hands clasped upon warmth just left unattended.

Across infinite spaces, reality,
Sub consciousness realms
Forever, always, met.
Like secret lovers, under shadows veil
Soul to soul, complete.

And I cast my gaze out
From under translucent veil,
Of paper prayers left
Hanging, from boughs shaken
Only to see shadowed cross
Intertwined by bittersweet rose
Hovering, monolith stance.

Blinded, in darkness, reborn
Like a babe from virgin birth I
Do, in wilderness roam.
Renewed, eternal bliss, freed
From chaos thus.

June 29, 1988

“Silence, Sentinels Cast”
 93”x67”x4 ½” 1988/89
oil on canvas with textured surround/ vines/ flowers

I share this, as it seems fitting, this idea of leaving our prayers for someone to discover. As an artist that is what one does, leave traces behind for others to discover. Whether it is a painting, a poem, a book, music or some other form of expression.

In the end, we all leave some trace of our being here, if only in memories held.

Transience is a given, it is what we do with this brief moment that pulls the misty veil back for a glimpse of our truth and the capability to leave behind something of value. This is our task and both our pain and our joy.

Here is a glimpse at the current painting that is unfolding in the studio in preparation for my next Chicago studio opening April 4th.

As always, enjoy.  JDW