Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Moments out of time: A view from the studio April 2014

There are moments that are out of time, steeped in conscious awe when I am painting, when all the heartache and frustration at not quite catching what I see is sated; all the trials and tribulations shatter, falling to the ground as clarity rides from the brush as it glides upon the canvas equally obscuring and revealing truth.

How ironic that in the obscuring of images and objects truth becomes clearer.

The painting begins to sing.

            “Towards Consciousness Borne”  48”x60” (unframed)  2014

                                  “Towards Consciousness Borne”

                                      Words sing from silent lips
                                                         Shattered in darkened silence
Scattered into reality’s lost
                Yet, and yet...
  Resilient, in connected web
                                      Vibrant beyond all measure 
 Awakening thy silent touch
                             Like hands entwined 
In simplest of reach
              Consciousness borne.

3 April 20 14

It is a dance, a marathon, and all my energy, all my instincts, all my hard fought battles to learn and excel revel in these moments. And I savor them before the veil drops and I am, once again, fighting for understanding and light unto which to make sense, to regain sight.

How few can even, for a moment, feel and understand this, the depth of all enlightened understanding within such isolated pain. The nobility is in the carrying of these precious moments back into the darkness like an eternal candled flame.

15 April 2014  JDW

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

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio: Part 4

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio Part 4

In the previous post I laid out the thoughts written in my studio journal along with a page as reference to how I sort through thoughts and ideas in regards to the direction of the painting and the objects within.

I am in the process of glazing on the painting now. This is the technical aspect of using a medium, a mixture of turps and varnish, in which to float color laying down a nearly transparent glaze on top of the painted surface. There is no regret in this process for once it is laid down it cannot be taken back up or altered. Intense and highly emotional; it exhausts and at the same time exhilarates.

Perhaps it is a metaphor for life: this idea of abject risk and the courage to leap; to find safety within the knowledge that one has done the preparation to be able to, at the very least, trust in having a firm foundation to leap from; to then embrace and let go.

There is a drying time involved before being able to lay down another glaze, and it is this aspect of glazing that can give a painting it’s rich sense of light and shadow.

I had promised a further look into the studio journal, using a section of one area within this painting, so here is a more detailed look at the painting along with some poetry and the symbolic references:

This page is from the 6th of February and is a detailed description of the book on the lower left side of the painting. It is, in essence a map of the imagery painted upon the pages, the symbolic nature of each object laid down.

The images:
 God’s eye and the moon
Symbol for transcendental consciousness
Ohm- breath of God
Tree of life with all knowledge upon its’ ever growing branches spring froms the symbol of infinity
Words hate and fear  overshadowed by the shadow of the white shaped winged spirit
Music staff and notes
Pieces of poetry
Elemental symbol:earth,water,fire,air
Vesica piscis:center of two circles circumference  where their outer edge transects the axis point  symbolizes the second stage of creation (seed of life that comes from God- God’s consciousness began from the 1st sphere journeyed to the furthest edge where it formed the second circle)

These ideas and thoughts compel me and are the foundation from which I find excitement and paint. But, once again, this information is only found by those who have stumbled upon the information in their own studies, so they add to the depth of the painting but they don’t carry the weight, so to speak. That has to come from the nature of being a painter and the movement of color and light, shadows and objects and their interplay that creates an emotional respones first of all.

spirit  soars
            up from fear releashed
            deepening need
shadowed upon book’s traced
            succombing, letting go
in this lifes choice
             embraced into harmony’s grace.

Here is the progression in photographs:

Beginning Image

2nd week

3rd week: 2.1.14

4th week 2.8.14

5th week 2.16.14

"The Reunion of Memory" 72"x53" oil on canvas 2014

As I finish glazing I now need to turn to the next painting. When this piece is dry enough I will frame the last three paintings and then post them here.  JDW

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio: Part 3

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio: Part 3

From the last blog I posed this idea:

Without turning inward towards finding understanding at that soulful level do we risk being consumed by fears and desires that lay all around us?  How do we navigate this journey through our lives?  That is the question.

As an artist how do I translate these thoughts into paint? I know how to write about this concept in great detail, but in paint you are working with color, movement, marks, and an illusion of dimensionality…where are the guides towards being able to deconstruct and unfold ideas onto this flat surface?

In fact, if you have my book you will know that I write extensively and make multiple drawings of the image and deconstruct the symbolism of the objects so I understand the language that are the objects (like the words) that will tell the story. But I am still left with how will the painting carry the message?

At the end of the day, unless there is either text or a diagram showing the relationship of symbolic reference to objects, most everyone will be left to their own devices in order to understand the painting. That is where the power of paint comes in. If, and this is always a big if; if I am fully immersed in the concept of the symbolic idea and in a meditative state then the very act of painting transcribes the idea through the color, movement and usage of shadow and light to emotionally move the viewer through the language of the paint.

This is the stepping out of the intellect and into the soul using the thousands of hours of learning the how of painting to just then, be in the moment and paint. Not a bad way to live our daily lives as well, this idea of always living in the moment.

But I promised a look into the journal in regards to this painting.

January 26, 2014

The Duality:

Dark figure rearing- fear (Looming, pervasive, encroaching, encompassing, weighted) the darker figures behind the figure holding the heart and pointing
            Grief lies within
            Doubt lingers in the multitude of faces-a kind of hunger that consumes

Light figure-illuminated belief  (Coming out of the mirrored reflection: angelic, flowing, liberating, ascending) on right side of painting
              The beckoning outstretched hand-feather tumbles from the hand,
             lightweight, symbol of hope’s wing
The hand that holds illuminating light (energy)
Illuminating Truth-that energetic consciousness that liberates us into our purpose

The twin trees: through the forest we must travel-that place out of nature that loosens the mind and reconnects us back to the elemental. Shadows linger, but there is a glow of hope

Mirrors: illuminated truth and the “seeing hand” (the portal that allows the body to jump into the next existence, the spiritual consciousness)- the smaller mirror the figure is pointing to

Larger mirror: reflecting out the reality that surrounds, but also an emotional essence

Book of Truth-knowledge written as a guide

Clock: Time fragmented lost almost, discarded (lower right, discarded)

Masks discarded-the stripping back of the layers that protect us until we find our true selves

Spirits hover and Watchers watch

Behind the lighter angelic figure flow the ever-connected ancestors that await our call to help, to guide. We learn from the past in order to move into the future all the while living always in the Now…

Beyond the figure is the narcissistic figure-frozen in bending stare upon ego’s reflection-seen in the background

Orchids-balance of nature’s power to evoke beauty that transcends all mindless chaotic thought

These are some of my notes. Here is a page with the drawing and notes surrounding it:

Here is the progression in photographs:

beginning image

2nd week

3rd week

4th week

Next: progress and poetry and a detailed look at one section of the painting.  JDW

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio: Part 2

Connections of Intent: A view from the studio Part 2

The placement of objects leads to movement, which in turn hopefully leads to an emotional connection. It is by turns that the painting begins to take form within the context of content. All the while there is the act of marking, of laying down of brush strokes, which speaks to the action of painting and the making of a two dimensional object reflecting a three dimensional or even four dimensional space; the fourth being the space within one’s concept of thought and emotion that leads one into that spiritual consciousness beyond the daily ritual of existing.

Does painting have to have this connection to emotion, to ideas, to being about something? Of course not. But as I have stated before, this to me is not as compelling and, for me, holds little interest.

Painting is an illusion and within this illusion is another painted illusion; a dreamscape that is the entry into the drama that unfolds within the symbolic placement of objects within the painted space.

So what is the intention and how is it connected with the painting “Ancient Gates”? Here is the poem that started this new painting:

 In the holding heart
                                                My suffering comes
                                                Borne of conscious need
Fully formed, collected
                                                From fiery sound.

Within ego’s gaze
Turned not inward
To suffer in agony’s stare,
Fearful thoughts released.

It is in this,
                                                The cleansing purge

January 25, 2014

And from “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...

(The full poem is in the previous post).

Purpose and direction. The intention of being and the soul’s purchase. How do we unravel our deepest intention and purpose? And who guides this process? These questions are directed by our histories and how we were raised to think and feel.

Without turning inward towards finding understanding at that soulful level do we risk being consumed by fears and desires that lay all around us?  How do we navigate this journey through our lives?  That is the question.

Next: the painting ideas, excerpts from my journal.   JDW

1st day: 1.16.14

2nd week: 1.30.14

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