Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thomas Merton doesn't have anything to do directly with snowy landscapes, except for the following. In a book that I am reading, Lost in Wonder by Esther de Waal, she writes, "What is peculiarly distinctive about Owen Merton's canvases, exhibited in London galleries in the 1930s to the acclaim of the critics, is how uncrowded they are. He leaves empty space so that it is as though he invites the viewer in to share his experience."
In The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton wrote about his father: "My father painted like Cezanne and understood the southern French landscape the way Cezanne did. His vision of the world was sane, full of balance, full of veneration for structure, for the relations of masses and for all the circumstances that impress an individual identity on each created thing. His vision was religious and clean, and therefore his paintings were without decoration or superfluous comment, since a religious man respects the power of God's creation to bear witness for itself. My father was a very good artist."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
When I showed some paintings in a small exhibition earlier this year, somebody asked me if I did anything else besides trees. I thought "What's wrong with trees?" This is the same tree with roots that appears further below without snow.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Allow me one more quote from Thomas Merton: "There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Naturans naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator's Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister Wisdom."
This pastel is 8x10 on colourfix paper.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Merton wrote, "I cannot have enough of the hours of silence when nothing happens. When the clouds go by. When the trees say nothing. When the birds sing. I am completely addicted to the realization that just being there is enough, and to add something else is to mess it all up."
Of course, trying to make silent trees talk might be messing it all up. This 8x10 pastel is done on Canson Mi-Teintes paper.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I am still at the river's edge. The water moves quickly. You can hear it. Whooossshh.
In the book, When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature, a selection from the writings of the monk Thomas Merton, he says: "Man can know all about God's creation by examining its phenomena, by dissecting and experimenting and this is all good. But it is misleading, because with this kind of knowledge you do not really know the beings you know. You only know about them. That is to say you create for yourself a knowledge based on your observations. What you observe is really as much the product of your knowledge as its cause. You take the thing not as it is, but as you want to investigate it. Your investigation is valid, but artificial...There is something you cannot know about a wren by cutting it up in a laboratory and which you can only know if it remains fully and completely a wren...I want not only to observe but to know living things, and this implies a dimension of primordial familiarity which is simple and primitive and religious and poor."
Merton was maybe thinking of scientists. I think of artists. How difficult to know anything, and even suggest what you might think you know or think you see. Merton was the son of two landscape artists, Owen Merton, a New Zealander, and Ruth Jenkins, an American.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
This is the same spot as the previous pastel, except this is early morning. The other view was at mid-day. And the water is much lower.
I am reading another Czeslaw Milosz book, Native Realm, a biography. He writes, "I did not have the makings of an atheist, because I lived in a state of constant wonder, as if before a curtain which I knew had to rise someday."
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This is an exaggerated view of the river's edge just below an inlet where it's shallow causing the tiny rapids that form a v-shape. Often the shallow area is exposed allowing one to walk about thirty feet into the river. As I said the other day, the river's edge is a strange place. It retains a wildness.