Is Art part of a life well lived?

I found a large empty commercial paint tin,

took it into the backyard,

started tearing pages out of my handwritten journals,

lit a match,

and unceremoniously fed the pages into the fire.

I didn’t read any of them, just let them go up in flames. 

 Looking back, I can see that the burning of the journals was the beginning of some important realisations that play out in my art practice.

Whenever I am creating, I am totally absorbed and present in moment – or try to be. If my concentration is poor, or my mind wanders, inevitably my painting session does not go so well.

The way that I paint is a process of embracing change. When a painting isn’t coming together, I will retire it for a while, months or sometimes years, by which time it is part of the past, so I can see it with the fresh eyes of the present. Often I will start a painting with something in mind, but the finished work bears little resemblance to original concept.

Covid Capsule, Oil on linen, 61×51 cm

This Covid Capsule painting is an example of how the process works. It started with a painting that hadn’t gone to plan but was one that I knew it still had some potential, so I retired it.

A few months later I bought it back to the present, creating a strange bleak landscape. Then I noticed some brushstrokes that slightly resembled a face appeared on the canvas. And so idea for a covid capsule evolved.

A Map for Navigating Life

  •  The Universe is in constant flux and the only thing that doesn’t change is that nothing stays the the same.
  • The past is gone and the future is yet to come.
  • Human life is therefore a continual process of beginnings and endings, embracing and letting go.
  • This requires acceptance of what is, and some insight to successfully navigate a way.
  • The present is where to direct our energy and attention.
  • Life culminates death, the process of  simultaneously letting go and embracing the unknown.

You might find this line of thought fatalistic or bleak, but for me it is a guiding path that cuts through a lot overthinking, unnecessary worry and regret. As a result I am more productive and proactive rather than being passive, angry, frustrated or disappointed.