Saturday, July 6, 2019

Why I Paint: Communion

Shadows in the Cove
9x12 Oil
Available Here
I didn't paint the otter into this painting, but he is there, nonetheless.


I'm painting at a secret pond I discovered on one of my hikes.  It lies behind a barrier beach, piled high by the tides with cobble stones.  A small break in the barrier lets the tide come and go into this cove.  The cove's waters are brackish, dyed a deep red by the tannins leached from the peaty soils at its edge.  Spruces and firs, tamaracks and the occasional birch grow so thickly around the pond that they create a land of midnight outside this spot so brightly illuminated in the June sun.

As I get deeper into painting, the nouns and adjectives and verbs cease.  I am looking without talking to myself, as I sometimes do.  Instead, the brush does the speaking, translating what my eyes see into strokes of paint.

If this pond could speak, what it would say is being said in paint.

This moment, where I am one with the pond, becomes inscrutable, ineffable.  Even though words are one tool that I use to explore the world—another being paint—the moment is difficult to examine, even upon reflection, as well as difficult to understand.

"Communion" is the only word that seems to fit.

Communion is most often a religious term, and it means the joining of your spirit with something else, usually a higher power.  For Christians, it's about the union of your soul with Christ or God, or about the union of your soul with other Christians in Heaven and on Earth.  For me as a landscape painter, it is also the moment I spend connecting with the natural world when I paint.  Some might think of this as a secular use of the term, but as I paint the pond I sense a spirit in Nature.  Whatever, there is something sacred about the moment.

Breaking the moment, an otter splashes to get my attention.  As I paint, he continues to paddle back and forth, his small head lifted ever so slightly above the surface, watching, pulling a long wake across the glassy water.

1 comment:

Donna S said...

Beautiful, although I do consider any communion with nature a communion with God. He created a world of beauty w/o end, and blesses me with eyes that bask in it and the desire to reproduce that beauty on canvas. I pray for your skill.