The following photographs chart the first stages of painting this image of an unmade image, which is also a geometric abstraction based on both the form and space of the picture frame. Based on careful direct observation of the collage with a clear directional natural light from a window on the left, I have tried to balance both the build up and breakdown of the absent/present picture/s. The key thing at this stage is to get the warm/cool complementary chromatic browns and greys and the tonal balance to resonate and to paint both positive and negative shapes equally without trying to represent anything realistically - it's a painting not a collage - it must work as a painting and be about oil paint even though it seems to be about paper - one media commenting on another - one real illusion referencing another illusory reality.
In between bouts of oil painting I have been patching up the cracked plaster in the bathroom - another deeply satisfying process. It seems ironic that if this work is done really well it is invisible - it negates itself strangely - its presence is its absence. The patches of fresh plaster below still need to be painted white, but the muted warm creams, whites and silver tones are aesthetically pleasing just as they are, like white linen, porcelain and polished silver on a dinner table.
These ordinary activities involve effort, concentration and a state of calm, still focus over relatively short or long periods of time. Could these be valid, useful objects of meditation like the breath in Anapanasati or the various subjects for reflection in the Satipantthana Sutta ?
Anapansati Sutta from Access to Insight website
Clearly regular formal sitting meditation is complemented by other skilful means. Can art like language be a form in which calm and insight can be experienced, embodied and communicated?
The sculpture below, from the Cinquantenaire museum in Brussels is a 12th cen. stone representation of the Buddha in meditation from Cambodia with Mucalinda, the the Naga king, sheltering him from the rain. It is one of the most animate inanimate objects I have ever seen. Balancing both a vertical and horizontal movement in the enfolded relationship between the snake and the human form it appears to be alive - to almost breath - to be, to paraphrase Elliot, a still point in the turning world, the point of intersection between time and the timeless.......