found objects

Library - 1POSTCARD #194: NEW DELHI: Even though everything we had in the old house was numbered, labelled and the whole thing carefully folded in on itself and squeezed into a removals truck with a set of instructions on how to reassemble, when we got to the new house it came out backwards, and the assembly instructions must have gotten lost as it was going in. Thus everything had to be emptied out on the floor in the search for the instructions, and that’s how it began to look like a vast three dimensional jigsaw of an instant house-kit, abstracted. So that when the assembly instructions were found, we weren’t interested in them anymore because we’d already found the proper screwdivers and L-shaped keys that fit into these holes in furniture assembly and started to put bits of it together by eye and what looked right. More things were discovered, ‘objets trouvés’, a collage, arising from found objects carrying that strange familiarity… traces of a former life.

And that was when I remembered something from long ago and far away; I used to be an easel painter, had exhibitions, sold paintings, thought about being a rising star in the World of Art. Then something happened – I don’t know what, an insight into how things arise and pass away. Everything just turned to dust, vapourized, reduced, distilled into the elements, thoughts created by Mind and the words required to describe it started to run out. Anything still standing after the event was taken to pieces, carefully numbered, labelled and the whole thing folded in on itself, then squeezed into a large box that I’ve carried around with me ever since and never opened… until now.

I cut through the old nylon ropes and slit around the edges of the box, sealed with parcel tape and old labels saying FRAGILE and sticky stuff from years of airline stickers for check-in luggage. The lid opens with a creak and a great volume of pandora’s creative playfulness is released in a soundless explosion. Well, that’s done it… no going back now. Brushes, pallete knives, tubes of acrylic paint, acrylic medium, glue gone hard, unusable adhesive tape, bits of measuring devices. and pieces of artwork. Boxes of charcoal, ink and yellowed pencil drawings for a painting I remember I never started – wouldn’t it be fun to go back, after all these years, and pick up where I left off?

IMG_2665bI don’t know how many years have gone by, lost in the dream. Woke up one day, look in the mirror, hair gone white; the Rip Van Winkle effect – all of the elders are dead now and I’m grateful for everything I have that belonged to them (strangely addressed in the past tense). I’ve forgotten the ‘me’ that used to hold these brushes, squeezing these tubes of vermillion, cadmium yellow, it’s been such a long time, so many journeys extended out over thousands of air-miles, hours and days maybe weeks of looking out the windows of an airplane somewhere in the clouds and the world coming in through these eyes but seeing it like it’s not ‘me’ personally that it’s happening to, more like it’s an extension of what’s out there.

A sense of the air and spaces inside things I never even thought of until now. It’s possible that this is the right time to return to it. Less words more imagery, it’ll change the direction of the blog. Let’s see, I’m going to take a look into that pandora’s box, maybe find out what it was that caused things to shift as they did and what can be retrieved from the wreckage… got to go now. Sayonara bloggers, more later….



27 thoughts on “found objects

  1. My paints have lain untouched for what seems like a long time…but isn’t really. The distance is in me, not on the clock. It was murals that were getting me started, making a little money, changing my direction. The events with my son put the brakes on hard. Now words and camera paint for me and there is no empty canvas to fill with paint. When the right time comes, the brushes are waiting.

    • It’s like that, when the right time comes. I’m thinking this is it for me, health issues and the need to be stepping into something new. Mural painting, interesting, I did some designs for a social event on the Isle of Skye long time ago. Celtic knots projected on huge sheets of paper and carefully pencilled in by me and many helpers…

      • I did a fair bit of work for a subcontractor of Multiplex and got to wield the brushes at Wembley Stadium… the pinnacle of a short but exciting career based on an chance conversation on a doorstep. I was delivering to her business, she was bemoaning the fact that her artist had let her down. ‘I paint’… and suddenly I had an opportunity far beyond both my talent and my wildest dreams 🙂 Sometimes you just have to accept what the day offers… especially when it smells of turpentine 🙂

      • Wonderful. I found it quite interesting going up and down on ladders and seeing things enlarged and something about scale. Did you use a projector or square it off and do it by eye?

      • Ah well, I’d have difficulty with canteen tables and fixed benches nowadays 🙂 I’m thinking I’ll start small, like A4… see how things develop from there. Thanks for your input.

      • Yes, old dog/new tricks, particularly appropriate in this case! I managed to create a new page of my artworks and published March 9, 2016. Go to Home and look for the page titled ‘Art’ under the header image

      • Thank you, I just did. I can see why the forms fell from the brush of the younger man…the sharp lines and angles don’t seem to suit ‘tiramit’ somehow, unless to express the unconscious constriction we trap ourselves in.

      • Hmmm interesting; the great gnashing of teeth etc. It must have been something like that that led to the collapse and fall into creative block for 10 years and it ‘s this I’m only now emerging from…

  2. I used to play synthesizers years ago, and even had a record company that wanted to do an album of my music; but then i just gave it up… moving on to other things. But i always did something rather creative in one form or another. E.E.Cummings loved painting more than poetry; he considered himself, first and foremost, a painter. He never became (as yet) a famous painter (but fame isn’t all that important if you love what you are doing). I am very appreciative of his art; some of it hangs on the walls of our home.
    from E.E.C.:
    Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles: they are somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a human being;somebody who said to those near him,when his fingers would not hold a brush, “tie it to my hand”–

    • There’s a quote by Rabindranath Tagore: ‘Age considers; youth ventures.’
      It occurs to me that I need to stop considering, the time for ‘venture’ is here 🙂 Thanks for the E.E.C. quote and note, I had to refresh my memory and looked him up in google. You are right, the paintings were hard to find. There is one site that sells the originals (I assume). Now I know he was a painter first, I see his verses in a new light…

      • I am a doer, teacher, and lover of art. Please let me know if I can do anything for you. 🙂 This post made me so happy. I think art is Zen incarnate. I too am in the process of changing my whole blog around to be a more art as Zen sort of thing… Good Luck!! And think of it as play – no pressure.

      • One other thing, I felt it was time to create a new page of my artworks, published March 9, 2016. Go to Home and look for the page titled ‘Art’ under the header image…

    • Thanks Ellen, some time today I’ll create a new page in the blog for the artwork, and begin with some details of the old paintings. Otherwise, I’m ready to begin – hoping that seeing the old stuff in this new context will help get the old engine going…

      • One other thing, if you haven’t heard yet, please check out the new page of my artworks published March 9, 2016. Go to Home and look for the page titled ‘Art’ under the header image…

  3. Your description of having everything perfectly arranged with instructions in how to put it all back together made me think that that is exactly what we do with our lives. We put them together in neat little boxes with instructions for how to live it well but then life happens and we can’t find the instructions (actually there never were instructions to begin with) and we suffer and don’t know what to do. The lesson from this post is to just open up all the damn boxes and figure out how things go together now and to enjoy the freedom in an instructionless life.

    Thank you for sharing your life, writings and art with us all!

    David (a Soto Zen practitioner in Northern California)

    • Thank you David for visiting and apologies for not replying sooner, I missed your comment somehow. The whole thing is set up to work but sometimes it doesn’t. Knowing that, helps to disengage with it all before it gets started. It’s only there because so many people believe in it; were educated to believe in it…

  4. Art, hobbies and expression. I love them all. I have so many boxes…
    Poetry, guitar, song-writing. Fishing, fly tying. Painting, oils, watercolors.
    Photography (with two fine Nikons that use a stuff we called “film”).
    Flying radio-controlled planes, hiking.
    My son says these things are cyclical. We’re hot on them for a while or a few years, then they’re set aside, only to be rediscovered anew in a later time.
    I’m planning an end-game strategy.
    If I can see I can paint. If I can’t see, I’ll play the guitar. If my fingers still work, I’ll hold a brush, if they don’t I’ll hold a camera.
    The only snag in my plan is fishing.
    If I can’t fish, I’ll be done with living.

    Seek peace,


    • Hi Paz, sorry I’m late in getting back to you, yes I can see what you mean. I feel pretty much the same although I’ve never fished and too late to start that now. I’m looking for a way to get back to painting and think about it every day. The difficulty is in actually doing it. The computer and iPad offer so many painting apps that give a better quicker result. You know David Hockney? Famous British easel painter explored extensively the iPad apps and I don’t know if he ever returned to ordinary actual brushwork etc. So I’m thinking about that too…

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