Oil on linen 120x 100cm 2020
by Kay Hare
I started this painting with a drawing in mid-January 2020. I was looking at Japanese woodblock prints and liked the idea of weeping trees, willow trees.
I had tubes of black acrylic paint and other colors that had been lying around for ages, so I pinned up a large 200x 200cm sheet of white paper to the wall. I took out black ink and scrawled a persistent image I had floating in my mind—a very different image using lines. Black is not a colour, but a primary tone that I seldom use and I wanted black as this felt so dominant and was something like a calling.
After stepping back and seeing the image it did represent a tree, a weeping tree, not so much sad but yearning. The branches were reaching out yet simultaneously letting go of something. At this time, I was reading and listening to many leading thought thinkers about dissolving the mind, the egoic mind. Maybe these mingled black lines represented the mind and the pink flowers that I rushed to add to the branches were identifying the conscious mind pure and free of associations. Flowers are simple, empty, and carrying only nature’s freshness and childlikeness.
The flowers that sprung from the branches were not enough; red dots also appeared, which added depth and a deeper, more blood-like rhythm to the image. I then scribbled huge outlines of illuminous yellow flowers; a friend called it ‘Japanese graffiti.’ Looking back now, I realize somewhere in my subconscious, I knew what was coming.
While working on the spontaneous painting of ‘April’ trickles of information from friends and family were reaching me, the Covid19 was starting to emerge, world maps with circles outlining numbers of deaths were adopted by scientists and politicians. I was not worried as many friends moved back to their families or their summer homes to ‘hideaway’ in solitude. Lockdown had begun not just in Europe, but the whole world was echoing fear.
I started painting ‘April’ in March by this time many people in Monaco had left, including close friends, and with my own family being thousands of miles away on another island, I felt solitude, albeit with an uneasy feeling of change. ‘April’ was slow to paint; for many reasons, the doubt of each day and being confined gave me time to reflect and think in the quietness. The road outside my house for the first time each day was silent, except for the occasional puffing and padding feet of joggers passing by, it was deserted. No more cars came screaming past, and the piercing sound of cheap scooters had gone. This was a relief but the situation was a shock, a kind of going into another world that I had only dreamed of. It was suddenly quiet, the birds sang from the overgrown gardens of the deserted Chateau opposite, and there was finally space. Space to think, as big as the clear blue sky. Parts of my day became empty of people, work and clock time suddenly, pleasantly redundant.
The first few weeks were difficult because although I was used to working all day alone and I would not see anyone, I always went out, somewhere. The Covid19 lockdown ensured you could only go out with the official paper to say where you are going and with only one hour allowed. This meant restrictions, and I was thrown like millions of others into an invisible cage. It took time to get used to the silence, no planes in the sky, no helicopters to be seen or heard, and no yachts or boats in the distance. My view over Monaco had stepped back in time, and the sea once again became free and wild. Reports of whales being seen around the bay of Monaco and dolphins in Italy cropped up on social media; humans went into hiding while animals and nature tiptoed out.
I use essential oils all day, every day and lucky enough to have them regularly each month delivered to me. The oils I diffused while in the first few months were tree essences, pine, cedarwood, cypress, and northern lights black spruce. I used them in abundance and loved my home smelling of forests and woods. The oils have a presence in my home, influencing my moods and decisions.
Dissolving the mind was the name I gave to the drawing that is the backbone of ‘April’. It is a poignant reminder of something dark in the air, like the ego that catches you off guard if you are not aware. The virus that slowly crept it’s away around the world is like the ego; we have to clean out our minds and be in the present moment. Pick up your liter, not just outside but inside of us too. Many people poo-poo the idea of the ego or of them having one. But, we all have an ego. Very few people have trained their minds to be the spectator of their egoic thoughts and not get wrapped up in them. I am still learning to watch my thoughts and my reactions to them. My relationships give me the best indications of where I am.
Painting is not an activity I can do every day, and whenever I choose, there are days when I cant sit and paint. I have to be free of the ego to paint, or at least in a calm and peaceful state of mind. A kind of meditation, an acute awareness of being present. I use the essential oils in my everyday life as they help to comfort my emotions and encourage good feelings. Being the essence of trees, plants, and flowers, essential oils send powerful messages to the brain. I am careful in my choice of oils, only using therapeutic grades that guarantee the pureness and ethical production.
I realize I can get better at not reacting but instead responding, and I am much calmer in situations where in the past I would have to be right. I now realize what the ego is and how it is activated. The oil on linen; ‘April’ is a transcript of what happens when the ego is identified and then step by step ignored. It creeps into our lives early on in our childhood, and like branches of the tree will keep growing and getting stronger unless you identify with it and cut it back. The mind is like a garden, and we have to pull out the weeds and keep trimming. Once the ego gets weaker, life becomes magical, nature amplified, time is your own, and many things are just not that important anymore. Like a tree in spring, the branches fill up with flowers and leaves, birds arrive, and the landscape once again filled is with life and love.
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