“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Gesso & the silence of my heart

I'm beginning to feel this past weekend's anxiety to get some art completed - no matter what - easing. It was a busy weekend, I had company, I felt pressured by myself to do something NEW, to show you all that I was serious about this, that I meant it, that, that, that, that, those eternal thats!

The truth is that I worked on 2 paintings, that I laid out a collage, that I prepared boxes for assemblages. Ahhh, the soothing magic of gesso. Those boxes were relaxing little things. No thinking, just laying on the gesso, letting it dry, laying on more gesso, letting it dry, laying on still more gesso. A meditation in itself. Surely that mood finds its way into the finished piece. Surely that silence of heart, that peace of spirit, those slow breaths, surely they're there. Surely the slowness of a brushstroke, the intent behind that stroke, surely it's felt. I've always been unable to work with music playing because the music seems to direct the painting - I feel myself moving to someone else's rhythm.

I find more & more that I am interested in stillness, that that's what my work is about. The stillness of a tiger before she pounces, or perhaps that moment after the pounce, when everything looks the same, but the air has a different feel. You know something has happened, but you're unsure of what it may have been, and so YOU become still. I'm interested in objects & places that hint of that stillness, the space around those objects, that unseen-but-felt shimmer in the air. That sense of untold story.

And so I must find the stillness within myself before touching the canvas or the paintbrush or the box, if I am to truly leave that feeling with the viewer. A beginning ritual may be required - is it to sit in silence for a few moments? Perhaps it's only to always have something that is not yet started. That needs a coat of gesso.


  1. beautiful post.

    I was just now talking to my husband about stillness. Being. And then I sat at my computer and read your post.

    "silence of heart" would be a great title for a painting. :)

  2. oops, I came here originally to say that yes, baby steps + baby steps = bravery. But I was caught up in nodding to your post, that I forgot!

    So, here's to toddling around. unsure, a little wobbly, but brave enough and excited to take that next step.

  3. Many, many thanks! That stillness can be so hard to come by. When taking out the trash last night, I found myself hurrying, hurrying, hurrying - for no reason; it was one bag & it wasn't raining. I stopped and just stood for a moment. I breathed. I stretched - I tried to remember some yoga - mountain pose, namaste hands. Mountain pose, namaste hands. I bowed to the pear tree. Stillness.
    PS - thanks for the encouraging words about baby steps. It helps more than you know to come in this a.m. & see them.


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