This past Saturday my friend and I went to pick apples. I picked some and then, seeing how incredibly lovely they were on the tree, I took some photos. I have had a lot on my mind in recent weeks — some of it personal, related to to me, some involving a friend who has been struggling with himself. If you’ve ever had to struggle with yourself, you know it’s no fun.

So, since I’m in an artistic slump (it happens and doesn’t worry me) but really wanted to make art I decided on an “apple a day.” Today, as I worked on the fourth apple, I thought about art philosophy and criticism.

It’s unlikely I will ever be a NON-representational artist. After spending time last week with an artist friend who had a very different philosophy and who chides me for being what I am, I’ve been thinking about that. I finally told her, “I don’t see me doing abstract paintings.”

“Why not? Your brush strokes are abstract.”

It’s not because I don’t like abstract art. I do. It’s just not fulfilling for me. My primary relationship is with nature; the important questions for me are “how does this work? What is it really? How can I see it better?” For me, a painting is a synthesis of brush strokes. It’s not brush strokes. It’s a totality. For me, it’s a way of seeing.

So, four days of apples. Some from “life” (those I picked), one from a photo. These are notecard size and I’ll use them for that.

I could hear my friend in my head saying, “You don’t have to get every little thing!” a chorus I’ve heard before. But what is it to work toward “every little thing”? (Which I don’t actually do) As I worked drawing the apples on the tree, I realized what was going on in my head. I was relieving the stress of the last several weeks. This was something I could do and which took me out of myself. I was meditating. The image — the colors of the leaves, the striations on the apples, the problem of the branch — all of it — drew me out of my self into a clearer mind. There’s not much smaller to make art with than the sharpened end of a watercolor pencil.

9 thoughts on “Meditation

  1. I’m curious about a couple of things: how can your friend tell your brush strokes are abstract in your nature photos? They are all part of your painting. People who say, “You don’t have to get to every little thing” usually don’t. Is your friend trying to take the onus off herself by saying that to you?
    These drawings are lovely, Martha. My favorite is the one on the bottom left–the three apples with their stems, but no leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My friend was looking at my paintings and said my brush strokes were abstract. That makes no sense to me. A brush stroke in and of itself is just a glob of paint on a surface. That’s VERY realistic. It’s a REAL glob of paint! 😀 I just figure 1) she’s not a painter but a very talented fabric artist — design is more important to her than it would be to me, naturally, 2) she’s had too many art classes, 3) she is a warm, friendly, voluble person who shares her opinion readily, 4) she wants to help. She — and I — also grew up during a time when our teachers were kind of anti-realism so that’s the bias of our time as well. I think every artist has their bias. I listen to her and then use what I can and toss the rest.

      I like that apple drawing, too. I think it’s also my favorite. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all 3 of the smaller paintings — each so different that they look like the real apples sitting on a table — not like textbook paintings of perfect apples, but more like they were just picked off the tree!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love two of the smaller paintings. The first was an experiment that told me to keep drawing apples so it’s my friend, too. Most people like the apples on the tree, but I expected that, and it’s cool. All of them are the same size in real life. It’s a fun challenge and I have at least one more to do.


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