Don’t know what to call this… (being alive)

ash stump

…an ash stump maybe? Not very healthy looking. Infected with chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) disease, and looking much the worse for wear after damage done to it during the recent harvesting of sitka spruce. No real trunk, lots of broken branches, little in the way of foliage. It was a rare sunny Irish June day.

Painted over an ugly looking earlier work. Oil on small canvas panel, 12 x 16″, June 30 2019


  1. Thank you. I often feel like giving up altogether, get depressed with the whole thing… your kind and good comment is a very welcome glimmer of light at the end of a long dark tunnel… it gives me hope and strength sufficient to enable me to continue what is perhaps in the final analysis a pretty futile struggle… against overwhelming odds. Thank you again.

    1. I feel that way about my sewing pursuits sometimes. Please do not give up! You have glimmers and colours and so much to look at.

      I guess I saw something that was not there–I thought there were cats up in the branches

  2. A “glimmer of light” is what you provided for me, to continue my search….for what?…i keep searching to find out!
    Each morning when the sun comes up, i find the energy to continue with little optimism, but lots of anticipation…..

    1. I see you paint, Spass, and that you are an architect and, BTW I think “Spass” is a very good name for an architect, one who does stuff with space!
      I googled your name and see you are on Facebook.
      I think searching for meaning or searching to make sense out of life, searching the general rather than the particular, is a non-starter. There is no end to such a search!
      Maybe Picasso had it right when he said that he doesn’t search, that he finds. For art is a voyage of finding out (self-discovery) and, in my case, one is continuously finding out how little one knows! Finding out is thus, like searching, an endless activity. There is so much to discover. About ourselves and about the world…
      However, unlike searching (which is about being lost) making discoveries is enjoyable.
      Do you have a WordPress page?

  3. you can be saint or criminal
    searching and finding
    the elusive pleasure
    in the mystery of existence

  4. Hi Peter, I think it is interesting how you said you often feel like giving up in a comment about this painting. I think the tree wants to give up to. How about for title for this painting, ‘being alive’. Don’t give up Peter, you wouldn’t be able to communicate your feelings so eloquently if you stopped painting.

  5. Thanks Stuart. Your supportive words are appreciated. The tree and myself are both the worse for wear. But life goes on! I’ve edited the title adding your ‘being alive’ in brackets.

  6. Thanks Peter that is a nice compliment to use that title.

    As artist, I think our role is to contribute to society, make other people’s life’s better. As artists we are lucky to have a way to communicate our thoughts and feelings. You should feel blessed. Not in a religious way but lucky because many pursuits are followed for individual and personal gain. Painting is different, it is breath of fresh air. In comparison to living in a rat race.

    Your painting says a lot about how it feels to be human, to be alive and live in this rat race. In Man’s search for meaning by Victor Frankl, Nietzsche is quoted as saying – “he has a why to live for can live with any how”

    My earlier work was driven by similar feelings of angst and feeling estranged. I know where your coming from.

    1. Hi Stuart,
      Yes, I agree, we want to make the world a better place, and for all. The question arises, How do we do that? For me the only way is for the individual artist to make the best work possible, to be open and honest, and, in the process perhaps to make oneself a better person (whatever that is.) Thus artistic integrity is central…
      There have been many overtly didactic artists, currently Banksy (whoever he is) springs to mind. There is also that artist, can’t recall his name, who made an image of Tony Blair doing a selfie in front of explosions. Of course the great Mexican muralists of 20th century also spring to mind, but I’m not sure their work wasn’t tainted by communism.
      I have no political axe to grind myself. My politics are Tolstoyan, anarchistic, about self-government, and I suppose I follow in the line of the great 19th century French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters such as Pissarro and Signac, and English poets such as for example Percy Bysshe Shelley in that respect.
      I have painted large murals in the past that gave people pleasure.
      But now I just do my own thing.
      And I keep my eyes and ears open as far as possible to world events.

      1. How do we make a better place? I am trying to do that through my art, through commenting and through sharing.

        A bird has wings, a bird has to fly. That goes for us too. It is in our mutual advantage, as human being in general, to work together. We succeed by assisting others through knowledge sharing, conversation and debate. Innovation has come about by taking different ideas, combining them in new and novel ways. Every painting is a laboratory for finding new and better ways to do things.

        As Newton said, “if I see further, it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giant”
        …but they don’t need to be giants, anybody’s working on a similar problem can help. Collective we are all smarter than we are individually.

  7. Yes… the end and the beginning are of course human notions; there is no beginning and neither is there any end!!! There is only continuous resurrection / metamorphosis… 🙂

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