The Unity of Dread and Bliss

I have spent much of the day writing the backstories to the paintings that are heading to a new gallery in Seattle this week.  Previously in this blog I talked about how the painting Nimbus Grey was conceived and created on the day that I decided to give up the role of gallerist (which also coincided with having just spent months painting sky studies).  Last week at artwalk I was telling the story of the significance to me of the beautiful fir stretcher bars that back this painting. These were handmade for my artist friend Jane Hamilton Hovde by her husband AJ Hovde over 30 years ago–and then gifted to me. For many years my young children and I had delivered library books to Jane’s home.  She shared with us over tea all her wonderful tales of the artistic life she led, all while surrounded by her fantastic paintings and view of Samish Bay.    You can read a bit about Jane and AJ’s most exciting life here, including friendships with Jack Shadbolt, Mark Tobey and W.H. Auden.  Ironically, opening the gallery and other obligations had prevented me from visiting Jane for some time.  All in all, I had been quite intimidated to approach this canvas given its history and personal connection, but opportunity and intent met preparation–finally. Title: Nimbus Grey (Embracing the Storm) 

Size: 70 x 50 inches

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Update 10/26/13  Offered at special price of $1800 (gallery price $3000) Email me if interested.


The poet Rainer Maria Rilke has deeply influenced my work for more than a year now.  Even when I think that I’m “taking a break” from his words and just painting a cloud–it is not so.  I began this big painting on the day I made a big decision in my professional life.  A decision that  left me feeling both untethered and uncertain.  But in making the decision I experienced an exhilaration associated with stepping into a storm.  Pure bliss to create, I found myself inside this work when painting it and felt an intimacy unique to its scale.

Here from a writing by Rilke which I think about with this work and about discovering the unity of dread and bliss.

The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted–yes, even rejoiced in–what has struck him with terror–he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence.  He withdraws to the edge; when things play out, he will be neither alive nor dead. 

#backstory

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    SHARON KINGSTON