Friday, February 12, 2010


My cat Opal turned out to be a good model for this painting of quiet contemplation. (She is actually quite manic but I have calmed her down here). As I mentioned in the previous post I had difficulty painting only the dormant hydrangea and hibiscus plants while my garden is actually erupting with bulbs and fat furry blossom buds. It is such an early spring here but I wanted this painting to be about that earlier time of year when perennials and shrubs are dormant, invisible or apparently dead. There is such peace in dormancy. I have painted that feeling I get when I watch the sun set and I feel completely alone with the sky. I am not achieving anything tangible. I am not engaging or performing or displaying myself in any way. I feel peaceful and dormant but so happy.

I was going to call this painting "Sweet Silent Thought" after Shakespeare's Sonnet number 30 but I don't like how he says that in times of quiet contemplation he realizes that his life has sucked and only love can rescue him from his misery. My painting is much more positive than that.

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

Sorry William. I will call it something else...but what?


  1. Lovely meditation on the necessity of a time of rest between all the crazy periods in life and nature.

    I'm no good with titles, but was interested in a line of that sonnet - do you think Proust cadged it for his magnum opus?

    Hard for me to look at a cat staring off into the distance and not wonder if she's spying something to pounce upon. Which doesn't exactly go with your mood, just my experience of cats as being so aware of their surroundings.

  2. Jean, this is my favourite yet! Of course it's because of Opal's rapt contemplating and thinking of Important Cat Thoughts. But it's just gorgeous with the colours, the light and shadows. I like the sonnet phrase as title anyway, and never mind Shakespeare's woe-is-me attitude. Opal obviously has found her person. And vice versa. So don't mind ol' Billy Boy. :-)

  3. Interesting that you should read XXX as a "woe is me" piece. I've always read it as pretty much the opposite. Seems to me WS is saying "it's easy to look back at life and see all those missed opportunities and sad misfortunes, but all that goes away the moment I think of somebody in the here and now". In other words, it's the work of somebody who has lived a lot of life but isn't able to be sad for long.

    It's typical of Shakespeare that he embraces happy AND sad, not happy OR sad.