A Park at Twilight

A Park at Twilight – Acrylic on canvas – 28 x 32 inches.

Although the title of the painting refers to “a” park, this particular scene refers to a specific park that lies deeply in memories of my childhood. However, I wanted the painting to reflect a mood, a feeling, rather than a specific place or memory.

I’m told that some people are wary of night, even afraid of night. Perhaps this is true, but I remember that, even as a child, I opened my arms to darkness. I still do because night is a time for sleep and dreams. True, some dreams are nightmares, but we know that waking life is often filled with nightmares as well. So why be afraid of night?

Twilights are doors that open pathways into night. Years ago I created this painting to suggest such an opening. Now, years later, I’m still trying to create paintings that suggest a “great presence.” I have found no paths in darkness. Eyes are of little use. I have faith in open arms.

You, Darkness
by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! –
powers and people-

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

Sky Study

Sky Study – Acrylic on Masonite panel – 10 x 13 inches.

Years ago, when I was living in southern California, I was commissioned to paint a large canvas for the office of an executive of a corporation. This man, I soon learned, was wrestling with a troubled soul. He was suffering the after-effects of a divorce from his wife of many years and estrangement from their two young daughters. Worse, he was being constantly tormented by threats of legal action from the cause of that divorce, his male ex-lover.

Usually, those who commission paintings for offices expect a work that is primarily decorative, like the kind of work you encounter in the lobbies of their corporation headquarters. In this man’s case, I felt he deserved something deeper. So I decided to paint a vision that was so far above his troubles that he could perhaps be free of them, if only for the moments he was able to quietly contemplate the painting.

The image you see here is one of the studies I made for that painting. If you’d like to see an image of the final work and read the full story of how the painting came about, you can find it on my website: just search for “A Vision: Peace” or go to https://johnmichaelkeating.com/2018/06/18/a-vision-peace/.

Meanwhile, if you have time for only the abbreviated version, here it is: The executive was thrilled to the point of tears by my vision above the clouds, with the Pacific ocean on the left and the Mojave desert on the right, with clouds obscuring miles of landscape in between. I spoke with him briefly a few weeks after the painting was installed in his office. The news was not good. He had been fired, he told me. As for the painting, “I really miss it, but it belongs to the company. It put me next to heaven and now I can never see it again.”

Tourists and Natives

Iguanas Boceto – Watercolor, pencil, ink – 7 x 11 in.

Tourists and Natives

In the pink light of dawn,
birds coax us out of sleep with
exotic hoots and twitters never
heard in Minneapolis.

A crowd of iguanas lounge
in the sun on a hillside near our
room, and low above the water,
pelicans float in undulating ribbons.

Below them, waves arrive in irregular
processions from other edges of Planet
Earth, carrying gravitational energies
from the moon and all the stars.

Late in afternoons, clouds from the
southwest come to visit and bring
us curtains of warm rain to remind
us that it’s nearly time for dinner.

During the rest of the day, we bask in
sunlight, imagining ourselves to be like
pelicans, rain, or waves of energy, but
mostly we only resemble the iguanas.