Sunday, 7 March 2010


My first ever run was about 150 yards before I collapsed in an unhealthy heap. Encouraged by my daughter I managed to accomplish this three times in the next week. As the days progressed I went slightly further each day. My aim was to do be able to do a great enough distance to leave the house and reach the woods at the edge of the village before collapsing. Eventually the day arrived. Not one to do anything in small measures, I donned a pair of rainbow coloured lycra leggings and running top and set off. Mission accomplished I reached the woods and took a breather before running home. A few months later I finished my first half marathon (of course I knew I would I had already done two preparatory runs of the course).

I had a friend who enjoyed woodworking. He had a shed with a lathe where he made beautiful wooden bowls and lamp stands. Before beginning he would sharpen all his tools to a keen edge and lay them out on his bench in the order he would use them. (He was like the surgeon preparing to perform an operation.) The wood was then made ready various types bonded together and left until it had dried and would not separate in the process. Then the turning began and the finished article was always a thing of beauty. It felt tactile to the touch it had the aroma of the many woods used. Sadly I remember, somebody saying, “All that work and time, they can make them just like that in plastic for less than half the cost.”

We live in an age of instant and now. Why waste all this time when we can do things easier and faster? Why take the time to make a mortise and tenon joint when we can nail it together and put a cheap metal clamp on it?

I ponder the ancient art of wall painting that has lasted for centuries and it still makes me feel an inner joy today. I wonder if they just came into the cave and threw some colours at the wall. I suspect not, I suspect they ground the rocks to make the colours with great care. Mixed them carefully and with thought and time prepared themselves to decorate the walls for all to see and enjoy. The time taken has stood the test and is still there for all to marvel.

How many artistic creations have been spoiled because the initial preparation was hurried? The canvas unprepared the drying times ignored. One artist said to me, “I never bother with all that gesso and stuff. I just want to get on with the painting. None of that stuff is ever seen.” But of course it will be seen. It will be seen in the finished work. It will not stand the test of time and it will lack the hidden depth and strength. It is on good foundations that the best buildings are erected.

And so with life, without foundations and preparation we will fail. To make ready is the first step of Tao.

he Story Behind the Art can be seen at:-


  1. Ralph, Thank you for visiting and your lovely comments on today's painting. I appreciate it. I like your blog, paintings and writings...I look forward to following... I am glad you found me so that i may "find you". Wishing you continued happy painting!

  2. Well put. I appreciate the reminder that there is a reason for the time I put into a piece of art. By the way, congratulations on the half marathon. I consider that an amazing feat.

  3. Yes, I particularly loathe the instant and plastic...from furnishings to food. You will find very little plastic in my home....refinished century old furniture which I have rubbed and rubbed to a glow that I believe must mirror the original. And foods always prepared from the originals...real vegetables, real sauces, etc.
    Definitely art is a process which does not allow instant gratification like mass produced ikea wall art; and if processed quickly risks looking like another mass production. From bare canvas, paper, metal or gesso, hand sanding, rubbing, to final varnish....sometimes a painful process as we wait for a glaze to dry or oil to tack.....but I believe the end results cannot be matched. Waiting and applying glazes upon glazes creates such a lustrous, inner glow .... one I cannot achieve by slapping 'paint on'.

    I do however believe there is a place for 'just applying paint'....some beautiful paintings have been completed using palette knife .... the tactile replacing the beauty of the glazing.
    No matter which method....patience and sound preparation will leave a signature on the final individual interpretation underlined by care, thought and the desire to produce the very best....not a mass produced slap hazard 'copy like' finish.

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