Friday, 21 December 2012

Too Busy


Dunfermline Abbey and Palace Ruins

Most people know that on leaving school I started work as a butcher. Not something I made a concrete decision to do, rather something I drifted into. More a reaction against what my family had planned for me than my own decision. Where I lived most young boys sat the entrance examination to get a job, a trade, in the navel dockyard close by.

The last thing I had ever wanted was to work in a navel dockyard so I made sure I had a job ready to go to before I was ready to leave school. As the new start I got all the most terrible jobs to do, but I was aware that this was not personal, just the way things were.

Some of the jobs were just downright boring and tedious. One of the most boring of all was the knife sharpening day.  Once a week all the knives were taken to the back yard where there was a sharpening stone. It was my job to keep the wheel turning while the older butcher did the honing of the blade. Each blade took a fair amount of time to get right. At the end of the exercise my arms used to ache for all of the next day.

I suppose, looking back now, it was this that led me to realise that I could not go on like this for the rest of my working life. So the studying I had never got round to at school began in my spare time. I was determined to make something more of my life.

All seems so obvious now, but had not been when I was living the reality. Sometimes the obvious stares us in the face but we keep banging our heads against the wall trying to find the obvious.

Reminds me of the tale of the woodcutter.

Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter ask for a job in a timber merchant, and he got it. The paid was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees
"Congratulations," the boss said. "Go on that way!"
Very motivated for the boss’ words, the woodcutter try harder the next day, but he only could bring 15 trees. The third day he try even harder, but he only could bring 10 trees.Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.
"I must be losing my strength", the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
"When was the last time you sharpened your axe?" the boss asked.
"Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees..."


This blog is linked to my other. Dunfermline Abbey and Palace Ruins



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Silence Only Comes....


St Peter's Church Inverkeithing

When painting, I normally consider for days before painting the first stroke.  Once the painting is securely in my mind I lay out the paint and make the first mark on the canvas.

Then the fever commences and I work with hardly a break until what is in my head is on the canvas. It is intense but it could never be described as peaceful.

I read blogs of friends and some take days to paint a picture, others take weeks and some months.

I have been working on a pen and ink of Dunfermline Abbey and the ruins of the old palace. More of that when I share that particular painting. Today is the beginning of my second day working on this. The longest I think I have ever spent on one work. It has brought a different sense of passion and intensity. The big difference is that I am not doing it because I am hoping it sells. I am doing it because I think the subject deserves to be depicted. In the process it gives me time to remember my youth and the times spent around this building. Again more of that when I share the finished work.

Yesterday after my post, I received a mail that touched me deeply. Thank you to the person who sent it and wants to remain in the back with that.

The strangest lesson I have learned in this process, is one I have known for years but never fully understood.

Let me explain that with this very simple and very short story.


An easygoing disciple complained that he had never experienced the Silence that the Master frequently commended.
Said the Master, "Silence only comes to active people."

But active does not always mean furious activity. Strange that this has never occurred to me before.

This blog is linked to my other. St Peters Church

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I Am Making Progress


Edinburgh Castle

I have been away from this blog for some time and for the very few that take time to read I apologise. It seemed pretty pointless taking the time to write when nobody was taking the time to read.

Then I thought again and here I am. Thanks to those if any who read this. Even greater thanks to those who take the time to comment.  I will read it as I write and I comment in my mind in the process, so I have realised that nothing is meaningless.

Life has been interesting in the time I have been away. I cracked two ribs after slipping on the ice while running. I was attacked and badly bitten by a dog, while running. Maybe it is not writing a blog I should stop, but that is another story.

I have been painting very different  from my normal artwork, one person said I was almost painting normal, but more of that on the other blog.

All in all I am making progress as age slowly but surely catches up on me. My head is buzzing with abstract art, which one day will find its way onto canvas, but yet I am at peace and enjoying the new found art. I am making progress!

Now this reminds me of a tale, one I maybe need to contemplate.

Yen Hui said, "I am making progress."
Confucius asked, "In what way?"
Yen Hui said, "I have given up doing good and being right."
Confucius said, "Very good, but that is not quite enough."
Another day, Yen Hui saw Confucius and said, "I am making progress."
Confucius asked, "In what way?"
Yen Hui said, "I have given up ceremony and music."
Confucius said, "Very good, but that is not quite enough."
Another day, Yen Hui saw Confucius again and said, "I am making progress." Confucius asked, "In what way?"
Yen Hui said, "I just sit and forget."
Confucius was startled and asked, "What do you mean by sitting and forgetting?"
Yen Hui said, "I am not attached to the body and I give up any idea of knowing. By freeing myself from the body and mind, I become one with the infinite. This is what I mean by sitting and forgetting."
Confucius said, "When there is oneness, there are no preferences. When there is change there is no constancy. If you have really attained this, then let me become your pupil."

Yes I think I am making progress, not because I am trying to but because I have stopped trying to.

This blog is linked to my other. Pen and Ink