Wild Pond

Wild Pond. 16 x 20. Oil on linen panel.

Wild Pond. 16 x 20. Oil on linen panel.


Pushing my way through the underbrush and tangled vines, I came upon a pond open only to the sky. There were fallen logs, tiny golden leaves floating on the surface and little bits of new greenery on the verge of spring. I was reminded of Robert Bly's book, Iron John. The book discusses the allegory of a youth on his journey of self discovery who comes upon a wild man living at the bottom of a pond. The wild man represents brilliance, bounty, wildness, greatness and spontaneity. Eventually the wild man becomes the young man's mentor and helps the him become the man he was meant to be.

Bly writes about the wild pond as a source of creativity, "An artist feels a curious mood of intensity when he or she is working on an art object, a poem or painting or a sculpture; we could say that the sacred pond is right there in the studio;  and the artist becomes capable of thoughts and feelings much wilder than he or she ever experiences in shut-down days. The fingers holding the pen or brush turn gold, and we suddenly see amazing images and realize what we are really good at." This pond in Clarksville, Texas reminded me of the delicious confusion and wildness of Bly's sacred pond—beautiful and mysterious—where the wild man or our creative muse lives.

The pond was a complicated scene: leaves on the surface of the water, reflection of the sky overhead, trees, shrubs and grasses. The biggest challenge was simplifying the subject. I organized my painting by creating a double "S" curve with the sky reflections and made everything else relate to that. The fallen leaves make a general sweeping motion which leads the eye back to the distant bank. The reflections are painted with transparent paint, and the fallen leaves, with opaque paint that gives them body and makes them float on top of the water.

I hope this painting reminds you of your favorite pond—a place where you can think, imagine and just be. Thank you for letting me share it with you.