“All true Artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”
James Abbott NcNeill Whistler
I’ll be spending the weekend with James Abbott NcNeill Whistler and his painting Three Figures: Pink and Grey 1868 – 78. The original painting is hidden away in a vault at the Tate Gallery, London. But for the next two days, this painting will be featured in my residence.
My art calendar is prominently displayed on a bookshelf in my front entrance. Whenever I enter or leave my home, I am reminded to seek beauty and creativity in my daily routine. For art brings the extraordinary into our lives, allowing us to glimpse at alternative possibilities.
The vision of three women caring for a plant is especially meaningful for me today. Vancouver’s sky is filled with acrid smoke coming from forest fires that rage across interior British Columbia. The sun has disappeared and an uneasy coolness has descended upon our fair city.
The symbol of three women is embedded in our most ancient mythologies and continues to be recognized in our modern societies. In this painting, I see the gentle, watchful care given to nature. I feel a resilient determination to protect and safeguard a flowering cherry tree.
As with any art piece, there is a backstory. There was another painting before Pink and Grey. Alas, “The White Symphony: Three Girls,” which was finished in 1867, was lost. How this could happen is mystifying to me.
James Whistler was never satisfied with the Pink and Grey, however I find there is depth of character, a reverence in the delicate flowers, the muted pinks and grays set against a turquoise background.
It speaks to my inner stillness.