"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Friday, July 5, 2019

As free as the wind?

As free as the wind? 6" x 8 1/2" watercolor
What is freedom? How do you paint freedom?
"Loose and Free" was today's challenge prompt for World Watercolor Month, and doubled my challenge into abstract.
Impressions, that's all and then some verses came to mind, and thoughts from readings and more.
The more we think we have, the less freedom we have...we are owned by what we think we own--obligated, indebted, tied down, fenced in. "Golden handcuffs," as one friend said.
Chained to protecting what we have.  In materialist America, we see this everywhere. Gated communities. Security systems. Buy more to be happy. The more we have, the more we fear losing it.  Gandhi knew this. Jesus knew this. The Eastern mystics knew this. Hunter gatherers and nomads knew this.
In the book Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind, author Harari writes that the agricultural revolution was history's "biggest fraud." He uses wheat, once a wild grass, to prove his point. But when wheat was domesticated, homo sapiens "was doing little more from dawn to dusk than taking care of wheat plants,"  which demanded hard work. "the average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return." 
His conclusion: "These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa." Is that freedom?
Deep  thoughts for a watercolor prompt. That's part of the challenge of painting, but I've found every painting has a story behind it, or in it. 
How? I thought of the lines from the song, "Born Free."
"Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Free to follow your heart."
And then I thought of the words of Jesus, in Matthew 6:26 after telling his disciples not to worry (not to be owned by, but to be free), about material things:
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them."
Thus today's abstract painting, wind and grass and birds, all in motion, a difficult task, impressions of freedom, of being loose, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper.
How free are we?

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