Upon Reflection: Time On The Water

Upon Reflection Time On The Water 48 X 18

Upon Reflection: Time On The Water (Mixed Media/Acrylic 48″ X 18″)

Upon Reflection: Time On The Water

When it comes to introspection and contemplation, we seem to fall into three states of mind.

First, we can find ourselves oblivious or uncaring as to who we are or where we are going. This can lead to a very unsatisfying life, a life in a semi-conscious state. A life that contributes nothing to our welfare, or the greater good of society.

Or, we can be self-aware but unfocused and dissatisfied. When we are in this state of mind we frantically rush off in random directions in hopes that we will either stumble upon some answers or, at least, create the illusion of progress. When we are in this state of mind we fill our lives with activities and distractions that seem to be geared towards preventing any form of self reflection. We fill our time with meaningless “activities” and a babble of voices chattering endlessly about meaningless things. We hope the hustle and bustle will overpower the quiet whisperings of doubt and wondering.

This state of mind reminds me of the experience you have when you speed down a dusty road, you create a huge cloud of dust and dirt as you rush down the road and you can keep the cloud from engulfing you only if you keep rushing forward. You are not going any place in particular, it is just that you have to keep speeding along lest the mess you have created overtake you.

The final category consists of those precious times when we find ourselves at peace; the times when we can take a clear look at things, and ourselves. At these times we see clearly and without prejudice.

I decided to illustrate this concept of thoughtful self-examination by using one of my old barn friends as a stand-in. I am particularly fond of old barns because they are honest and unpretentious structures. The reflection in the pond alludes to the act of self-examination, the rippled water hints at the realization that self-assessment does not always result in a perfectly accurate picture.

This title of this piece was inspired by something Jimmy Buffett once said, “Everyone needs a little time on the water”. From the context of the statement it was clear that he was referring to spending time alone with your thoughts. His preferred place to do this was on his boat in open water. He was making the point that in order to have peace of mind, in order to mature and grow as a human being, in order to sort out the challenges that occur in every life, everyone needed to find their version of “Time On The Water”.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

It’s Always Something

Its Always Something 48 X 24

It’s Always Something (Mixed Media/Acrylic 48″ X 24″)

When I painted “It’s Always Something” I was trying to express some thoughts I was having about uncertainty. We live with so many things that are beyond our control, things that could have a major impact on our lives. Everything from health issues for ourselves and those we care about, money, the health and welfare of our children, global warming, killer asteroids, and lets not forget zombies.

Several years ago I got to wondering – when was the last time I was able to say that all loose ends in my life were firmly tied, when all of my “what ifs” had answers? I concluded that it had to be some time around the 5th grade. Homework done? Check. Batteries in the transistor radio so I could listen to the Cubs out of town game at night after “bedtime”? Check. That about covered it.

In an effort to control the uncontrollable, some people choose to simplify their lives to the point of sucking the life out of “life”. And even with that, things beyond control still remain. (Have you forgotten zombies? Go ahead if that is what you want to do, that is exactly what they want you to do.) I concluded that the only rational response was to stop struggling, to stop trying to solve all anticipated problems and situations. I found peace when I realized that we are all in the same boat, and the only way to live is to take life as it comes. We need to find comfort in the predictability of unpredictability.

To express these thoughts, I painted a scene with golden sunlight washing over the foreground as a storm threatens from the rear. Is the storm coming or going? Who knows. One thing for sure, though, there will be other storms.

The painting is a meditation about being at peace with change, the advance of time, and the constant challenges of life… “It’s Always Something”.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

Toward The End Of Summer

Toward The End Of Summer 8 X 30

Toward The End Of Summer (Mixed Media/Acrylic 8″ X 30″)

This painting is a tribute to all of the days we absentmindedly pass through on our way to all of the other days.

We value things that are rare more than more than we value common things, that is just “human nature”. Consequently, we are predisposed by nature to overlook the “ordinary” and “commonplace”.  This causes us to rush through our lives without appreciating the beauty of an “everyday”. This is unfortunate, because we have been blessed with a beautiful world.

Day to day, life rolls along, one day merging into the next, until something happens to make you stop and look back. It seems that the only time that we appreciate the beauty of the ordinary is when something happens to disrupt our lives, then we “just want things to get back to normal”. Over time, I have come to realize the days I really treasure are the ones filled with everyday things. The problem is, I tend to realize their value only in retrospect.

In order to express these thoughts, I have painted a commonplace (in my neighborhood…) scene on an ordinary afternoon in late summer. I have utilized the changing foliage on the trees and the sundial-like shadow on the barn to call attention to the passage of time. It is the kind of afternoon where your first reaction may be to feel a sense of urgency that you should do something to take advantage of the warm summer day before winter shows up to spoil the party.

I propose a contrary course of action. I think the best action is inaction. I think the best use of a day like this is to find a nice comfortable spot, sit down, and just be grateful.

Sadly, oftentimes it is only when fall approaches that we realize we have let summer pass unappreciated. That is why some of the best days of our lives come “Toward The End Of Summer”.

Painting and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

John Milton

Prime Time

Prime Time 21 X 48

Prime Time (Mixed Media/Acrylic 21″ X 48″)

At the end of an August midnight shift many years ago I stopped on a bridge to enjoy the sunrise. Upon stopping, I noticed some faded graffiti. Carefully spray painted on the guardrail of this secluded bridge were the words “We Were Here”, followed by the date (which indicated the words had been painted on that exact day in August some 15 years earlier). Also painted on the bridge railing was the tag, “The Brew Crew”.

I got out of my patrol car and stretched my legs. It was the end of my shift, so I stood there for quite some time. I thought about the events that took place on that night 15 years before and wondered what ever became of “The Brew Crew”. I wondered if they realized the symbolic significance of the fact that they painted their words on a bridge, which is a transitional structure intended to get you across an obstacle from one place to another.  I also wondered if they noticed the old and experienced storm-damaged tree watching from the other side of the bridge.

I concluded that it had been painted by someone out with a group of friends for one last wild night in late summer, after High School graduation and before the constraints of adult responsibilities brought their carefree lifestyle to an end.

I intentionally composed the painting so that the date painted by “The Brew Crew” is not completely revealed so viewers of any age could identify with “The Brew Crew”. The declaration “We Were Here” resonated within my mind. “Here” is a place, a time, a state of mind. We Were Here… the simple phrase makes a statement about the universal human desire to leave some sort of mark, to remember and be remembered.

I was going to title this painting “We Were Here”, but as I painted it I changed my mind. The painting became less about the past, and more about the need to appreciate every stage of your life as time goes by.

There is no doubt about it, though. The summer after High School graduation? Prime Time.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski