22 February 2021

Blog post

Sempiternity: Existence within time but infinitely into the future, as opposed to eternity, understood as existence outside time.

Some time ago, I sort of stumbled across Leaves of Grass by American poet, Walt Whitman . I was really fascinated by his daring, foresighted thoughts, and mind you, we are talking about a person who was from the 19th Century.

Whitman suggests that the natural world moves through these spheres and appearances through a mode of natural continuity. “Time and space are ample”, meaning that there always is and always will be enough time and space for movement and growth within the natural world. The natural world merely follows a continuity of cycle. True reality is the spirit and that it lies beyond the reach or realm of the senses.

This piece of artwork, at a glance, may seems a little bit gloomy and perhaps, even a little bit depressed to some. But if you really look at it as a whole, you will notice that it is about “re-birth”, new beginning. This may also be interpreted into a very spiritual sense.

The past, present, and future are “not disjoined, but joined,” that they are all stages in a continuous flow and cannot be considered as separate and distinct. The cosmos, or the universe, does not consist merely of lifeless matter; it has awareness.

Okay, enough of these philosophy “talk”. Let me share some progress photos and thoughts in the making of this piece.

Since this is a much larger piece and saturated in colours, I did the underpainting using the water soluble colour pencils (Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer). When mixed with a little bit of water, the application is very similar to watercolour paint. This act as a foundation that covers the tooth (grooves) of the paper’s surface which allows smoother application with the dry colour pencil. I premixed the desired colours with water in a small cup and apply it using a medium sized flat brush.

Once I am done applying the desired tones, I left it to really dry for 24 hours.

A closed up on the tree trunk. It shows how I build up the tones and create the textures.

Above are the first half of the overall piece. Without laying down the underpainting, I will have to use more force with the pencil in order to get the pigments into the tooth of the paper. Failing to do so, the white spots (the sunken groove/tooth of the paper surface) will show through no matter how hard you pressed the pencil onto the surface. It is not impossible to achieve a smooth application with only the dry pencils but that will take a much longer time and by the time I am done with a a small section, my finger will be sore.

Working on the lighter tones are in fact, the most challenging of all. I am using the combinations of scribbling and pointillism technique. This was done with a very light touch, some barely touching the surface of the paper. Apart from all the abovementioned method and techniques, I rely a lot on the battery operated eraser to create distinctive textures and the stencil brushes for a softer blending of tones.

A friend asked me what sort of theme song will I “tie” with this. Initially, I thought of the soundtrack from the movie Lord Of The Ring. But then I felt it was not refined enough. It was unable to bring out the substance of this piece. I found that the theme from the movie “Somewhere In Time” (by the legendary John Barry), somehow fits perfectly. The melody is haunting without being eerie, melancholy but with feeling of hope that transcends time and space.

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring’s invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.

Continuities – Walt Whitman – 1819-1892

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.