Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and vast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.
― Hermann Hesse,
I understand very well the sentiment behind the words above, spoken in the voice of Hermann Hesse‘s character Harry Haller in his novel, Steppenwolf. It is the story of a man who sees himself as both man and wolf, divided by his desire to be part of man’s society yet driven by his wolf’s need to be a solitary, instinctual being. There is a constant inner conflict between the two opposing forces.
Yeah, I understand that very well. I think that many of us do.
I, too, have seen Solitude as independence and, like Harry Haller, have sought and to a great degree attained it. Yes, there have been points when it was the stillness that he describes, like soaring through the cold blackness of space. A wondrous vast and empty dome of space.
But with time, that same solitude begins to feel less cold, warmer and more comfortable. It is as thought the time spent alone in that expansive space has drawn you to the gravity of a distant sun. Sharing its light and warmth, it becomes a silent yet reliable and amiable companion. Solitude feels less lonely and begins to feels like a natural condition, comfortable and even homey.
To a great extent, that is how I have found myself. I am grateful for the warmth that solitude now provides. It is a friendly and welcoming place now. Paradoxically, it is when I am among crowds of people that I feel most alone and untethered, like I was desperately floating without direction in the coldest and darkest parts of space.
The new painting above, a 16″ by 12″ canvas that I am calling A Warmer Solitude, represents this sentiment for me. It has an inviting and warm presence with the air of solitude around it.
All I ask.
This piece is part of my solo show, Self Preservation, that opens July 14 at the West End Gallery, which has represented my work for 22 years now. This is my 16th or 17th solo show with them and I may be more excited about this show than any other that I can remember. I hope you can make it to the gallery for this show that will be hanging until the end of August.