Difficult Thoughts and Gentle Meditations

If you paint from the heart, then sometimes the heartbreaks will show.  Sometimes that makes other people sad, or angry, or uncomfortable.  Making other people feel that way is something that we are taught not to do.  If you paint from the heart, sometimes you do it anyway.

It might be easier to read difficult things.  The words on the page create a space between the reader and the writer that helps make ugliness or sadness if not more tolerable then easier to turn away from.   But images can linger in the mind, and call the person seeing them back to look again even when the looking is uncomfortable.


An artist may find a way to create an image in which difficult, ugly things are so well- hidden, or couched in terms so beautiful that the casual observer can pass them by.

If you believe that all art should be beautiful, then burying ugly ideas in a beautiful presentation might be a good compromise.  Or is it?  Can horror and beauty co-exist in one image, with one strengthening the other?  It’s a conundrum I wrestle with, and I work out the answer differently each time I face it.

And then:  I meditate.

What would you do?


Foggy Sunrise

6 responses to “Difficult Thoughts and Gentle Meditations

  1. great post. it’s a real inspiration. caused that I started to wonder. i think a lot of different emotions coexist together. They complement each other and they give each other the meanings…

    • Thanks for your comment, Kate. Your point is a good one – and it makes me think of the way that complementary colours make each other stand out or mix together to form grey. Creating something new to the eye either way.

  2. Margaret,
    For me, art must generate a response from my heart to be meaningful–no matter what the subject or the corresponding emotion–it just has to be there for the art to touch me in a way that matters.

    That means the pleasant lovely images–but it also means the difficult, painful things too. It means a great deal to me that you face these sort of things with your own unique, intuitive lens as an artist, as a remarkable woman–and then find a way to capture it with form, depth, color, so that others–so that *I* can see it too.

    What would I do? I paint my pictures with words, as you know–and I strive to bring that same balance–the easy with the difficult, the beautiful with the ugly–into what I write. It IS indeed a tough balance. You inspire me. More than once, your paintings have helped me turn inwards & deal with something painful. Thank you for sharing your visions with me/us.

    • Margaret Mair

      Mer, I don’t think you could pay me any greater compliment than you have here. I am humbled by the idea that I inspire you, and helped by knowing that you strive toward the same ends – because you inspire me too.

  3. margaret
    i have been meditating on this post for some days and two thoughts keep circulating.
    my first thought is: no one “makes me” anything. i am truly at cause in my world. certainly i am deeply affected by people and events but i learned a long time ago that my reactions belong to me. perhaps this is subtle but it is a crucial key to independence in my personal cosmology. instead of “you made me mad” i have learned to say “when you said _____, i felt really mad.” this in no way denies the connectedness of things – it does, however, shift cause and effect with respect to feelings.
    my second thought is: i find that there is a kind of beauty in truth. therefore it is not so much the CONTENT of a piece of work that necessarily determines its beauty (or lack thereof) for me. instead, the beauty often radiates from the depth of the intention or commitment or vision of the artist (not a pretty picture or even a well-rendered picture but a “true” picture).

    as usual, stimulated and ennobled by your post…

    • Thank you for taking the time to think about what I wrote. I think you are right – in the end our reactions are our own. And yet many of us still use the language of “made me”. Is it because we are uncomfortable with the idea that we should feel pain, fear, anger? Does it reduce the impact to place the locus of those feelings outside ourselves? I wonder.
      Beauty in the presentation of truth I am not as sure about; I think it is something we have to consciously strive for, and cannot always achieve. Perhaps a kind of elegance? And then again, everyone’s truth is different, which adds many more levels of meaning and seeing. Beauty in the intention and the commitment and the vision is different, something that I celebrate myself, but do many other people see it? I really don’t know.
      In the end, I find myself raising more questions. Your response – thoughtful and thought-provoking!

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