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Omphaloskepsis Blog

In Praise of Water

Dec 26, 2013



And here's the final artwork. See the painting progression here: And look at the individual panels here:


Paul Valéry's poem In Praise of Water (posted below) has inspired my newest work. 156 six inch square paintings which all come together to comprise one painting. One poem. Above are 156 six-inch square wood painting panels that I have started to prepare for paint. The paintings are offered at $125 each and can be purchased by piece or in whole groups. Some people may choose to mix and match, choosing their art by the poetry line title. Others may go all in for the visual effect.


Preparation is intensive and includes taping the edges, sealing the wood, gesso is applied, sanded, cleaned-three times, and then comes the marking the back for the hanging hardware, removal of the tape and cleaning of the edges, and stain. After all that is done (I''ve just completed the third coat of gesso as seen above and all need sanding). Then I have to build a frame on the wall to hold all of the pieces and get them hung as one big painting surface, adding the titles to the back as I hang them. Only then can I paint. My goal is to have the painting underway in time for December''s First Thursday Art Walk. Once complete, a limited edition print of the piece in its entirety will also be available for $45 and the poem broadside for $25.



Here are the painting titles/Here is the poem


  1. Many have sung wine.?
  2. Innumerable the poets who have lyrically ennobled their drunkenness,
  3. pledging the gods
  4. in the strong cup
  5. their soul has desired.?
  6. Most precious wine,  
  7. worthy of all praise!
  8. And yet the folly and
  9. ingratitude of those among them


10. who have spoken ill of water¦.?


11. Divine limpidity,


12. living crystal,


13. marvelous agent of life,


14. universal water,


15. I shall offer you unbidden


16. the homage of litanies without end.?


17. I shall speak of still water,


18. landscape's ultimate luxury,


19. stretching her sheets of total calm


20. in whose pure face


21. the reflections of all things


22. seem more perfect than their origins,


23. and all Nature is Narcissus


24. and with itself in love.?


25. Of moving water,


26. by sweetness and violence,


27. oozings and usings fabulously slow,


28. by the weight of its currents


29. and unbridled whirlpools,


30. by fog and downpour,


31. by streamlets, waterfalls, and cataracts,


32. fashioning rock,


33. polishing granite,


34. wearing marble,


35. interminably sphering pebbles,


36. lulling and trailing in idle drifts


37. and soft beaches


38. all her finished sand.


39. She works and alters,


40. she shapes and adorns,


41. the sad brutal face of callous soil.?


42. Of multiform water,


43. tenant of clouds, amasser of the abyss:


44. she lies in snow on sunlit peaks,


45. whence issuing pure


46. she goes by tracks she knows,


47. blind but strangely certain


48. down unconquerably to the ocean


49. where she most abides.?


50. At times, swift,


51. slow,


52. lucid in the light of day


53. she chases herself


54. with a mysterious murmur that alter suddenly


55. into a leaping torrent's bellowing,


56. soon swallowed


57. in the perpetual thunder of shuddering,


58. dazzling falls


59. with circlets


60. of rainbow in their mist.?


61. But at others steals away


62. to travel secret,


63. penetrative,


64. below the earth.


65. She searches mineral beds,


66. picking,


67. and winding into them


68. by devious ways.


69. She seeks herself


70. in the absolute night,


71. finds herself and is one.


72. She pierces, rummages, dissolves,


73. sweats through,


74. slides down rick veins,


75. is busy about her fantastic labyrinth


76. in which she is never lost;


77. and then subsides in the tombs of lakes she nourishes


78. with long tears that set in marble columns,


79. cathedrals of darkness


80. venting infernal streams


81. that breed blind fishes and shellfish


82. older than the flood.?


83. And in these perilous adventures


84. what strange things water has known!


85. And strangely she knows them.


86. For her substance is her memory:


87. she picks


88. and gathers memorials of all she has brushed against,


89. bathed,


90. in her course rolled


91. of the limestone she


92. has scooped,


93. the rockbeds


94. she has smoothed,


95. of the rich sands


96. through which she has sunk.


97. When she gushes into day she is charged


98. with all powers and virtues  


99. of her traversed rocks.

100. With her she fetches scatterings of atoms,

101. of elements of naked energy,

102. of bubbles of subterranean gas,

103. at times indeed of the very heat

104. of the molten middle earth.?

105. And so she rises,

106. laden with the gleanings of her way,

107. to offer herself

108. to the needs of life.?

109. How not venerate this very essence of all life? 

110. And yet how few men understand that

111. life is no more nor less than water organized!

112. Consider a plan,

113. regard a mighty tree,

114. and you will discern that

115. it is none other than an upright river

116. pouring into the air of the sky.

117. By the tree water

118. climbs to meet light. 

119. Of a few salts in the earth

120. water constructs a body that is in love with the day,

121. to the whole universe stretching and out-stretching

122. liquid powerful arms that end in gentle hands.?

123. Man comes to rest

124. where there is water.

125. What more necessary than that cool sweet nymph?

126. The nymph and the spring

127. stand at that holy place

128. where life sits down and looks around her.?

129. And here one will understand that

130. there is also a drunkenness of water.

131. To drink!

132. To drink.

133. Well one knows

134. that pure thirst is quenched

135. only in pure water.

136. There is something exact and satisfactory

137. in this matching

138. of the real desire

139. of the organism

140. with the element of its origin.

141. To thirst is to lack

142. a part of oneself,

143. and thus to dwindle into another.

144. Then one must make good that lack,

145. complete oneself again,

146. by repairing to what all life demands.?

147. The very language is filled

148. with the praise of water.

149. We say that we thirst for truth.

150. We speak of a limpid discourse. 

151. At times we burst

152. into a torrent of words.?

153. Time itself has drawn

154. from the coursing of water

155. the figures in which it presents itself.?

156. To water be all praise!




Other posts you may enjoy:


Listening to internal dialog


Underwater paintings create high impact viewing experience




Here's duckface me...in the process of sanding all these boards: My daughter said to make sure I call the photo: "duckface serial killer."


Tags: Poetry
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