Thursday, September 4, 2014

Iconic Idleness: Reflection on Day 4

Before Ikons by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 20.5" x 7.5"

"Gazing at the stars opens our minds to another reality,  a mysterious eternal world, 
beyond material struggle." - Tom Hodgkinson, How To Be Idle

Imagery: The Mysterious Eternal World

I can only make a good guess where these icon-like images come from. My 12 years of parochial  schooling seems to be the most obvious answer. Perhaps, being the descendant of Irish and Polish immigrants, I carry some deep ancestral memory for icons. I only know that I have no concept of the image when I begin a painting.  

The figures in this painting are no strangers to me. The ancient image on the wall - uncovered, surviving decay and remaining present through the ages, the figure observing the image, the wise man gazing at the viewer, and the small white figure in a doorway of light are all recurring figures in my paintings.  

If your were to ask me which figure the painting - the story - belongs to, I'd say it belongs to the small white figure at the bottom of the page. 

The icons stand before us. Inviting us to contemplate the mysteries of the eternal world.  It is an invitation only the idle can accept.


  1. Jim I love the size you chose. It brings to mind the religious altars, or shrines you see everywhere in New Mexico. You ... amaze me. Make me think always. I am wondering if the white figure is a child, or simply a novice. Hmm, I did not know this definition before... it fits this piece perfectly, don't you think?
    "a person who has entered a religious order and is under probation, before taking vows."

    1. Sheila, I do like that long format - both vertical and horizontal. The figure in white is a symbol - I recognize it as a childhood image of a loved one, and as such represents innocence and purity of spirit. And so yes - you are right on both counts - because children are novices, and novices in a way, no matter how old they are, can be viewed as children. Right?

      I don't think of that figure necessarily as being religious in the sense of being a novice for the order - but that meaning is certainly inherent in the painting and a valid interpretation. To me this painting suggests several different layers of time - but I thought that my interpretation was so personal that it would be better for me not to try to tie the painting down for the viewers. I like to think that my paintings work for others as metaphors for some universal experience. I don't know if they are. But if I get too specific in my writing about what it means to me then I fear it will stop the viewer from making their own meaning.