Letter to Monty on pictorial harmony

Dear Monty,

I have started a 'painting' - really it is mixed media, drawing, fresco and sculptural relief. Anyway, a waterfall, or the memory of a waterfall. Some of the elements I am happy with, others not. I turn it on its side - and in so doing I see the force of the water more acutely than when vertical.

Writing about this striving for pictorial harmony, Pissaro is quoted in 'Cezanne a life' by Alex Danchev -

" When I start a painting, the first thing I strive to catch is its harmonic form. Between this sky, this ground and this water is necessarily a link. It can only be a set of harmonies, and that is the ultimate test of painting...The big problem to solve is to bring everything, even the smallest details of the painting, to an integral whole, that is to say harmony."

Cezanne is quoted as saying - "Art is a harmony parallel to nature"

The above quotes are the best descriptions I have read describing the internal struggle of creating harmony when making a painting or for that matter making the garden. For me creating a pleasing harmony to the point where accuracy of depiction is surpassed by the need to create a balance of forms is such a thrilling thing to do.

I still strive for it in my paintings. Each one carries the struggle forward - trying to loosen up here - define there - achieve this elusive harmony that some artists seem to achieve with ease.

I believe that making a garden uses a similar co-ordination of hand and eye - it is like a musical composition or a poem. I felt this poetic element when visiting The Veddw.veddw.com

The term 'tone poem' used in music could be equally applied to gardens and paintings.

So my latest anguished and modest attempt at harmony and balance of forms is to be called a waterfall tone poem.

I have also recently drawn feet, even in feet there is a harmony to be had.  This foot has walked on mountains and trod the Holy Land. The harmony was found through colour and composition, through the curves and curl of flesh over bone, of rude health in pink and red and orange and blue. All in a foot - something we hardly notice.

Finally for my 52nd birthday yesterday I bought two Ilex x aquifolium 'J.C.van Tol' in order to balance the composition of my garden, it will take a few years for them to develop, and I hope I will have the joy of seeing them take shape. (Thank you Mum and Dad in-law)

Here is to harmonic form,

Cheers Monty,



  1. A very harmonic dog you have there, Paul! I like that you suggest harmonics are integral to art. The gushing of the waterfall is a dynamic harmonic.

    1. Ha ! Harmonic yes and he has smelly feet ! It is hard to capture the beautiful internal harmony I feel when reliving a memory, I keep trying Faisal.

    2. I'm not sure how smelly the paws are, Paul. I've only ever heard one other person say that, like me, they like the small of a dog's paws.
      My Zara has no smell at all, unfortunately!

  2. Looks a fascinating painting.

    To let you know . . . now Blogger / Google has re-organised photo storage, I've gone back to posting daily at Message in a Milk Bottle


    instead of M2.

    Perhaps you might like to follow the photos there?

    1. Thank you for this, sorry I have only just found your comment it had been put in my junk box by Outlook !


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