The time machine

Imagine a long, wide, desolate North Atlantic beach, Autumn day, wind blowing strongly across the sand and the pale sunshine is catching the waves.

There are seven wild horses galloping along the tide line, two of them are way in the lead racing ahead from the others, soon exhausted they drop back and another takes the lead, pulling the others forward almost against their will and natural instinct. The action of the individual is exhausting for the whole and this is the eternal loop they are stuck in.



This is an analogy of my own brain, each horse representing a different area of the brain (speech, memory, perception,etc.), often a certain part races wildly into who knows where, while the others can barely keep up.

The only thing which keeps my wild horses under control is the activity of painting. It engages my brain so comprehensively, all the horses are under equal resistance, all running at the same speed and it brings harmony to my mind and balance to my soul.

Such is the endless myriad of possiblities during painting I believe it is hard for anybody not to have their cognitive abilities fully occupied.

Values, composition, colour, drawing, harmony, disharmony, rhythm...the list of decisions and options is truly endless and while this is happening you are trying maintain a perfect balance between intuition/gut feeling versus the logical and analytical brain.

It is like playing a game in which there will be no clear winner and there are no rules.


All is left is to weave a path through the infinite variables, with every mark affecting the other and none appearing quite as expected. Weave a path through all these chance occurrences to the other side, plunging towards some unknown outcome.

The last paragraph sounds a lot like the process of life itself. Painting mirrors life, it is in essence the same process.

As it is the same process you can live a thousand lives through a thousand paintings, making decisions, encountering the results, gaining wisdom.

Painting is like having your own personal time machine.

How incredible, this one of the greatest things I have received from engaging in painting, the ability to make serious decisions (sometimes involving intense emotion) without being compromised by serious consequences, this is a freedom rarely found.

This is why I believe while fully engaged in painting process you are living in a world of complete and utter, unadulterated, freedom.


James Holman
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James Holman

Beautifully written James. Painting allows us, I believe, to really explore our imagination & turn thoughts into a reality & so teach us more about ourselves.
We can therefore reach beyond that that we thought possible with our art & so help us with our daily life & struggles.
Beautiful painting btw.

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