I have been working on several projects this week and have recently completed this Stargazing Hare. It is, of course, no secret that animals are by far my favourite subject to paint, particularly creatures of the wild. I especially enjoy focusing on the face, to convey expression and awareness, or feature an animal in a setting that is wild and otherworldly.
Perhaps that is one reason that it is the lean and graceful hare that has long been my overall favourite subject to paint and draw, as the inspiration runs deeper than mere aesthetics. The hare, for me, embodies what it means to be truly wild – that good, clean wildness that hasn’t been corrupted or reshaped but is fully itself – and the mystery of nature in a world that thinks it knows everything. The hare carries the essence of something other, which is why the settings and colours of my hare paintings often have an ethereal quality.
I think when we set our attention upon nature – whether it’s stargazing, feeding the birds or a quiet walk in the woods or along the shore – then it becomes easier to leave all the other stuff aside. As with the making of art, or any creative activity, this also brings with it the opportunity to set aside the incessant chatter of the world – an “arrest of attention in the midst of distraction” to quote Saul Bellow.
So ‘Stargazing’ is symbolic of this need to stop, be still and gaze at the stars or any other part of the natural world that captures our attention. To celebrate the wonder and beauty of creation, experiencing a deeper awareness of what really matters as a result…
People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Prints of Stargazing are available from The Honeybee and the Hare Etsy Shop