'Saturnine', 18" x 24" oil on canvas by artist and creative Jamie Berry

‘Oh, the heart is designed / To run out of time / There’s no pause or rewind / The transmission is live’ – ‘Best Days on Earth’, Trashcan Sinatras

Time can feel like it is standing still when we are suffering. The hourglass is turned sideways, the grains of sand frozen in place.

Time is a fascinating and fluid idea, open to interpretation and simultaneously absolute. In Greek mythology, it was represented by one of the Titans, Kronos, also known to the Romans as Saturn. To the people of ancient civilization, life on earth was a mirror of life in the heavens. They didn’t separate themselves from or elevate themselves above nature in the way that we so often do today.

In many stories, Kronos, or Saturn, was also referred to as Father Time, or The Great Malefic. It was believed that whatever Saturn brought with him, it was not going to be easy or good, and neither was Saturn himself: he was a father who ate his own children upon it being prophesied that one of them would one day depose him (this was famously and gruesomely portrayed by Spanish artist Francisco Goya on one of the walls of his Madrid home). His tidings were something to be dreaded and always portended the worst. Saturn’s place in the heavens is in the constellation of Taurus, the bull, which is itself aggressive and immovable.

This painting represents the times in life when our experience is touched by those tidings, the times that we feel tested, stuck, or hopeless. Though the character has the wings to ascend to great heights, she must stop and sit with Saturn and apply herself exactly where she is before forward motion will be possible again, in spite of the frustration she feels. At the same time, both of them are a part of the interconnected cosmos around them, they are moving forward in the larger stream of time even if they are temporarily sharing the same orbit. Really, they are companions on a journey that is taking them both where they are, by nature, meant to go.

I think it’s the same for all of us, we never really cease in our evolution, even when it feels like we are mired in quicksand and there is no escape, and no one there to throw us a lifeline. Though at times we feel we are hanging suspended inside a bubble of time and hardship, all the while we are being carried on the stream that moves all of creation forward.

'Saturnine', 18" x 24" oil on canvas by artist and creative Jamie Berry

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16 Responses

  1. Jamie, I love your painting as a portrait of The Writer. Your eloquent exposition sounds like you’re describing a writing process. You illuminate the importance of time in writing–seems to me.

  2. Beautiful and timely! I love the concept of active inertia! Like a pregnant pause so full of potential and powerful yet poised in “presentness”! Gorgeous!

  3. That’s an interesting observation, Jon. Though I got the idea for the painting several years ago, there has been a lot of that specifically in reference to writing around the house of late. So interesting that you picked that up. I suppose all acts or processes of creation share commonalities, I’m very happy that that came through. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. :)

  4. I really like Jon’s comment (miss all his comments related to writing and being a writing ninja!). I love the stillness and momentum captured in this. Wonderful work!

  5. Always grateful to see the beautiful enigmas your imagination brings forth visually. Good to read as well what your verbal imagination kindly has to say about them by way of further illumination. Any image with wings leads me to contemplate angels, whose consciousness is so opaque, so hidden–even though I see you may be endowing some other being entirely with those lovely wings.

  6. I don’t think that’s a stretch at all, Lucy: we are all angels, or could be at the least, not merely with wings attached. That was another part of the idea – our divinity, however one chooses to see that, is never in jeopardy, it’s baked in. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment, I hope that you and Richard are doing well. :)

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