Four Chairs, Part 4


Chair #4; 2016; 15.5″ x 19.75″; mixed media: oil-based ink, watercolor, acrylic.

I believe what we can see is only a dim reflection of true reality.

I think of the work of an artist as one who reaches into the invisible; tugs out little threads of color, pattern, texture; and weaves them into a language visible to others.

Artist Paul Klee put it this way,

Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible.”

John O’Donohue writes about a similar idea on page 126 of his book Eternal Echoes,

The visible is only one little edge of things. The visible is only the shoreline of the magnificent ocean of the invisible.”

A chair is visible. We see and walk by chairs all day, hardly noticing them unless they are specially designed or decorated somehow. But what if an ordinary chair is only the edge of the invisible? What if the slim border of paint or polyurethane slipped just a little, and we could peek beyond?

What if we could suddenly and instantaneously see, for example, the lives of all the people who touch it: past, present, and future?

In his nonpublished poem, “Thin Places,” Sharlande Sledge writes:

Thin places,” the Celts call this space,
Both seen and unseen,
Where the door between the world
And the next is cracked open for a moment
And the light is not all on the other side.
God shaped space. Holy.

What if these “thin places” are really all around us, just waiting for us to slow down long enough to notice them? What if they are as near as the chair you sit upon?

When I face the swirling nothingness of a piece of white paper, paintbrush poised to begin creating, my prayerful hope is to lure you into noticing, to whisper to your soul in a language you can see – there is so much more beyond what you can see.


My “Chair series” began when a vibrant artistic friend asked me simply to create a chair painting for her. But as I thought about her own creative process, I saw in my mind’s eye two chairs:  a mirror image of a chair – what we see, and the “real chair” – what the artist pulls from the invisible into the visible realm. So, this series was created with special thanks to Danielle, master furniture re-finisher of Sincerely Danielle Shunk. who takes dim reflections, grinds off dated finishes and peeling paint, and skilfully tugs treasures into reality. 

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