joy luminous

oil on canvas

giclee image size:
approximately 11x16

In a private collection

I’ve driven past this barn in Pittsford, Vermont for more than 20 years,
and wondered how I could capture the spirit of abandoned construction,
as its sheds reach out in dilapidated sweeping arms, built of a madcap
collection of found materials.

Recently, I’ve also been pondering the Buddhist concept of the Four
Immeasureable Minds, teachings on the four kinds of love. After painting
‘lovingkindness’ and ‘equanimity’, I wondered how to express the third
immeasureable mind, ‘joy’. In an early April drizzle, as the whisper of spring
was in the pale rose of the treetops, and the grass was coming out of dormancy,
I sat in my car and sketched this barn, and felt I had found my own personal
expression of joy.

I like Thich Nhat Hanh’s description of the difference between joy and happiness:
Someone traveling in the desert sees a stream of cool water and experiences joy.
On drinking the water, he experiences happiness.  

Joy has its roots in the mind, while happiness is related to both body and mind.
Another distinctive feature of joy is the capacity to feel happiness for others even
though you yourself are suffering. This barn painting brings me a sense of closure
about the inevitable loss of barns in Vermont. Barns have been enclosures for
nurturing life. They will endure their gradual decline, and I believe their aging beauty
is subtly and poignantly joyful.

Next: on to the fourth Immeasureable Mind: compassion.