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Beauty in the Ordinary

A Conundrum!

The last post received more responses than anything written to date. Apparently, those words resonated with many people. It was the most personal writing I’ve ever made public, something I’ve zealously avoided my entire life. Funny how what we may think is so personal is so universal. Anyway, as that post demonstrated the joy of commonality, it’s time to dive off a few more cliffs and reveal a few more personal ponderings!

Along with reflecting on my mom’s passing, I have become very involved in US politics. Foremost of concern and immensely affected by political decisions, is global warming. It’s a fact: the climate is changing and human activity is the root cause. I asked myself: Why create more paintings if we’re headed toward environmental disaster leading to immense human suffering? Spending full time on painting seems to be trivial in view of planetary destruction—a modern version of the well-known expression regarding Nero, fiddles and Rome burning, only in this case, it’s the entire world.

Political action, as I’ve discovered, is very often a contentious activity, causing almost everyone involved to experience moments of anger and outrage, which are hardly in alignment with working on equanimity and joyful experiences. As these latter experiences are what I hope would arise for viewers of my paintings, a personal dilemma unfolded: how to reconcile a desire for environmental and political action which can incite angst and a desire to create beauty through artwork which can evoke joy? A conundrum, for sure! 

Or is it?

So I wonder, have you had similar moments lately?

Next post: some resolution! Quick preview: currently working on a few new pieces!

10 responses to “A Conundrum!”

  1. Tim Avatar


    Sorry about the passing of your Mum again!

    Great video of you painting with the palette knife!

    Hope you are well!

    1. seamusberkeley Avatar

      Appreciate your thoughts, Tim. Glad you’re enjoying the short video—working on more of those and more paintings, too! Hope you are well in the Bay Area!

  2. Morten Avatar

    I could not disagree more. You are a painter. Paint! Picasso, Goya and others painted the face of oppression. Half of all impressionist painters in the old Soviet Union painted against tyranny. I hold this statement to be true, “Painters and poets are legislators!” Do your part. You do not “fiddle” with paint. What you do has value. Put our dreams of the future into your paintings. Let people see what is worth saving and protecting. You should be painting more now than ever.
    Post Script: How do I really feel? 😉

    1. seamusberkeley Avatar

      Your comments pose another question, Morten: How to best create artwork that is useful to bring a vision ‘our dreams of the future’? Working on just this! Thanks for insights.

  3. Carla Avatar

    Another insightful email, thank you Seamus!
    Politics aside, I believe deep down we know individually that we are responsible for every thought, decision, and act we will in our life.
    The true remedy for our anger and enslavement to self-destruction(including our planet) is bringing love, health, peace, and truth to the forefront, to practice it everyday in our intentions and how we treat others!
    We completely discredit the power of the people. If we consciously evaporated the discriminatory labels we use on each other, rejected to use damaging resources sold to us by corrupt corporations, and gave our deeper being the time of day to connect to hidden senses, we could turn this world around! One person can empower others to put down their weapon (including word) and extend the heart in compassion. We can turn off the hate media, and send a caring message to a loved-one or stranger.

    I know you put conscious effort in being aware of how oil paints may be harmful, how to minimize waste, and how to protect yourself from chemical danger. Like any medium, we can achieve greater understanding of life and our being by mastering it.
    So much goes into our resources (water, transportation, building materials, etc.) that it seems impossible to tackle every area needing improvement.
    Perhaps the best way to do your highest service, is within a comfortable radius around you while traveling through the universe.
    The internet helps to connect us to other parts of the world, however I learned it is more important to heal closer to home first, as we do not know all the complications involved. I hear people are sending products to 3rd-world countries, only to later realize that it is causing a different problem area from it, and sometimes worse! Mainstream media is such a horrible source of information. It really is “false news.”
    Traveling to an area and speaking face to face with someone will give us a much better idea of what the needs are of the area. We assume too much, and in trying to help others we often cause more tension and separation.

    Please forgive me if I have over-stepped any boundaries, I honestly just want to help in sharing my experience and not what I heard from someone else that repeated it from hearsay somewhere else…
    Which reminds me of how important forgiveness is!

    1. seamusberkeley Avatar

      Apparently you’ve be doing a lot of thinking too, Carla! Thanks for writing. Perhaps the most important actions we can take in the world are ‘bringing love, health, peace, and truth… practice it everyday in our intentions and how we treat others!’ To really do this would require ‘forgiveness’ as we all miss the mark sooner or later. Be well!

  4. Daniel Holeman Avatar

    Thanks for your note. I am finding many people feeling a pull to deepen and stabilize in a deeper purpose and meaning to their lives. Myself included. So I encourage you to listen to your inner guidance and include that which calls you. I do not think you need to stop art. You can do and be both.

    1. seamusberkeley Avatar

      Appreciate you putting your thoughts into words, Daniel. And particularly appreciate your suggestion to ‘do both’!

  5. marcel Avatar

    You can get involved, educated and try to make a difference, that is important. Your passion is painting and that is as equally important as well. Otherwise there would not be any diversity in this world. In a sense, your expression through art can heal, inspire and motivate other humans in this world. Maybe it won’t stop global warming but maybe one painting might change an individuals perspective of life and this amazing planet. Just my 2 cents.

    1. seamusberkeley Avatar

      Your comments are worth more than two cents, Marcel. Perhaps the it is exactly what you suggest, expressing through art, that can in some way promote a little balance to an out-of-balance culture. Thank you so much for writing!

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