How Do Pictures Speak to You? 3

From The Artist’s Perspective

You know that old phrase about a picture being worth a thousand words? Well, the reason it’s true is that when we see an image our brains immediately start processing what we are seeing. In fact, the visual cortex processes images 60,000 times faster than text alone. Images trigger a dialogue between you and your inner psyche. And whether we are uplifted, disturbed, or neutral to the image determines whether we’ll spend any more time looking at it.

As a magic realism artist, my paintings and writings exist in an allegorical, symbolic world. They are grown-up fairy tales, and there is very much a story being told in each one. I am keenly aware when creating a work of art what each object, the pose of the figures, the type of animals represented, as well as the color choices are representing and how the viewer might respond to them.

I started writing down those stories and poems for my own records. But over time I found that viewers—even after analyzing my art from their own personal perspective—still wanted to know what I was thinking. So now I share those written narratives next to each painting at my exhibits.

The combination of my words and images brings people deeper into the art and its underlying meaning, and that allows a more profound emotional connection between us to unfold. It is truly a heart-to-heart conversation. And my greatest reward, even more than selling a painting, is people sharing about how profoundly moved they were when one of my creations “spoke to them.”

In Between Here and Not Here

If you were to die before me

I would find a piece of real estate

in between heaven and earth

where I’d build a little shelter

like the ones hikers use on long mountain trails.

There, we could spend nights together

and, if you were so inclined

I’d let you cradle my new-born sadness.

Out of the storm of my grief

you would tell me stories

about why I shouldn’t be in a hurry to follow

and feed me with knowing words

that it’s all OK.  All divine.

That you left with everything you came for, and more.

With coffee-flavored kisses

you would thank me for the sweetness I gave to your life

and I’d make you stay until the dawn was certain, until night

had poured out the last of its darkness.

When I awoke again

the smell of you on our sheets would confirm

that it wasn’t just a dream.

That you were waiting for us in the shelter I built

in between here

and not here.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World in a Dream of Her Own Making

This painting is about trust and optimism. It is said that people who live in a world of uplifting thoughts aren’t facing reality. But the fact is, their reality is different than others’. It tends to match their attitude. They trust that all is unfolding with purpose and theirs lives reflect that thinking. This is no simple philosophical pondering for me. Indeed, I believe this is the key to an expansive, fully lived life. Challenges still happen. But the difference in moving through them brings to mind the words of poet Patrick Overton:

“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”

A Roadside Shaman Attempts to Explain the Tao

He nods in silent approval upon receiving my payment of a coin and two round stones, which I’m asked to secure to a tree. Removing a crystalline pendulum from beneath his wing, the shaman, in a barely audible voice, says gruffly, “we go here towards subjects in which words become meaningless,” and begins to swing it rhythmically from side to side. After a time, he ceases movement and I watch as the pendulum slowly comes to balance. “Ah, the middle way” I say proudly, “if you don’t go to the extremes one always finds their center point” – as if I’ve solved an elusive physics equation. But instead of the approval I was expecting, the shaman drops the chain, rolls his deep black eyes and sweeps his beak sideways in the international symbol for ‘hit the road, pal.’

McKena’s Bittersweet Departure from the Island of Happiness

The Monkey King, with a sad knowing in his voice, spoke softly into McKena’s ear. “It’s time for you to leave us, child.” McKena, with her eyes already fixed on the boat coming to take her to the Land of the Grown Up, said absentmindedly, “but I’ll be back soon, OK?” “Perhaps,” replied the king. But he knew it would be many years, if ever, that she would return. There would be purpose for her in that new world. But when she forgets to play and use the gift of imagination, the going will likely be hard. “Just remember that we’ll always be here. When the day that the opinions of others becomes more important than your own, and the sadness of living a life where magic has ceased to exist too heavy, and laughter is scarce, this same boat will bring you back.” The others on the island, who had heard the Monkey King’s farewell millions of times before, still always cried at these words. Not for their loss, but for hers. Though they knew that in their dreaming they would still play together. And maybe, someday, perhaps while watching a child of her own become filled out like a sail with her own joy, she would be one of the few to return. Perhaps.

The Day Namotu’s Ship Came In

Inspired by a quote from T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

Namotu leaves his jungle paradise for what he hopes will be a grander life. Perhaps he will find it. And perhaps, he will simply come to discover that his source of happiness was no further than the depths of his own heart. It doesn’t always require an external journey to discover it. But following the callings of our hearts is the only truly worthy voyage in life.

The Carriage Ride, Circa 1890

I was recently viewing paintings of upper class life in the late twentieth century, and the correlation with the imagery and my cat’s entitlement attitude became clearly evident. Perhaps this is why those of us who have cats love them so. This is no knock on their lack of physical effort beyond the pure necessities. It is very enviable. In fact, if there was an optional carriage service to move her from nap spot to the meal service site, I’m sure she would take it.

Paul Bond is a San Clemente-based award-winning oil painter and poet. His work is collected throughout the U.S., as well as Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Corporate collectors include Hotel EMC2 in Chicago and NBC Studios. He exhibits locally at the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts and his studio is open by appointment. He recently published a coffee table art book on 20 years of his paintings and writings. To see more of Paul’s art, book and prints, visit