Day 4. Alone in Good Company

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“Peace Comes Dropping Slow” 4×4, oil on canvas [creativ_button url=”×4-oil-canvas/” icon=”” label=”Buy Now” colour=”blue” colour_custom=”” size=”medium” edge=”straight” target=”_self”]

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by W.B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


This tiny 4 inch by 4 inch painting has a story that goes back a couple years. It starts in January of 2016. I was doing one of my first 30 in 30 painting challenges (now I’m advanced, I do 31 days). Most the paintings that month were abstracts based on poems, and I’d asked people on Facebook to share with me their favorites. My friend Jenn said something like, “I’d love to see you paint a “bee-loud glade” in reference to the Yeats poem above. So I tried.

It became one of my favorite paintings. I even made a companion piece to it on day 2 of that 2016 challenge. The two paintings were among my favorites and hung around for a while until last April when a friendly man finally bought them both at Art in the Pass.

This time around I’ve not thought much about poetry. I’ve not thought much about a unifying theme for my 31 paintings at all. “Just paint them, whatever they may be” has been my rallying cry.

This challenge, already, has been profoundly different than all the others because of the community of creatives that has taken it on with me. Over twenty other people have committed to 31 day challenges that range from poetry to classical guitar to yoga and, of course, art.

My friend Jenn, the same Jen who two years ago suggested a “bee-loud glade” has taken on daily walks for her 31 days as an attempt to better appreciate some of the natural world and carve out a little “me time” . She wrote, “My challenge this month is to walk every day. I had way too many days in December when I left the house before the sun was up and got home after it was down. I spent more time looking at a screen than God’s creation.”  She’s been posting a photo from her walks. This was her post yesterday.

Well, anyone who dares post a picture that involves a bird, knows I’m probably going to steal it and try to make a painting based on it. Which I did. Today.

And only after I was well into the painting did I really look at her caption which sounded so familiar. When I realized it was from Yeat’s “Innisfree” it felt– and I’m struggling here for the right word– appropriate? Fortuitous? Full-circley? Help me out here.

If you look closely, you’ll see I’ve scribbled the quote into the painting. Peace comes dropping slow.

This poem reminds me of the contradiction between an artist’s need for the solitude required if she is to do her work and her need for community. What is work if it is not seen or heard or read by others? Does it not exist for that purpose? What good is it to live alone in the bee-loud glade if we do not then turn such inspiration into a deeper connection to others?

Jenn’s photo had a community of ducks, but I painted the swan alone. For now.

We are only 4 days in and my inspiration is, undoubtedly the community of do-ers around me. I am less lonely painting than I’ve ever been before. I have a strong suspicion their work will influence mine for the rest of this month.

I’m also working on being a better planner. So I did two things for this painting that I rarely do: I thought out some of the composition in sketches, and I premixed (most of) the colors I would use. I’m not totally reformed though because instead of using some watercolor on the sketches as I’d thought I would, I just wrote down the colors I wanted to use.

And after all that work I figured I should get more out of it than a 4 inch by 4 inch painting. So right after I finished,  I started a 6×6 of the same subject. Here’s a sneak peak at the beginning of tomorrow’s painting– appropriately a companion to today’s.  Eager to see everyone else’s day 4. Post in the comments if you’d like!

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 4, 2018

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7 Responses

  1. And yet another stylistic approach with this painting! I like it very much. And the poem is great too…just right.

  2. I love seeing the progression and your thought orocess! I also think the words you ” dropped slowly” into the paintings background are wonderful. Love!

  3. I love this, Denise, and also love what you wrote. I had thought to try some version of that photograph as well. We will see!

  4. !!! All of this spoke to me, Denise: the painting, your plans for your companion piece, your glossing of Jenn’s post, and your ruminations on Yeats. Have you listened to his recording of The Lake Isle of Innisfree? LSU had (and probably still has) a copy at Middleton. I always loved that poem, but hearing him speak it utterly changes its tenor. It is ALL about the sound of the words moving from high to low pitches. And that’s what much, though not all, of your work does with color: they move from light to dark. Especially this one.

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