Tengu and the acceptance of ambiguity

“Sometimes they are good, and sometimes bad. Why do you find that so difficult to understand?”

Like so many things that live in the mountains, Tengu tend to the mysterious and misty. You often see masks of them in the dusty vestibules of provincial inns, hanging next to a fifty year old square Seiko clock, where they are expected to deliver luck and prosperity. I am told Tengu also used to entrance Buddhist priests, tie them to the tops of trees, and beguile them into eating dung disguised as food. So there is a mixed CV.

I naively asked a Japanese friend whether Tengu were good or bad. It seems I asked the wrong question. As with all of us, sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad.

This is a Tengu that hangs near my easel, lit from behind by a fading spring sunset.

Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But at the moment, a tad cranky.

A good art instructor told me not to be impatient, and to do an underdrawing in diluted burnt sienna. It works: even though you cannot see the underpainting, it seems to add a depth to the finished image. How does it do this? How should I know?


11 thoughts on “Tengu and the acceptance of ambiguity

    1. Thanks Vivienne. I enjoyed your story about your father’s painting of Hutt River, and how it made its way back to you. My paintings also have lots of fingerprints on them – sometimes on the front.

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      1. I also got afraid.β£οΈπŸ’•πŸ’“β€οΈβ€οΈβ˜ΊοΈπŸ˜ŒπŸŒΉπŸŒ·πŸ˜ŠMy pleasure. Stay happy always ❀️❀️☺️🎊

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    1. Thanks Bonney. The credit for the change to my cover image is all down to you. I must confess it had not occurred to me, and I am grateful you pointed it out. And I am glad you like the replacement image. Best, Phil

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