Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Black, Colin - VM - Colin Black 2

Colin Black: Future Hope

How Hope Works

by Colin Black

My most recent work has been inspired by mist, especially that which tends to linger over water. This acted as a metaphor for all that is unknown relating to the pandemic over the last two years. I wanted to capture that lack of clarity as we looked out and beyond. There is uncertainty but always hope as we look forward.

I recently put this painting Future Hope on my Facebook page with the comment: 'This painting took ages and went through numerous transitional stages and changed colour several times. It wasn't 'working' for weeks and then it finally came together. I think it was telling me something about how hope works.'

This piece is from a series inspired by walking along the River Ouse in York, England. I call them my ‘mist pictures’ because it was a particularly misty day and vision was limited. I tend to work from drawings done on site but the real work comes back in the studio away from the motif. That frees me up from copying and allows the picture to stand alone and be worthy in its own right. Everything is open to change and so it should be. We shouldn’t try to squeeze our vision into some preconceived idea. I work with mixed-media beginning with collage. That gives me an initial idea about composition and colour and a general direction to head. But that is only the start of the journey and there is so much to learn along the way. Hope has to be tested and when it is, it’s strengthened. Layers of oil paint later, scraping away as much as adding, it is starting to do what I had hoped for. 

This conversation one has with one’s work is an interesting one. I recall reading a story about the artist Paul Klee that he went round all his progressing paintings and asked them ‘What can I do for you today?’ as a doctor would when visiting his patients on a hospital ward. He was basically asking how he could make the picture better, what it needed to become whole. How does a work 'feel' or become complete? Is it an intuitive thing that one recognises in a moment, but also based on a knowledge or understanding that has been acquired over time? Certainly, to become a fully qualified doctor takes years of training. 

Hope is something that is out there beyond our grasp, but we need it to move forward in knowledge of certainty, even though that can waver. I know that some of the hardest ‘fought for’ paintings are those that I have struggled with, but have known that the grappling was all worthwhile and part of the creative process. Each time I go through that process, does it become easier? Not really, because it's a new set of circumstances, but the knowledge that there will hopefully be a positive outcome is very encouraging.


Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22


Colin Black: Future Hope, 2021, mixed media on board, 16” x 16”.

Colin Black lives in York, England and runs his own art school, with his wife Sallie, called Seek Art School.

ArtWay Visual Meditation May 29, 2022