A Job That’s Never Started

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

– J. R. R. Tolkein

I had always assumed that the line “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” came from a contrarian mind of the recent past.  I was almost certain the phrase would’ve been penned by a literary giant such as Oscar Wilde.  I was surprised to find that the line came rather from a different kind of literary giant, J. R. R. Tolkein, whose faith rooted him in such a way as to be able to speak about wandering.  I suppose anyone who spends the better part of two decades working on a make-believe story must be quite comfortable exploring something  others might see a waste of time–a wandering.

I feel the need to wander, when it comes to painting and making artwork.  I’m more interested finding something new, something I’ve never seen before, than perfecting an outcome I can already foresee.  One’s strengths become one’s weaknesses.  If you fear or reject the process of setting out to finish something “known”, you may just end up back where you started, having never committed to either exploration or completion.  To quote Tolkein two more times:

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.”

“It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”

Person of the Week | Emil Nolde, German/Danish Expressionist Painter, Woodcut Artist

Born Emil Hansen from Nolde, Germany, in 1867.  At age 35, the artist began referring to himself as Emil Nolde. Having known little about Nolde, I have always admired his German Expressionist sensibilities with form and color whenever I’ve come across his work, whether in museums or art history books. However, having read a bit more about him this month, it is with great concern that I post work by him or any artist whose personal life evidences deeply objectionable viewpoints, even if such viewpoints are little-known or expressed for a short period of time. Please note that the posting of these images in no way condones his political activities or statements documented by historians. For more on his relationship to German Nationalism, see MoMA’s article on the subject. For more on his work, visit his page on Artsy.net. Please excuse lack of titles for certain unknown works.

Emil Nolde1


“Big Windmill” , 1907-1915, Lithograph in three colors on heavy cream wove paper, 19 1/2 × 13 1/4 in




In 1942 Nolde wrote:

There is silver blue, sky blue and thunder blue. Every colour holds within it a soul, which makes me happy or repels me, and which acts as a stimulus. To a person who has no art in him, colours are colours, tones tones…and that is all. All their consequences for the human spirit, which range between heaven to hell, just go unnoticed.[3]