Sea of Compassion

aka Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Your Brush on the Page

*thank you to last fortnight’s 3 poets

Last week, politicians stirred up a nasty brew of disruption and destabilisation in the nation’s central cauldron.

I was blessed with downtime. I kept my ear to the radio, my feet on the ground and my brush on the page. Still besotted with my near-new ‘Brilliants’, I self-soothed in the pleasantly safe, contained space of a small Art Journal. I followed the brush, the play and flow of watercolour. I did not plan my pictures. I stayed open.

I had a cuppa and chanced upon a Hugh Mackay article about compassion as a form of love. Compassion. Possibly a missing ingredient from the approaches and actions of the country’s main destabilisers. He says,

‘It is normal for humans to show compassion towards each other, because, in the end, we are each other.’

compassion sea art creativity

Sea of Compassion
with Heartfish
Sally Swain © art

Hugh Mackay is not the first or the only person to express such a sentiment. Poets, philosophers, religious guides have said the same thing countlessly. However, his words spoke to my bruised brush, my ailing spirit. His words spoke to my dismay that those who dehumanise and brutalise innocent asylum seekers are those who ruthlessly engineer to rule a country.

‘Although we like to think of ourselves as independent, we are more like islands in the sea – separate on the surface but connected to each other deep down.’

We are each other
Sally Swain © art
inspired by Hugh Mackay’s words

My bruised yet bountiful brush, my ailing yet

optimistic spirit continued to play on the pages. Swish swish, blot, blend.

‘We are all part of the greater whole.’

Sea. Water. Australia. Drought. Sea. Water. Australia. Refugees in leaky boats. Fragile in the vast ocean. Desirous of home, safety, belonging. Threatening to government leaders who enforce ‘Border Protection’ and celebrate ‘Stopping the Boats’.


And here I am, artist, art therapist, creativity coach, always wanting to keep my blog posts inspiringly light. Always wanting to provide a refuge from bitter politics – a protected place allowing you to be nourished.

But sometimes I can’t help myself. Painting and writing helps me hugely. In sharing the painting and writing, I hope to be of assistance to any of you who might be bruised of brush, ailing of spirit. I hope to offer and model to you ways of staying present in a world that can be harsh, so harsh. {Um… See Art Heart Resources for Troubled Times}

The painting process?The brush begins to form a Sea of Compassion.

compassion art

Sea of Compassion
Sally Swain © art

Hearts grow, bob and float on top. I place pink in the white spaces of the ocean.

Revelation One. I realise that the word Compassion contains the word Compass. Insight is one of the delights of pursuing the Art of Emergence, of allowing myself to follow my heart without knowing what will arise. There is always learning. That morning, before the political hoo-haa, I wondered if I had lost my Creative Compass. And there it was, living in Compassion.

compass art

Compassion Contains Compass
Sally Swain © art

Revelation Two. I look at the Sea. Oh my goddess! My meaning-making eyes go, ‘The pink blobs in the gaps – they are not little nothings. They are fish.’ And lo.

The Sea of Compassion bubbles with fish the same colour as the hearts.

Big Fish and Little Fish communicate with each other – individual yet connected.

Each one is different, yet they are all made of heart-stuff, all swimming in the same sea.

compassion sea art creativity

Sea of Compassion
with Heartfish
Sally Swain © art

Tell me, please,

do you find yourself having insights

through the painting or writing process?

*thank you, massive thank you, to the three poets who created verbal beauty inspired by my little Brilliants image. Christine, Sally M and Gallivanta – you are wonderful!

with love, art and soul from Sally


14 thoughts on “Sea of Compassion

  1. Absolutely, I do. And I love that you found “compass” in compassion. The political shenanigans in Australia recently were enough to make a paint brush snap and send crazy coloured splotches all over the room. Sadly, there seems very little space for art and soul in the current Govt. ;(

    Liked by 1 person

      • I suppose the meaning I take from it is that there are so many things that affect how or why we experience compassion – intuition, life experience, values, etc – yet somehow I like the idea that underneath it all there’s a “true north’ that’s always on the register – an empathy and understanding and caring for all living creatures and the environment – even if it’s buried under class structure, prejudice and such… not sure if that makes sense:-).


  2. Thanx for this heartening post Sally. I was actually moved to write a letter to a politician after that disturbing week: first time ever I have done so!! I expressed my dismay at the ruthless bullying that was played out in full public view. It may not mean much in the long run, but I felt i needed to directly communicate my desire to see some compassion in the public space. After all, politicians are, in a way, our employees so we have a right to ask for more mindful behaviour….and Sally, even if there were no words to accompany them, your pictures emanate…vibrate…with the things you speak of…with their colours, their delicacy, their flow…
    maybe it’s time to take your playshops to Canberra Sally!!! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love your response, Linda. You are a wondrous inspiration of a human being! Yes to compassion in the public space. Yes please yes please.
      And thank you so much for your kind feedback on my pictures. much love and hugs from Sally


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