I Took the One Less Travelled by II, ©John O’Grady

12″ x 6″ x 1.50″, oil on deep edged wooden panel, ready to hang.


It takes a spark to light a fire.

It takes a spark to start a painting too.

The main way to do this is to be present in the studio, in other words to “just show up and get to work” to use Chuck Close words.

The action of applying paint on a support will reveal the way forward.

Another way is to read poetry.

Some poems immediately bring forth a strong emotion that acts like fuel on a fire and feeds the piece I’m working on.

For instance, Edward Thomas’s poems that evoke his walks in southeast England and capture the landscape vividly or his friend, Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road not Taken’ that illustrates how hard it can be to make a choice.

The final stanza ‘I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference’ struck a deep chord.

Each painting is like an unknown road on which to journey.

By taking a step and moving along in a direction, sometimes the less travelled one, the journey will become something such as this quiet painting.

Here is Robert Frost’s poem:

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.