about letting go

about letting go

and about flow.

About letting go. Most of us are familiar with this situation: We have times when we live too opulently. We spend our days in our comfort zone, tending to overeat, exercising too little, and the like. If the pants become too tight, we know there is a need for action. We often fast or simply try to cut back and then realize how difficult it is to change our beloved habits or even leave something out.
I feel the same way about painting. Lately, my pictures have become too opulent again and now fasting or omitting is necessary. It’s not just about leaving things out, but also about trying to approach something new. In the best case, this will take us to a higher level in our thinking and doing.

The Flow

Many years ago, when I used to attended management seminars, I remember one speaker in particular, Vera Birkenbihl. Among other things, with her explanation of the word “flow”. I’m not sure if the choice of words is ideal since we generally mean something different by that, but the underlying thought is worth considering. According to Birkenbihl, we are generally in the lower part of the graph, in the comfort zone. That’s the area we’re familiar with, where we don’t need or want new challenges. An artist who continually copies himself would be a good example.

flow after Vera Birkenbihl

But if we then set ourselves a higher goal, we have to leave our comfort zone and, according to Birkenbiehl, come into the area of flow. It is to some extent similar to a brainstorming phase. To get there it is often necessary to break the rules, to radically question the familiar, and to take a more critical look at yourself.

the take off
about letting go: leaving the comfort zone
details the take off

Each of these works I renetly did deals with different aspects. Going into this further would go beyond the scope. I have already mentioned Oskar Kokoschka, who said: “The most difficult thing in painting is the omission”.

schizo flash

Simply omitting it is not enough. Omission also includes the omission of superficially beautiful, pleasing, or sensationalism. “Telling a story” with what is left becomes more difficult as the omission progresses.


Another challenge is to present as much as possible with as few resources as possible. The aim of the exercise is also to create space and atmosphere even without perspective.

morning fog at the pond
morning fog at the pond

And one of the most exciting questions for me is: How much and what can I leave out and still be present in the picture?



46 responses to “about letting go”

  1. Mike U. avatar

    Very nourishing food for thought, Friedrich. I think all of us have experienced this, and it can have an acute effect on creativity. Reaching the flow state you describe takes effort, and leaving our comfort zone can be terrifying. I find myself bogged down in the morass of my comfort zone far too often and yearn for a clean break, some sort of epiphany that will take me to that higher level of creativity. Surrendering to creative fatigue is the easy way out, but it renders us paralyzed and we’ll never reach the next level. Your paintings here are sublime (as always) and fascinating, not to mention incredibly inspiring. Thanks for always shining your unique insight onto my world, my friend. 🙂

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you for your kind words, as always, my friend! Yes, leaving the comfort zone can be difficult because it also offers us support. Immersing yourself in new worlds initially requires effort and strength, but from my experience we get important new impulses in this way. For children it is the most natural thing in the world 🙂 Unfortunately I am not a child anymore 🙂

  2. Sue Grey-Smith avatar

    Thank you for an inspiring post. It’s got me thinking!

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thanks very much! I’m glad I was able to provide food for thought. However, when it’s that hot, thinking might not be a good activity 🙂

  3. swabby429 avatar

    Embellishment is so easy and tempting.

  4. J M Negi avatar

    Fabulous. Thanks.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much 😊 Have a great weekend 🙏

  5. Ashley avatar

    By letting go, leaving things out your paintings here are even more wonderfully “abstract” to my eye. Actually, I find them visually provoking, especially the last two! The “coloured” background gives them an amazing boost! (Klee? Kandinsky? ???) A really wonderful post to refresh the eyes.🙋‍♂️

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much Ashley, I am delighted that you find the work refreshing. Yes, they should definitely be provocative, like many of my works. But they shouldn’t disturb, in the best case scenario they should draw the viewer out of his reserve and help to broaden perspectives. Have a nice weekend!

  6. Mike and Kellye Hefner avatar

    Outstanding, Fred! Sometimes we need to realize that less is more. Love the paintings.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you so much! Yes, less can be a lot more, because with it we narrow the circle of what occupies us and pay more attention to what remains. I’m really happy that you like my work. Warm greetings from Vienna!

  7. Cindy Georgakas avatar

    I just love this Fredrick and the fact that you still play with your art the way you do when you have perfected a style that is so amazing! Kudos to you. Life is about leaving the comfort zone for sure and you are a great example. Same with writing poetry perhaps.. less is more. I love your work always and message so needed for everyone💞 happy Saturday Flow Day❣️

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you, Cindy, for your kind and encouraging words! Yes, for a professional like you, it certainly comes naturally to reflect on and do the omission. It has something to do with mind hygiene I think. Or simply, like clearing out our storage room 🙂 There will soon be enough clutter anyway 🙂 ❣️ Happy Flow Day too!

      1. Cindy Georgakas avatar

        You’re so welcome Fredrick. Always a pleasure… Yes.. cleaning minds and house seems to be an ongoing job around here. Lots’ of spiderwebs to boot…. and we flow on.. thanks my friend❣️

      2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

        oh, those spider webs 🙂 Yes, we flow on my friend❣️

      3. Cindy Georgakas avatar

        🤣🥹😘 Cheers to that!😘🥂🥂

  8. Don White avatar

    I always look forward to reading your posts. I’ve learned only to read them when I’m not in a rush because I enjoy just sitting and thinking afterward. Thank you, Fredrick.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      How kind of you to say so, Don! Sometimes I’m in doubt whether I should really post my thoughts and of course I’m aware that not everyone can relate to them. If I then get such nice feedback from you, I’m reassured. Enjoy a relaxing weekend!

  9. mich avatar

    I see where you’re going with this — and I love the painting at the very top of the article.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much, Mich! We’ll see where the trip takes me. Something is bound to come of it 🙂 At least I hope so.

  10. Rosaliene Bacchus avatar

    I love the opulence in your work 🙂 I accept that minimalism has its place in art as in real life. It’s much like the difference between the narrative poem and Haiku. It will be fascinating to follow your exploration into a visual expression of essential elements.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thanks very much! I once thought of presenting some of my minimalist work as “painted haiku”. However, haiku is a term that has become somewhat inflationary. Yes, let’s see. If nothing comes of it this time, maybe next time 🙂

  11. The Sicilian Storyteller avatar

    This is something that is very true with writing as well. Being descriptive is, for me, one of the hallmarks of good writing; those are the books I have trouble putting down. When I’m writing I often get lost in my words as I try to be as descriptive as possible without getting convoluted; it’s a fine line. I want my readers to feel like they are right there in the story.
    As a lesson (and also for fun) I am now doing more photo and word prompts with word requirements anywhere from 20 to 80 words. As you can imagine, especially as you discuss the opulence of your art, this is no easy task.
    It will be interesting to see how we both fare in our endeavors to “slim down”. Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Fred.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you Nancy! Yes, for you, as an experienced and convincing writer, the question certainly arises from time to time. Yes, it’s a fine line, but I think that’s its appeal. I’ve been walking the fine line between figurative and abstract for a long time. Your challenge to yourself sounds very exciting and is certainly not easy to master. But don’t we need high goals in order to develop further?

      1. The Sicilian Storyteller avatar

        Absolutely! And my writing, I believe, has improved as a result.

      2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

        Your writing has always been good. But I know what you mean. Good luck and all the best 🙏🌹☀️

  12. JMN avatar

    Excellent remarks well illustrated.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you so much! Let’s see what transpires 🙂

  13. Scarlett avatar

    I loved them all but especially “morning fog at the pond”. Your post was very insightful. I tend to do very busy art. Details and details but it won’t stay that way forever, as I have phases. The movement that your pieces seem to have make them more lively, even if you just use more earthy tones. Well done.

  14. goodbyedepression avatar

    Fascinating talent. It feels like Japanese art almost. I like Japanese art, architecture, and martial arts.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging words ❣️🙏 Yes, Asian influence is part of my work. All the best ☺️🌹😁

  15. Ana Hernandez avatar

    Coming at this from the perspective of words: I often teach critical readers to see what is there and what is not. Every creative act implies selection- the most important, the trivial that shades a character or a story. what is not there is a presence in itself. Yet… as a writer I find that to be a struggle. Sometimes I am caught in the trap of what I consider a beautifully worded phrase, a firmula in writing that has “worked” for me. Then looking back, I can- at times- spot those as moments of artistic or emotional dishonesty. I shudder to think of the moments I do not see. I found your comments on opulency very helpful. They are very similar to the feeling I have when I realize I am becoming mannered.
    A Library Rat

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      First of all, thank you very much for your lines!

      I’ve noticed before that our perspectives are very similar in many respects. You think and write at a very high level! But you know that yourself.

      Yes, the difference between writing and painting isn’t that big and we have to contend with similar challenges. “The trap of what I consider a beautifully worded phrase” with you are pleasing colors or shades of tones with me. “I am becoming mannered” seems to be the big challenge. It’s a tightrope walk. Something has to captivate the reader or viewer, otherwise she/he escapes us 🙂

  16. Edith avatar

    Lieber Friedrich, dieses Loslassen habe ich noch gar nicht sooo gesehen. Für mich stand das Loslassen eher immer für Menschen oder Tiere, die ich loslassen musste, warum auch immer. Aber nun werde auch ich es ausweiten, nicht gerade auf meine Komfortzone, denn in der lebe ich ja, Ich werde darin aber doch auch so Manches nun loslassen und es aufs Schreiben ausdehnen. Mir wurde mal gesagt, ich bediene mich viel zu vieler Worte.
    Alles in allem: Wieder was gelernt bei dir. Und deine Gemälde dazu – wie immer bewundernswert. Ich bin froh, dass du trotz des Loslassens darin noch deinen Stil behältst.
    Herzlichst liebe Grüße in eine hoffentlich gute, neue Woche
    von mir. herz

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Wieder einmal vielen herzliche Dank! Ja, das Loslassen hat viele Facetten. Für mich am Schwierigsten ist das Loslassen von altem Gram. In unserer Komfortzone loslassen ist wie das Entrümpeln des Abstellkammerls. Wir hängen oft an Gewohnheiten, die oft schon ihre Bedeutung verloren haben…..Was zu viele Worte betrifft: es geht nicht um das wieviel, denke ich, es geht um die Qualität, auch bei Worten. Kuehle Hundstage!! LG f

  17. Edith avatar

    Lach, dann hat man mir es anders durch die Blume sagen wollen.. egal wir sind wie wir sind – du sowieso!
    Hier glüht alles, heut früh waren es kurz mal drei Regentropfen, die Windböen mit sich genommen haben. Also ja, Hundstage, die aus dem August vorverlegt wurden. Komm wir gehen gedanklich Eis schlecken, lächel…

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Eis schlecken!!! So lass ich mir den Klimawandel gefallen 🙂

  18. Yeah, Another Blogger avatar

    Hello. We learn a lot from experimentation. It can reveal new-to-us vistas.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much 😊

  19. Gauri Walecha avatar

    As someone who has always struggled a little with letting go, I love the idea of aiming higher to completely forget the need of being obsessed with unnecessary negativity.

    And, as an artist, I completely relate with the struggles of not knowing what is worth omitting, and what’s worth keeping. It is, in itself, an art to know which errors happen to be art all by themselves.

  20. tiramit avatar

    Here’s a link to a German artist who has this similar use of fleeting brush strokes that seem to give life to movements I so admire in your work:

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much! Yes, it goes in a similar direction in terms of appearance, but my work is based on old traditional painting theories from China and Japan.

  21. agndoden avatar

    Welcome on my blog if you are interested in light subject: chapitrelumière.xordpress.com

  22. BBYCGN Writing avatar

    Your paintings are soothing to me.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much 🙏 I am glad you like them. All the best ㊗️☀️

  23. […] about letting go […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: