Saturday Morning in the Painter’s Studio, with Coffee

Saint Ignatius Academy Saturday Morning, in Progress

My graduate work (long ago) was in theology, and now that I’m up to my elbows in this study of an ecclesiastical structure, parallels keep running through my head between the life I once lived clustered in a scholar’s den and the one I live now in my painting studio.  The hours I’ve kept this week during Spring Break have been just as erratic as the ones I lived while working on a Ph.D.  I retired to bed at 3 a.m., and then rose a little after 8:00 this morning to return to the garage.

I pulled a volume from my shelf that has been a comfort since the early 1980’s: Revolutionary Theology in the Making: Barth-Thurneysen Correspondence 1914-1925.  When the theologian Karl Barth was a young pastor in the Swiss mining town of Safenwil, his sole sustenance in spiritual companionship came from another young pastor, Edouard Thurneysen, who lived on the other side of the mountain.  They kept up a brisk correspondence, updating one another on their scholarly and pastoral pursuits as they laid the foundations for Neo-Orthodoxy, a revolutionary theology that arrived with the First World War.

This excerpt from Barth made me laugh: ” . . . this hot summer will ever be unforgettable for me.  I amble like a drunk man back and forth between writing desk, dining table, and bed, traveling each kilometer with my eye already on the next one.”  I knew that sentiment while writing papers and sermons during the course of my graduate program, and have known it recently during this holiday when the obsession to work on larger watercolors seized me.

Today is a delicious Saturday morning, and yes, I am going to pick up the brush the moment I finish this blog.  The suburban sounds are pleasing, the light is clear, and the scent from last night’s rain is a sweet one rising from the lawn just outside my open garage door.  The neighbor is mowing (I’m so glad the guy we hired did our lawn yesterday, before the rain), and I’ve always liked the sounds of lawnmowers on the weekends across suburbia–never an annoying sound to me.

I’m going to enclose another passage from one of Barth’s letters: “[The writing of the lecture] is going at full strength and an unbroken pillar of smoke is rising from my pipe to the ceiling as in the best times of my life.”  I don’t smoke a pipe, but I do have a full pot of Starbuck’s coffee brewed, and my cup will remain full as Barth’s pipe bowl did on his best days in the study.

O.K., the Saint Ignatius painting posted.  A watercolorist colleague whom I greatly admire has just sent me encouragement to jump right in to the intimidating details of this structure.  And I shall.  While writing this blog, it dawned on me that I should try a complementary juxtaposition of violets and ochres as I work on the texturing of this rusticated stone exterior, and get serious about the shadows.  It’s time to make this composition “pop” and that is only going to happen when the contrast gets loaded in.  So, that’s my next step.

What a delicious Saturday morning!  Thanks for sharing this moment with me (all of you readers, and the lingering muse/spirit of Barth).

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