Painting a Still Life, while Contemplating Neo-Classical and Romantic Matters

Fishing Still Life Composition

Fishing Still Life Composition

. . . with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.

William Wordsworth, “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”

As a watercolorist or draftsman, I think I have a Neo-Classical eye for detail and composition, but as an artist, I believe I have a Romantic heart that beats with emotion as I engage in creating art.  The way I breathe, the serenity I know and the memories that stir my blood convince me that I am a Romantic at heart, though probably Classical in mind.

As my eye explores every cubic inch of this assembly of objects before me, my heart throbs at memories of fishing in my youth.  On this particular day, I cannot stop thinking about an adolescent day on a neighborhood lake in House Springs, Missouri that found me in a rowboat with a gorgeous blonde goddess who took my breath away.  I was there reportedly to fish, and I did have a Shakespeare combo rod & reel in hand, but I could not keep my eyes off this striking girl as she struggled with the paddle, trying to navigate us toward a popular fishing hole.  I was supposed to be the helmsman, but as I recall, I successfully guided us into a cluster of low-hanging tree branches.  I guess, to me, fishing and women never mixed.

I stayed up late last night, blocking in shadows on this composition.  I plan to post the in-progress painting later this afternoon (for now, it doesn’t look very presentable, and there is more faint pencil line than pigment to display on this blog, hence mostly a white rectangle.  That should be changing within the next few hours).

As an English teacher, I am conscious of my shortcomings in trying to lead seniors to an appreciation of Pope and Wordsworth, but today the students seemed to give the task a serious try.  I have Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” experience dripping all over me, as my mind is awash in good primal memories of presence and loss from my youth, and as I ponder these memories, I am glad to keep my eye engaged on the surface of this paper, watching the puddles of water, the billows of watercolor wash, and the pencil lines emerging slowly to give shape to the forms  that lie in front of me.

Thank you for reading.  I’ll have more posted later this afternoon.


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6 Responses to “Painting a Still Life, while Contemplating Neo-Classical and Romantic Matters”

  1. artsifrtsy Says:

    Beautiful. I find that I do that with objects as well – I find a portal to some memory or another time.


  2. Sara Says:

    If you put things in your paintings that bring good memories for you, then they no doubt do the same for other people who have had similar experiences. It was interesting reading about your English class, since I’m working on getting certified to teach the same subject. I actually just wrote a post about it.


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