A Quiet Afternoon, Contemplating the Still Life in the Cave

A Fishing Still-Life, Growing Like Corn in the Night

A Fishing Still-Life, Growing Like Corn in the Night

Aeschylus had a clear eye for the commonest of things. . . . This universal wonderment at those old men is as if a matured grown person should discover that the aspirations of his youth argued a diviner life than the contented wisdom of his manhood.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, January 29, 1840

Anyone peeking inside my Man Cave now would draw the wrong conclusion that this Monday afternoon is a quiet and serene one.  I have Joseph Campbell on the TV/VCR lecturing on James Joyce and his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  I have this splendid still-life arrangement spotlighted before me, and slowly, deliberately, I am chiseling out details with pencil and brush, and applying washes.  Beside me, my cat purrs and stretches in his comfy chair (mine actually, but he doesn’t realize that).  The neighborhood is quiet this afternoon, and all seems calm and leisurely.

But what is on the surface often belies what lies beneath.  This has been quite a day, filled with my Philosophy Class discussions of St. Augustine, my early readings from the Journal of Thoreau, my musings over a past weekend packed with activities and people, my preparations for tomorrow’s A. P. Art History (Dutch and Flemish Baroque) and English IV (the Victorian Age).  And then, my own thoughts, independent even of all this, that just will not settle down and fly in formation.  When all this mental, emotional stimuli swirls as it does now, I believe that the best I can do is sit down at my drafting table, gaze at the composition before me, and work.  My breathing changes.  My heart rate changes.  And the swirling world slowly settles down, as I settle down.

Now, having said all the above, let me address the painting.  The weekend was packed with activity, so I couldn’t even look at it.  But I never stopped thinking about it, and I knew that as soon as I could touch it this afternoon, I wanted to get into the “guts” of it–to the heart, to the congeries of rods, reels, fishing tackle and assortment of highlights and shadows right in the midst.  So, today’s attention has been given to the coffee can, the bait caster resting on top of it, the leather backpack behind it, a piece of the door, one of the rods with its facets and wrappings, the lures in the tackle box–so much more to go after, but it will happen, in good time.

But for now, I paint, I think, and I enjoy life this Monday afternoon, grateful to be in the Cave again.  I think the cat is glad to see me too.

Thanks for reading.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “A Quiet Afternoon, Contemplating the Still Life in the Cave”

  1. artsifrtsy Says:

    Isn’t it amazing how time just hovers when you are painting. The way that you can focus on those details and get so completely lost in them. I think it’s almost restorative to the mind. Petty cool for a man cave.


    • davidtripp Says:

      You called that one right. Time evaporates when I “get into” a watercolor. I stare at the surface, always amazed at what happens beneath my brush. I stare at those pools of colored water, watching the pigments flow and transform as they go through the drying process. And I love my Cave–everything I want is in it–TV/VCR, stereo, coffee maker, comfortable chairs and reading lamps, antiques, my art work hanging here and there, and two drafting tables always with work-in-progress on them. It’s hard to go to my day job, waiting, wanting to be in the Cave. Thanks so much for writing and expressing your views.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: