Late Nights Painting and Thoughts of Thoreau

Painting the Still Life Late at Night

Painting the Still Life Late at Night

It is never the deed men praise, but some marble or canvas which are only a staging to the real work. . . . The true poem is not that which the public read.  There is always a poem not printed on paper, coincident with the production of this, which is stereotyped in the poet’s life, is what he has become through his work. . . . Perhaps the hugest and most effective deed may have no sensible result at all on earth, but paint itself in the heavens in new stars and constellations.  Its very material lies out of nature.  When, in rare moments, we strive wholly with one consent, which we call a yearning, we may not hope that our work will stand in any artist’s gallery.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, June 30-July 1, 1840

At 5:00 this afternoon, when I stepped into the studio, I just couldn’t find the impetus to begin painting.  So I sat, poured myself a fresh cup of coffee, and set to reading from the Journal of Thoreau.  And I was arrested by this passage.  I love it when a thinker celebrates the act of making art, rather than the record of the deed.  The art is in the making.  For several years now, I have known this joy of making art, and not being quite as obsessed with the results.  If the painting comes out terribly, I can still say that the task of making it was a pleasant one, a rewarding one.

Work on this still life is starting to speed up. This afternoon I worked on darkening the skillet on the door, then working further on the woodgrains of the door itself.  I then refined some of the details on the vintage fishing reels littered across the bottom of the arrangement, as well as one of the handles of the fly rod.  I was surprised by a drop-in visit from a pair of great friends, true kindred spirits whom I have known for several years now, friends that share my enthusiasm for art, music and educational issues.  The chat that ensued still has me inspired as I continue to work into this night.  I was sorry to see them go, even though we put in a nice long evening of conversation.

Once alone again, I realized that I had not yet made dinner (it was 10:30!).  Once dinner was over, I came back out into the Cave and began work on this suitcase.  And there is where I leave it tonight.  I’m still trying to build stronger contrast, and create darker areas in this composition.  Nevertheless, I’m pleased with some of the objects that are now beginning to take shape.  I look forward to more fun with this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

9 Responses to “Late Nights Painting and Thoughts of Thoreau”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    this could have come straight from one of thoreau’s journas: ” I was surprised by a drop-in visit from a pair of great friends, true kindred spirits whom I have known for several years now, friends that share my enthusiasm for art, music and educational issues. The chat that ensued still has me inspired as I continue to work into this night. I was sorry to see them go, even though we put in a nice long evening of conversation.”

    i, too, forget to eat when i’m immersed in painting!

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  2. artsifrtsy Says:

    I find so much to like in this piece – I have been watching details like the skillet and that Canada Dry logo come to life. Really amazing work.

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    • davidtripp Says:

      Why, thank you. I am at a real crossroads right now, and the next blog will discuss it fully. But since you’ve already commented, let me say that I am now stuggling with darkening the interior and have decided to lower the value of the upper-third of the door and darken further the upper left corner and push the lantern back into a dimmer light. It’s radical surgery and not for the faint-of-heart. I could end up blowing it, but I’m dissatisfied with the overall “lightness” of the compositions–like all of my other watercolors. I’m trying to explore the darker values. Thanks so much for looking and posting your comments. I have valued them from the start.

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      • artsifrtsy Says:

        I can see your reasoning – reducing the brightness up there should push the eye down into the details. It is a radical change though. When I am working on a drawing I tend to come to a place where my love for the detail has to give way to the bigger picture – you have to make the calls to push and pull space. Much riskier in watercolor though. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

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      • davidtripp Says:

        Boy, you sure have called that right! I’m delighted to meet someone who knows all-too-well this anguish. I love the details I have added the past few days, but they are not seen because the light in the upper-third pulls you away. So, I am painstakingly trying to eliminate that. But it is soooo scary to do radical surgery on something that I’ve invested over a week in building.

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      • artsifrtsy Says:

        Well it’s nice to talk to someone who gets it too. I feel for you – it’s a tough call. I think that’s the hardest part about still life – you can completely capture the detail, but you still have to lead the eye. It’s an amazing piece.

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      • davidtripp Says:

        You say that so well. I took the plunge, and have now posted the results. Thanks for helping me clarify what this has been all about.

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  3. djdfr Says:

    I am enjoying the progression on this painting.

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