Objects Embodying the Stuff of Revelation

The Screen Door and Coffee Still-Life, Unmasked and Stained

The Screen Door and Coffee Still-Life, Unmasked and Stained

Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands?  Because it is up to you.  There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain.  It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin.  You were made and set here to give voice to this,your own astonishment.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

William Carlos Williams, the poet/physician, daily drove the streets of Rutherford, New Jersey, household to household, making his calls, and gathering images and ideas for his poems.  He was always engaged, always interpreting and re-interpreting his life.  Andrew Wyeth wandered the rolling hills of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, his eye taking in the images of his surroundings and the village life of Little Africa, all the while his romantic nature extracting meaning from the objects he found in everyday households.  Neither of these artists made apologies for the enthusiasm they felt as memories associated with the everyday mundane warmed their hearts.

Several blog readers have posted to me their warm memories of the slapping screen door from childhood, and the amusement they gained from annoying their elders with that irreverent pop.  All day long at school today, I could think only of getting back into the Cave and resuming work (play) on this screen door and coffee tin.   My mind drifted over all those popping screen doors (at both grandparents’ farms, Marlin’s general store in the grandparent’s vicinity, the wonderful old general store in Pine, Colorado where I stopped for provisions after a hot day of fly fishing at Cheeseman Canyon, feeling like Ernest Hemingway).  I cannot explain my fascination as a child with that screen door, and later as an artist when I looked more closely at its features–blistered painted wood, a hook that left its arc carved in the wood from its years of swinging back and forth, the cut of the spring into the wood, leaving its rust stains over the years, the sloppy paint job that left white paint around the perimeter of the screens–all those things excite me for reasons I can never put into words.  I guess I’m more of a painter than a writer.  These things I just cannot explain.

I removed the masquing first thing this afternoon.  Since then I have been re-staining the screen wire to get rid of the stark white left by the successful masquing.  It’s not going away willingly.  I still have more staining, more darkening to do.  I haven’t yet decided how to re-draw the screen wire over the white label of the coffee tin–I’ll have to experiment with that on separate paper.  I’m thinking about a hard-led pencil, perhaps even a mechanical pencil.  Perhaps a Prismacolor Verithin pencil which features a pretty decent hardness.  Again, since I’ve never done this before, I’ll have to experiment.

I have really enjoyed roughing up the wood and blistering the paint textures on the screen door frame.  I finally worked up the nerve to paint in the hanging spring and gouge the rusty imprints it left along the horizontal frame.  In all of this I am finding pure joy.  For years and years I have gazed upon the Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings of whitewashed sidings of houses and window sashes blistered by the sun and weather, and always wanted to give it a try, using watercolor, pencil, fingerprints, smudges–anything that would simulate that weathered appearance.  Finally I am getting into it and absolutely loving it.

Yesterday afternoon, the Texas temperatures climbed to 83 degrees and I had to have a box fan running in the Cave to survive working out here.  Now it is 42 degrees with arctic winds howling outside the garage door, and I am wearing a heavy pullover sweater and drinking hot coffee to stay in the Cave.  But I love it.  The Cave environment has been welcoming, quiet, affirming.  I’m thrilled to enter a three-day weekend (no school tomorrow) and hope to have long, uninterrupted hours painting and reading in the cave.

I’m going to post a picture below of the painting after I removed the masquing, for anyone curious about this process.  When I apply the masquing to the untreated, white watercolor paper, it bonds well and does its job, but once it comes off, the stark whiteness is unacceptable.  I always know it’s going to happen, so I no longer feel those “uh-oh” moments when it comes off–I just know that there is plenty of work still ahead, staining the white areas, toning them down, getting them where you want them.  And that part does not come easily for me.  I have to keep applying more layers of wash, continue rubbing with my fingers, getting rid of that stark white.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The painting unmasqued, before re-staining and re-working

The painting unmasqued, before re-staining and re-working

The Man Cave Studio as I work Tonight

The Man Cave Studio as I work Tonight

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7 Responses to “Objects Embodying the Stuff of Revelation”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    how well i remember a long time ago when a blank piece of white paper gave me stage fright! i feared i would ruin the paper! now it’s like, ‘let’s go!’ when i see a new piece of paper – or floor – waiting for some kind of creative expression!

    i look forward to watching you build the screen door!


  2. davidtripp Says:

    Thank you for sharing that. My sentiments exactly. I was always intimidated, thinking watercolor was delicate, and had to be handled with kid gloves. Only lately have I had the courage to gouge a pencil into the surface, rip with an X-acto knife, and grind with my fingerprints. I’m loving it so much more now.


  3. artsifrtsy Says:

    This is fascinating to see – I am really liking the effect!


  4. lifeofawillow Says:

    You are so cool. I love the vintage stock you use and the lovely nastalgia it brings when presented as your art.


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