Archive for September, 2013

Forfeiture?

September 6, 2013
Late Afternoon Studio Work

Late Afternoon Studio Work

Forfeiture, the third fundamental attribute of human being, means “ontologically” that we forget “Being” for particular beings.  In a human sense, it means the scattering of the essential forward drive through attention to the distracting and disturbing cares of everyday and of the things and people that surround us everyday.  Thus, inevitably and continuously, the forward driving “I” is sacrificed to the persistent and pressing “they.”  To the question “who is human being?” we must answer, “the indifferent and anonymous crowd–das Man.” Human being in its everyday mode is promiscuously public; it is life with others and for others in alienation from the central task of becoming itself.

Marjorie Grene, “Martin Heidegger,” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy

A second week of classes is now in the books, and what a storm this one was!  I’m not sure how long it is going to take before I feel that I am in the flow of it all.  I posted the Heidegger meditation because I have been conscious all week of chasing details totally unrelated to my painting, and regretting every frenetic moment.  Teaching is what I do, and it has always involved the chasing down of a myriad of details, and I do enjoy that kind of pursuit, but I do question daily whether or not I’m finding my core.  When painting, I feel that I am at my core, doing what I was created to do.  But, I have to do my job daily, and at the moment, the job is keeping me away from the drafting table.

I don’t know what I may seem to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing in the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

When I finally did sit down to the drafting table, late this Friday afternoon, the Isaac Newton quote continued to rattle around in my head.  In my most sober moments, when focused on some detail such as this watercolor that I am now rendering, I think of the ocean of truth at my elbow that is getting no attention from me.  I have a stack of books next to me, a bundle of journals behind me, and dozens of scattered thoughts clattering around inside my head while I try to paint.  School does that to me.  In the past several days, students have dropped incredible thoughts on me, and I’ve been writing frantically in my journal, trying to chase down these ideas to see what new things I can learn from the experience.  When the painting begins, the musing just won’t stop.  And I like that.

Close-up of the Truck in Progress

Close-up of the Truck in Progress

Before the afternoon light faded from my studio windows, I managed just a little more detail work on this pickup truck.  The reflections in the windows I found a bit tricky, and I had trouble keeping my hand steady for the body molding and the door sign.  So far, I’m generally pleased with what’s emerging.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am never alone.

He’s Out of His Tree

September 3, 2013
Laumeier Tree House

Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis

After a grueling first week of school, I found the opportunity to scamper home to St. Louis to visit my parents for a couple of days over the holiday weekend.  I had not had a real visit with them since Christmas, and was long overdue.  Time spent with Mom and Dad was a quiet respite from the weeklong frenzy I had just experienced at school, and on the second day of my visit, I retreated to Laumeier Sculpture Park, found this tree house, and decided “Why not?”

Inside the Tree House

Inside the Tree House

Taking my Titian volume, I climbed the ladder, sprawled inside, and enjoyed my reading and journaling in the peace and quiet above the beautiful sculpture garden.  I read of Titian’s idyllic youth spent in the mountainous region north of Venice, in the remote township of Pieve di Cadore.  The quiet Sunday afternoon in Laumeier yielded the perfect enclave as I read and reflected on the early influences of that remarkable painter.

Jonathan Borofsky Sculpture

Jonathan Borofsky, “Man with Briefcase at #2968443”

I also took some time to stroll around the grounds, taking dozens of photos of the monumental sculptures and recording notes from them.  Eyeing this Borofsky monument, I determined not to allow myself to be another number, another cog in this impersonal workforce that engulfs me daily.  The school where I teach has over 3,000 students and over 200 faculty in one large building.

Drawing with a Ballpoint Pen

Drawing with a Ballpoint Pen

Sitting on a park bench in the shade, I took out my ballpoint pen and tried to render a cedar in my Moleskine notebook.  I don’t draw nearly enough in my later years, and enjoyed this moment of relaxation, though I preferred to have my watercolor block in hand.  The Jeep was parked a long distance away however, and I didn’t feel like walking the distance (and risk losing the urge to sketch).  Besides, I had an earlier opportunity to kick out a quick plein air watercolor sketch the day before . . .

Roadside Park along Historic Missouri Route 66

Roadside Park along Historic Missouri Route 66

I got a late start to St. Louis over the holiday weekend, choosing to drive through the night.  When I realized that I was going to reach my parents’ house around 5:00 a. m., and that I was growing drowsy, I chose the safety of a roadside park along I-44, parking in the midst of a row of seven or eight cars, reclining my seat, and drifting off to a welcoming sleep.  When I awoke, the sun had just risen, and I looked out and saw this bluff across the divided highway.  I didn’t have to think twice about it–retrieving my backpack, I dug out my watercolor supplies, found a picnic table, and went to work sketching this out on an 8 x 10″ D’Arches block.

Winsor & Newton Field Box

Winsor & Newton Field Box

I worked very quickly, enjoying every moment of the encounter, and musing over the works of Joan Miro as he rhapsodized over the rural Catalan landscapes of his environment.  I don’t emulate the style of Miro, but my heart beats faster every time I read of an artist who works at capturing the landscape of his youth.  The cliffs carved for the thoroughfares of Route 66 always held my attention as a young boy, gazing out the window from the back seat of the passing car.  I always wished I could sit atop them, look across the land, and attempt to paint them.  Finally I’m getting that chance.

After the rhapsodic moment with the morning cliffs, I climbed back into my waiting vehicle, knowing Mom and Dad would have fresh coffee waiting.  It was good to go home again.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.