Expanding the Circle

Sunday Morning Watercolor in the Studio

Sunday Morning Watercolor in the Studio

Another analogy we shall now trace, that every action admits of being outdone.  Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

As my eyes opened to the dim winter light of another morning, I felt the pull of the watercolor entering its third day.  It was time to rise and widen the circle.  After the painting got too wet to manage, I went to my reading chair and opened Emerson’s Essays.  “Circles” has been a favorite of mine since I was introduced to it in the summer of 1992.  In this meditation, Emerson describes in visual fashion the difficulty of continuing to expand one’s circle of creativity:

The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end.  The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.  For it is the inert effort of each thought, having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance,–as for instance an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious rite,–to heap itself on that ridge and to solidify and hem in the life.  but if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind.  But the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses it already tends outward with a vast force and to immense and innumerable expansions.

As I age, I am aware of the difficulty of breaking new ground, of exploring new pastures of creativity.  Every time we push out a creative idea or work of art, it rises and hardens as a berm, a dam, an enclosure, to keep us where we are.  It is hard to burst that retaining wall and push the boundary further out still.  I love exploring watercolor, I am astounded every time I learn something new from experimenting with a new painting.  And this particular piece on which I now work has been no exception.  As it continues to spread, to develop, I look at it in wonder, savoring every new experience.  But the time will come to sign it and move on to the next.  As long as I breathe, there will be a next.  And my fervent wish is that I continue to develop, evolve, improve, learn.  I hope never to reach a plateau where I find that I am merely whipping out Tripps for the Trade.  Hopefully, as long as I stay plugged into Emerson, I can avoid that trap.

Thanks for reading.  It’s time to get back to this painting, which by now is dry.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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7 Responses to “Expanding the Circle”

  1. coreyaber Says:

    Good post. One thin I really like about your painting is the richness, how much there is to keep the viewer in it. You include certain subtle details that bring somethig extra to the work. For example in this one I love how you handled the grime on the wall. That could easily have been passed off as a shadow, but instead the grime brings life and time to the work that push the painting beyond the image. Check out Calvino’s Six Memos on the Next Millenium. There’s a chapter in there that pertains to you work–I think it’s the one on Multiplicity where he talks about Flaubert and Carlo Emilio Gadda, though I may be mixing up some things. I will find the reference for you later.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Oh, thank you, Corey! I look forward into reading that text. I love the cross-fertilization I get between artists and writers when they talk of creativity and composition. Thanks for posting your observations about my details–those are what keep me staring at the painting as I work. It never gets boring.


  2. lifeofawillow Says:

    Lovely. You inspire.


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