Creative Eros

Another restless night in the studio

Another restless night in the studio

. . . those who present directly and immediately the new forms and symbols are the artists–the dramatists, the musicians, the painters, the dancers, the poets, and those poets of the religious sphere we call saints.  They portray the new symbols in the form of images–poetic, aural, plastic, or dramatic, as the case may be.  They live out their imaginations.  The symbols only dreamt about by most human beings are expressed in graphic form by the artists.  But in our appreciation of the created work–let us say a Mozart quintet–we also are performing a creative act.  When we engage a painting . . . we are experiencing some new moment of sensibility.  Some new vision is triggered in us by our contact with the painting; something unique is born in us.  This is why appreciation of the music or painting or other works of the creative person is also a creative act on our part.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

All arts create symbols for a level of reality which cannot be reached in any other way.  A picture and a poem reveal elements of reality which cannot be approached scientifically.  In the creative work of art we encounter reality in a dimension which is closed for us without such works.

Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith

Though I have been away from the blog a couple of days, I have not been away from the arts, have not abandoned the creative eros.  Yesterday’s return to school after two snow-closure days pitchforked me back into the chaotic maelstrom of two schools trying to re-set the damaged bones of fractured schedules.  The college had to reschedule final exams, students had to set appointments to make up missed exams because of transportation issues on icy roads.  Yesterday I faced a hectic day in the high school, then spent the entire afternoon and evening at the college with final exams and scheduled make up exams.  But I did extract some quality library time spent in the arts section on the third floor.  I managed about ninety minutes of reading and reflection between appointments.  And my soul was elevated.  I didn’t want to leave that sanctuary.

Today was unusually different.  Coming out of the shower this morning, my mind and imagination shifted into overdrive.  I was scheduled to lecture on Paul Tillich in the 7:35 Philosophy class.  His ideas were tumbling about in my head, and I was having quite a time lining them up for presentation.  The class was ready and receptive, and I felt that the creative spirit of the man visited us.  If there is a heaven, and if I’m permitted to enter, then I would love for nothing more than to see Paul Tillich waiting at the harbor for me when my ship arrived, taking my hand and saying, “I’ve waited for this moment to meet you.  We should have travelled that earthly odyssey together.”  If only I could spend eternity asking him the questions I’ve saved up all these decades.

(I drew this with a fountain pen late one night in my office in 1999, as I was preparing to lecture on Tillich the following morning.  The text I generated spontaneously as I was sketching the portrait.)

After I finished my classes, I was able to return to the watercolor activity.  The top painting is 99% complete and will be delivered Friday.  The bottom painting is getting closer to completion.  A third one, in progress, is lurking in the docks and hopefully I will complete it this weekend.  I’ve made many promises this Christmas, and it appears that, thanks to the snow and ice days, I will manage to finish these tasks and (hopefully) make some patrons happy.

Meanwhile, I’m restless with all my reading throughout the day and evening with Rollo May and Paul Tillich.  I love reading about the creative process, the urge one feels to bring order to the chaos that greets us daily and to make something of it that speaks to our hearts and to others who look and appreciate.  My life as an artist and educator has had its shaky moments.  But as I draw nearer to this holiday season, I’m finding peace with a number of elements that have eluded me throughout the decades.  There are a few things I believe I am coming to understand better, and with that new sense of understanding comes a measure of peace.

Thanks for reading.  It’s time to return to the painting.

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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5 Responses to “Creative Eros”

  1. coreyaber Says:

    Nice drawing of Tillich. I haven’t read him. I will have to.
    These paintings are coming along nicely. I like your studio photos–seeing works an materials side by side make for interesting still lifes. Is the large chopped up brush for foliage? Was that a synthetic or a natural hair? I will have to chop up one if my synthetics like that that doesn’t do much as it is.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Hi Corey,
      Sorry it took so long to respond to this. Thank you for your kind observations. Yes, I modify brushes for foliage–I take a flat brush and cut it 45 degrees, then rip out bristles to create a jagged edge. I keep tearing them out until I get brushstrokes that I favor. I make sure it is a quality brush so it won’t deteriorate or shed while I use it. I have two of these modified brushes-Winsor & Newton brands.


  2. Sandi Says:

    Sounds as though you have found your own “New Harmony”. Glad tidings.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you. I’m so far behind in responding to blog comments–so sorry. Yes, this was a New Harmony moment for me, and I shared that sacred day with Philosophy students recently while discussing Tillich’s work.


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