Archive for August, 2014

First the Blade, then the Ear, after that . . .

August 31, 2014

My High School Classroom, First Day

For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

Mark 4:28 (King James Version)

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been.


Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I want to offer a few thoughts about “a little at a time.”  While regarding life’s growth in small, unobservable links, Thoreau wrote that he himself was developing as “corn in the night.”  Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast, revealed that he could write for an entire morning, and finish with only “one true sentence”.  when experiencing fears associated with writer’s block in Paris between 1921 and 1926, he found ways to speak sternly to himself:

“Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”

I am now reading with great delight Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.  I have read nothing from Nabokov before, though I acknowledge that his greatness has been sung in my hearing for years.  As it took me until this summer to read Melville’s Moby Dick in its entirety, I now turn, in my later years, to another legendary author and his work.

Pale Fire, in the Foreword, speaks of the meticulous work of John Francis Shade in constructing his final poem in four cantos.  As I read of his meticulous daily work, I recalled testimonies from Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, men devoted to the meticulous craft of writing.

Today, over the Labor Day holiday, having finished my first week of high school and second week of college, I am thinking of the necessity of working daily and consistently on my projects, even though it means incremental gains.  At least there will be something to show when my projects roll off the assembly lines, whenever that may be.  I do have some deadlines one week away.  My painting, my reading, my journaling, my writing, and (hopefully) my publishing shall be completed, only if I am willing to give them daily attention.  For a couple of weeks now, I have felt overwhelmed at the projects I have wanted to accomplish, and all of that has translated into an inertia, and nothing was done from day to day aside from the chronic demand and grind of accomplishing my classroom responsibilities.  I am just as busy now as I have ever been before, except that I am not managing to get my “artful” projects accomplished.  But I shall, little by little, and will watch with delight as my work grows “like corn in the night.”

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


I Am Still Here

August 19, 2014
Practice Drawings from an All-Day Workshop during Teacher Inservice

Practice Drawings from an All-Day Workshop during Teacher Inservice

He is the rich man and enjoys the fruits of riches, who, summer and winter forever, can find delight in the contemplation of his soul.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 26, 1841

In the quiet of this night I finally reach out to my WordPress, Twitter and facebook friends.  My last post was over two weeks ago, as I was preparing to leave on a two-week vacation, not wishing to advertise that my residence was uninhabited. During that space, I have drafted a number of blog posts, but am still editing them, not wishing to publish a pile of crude first drafts. I cannot express my deepfelt gratitude for the two-week sojourn in Missouri and the visits with family and friends from long ago. The relaxation and repose were qualitatively unexplainable–no deadlines, no appointments, no alarm clocks, just rest. My whole world slowed down considerably.

As I write this, I am nearly halfway through a week of mandatory Inservice meetings provided by my school district.  I wish I could write that they have presented quality instruction and inspiration, but I try to keep my blog honest.  But I will say, without reservation, that today’s all-day workshop in colored-pencil drawing was one of the finest I have ever attended, and I cannot sufficiently praise the high school instructor who led this–Ryan Willingham of Arlington High School.  This man is a master draftsman and even better communicator and demonstrator.  His work throughout the day made me want to quit my job and spend entire days, weeks, months in the studio, attempting to get better in drawing skills.  In this, I do not exaggerate. Above, I posted my own attempts, and though I obtained permission to photograph his work, I didn’t think to ask permission to publish his, so I will not.  But if I did, my work in the photo above would certainly diminish.  I have spent hours this evening, poring over the photos I took of his demonstration drawings created this day before our delighted eyes.  Wow. What a day, and what an artist!

Tomorrow begins the first day of the semester at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and with it, the launch of my first ever online course in Logic.  Naturally, I feel jitters waiting to see how this is going to play out.  And then Monday begins the first day of high school, with my courses in Advanced Placement and Regular Art History, Philosophy and AVID.  AVID will be a new experience for me, as will the college online arena.  I only hope to retain sanity and a measure of success in those new endeavors.

More art will be posted in the future.  I did engage in some plein air watercolor activity during my vacation, dashing out two small studies, and I have nearly finished that large Fort Worth Scat Jazz Lounge watercolor as well.  Oh–and I finished reading Moby Dick–WOW!!!! More on that later as well.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone (and did a ton of that over the past weeks)

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.