Archive for September, 2014

Small Steps Back to the Winter Man Cave

September 14, 2014
Clearing Out Space to Work Again in the Man Cave

Clearing Out Space to Work Again in the Man Cave

Current wisdom, especially that propagated by the various schools of psychoanalysis, assumes that man is a social being who neeeds the companionship and affection of other human beings from cradle to grave.,  It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness.  Yet the lives of creative idividuals often seem to run counter to this assumption.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Texas weather brought quite the surprise in recent days, notwithstanding the news of the Canadian cold front pushing its way southward.  Friday after school, temperatures dropped to the lower sixties in the afternoon, and brisk north winds picked up to the point that I was forced to leave a Starbuck’s patio and go inside (the short-sleeved Tshirt wasn’t getting the job done).  By morning, temperatures were around 55 degrees and the world so much more beautiful outside than it had been in months.  A Texas garge is off-limits during the summer months of triple-digit temperatures, and so today with great delight I re-entered my garage and began reclaiming the “man cave” half that had been abandoned nearly two years ago.  So much stuff had accumulated that it took a couple of hours to hew out a good working space at my drafting table, sit on the sofa with coffee and an excellent book, grade papers, and listen to the Gregorian Chant playing on the garage stereo.  As the winter arrives, I have these aspirations to return to serious still life studies as I did two winters ago.   Throughout the interim, I have collected many, many antique objects to add to my studio collection, and I am more than ready to do some new studies.

My desire to resume the blog activity is increasing of late.  For several weeks the high school and university claimed the lion’s share of my daily attention, and I have found great satisfaction in the efforts there.  My memory has to go back a number of years to recall such a satisfying start as this.  At the time of this writing, I still have quite a stack of grading to complete before going to bed tonight, but none of the resentment that used to attach itself to such assignments as before.  Things are different now, and I’m pleased with the changes.

Recent watercolor attempts have been revolving around private lessons, and I indeed found much joy in those encounters as well.  I have a festival approaching in a couple of weeks, and trust that I’ll get my watercolor chops back by that time.  With great enthusiasm I am also anticipating the fall colors that should arrive soon, and I have pledged not to let the fall season escape without significant plein air study this time around.

This is good time of the year, and I look forward to sharing more of these delicious experiences on the blog.

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.

A New School Year, and New Horizons

September 9, 2014

A New School Year, and New Horizons.

A New School Year, and New Horizons

September 9, 2014
A Recent Watercolor Demo

A Recent Watercolor Demo

There is the new movement.  There always has been the new movement and there always will be the new movement.  It is strange that a thing which comes as regularly as clockwork should always be a surprise.

In new movements, the pendulum takes a great swing, charlatans crowd in, innocent apes follow, the masters make their successes and they make their mistakes as all pioneers must do.  It is necessary to pierce to the core to get at the the value of a movement and not be confused by its sensational exterior.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I acknowledge my silence over the past week as I’ve settled into the third week of a new school year with a host of new challenges.  I am teaching my first online course at a local university and am settling into a new high school environment (for me)–AVID.  Both of these enterprises are a challenge (I am not the quick-study that I was at the age of 25 or 30).  Both are offering unprecented rewards.  I wish I would have made the decision to do these tasks earlier in my educational career.  I am beginning to feel more now that my work actually matters.  And these two new venues are sending me in new directions though I am studying much of the same subject matter as in prior years.  I am happy to write that all classes are going very, very well–Advanced Placement Art History, Regular Art History, Philosophy, Logic and AVID.  I pause tonight, wondering what I ever did to receive a gift of such value.

I am posting the Henri quote (I am so loving the experience of re-reading this book) because I have moved far enough into the year where I no longer hear in the “ears” of my memory all the horse-hockey jargon that filled the air the week before school started, when teachers were forced to sit in meetings and listen to all the “wisdom” gathered from data and statistics, then handed down by “educators” on state and national levels.  Theories advanced by those who have never stood before students (or did so long ago that they have forgotten the reality of the day-to-day experience) always ring hollow to me.  This year was no different.  The new books and articles coming out are not filled with new things at all, just new words to encapsulate the same theories that didn’t work under the old words.  And yet, someone is making a pile of money copyrighting and circulating this recycled trash.

After twenty-five years, I still love the life of an educator.  I love looking into the students’ eyes daily.  I love their feedback, verbal and nonverbal.  And I am still astonished at their insight and zest to know more.  As for me, I still love learning, and live to know more.  Recently my watercolor activity has been curtailed because of all the reading and research pursued, and I have loved every late night of it, including tonight.  Since graduate school, my heart and mind have found joy in the enterprise of learning, and I’m grateful to have a job where I can pursue this without apology.  All I can hope is that should the day ever arrive when I am too old and tired to be inspired that I will do the students a favor and get out, hoping they can still remember the good years.  

Tomorrow I have AVID and Philosophy students to encounter.  I’m ready, and appreciative.

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.

 

Labor Day Wanderings

September 1, 2014
Plein Air Watercolor Sketchin in Hico, Texas

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch in Hico, Texas

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”

Monday.  Labor Day.  At around 11:00 this morning, I suddenly felt the window slamming shut on my three-day holiday.  I had not yet taken to the open road, and determined that it was today or not for a long time.  I gassed up my Jeep and felt the whisper of Hico, Texas, a town I had not visited in several years, but could still remember that quaint boulevard running down the center of historic downtown, replete with park benches and a gazebo.  The afternoon drive proved to be a long and arduous one, with termperatures lingering right at a hundred degrees, but I loved the old boulevard the moment I saw it. Once I began work on the sketch, I found the nonstop traffic rumbling along the highway through the middle of town to be a comfort, and I focused on the rough-cut stone facade of one of the historic buildings replete with a Coca-Cola ghost sign.  I had tried this composition a few years back and was glad to rest the watercolor block on my knees for a second try.

My Littered Work Area

My Littered Work Area

The play of the hot sun off the rusticated facade delighted my eye, and I spent most of this afternoon peering at those textures and colors, attempting to capture them on the page.  Throughout the afternoon, Walt Whitman’s words resounded in my memory, and I was grateful for his companionship.

Hico, Texas bench with watercolor and the view

Hico, Texas bench with watercolor and the view

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.