A Heart Filled with Thanksgiving and Meditations on James Joyce

Property Adjacent to my Parents' Home in High Ridge, Missouri

Property Adjacent to my Parents’ Home in High Ridge, Missouri

To speak of these things and to try to understand their nature, and having understood it, to try slowly and humbly and constantly to express, to press out again from the gross earth or what it brings forth, from sound and shape and colour which are the prison gates of our soul, an image of the beauty we have come to understand–that is art.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

While enjoying the holiday rest at my parents’ home outside St. Louis, Missouri, I re-opened James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and was so enriched by what I read, having forgotten most of what touched me when I first read this fine work back in the late 1980’s.  Snow fell on High Ridge, Missouri, and I found myself walking about in it late in the afternoon, no doubt feeling much of the wonder that Andrew Wyeth knew when he strolled about the property of Kuerner’s Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. I just did not want the darkness to descend, the late afternoon was so enchanting.  We just don’t get snow to speak of in Texas.

I am always daunted when I look out at the landscape and contemplate a plein air experiment.  What do I select? What do I omit?  How do I match up the colors that I find in nature, particularly when the winter light keeps changing in the late afternoon?  As I continued to trudge through the snow, I suddenly remembered the text from Joyce that I posted above, and how well it connects with one of my favorite Emerson passages posted below:

The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

The artist has the privilege of selecting his/her subject for recreating, and furthermore, has the privilege of omitting anything that interferes with the objective.  The editing process, even in a simple watercolor sketch such as the one posted above, fills me with delight, and working on this small 5 x 7″ study was a genuine highlight of my holiday.

I have placed this in a white mat and installed it in a wooden 8 x 10″ frame with glass.  I’m offering it for $50.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying its presence in my home.

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.

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