Midnight in Paris?

Moving Slowly and Rapturously Through this Watercolor Composition

Moving Slowly and Rapturously through this Watercolor Composition

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. . . . I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “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.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I walked out of my studio early last evening, because I was seized with the desire to sit for a few hours in quiet with books, my journal and my thoughts.  It was the best possible way I could have passed the evening.  I knew when I left the studio that I would have no trouble returning, because the part of the composition I was working on was “hot” and I knew exactly where to resume when I returned to it.  As I spent the remainder of the last evening pondering, writing, pondering and writing some more, I had no inkling of how serendepitous the following day would be . . .

Before going to school this morning, I was digging through a pile of debris in one of my neglected closet spaces and came across a DVD I had missplaced over a year ago–Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.  At my first opportunity today, I replayed the film, and revisited with exquisite pleasure those memorable clips of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso and Dali in 1920’s Paris.  Throughout the day, the sweetness of some of the words of Hemingway I had read over the past couple of years remained with me, and I’ve posted them above to open this blog.

When I returned to the studio this evening, those haunting words surged through my consciousness as my watercolor brush and pencils turned into knives with which I cut through the fog of self-doubt and fear and rendered the objects before me with all the skill and confidence I could muster.  I remembered the days long, long ago, when I worked at an industrial site to support myself and my family during graduate school.  Knowing that I was cutting stainless steel that was then priced at about $2.48 a pound (one of the shipments I was assigned to cut to proper sizes cost the company around $330,000), I was told by my supervisor–“measure twice, cut once.”  Tonight as I worked on my still life details, I thought: “Look three times, stroke once.”  Indeed, I spent more time tonight looking and re-looking than actually painting, but when I did touch the paper surface, I drew and painted with confidence, and now finally, this painting is moving in the direction I wish it to go.

Thanks, Ernest.  As I size up my still life composition, I realize that are no magic tricks at work here.  All I need to do is look at the objects as steadily as the ancient Greeks looked at life (Matthew Arnold wrote that they “saw life steadily, and saw it whole”), and move my brushes and pencils in the corresponding patterns my eye discerns.  Perhaps by so doing, my prosaic work would one day turn poetic. We’ll see.  But in the meantime, I feel no fear, and am truly enjoying this adventure in the studio.

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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2 Responses to “Midnight in Paris?”

  1. Bertha Says:

    As always, a joy to read your blog. And I am looking forward to see your work finished. Bertha.


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