Opening and Closing of a Door

Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

Carl Sandburg

If we take Sandburg’s observation seriously, then today’s inaugural philosophy class was poetry. Thirty-one new students crowded into the classroom. As the bell sounded, there was the electric hush of expectancy that one feels on the first day of a new class. I felt the shudder of excitement as we explored the nature of the philosophic task, some modern views of Husserl along with some classic views of Plato. To me, the ninety minutes swept by like ten, and the eye contact with all the students, along with their non-verbal body language, seemed to indicate that they were enjoying the same kind of intellectual feeding frenzy that I myself felt. And then, class ended and they filed out, leaving me in a wake of good feeling, like soothing waves lapping the shore after the speedboat passes.

Of course the flow of a single day can be uneven. My high was followed by some matching lows, but I choose this night to write only of the highs. When Walt Whitman wrote his poetry about the ebb and flow, he acknowledged that the flow is always more engaging. I agree.

This Evening's Work

This Evening’s Work

The garage studio is frigid again, with temperatures outdoors stooping near freezing. For days now, I’ve been trying to solve the shadow problems in this composition. Shadows are something I haven’t given sufficient attention in still life drawing and painting. I purchased an excellent book over the holidays that discusses the finer points of rendering shadows. The longer I stare into this arrangement in my darkened garage, the more fascinated I become with the nuanced haloes deep in the shadow areas. This evening, I’ve reached back, again, into some words recorded by that focused mind of Leonardo da Vinci:

Remember: betwixt light and murk there is something intermediate, dual, belonging equally to the one and the other, a light shade, as it were, or a dark light. Seek it, O artist: in it lies the secret of captivating beauty. . . . Beware of the coarse and the abrupt. Let your shadings melt away, like smoke, like the sounds of distant music!

These intermediate areas between light and dark I’ve been trying to solve between the bucket and the shaded floor. I’m finding a world teeming with activity within those shadows. Again the T. S. Eliot line from “The Hollow Men” comes back to haunt me:

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the shadow.

With graphite, a pocket knife and watercolor, I’ve also been trying to texture the portion of the door frame and hinge to the left of the pail. This has demanded just as much drawing as painting, and I enjoy that kind of activity. I’ve always admired Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush watercolors for their drawing quality, and have always wished to rise to that level in my own pursuits.

It’s been an uneven day overall, but I’m grateful for all the good that has ensued. I cannot thank my students enough for “being there” in the academic arena, and I’m so grateful for a night of exploration in the painting studio. And I thank you 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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4 Responses to “Opening and Closing of a Door”

  1. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Life is full of ups and downs. It is nice when you have more ups, more positive experiences than the other. Wishing you a day of good experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gyoungphd Says:

    I can’t choose between the artwork and your discussion of your classes; both are magnificent. I would give anything to take a class from you.


    • davidtripp Says:

      That comment makes my day, thank you so much! Today’s art history didn’t glow as much as yesterday’s philosophy. Maybe my malfunctioning garage door opener set the tone for a comparatively dismal class performance, you think?


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