Consummating a Marriage of Imagination and Intellectual Love

Continuing work on the Laguna Madre project

Continuing work on the Laguna Madre project

This spiritual love acts not, nor can exist

Without imagination, which in truth

Is but another name for absolute power

And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,

And reason, in her most exalted mood.

This faculty hath been the feeding source

Of our long labor: we have traced the stream

From the blind cavern whence is faintly heard

Its natal murmur; followed it to light

And open day; accompanied its course

Among the ways of Nature; for a time

Lost sight of it, bewildered and engulphed;

Then given it greeting as it rose once more

In strength, reflecting from its placid breast

The works of man, and face of human life;

And lastly, from its progress have we drawn

Faith in life endless, the sustaining thought

Of human being, Eternity, and God.

–Imagination having been our theme,

So also hath that intellectual love,

For they are each in each, and cannot stand

Dividually.—Here must thou be, O Man!

Powers to thyself; no Helper hast thou here;

Here keepest thou in singleness thy state;

No other can divide with thee this work;

No secondary hand can intervene

To fashion this ability; ’tis thine,

In the recesses of thy nature, far

From any reach of outward fellowship,

Else is not thine at all.

William Wordsworth, “Prelude”

As night follows night, I chuckle to see my Laguna Madre files bursting with new pages of sketches and notes taken from my readings, and I’m beginning to see a similarity with Marcel Duchamp’s “Green Box.” This can be viewed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in a long trough mounted on one of the gallery walls–over a decade of sketches and writings of Marcel Duchamp as he secretly worked on his “Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even.”

Duchamp's

Duchamp’s “Green Box”

For a couple of months now, I have been feeding on William Wordsworth’s “Prelude”, particularly his eloquent meditation on the twin powers of imagination and intellectual love which drive the turbine of creativity. Tonight, as I sat down to my drafting table to plan further on my approaching residency, I recalled his words that no one else could direct us in this endeavor–if they could, then the powers would not be ours at all.

With a renewed faith and determination, I re-opened some volumes from my private library that discuss composition in two-dimensional art, comparing what I read to what I’ve been taught since high school and college. The one discipline that I have avoided throughout the decades is the thumbnail sketch, the compositional study, and value studies of a proposed painting. Looking again at the photos I took while on the island last weekend, I began again to work on small thumbnail sketches of proposed drybrush watercolor compositions. Turning to my favorite watercolorist, Andrew Wyeth, I selected about eight of my favorite drybrush compositions from him and outlined the subject matter, noting what kind of vignette shape lay upon the white picture plane. This was a first for me, and I could feel myself laughing out loud, because I was practicing what I preach on the first day of every semester at school concerning Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology and learning to approach a familiar subject in a different way. This I was doing tonight–planning my future painting compositions as never before in my life. And the activity felt good, real good.

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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