You are an artist, are you not, Mr Dedalus? said the dean, glancing up and blinking his pale eyes. The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.
Ovid, Metamorhposes–(“And he applied his spirit to obscure arts.”)
This evening, I’ve been in a James Joyce mood. I read his Portrait of the Artist back in 1988, when I was working nights as a dispatcher for the Fort Worth Police Department. I would begin teaching that fall, and I never forgot the ideas Joyce instilled in me, particularly with this autobiographical creed. I wish to read the work again in its entirety–I have re-read large portions of it throughout the years since I first read the entire work.
The Ovid quote that opens Joyce’s book haunts me, as did my first encounters with Andrew Wyeth art. I’ve never been able to explain what it is that I see in particular subjects that is “beautiful” or why the subjects hold me the way that they do. I have stared at winter trees, stripped of their foliage, since 1969 when I first saw the Andrew Wyeth drawings, drybrush sketches, watercolors and egg tempera pieces. In recent weeks, I’ve been doing drawings of trees from life, then when they were no longer available, drawings from my drawings. This morning I was enchanted by a tree in the winter light just outside my living room window, and I drew it with a great sense of well-being. Tonight I’m drawing it again, using my first drawing as a model. I also photographed the tree twice today, and plan soon to do drawings from the photo. In time, I plan to switch to watercolor to see how well I can handle these subjects in color.
Thanks for reading.
I make art in order to understand.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.