Archive for August, 2016

Calling Out to Jackson Pollock

August 2, 2016

Pollock

Just a quick progress report on my Eureka Springs train–the depths of the surrounding forest is driving me nuts, and I feel that I am resorting to Jackson Pollock techniques as I weave skeins of paint from border to border. I’m having fun as I experiment, but of course those all-too-common anxieties begin to enter when one wonders over the likelihood of losing what could have been a good painting while “having fun.”  So . . . I think I will lay this aside, perhaps for the rest of the day, until I know for certain where to go next with it.

Thanks for reading . . .

Musings in the Wilderness

August 2, 2016

new train (2)

He had many of the qualities of a great poet, and was in some degree worthy to precede Shakespeare. But he seems to have run to waste for want of seclusion and solitude, as if mere pause and deliberation would have added a new element of greatness to his poetry. In his unquestionably fine, heroic tone it would seem as if he had the rarest part of genius, and education could have added the rest.

Henry David Thoreau (writing of Christopher Marlowe), Journal, 1837-1847

Reading from Thoreau early this morning stung me, and as I returned to work on this large watercolor, I could not stop thinking about the sad fate of Christopher Marlowe and Thoreau’s assessment of his gift. How many times has history witnessed the tragedy of gifted individuals who never developed beyond their native abilities because they would not nurture those skills? Looking back over my own life, I recognize that I was often a workaholic, and felt constrained to respond to every invitation to some sort of duty. In recent years, I’ve tried to find a way to slow things down and see if I could not water and feed some of the abilities I have been given.

This painting is a challenge on many fronts.  At this age, I still have too many unanswered questions about color and composition, but it’s a comfort to know that I’m not working on a commission. There is no deadline.  No one is waiting for this.  No competition lies ahead. And school is still a few weeks away.  I took this painting on my recent two-week vacation, and never unloaded it from my vehicle. I thought that perhaps I could give it some attention, but better things were offered during vacation time.  Now that I’m back home, things have slowed down, my routine is beginning to emerge once again, and I’m grateful for another quiet morning to read, reflect, and work on my painting.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to grow.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Words, Words, Words

August 2, 2016

T S Eliot complete scan (2)

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless 

As wind in dry grass

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

Relaxing over coffee and books this morning, I found myself dragged into some deep sentiments while reading T. S. Eliot. In less than two weeks, I’ll return for a week of Inservice in preparation for a new school year. Throughout that week, words will fill the rooms in which we sit and listen, words that probably originated in Washington D. C., then filtered through Austin, Texas, then on to Arlington ISD, then to my high school, then to us educators.

Nietzsche pleaded for as few mediators as possible between the creating spirits and those spirits hungry to receive them. The more voices standing in the gap, the greater the distortion of the Word. As a solitary teacher, I am painfully aware of the fractures created in my classroom when the light of a Nietzsche or Emerson or Shakespeare passes through the prism of my being, breaking apart their precious insights into my own categories, thus weakening the impact.  I always hope that I can steer my students directly toward the geniuses as my art teacher steered me to Andrew Wyeth and Harold Bloom steered me to Shakespeare.

This summer has been a precious odyssey to me, with many valuable life lessons gleaned. I can only hope that this fall I will step into classrooms with some souls hungry to feed from life experience, and that I don’t find ways to fill the gap between the geniuses and the students with pedagogical debris.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

 

Swimming in Ideas

August 1, 2016

arkansas

We sail because our mind is like a fantastic sea shell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.

Abraham Heschel, Man is Not Alone

The day has been quite fulfilling, as I’ve enjoyed Heschel’s engaging work, and picked up the brush after a two-day hiatus.  I picked up my Arkansas truck watercolor from the frame shop and love the presentation the framers put together. Then I turned my attention to the train from Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  This is a rather large composition and it’s going to require some focussed time. So far, it seems that I am doing much more drawing than painting, but I enjoy that too.  Thanks for reading.

train (2)

 

The Source

August 1, 2016

pines (2)

Plein Air Beginnings in Rolla, Missouri

pines photo (2)

Reference Photo for Unfinished Pine Sketches

It is the sense of the sublime that we have to regard as the root of man’s creative activities in art, thought and noble living.  Just as no flora has ever fully displayed the hidden vitality of the earth, so has no work of art ever brought to expression the depth of the unutterable, in the sight of which the souls of saints, poets and philosophers live.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

On Saturday morning, my new friend Lorraine McFarland–a remarkable pastelist residing near Rolla, Missouri–led me to the side of a lily pad-infested pond where we set up our easels in the cool morning and looked into the depths of the forest beyond. Surprisingly, the Missouri sun heated with enough intensity to chase us from our spots after about an hour of work, so we had to take reference photos with a vague promise that this work would be completed later. Returning home the next day, I discovered my A/C had quit, and the interior of my house was at 95 degrees. This morning, from yet another hotel room, I at least reside with the gladness of knowing an A/C man is arriving this morning to repair it.

Above, I have posted lines from the latest book that I read with a sense of amazement.  I am only five pages into the text, but I have re-read and re-marked them four separate times already, because I am unable to move beyond; this man’s words are going straight to my heart. I was experiencing these words as I gazed into the forest two days ago, my eyes moving all over the contours of three pines reaching upward through the dense growth, all the while sketching, correcting, blotting Annie Dillard’s “color patches”, and constantly catching my breath as snatches of beauty came and went across my paper just as fleetingly as they did across the highlighted trunks of those pines. For the space of one hour as I labored over this pair of compositional sketches, I realized as before that the forces surging through the artist’s eye and soul never translate onto the painted page. I have come to accept that.  As a guitarist, I still laugh at the story of the master asking his pupil why he was frustrated.  The pupil replied that he could always hear the music better than he was capable of playing it.  The master asked, “And why do you think that is ever going to change?”

As a Romantic, I am held captive by the Sublime. My expressions always fall far short of my experience, and I just have to accept that.  I enjoy trying, nevertheless.  Every painting, every sketch, every line of words I scribble into the journal are merely footprints, ciphers, eidolon, of what is happening to me as I encounter the Sublime.  My vacation travels have ended, I am home, but not yet Home.   In my soul, I am still journeying, wandering, and the odyssey far exceeds in beauty what I am able to express.

I close with a re-post of the pine tree that greeted me every morning in Colorado as I sat drinking my coffee on the porch.  I do indeed miss those 39-degree mornings, having returned to this triple-digit Texas hell.

pine (2)

Earlier Sketch of Pine Tree from South Fork, Colorado

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to encounter.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.