A Life of the Mind

Blog Thursday

Morning Meditation over the Journals of Eugene Delacroix

Blog Thursday 2

Working on Watercolors as the Dawn Breaks

There, seated on a bench, I started to jot down in my notebook some reflections similar to those that I am tracing here. . . . I cannot and must not live in any other way than through the mind; the food that it demands is more necessary to my life than that which my body calls for.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal, July 14, 1850

Finally, a genuine “off” day between college lecturing. After the third week of the semester, I finally have my ducks in a row so that on the days I don’t have class I can actually spend my hours doing what I feel is most central to my life–reading, writing in my journal, blogging and making art. Tomorrow’s college lecture is ready so I don’t have to fret over those details.

I rose at 5 a.m., with a sense of joy and anticipation. Following breakfast, I found myself in the watercolor studio picking at a composition I had been working on the night before. I now have three railroad watercolors in progress, and am happily moving to and fro among them. By 6:15, I decided to break from the painting and retreat to my study to continue my reading from Delacroix’s journals. I laughed out loud when I read the passage posted above, because I have felt foolish keeping a handwritten journal religiously since 1985, and still scribbling in it almost daily, then occasionally writing a blog from what I’ve already written in my journal. And here, I find Delacroix admitting the same thing–keeping a notebook, then re-writing, editing what he first wrote as he transfers it into the journal now published. From time to time, I wonder if I should print out all my blog pages, then wonder if that is really necessary, since I’ve already recorded most of this stuff in my handwritten journals.

I have always loved this notion of “the life of the mind” and am gratified this morning to read Delacroix expressing the same sentiment. I’ve always feared that it sounded arrogant to say that I live a life of the mind, perhaps even foolish and impractical. But it’s accurate. Forty years ago this fall, I embarked on the life of the mind when I entered graduate school, thrilled at the daily pursuit of the history of ideas, and over these decades, reading has been my food, and attempting to express my ideas by making art and standing to deliver in classrooms has been my exercise.

On Monday evening, I will stand before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth for the purpose of doing a watercolor demonstration. To describe this event as daunting is a gross understatement. I’ve known of the assignment for a number of months, but still, the anxiety of standing and delivering amidst a body of seasoned watercolorists keeps my inner doubts churning. At any rate, I’m preparing daily now to have something (hopefully) worthy to say and demonstrate when that hour arrives. Wish me luck!

Much of what I express on these blog pages is being shaped into the coming presentation. So, again, I thank all of you for your reading and your responses.

Until next time then . . .

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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6 Responses to “A Life of the Mind”

  1. Cheryl Rose Says:

    Don’t worry, David, you will do a great job because you are a master at what you do!


  2. davidtripp Says:

    Cheryl, you are always so encouraging, thank you so much! I will give it my best shot.


  3. Xraypics Says:

    Ah! That exercise – dividing the mind between making the decisions required for constructing the work of art, whilst simultaneously talking about and presenting the technique. It is difficult, but with your mental agility it should be a piece of cake. I hope you will share your thoughts on the event.


    • davidtripp Says:

      I will gladly share the experience, Tony, and appreciate your confidence in me. These will be professionals that I address Monday evening, and I find that more than a little daunting. But they did select me, and so I just need to believe that I can get this done. Thanks always for your good word.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. gaiainaction Says:

    Yes keeping a notebook for insights or thoughts to then later use in a journal is a good idea as, like you say, thoughts and insights can be fleeting…. my trouble is that I have rather a lot of notes and note-books and somehow I am behind with my journaling, sometimes life get in the way but I find that inspiring too! Lovely blog post as always David, much appreciated.


  5. davidtripp Says:

    Again, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I think we are much alike in this-I myself am not organized. I lack a system. I don’t even keep my journals in chronological order on the bookshelves! I do go back and read from them occasionally, but then when I re-copy and enlarge a citation in the new journal, I manage to create a separate needle for the growing haystack.


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