Archive for April, 2019

Saturday Morning Musings over Coffee

April 6, 2019

creel redone

“Thinking About the Next Catch”

Watercolor

I think continually of those who were truly great.

Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history

Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,

Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition

Was that their lips, still touched with fire,

Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.

And who hoarded from the Spring branches

The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

 

What is precious, is never to forget

The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs

Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.

Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light

Nor its grave evening demand for love.

Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother

With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

 

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,

See how these names are fêted by the waving grass

And by the streamers of white cloud

And whispers of wind in the listening sky.

The names of those who in their lives fought for life,

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.

Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun

And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Sir Stephen Spender, “The Truly Great”

Day-before-yesterday, while poking around in an eclectic bookstore, I happened across a copy of Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.  My curiosity aroused, I pulled up a chair, opened the book, began reading from the Preface, and was immediately charmed. This was published in 1998. How on earth did it fly under my radar for twenty-one years? I have never heard of the author, a motivational speaker featured by a host of corporations at various events. As I continued reading, I found the volume to be similar in its attraction to a TED talk. Hardback. $7.50. Why not?

The book has been a warm companion since its purchase, and with this being a Saturday morning, I decided to remain in bed with a cup of coffee, my laptop, smartphone, journal, sketchbook, and of course, this book. Reading about Leonardo is never a wasted activity for me. I have collected at least a half dozen biographies of him, culminating in my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s celebrated work.  Wishing that I had brought the Isaacson biography on my current trip, I stopped yesterday at a Barnes & Noble store to pull one from the shelf and take the following notes from the closing pages: twenty life lessons from Leonardo da Vinci:

Take notes, on paper. Five hundred years later, Leonardo’s notebooks are around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start writing them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.

I began my journals back in the 1980’s and am still at it, scribbling almost daily. But again, reading of Leonardo’s lifestyle, I still fall short of the sketchbook/journal synthesis; I rarely draw in my journals, maintaining separate sketchbooks for that purpose. I still wish to cultivate the habit of cross-sectioning my drawing with my writing; I would love to know the synthesis of the two as Leonardo practiced.

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While musing over Leonardo, journaling, sketching, and the general incubation of ideas, I was suddenly seized with the impulse to indulge in some “psychic automatism” sketching as the surrealists artists practiced and later extolled by Robert Motherwell. After several thumbnail abstract sketches, I then pursued some free writing and found the exercise rewarding. In fact, that is what prompted me to set aside my playthings and see if I could push out another blog.

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By the way, this is Hazel, a new “friend” I’ve met who has a fascination with lighted screens–TV, cell phone, laptop. She’s a Jack Russell Terrier/Corgi mix, and she habitually perches on the sofa at my shoulder to stare intently into whatever I am engaging at the moment. She will remain there as long as I am engaged–sometimes for hours. Now that I have moved to the kitchen table, she has decided to join me in this effort. We have been here for nearly half an hour now, and she is still staring . . .

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assistant editor

Earlier, while still in bed, I received the delightful email notifcation from CC Young Senior Living that I have been awarded first place in the watercolor category for their annual Artists & Writers competition. I posted the winning entry at the top of this blog: “Thinking About the Next Catch”, a watercolor still life I created in my garage man cave a few winters back. I look forward to attending the reception in Dallas on April 27.

This morning has been positively delicious–reading, journaling, sketching, thinking, blogging, and smiling down at Hazel in all her inquisitive glory.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone (this morning I have Hazel).

 

Quality Leisure

April 4, 2019

uncas

“Uncas Slays a Deer” by N. C. Wyeth

To me, the most glorious phase of the great man’s career is that final period of divine serenity–not self-satisfaction, but at peace with himself.

N. C. Wyeth

After more than a week of events and travel, I happily stop to rest for a few days. This morning I completed my reading of David Michaelis’s N C. Wyeth: A Biography.  Much of the final chapter I savored yesterday afternoon in the quiet galleries of the Museum of Texas Tech University. Their Diamond M Collection features an entire gallery filled with original N. C. Wyeth paintings. Time seemed to evaporate while I sojourned there, gazing upon those large, colorful compositions. Finally I sat on a comfortable bench and read, enjoying the communion with this handsome body of work.

Much of this biography filled me with a sense of sadness, reading of N. C.’s dissatisfaction with his life’s work. It is not uncommon to read of one’s profound sense of unhappiness when failing to reach a particular goal. I myself did not reach the goal I had set for myself ages ago at the beginning of my profession. But honestly, I don’t feel a sense of failure. In fact, I doubt that I would have been happy and fulfilled had I reached the goal I initially set. Looking back now, I see my life as a metaphor once spelled out by Emerson–a zigzag set of tacks left by a sailboat en route to the distant shore. My professional career shifted more than once before settling into twenty-eight years at one job and then finally retiring. I look back with no regrets. The art that I now pursue was possible throughout those decades, nothing blocked my efforts. And now, I simply have more quality time for these pursuits.

Wyeth was deeply dissatisfied that he never achieved his standard. He wished to be a fine artist rather than an illustrator. He once wrote that he could have become a fine artist had he not “bitched” himself with a lifetime of illustration commissions. In my earlier years, I complained that my art was more illustrative than aesthetic. The only reason I stopped worrying over that was my discovery that Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper frequently complained that they were regarded as illustrators rather than fine artists. I found that liberating, and decided from that day on that I would just pursue my passion of drawing and painting and no longer worry over what kind of artist I am.

I have just returned from some luxurious days spent in Corpus Christi, where I delivered a pair of new paintings to be featured in a show at Castaways Gallery in Port Aransas, Texas. I am posting these along with two others selected from my collection at Bowman Design and Framing. Pictures were posted in a recent blog, but a change has been made, for the better, I believe. Here are the four that will be included in the show of “Sand Dunes”:

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The reception for the show will be Friday night, April 5, from 5-7 p.m.  The gallery is located on the premises of Castaways Seafood & Grill at 337 N Alister St., Port Aransas, Texas. I wish I could attend, but I am eight hours away from there, and have several more deadlines to meet in the coming days.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Wandering along the the Gulf

April 1, 2019

Contemplating Lacunae

Behind the Field Station

Cactus in the Blossoms

Sentry Crab

Three years have sprinted by since my last visit to Bowman Design and Framing in Portland, Texas. The drive there from home is eight hours, but worth the journey. I took the time to photograph some work I have on display there. All four pieces posted above are remains from my Laguna Madre shows of 2015-16. The top two are larger pieces I created in the studio from photos I took while on the island. The 3rd & 4th images were painted en plein air while I actually resided on the island during my artist-in-residency. I created nineteen watercolors during that six-day sojourn. Coming down here this weekend stirred those memories in me yet again.

I made the trip to deposit two new Padre Island watercolors in a new show opening soon at a new gallery venue in Corpus Christi.

Tranquility Among the Dunes

Padre Pondering

This show will hang during the month of April.

Thanks for reading . . .