Post-Christmas Musings from Studio Eidolons

View from my Writing Desk

Then came the sound of a musical instrument, from behind it seemed, very sweet and very short, as if it were one plucking of a string or one note of a bell, and after it a full clear voice–and it sounded so high and strange that he thought it was very far away, further than a star. The voice said, Come.

C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrims’ Regress

The interim between Christmas and New Year’s Eve proves a pensive one for me. I may sound off about 2020 in future blogs, but not tonight. Tonight I feel the pull, the invitation, to breathe in the beauty of life and attempt to create something in response.

I chose tonight to re-open a C. S. Lewis book I read in the late 1970’s that continues to whisper to me from the shadows. Though my worldview has changed profoundly from what I thought in my early thirties, the allegory remains poignant for me. Life for me has always been an odyssey. From childhood I have wondered where my journey would take me, and there is no way I could have anticipated what unfolded in the decades following. Now, in these quiet times of retirement and reflection, I still am haunted by the faint sound of a sweet musical strain.

With a calendar containing very few appointments, I have adjusted to the sweetness of leisure, and just the mere act of thinking is better than I have ever known before. It appears that the only strife I endure is finding ways to describe in writing and conversation the nature of this Quality, this I have always pursued.

While majoring in art in my early university days, I was drawn more deeply into a university Christian fellowship and found myself taking steps toward the pastoral ministry. This resulted in an internal conflict between religion and art as I thought I understood them then. One day in a studio drawing class the instructor, making opening remarks to inspire us to begin our assignment, commented that he could not find a line separating art from religion. Unaware of the smallness of my own perspectives, I vigorously shook my head. The instructor acknowledged my protest with only a wry smile.

Today I look back on that college moment with embarrassment. If the instructor were still alive, I would wish to apologize for my immaturity on that day, and acknowledge now that I can no longer separate art from religion, if indeed they are different. Twenty years ago, my art was only a tool for me, while religion was something I could not sufficiently explain to others or to myself. Today, art and religion may be different words for the same phenomena. For me anyway, they far surpass my ability to encapsulate in words.

For a week now, I have found myself reading, reflecting and journaling, but producing no art. After months of commissions I finally have the freedom and space to create whatever I wish, and frankly I wish to pursue so many subjects in watercolor as well as drawing that I find myself clogged up. Finally yesterday I sat down with a sketchbook and did a quick study of a Bighorn Sheep that I could not stop thinking about since he surprised me on the slopes of Zion National Park several months back. Maybe now the cork is out of the bottle and art work can once again flow from the tip of my pencil or brush. We’ll see. I’m packing my art supplies for both studio and plein air activity for when we reach our destination.

Bighorn Sheep Sketch
Winter 2017 in the St. Louis Region
Quick watercolor sketch, using the photograph above

I’m glad that now in the age of smart phones we carry our photo albums with us always. In looking through my photos from the past few Christmases, I came across this pair. I had done an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of a winter riverside scene I liked very much. My plan was to use this sketch to create a larger, more studied painting. But within a week, the sketch sold, and I soon forgot my plans. Oh well. Maybe this winter I’ll consider re-doing this project.

Sandi is finally recovering from an illness that dogged her for the better (or worse) part of a week. We are preparing to hit the road for another adventure, and I intend to blog along the way.

Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you a beautiful holiday season.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Studio Eidolons

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6 Responses to “Post-Christmas Musings from Studio Eidolons”

  1. North Liza Lane Says:

    such a wonderful post…..and what a beautiful view!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dian Says:

    Love this entry. The words- “the sweetness of leisure” really hit home. I do seem overwhelmed at times with so many projects (especially creative ones) that I want to accomplish. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharron Spence Says:

    I hope you find additional words to express your thoughts about art and religion being the same phenomena. Why do you think so?

    Liked by 1 person

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