Saturday Morning Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

Heraclitus attracts exegetes as an empty jampot wasps; and each new wasp discerns traces of his own favorite flavor.

Jonathan Barnes, Presocratics

Good morning from the sunny Gallery at Redlands! Every time I come back here, I am warmed by greetings from friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and last evening in the Gallery was no exception. This morning’s reading from the fragments of Heraclitus (2500 years ago) has gotten my head spinning, and just as I was second-guessing myself as to how much of my own thoughts I was reading into the writings of this ancient sage, I came across the statement posted above from Jonathan Barnes.

I will always be grateful that the seminary taught me to read Greek long ago. Lingering over fragment 80 of Heraclitus this morning spurred me to “darkening” many pages from my journal (I love Leonard Cohen’s “darkening” vs. scribbling when it comes to journaling). Heraclitus regarded the world’s dynamic as a perpetual clash of opposites. These clashes, according to Heraclitus, created harmonies the same way as happens with the bow and lyre.

They do not understand how, while differing from, it is in agreement with itself. There is a back-turning connection, like that of a bow or lyre.

Heraclitus, Fragment 51

In previous blogs, I have shared Heidegger’s philosophy of art as a strife between earth and world. “Earth”, to Heidegger, refers to the natural world as it is. “World” refers to everything the artist brings to earth when s/he attempts to create art. There emerges a struggle, because earth does not surrender willingly what it conceals. At the same time, the artist’s world does not remain unchanged during this struggle to make art. Out of the struggle, a third element, “art”, rises. Art is the result of the collision of earth and world.

Heraclitus describes the clash as one that results in harmonies. The Greek word translated “harmonies” could be rendered “construction” or “connection.” Another translator renders it “fitting together” or “attunement.” At this point, I found my imagination firing with applications to my own processes in trying to make a successful watercolor.

New work in progress in the Gallery

As I continue experimenting with 8 x 10″ compositions of evergreens in snow, the observations of Heraclitus are giving me some clarity. The collision of opposites is going on constantly, between wet and dry surface, warm vs. cool colors, contrasts of dark and light, movments between space and form, and the struggle between complementary colors.

Today I have been adjusting my colors between the complements of green and red, and feel that I have learned a great deal about how those two colors and their variations work side-by-side in these forest compositions. I’m going to continue exploring the fragments of Heraclitus to see what else I can glean about unity in diversity, harmony in conflict, etc.

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.

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3 Responses to “Saturday Morning Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands”

  1. sienablue Says:

    I had a wise mentor at work who spoke of the necessity of embracing dynamic tension. In our world, it was about the tension between the realities/limitations of technology with the business needs. In politics, well let’s not go there today…. In art, I guess it’s that tension between earth and world that you described in this post.

    I thought a lot about what you wrote about the struggle between complementary colors. I never studied color theory but right now I am just beginning to successfully embrace the possibilities and harmonies between complementary colors. Nature, as I see it now, does not fit neatly into the virgin colors in the pans or tubes of paints but it skillfully blends the complements into satisfying hues that have no names. This revelation was the gift of the grayest of winter mornings here. All the gray in my backyard view was a loving dance of the complementary pairs. A wonder to behold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • davidtripp Says:

      I am so delighted to read this, thank you! I knew what complementary colors were since high school, but never put them into my own practice of painting until I started teaching art history back in the 1990s. As I researched and taught about the French Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters, I decided to pursue some of the theories of Renoir, say Cezanne, and Van Gogh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you so much for your response. I am working quite a bit lately on Heidegger’s theories of Art as a collision between earth and world, and I am gleaning some amazing ideas from them. As for complementary colors, I knew of them since high school. But never applied them to my own painting until I started studying and teaching about the French impressionist and post-impressionist Painters. From Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh I figured out that I no longer had to purchase neutral colors or paint. I could mix everything from the primaries. All of my Browns and Grace came from mixing my basic colors oh, and my paintings came to life. I still feel like a mad scientist in the library when I try new combinations, always taking notes in my journals to keep up with the new things I’m finding out. I am just so happy now that retirement gives me the time to pursue this kind of bliss. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to your thoughtful post. I have been moving around quite a bit and I’ve had trouble settling down and turning my attention to important matters. Thank you so much for staying in touch with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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