Another Turn of the Crank

Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf. Art is applied to the mixture of his will with the same things, as in a house, a canal, a statue, a picture. But his operations taken together are so insignificant, a little chipping, baking, patching, and washing, that in an impression so grand as that of the world on the human mind, they do not vary the result.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

My sister is taking the morning shift with Dad in the hospital. This gave me some space to collect my wits and do something constructive. Reading from Emerson and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek brought some calm back into my system.

I’ve resumed a watercolor in my sketchbook inspired by what I saw in last evening’s walk through the neighborhood. Sketchbook drying time is much longer than what I’m accustomed to when I paint on stretched watercolor paper. But my haste in getting to St. Louis meant simply throwing the very basic watercolor supplies into a backpack. The longer drying time means time spent in books and journal, which I suppose is better anyway. I like it when I can feed my mind and imagination while working on art.

The Emerson quote above really stirred me. I acknowledge that my art is an attempt to manipulate nature, using my training and imagination. And at my older age, I acknowledge now that my efforts are so small when measured against our universe as well as the history of art. I read years ago some wise words from an artist who said the world doesn’t need our art; it will get along just fine without us. That liberated me from the oppression of cranking out blockbuster paintings. These later, experimental years are much more interesting, to me anyway.

I’m trying some new things. I began my trees with a wash of Winsor Lemon. Then I used the Masquepen to stipple the area. A light wash of Cobalt came next and is now drying (very slowly). I will stipple with masquing again. Then I’ll work on the darker, richer parts of the leaf clusters. I will leave soon for the hospital (Cheryl just texted there is no change from yesterday. Better than hearing that he’s worse).

Thanks for reading.


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