Archive for the ‘Albrecht Durer’ Category

Friday Evening Gallery Serenity

April 7, 2017

redlands

Lately from time to time my work up there is interrupted by long stretches at conferences, lecture trips, committee meetings and my teaching work down here in Freiburg.  But as soon as I go back up there . . . I am simply transported into the work’s own rhythm, and in a fundamental sense I am not in control of its hidden law.

Martin Heidegger, “Why Do I Stay in the Pronvinces?” (1934 radio address)

As the sun lingers a moment longer on the horizon of Palestine, Texas, I pause and enjoy the coolness of the breezes whispering across the quiet streets downtown and the voices of patrons drifting in and out of the Gallery at Redlands as well as the Historic Redlands Inn. It has been a most pleasant afternoon and evening, with friends dropping in from out of town whose company I find rejuvenating to me as an artist and lover of life. Shifting gears away from school life and into this small town and gallery life is comparable to what Heidegger described as he moved back and forth between the University of Freiburg and his cabin in the quiet town of Todtnauberg in the Black Forest.

As this evening grew quiet, I recalled enchanting hours spent on the Laguna Madre the past couple of summers, and drifted across the gallery to see the twelve framed island paintings arranged together on one of the walls.

durer

This one in particular appealed to me, because on the late afternoon I painted it, I was working through Martin Heidegger’s essay “The Origin of the Work of Art.” He quoted the Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer–” ‘For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” Laying the book aside, I looked deeply into the cord grasses clustered at my feet, and as I thought of the layers of color embedded in those strands of grasses, my mind concocted a scheme that involved masking, layering, scraping and drawing. I knew that the task would involve layer upon layer of work and scrutiny,  and the effort took me well into the evening hours. By the time the final layers of masking were removed and the last glazes of wash applied, I indeed felt that I had wrested something from nature that evening. Hence, I felt the need to journal all over the page before submitting the work for framing.

The hour is growing late, and I feel the weariness of today’s lengthy travel, followed by long hours in the gallery. A special thanks to all my friends who came and kept me in good company and cheer this afternoon.  I love you all.

And thanks to all of you who read me . . .

Passing Through Portals

February 1, 2017

blog-door

. . . Albrecht Dürer, did after all make the well-known remark: “For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” “Wrest” here means to draw out the rift and to draw the design with the drawing-pen on the drawing-board. But we at once raise the counterquestion: How can the rift be drawn out if it is not brought into the open region by the creative projection as a rift, which is to say, brought out beforehand as strife of measure and unmeasure? True, there lies hidden in nature a rift-design, a measure and a boundary and, tied to it, a capacity for bringing forth–that is, art.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

In the darkness of the night, I trained a light on the aged door of the store where I resided for the weekend, and another light on my easel. Working in the stillness of that environment, I felt a depth of feeling and connection with my childhood overnight stays at my grandparents’ farm–nights spent lying awake, staring at the door knob and locking system dimly present in the quiet night. Musing over what lurked on the other side of that door became a lifetime fascination from me.

As I wrestle with this lengthy and cumbersome essay from Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”, and make use of his distinct vocabulary, I gather a new idea from his philosophy that my process for making art involves a struggle between my world of memory and the earth which yields up the objects I encounter. As I mingle my memories with my vision of these objects, a work of art emerges.

Painting through the night at the store, and later with re-visits and revisions of this painting, I mused over the portals of my past and the ones that lie in my present and future. Robert Motherwell and Henri Matisse wrote eloquently about “open door” motifs in their bodies of work. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I am considering a series of paintings of antique doors that I have acquired over past years, hoping that some significant ideas and symbols might emerge from these attempts.

The idea of “portal” has kept me preoccupied lately. My eye is a portal, through which passes this fascination of the ancient door allowing access into the next room, the next chamber, the next chapter. And as I move through my life, I am passing through portals, from one world to the next. This lifetime odyssey has passed through countless doors, most of them fascinating.

frame-door-cropped

And so, with a heart exhilarated with anticipation, I approach my next attempt at making art.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

Learning from Repetition

January 11, 2016

image

Motherwell is ruefully aware that the “Elegies” are regarded by some as a formula. (“When he gets stuck, what should he do but make another ‘Elegy’?” he quotes one critic as saying).

Grace Glueck, “The Creative Mind; The Mastery of Robert Motherwell,” The New York Times, December 2, 1984.

My art history reading of late has taken me back to Robert Motherwell, an Abstract Expressionist painter who has always fascinated me because of his erudition. I’ve had the pleasure of reading his Collected Writings and have perused many volumes of his work that I’ve purchased over the years.  The Youtube interviews with him are also rich in ideas, and after wearing out the VHS tape, I purchased the DVD of his “Storming the Citadel.” Yesterday I found this New York Times article and read it with great interest as well. He painted the “Elegy” series well over a hundred times, and sometimes took criticism that he just fell back on the pattern when he was out of fresh ideas. In response, he said in an interview:

. . . the reason I’ve made so many of whatever I’ve made that could be called a series–because I detest serial painting–is simply because I feel that I’ve never really solved any of them, and so they remain a challenge.  The day I can make an Elegy that really satisfies me, then I’ll stop.

In the past month or so, I have become absorbed with drawing. Throughout my artistic life, I have believed in my heart that drawing is fundamental to art, and yet have felt like a hypocrite, because I have always drawn so little.  Finally, I am obsessed with the practice of drawing.  And for many years, I have stared at the anatomy of trees in the winter, when they are so exposed and accessible to the naked eye, yet never pulled the trigger in deciding to fill up sketchbooks with tree drawings.  That has changed.

All I wish to say is that I am not falling back on tree drawings because I have no fresh ideas.  Like Motherwell, I’m still trying to figure them out, still trying to find a satisfaction with my own efforts.  Meanwhile, I have learned a great deal by this repetitive exercise.  Following is an abbreviated list of what I’ve come to understand while attempting to draw trees:

  1. Tree boughs are not silhouettes; they have a range of tones.
  2. In watercolor, the tree’s wood is not uniform throughout in color and value.
  3. Tapering the boughs and limbs, for me, is extremely difficult and requires much concentration and repeated checking.
  4. The snarls of twigs are similar to scribbles with the pencil.
  5. There are always more twigs at the ends of the tree that I tend to notice in early glances.
  6. I do not want the tree to look badly pruned.  I must taper the twigs all the way to the point that they nearly disappear into the sky.

My attempt at watercoloring the tree tops in my back yard is coming along much more slowly than the drawings, but I’m happy in the struggle.

tree wc

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Sunday Pondering

January 10, 2016

imageWhile gazing heavenward through the tops of winter trees, I note the complexity of limbs partitioning the sky, as lead tracings in stained-glass cathedral windows partition theology.

trees

There is plenty of schoolwork to accomplish this Sunday, but I’m trying to put in some quality studio work as well.  I completed a 5 x 7″ drawing of the tree tops in my back  yard. I have also begun an 8 x 10″ watercolor of the same composition.

Thanks for reading.

Warming to the Christmas Holiday

December 19, 2015

image

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end.

But I do not talk of the beginning or end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,

Nor any more youth or age than there is now, 

And will never be any more perfection than there is now.

Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,

Always the procreant urge of the world.

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

Today marks the first day of my two-week Christmas vacation, and I regret that I am observing it with my second nasty sinus infection this season.  Today marks the fourth day of the corruption.

At any rate, I scraped together sufficient energy to spend the day working on a watercolor commission and doing basic chores about the house.  Now that the sun has gone down and I’ve lost my natural light, I lay the watercolor aside and pursue my passion, reading and writing in the journal.

While painting today, I played a couple of DVDs about the Beat Generation, and felt a rush from their energy.  Much as those writers did in their day, I tire of the antiseptic environment that surrounds me daily in the public school sector.   I shared with one of my classes recently the quote from N. C. Wyeth about how education frequently levels the students: “We are pruned to stumps, one resembling the other, without character or grace.”  All I can hope for my students is that they understand their creative growth depends on many factors outside the classroom walls.  My own educational experience gave me the essential tools to expand my horizons, but the creative urge came from a different source.

library painting

Last week, I worked on a commission for the City of Kennedale, near where I live.  I chose not to post this watercolor image before the city delivered it to the recipient–a librarian who was retiring from service.  I failed to photograph the finished work, and now it is out of my hands!  The finish work included considerable darkening of the foreground grass, some fall trees to the right of the clock tower, and toning down the overall redness of the brick building.  I also added consierable mass to the tree limbs at the top of the composition, as well as more clusters of dead leaves.

winter tree

I have also made about ten more 5 x 7″ tree drawings that I’ve been pricing between $25-40 (matted with 8 x 10″ around the outside).  Drawing has proved relaxing, especially with the way things have gone the final three weeks of school leading up to the holidays.

winter tree & fence

This particular drawing was purchased by a dear friend this past week.  I’ve appreciated all the encouragement offered by friends recently, and really look forward to more opportunities over the holidays for making art.

Thanks for reading.

Revised Wednesday on the Laguna Madre

June 17, 2015

Note to readers: The following is what I wrote one week ago while on the island, but was unable to post on the blog.

W E D N E S D A Y

Media Day at the Laguna Madre Field Station

The Dawn of Media Day

The Dawn of Media Day

But what does all this scribbling amount to? What is now scribbled in the heat of the moment one can contemplate with somewhat of satisfaction, but alas! to-morrow–aye, to-night–it is stale, flat, and unprofitable,–in fine, is not, only its shell remains, like some red parboiled lobster-shell which, kicked aside never so often, still stares at you in the path.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, March 5, 1838

Rising refreshed at 6:10, I pulled on my clothes and wandered out behind the field station to take a picture of the eastern horizon. After taking the photograph and looking at my phone, I discovered such a backlog of blog and facebook posts, that I felt a compulsion to answer every single one, and it took a full thirty minutes. Then, taking time out to read from Thoreau’s Journal, I smiled inwardly at the piles of journal pages I’ve piled up since 1986, wondering how many of them are good only for starting fires this winter when the fireplace is ready. I found out that the media would be arriving between 10:00 and 11:00. I went ahead and began laying out a composition for the fire wheel flowers I have been practicing throughout the week, hoping to accomplish more of the Albrecht Dürer discipline.

Painting Fire Wheels in Preparation for the Media

Painting Fire Wheels in Preparation for the Media

Boats moved up and down the lagoon throughout the morning, each containing one or two occupants. When I looked up and saw with surprise a boat filled with nine people, I figured it must be my guests for the morning. As it slowed to approach the dock, I walked the distance from the field station to the end of the dock. A videographer already had a giant camera trained on me, and others raised their 35mm cameras and smart phones and began shutterbugging. I felt quite overwhelmed by all of this; there is no way to explain their enthusiasm and hearty greeting, and the effect it had on me.

The Media Arrives

The Media Arrives

The morning was like a press conference with interviews on TV (it was the NBC affiliate from Corpus Christi, KRIS-TV) and recorded for the local newspaper (The Caller-Times) and university communications department. Every single person was a ball of enthusiasm, filled with ideas and good words. I could have stayed all day with them, and was sorry when time came for them to leave. I photographed the boat pulling away, and they were photographing me, still!

http://www.kristv.com/clip/11598233/artist-paints-laguna-madre-part-of-new-program-at-tamucc#.VX9XGZV6Mc1.wordpress

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wr03ZJB84TI&feature=youtu.be

http://www.tamucc.edu/news/2015/06/061115%20Dr.%20David%20Tripp%20.html#.VXnajXoo7qB

Once the media departed, I felt more charged than ever to paint. Finding a better quality watercolor paper among my stock, I decided to stop using the Utrecht brand paper I had been using up to this point (a quantity of it had been given me), and went back to my old stand by: D’Arches 140-pound paper. As soon as I laid in the flat wash of a sky, I knew my problem had been solved. There was also no problem in lifting out the wet color for cloud effects with a cotton towel and Q-Tips.

Painting Number 12, on Quality Paper

Painting Number 12, on Quality Paper

Dinah Bowman, a well-known local artist in the Corpus Christi area who was the main driving force behind securing this Artist in Residence position for me, gathered shells and brought them to me so I could try some close drybrush study of them as well. For years, I had admired the Andrew Wyeth seashore studies executed during his summer months in Maine. This would be my first time to attempt painting seashells, the remains of a crab, and a discarded fishing lure.

Drybrush Study of Shore Debris

Drybrush Study of Shore Debris

As the sun sunk low and the sky and land filled with warm colors, I decided to try one more plein air study of the lagoon on the south side of me.

South Side Laguna Madre

South Side Laguna Madre

The day had been satisfied beyond description. Night is coming on. Time to lie down to sleep before it gets too dark to find my way to the bed.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.