Archive for the ‘Collage’ Category

Request for Von Rad Collage

July 31, 2017

Von Rad.jpg

The Colorado Rockies are restoring my weary soul, as I’m spending plenty of time fly fishing in the streams and practicing my plein air watercolor craft. But I’ve paused to duck into a public library so I can get steady Internet access.

One of my respondents expressed an appreciation for my studies and art concerning Paul Tillich and Gerhard Von Rad.  He requested to see the Von Rad collage that one of my high school students purchased this past year. So, this one’s for you!

Thanks for reading.

Finding a Home for my Intellectual Heroes

March 9, 2017

Tillich (2)

All arts create symbols for a level of reality which cannot be reached in any other way.

Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith

I am posting a photo of this collage I created in 1989, my second year of teaching.  Paul Tillich became one of my intellectual heroes and guiding forces as I developed a course in the Humanities at Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas.  In 1996, when I transferred to Martin High School across the city, I imported Tillich into my Philosophy classes.  He, along with Emerson, Thoreau and Nietzsche were my main pillars as I sought to challenge students to think independently, to find their own voice.

As I have wound my way through this final year of teaching, approaching retirement, I often looked up at Tillich’s portrait from my school desk, thankful for all that he brought to my interior life. Today I’ll say Good-Bye to this image, as a graduate from this school returns from the university to purchase him.  I’m always pleased when a student thinks enough of one of my heroes to buy my artwork created in tribute.  Earlier this school year, a current student in my art history class purchased my framed collage of Gerhard von Rad, another hero of mine that unfortunately I could not work into my curriculum with the depth that I did Tillich.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Words, Words, Words

August 2, 2016

T S Eliot complete scan (2)

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless 

As wind in dry grass

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

Relaxing over coffee and books this morning, I found myself dragged into some deep sentiments while reading T. S. Eliot. In less than two weeks, I’ll return for a week of Inservice in preparation for a new school year. Throughout that week, words will fill the rooms in which we sit and listen, words that probably originated in Washington D. C., then filtered through Austin, Texas, then on to Arlington ISD, then to my high school, then to us educators.

Nietzsche pleaded for as few mediators as possible between the creating spirits and those spirits hungry to receive them. The more voices standing in the gap, the greater the distortion of the Word. As a solitary teacher, I am painfully aware of the fractures created in my classroom when the light of a Nietzsche or Emerson or Shakespeare passes through the prism of my being, breaking apart their precious insights into my own categories, thus weakening the impact.  I always hope that I can steer my students directly toward the geniuses as my art teacher steered me to Andrew Wyeth and Harold Bloom steered me to Shakespeare.

This summer has been a precious odyssey to me, with many valuable life lessons gleaned. I can only hope that this fall I will step into classrooms with some souls hungry to feed from life experience, and that I don’t find ways to fill the gap between the geniuses and the students with pedagogical debris.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

 

Depth

May 10, 2016

Joyce

Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences.  The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

Late last night, while trying to read Ulysses, I came across the above passage and just had to close the book and my eyes for a spell.  I needed some kind of epiphany, coming off a scintillating week of plein air painting activity in Arkansas and re-entering my high school to face a pile of work from my weeklong absence.  It was like plunging into a warm summer pond after leaving a sauna.  I had no idea how a single Monday could suck all the creative aspirations out of me, but I guess that is how the daily job can be.  Today is better, because I’m feeling the inspiration once again that fueled my desires last week.

I have an incredibly busy two weeks facing me before I leave for another round of art festivals and plein air workshop activity.  There is so much preparation that goes into leaving for these activities, and I enjoy most of those details, especially the anticipation of the events.  But at the same time, I have this need to stop, rest, contemplate, and make new art.  I have always believed that quality art comes out of the depths, and for me there is no depth when I am covered up in social encounters.  The book I read last year that has come to mean so much to me, Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers, urged to the reader that depth is sacrificed when one’s life is immersed in social media.  I could not agree more.  The art events that have enveloped me the past several weeks (with more to come) have taken me to the heights, but alas, I am not making art, not exploring new frontiers, and feel that a significant part of me is drying up.  I’m glad that I know how to fix this; I just need to find a way to adjust my daily calendar in order to get back to drawing and painting.

I apologize if this has come out as a “whiny” blog (I detest those!). I suppose that what I’m putting  out there right now is more of my private journal musings.  But still, there may be many of you who need to read these kinds of things, so thanks for reading.

I paint in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Closing the Weekend on a Kerouac Note

February 7, 2016

image

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

Jack Kerouac, “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose”

Before closing out my weekend with some quality reading before the fire, I felt the compulsion to work on a second Kerouac collage, finishing it just moments ago. My studio felt good once again, and though I had a splendid time out on the road, I am happy to be back in my own domestic environment.

studio

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your coming week!

Escape Velocity

February 4, 2016

image

I tingled all over; I counted minutes and subtracted miles. Just ahead, over the rolling wheatfields all golden beneath the distant snows of Estes, I’d be seeing old Denver at last. I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was “Wow!”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

In 1856 Walt Whitman gave us “Song of the Open Road.” One hundred one years later, Jack Kerouac gave us On the Road. Finally completing a collage this afternoon while listening to the film “The Source”, that old itch rose again to hit the open road. But alas, it is Thursday. Another work day stands between me and a coveted opportunity to drive across open country. Though it is February, the winter is so mild here in Texas, with temperatures at this moment in the mid-fifties and sunny. Truly if it weren’t for another work day tomorrow, I would push my vehicle down some open roads somewhere if for no other reason than just to gaze across the “raw land” (Kerouac’s phrase) and enjoy the things of life that really matter.

In the second month of a new semester, school is long on demands and short on praise. No matter what one does, there is always another directive coming down the pike. We reach a point that we’re convinced we can never do enough to satisfy the demands. I don’t want to turn into one of T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” by devoting all my time to preparations, grading, paperwork and assorted tasks that satisfy account books but not souls. At this point of the late afternoon, I’m glad that tomorrow’s demands have already been met in preparation, and perhaps I can settle into making some art or reading some quality literature (but I’d rather be on the road!).

Thanks for reading.

 

As Bach’s Concerto Filled the Sunlit Morning Chamber

July 11, 2014
John Locke Drawing/Collage

John Locke Drawing/Collage

Good poetry seems so simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets.  Poetry is nothing but healthy speech.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 29, 1841

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

Carl Sandburg

The early hours of the morning could not have been sweeter.  A few minutes after waking, I put on Bach’s harpsichord concertos and cranked up the volume, allowing them to fill up the chambers of my house while I showered, groomed, dressed, made breakfast, and then sat down to my work for the day.  A surprise visit from a couple of dear friends came later in the morning, and I realized it had been quite a long while since I was afforded such rich conversation (it seems I spend most of my hours lately commmuning with those creative spirits who published then left our earth centuries ago).  After lunch I divided my time between reclaiming one of my abandoned “junk rooms” (it is 90% complete now!) and continuing my work on this Logic course for the fall.  I am falling in love with John Locke who described logic as “the anatomy of thought.”  A few months ago (on my birthday to be exact), I came up with this notion that poetry was the discipline of language, and that I should devote more time to writing verse, composing songs, and distilling some of the ideas I have cultivated over a lifetime into smaller, more disciplined packages.  The study of logic is reinforcing that conviction, and I am finding a joy in mathematics that I never knew before (I loathed math in high school and college).  Currently, as I puzzle out the Aristotelian and Boolean squares of opposition, I am getting a kick out of analyzing categorical propositions for their truth values.  I know this all sounds dry, but it really isn’t–not to me at this moment, anyway.  It’s a whole new “Scene of Thought” to put it in Hume’s words.

I also love this “compost” idea that shows up in another Lockean quote that I put on today’s collage: “The great art to learn much is to undertake a little at a time.”  When I was a youth, I would sit in my pastor’s study, gaze across his massive library, and feel so ignorant, so under-educated.  I would often express to him in conversation that I wish I could possess a greater knowlege of the Bible.  He would merely smile and say, “Be patient.  It will come.  It just won’t come quickly.  Stay with it.”  Those words mean more to me now than they did at the time, but I still remember them, and am reminded of them now as I read pages from John Locke.  I was never a quick thinker, but a plodder.  Often I wish I could have picked up things more quickly, but I’m glad for what I’ve managed to acquire over the years.  And I’m still on that road, and loving every mile.

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.

Sometimes the Days are Filled with Gods

July 10, 2014
Collage built around Melville Woodcut Print

Collage built around Melville Woodcut Print

If ever I lay me on a bed of sloth in peace,

That instant let for me existence cease!

If ever with lying flattery you can rule me

So that contented with myself I stay,

If with enjoyment you can fool me,

Be that for me the final day!

Goethe, Faust

Being unsure of the source of energy, I am nevertheless abundantly appreciative for this opportunity to complete a long and fruitful day tidying rooms in my house and laboring long hours over logic lesson plans for the online course this fall.  I have nearly half of my fall semester laid out, and still have three good working days ahead of me before having to return to the second semester of summer school.  This feels good, real good.  I found myself looking over a text from Goethe that I read over ten years ago that somehow has stayed with me.

The quiet lull of the evening has yielded delicious moments in the comfy chair, reading further into Moby Dick and feeling stirred by some of his religious themes.  The chapel sermon in New Bedford compelled me to lay aside the volume and do some reading from the New Testament, both from its Greek and Latin Vulgate texts.  But before I get to that, please allow me to try and express why this day of unbridled energy feels so darned good right now, even at this late hour.  A passage from Moby Dick describing the aged chaplain, Father Mapple, went straight to my core:

At the time I now write of, Father Mapple was in the hardy winter of a healthy old age; that sort of old age which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for among all the fissures of his wrinkles, there shone certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom–the spring verdure peeping forth even beneath February’s snow.

I don’t wish to dwell on this, but I’ll at least publish this sentiment–turning sixty earlier this year bothered me.  I didn’t feel such regrets at forty or fifty, but for some reason sixty hurt.  And since that day I have been more faithful to sleep, diet, and exercise issues, but just could not seem to find any energy.  The ebbtide of life has bothered me, to put it very succinctly.  But these past three days have been different, with some measure of “newly developing bloom” and I am ebulliently grateful for that difference.  I feel more energy, more purpose, and more fulfilment in what I do, and am profoundly happy to feel that way, hoping the feeling continues.  For now, I will accept that Gift.  My soul feels the exultant cry from Melville’s text: 

Beat on, beat on, thou noble ship, and bear a hardy helm; for lo! the sun is breaking through; the clouds are rolling off–serenest azure is at hand.

For years I have been fascinated with the Prologue to The Gospel of St. John in the New Testament.  The opening verse, “In the beginning was the word” has always made me linger, taking seriously the sentiment expressed by Goethe in Faust:

‘Tis written: In the beginning was the Thought!

Consider well that line, the first you see,

That your pen may not write too hastily!

Is it then Thought that works, creative, hour by hour?

Thus should it stand: In the beginning was the Power!

Yet even while I write this word, I falter,

For something warns me, this too I shall alter.

The Spirit’s helping me!  I see now what I need

And write assured: In the beginning was the Deed!

Years ago, I was taught that the ancient Hebrews did not separate “word” from “act”, particularly in the writings of their Torah.  With that in mind, I enjoy Goethe’s meditation, connecting those two words intimately, and I have tried to apply that idea to my own personal day-to-day life of late–the word is power, because it is also act.

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.

 

 

 

On the Road with Jack Kerouac

July 8, 2014
On the Road Collage

On the Road Collage

“Now, Sal, we’re leaving everything behind us and entering a new and unknown phase of things.  All the years and troubles and kicks–and now this!  so that we can safely think of nothing else and just go on ahead with our faces stuck out like this, you see, and understand the world as, really and genuinely speaking, other Americans haven’t done before us . . .

Dean Moriarty, in On the Road

Before retiring to bed, I felt the itch to create another Route 66 collage, something I haven’t done in over five years.  I’ve missed this genre.  Working through the images compelled me to take out my copy of On the Road and spot read some of it, for the ump-teenth time.  As I write this, I am playing my On the Road DVD on the television, enjoying the jazz music and Beat dialogue.

Thanks for reading.  I think I’ll let this stuff go for the night . . . 

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Pope’s Essay on Man

July 8, 2014
Alexander Pope Drawing/Collage

Alexander Pope Drawing/Collage

This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons.  The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards:  The other may seem odd, but is true, I found I could express them more shortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their conciseness.  I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.

. . . 

I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage.  To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, may be a task more agreeable.

Alexander Pope, Introduction to “An Essay on Man”

After several halting attempts to teach Alexander Pope and his ideas, I found this statement this morning to be more insightful than any I’ve read before from his collection.  Maybe it was the fulness of time for me.  Back on my 60th birthday, I sat on a balcony on Easter Sunday morning, and recorded in my journal two observations on why I should work at composing poetry and music–the economy of language and the discipline of couching words and phrases in conducive syntax.  This was a revelation to me, and I have returned to it several times in the past two months.  But to sit this morning and read these words from an Enlightened mind truly launched me.  Several hours later I still am quivering from the experience.  Naturally, I felt I had to sit and crank out a drawing/collage of Pope, record this moment in my journal, and try to wax poetic in my writings (I guess two out of three tasks is O.K.).

I would like to say that I devoted the rest of the day to reading Pope and writing poetry, but alas, life/art happens: the Trinity Arts Guild invited me to join several artists for a paint-in at the studio in Bedford immediately after school.  So . . . I went there and worked on watercolor, and I shall post the results of it next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.