Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category

Waiting for the Morning Light . . .

August 11, 2017

20170811_055217

When the early morning light quietly 

grows above the mountains . . . . 

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

I set the alarm for 5 a.m. and rose to a 48-degree morning in South Fork, Colorado. My lovely stay here is drawing near a close, and I am still probing this engaging poem of Heidegger’s written from his days in the Black Forest. Following a long black night’s slumber, I felt kissed by the dawn, and rose gladly to dress, put on coffee to brew, and step outside onto the cabin deck while the darkness was just beginning to withdraw.

The world’s darkening never reaches

to the light of Being.

For the first time, my attention froze on those words. Looking up at the lit sky behind the mountains, I noticed that nature’s shapes below were beginning to emerge and take on color and identity. And I meditated on this–the light gives shape to the forms below; the forms do not reach up to the light.

Reaching for my Greek New Testament, I turned to John’s Prologue (John 1:1-18) and began reading that text that I had learned to translate since my graduate school days decades ago:

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness is unable to extinguish it (John 1:5). What a thought–it is the nature of light to invade darkness, push back the darkness. The darkness does not come to the light, nor does it overpower the light. My mind raced in a dozen directions, from the wisdom shed by European thinkers during the 18th-century Enlightenment to some of my own personal, biographical memories. Light overcomes darkness. As I sat on the darkened porch, watching the Colorado landscape take shape beneath the light of the dawn, I decided to set up my plein air easel and get ready to resume the watercolor that I had sketched out the evening before. As my eye trained on the boulder and fir tree below my deck, I delighted in the rose colors appearing on the rock as the sun rose in the east. The fir tree seemed suddenly to dance in the yellow-green glory of the light cast from the sun, and I excitedly reached for my brush.

But alas, the rosy sun suddenly dissolved into a gray overcast, and the rock and tree returned to their neutral tints. I shall patiently wait for the sun to return. I want this watercolor to depict a bright landscape, not an overcast one.

Returning to The Gospel of John and laying it alongside Heidegger’s poem, I continued with delight to draw out parallels between the texts, and by the time I stopped, I had scribbled out 5 1/2 pages in my journal, sketchy thoughts waiting to be fleshed out as the day progresses.

Thank you for reading. This has been a soul-stirring morning in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts in the Pre-Dawn

August 9, 2017

pre dawn

South Fork, Colorado at 5:40 a.m.

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . . . 

(Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”)

Rising to the sound of the South Fork of the Rio Grande flowing past my cabin window this morning, I felt the rush of gratitude again for life and beauty. Once the coffee was brewed I sat with my open journal and poured out my heart upon the pages. The pen could not move fast enough.

I love the Heidegger poem, a fragment of which I’ve posted above. I realize he left the ellipsis so he could complete his sentence with four stanzas of completed ideas, but I now wish to complete the thought with my own words.

. . . I acknowledge that the Word is already in play. (Tripp)

Heidegger argued that the Greek term logos, which we translate “word” means “to gather together.” Heidegger believed the Greeks understood the word as a cohesive, gathering force. I’ve been playing with that idea for several months now during these retirement wanderings, and have grown fond of the idea.

My simple thought for the morning is this–upon waking in the pre-dawn and looking out on the beauty of the Colorado morning, I realized that though the hour was early, the Word was already organizing my thoughts, my day, my life.

Hope that doesn’t sound too esoteric. I am filled with good notions this morning.

Thanks for reading. I have a date with rainbow trout . . .

Warm Thoughts in the Cold Dawn

August 8, 2017

COLD COLORADO

It is language that tells us about the nature of a thing, provided that we respect language’s own nature. In the meantime, to be sure, there rages round the earth an unbridled yet clever talking, writing, and broadcasting of spoken words.  Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. Perhaps it is before all else man’s subversion of this relation of dominance that drives his nature into alienation. That we retain a concern for care in speaking is all to the good, but it is of no help to us as long as language still serves us even then only as a means of expression.”

Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking”

This morning, a romantic notion drove me out to the deck of this Colorado cabin to watch the dawn break, read from Heidegger and record in my journal. But once I came across the passage posted above, the 46-degree dawn convinced me to withdraw into the warmth of my kitchen, pour a second cup, shake off the chill and focus on what I believe to be a genuine oracle.

Since the second week in June, I have been mostly on the road, traveling Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and now Colorado. I have never stayed longer than two weeks in any residence. In the Heidegger essay “Building Dwelling Thinking”, he discusses the nature of dwelling, what constitutes an architectural dwelling, how the dwelling shapes the one inside, and more profoundly the nature of language as the “house of being.” Language shapes us rather than vice versa.

During the Summer of ’17, my mind has not stopped questioning, probing the power of language and how it shapes us, the role it plays in carving out our character. In my journal I continually write, “What exactly am I?” “What word organizes my character?” “What kind of a human being am I, precisely”? Continually, I have probed language, seeking to divine the kinds of words necessary to help me understand what this is all about. I absolutely love living the retired life, but now that there is not a job to demand where I am to be and when, I am intrigued at this notion of living life and enjoying this precious Gift.

I took editorial liberties with the quote posted above, choosing to render in bold the sentence that seized my imagination, and striking out the one word I believe no longer describes today’s public discourse. For those of you who know me, I disdain most of the language that shapes today’s popular media, both televised and social. My blog is posted on a number of outlets, including Twitter, but I refuse to send 140-character tweets because one person has given that outlet its current identity, and I choose not to be identified among those participants.

I take language seriously, and I take character seriously. My precious friend Wayne White, also a blogger, shares my sentiment about the blog: we wish that readers would feel positive and whole when they read us, not visceral and angry.

So, as I close, I invite you to consider the following:

Sneering does not require depth of character or skill.

Being angry does not make you special or unique.

Cheap talk, especially insults, does not build a more meaningful life.

What exactly are you? What kind of footprint are you leaving day-by-day, as you travel this life? What do you really wish to be? What words shape you?

Thanks for reading.

 

The Silence of the Rock

August 5, 2017

HEIDEGGER

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . . .

            The world’s darkening never reaches

                        to the light of Being.

            We are too late for the gods and too

                        early for Being. Being’s poem

                        just begun, is man.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Every morning my soul floods with enchantment at the sight of Colorado light slowly giving shape to mountains towering above me. I snapped the picture above with my phone while walking outside. South Fork stands at an altitude of 8180 feet, and I don’t know how many additional feet overshadow me every morning as I look up in silence at these massive cliffs. Last year I tried multiple times to paint them; so far this year I only look at them in wonder, feeling something special easing into my essence.

The whispering of the South Fork of the Rio Grande below my cabin contrasts with the brooding silence of the cliffs above me. In all my years of teaching, I never felt that I was able to capture in words the dual perspectives of Heraclitus (everything moves) and Parmenides (there is only stasis). For most of my adult life I have felt these two worldviews flowing through me–change versus permanence. Long before the book was released A River Runs Through It, I have pondered these two views that Plato and many successors struggled to fuse into a harmonious world view. And now, once again in Colorado, I feel more centered in life, experiencing this flowing stream against the eternal rock.

Save for some postings on Facebook, I have shunned Internet traffic, certain that if I pulled up any news pages they would be parsing the latest tweets springing from a small mind. Life is much too large and expansive to waste time over shallow words.

My reading while in the mountains has been sparse, replaced with more time walking outside, fly fishing in the stream and relaxing with precious friends. Last night before a fire, I returned to reading Heidegger and felt moved to scribble several more pages in my journal, which then led to a blog entry. Rising this morning at 5:30, I am now enjoying another fire in the fireplace (49 degrees and wet outside) and feel compelled to explore further the writings of Heidegger. I feel at this point to say that I am fully aware of this thinker’s moral failures, but I choose to use his ideas at their best, not their worst; bad people are still capable of truthful insights.

Martin Heidegger had a cabin built for him in 1922 in the Black Forest while he was engaged in his university career. Though providing his livelihood, he disdained city and university life, and chose to spend as much time as possible in this cabin without electricity. All of his most important published writings were born in this quiet space. I have enjoyed comparing the lifestyles of Heidegger in the Black Forest and Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, each thinker preferring the quiet and nurture of solitude. I myself have been blessed with a store in the wilderness where I am allowed to withdraw as often as possible, and now this quiet space tucked away in the Colorado Rockies. Something precious occurs every time I step away from a life of calendar appointments and withdraw into a quiet place where the clock seems to evaporate.

Thanks always for reading.

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to Get Old?

August 4, 2017

GETTING OLD.jpg

Big Meadow Lake, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

To be old means: to stop in time at

            that place where the unique

            thought of a thought train has

            swung into its joint.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

I felt the urge tonight to send out a word to my readers and friends. My blogging has hit some recent snags for a couple of reasons. For one, my stay in the Colorado Rockies means struggling to find a steady Internet connection. But more importantly, positive changes have entered my life and I haven’t felt the need recently to read, write, journal, blog or make art. I have been living a quiet and very fulfilling existence since I arrived in this beautiful space.

Tonight I am enjoying the fireplace in my cabin. The windows are open to let in the cold mountain air. Outside it rains. And I’m comfortable under a blanket on the sofa, reading from Heidegger and scribbling for the first time in days in my journal. Hence, this desire to put something out on the blog.

I retired on June 3 after twenty-eight years of teaching in a public school. At this stage in my life, I am getting used to every day being as a Saturday. I no longer have a sense of weekends or a Monday morning call to work. And that is a very good thing. Even better is the sudden evaporation of deadlines and appointments.

As I reclined before the fire tonight, I thought back over my life and wondered what exactly it is now that is swinging “into its joint.” Earlier in this text, Heidegger wrote: “To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.” I wondered while scribbling in my journal what exactly served as my pole star throughout my years as a teacher. I settled on the notion that I set out long ago to live an artful life, to pursue beauty and seek ways to express it in word, in painting, in music, in friendship.

Now things are changing. My life at the moment is not clanging with the noise of calendar commitments. And I’m not under some kind of deadline gun at this point. And I’m finding it to be quite an adjustment, but one that I’m savoring with gratitude.

I apologize if this is a rambling post. I just felt the need to express this spirit of good will that I feel this evening. Thanks for reading.

 

Unwinding After a Spectacular Weekend

April 8, 2017

seam

The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

I have hung the painting above, titled “Finding the Seam” in place of the “Fort Worth Cattle Drive” which just went home with its new owner. The fly fishing painting was copied from a photo of me fishing the South Fork of the Rio Grande several years back. I have it listed at $800 framed. I’m happy that it fits the gap just fine that was left by the cattle drive composition.

I am keeping the Gallery at Redlands open till 9:00 p.m., since restaurant patrons are still drifting in and out. But now I finally have some time to read Emerson and reflect over a perfect day. The Emerson quote has come alive for me in the quiet of the evening as the hotel finally grows quiet following a day of high activity. Patrons kept me busy and talking almost the entire day, and sales have kept us all happy. This one-man-show has gone far beyond my highest expectations, and one day remains. A part of me is sad to see it come to a close, but another part of me is bone-tired and could use some rest. For three weekends now, I have felt this pull between the traffic of gallery patrons and the quiet in the recesses of my soul where I contemplate the next painting.

rachael

Elena, Courtney, Morgan and Rachael

One of the highlights of my show featured my teaching colleague, Rachael Peterson, bringing three of my Advanced Placement Art History students all the way out here from Arlington. What a joy to see them outside our everyday school complex. The girls fell in love with Palestine, its businesses and its people. Thank you, girls, for coming out and making this even more fun. You truly are a treasure, and I’m still smiling at every memory of you.

Tripp

Photo by Z Jary

Yesterday I was visited by a pair of artistic friends, Elaine and Z Jary. Elaine is a watercolorist and Z a photographer. Z patiently photographed me repeatedly, inside and outside the gallery, and was kind enough to send me a fistful of photos online. I have selected this one to put up. Z Jary, thank you, I am amazed at your photographic eye.

I will definitely sleep tonight. I was in the gallery before eight this morning, and am now closing it thirteen hours later. But the day has been precious and I appreciate every conversation and every encouraging word I encountered today.

Thank you for reading.

 I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Pining for Plein Air Activity

April 5, 2017

South Fork Pine

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch of Colorado Pine

My one-man-show will close Sunday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. and I hope to take a day or two to catch my breath.  Then I will dive head-first into my favorite annual plein air painting event: Paint Historic Waxahachie.  Artists who registered in advance were given the green light to begin painting April 1, but I’ve been too busy with this show and my daily school responsibilities–next week, I hope.

The watercolor sketch posted above is in my show at the Gallery at Redlands. I painted it in Colorado last summer while relaxing with daily fly fishing and plein air watercoloring. My pulse rate changes dramatically when I am in that Rocky Mountain environment, and I cannot wait to return there for an extended vacation this summer. Every time I look at this small painting, I recall those beautiful, chilly, sun-drenched mornings when I sat out on the porch of my cabin with my coffee, surveying the South Fork of the Rio Grande rolling by below.

I truly miss those days, and can’t wait for them to return.

Thanks for reading.

Bringing out New Work for the Show

March 30, 2017

durango silverton

Durango-Silverton Train, limited edition giclee print

Throughout today, I intend to post new images of work to be added to this weekend’s one-man-show at The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas.  The above image is a limited edition giclee print of the Durango-Silverton Railroad that I painted in watercolor, years ago. The original has long since found a home, but the prints have been quite popular, and last weekend I sold out of the gallery the last one in stock. I managed to place a new order Monday for six that will be ready for pick up before I return to the gallery this weekend. These images are $70 and are preserved shrinkwrapped against a foamboard backing.

Several more giclee prints are forthcoming, and i will post images of them later today when I have a break in my schedule.

Thanks for reading.

A Past Worth Remembering

October 11, 2016

waynes-bluff

Wayne’s Bluff

high-ridge-bluff-2

David’s Bluff

number three (2)

Ron and Dian’s Bluff

And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.”

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Preparing for the upcoming Edom Festival of the Arts has put me in a satisfying frame of mind. Sorting through stacks of watercolors has floated abundant memories toward the surface of a resistant consciousness–resistant mostly due to fall semester industry.  Most of these memories have been most welcome–memories spanning the splendid summer of 2016.

Pulling three watercolors of bluffs from the stack, I have chosen to name the first one after a friend of mine known since the second grade.  Wayne and I have recently re-connected, thanks to Facebook, and have spent some quality time on Missouri rivers kayaking and fishing. I miss him during the months I live in Texas, as he still resides near my home town in Missouri.

The second bluff I have given my own name.  The memory of that post-Thanksgiving morning of 2015 when I was driving through the rain still stays with me.  The memory is mostly comforting.  At any rate, I enjoy looking at this composition as the location is only about four miles from where I lived throughout my youth.

The final painting I did en plein air while vacationing with my friends Ron and Dian Darr in South Fork, Colorado.  I worked on three paintings in this genre outside their travel trailer as we ate and visited together.  Every time I look at this painting, I recall how delicious times are when spent in conversation with these two kindred spirits.

When I sit in my booth in Edom this weekend, I’ll be looking at these works, feeling gratitude for the generous hand life has extended to me.

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.

The Source

August 1, 2016

pines (2)

Plein Air Beginnings in Rolla, Missouri

pines photo (2)

Reference Photo for Unfinished Pine Sketches

It is the sense of the sublime that we have to regard as the root of man’s creative activities in art, thought and noble living.  Just as no flora has ever fully displayed the hidden vitality of the earth, so has no work of art ever brought to expression the depth of the unutterable, in the sight of which the souls of saints, poets and philosophers live.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

On Saturday morning, my new friend Lorraine McFarland–a remarkable pastelist residing near Rolla, Missouri–led me to the side of a lily pad-infested pond where we set up our easels in the cool morning and looked into the depths of the forest beyond. Surprisingly, the Missouri sun heated with enough intensity to chase us from our spots after about an hour of work, so we had to take reference photos with a vague promise that this work would be completed later. Returning home the next day, I discovered my A/C had quit, and the interior of my house was at 95 degrees. This morning, from yet another hotel room, I at least reside with the gladness of knowing an A/C man is arriving this morning to repair it.

Above, I have posted lines from the latest book that I read with a sense of amazement.  I am only five pages into the text, but I have re-read and re-marked them four separate times already, because I am unable to move beyond; this man’s words are going straight to my heart. I was experiencing these words as I gazed into the forest two days ago, my eyes moving all over the contours of three pines reaching upward through the dense growth, all the while sketching, correcting, blotting Annie Dillard’s “color patches”, and constantly catching my breath as snatches of beauty came and went across my paper just as fleetingly as they did across the highlighted trunks of those pines. For the space of one hour as I labored over this pair of compositional sketches, I realized as before that the forces surging through the artist’s eye and soul never translate onto the painted page. I have come to accept that.  As a guitarist, I still laugh at the story of the master asking his pupil why he was frustrated.  The pupil replied that he could always hear the music better than he was capable of playing it.  The master asked, “And why do you think that is ever going to change?”

As a Romantic, I am held captive by the Sublime. My expressions always fall far short of my experience, and I just have to accept that.  I enjoy trying, nevertheless.  Every painting, every sketch, every line of words I scribble into the journal are merely footprints, ciphers, eidolon, of what is happening to me as I encounter the Sublime.  My vacation travels have ended, I am home, but not yet Home.   In my soul, I am still journeying, wandering, and the odyssey far exceeds in beauty what I am able to express.

I close with a re-post of the pine tree that greeted me every morning in Colorado as I sat drinking my coffee on the porch.  I do indeed miss those 39-degree mornings, having returned to this triple-digit Texas hell.

pine (2)

Earlier Sketch of Pine Tree from South Fork, Colorado

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to encounter.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.