Archive for the ‘drybrush’ Category

Living with a Longer Radius

July 25, 2015
9 x 10" Watercolor Sketch

9 x 10″ Watercolor Sketch

Yes, roam far, grasp life and conquer it, learn much and live. Your fetters are knocked off; you are really free. . . . Do not repose every night as villagers do. The noble life is continuous and unintermitting. At least, live with a longer radius. 

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, August 23, 1845

Having driven great distances the past couple of days, it was nice today to sleep in, and then relax into the day. Saturdays are nice for that. I devoted hours to going over my Laguna Madre papers, watercolor sketches, and digital photos. Delicious memories flooded my soul, and as I lingered over some of the photos I had taken of the lagoon, I decided on impulse to stretch a sheet of 9 x 10″ 140 lb. cold press paper and see what I could do inside such a small surface. I have posted today’s work/play. I have some ideas of what to do to tighten it up, but I think I’m going to let it rest a few days. I felt such warm feelings and memories as I worked on this piece, and I’ll remain grateful to my last breath for those six days of splendor on the island. I close my eyes, and I am back there again. There is talk of a plein air painting camp to be held on that island next year, and I would do nothing to miss out on that. I am just dying to see that heavenly environment again.

I took Thoreau’s challenge seriously. I am not comfortable, working on small watercolors, to begin with. I’m still trying to solve the problems of horizons such as this, where land masses and lagoon zig-zag in patterns I’ve never attempted to paint before. I love looking at the stacked bands of color, from sky, to trees, to ground, to sand, to lagoon, and then land again. Depth perspective still deals me fits as I try to render flowers in the foreground and gradually shift to middle ground and then background. So much still to learn, but I’m anxious to grow into this. Thoreau challenges me to strive onward and enlarge my circle of understanding. Perhaps I will be better in the classroom as I continually remember that I myself will always be a student.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

To the One Who Knows

July 25, 2015
Going over sketches and studies of the Laguna Madre Project

Going over sketches and studies of the Laguna Madre Project

The Mother Lagoon

The Mother Lagoon

The mythologies, those vestiges of ancient poems, the world’s inheritance, still reflecting some of their original hues, like the fragments of clouds tinted by the departed sun, the wreck of poems, a retrospect as [of] the loftiest fames,–what survives of oldest fame,–some fragment will still float into the latest summer day and ally this hour to the morning of creation.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 6, 1845

Long ago, on a late-night television talk show, I recall a host asking his guest why he spent so much time with the obscure hobby that he was presenting that night. His answer I’ll never forget: “For those who don’t know, no explanation is possible. For those who do, no explanation is necessary.” I post that remark, because I am surprised, and gratified, that there are those of you who take time to read my blog, and some of you check it out daily. Thank you. A couple of decades ago, I was filled with a youthful arrogance convinced that everything I thought and said was publishable, and should be heard/read by multitudes. I stopped thinking that years ago, and today find myself surprised to find anyone interested in my daily musings. I am still shocked at the remembrance of “media day” when I was on the Texas Laguna Madre. I saw nine people approaching in a boat with cameras. “Really?” I thought. I’m just a guy painting on the island every day. I’m boring. There is no story here. And still I am very, very pleased, and gratified, that they found the work fascinating that day. And to this day, none of those people who showed up that day has a clue as to how they filled me with a sense of pride and good will. I still look at the videos they edited and read the articles they published, almost daily.

Good day to all of you. Texas temperatures outside are soaring toward their appointed mark of 100 degrees. I have chosen to remain inside a darkened, air-conditioned studio to pore over pages of scattered thoughts and sketches scribbled in the weeks leading up to my time spent on the island in the Texas Laguna Madre. I have a 9 x 10″ stretched piece of watercolor paper sitting outside drying in the sun. Soon I’ll be watercolor sketching a small vignette of a piece of the Laguna Madre that I photographed and have been staring at on my computer most of the morning.

Thoreau is turning into the best of comrades. His journal entries from the Walden Pond years are really stunning me, particulalry the one posted above. For years I have felt shudders running through me while translating two lines from a Presocratic fragment, or gazing at a shard of an Attic Greek krater, or looking at the angles of what remained from a shattered Greek temple from the Doric ages. Thoreau is right–like color filling the clouds of a sun that has already departed, there is a Presence that flickers in these artifacts, and throughout each day on the island, I shuddered while looking on the beauty of my surroundings in that exotic place. And today, as I look back over my notes and sketches from those days, I feel my soul returning to that sacred place.

Time to paint! Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember (and today I do remember).

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Taking Risks in Watercolor

July 22, 2015
Laguna Madre Painting

Laguna Madre Painting

The life that I have chosen gives me my full hours of enjoyment.
-Winslow Homer

Taking a page from Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light, I am pushing the envelope, exploring possibilities in watercolor I never dreamt before. Homer tried out so many experiments and techniques throughout his lifetime that he became am able technician with his materials. I feel that I have become too settled in the ways I’ve been doing things in recent years. When I discovered that I was going to be Artist-in-Residence this summer, I decided I needed to venture into new frontiers of techniques, subject matter and compositional decisions. After all, I did not accept this assignment so I could keep whipping out paintings the way I had been doing. The purpose of the new assignment was to strike forth and find new ground. And so, I have to keep reminding myself to do exactly that. At my age, it takes courage to try something new, to gamble on a watercolor well under way. But I am getting bored with seeing the same results. All of us wish to keep growing, keep maturing.

With this painting, I am grinding my modified brushes into the surface of the stretched watercolor paper, scouring, and staining the colors into the paper. I’ve tried this in the clouds and am now trying it on the land. I have also decided to try out a pair of new colors in my palette, because I am once again exploring possibilities in nature’s green. I have added Winsor Green (Yellow Shade) and Permanent Sap Green to my Transparent Yellow washes, to see if I can get a different nuance when attempting to color broad expanses of grasses. I also tightened up my building a little more, working on the window frames. I’m still not quite satisfied with them. As for the clouds, I am a little shy about tinkering with them any further at this point. I may have done all I can with them. I’ll look at all this with fresh eyes tomorrow.

I have lost the natural light of the outdoors, so it appears that I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to work on the problem of separating the foreground sand from the grasses, and figure out how to texture up the sand patterns further.

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.

Coming Unto Our Own

July 16, 2015
Continued Work on the Laguna Madre Landscape

Continued Work on the Laguna Madre Landscape

. . . remember that decayed wood is not old, but has just begun to be what it is.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, March 19, 1842

Throughout my life, I have heard the laments of aging: the wry jokes as well as the moans. And in recent years I have noted the things I can no longer do effectively as I once did. But in recent months (and I hope this trend endures), my sentiments have flipped to the opposite side, and I have found delight in pleasures I could not appreciate when I was younger. I love to hear Thoreau write, in Aristotelian fashion, that as we age, sentiments emerge whose seeds have been in us all along. Existentialism urges you to “become what you are”, and Thoreau, a century earlier, already laid that principle down in his personal journal. Others have said the same throughout time. The presocratic philosopher Anaximander, in one of his fragments told of the end being already present in the beginning. T. S. Eliot wrote of the same. Aristotle said the ultimate purpose was contained in our infancy. Wordsworth wrote that the child is father to the man. I love that notion, and especially the reality that many of the sublime elements in our life experiences are not appreciated until we reach the later years.

Today, despite repeated interruptions and errands linked to the business side of art, I have worked in the studio as much as time would allow, experimenting with this Laguna Madre painting. I am probably done with the heavy foliage to the left of the Field Station, and am tinkering with the firewheels and sand in the foreground. The dock to the right and the horizon of the lagoon behind it are also requiring some close scrutiny. But I’m having fun, and that is what I enjoy most about watercoloring–the experimenting, the tinkering, and the slow emerging of a composition.

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.

Completed the Algae Study

June 23, 2015
Mermaid's Winecup

Mermaid’s Winecup

I wish I could write something profound tonight, but my brain is fried after my second day of A.V.I.D. training in Dallas. I rise before daylight to catch a train, and arrive home well after 6:00 in the evening. I don’t know how I found enough starch to stare into this watercolor and try to bring it to a close after only two evenings spent on it. I may have pushed too hard, but in another couple of days I’ll be free of meetings and travel, and should be able to relax and explore some new angles in the Laguna Madre studies I’ve enjoyed so much.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

An Oliver Wendell Holmes Kind of Day

June 20, 2015
Still Life Set Up

Still Life Set Up

Resulting Watercolor

Resulting Watercolor

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
   Sails the unshadowed main,—
   The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
   And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
   Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
   And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
   Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
   That spread his lustrous coil;
   Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
   Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
   Child of the wandering sea,
   Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
   While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
   As the swift seasons roll!
   Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
   Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., “The Chambered Nautilus”

What a nice, leisure Saturday. A day with no appointments, no deadlines. Yesterday evening, I set up a few shells and the “Mermaid’s Wine Cup” algae specimen given me by new friends from the Biology Dept. of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. As I stared into that tangle of dried grasses topped by small green “cups”, I became engrossed in their design and tried to find a way to translate this onto paper. After working on the mermaid’s cups, I flowed some washes and salted the background, then retired for the night.

Today, looking at the collection of shells with fresh eyes, I found myself wanting to look very, very closely at their constructions and their nuances in colors. The longer I looked into them, the more engrossed I became, and thought about those tiny microcosmic worlds beneath the salt water to which we humans pay no attention in the midst of our agenda-driven lives. I thought of Oliver Wendell Holmes and pulled his poem from the shelf. Wow, “the outgrown shell.” What a powerful metaphor! I also love the charge: “Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!” Immediately my mind went back to the thought in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Circles.” He says that our lives are a series of self-evolving circles, all the time pushing the horizon further and further back. Our task, he said, is to draw a larger circle.

I am filled with joy that the school term is behind me and a summer stretches before me now, inviting me to expand my circle, to read another book, think another thought, create another work of art. The truly eduated never graduate. The drive within us is to improve, to grow. Aristotle opened his Metaphysics with “Each person by nature desires to know.” Immanuel Kant challenged readers with his essay “What is Enlightenment” with “Sapere aude!” Dare to know! There are uncharted waters stretching out before us, and last week as I daily looked across those waters, I wanted to respond to the challenge. Now that I’ve returned to my domestic familiarity, I don’t want to become complacent, don’t want to stop. It feels good to explore, and it feels even better to feel that inspired challenge rising from the chambered nautilus.

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.

Still Wondering Over This One

Still Wondering Over This One

P.S. I’ve posted this just to remind readers that it is still there, still unfinished, and I’m still gazing at it every day, wondering what exactly to do next. I’m not going to touch it again until I have a better idea of what to do. It may be waiting only for my signature.

Revised Thursday on the Laguna Madre

June 18, 2015

Note to reader: The following was composed on my laptop a week ago while at the Laguna Madre during my Artist in Residence activity:

Thursday Morning Laguna Madre Skies

Thursday Morning Laguna Madre Skies

T H U R S D A Y

My last full day on the Laguna Madre

I arose at 6:05, photographed the cloud-filled eastern skies, and wrote in my journal. Here is what follows . . .

Six Days to Get to Know Myself a Little Better

When someone asks how long I have been an artist, I never know how to answer accurately. I’ve had the artist’s eye from childhood: alertness, sensitivity to the visual and romantic imagination, fantasy, etc. I began drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. I was encouraged. Throughout school, it was all I could do well, and I was always praised for my endeavors. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in art. But I experienced a Renaissance of learning. In college, I suddenly wanted to know everything. Studying the Bible led me to seminary where I pursued graduate study. Following my doctorate, I embraced literature and philosophy. After two years of teaching philosophy and religion as an adjunct instructor in universities, I signed a contract to teach in a public high school, and soon the humanities became my obsession. It was in the humanities that I was able to carve out a niche in the teaching arena (philosophy, art, literature and music).

The artists who seized my imagination between graduate school and teaching were Edward Hopper, Pablo Picasso and Andrew Wyeth. By 1988, I decided I wanted to pursue watercolor as deeply as time would allow, and Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush vignettes became my guiding force. As a subject, I chose dying America—the small towns with family-owned businesses that are now vacant buildings. I wanted to record the soul of these shells that used to be animated with a life and culture that is disappearing from our landscape but not our memory.

Art history became a renewed passion for me. I had taken twelve hours of it during my bachelor degree study, but began teaching it in high school, eventually expanding to the Advanced Placement curriculum. Art history I now read for pure pleasure, no longer needing to prepare lesson plans. I read now with a thirst to know all I can about the spirits and forces that drove those amazing visionaries whom I now revere as my guiding spirits.

So, currently I am a synthesis of visual images and abstract ideas. I did not pursue my studio craft for decades, but I did indeed suck the marrow out of books in pursuit of a world of ideas. Today I am a visual artist and a thinker. I doubt that my life would make an interesting story, but it’s important for me to understand myself better. And spending this week alone on an island in the Texas Laguna Madre has given me plenty of quiet and space to reflect on these matters. I needed this time and this space.

As the sun climbs higher into the sky, I notice for the first time all week the lagoon to my south taking on a much deeper teal hue. My plan today had been to paint shells, since I experienced such satisfaction from my first attempt yesterday afternoon. But I cannot stop gazing out at the waters while drinking my generator-powered-percolated coffee. Perhaps I should create my own label: Tripp’s Generator Coffee: Power Up!

Painting Number 15 on Thursday Morning

Having dashed out a quick watercolor sketch of the morning seascape with as much deep color as possible, I then turned my attention to a bag of assorted seashells that Dinah Bowman had gathered and presented to me the day before. They had been hanging overnight from a hook on the front porch. Taking out a few and pushing them around on a white sheet of watercolor paper in the bright sun, I delighted in the strong shadows cast by the small forms, and felt that I had returned to the discipline of closely-scrutinized still life disciplines.

Painting Number 16 on Thursday

Painting Number 16 on Thursday

This small still life vignette emerged rather quickly, so I exchanged the shells with more from the bag, and as the sun continued to move, I had to keep moving my small table and chair beneath the porch roof in ways to capture the sun on the paper before me, without sitting in the glare of the sun myself. In order to accommodate more easily the constant shifting of the still life, I placed the paper on a drawing board, slipped my knees under one side, and balanced the board with one end on the table in front of me and the other on my knees. As I began work on the second set of shells, I encountered a surprise:

H E L L O !!!!!!!!

H E L L O !!!!!!!!

A hermit crab emerged from the largest shell and began crawling straight toward my lap, like a large tarantula! He had been hanging in the bottom of a plastic bag all night, and now decided it was time to go back home. Picking him up by the shell, I walked down to the water and dropped him over the edge of the dock. He seemed to be smiling as he crawled away across the bottom of the lagoon.

Painting Number 17 Thursday

Painting Number 17 Thursday, this time with a dead crab

Returning to the plastic bag, I replaced the live hermit crab with a dead blue one and resumed the new still life. Again, it was a quick study, and I had Andrew Wyeth in mind, the way he drybrushed his Maine seashells.

As the afternoon stretched toward evening, I felt a deep-seated fatigue. But I had this crazy notion in my head of wanting to crank out twenty watercolors during my stay here. The boat would be coming for me in the morning, and I knew I could possibly squeeze out one more quick painting then, so if I did two more this afternoon/evening, I would have my self-imposed quota. Setting up an assortment of fish skeletons along with my crab corpse, I went for broke.

Number 18 Thursday

Number 18 Thursday

Feeling zero satisfaction from this painting of the bones, I decided to call it a day. Once this residency is finished, I’ll be satisfied with eighteen, or possibly nineteen paintings.

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.

Trying to Close out a Laguna Madre Painting

June 17, 2015
Studio Version of Laguna Madre Field Station

Studio Version of Laguna Madre Field Station

I loathe posting a late-night blog as the classic whiner, but this week has been too demanding of me. After my eight-hour session at the Summer Institute today, I went immediately to another 90-minute session with members of the faculty and administration of my high school. And now I have homework to complete for tomorrow’s Institute, it is 9:27 p.m, and my eyes are closing.

All this to say–I may be nearing the end of this painting, but I’m honestly too exhausted to know. I did work on it awhile tonight, detailing the building in the distance and continuing to work the drybrush foreground. Tomorrow the Institute ends, I plan on catching up on several days’ worth of lost sleep, and then we’ll find out if this painting is going to be O.K. or if I should simply move on to the next.

Thanks for reading. Next time I blog I should be more awake and alert.

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.

 

Revised Tuesday on the Laguna Madre

June 16, 2015

Note to readers: What follows is the blog I composed one week ago on the laptop at the island, but was unable to post (no Wi-Fi access):

T U E S D A Y

Man is the artificer of his own happiness. Let him beware how he complains of the disposition of circumstances, for it is his own disposition he blames. If this is sour, or that rough, or the other steep, let him think if it be not his work. If his look curdles all hearts, let him not complain of a sour reception; if he hobble in his gait, let him not grumble at the roughness of the way; if he is weak in the knees, let him not call the hill steep. This was the pith of the inscription on the wall of the Swedish inn: “You will find at Trolhate excellent bread, meat, and wine, provided you bring them with you!”

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, January 21, 1838

The morning was cool and breezy, and I dozed until 7:00 a.m. Pulling on my wading boots after breakfast, I walked eastward into Night Hawk Bay, entering the water for the first time. I quickly decided this was not a good idea. I could see redfish activity, far out beyond the grass beds, but decided not to wade out so far from shore that I could no longer see my boots. I had read enough about sting rays that I knew I did not want to disrupt my residency on the island by getting stung and having to call for medical help and thus losing a day or two. From where I stood there was only a sediment bottom visible to my eyes, with nothing to see but blue crabs scurrying away.

Returning to the station, I plugged in the gas-powered generator for the first time and brewed my first batch of Starbuck’s coffee. I then sat gazing westward across the waters from the front porch, wrote in my journal, and occasionally looked up at the paintings from the first two days arranged along my outdoor workbench. Finally, my two cups of coffee were drained, and it was time to go to work.

On the Third Morning, Finally Coffee!

On the Third Morning, Finally Coffee!

Work from the First Two Days

Work from the First Two Days

Passing between the dormitory and the electrical control room, I spotted a lovely composition between the buildings, framed up perfectly: the house on the first island north of me, backed by a large, dark forest, complete with a dock leading to the water, and a sprawling view of its green property, the lagoon, and then my own property replete with wildflowers and cacti. The clouds were piled high above and I began work on a small painting that I knew was going to take longer than the drybrush studies from the day before.

View Through the Doorway

View Through the Doorway

Soon after beginning my pair of Albrecht Dürer studies in the front of the station, I spied just off my east shore a man in waders in the water, away from his anchored boat, stalking. I retrieved the field glasses that Bobby Duke left on my conference table, and looked intently at the stalking fisherman, waiting, waiting, waiting, always surveying the water. Suddenly he casted. He was using a spinning reel, and was catching nothing. Though I am a fly fisherman and he was a spin-cast fisherman, we were both descendants of the same ancient Christian sect—the Coenobites. (I stole this pun from Thoreau’s Walden. For anyone unfamiliar with the pronunciation of the sect, it sounds this way: “See? No bites!”)

Albrecht Durer Inspired Dry Brush Study

Albrecht Durer Inspired Dry Brush Study

Albrecht Durer Inspired Drybrush Study

Albrecht Durer Inspired Drybrush Study

When I lie down to sleep tonight, I will be at the half-way point of my residency. I have not been lonely at all, and the time has evaporated quickly. I am on my third day now. The social media has had people chatting with me throughout each day, and every morning I have awakened to a backlog of messages. The blog has done very well too. Tomorrow the media group will arrive at the island sometime after 9:00. I have already met one of the contingency, Captain Jay Tarkington. He came out yesterday to work on the electrical problem and showed me how to use the gas-powered generator. He is also a professor at TAMUCC, taking seriously his scientific research as well as his educational theories. And Bobby Duke will probably come with the group tomorrow. Dinah Bowman plans to come as well. Dinah carries a plethora of fresh ideas with her and is always inspiring me. Because of all these newly-found friends, along with my host of friends on social media, I don’t know what loneliness is this week. This has come as a very refreshing surprise. When asked by acquaintances if I feared being alone, my answer was No. I expected solitude, and I am getting it. But I certainly do not feel alone. Well-wishers are sending their greetings, encouragement and warm sentiments around the clock, and I love them all for that.

Art History has been surging through my veins as I’ve painted out here. Andrew Wyeth’s compositions and vignettes, Albrecht Dürer’s drybrush grass studies and quotation about wresting art from nature, Motherwell and Matisse with the open door series, Richard Diebenkorn as I worked on my cloud portrait yesterday and laid down the horizontal bands on the lower border of horizon, lagoon and land. For several years now, I have read art history for the pure pleasure of it, instead of for purposes of preparing lesson plans. I love the notion of art history serving me in this capacity, feeding my imagination and creative eros as a visual artist.

I blink my eyes, and the residency is half-finished. I’m delighted that I have completed ten watercolor studies already. Perhaps I’ll have twenty by the time I leave this place. At any rate, it was my goal from the beginning to crank out a body of work worthy of this stay.

Before closing, I’ll post a few pictures of friends on the island. The great blue heron began on the edge of the lagoon, but has been landing closer and closer to where I sit on the porch. The swallow is nesting on five eggs above one of my doors. On the second day, she stopped flying away every time I passed by. I guess she is used to me now (perhaps I have a gentle, calming spirit after all). The jelly fish is the reason I’m glad I chose not to remain in the water for very long this morning.

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.