Rainy Day Blog

October 7, 2018

20181006_130414-18826295836643493750.jpg

Saturday Plein Air Attempt along a River

20181006_1447325678475000501761852.jpg

Saturday Second Plein Air Attempt at the Edge of a Forest

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.

The Gospel of Matthew 4:16

This Sunday has brought an afternoon of heavy thunderstorms and dark weather, so plein air painting is out for the day, it appears. In the quiet of the indoors, I have enjoyed some quiet reading and translating from my Greek New Testament, especially taking apart the passage posted above.

I choose not to comment on the cultural climate of my country, except to say that the times are exceedingly dark for us as a civilization. And I choose to draw solace from the words posted above, but not from many of the churches with their leaders who claim to represent this word. Rather, I believe that one needs to reach inside for the faith needed to receive the light of truth.

Immanuel Kant, in his pivotal essay “Was Ist Aufklärung” (What is Enlightenment), addressed Europe in 1784 near the close of the Age of Enlightenment with these surprising words:

When we ask, Are we now living in an enlightened age? the answer is, No, but we live in an age of enlightenment. 

I believe those words still ring true for our present age. With our advances in technology and communication, we have more advantages than we have ever known in previous eras, thus we are in an age of enlightenment. Yet, there is still so much Stupid thriving across the land. The Dark Ages. Thus, we are not living in an enlightened age. Yesterday, while painting, these thoughts lingered in my consciousness as I looked at natural beauty while at the same time wondering over cultural ugliness.

Still, light is always possible, and it is the nature of light to invade, to drive back darkness. And my faith will continue to reside there.

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend it.

The Gospel of John 1:5

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Advertisements

A Second Plein Air Painting on Saturday

October 6, 2018

Still using my phone, I’ve decided to post on the blog a second plein air watercolor sketch.

Plein air painting on Saturday Morning

October 6, 2018

I am in a location without Wi-fii, so I’m using my phone to upload this plein air watercolor attempt at some trees topping a tall cliff.

Morning Coffee following a Quixotic Odyssey

October 5, 2018

20181005_0806147934421047367214783.jpg

In a Small Town Diner this Morning

Driving out through the windmills

And some of them were still.

Sometimes it’s hard to catch the wind

And bend it to your will.

James Raymond

The road unrolled like an unending manuscript yesterday, which was a gift to me, seeing I needed plenty of time to think over some important matters. Tuning in to music, I was smitten by these opening words of a song composed by James Raymond, son of David Crosby, my musical hero since high school days. The lines remind me of Don Quixote, and all the silliness surrounding his adventures stemming from his unusual perception of his role in life. “Quixotic” is a label tossed around to describe those with exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical ideas about life (artists?). I know why well-meaning friends occasionally pin this word on me, it’s deserved.

So, while driving, I gave this plenty of thought, and probably resolved little. I am old enough to know the world doesn’t bend to my will or always conform to my hopeful anticipations. But I am also old enough to know that ideas are my most precious resource. And, when times turn gray, my ideas give my world the color needed to remain attractive. I write all this in good will, I am not complaining or in a resentful mode as I write this.

While drinking coffee and pondering breakfast options in a small town diner this morning, I turn again to Paul Tillich’s The Interpretation of History and enjoy his autobiographical observations in this text. As he portrays his life lived “on the boundary”, I am prompted to recall all the boundaries I have threaded in my own Quixotic Odyssey.

Among the many boundaries Tillich explored in his personal journey, one that particularly resonated with me was that difficult path between theory and practice. Like Tillich, I know I have always felt more connected to theory and therefore not always practical. But I took solace in these words:

In these years of practical activity theoretical work was not interrupted, although of course, much restricted. This period of immersion in practical work, however, in no way shook my basic devotion to the life of theory.

Like Tillich, I held down a number of practical professions throughout my life, and a number of them were soaked in practical details. And I gladly testify that, despite the numbing effect of carrying out mindless details in these jobs, they never took me completely out of the world of ideas. Tillich wrote that “the highest form of play and the truly productive abode of imagination is Art.” Those words I wholeheartedly endorse.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with David & Paul Tillich

October 4, 2018

20181004_06391959835431436232020.jpg

The border line is the truly propitious place for acquiring knowledge.

Paul Tillich, Religiöse Verwirklichung

A rare occasion this morning, having two hours of leisure before heading off to class. As I looked over my Logic notes for this morning’s presentation, I thought of how unusual it is to be teaching a discipline so unlike my right-brain natural instincts. Friends who have known me for years are aware of my creative, non-linear ways of approaching things. And yet, the university tagged me years ago to teach Logic more than any other course.

Throughout my public school upbringing, I struggled in math and science, while flourishing in the fine arts. During college years, I continued to feed the art beast, but woke up to the values of the left-brain disciplines. Graduate school took me further down that road, and then throughout my teaching career, I tried to strike a balance between the two.

In my reading of Paul Tillich, I’m intrigued by his volume titled The Interpretation of History, a 1936 publication during his tenure at Union Theological Seminary in New York. I was fortunate to obtain a first edition of this volume at a rare books store in the year 2000 (anyone who hasn’t visited Larry McMurtry’s “Booked Up Inc.” in Archer City, Texas should consider a life-changing visit to that location). In Part One of this book, titled “On the Boundary”, Tillich writes in confessional fashion of his life as one lived between two conflicting worlds. He explores this theme geographically, philosophically, theologically, psychologically and so on. Page after page, in excellent prose, he explores the conflicts he faced throughout his years, always seeking a way to live out his existence “on the boundary” between the two.

Very early in my study of philosophy, I discovered in Plato this notion of dualism which I used as a tool to study virtually everything. Now I’m looking at Tillich’s “boundary” motif and plan to re-explore some important matters from my personal past and present.

Tillich ink portrait

Well, it’s time to go to class . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Coffee with David & Robert Motherwell

October 3, 2018

20181003_1622153446696447563086811.jpg

Any painter knows that empty space is his most powerful artistic weapon., if he can adequately animate it. The void need not be terrifying. 

Robert Motherwell, “Kafka’s Visual Recoil: A Note”

When the afternoon shadows stretch long across my back yard, and I finally submit that final grade, capping a day-long stretch at my desk, I am happy to know that I have an entire week before I will have to grade another college paper. I did not post a “morning coffee” blog today, because I decided from the moment I rose from my bed that I would make grading my number one priority, and it took most of the day to accomplish it. But now I am happy to sit at the desk, and spend some delicious time reading from my three-volume Catalogue Raisonné of Robert Motherwell, a retirement gift I gave myself last year when I finally hung up my high school teaching tenure.

The quote posted above has captured my attention, because I have returned in my own painting to compositional “vignettes”, paintings that open empty spaces around the perimeter of the picture plane, rather than covering every square inch of the surface with color or detail. I recall Andrew Wyeth saying that the strength of a composition lay not in what an artist put into it, but what he could get away with leaving out. I am seeking more ways of creating those types of watercolor.

I am getting ready to re-enter my studio this evening, very happy that my chores have been swept away and I don’t have to think about them for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

October 2, 2018

20181002_0615405576649605294978354.jpg

It was the most words Frank had ever heard Mr. Odom speak at once. He looked drained, as if he had used up a week’s worth of language and here it was only Monday.

Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance

Unusual for me to open my blog with a meditation on radio. But my life has entered a new zone since Smooth Rock 93.5 FM became my new roommate yesterday, broadcasting live in the mornings from The Gallery at Redlands. My habit has been to rise at 7 a.m. every morning and go through my ritual. Yesterday and today, I set the alarm for 5:00 so I could be showered, dressed and have breakfast and coffee ready before Smooth Rock began live at 6:00. Live streaming them from my laptop and opening their Facebook page has added a new dimension to my mornings.

I posted the hilarious statement above from Keillor’s book, because (for me) over 90% of radio traffic is a diarrhea of words that I choose to avoid. I won’t list the plethora of stations and personalities that ruin my disposition by merely recalling them. But that is not where I am right now. Before I go any further, I should mention that I have met Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell of “Kevin and Marc in the Morning.” I enjoyed their company for days while they were setting up their gear in the gallery, had meals with them, and above all, thoroughly enjoyed every conversation we had. I knew them before I heard them on the air. I am not surprised at their depth of knowledge pertaining to radio history and broadcast trends–that would be expected of men in their profession. What I enjoyed thoroughly was their genuine grounding while discussing ideas and life in general–nothing superficial about these men. I could spend an entire day with either or both of them in earnest conversation without repeating anything or running out of things to discuss.

Now to get to the point of this blog: radio and solitude. For me, radio at its best has been a companion during times alone throughout my adult years. In the late 1970’s, I went to graduate school  in Fort Worth daily, and welded at POCO Graphite in Decatur during any shift that could be wedged into my schedule. I recall a frigid winter when I reported to work at 5:00 a.m. I knew it was time to fire up the welder when the radio in the shop played Connie Smith singing “Clinging to a Saving Hand” thus signaling the end of one radio show and the beginning of a new. The radio had to be turned off, because it was time to go to work. But the morning routine included listening to the dusky voice of Connie Smith singing those meditative lyrics. That moment of the morning ritual meant something special to me.

During the academic year 1985-86, I lived in Fort Worth, but commuted early mornings one hour to Denton to teach as an adjunct for the first time in my life at the University of North Texas. I taught Introduction to Philosophy both semesters, and that was a life-changing year, the hinge between life as welder/graduate student and one as teacher. I had no idea that I would follow that teaching path from 1985 till now. Every morning during the commute, I tuned the car radio to KEGL 97.1 to listen and laugh along with Stevens and Pruett. For one hour every weekday morning, they were my car companions, taking my mind off the anxieties of teaching and letting me laugh as well as think about things that mattered at the time. One morning in March, I tuned in and was dismayed to find a trio of broadcasters I had never heard before. Stevens and Pruett had taken their show to Houston, and of course, we couldn’t radio stream in those days, so the best part of my morning commute was over. I couldn’t find another FM radio station to replace what they had given, so my radio went silent.

I was dismayed this morning when researching this duo to find out what became of them. Both are deceased, Mark Stevens in 2010 and Jim Pruett in 2016. And Stevens had suffered from Alzheimers. I felt the same profound sadness that I felt the morning I received the news that Andrew Wyeth had passed away. Sad, because nothing new will come from these creative, engaging individuals. Fortunately they leave us with memories, but still, I am saddened that their creative run has ended.

I write and speak of this frequently–my life has been one lived largely in solitude, and I don’t offer that as shameful confession or reason to be pitied. This is how I seem to have been made, and have lived out sixty-four years of it with no regret. I love and value relationships. I have always enjoyed the public dimension of life as a teacher. But solitude is the core of my existence, and during times that I am alone, I gladly read, write, make art, and engage in activity that I don’t find easy to do when in the company of others. And during the daily hours of solitude, I have found much enrichment in reading what others have written, and sometimes watching something on TV or listening to the radio.

So . . . I salute this new friendship I’ve been offered from Smooth Rock 93.5, and am grateful now to know Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell. For the past two mornings, “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” have brought something pleasant into my morning routine at the desk. As the music plays and they weave in their talk format, I find a satisfying rhythm while I do what I do (this morning writing this blog and printing off a quantity of my greeting cards for an upcoming art festival).

20181002_073831140664120377525007.jpg

If you have room for radio in the morning, I invite you to tune in to “Kevin and Marc in the Morning.” You can listen live by going to their website:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

20180930_1048268777024829575845340.jpg

smooth rock

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Early Morning Coffee with David and Herman

October 1, 2018

20180930_2125087484828723614377426.jpg

Revisiting Herman Melville in the Pre-Dawn

All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks.  But in each event–in the living act, the undoubted deed–there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask.  If man will strike, strike through the mask!

Captain Ahab’s speech in Moby Dick

Yesterday afternoon, while visiting with my friends, the Darrs, our conversation turned to literature. The Darrs are such passionate readers. As we talked, Moby Dick somehow entered the conversation. I confessed that I had not read the book till the summer of 2014, and I could not put the book down till I was finished. This morning, rising at 5:00, I made coffee and sat down to re-explore the pages of this great work.

For nearly thirty years, I patiently pointed out to anyone who would listen, in the lecture rooms or in the lounges, the scaffolding of Platonist thought in literature.  Plato’s split-world view was divided between Ideas and Appearances, the former permanent and spiritual, the latter ephemeral and physical.  And the permanent ideas provide the scaffolding for the physical appearances.  In this dramatic confrontation in Moby Dick, Captain Ahab publicly confronts a reluctant Starbuck who protests that selfishly seeking revenge on a white whale is impractical business.  Ahab twice retorts that Starbuck inhabits a “little lower layer”–the realm of money, measurement, accounting and computing.  This layer is only a portion of the pasteboard mask that hides the real intelligence lurking behind it.  I heard Ahab shouting at me when he cried out: “If man will strike, strike through the mask!”

I believe that most of the  dissatisfaction blistering from life today is caused by a failure to “strike through that mask.”  What is the mask, the wall, the barrier, standing between us and what we seek?  I shuddered every semester when my philosophy class would read and discuss Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”  One prisoner broke his chains and rose to the world of truth.  The class discussion would always enliven when students began discussing the chains that bound them, the masks that daunted them.  The human predicament is the quest for something more, and often finding that that “something more” was a mere mask, not what we really thought we were seeking.  There is so much to ponder here.  What is the nature of the mask through which we are challenged to strike?

I rose early this morning, because the inaugural broadcast of the “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show will run from 6:00-10:00, and I didn’t want to miss the event. I so wished to be in the gallery when the show launched, but alas, I have a doctor’s appointment here, two hours away from Palestine. So I will only be able to tune in and listen. For any of my readers who would like to hear the show, you can go to the website and click on the link to “listen live.”

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

smooth rock

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sunday Afternoon Musings in the Gallery

September 30, 2018

20180930_1239178042101499813084824.jpg

20180930_1239045395686590918946644.jpg

20180930_1239361144474484536010537.jpg

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching-thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages. 

All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigourous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I woke this morning, hoping to salute Thoreau’s Aurora, but the sun never revealed itself. A heavy fog from the Gulf spread over this part of east Texas, and a pale, wet gray shrouded the Davy Crockett National Forest. Nevertheless, it was still the dawn, and Thoreau wrote of dawn being the heroic age–that all intelligences awake with the dawn. So, as soon as the gray light peaked through the French doors of my bedroom, I rose with a glad heart, boiled water to French-press my coffee, and soon found myself settled into the rocking chair on the veranda of the store facing to the east, and decided to spend the best part of the morning allowing thoughts to flow toward me and through me, uninhibited.

20180930_0813277332388223250757066.jpg

My recent reading of biographies of Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway have stirred me to write this morning. The details of Kerouac’s itinerant life always leave me with the same kind of disturbed thoughts that I get from reading about Hemingway: these men had such a passion for disciplined writing that always drives me to find another gear to crank out work, no matter how tired or discouraged I may become in my own life and work.  They truly induce me to work even harder in my research, thinking and writing.  But the misery of both these men brings me to such overwhelming sadness. I know firsthand the double hell of self-doubt and second guessing. And when I read of those struggles of great artists and writers, I feel such grief, and often wish I could have been a friend to them in their days of conflict.

Arriving at The Gallery at Redlands in downtown Palestine, I found the town quiet and enveloped in the dark blue-gray of the low-lying clouds. With the music of Smooth Rock 93.5 FM playing softly in the gallery, I took out a stack of my old journals and several books I’ve been reading lately. And, as usual, I found the various authors addressing topics that dovetailed nicely to produce some observations about life. In addition to Kerouac and Hemingway, with their struggles over the writing process, I read about G. W. F. Hegel and his wrestling with world history to forge a philosophy of the historical process.

Hegel’s mind was Faustian in the way he incorporated and excerpted virtually everything he studied throughout his lengthy life, and then fashioned all that knowledge into a comprehensive system.  His mind reminds me very much of that of Paul Tillich, with that interdisciplinary drive, and of course I have always wanted to be that way.  Looking back over decades spent poring over texts of theology, philosophy, Bible and American literature, along with images from the history of art, I find myself continually seeking ways to weave these strands into a series of essays about life. I believe that all knowledge is connected, even though it often demands an Olympian perspective to see the connecting joints. I am always holding out hope, that over time, I will learn the art of simplifying to the point that I can recognize the connections better.

I was surprised by a visit from Ron and Dian Darr, friends of mine since the 1990’s. They drove a long distance to spend time with me this afternoon in the gallery, and we had a wonderful time over lunch, discussing ideas, reminiscing over trips we’ve made together over the past, and trips we’ve planned for the future. I’m always sorry to see them leave; there is never enough time to cover all the territory we enjoy covering while together. Thanks, Ron and Dian!

And thanks to all the rest of you, for reading.

We hope you will tune in tomorrow morning for the inaugural broadcast of Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. From 6-10:00, enjoy listening to “Kevin and Marc in the Morning”!

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

smooth rock

So . . . until next time, this is Dave signing off from The Gallery at Redlands, adjacent to Smooth Rock 93.5 FM broadcasting from the historic Redlands Hotel in downtown, Palestine, Texas.

20180930_1603321361072373905206245.jpg

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee in the Wilderness

September 30, 2018

20180930_081626812055095795599428.jpg

Coffee Always Seems to Taste Better in this Setting

. . . I’m off to the cabin–and am looking forward to the strong mountain air . . . I am working full tilt and am annoyed only by the coming semester and the philistine air that surrounds one again . . . It’s late night already–the storm is sweeping over the hill, the beams are creaking in the cabin, life lies pure, simple, and great before the soul.

Martin Heidegger, letters from his cabin in the Black Forest, July 24-April, 1925-1926.

20180930_0847537631307625784930406.jpg

My Favorite Country Retreat

I closed down The Gallery at Redlands at 9:30 last night and began my fifty-minute drive to my favorite refuge in the country. Waking around 7:00 this morning without an alarm, I found a dense fog enveloping the land. After showering, dressing and making coffee, I took up my favorite abode on the veranda and enjoyed the serene landscape spread out around me. By the time I took the photos above (around 8:30), much of the mist had evaporated, but still there was a muted color on the distant horizon, and deer continually emerged from the edge of the woods to poke around in the tall grasses.

I resumed reading from Rüdiger Safranski’s Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, particularly the portions of his residence in his cabin in Todtnauberg on the edge of the Black Forest where he did all his significant writing. As I read, I listened to the crows across the road, and occasionally looked up at the autumn fog from the Gulf lifting off the distant forest ridge. The caress of the morning breeze across my face took me to an even calmer world than what I felt in that east Texas wilderness. Before we opened The Gallery at Redlands last year, I would escape to this place, especially during the cold winter months, and enjoy days of quiet where I could read stacks of books, fill my journals and work on some serious watercolors, including some of my favorites below:

20180930_1038516522012013480693321.jpg

Goods Stored on the Shelf of the Store where I Reside

20180930_1038335219668979708377419.jpg

Door Separating the Store from the Residence in Back

20180930_1039053909995033432058858.jpg

Where I Sat while Painting the Doorknob Above

While sitting outside, sipping coffee, reading from the biography, and scribbling scattered thoughts in my journal, I began to ponder seriously the notion of returning to this sacred space once the weather turns cold again to see what I could accomplish with some space and quiet around me for a stretch of days and nights. I have this compulsion to churn out a large body of work, and I’m happy during these post-retirement years to have opportunities to hole up in a quiet space and let my creative bliss run uninterrupted. I am always inspired by stories of Martin Heidegger retreating from the University of Freiburg to take up residence in his Black Forest cabin to think in solitude and eventually write Being and Time. Such a quiet space is a luxury for anyone wishing to create in silence, and I shall always be grateful to my dear friends for providing such a space for me.

Before closing down the gallery last night, I managed to complete a composition of the wrecked church perched on the hill of the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas where I visited last spring.

20180929_1704377491958231220996329.jpg

Working in the Gallery at Night

20180929_1811218875680092582371545.jpg

Completed Watercolor of Terlingua

Sunday morning is dark and quiet in downtown Palestine. The taped music of Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is filling the gallery, and I am loving the atmosphere as I work here in The Gallery at Redlands for the day. I hope you will tune in to the first live broadcast of this new radio station tomorrow morning, from 6:00-10:00. You can stream it from their website:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

20180930_1048268777024829575845340.jpg

Smooth Rock 93.5 FM–Window to the World

“Kevin and Marc in the Morning” promises to be a fun way to begin each weekday. I cannot wait to hear them for the first time.  And so . . . this is Dave signing off on Sunday morning from The Gallery at Redlands, alongside 93.5 FM in the historic Redlands Hotel located in downtown Palestine, Texas.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.