Posts Tagged ‘A Moveable Feast’

Don Williams in the Kitchen

December 9, 2012

Breakfast in the Man Cave

The exhaustion from last night’s show sent me to bed by 11:00.  What a surprise to awaken in the predawn, doze and ponder awhile, then rise at 6:37 a.m. on a Sunday.  Though the morning temperature recorded 65 degrees, I knew that a cold front was promised later, so I decided to rise and wait for it.  I’m not sure why I put on the Don Williams Gold CD–I don’t consider myself a country & western devotee, but I was in the mood for it this morning.  Perhaps it was because of a song I listened to performed by my guitar buddy and long-time confidant Jim Farmer the other night.  I just wanted to hear the words again to “Good Ole Boys Like Me.”  As those words filled my kitchen, I went to work on coffee, fried potatoes & onions, sausages and biscuits (I’ve gotten on that kick recently).  The Don Williams song I replayed, again and again.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I’ll probably put those words at the end of this post.

I took my breakfast into the garage, raised the door, and enjoyed the neighborhood quiet a little after 7:00.  My awakened mind was all over the map, but above all, I hung onto some words I read last night from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (during a lull in the art event).  This continues the idea from my last post:

When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written, to keep my mind from going on with the story I was working on.  If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. . . . afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again.  I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

That was a timely oracle for me.  For years, I have had the practice of keeping several watercolors in progress at once, so I would never come to the end of one and have nothing left, and have to begin at the very beginning of a new piece.  Well, now I find myself in that spot I have successfully avoided for so long–no watercolors in progress.  What to do now?  Well, I read some more Hemingway, write in my journal, think, and eventually some kind of image will bubble to the surface charged with all the emotions that compel me once again to pick up the brush.

In the meantime, I have been playing with autumn leaves, and this morning, I took a few more stabs at them, not sure about what I was doing.  And I made another sketch of a vintage doorknob and locking plate attached to a damaged door.  Perhaps one of these will “take hold” and be ready for me to resume tomorrow after lunch.  We’ll see.

Well, here is yet another smoke signal, message in a bottle, or whatever you call these blog endeavors.  They have become my life blood, and I thank all of you who read them and respond.  I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thanks for reading, and I close with those words from Don Williams that warmed my kitchen this morning:

When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed
With a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a Bible in his hand
He talked about honor and things I should know
Then he’d stagger a little as he went out the door

CHORUS:
I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee!
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me

Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does
But you ain’t afraid if you’re washed in the blood like I was
The smell of cape jasmine thru the window screen
John R. and the Wolfman kept me company
By the light of the radio by my bed
With Thomas Wolfe whispering in my head

[CHORUS]

When I was in school I ran with the kid down the street
But I watched him burn himself up on bourbon and speed
But I was smarter than most and I could choose
Learned to talk like the man on the six o’clock news
When I was eighteen, Lord, I hit the road
But it really doesn’t matter how far I go

[CHORUS]

Artistic Inspiration from Ernest Hemingway

December 8, 2012
Interior of my Man Cave

Interior of my Man Cave

This is a delicious moment on a quiet Texas Saturday afternoon.  I’m sitting in my Man Cave with the garage door open, watching the occasional dead leaf flutter in and out of the waning sunlight across the neighbor’s yard.  The afternoon was a flurry of activity as I prepared more cards and matted additional prints to take to an art event that begins at 6:00 this evening (hopefully) my final art show of the year.

I arrived about half an hour early this morning for the event load-in.  I had no idea what kind of Gift awaited me in that space of thirty minutes.  Taking a seat outside the barn of the K Star Ranch in Mansfield, Texas, I looked out across the sprawling land and saw the makings of a winter landscape beneath those overcast skies.  The rolling countryside could just as well have been Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and I could just barely visualize the image of an aged Andrew Wyeth hobbling gingerly along the distant fence line.  Wyeth was on my mind, because I had spent some time early this morning watching a documentary about his life while enjoying a country breakfast of fried potatoes & onions, sausage, cheese and coffee.  The cool, crisp morning that greeted me felt like winter already, though the official day is still a couple of weeks away.  I had to pull the comforter a little tighter about my face as I dozed in the pre-dawn, and noticed that the cat was sleeping closer to me than usual as well.  The house was quite chilly.  And then later, as I sat at the ranch, I noted the muted colors of the winter landscape and the heaviness of the dark sky.

While waiting for the load-in time to arrive, I mused about my recent work and wondered what kind of painting I should pursue next.  I wasn’t sure at that point.  I then resumed my reading of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, which fortunately I had brought along with me.  And these were the words that greeted me:

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next.  That way I could be sure of going on the next day. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.  I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”  So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.

What a relief swept over me!  How splendid when a writer delivers an oracle fitting for a visual artist.  Though at the moment I was unsure of what to pursue next in watercolor, I felt that reassurance–I have always painted before and I will paint again.  All I need is to lay down one true stroke with the pencil or the watercolor brush, and then go on from there, as I have done thousands of times before.  So simple, yet so penetrating.  I felt a genuine gratitude to Hemingway for speaking to me in the quiet of the morning the way he did.

One of my philosophy students yesterday shared a journal entry of a sign she had seen in a bookstore window in Paris–The fact is, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are more real to me than my next-door neighbors.

Well, I feel that way this afternoon about Hemingway and Wyeth.

Thanks for reading.