Posts Tagged ‘Albert Einstein’

When it Rains, Inspiration Arrives

July 12, 2022

We never come to thoughts. They come to us.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

As one grows older one sees the impossibility of imposing order on the chaos with brute force. But if you’re patient there may come that moment while eating an apple when the solution presents itself politely and says “Here I am.”

Albert Einstein, quoted in the film “Why Man Creates” written by Saul Bass and Mayo Simon

Colorado gave us rain most of the day, forcing me to stay inside the cabin, or at least on the deck. Before the rain arrived, Sandi offered to drive us on an extended road trip over the Silver Thread. We managed to get ten miles past Creede before . . . (wait for it!) . . . a sleet storm overpowered us! So, we turned around and headed back to our cabin in South Fork. Before the rain, I rode along as a passenger, admiring the vistas, especially the aspen trees.

Since the year 2000, when I first visited Colorado, I was smitten by the sight of aspen trees, their glittering, shimmering round leaves blinking through the mountain atmosphere. And those white tree trunks against the dark forest interiors! Over the past twenty years of Colorado visits I have tried to solve the pine trees in watercolor, and still feel I haven’t arrived. But I was always befuddled, wondering how to render aspens. As Sandi drove this morning, the idea finally arrived. Thinking of Heidegger and Einstein, grateful for the visitation of inspirations, I spent the day inside the cabin contemplating how I was going to paint my first stand of aspens.

After taking ten photographs and adjusting them for my composition, I decided to begin with (I don’t know what this is called) negative painting or painting by subtraction. I penciled out the aspen outlines, then used my masquepen to block the trunks and branches. Later, I poured some of the masque solution onto a saucer and spattered with a toothbrush my first layer of “white” aspen leaves.

Nightfall has arrived. Tomorrow, under natural light, I will apply my first wash of light sea-green, sprinkled with salt and stale bread crumbs. When dry, I will spatter more masquing fluid. Once that is dry, I will apply a darker layer of aspen green. Dry again, then a new spattering of masquing, followed by a yet darker color, etc. I tried this method for the first time in the summer of 2015 when I was doing my Artist-in-Residency for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. While on a spoil island in the Laguna Madre, I was reading Heidegger’s “On the Origin of the Work of Art” and was inspired by a quote from the Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Dűrer:

For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.

Sitting on the island my first evening of the residency, I read that statement and contemplated the cord grasses growing in the shadows of the research station where I was residing for a week. Recalling the appearance of Albrecht Dűrer’s watercolor of tall grasses, I puzzled out the technique of multiple layers of masquing and watercolor washes.

Now, seven years later, I’m ready to try it again on the Colorado aspens. We’ll see how it turns out.

The day has been filled with gods (I believe Emerson wrote that), and I am grateful to have been alive to experience the visitations.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover (especially today!)

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Layered Mornings with Einstein

October 25, 2019

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Morning Watch with Einstein Reading

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Albert Einstein, letter to his son, February 5, 1930 (thank you Walter Isaacson!)

Twelve years ago. Summer 2007. Heavy rainstorms pounded Leadville, Colorado. Safe inside the Mountain Laundry, I inserted coins into the washing machines to clean two weeks’ worth of clothing during my trek across Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. The storms chased me off the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. While the laundry churned and I plotted the remainder of my trip across Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, I opened a volume I had just purchased: Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe. Not only did the book convert the coin laundry into a sanctuary that dark stormy morning; it kept me company the rest of the trip. But by the time I reached home, I put it back on the shelf, having read only the first 108 pages. So I reopened it this morning (Wednesday) and decided to begin from page one and finish the work. Every biography from Isaacson is a true gift; I have read in their entirety his works on Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci. The Benjamin Franklin tome met the same fate as Einstein, but I intend to go back and finish that one too.

The quote above about riding the bicycle resonates with me at this moment in life. The past couple of weeks have been frenetic as I have moved from demonstrations to workshops to art festivals to private art lessons. A few days of rest intervened, and I feel much renewed from that dormant period. But now it is time to kick it up once again; I have the Hot Pepper Festival this weekend in Palestine, followed by a workshop, followed by a plein air event. Finding the balance to continue on this bicycle has not come automatically for me, but I am focused on the effort.

Einstein horizontal

Reproduction of my 1990 pen & ink drawing/collage

5 x 7″ in white 8 x 10″ mat–$20

In my earliest years of teaching high school art, I created a pair of pen & ink drawings of Einstein partial portraits and then completed the works as collages. I gave them away as gifts, but photocopied them before letting them go. In the decades since, I have digitized them and sold them as greeting cards for $5 each or placed them in a good framable size mat to sell for $20. After all these years I am still proud of the pair of works, and now that I am immersed once again in this biography, I intend to begin a new series on Einstein.

Today is Friday. I am settled into The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine for the weekend’s Hot Pepper Festival. My friend Patty, a marketing specialist who has an office in this hotel, told me that her husband Tim had a drafting table he was willing to pass on to me if I had use for it. Enthusiastically, I received it and now have it next to my gallery desk near the window so I can work on art here in the gallery without converting this nice desk into a work table. Thank you Patty and Tim!  I hope to begin some new Einstein-related art in addition to my watercolors in progress throughout this weekend’s festivities in Palestine.

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View of the Gallery through the Lobby Window

Einstein long face

Reproduction of my 1990 pen & ink drawing/collage

5 x 7″ in white 8 x 10″ mat–$20

My renewed reading in the Einstein biography has flooded me with new ideas that I am transferring to my world of art from his world of physics and music:

Music continued to beguile Einstein. It was not so much an escape as it was a connection: to the harmony underlying the universe, to the  craetive genius of the great composers, and to other people who felt comfortable bonding with more than just words. He was awed, both in music and in physics, by the beauty of harmonies.

I was always a poor student of science, but reading this biography allows me to transfer some of Einstein’s ideas to my own creative world. Because of this reading, I am renewing my studies in aesthetics, seeking to understand better the laws of composition lying at the foundation of good art.  As I look over these composite drawings of Einstein from 1990, I intend to begin a new series in the Gallery today. Waves of enthusiasm are sweeping over me as I prepare these new materials.

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Kevin Harris doing the Morning Show

I always enjoy mornings with Kevin while he does his radio show on Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. He invited me into the studio this morning to pitch this weekend’s activities with the Hot Pepper Festival that runs through Saturday. I will work in the Gallery as before, and take a few trips out into the streets to meet the vendors, always in the hunt for local artists to promote. Festivals always excite me, and I of course am glad to have a permanent headquarters inside this gallery. I won’t have to travel and set up a temporary festival booth until December, I am happy to say.

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“Thinking of Jack Kerouac”

30 x 24″ framed watercolor–$400

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1902 Cabin from Cotter, Arkansas

24 x 30″ framed watercolor–$300

I have put out two new large framed watercolors in The Gallery at Redlands. In addition to these, I have a number of works in progress that I intend to resume today, covering subjects ranging from historic landmark homes to landscapes. In addition to the composite Einstein pieces and some new railroad themes, I should be pretty busy with the creative process throughout the weekend.

Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel, always introduces me to her guests as the “artist in residence.” I have always relished the sound of this introduction, since I first heard it in 2015 when Texas A&M University Corpus Christi named me their artist-in-residence for that week-long Laguna Madre excursion. Prior to that, I was stirred by the sound of the title during my university years when the institution brought in an artist for a short series. But here at The Redlands, it is so much more. The community has embraced me, making me feel a genuine part of these surroundings. I cannot express in words the absolute beauty and class of this hotel and I am humbled to dwell in it.

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The New Queen St Grille Bar now Open for Business

The Queen St Grille, across the lobby from The Gallery at Redlands, had to wait for a liquor license before opening the bar. The process was completed last week, and now this beautiful space is open. The bar area is small and intimate, with access to the Queen St Grille to the left and an additional room conducive to meetings to the right.

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To the left, the bar has direct access to the restaurant

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To the right, a meeting room is being prepared as well

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My Attempt at a Panorama

Activity is beginning to heat up at The Redlands Hotel. It is now Friday nearing noon and the sounds of people are beginning to fill the lobby. Time for me to get back to work. Following Einstein’s dictum, I need to keep this bicycle moving if I hope to sustain any kind of balance.

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.