Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Storr’

Morning Coffee with Dave and Anthony Storr

September 24, 2018

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Perusing Old Journals at Tova Coffee House

. . . the creative process continues throughout life. No creator is ever satisfied with what he has done. New problems constantly occur which compel him to seek new solutions. Completed works are but halts on the way; staging posts on a journey which, as in Jung’s picture of the development of personality, is never completed. Indeed the works of an artist are the outward and visible signs of his inner development as a person. 

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

The weekend was over in a hurry, and I have a long road back home.  But first, I need to keep an appointment with a gallery to submit new work this afternoon, and while waiting for that to roll around, I may as well get some college work done. Monday always brings a new round of grading and posting new assignments online. These tasks will consume the larger part of today, but I choose to begin the morning with coffee and quiet time for reading and reflection. Reading the passage above from Storr’s Solitude drove me back into a stack of my old journals that I brought on the weekend trip with me. As I stated in yesterday’s blog, I have felt a renewed compulsion to explore some of my older journals as well as typed essays and scattered thoughts saved on a disk.

I suppose it has always been a quirk of mine that, even when I have appointments, tasks and deadlines in front of me, I can still squeeze in time for creative attempts. And once I enter that zone, the other “stuff” usually does not invade my consciousness. This passage from Storr’s book describes these gaps I manage to cram into a crowded schedule:

. . . the creative person, in the inspirational phase of the creative furor, loses his past and his future and lives only in the moment. He is all there, totally immersed, fascinated and absorbed in the present, in the current situation, in the here-now, with the matter-in-hand . . . This ability to become “lost in the present” seems to be a sine qua non for creativeness of any kind. But also certain prerequisites of creativeness–in whatever realm–somehow have something to do with this ability to become timeless, selfless, outside of space, of society, of history. 

Today is more “scheduled” than usual, with appointments and deadlines to meet. But still, I choose to pay myself first, to give myself the best of the morning hours, to feed on books, on journals, on thoughts, always looking for some inspirational boost. Delicious moments spent in these pursuits usually provide me with the energy and optimism to complete the compulsory tasks that are always waiting in the wings.

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.

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Zu die Hütten (to the Hut!)

January 30, 2017

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My Favorite “Store-Off-the-Grid”, (where I sit in the mornings and enjoy my coffee)

Being back in my home is good tonight. Mozart plays softly in the background. The hot tea is soothing. I love my writing desk and library area. But in my mind’s eye, I’m still at the “store”, my favorite hideaway when I can get out of the city. I probably posted in earlier blogs (I don’t go back and read them much) that I’ve been reading a great deal about Martin Heidegger. I have zero interest in the details of his political leanings, but am intrigued with his philosophy that includes amazing insight into art, poetry and pre-Socratic thought. And I have always been intrigued with stories surrounding the cabin he had built adjacent to the town of Todtnauberg where he frequently withdrew to study and write. He did not enjoy life in the city of Freiburg where he lived and taught in the university. He later turned down the Chair of Philosophy offered to him in Berlin, because it would prevent his frequent withdrawals to his cabin. As for myself, I’m glad to have a home in the suburbs of Arlington, Texas, four minutes from where I teach. But I love so much more these three-and-a-half hour drives out of the city to a remote spot in the country, to a dirt road where no one drives by, to a spot of absolute quiet and solitude. It is in that place that my soul has been restored repeatedly. All my life I have dreamed of such a location.

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Martin Heidegger’s Cabin in the Black Forest

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Reading Thoreau’s Journals inside the “Store”

I want to respond to a passage from Adam Sharr’s Heidegger’s Hut, having finished reading the book this weekend:

. . . it is possible to consider the hut and house as talismanic for two positions decisive in Heidegger’s biography, which Albert Borgmann terms “provincialism” and “cosmopolitanism.” These positions are often considered in opposition. Tropes recur by which advocates of each position attempt to dismiss the alternative. Cosmopolitans dismiss the provincial as invidious: introvert, inbred, prone to exclusion, and reliant upon romantic myth. Provincials dismiss the cosmopolitan as deluded: bound up in abstract systems and priorities, entranced by the fickleness of fashion, setting itself and its self-appointed heroes on false pedestals. Although such polarities are inevitably caricatures, and provincial and cosmopolitan positions always remain more nuanced, their identification can be helpful.

I love it when someone writes what I’ve thought about for years, and writes it so well! For twenty-eight years, I have been a citizen of both worlds–teaching in the suburban neighborhoods of a large city and withdrawing as much as possible to remote sanctuaries. Being single, I love the privacy and quiet of my home after a day in the classroom, and when I can leave the city, I look for the quietest places in the country. My life’s work has been in the public schools full time and the universities part time. When I retire at the end of May, I’ll gladly accept the offer of a neighboring university to continue teaching part time, some of it online. I am so thrilled at this new chapter, the idea of  no longer being under contract from 7:15 till 3:15 five days a week.

My public life in the classroom has been mostly scintillating throughout the decades–I have had an overwhelmingly positive and affirming crowd of students (probably 99.8% respectful and inspiring, only the occasional “turd”). Being an educator has allowed me to remain a student for life, which is what I truly craved–I hated the thought of leaving a life of scholarship behind after completing graduate school. How wonderful to be paid to study, to learn and share daily the things that matter to me. I cannot say enough about the richness of teaching in the areas of religion, art, philosophy and literature. Life as a public educator has been very rewarding to me.

At the same time, I must confess that I am drawn to reading books like Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self, Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and William Powers’s Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, along with the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Long ago I came to terms with the reality that I like being alone, and crave space for such times. I have always believed that I could do my job better if I had time to withdraw and recharge my batteries. Fortunately for me, life has provided those opportunities and for the most part I have been able to avoid burnout.

At age 62, I am more sensitive to the noisy clatter of school hallways, the public school obsession to call meetings, and the growing paperwork, records and accountability demanded, often by a bureaucracy that continues to create “positions” designed for compiling data and checking boxes on reports. I have never had respect for elected politicians who pass laws governing an educational enterprise that they have never themselves understood or spent time studying. And I have noticed with disdain throughout the years that they continue to pass more laws designed to cripple the work of conscientious educators, and then use the data designed to prove that public education is faltering so they can convince tax payers that schools would be better if they were run by private businesses. I have had the pleasure to work for a district that is far better than any state or federal agency can evaluate with piles of data. And I have been fortunate to work inside of schools with administrators that let the teachers do their jobs. Real education occurs inside the classroom when the teacher is freed up to study his/her area of expertise and design creative ways to share this with students primed to learn. All thinkers know this. To sum up, I am getting out at a good time; most likely I stayed too long . . .

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Leaving the Store . . . Until Next Time

I have not been posting on the blog with much frequency of late. But after this weekend, I still have plenty on my mind, and I’m glad to have this avenue of expression. So thank you again for reading . . .

I make art to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Radio Day

July 8, 2015

imageThe creative person is constantly seeking to discover himself, to remodel his own identity, and to find meaning in the universe through what he creates. He finds this a valuable integrating process which, like meditation or prayer, has little to do with other people, but which has its own separate validity. His most significant moments are those in which he attains some new insight, or makes some new discovery; and these moments are chiefly, if not invariably, those in which he is alone.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Good morning. I have a new painting ready to begin, but cannot focus my mind on it today, because I have this live two-hour radio broadcast coming up at 3:00. If any of you would like to call in, the number is 214-431-5062. This is Internet radio, so if you wish to stream it, you may do so by going to www.reallifedfw.com and clicking on the “Easy Button” to listen in live. I would love the opportunity of meeting you.

Radio broadcasting lies far outside the confines of my day-to-day life activities. I am not nervous in the classroom, or before a live audience, but sitting in front of a microphone is not the way I communicate. Naturally, I’m getting a bit nervous. I’m glad that Heidi Valdez Hardy will be the host, because I’ve talked with her twice and she is a very smooth conversationalist. And I must continually remind myself that she will steer this two-hour broadcast. But still I’m on edge and have spent this entire morning writing, rewriting, revising, throwing away, starting over . . . and I will take none of these papers into the studio because I am there to listen, respond, and talk live. And I know that when the time comes, I’ll enjoy it immensely. I’m overwhelmed and grateful for this opportunity to share my art and the amazing vision of the Laguna Madre family of creative scholars at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

I have posted this quote from Anthony Storr’s Solitude because this book has resonated with me throughout the years like few other literary works. Spending most of my life alone, I do indeed find ways to reinvent myself, to reconfigure my world, to probe and try to find my own meaning in the midst of all this swirling day-to-day chaos. Teaching as a profession has fit me, and has helped define my life, but my job has never been my life. Ideas and art are my life, and I find the richest part of living in this search for meaning and expression. Since the Laguna Madre sojourn, I have written enough pages to publish in a book, but am finding just as much joy in the revision as the initial drafts. My heart is bursting with ideas I long to share, and for this reason, I’m delighted to go on the air today and talk about some of this.

Thank you always, for reading, and for all your words of support and encouragement.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

i blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Weekend of Letting Go

March 29, 2015
A Satisying Saturday University Tour

A Satisfying Saturday University Tour

Sam Houston State Univesity, Huntsville, Texas

Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas

I always thought that when we accepted things they overpowered us in some way or other. This turns out not to be true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can assume an attitude towards them. So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow forever alternating, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was! How I tried to force everything to go according to the way I thought it ought to!

Letter to Carl Jung from a former patient

I regret to see the close of this weekend, as it offered more gifts than I could possibly describe. Saturday, rising at 5:00, I boarded a tour bus with AVID students from my high school and toured two college campuses, returning 14 hours later. The rosy-fingered dawn (Homer’s words from The Iliad) and the warm light from the occasional farmhouse as we journeyed south filled me with an aesthetic delight, and in the soft glow of the reading lamp provided, I was able to get through the first 82 pages in my re-reading of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I love to drive cross-country, but love more being driven, so I can read, ponder and scribble in my journal without interruption. Walking across the sprawling campuses of Sam Houston State University and Navarro College, I was filled with the exhilaration of memories of my own college years more than forty years old now. The look of wonder in my students’ eyes reminded me of my own overwhelmed state when I made my first college tour, trying to decide where to go after high school.

An Excellent Beginning to my Sunday

An Excellent Beginning to my Sunday

Getting home Saturday night, I had no energy left for reading, so I sat and watched some TV and opened a bottle of champagne I had purchased for New Year’s Eve, but never put to use. Drinking alone is not my idea of a perfect way to end an evening, but it guaranteed a good night’s sleep, and waking shortly after 9:00 Sunday, I was ready for a full day. Following my shower, a good healthy breakfast, and a long stretch of tidying some of the rooms of my house that had been “junked” with the contents of my art booth from last weekend’s show, I finally sunk into my leather living room chair and read with delight further into The Fountainhead, allowing an hour of uninterrupted reading and journaling. I didn’t see it coming, but reading this book suddenly filled me with the impetus to begin a new watercolor ASAP. I was smitten with the urge because of this story of a young architect that wanted the prestige of his profession, but was terrified of creating art:

Then he found himself suddenly in his glass-enclosed office, looking down at a blank sheet of paper–alone. Something rolled in his throat down to his stomach, cold and empty, his old feeling of the dropping hole. He leaned against the table, closing his eyes. It had never been quite real to him before that this was the thing actually expected of him–to fill a sheet of paper, to create something on a sheet of paper.

Beginnings to a New Watercolor

Beginnings to a New Watercolor

Closing my book, I dashed to my living room drafting table and readied my supplies. It didn’t take long to find in my computer files the image in my mind’s eye that I had considered the past couple of days–an abandoned filling station in Lexington, Texas that I always see when I travel to Portland to do business with the gallery down there. I have never felt the discomfort of the young man in this novel–leaning over a blank sheet of paper, expecting a world to come into focus beneath my pencil or brush has been the most rewarding of experiences throughout my life, creatio ex nihilo, watching a creation swim out of the void and into focus. When I realize that I am the one making that happen–I cannot describe the feelings that course through my being, but they are not feelings of sickness or doubt.

After some time spent in the preliminary stages of this painting, I decided I needed to “christen” another one of my recently arranged working spaces.

Solitary Reading Time

Solitary Reading Time

Moving down the hall, I took up residence in my newest study area, and re-opened Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self. This book has engaged me since 1988 when I purchased it new. He argues that the individual does not have to find ultimate meaning in life through relationships, that many healthy creative spirits throughout history have maintained fulfilling lifestyles in solitude. My reading today took me through several texts of Carl Jung, William James and Abraham Maslow. I was struck by the text that I quoted at the top of this blog entry, from one of Carl Jung’s former patients. I also drew sustenance from the following:

Maslow realizes that the creative attitude and the ability to have peak experiences depends upon being free of other people; free, especially, from neurotic involvement, from ‘historical hangovers from childhood’, but also free of obligations, duties, fears and hopes.

Reading this piece resulted in an avalanche of ideas tumbling all around me, and I could not seem to write fast enough in my journal to encapsulate them all with adequate words. As the emotions began to rise, music began to flow through me, and reaching for my guitar, I began to do something I haven’t done in years–compose a song.

Working on an Original Composition

Working on an Original Composition

Starting with the hook “Letting Go”, I was surprised at how fast a chord progression emerged, and the words started coming so fast I decided to start recording on my phone instead of writing. I enjoyed the new flood of liberating ideas and tunes that comingled.

The Final Staging Area

The Final Staging Area

Once I captured all the music I thought was going to happen for the day, I decided to move to my study and spend some time in my favorite rocking chair. There was still plenty more to write in the journal, and I really wanted to return to the art and writings of Robert Motherwell, who had captured my attention and affection a few days ago. There were still some more things I was wanting to read about the surrealist notion of psychic automatism and its ability to open fresh channels for making art.

It’s been a whirlwind of a day, but I managed to do what I really craved–read, write, make art, make music and enjoy life.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

A New Greeting Card

February 23, 2015
My Latest Greeting Card

My Latest Greeting Card

Spurred by depression, they strove to create imaginary worlds. to compensate for what was missing in their lives, to repair the damage they had suffered, to restore to themselves a sense of worth and competence.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Having a day off has been filled with reward, especially with the icy conditions making travel unwise. It has been the perfect day for staying indoors with coffee, books, music and an opportunity to turn to artistic pursuits. After hours of grading, I pushed aside the papers and returned to re-reading a favorite book of mine by Anthony Storr. This book has probably helped me more in my study of artists, philosophers and poets throughout history who have turned to their craft as a means of finding some measure of coherence in a world they found largely unsatisfying. I don’t count myself among them, but still I love to retreat into my private world of ideas and see what I can put on paper with words and images.

Returning to my studio I have attempted to complete a couple of still lifes begun weeks ago. Though my fly fishing still life may not be finished, I decided to go ahead and compose a written piece about it and create a new greeting card (it’s been months since my last card was printed). Above I’ve posted a picture of it as it stands now. I’m inside of a month from returning to the art festival circuit so I’m starting to feel the push to get some new merchandise ready for display and sale.

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.

jkljlj

Home, Where I Belong

February 4, 2015
A Long Overdue Quiet Evening at Home

A Long Overdue Quiet Evening at Home

Current wisdom, especially that propagated by the various schools of psycho-analysis, assumes that man is a social being who needs the companionship and affection of other human beings from cradle to grave. It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness. Yet the lives of creative individuals often seem to run counter to this assumption.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

This evening has been long overdue. I believe in what I’ve been doing lately, but must admit that the grind of nearly-nightly meetings and engagements have taken their toll. I’m glad at this early hour of the evening to have all my art history prepared for tomorrow’s classes and still some time for reading, for guitar, and even watercolor experimenting in my studio. I have been away from all this (and blogging) far too long. I guess I’m just not a social animal, though I’ve been covered up in people for a couple of weeks now. Tonight I feel that I finally got back to what I am about–not necessarily a creative spirit, but one who wants to create and explore.

Back in the summer of 2009, I was privileged with some time to study art at the Rachovsky House in north Dallas, and a book was given to me as a gift: Inside the Studio: Two Decades of Talks with Artists in New York, edited by Judith Olch Richards.  After reading the transcripts of more than a dozen interviews, I found myself intrigued with these words from Susan Rothenberg:

I start by taking a lot from intuition and then I depend on composition, on building the painting’s architecture. I use all the formal values of painting but it’s not terribly examined, I just let it come. I’m finding more and more that it’s coming out of drawing, which is new to me.

I take these words to heart, not only because I often begin my watercolors in the way she described, but because I have rediscovered drawing in the past months to be a prime mover in my decisions regarding subject matter and composition. In a funny way, this same principle has emerged in my recent attempt to play blues music on guitar. For several days now, I’ve been trying to “feel” Blues lead patterns by working on scales. Tonight my dear friend and Guitar God, Reid Rogers, opened my eyes to wondrous things with the A-minor scale, and showed me how to build a ladder.  My head is swimming with possibilities now.  Finally, an architecture to give confidence to these flailing attempts!

Working on Some Blues Scales

Working on Some Blues Scales

I’m also pleased to return to my abandoned garage studio.  I found this afternoon a stack of watercolors of subjects began a long time ago and abandoned, unfinished. This particular landscape I thought might have possibilities. I was fascinated with the portion of the Davis Mountain Range I photographed nearly ten years ago and started, hesitantly, with this watercolor. Years later now, I’m attempting to put some tree foliage at the base of the work and see if I can re-enter the composition. Baby steps!

Returning to My Garage Studio, and to an Old Watercolor

Returning to My Garage Studio, and to an Old Watercolor

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

Sweet Friday Night Winter Solitude

January 9, 2015
Painting Friday Evening in a Wintry Cold Studio

Painting Friday Evening in a Wintry Cold Studio

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.

Graham Greene

I did manage to escape into the cold garage studio for a little while this evening and chip away at this watercolor that has been hanging around for awhile now. I added some rust-stained washes to the screen door backdrop, and then spent the rest of the evening texturing the white frame of the screen door, trying to reproduce the scratches, knicks and stains that show the multi-layered history of this door and what it endured in someone’s home. Before stopping for the night, I also reworked the wooden floor beneath the apples, in an attempt to make the masqued areas look more like scratches and indentations in the wood surface.

Now I’m back inside my warm home, glad that it is Friday night, and even more glad that an open weekend stretches out before me. I’m in the mood for reading, writing and reflection–in a word, solitude. I’ve been re-reading sections of Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self and Rollo May’s, The Courage to Create. The week in school has been a spastic one, and I took personally the line from the William Butler Yeats poem that I recorded in a blog earlier tonight, concerning the frenetic pace of society that consistently manages to flit past “monuments of unageing intellect.” Without apology, I do not choose that path. To me, worship is pausing to accept the quiet gifts offered in the center of this quick-paced life on earth.

Perfect Evening for Writing and Reflection

Perfect Evening for Writing and Reflection

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember. 

I journal to celebrate solitude.

And I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

Small Steps Back to the Winter Man Cave

September 14, 2014
Clearing Out Space to Work Again in the Man Cave

Clearing Out Space to Work Again in the Man Cave

Current wisdom, especially that propagated by the various schools of psychoanalysis, assumes that man is a social being who neeeds the companionship and affection of other human beings from cradle to grave.,  It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness.  Yet the lives of creative idividuals often seem to run counter to this assumption.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Texas weather brought quite the surprise in recent days, notwithstanding the news of the Canadian cold front pushing its way southward.  Friday after school, temperatures dropped to the lower sixties in the afternoon, and brisk north winds picked up to the point that I was forced to leave a Starbuck’s patio and go inside (the short-sleeved Tshirt wasn’t getting the job done).  By morning, temperatures were around 55 degrees and the world so much more beautiful outside than it had been in months.  A Texas garge is off-limits during the summer months of triple-digit temperatures, and so today with great delight I re-entered my garage and began reclaiming the “man cave” half that had been abandoned nearly two years ago.  So much stuff had accumulated that it took a couple of hours to hew out a good working space at my drafting table, sit on the sofa with coffee and an excellent book, grade papers, and listen to the Gregorian Chant playing on the garage stereo.  As the winter arrives, I have these aspirations to return to serious still life studies as I did two winters ago.   Throughout the interim, I have collected many, many antique objects to add to my studio collection, and I am more than ready to do some new studies.

My desire to resume the blog activity is increasing of late.  For several weeks the high school and university claimed the lion’s share of my daily attention, and I have found great satisfaction in the efforts there.  My memory has to go back a number of years to recall such a satisfying start as this.  At the time of this writing, I still have quite a stack of grading to complete before going to bed tonight, but none of the resentment that used to attach itself to such assignments as before.  Things are different now, and I’m pleased with the changes.

Recent watercolor attempts have been revolving around private lessons, and I indeed found much joy in those encounters as well.  I have a festival approaching in a couple of weeks, and trust that I’ll get my watercolor chops back by that time.  With great enthusiasm I am also anticipating the fall colors that should arrive soon, and I have pledged not to let the fall season escape without significant plein air study this time around.

This is good time of the year, and I look forward to sharing more of these delicious experiences on the blog.

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.

Flatiron in January Light

January 12, 2014
Sunday Morning Sketches

Sunday Morning Sketches

Photo of Fort Worth Flatiron Sunday Morning

Photo of Fort Worth Flatiron Sunday Morning

People often express the idea that they are most themselves when they are alone; and creative artists especially may believe that it is the ivory tower of the solitary expression of their art that their innermost being finds its completion.  They forget that art is communication, and that, implicitly or explicitly, the work which they produce in solitude is aimed at somebody.

Anthony Storr, The Integrity of the Personality

What a Sunday it has been, and I’m just barely past noon.  Having retired to bed around 2 a.m., I thought I would sleep the best part of this day away.  But shortly after 7:00, I awoke, and by 8:15 decided it was prime time to pack my art bag and hit the road.  The sun was bright, the temperatures had reached 57 degrees, and I felt the call of downtown Fort Worth.  My response was not without reward.  As it turned out, the 17 mph winds turned Houston Street into a frigid wind tunnel, the skyscrapers channeling those north winds through the shadowed streets, ripping away at my hat and jacket.  Still, the sight before me was unbelievable, and I managed to carve out charcoal sketches of the 1907 Flatiron building situated on Houston @ W. 9th Street.  Climbing back into my Jeep to get warm again (the Startuck’s Coffee wasn’t doing the job), I drove around the block, and came across Saint Andrews Episcopal Church on W. 10th Street @ Lamar.  Sitting on the curb, I charcoal-sketched the north portal of that 1910 building as well.  The separation of winter sun and shadows was stirring me up.  I took a few reference photos, and started back to the house, but quickly decided to pass a little time at a Barnes & Noble Store and perhaps get more coffee.  No such luck–the stores in Sundance Square and at University Park have both closed.  I was unspeakably saddened by this–since 1995, both stores had filled my life with warm memories, provided sanctuary for journaling, sketching, reading, musing–and now both have passed away.  I feel like two of my art studios have been closed down.

I stopped my sketching long enough to spend time in Anthony Storr’s book Solitude, and came across the above citation from one of his earlier books.  I’m never sure how to respond to this notion of the creative process and how much of it depends on solitude, how much depends on relating to other people.  I never seem to have a clear-cut answer to this, because my own art work seems to happen in solitude as well as public.  Yesterday, for example, I was covered up with people the entire day and it was imp0ssible to create art.  But my mind never left what I was wanting to do, and I did manage to scratch out some sketches between social events, and then late last night.  This morning, I set out for the task, expecting to interact with no one at all.  But by the time I had traveled to Fort Worth, sketched, travelled home and sketched some more, I was tagged by a number of people, through phone calls, texts, emails, blog responses, Facebook–so I cannot honestly say that I worked exclusively in solitude today.  I understand the artistic sentiment that one has to be alone to create.  But frankly, I have no problems finding “alone” time, and of course I manage to get a great deal of art accomplished in those “alone” times.  But still, when I get covered up with people all week in school and occasionally on those weekends that come with their own set of social demands, I still manage to get things done.  Perhaps it just depends on where the mind is, where the sentiment lies.  At any rate, this day is barely underway, and already it has been quite fruitful in the studios, indoor and out.

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.

Second Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Day from the Man Cave

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 2 of 3

This is my second of three attempts to do a plein air watercolor sketch of my neighbor’s trees and bushes during a heavy rain storm here in Texas.  I made heavy use of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton watercolors with this particular piece.  I also returned to my D’Arches watercolor block with 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper.  The other two studies made use of a new product I picked up a couple of weeks ago: Fluid Watercolor Paper, the Easy Block.  The Fluid Paper is considerably cheaper than D’Arches, and seems to hold up O.K. on quick plein air sketches.  I like the way it receives the Prismacolor Pencils as well.

The cool breezes created a spectacular ambiance for painting in the “man cave” today.  While sketching, I felt my soul flooded with deep feelings as I listened to a production of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Mystic Fire Video.  It wasn’t necessary for me to be reared as an Irish Catholic to identify with much of what happened to him in his formative years.  The film sent me back to a book I haven’t read in over a decade, but have decided to give it another look: Anthony Storr’s Solitude.  I find it hard to experience a genuine, sustained solitude with my packed teaching schedule and weekly art festivals.  But there are those profound moments of being alone that I find myself working on some issues I haven’t faced in many years.  I keep hoping that some of this will translate into my painting.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Thanks for reading.