Posts Tagged ‘apples’

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.

Opening and Closing of a Door

January 8, 2015
Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

Carl Sandburg

If we take Sandburg’s observation seriously, then today’s inaugural philosophy class was poetry. Thirty-one new students crowded into the classroom. As the bell sounded, there was the electric hush of expectancy that one feels on the first day of a new class. I felt the shudder of excitement as we explored the nature of the philosophic task, some modern views of Husserl along with some classic views of Plato. To me, the ninety minutes swept by like ten, and the eye contact with all the students, along with their non-verbal body language, seemed to indicate that they were enjoying the same kind of intellectual feeding frenzy that I myself felt. And then, class ended and they filed out, leaving me in a wake of good feeling, like soothing waves lapping the shore after the speedboat passes.

Of course the flow of a single day can be uneven. My high was followed by some matching lows, but I choose this night to write only of the highs. When Walt Whitman wrote his poetry about the ebb and flow, he acknowledged that the flow is always more engaging. I agree.

This Evening's Work

This Evening’s Work

The garage studio is frigid again, with temperatures outdoors stooping near freezing. For days now, I’ve been trying to solve the shadow problems in this composition. Shadows are something I haven’t given sufficient attention in still life drawing and painting. I purchased an excellent book over the holidays that discusses the finer points of rendering shadows. The longer I stare into this arrangement in my darkened garage, the more fascinated I become with the nuanced haloes deep in the shadow areas. This evening, I’ve reached back, again, into some words recorded by that focused mind of Leonardo da Vinci:

Remember: betwixt light and murk there is something intermediate, dual, belonging equally to the one and the other, a light shade, as it were, or a dark light. Seek it, O artist: in it lies the secret of captivating beauty. . . . Beware of the coarse and the abrupt. Let your shadings melt away, like smoke, like the sounds of distant music!

These intermediate areas between light and dark I’ve been trying to solve between the bucket and the shaded floor. I’m finding a world teeming with activity within those shadows. Again the T. S. Eliot line from “The Hollow Men” comes back to haunt me:

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the shadow.

With graphite, a pocket knife and watercolor, I’ve also been trying to texture the portion of the door frame and hinge to the left of the pail. This has demanded just as much drawing as painting, and I enjoy that kind of activity. I’ve always admired Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush watercolors for their drawing quality, and have always wished to rise to that level in my own pursuits.

It’s been an uneven day overall, but I’m grateful for all the good that has ensued. I cannot thank my students enough for “being there” in the academic arena, and I’m so grateful for a night of exploration in the painting studio. And I thank you for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Life is Short, Art Long

January 6, 2015
Some Stolen Moments in the Studio this Evening

Some Stolen Moments in the Studio this Evening

Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.

Hippocrates

The first day of school begins tomorrow. I have spent the large part of the past two days getting my online college course ready to launch, though college starts a week later.  I have Advanced Placement Art History tomorrow, so a large part of today was spent refreshing my memory on the material we’ll cover in tomorrow’s sessions.  Following that, I had some household chores to tend.  Finally, this evening for about an hour, I was able to settle into the garage studio and return to work on this still life I abandoned a few days ago.  I felt no need to rush things, and worked on transparent glazes on the three apples, tweaked the screen backdrop a bit, and then did some serious texturing work on the white door frame visible beneath the screen.  I also took time to lay in some shadows beneath the apples and to work further on the pail handle.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I worked all over this cotton-pickin’ composition!  It was a good moment of quiet in the studio, and I regret that the door is closing on moments like this.  My high school and college courses will come on with a vengeance, and I have a few art festivals pending this spring.  But one way or another, I will fight my way back into the studio and find the time necessary to keep my brush dipped in the arts.

Thanks for reading.  The day has been long and spastic, but at least I got a little work done in art.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never really alone.

Late Night Experiments in the Studio

January 3, 2015
Laying Down the First Washes Late at Night

Laying Down the First Washes Late at Night

As the rain continues to drench north central Texas, I find myself enjoying the quiet of the studio, save for the pelting of the rain against the garage door. After spending considerable time drawing and re-drawing the composition of galvanized pail, apples and screen door, I then worked on the tedious task of screen wire texture by dragging a masquepen along a straightedge propped above the paper with erasers, first vertically, then horizontally after the vertical strokes had time to dry.  Drying time for the masquing took a long time tonight with the humidity factor present in the cold, damp garage.  Once the fluid was dry to the touch, I mixed a stew of Winsor Green, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Red, Cadmium Red Medium, Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow to create the warm dark wash I then flooded over the masqued screen wire.  Next, I added Permanent Rose to the stew I had mixed and laid in the shadow beneath the pail. Finally, I mixed Cadmium Orange into the existing stew to create the inside rusted tone of the pail.  All this work turned my paper surface into a lake, so I realized I would not be able to continue work on this until morning.  Before I turned out the lights in the garage, I noticed to my astonishment a very unusual separation of warm and cool colors taking place in the shadow beneath the pail. Working for only my second time on hot-pressed paper, I’m finding all kinds of surprises on the surface of this paper.  The experiments are proving to be very interesting, early in this compositional study.

For years, I’ve lacked the guts to pursue still life in watercolor, though I gazed worshipfully at the drybrush renderings of arcane objects in the Andrew Wyeth ouevre.  A couple of winters ago, I took a stab at a couple of large still lifes, and since then have tried my hand at a few more.  I cannot describe my feelings when I contemplate these objects, each with its own history, its own plethora of memories.  Though I’m trying to learn the technical means to render them on paper, I just cannot stop gazing at them and thinking of what they’ve contributed to our lives.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never really alone.

Opening the New Year and Avoiding the Measuring Worm

January 1, 2015
Back Home, and Ready to Work Again

Back Home, and Ready to Work Again

He comes over from London and he sees a good picture and takes a pencil out of his pocket and you watch him measuring it on the pencil with his thumb.  Sighting on it and measuring it and seeing exactly how it is done.  Then he goes back to London and does it and it doesn’t come out right.  He’s missed what it’s all about.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The words posted above are Hemingway’s recollection of Gertrude Stein’s description of the painter Wyndham Lewis.  She always referred to him as “the measuring worm” because he seemed to believe that art could be quantified by the correct arrangement of techniques.  From her perspective, Lewis was always assessing other painters’ works in terms of design elements, beleiving that if he copied those elements he would create the same quality of paintings.

These words have remained at the forefront of my thoughts during the past couple of weeks as I have enjoyed the holiday season.  My travels took me to Austin, Texas, across Oklahoma, and all over Missouri.  Returning home briefly I then took another New Year holiday to east Texas, enjoying the company of the best of friends.  All the while, I thought about art, worked in my sketchbook and journal, read many texts, and continued pondering the magic of Art.  After this respite, I feel that I am no closer to describing what takes a work of art to the sublime heights of Art.  And I am no longer confident that I will ever reach that summit where I could speak clearly about the essence of Art any more than I could describe the essence of Religion.  But I love the endeavor, and this evening, finally enjoying the quiet of my own home and listening to the music of Anita Baker, I took out this watercolor sketch begun a few days ago in Missouri and tried to push it a little further.  Bending over the wet surface and watching the reds, greens and yellows floating in the layers of water, I got excited all over again, watching the pigments emerge into the semblance of an image of fresh apples.  Yes, the composition is quite small, but very intoxicating to me tonight.

I’m ready to lay this aside and return to reading texts from Hemingway, Wilder and Henri.  I feel the stirring of muses and hope I can put some things into my journal that will breathe new life into my art endeavors.

Thanks always for reading.  I have so much I would love to share about this recent holiday vacation.  I’ve been in remote areas where I could not access Internet, but time away from the blog has helped recharge my batteries.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.