Posts Tagged ‘art studio’

Autumn Return to the Cave

October 25, 2016

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First Night back in the Man Cave Studio

The man who is forever acquiring technique with the idea that sometime he may have something to express, will never have the technique of the thing he wishes to express.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

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Studio Drawing and Debris

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More Studio Art and Debris . . .

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. . . and even MORE STUDIO DRAWING AND DEBRIS!!!  (guess it is time to tidy up!)

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Sketchbook Pages from my recent Festival

tree-bentOne of my Preferred Sketches

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Experiment with a Variety of Pencils

The fall routine of school has overtaken me to the point that I cannot seem to find quality time for painting, and scant time for sketching.  I have however managed to participate in a major art festival and have another coming up quickly.  In addition to a few tree sketches, opportunity has also presented itself to do some serious museum study, as the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has just opened up a major Monet exhibit featuring his early works.  Three visits to that exhibit have put me back in the mood to fight for studio time.

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Relaxing at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth after seeing the Monet exhibit at the Kimbell

With the fall temperatures dropping ever so slightly (Texas is so screwed up, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s daily as we close out October), I have managed to re-enter my garage and clear out two years’ worth of debris that filled in my Man Cave to the point where I could no longer work in it.  Tonight I sat down for the first time with charcoals and worked on some sketches of a woven fishing creel that I picked up a couple of years back in an antique store.  The surge of artistic desire returned, and I have now planned a weekend of plein air painting, thanks to this precious garage/studio time.

This evening, I have much on my heart for which I am thankful.  The school year is off to a better-than-usual start, and aside from some bureaucratic debris that crowds the schedule more often than it should, I can at least say that I am enjoying my students immensely, and I love the subjects I am teaching.  The same may be said for my college class.

I am also happy to feel the sentiments expressed above by Robert Henri.  For years throughout my artistic endeavors, I have fretted over technique, always thinking I had too few tools in my toolbox. At my current age, I now am convinced that making art (for me anyway) is much more centered on the feelings and emotions swirling about my subjects than on the techniques I employ in trying to render them.  Tonight in the Man Cave, I didn’t worry about how the creel was looking on my paper.  Rather, I reveled in the feel of the cold charcoal between my fingers, the smooth surface against my hand, the sound of the charcoal dragging across the rough paper, and the haunting words emerging from the Robert Frost documentary that was playing in the background as I sketched.

I am sixty-two years of age, happy to be closing out my third decade of classroom encounters, and extremely grateful that I still have the strength to pursue this daily and still draw sustenance from the educational dynamics.  I still thirst for knowledge as much or more than I did in graduate school days, read prodigiously, and cannot scribble enough pages in my personal journal.  I am now sketching with the pencil more than I ever have before in life, and finding abundant joy in this as well.  Once the weather cools some more, I will enter the countryside and watercolor en plein air, and experience the rush that that activity has always brought me in the past.

This evening I read with great pleasure Walt Whitman’s poem “Eidólons” from his Leaves of Grass collection.  In true Platonic fashion, he argued that behind every physical fact and wish we pursue, there lingers that spiritual perfection, always more than what we seek to attain.  This led me to think of all the phantoms I chased throughout all my life, all the disillusionments I suffered when I felt I had failed in reaching my ultimate goal.  A person could waste an entire lifetime seeking those things that remain out of reach, or worse still, attain to something, only to discover that it diminished once possessed.  When that happens, a person often gives chase to yet another eidólon.

At this stage of living, I am extremely grateful for health, for employment, for a home, and for time to explore and enjoy the arts and scholarship.  I’m happy that a school pays me to learn, pays me to share what I learn, and affirms my attempts at creation.  Life is good.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

One of Those Mornings

December 30, 2015

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It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach.  I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart. 

Karl Barth

For years, I’ve laughed at that quote, and have asked myself what I believe to be the most sublime music ever created.  My vote would have to go to Giovanni Gabrieli’s Canzon septimi toni.  This particular morning has been most beautiful because I just received this CD as a late Christmas gift, and the music has filled my house with a sense of good will and lightness of Being.

My intention to head for the shower this morning was interrupted when I opened the living room blinds and saw this enormous tree next to my house bathed in the morning winter light.  I scrambled for my sketchbook and pencils and scratched out the sketch posted above before showering.  I had to, the impulse was so strong.  And as I drew, it felt as though the pencils were dancing between my fingers as I worked to keep them inside the boundaries of the tree trunk.  I am still amazed at how little effort it takes to render the textures of tree bark by simply letting the pencil have its way as it skips over the surface of my paper.  All I do is twist the pencil back and forth between my fingers, jiggle it about, and vary the pressure of the point against the paper.  It does the rest.  Last evening, while lounging on a window seat in Espumoso Caffe, I scratched out a couple of tree sketches, marveling at how easy the endeavor was, and began to develop this idea of the contrast between a dancer and a grinder.  I seem to cycle between those two.  As a dancer, I can flit lightly from book to book, drawing to watercolor, journal to blog, and back again.  I seem to be A.D.D., but I’ve had this tendency at least since graduate school–too many interests for one person to keep under wraps.  And then there is the other mode, the grinder.  As a teacher, I grind out lesson plans, and as an artist, I grind out inventory for commissions and art festivals.  Either way, I am producing.  It’s just that one way is marked with much more felicity than the other.  Both produce results, but one is much more enjoyable.  Sometimes I play, and sometimes I work.  With a two-week Christmas holiday, I am much more “at play” and am loving it.

In the cities, in the studios, there is usually too little time to think matters through.  Most things are skimmed, and people often believe they are doing quite a good deal themselves when they are only jostled by others.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

When I read this last evening, I exploded in my journal for another couple of pages.  I love it when writers such as Henri set me off on a tangent of thought.  With the holiday more than half over, I am delightful that despite much traveling and social time I have managed to have more quiet time than usual, and have pondered many matters, preparing for this new year.  I am excited as 2016 draws near, and have pledged not to get caught by the perennial deadlines and wingnuts that accompany my day job to the extent that there is no time for creative, meaningful thought.  Life just isn’t long enough, and I regret in these senior years finding myself often chasing my tail because of schedules that are, in the long run, meaningless.

Another thought from Henri: Don’t ever stock your head so full of “learning” that there will be no room left for personal thinking.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

Tribute to the Silent Ones

October 28, 2014
Still Making Adjustments on the Studio Still Life Arrangement

Still Making Adjustments on the Studio Still Life Arrangement

So, what is a teacher thinking as he stands at his open classroom door, watching his students file in?  

This morning, my mind was more active than usual, as I stood at my door, greeting my A. P. students and checking their I.D.’s.  My thoughts were all over the still life I had begun assembling last night in my garage, and I was sorry to have had to abandon it today to go to work, But alas, that is how the die is cast; I’m happy and fortunate to have a job, especially one that I enjoy.  And even though I was going to be speaking about ancient Rome in the minutes ahead, I kept thinking about those mute objects standing at attention this morning as I watched my garage door close and slowly backed down my driveway to head for school.

Probably 85 percent of our students are the ones we forget within a year after they have departed our classrooms.  We remember the top percentage of achievers with their grade totals, and we remember the bottom end with their attendant disciplinary problems and frustrating issues of barely passing or failing the course.  But what about those 85 percent in between that do all that is asked of them?  How are they remembered?  Are they even remembered?

I want to crawl into the heart and center of this still life under construction in my studio.  I want to know the stillness as well as the history that infuses that collection of mute witnesses to a large segment of my past century.  The assembly of objects reminds me of the heart of my student population that does what is expected of them, without fanfare, without drama, without drawing attention to themselves.  The quiet ones.  This night, I salute them, remember them.  Tonight I am better because of what they contributed to my understanding of life.  Tonight the spotlight shines on them and they cast their own shadows.

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.

Ezra Pound and Eureka Springs Cafe in my Man Cave

February 25, 2011

Eureka Springs Cafe DowntownToday I was greeted with more lousy news from my school district.  I left the campus angrily and shut myself into my man cave/garage studio, and soon the bitterness subsided and the sublimity of painting flooded my being–a good trade.  I won’t go into the school crap–it’s not worth discussing.

While gazing at this sidewalk cafe setting (wishing I could enter the picture!), I listened to Voices and Visions documentaries on my TV/VCR and my soul was overwhelmed as I listened to the Ezra Pound saga–my word!  How did the man survive so many years of incarceration and continue to pour out his Cantos?  As I continued to listen, I was abruptly surprised to see that this painting is nearing . . . completion!  Wow, how did that happen?  30 x 22″ of watercolor nearly complete, and I thought I had a couple of weeks at least remaining before I could think of stopping.  I think the only areas that need more attention are the lower half of the cafe patrons, the foreground pavement textures, and . . . those umbrellas still don’t look right to me–perhaps more intense color?  I’ll linger on that one.

Tomorrow promises to be fabulous–a pretty day with temperatures rising.  I’ve decided to return to the Brazos River to fly fish for trout (about a two-hour drive west).  I’m taking my French easel and watercolor supplies along as well.  If all goes according to my wishes, by tomorrow night I’ll be posting a plein air watercolor of the Brazos River and the Highway 16 bridge near Possum Kingdom dam.  Hopefully there will be rainbow trout on the stringer and a painting in the box!

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you tomorrow.