Posts Tagged ‘artist in residence’

Sun breaking through the Gloom

April 10, 2016

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Sometimes I have an imaginary picture in mind of the poet Mallarmé in his study late at night–changing, blotting, transferring, transforming each word and its relations with such care–and I think that the sustained energy for that travail must have come from the secret knowledge that each word was a link in the chain that he was forging to bind himself to the universe; and so with other poets, composers and painters.

Robert Motherwell

As one who loathes reading pity-party blogs, I will just say that this weekend took me to rock bottom, simply started by spending my entire Saturday, from 9 a.m. till 11:30 p.m. grading exams from high school. I awoke this morning with a stiff neck, headache (I almost never get headaches) and a deep feeling of depression. Fortunately, I shook it off by traveling to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to view for the third time in a week the extensive Robert Motherwell installation, to take more notes, record more observations, and then retreat to the cafe patio to read further from my new book Robert Motherwell: 100 Years over a cup of coffee. With rainy weather throughout the day, the sky was overcast rendering the temperatures cool and delicious.

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Reading Motherwell’s imaginative ruminations about the poet Mallarmé inhis study stirred my blood, as it brought to my mind images of Motherwell working through the night in his Greenwich, Connecticut studio, painting, scrutinizing, adjusting, second-guessing, editing further. This is what motivates me when making art, and I wish to God I could have had studio time yesterday instead of burning up the entire day and night with grading deadlines. The past weeks have featured abundant obstacles, and time away from the studio pushes my spirits downward. At least on this splendid day, I could vicariously enjoy Mallarmé and Motherwell’s creative processes, and drink deeply from the Modern’s art collection. I feel more than ready to walk into tomorrow’s art history classes as we continue our push through the modern era.

The week ahead will be a busy one, with an overcrowded school schedule, and my first art festival of the year coming up Friday. I’ll do my best to blog between now and the weekend. Another part of my afternoon was spent going over the rough drafts of this book I’m attempting to write about my experiences last summer on the Texas Laguna Madre. The draft is still rough, just not as rough as yesterday. I will go ahead and post it below. It covers the first day of my island observations.  Thanks for reading.

Chapter One

S U N D A Y

1

 

 

Watching my Friends Pull Away

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?–it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.[1]

At 10:43 a.m., Sunday morning, June 7, 2015, I stood at the dock and waved at the boat pulling away, carrying with it my two new acquaintances that had just transported me to this small island on the Texas Laguna Madre. They will return in six days. For the first time in my sixty-one years on this planet, I stand, gazing across a hypersaline body of water. But I don’t feel exiled, cut off, expelled from civilization. On the contrary, I have been honored with space to create and find my artistic voice. Having reached a plateau in my body of watercolor work, I now have an opportunity to reclaim my mojo hand.  I have landed an Artist-in-Residence assignment with Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, and will spend a week exploring and painting this exotic environment on a spoil island in the Laguna Madre, with no distracting appointments and no transportation to use as an excuse to run off and find something else to do. As a painter, I am filled with deep-seated gratitude at what Eugene Delacroix and Henri Matisse described as “cleansing the eye.” This is not my home, not my environment. Just raw nature enveloping me, and in Emersonian fashion my head is bathed in the blithe air.

Having risen at 4:30 this morning to catch the boat to the island, and 3:00 yesterday morning, to make the eight-hour drive from Arlington to Corpus Christi, I felt fatigued and worried that Day One of my residency would be flat due to lack of rest. But as I watched Paul and Bobby pull away from the dock, a switch flipped, and turning to the front porch table I had converted to a workbench, I immediately began soaking and stretching paper for my first paintings.

From my tenth-grade Art II teacher, Mr. Leo Hoeh, I learned to soak and stretch watercolor paper over canvas stretchers, using a staple gun to secure the edges, in the same way oil and acrylic painters stretch canvas. When the paper dries, it shrinks and stretches tightly over the stretchers and feels like a drum skin. When painting outdoors en plein air (I was told that was French for painting with the bugs!), the paper dries rapidly while watercoloring, since the front and back surfaces are exposed to the breeze. After years of practice, I can stretch these very quickly, and immediately set to work stretching four 9 x 12” papers, laying them out in the sun to dry.

2

. . . and so begins the task . . .

As the paper dried on the stretchers, I took out my small Fluid watercolor block and went to work, looking to the west by northwest at the distant gas-powered electrical plant for Flower Bluff, adjacent to Corpus Christi. The billowing clouds piled above were very attractive, and for the first time in my life, I tried to paint the actual clouds as portraits, recording their contours and colors as closely as I could to what I saw above me.  In time past, I had always “faked” my clouds, using gimmicks like pouring, blotting with cloth towels, scouring with Q-tips, etc.  I had never actually tried to copy clouds from life as I did on this day.

The longer I worked on the clouds, the more my soul smiled, feeling a connection with Monet and company as they experimented en plein air more than a century before. Desiré Louis, viewing the work of Monet, recorded the following on May 19, 1891 in L’Événement:

His skies, whether pure or cloudy, gay or melancholic, resonate with the mysterious sounds of the universe.  He forces the spirit to think and to soar above these magisterial representations . . . of reality . . . . In front of this seductive painting, you have the impression of a full and benevolent life which makes you recall the intoxication one feels with the dawning of a new day.[2]

3

First Attempted Painting at the Laguna Madre

By the time I got to the water below, the sun had risen high enough that the colors had muted considerably. That is the challenge of plein air painting: light conditions change rapidly and the painter has to make quick decisions while painting this moving target.  Monet himself complained of nature not posing still for him, saying “I am grinding away, bent on a series of different effects, but at this time of year, the sun goes down so quickly that I cannot keep up with it.”[3]  I am thinking seriously about setting up at the same time tomorrow, and if the sun is strong and the day clear, perhaps I’ll get another look at that fabulous teal lagoon. I have little-to-no experience painting broad expanses of water and am unsure as to how to match those deep colors I saw earlier when I began.

Laying the painting aside, I resumed my reading of Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. I am about three-quarters of my way through the book now, and as I explore these pages, my enthusiasm just keeps building. I cannot believe the flair for writing the young Thoreau possessed. Finding my stretched paper dry enough to begin work, I turned my attention to a bed of wildflowers and prickly pear cactus on the south side of the field station where I’m living this week. I’ve never painted cactus before, and I’m going to have to make some more tries at this. I have trouble distinguishing it from the greenery surrounding it, and haven’t quite found the key to that. But the effort was still enjoyable. I love the process of plein air painting, even if I don’t get the results I anticipated.

4

Cactus and Wildflowers

About halfway through the cactus sketch, I looked out over another spread of wildflowers and lush grasses on the west side of my porch, and decided to give those a try, with a little help from a bottle of masquing fluid. I enjoyed the effort of duplicating the colors of the flowers that popped among the grasses, but also decided to make some abstract compositional decisions on the shape of the composition, thinking back over my recent experiments with Andrew Wyeth drybrush sketches.  My high school teacher of Art I and III, Mr. Robie Scucchi, taught me much about abstract compositional matters, pointing out the way Andrew Wyeth left the margins of his watercolor paper untouched, and shaping his positive spaces of landscape textures with fingers and tentacles reaching out into the white void in all directions.  Mr. Scucchi urged that the shape of the negative boundaries surrounding the composition were just as dramatic as the actual ground textures in the Wyeth drybrush studies.  I decided to experiment with the perimeter of my wildflowers sketch, pushing fingers of greenery into the surrounding void.

5

A Second Attempt at Sketching Wildflowers

As the June sun waxed in the western half of the sky, rendering the heat of my front porch unbearable, I retreated to the rear of the field station, seeking shade, and noticed some attractive clumps of gulf cordgrass with white flowers accenting their base, flourishing a few feet from the eastern porch. Sitting on a bench and leaning against the field station, I read some more from Thoreau, but kept looking up at the cordgrass on the shady side of the house, and could not stop thinking about the Albrecht Dürer drybrush studies of tall grasses that I have always admired. Wyeth was always harking back to those compositions, testifying that they inspired him to attempt grass studies in watercolor.  I recalled Dürer’s statement that “art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” So, I closed the book and contemplated on solving the problem of rendering tall grasses in transparent watercolor. Suddenly it hit me: masque the white flowers first on the white paper, then flood the paper with the lightest, coolest shade of green. When it dries, draw tall grasses with the Masquepen. Let it dry. Then flood the paper with a little darker green (I mixed transparent yellow into it). Let it dry. Then draw more grasses with the masquepen. Let dry. Then I added Winsor Red to darken and warm the green and flooded the area again. After it dried, I masqued more grasses. Next I added Winsor Violet to the ever-darkening green I was building up. Then I masqued some more. Finally, adding Alizarin Crimson, I made the green nearly black, and painted grasses over the entire masque-and-layered composition, frequently raking my sharp HB pencil through the wet to draw out thin, spiky blades of cordgrass. Once it dried, I stripped away all the layers of masquing, and finding too much white grass, flooded it once more with a light, cool green to turn the white grasses into pale green.

6

Fourth and Final Watercolor of the First Day

This was my fourth watercolor of the day, and I was too tired to assess whether it was any good (or any of the other paintings for that matter). But I was deeply pleased that I kicked out four sketches on Day One, got in some excellent reading, and ground out a number of journal pages.

That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way.[4]

The day was perfect, but long. That night I planned to sleep a long time for the first time in three nights.

 

[1] Jack Kerouac, On the Road

[2] Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet in the ‘90s: The Series Paintings (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), pp. 3-4.

[3] Ibid,. p. 3.

[4] Thoreau, Walden.

 

 

The Call of the Island

March 10, 2016

Having dashed out a quick watercolor sketch of the morning seascape with as much deep color as possible, I then turned my attention to a bag of assorted seashells that Dinah Bowman had gathered and presented to me the day before. They had been hanging overnight from a hook on the front porch. Taking out a few and pushing them around on a white sheet of watercolor paper in the bright sun, I delighted in the strong shadows cast by the small forms, and felt that I had returned to the discipline of closely-scrutinized still life disciplines.

Lifted from my Laguna Madre journal from June 2015.

Tripp painting number 16

My Second-to-Last Day at the Laguna Madre Field Station

Village Beneath the Lagoon $425

“Village Beneath the Lagooon”

The past several mornings I have awakened to those recurring feelings of being on the island again in the Laguna Madre. Next week I will be privileged to take a group of watercolor artists back to that location for a two-day, overnight plein air watercolor workshop, with the anticipation of reliving those sensations of breathing that air and feeling those breezes. I am posting the pictures above, celebrating my shift from the macrocosm to the microcosm–I had painted and repainted the vistas of cloud-clogged skies with shimmering blue salt water underneath and scattered foliage and sands in teh foregrounds. The sketch above was my first still-life attempt, looking intently at a collection of shells and finding a different kind of delight as I thought of life beneath those waters–a life that only showed its remnants in broken homes.

Thanks for reading.

Good Thoughts Stretching into the Night

March 10, 2016

One Man Show Art Center Poster

Ὁ βίος βραχύς,ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή,ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὀξύς,ἡ δὲ πεῖρα σφαλερή,ἡ δὲ κρίσις χαλεπή.

Life is short, and art long, opportunity fleeting, experience perilous, and decision difficult.

Hippocrates

As my age creeps closer to 62, I find these late-night sessions preparing Advanced Placement Art History classes to be filled with clashing sentiments of a weary body and an exhilarated mind.  Yes, I feel cranky over the loss of sleep, but the ocean of art in which I find myself treading water fills my imagination with childlike wonder.

Late tonight, I finished my last A. P. Art History class before Spring Break and that comes with a splendid feeling of accomplishment.  Above, I’ve posted am image of the poster that the Art Center in Corpus Christi has placed in the midst of my show that opened last week. I’m counting the days till I get to meet interested people at the Artist’s Reception March 16 from 5-7:00. Below I’m going to post a few photos of the thirty-four paintings I’ve placed in the show.

Thanks for reading, and perhaps I’ll have the time and space to post more thoughts tomorrow.

Across the View $550

Across the View

Firewheel Frenzy $450

Firewheel Frenzy

Following the Labyrinthe $750

Following the Labyrinthe

Drybrush Ruminations $525

Drybrush Ruminations

Homer's Wine-Dark Sea $400

Homer’s Wine-Dark Sea

Shell Collaboration $470

Shell Collaboration

Wishing for a Siphon Hose

October 19, 2015

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Human labor, through all its forms, from the sharpening of a stake to the construction of a city or an epic, is one immense illustration of the perfect compensation of the universe. Everywhere and always this law is sublime. The absolute balance of Give and Take, the doctrine that every thing has its price, and if that price is not paid, not that thing but something else is obtained, and that it is impossible to get anything without its price, is not less sublime in the columns of a ledger than in the budgets of states, in the laws of light and darkness, in all the action and reaction of nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

Good evening, dear Friends. I posted the photo above, taken as I was driving wearily home Sunday from Corpus Christi. As I pulled alongside this coffee truck, I wished for a siphon hose so I could snake it out there and suck down some of that coffee in hopes of regenerating my sagging body. I have known the compensation laws expounded by Emerson for decades, and knew that the weekend including a sixteen hour round-trip drive would suck all the vitality out of me, as it in fact did. Today’s school experience was most unpleasant, and I chalk much of that up to my strength being drained by the weekend’s events. In time, I will get the energy back, but there are no shortcuts, and daily school obligations are not going to wait for me.

I already posted some pictures of Saturday’s event at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, where the library is hosting my one-man-show. I now have some others to share. I was bowled over to find two large foam core posters on easels announcing my exhibit. On the prior blog I posted one of them. Here is the other.

Turning my head in the library, I was shocked to see my picture on a flat screen monitor:

Walking about campus that day, everywhere I found a flat screen monitor, there appeared my picture. I also was surprised to see the poster appearing on other easels in other buildings. Then of course, the one below took the cake:

"I can't get no respect!"

“I can’t get no respect!”

Great–right next to the trash cans. Oh well. The show looked terrific and I was filled with pride. Below I’ll post a few more photos from the hung show:

I have always wanted to present my work in journal format, with the ragged edges of the stapled watercolor paper showing. But I was always afraid to ask. I was thrilled when Dinah Bowman of Bowman Design and Framing asked if it would be O.K. to display some of my work this way. I love the rawness of the display.

This will always remain one of my preferred landscape sketches done on location. I wanted to emphasize the cumulonimbus clouds billowing above, with just the strip of lagoon showing beneath and a small part of the foreground shoreline.

This algae study of the mermaid’s wine cup I did back home in my studio. On media day at the island, Captain Jay Tarkington waded out into the lagoon and reached down beneath the waters to pull up this sample and give it to me for future studies. I keep it in a jar next to my drafting table.

I excluded this study of cactuses and firewheels from the show, thinking it not very good. Dinah disagreed and so did Mike. I’m glad they disregarded my wishes and framed it for me to see. Once seen, I said “Definitely Yes, thank you!” I’m frequently surprised at what presentation adds to a piece of art. Thanks, Dinah and Mike!

And finally, I’m so proud of the photograph taken on media day when the film crew arrived on the island. This is the focus of the promotional poster the university’s Communications Department created.

Poster Detail

I am so tired this Monday evening I can hardly hold my eyes open. The weekend travel was exhausting, but I’m still glad I went down to view the show. And I am so delighted at the outpouring of well-wishes that I found on facebook. Thanks all of you!

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.

A Meaningful and Needed Gap Between Responsibilities

August 21, 2015

imageMoving into my final weekend of the summer, I was tortured as I attempted to prepare my classes for Monday while looking up from time to time at this small watercolor I began weeks ago and laid aside. And so this evening, I decided to move on a recent idea–creating a serpentine line of grasses, foliage and beach debris, connecting the dark green area on the lower left ultimately to the horizon line of the lagoon. The process was enjoyable, as I combined masquing with drybrush, pencil and blotting to create this meandering line of terrain. Though I did not get out any of his works, the drybrush watercolor sketches of Andrew Wyeth were my inspiration, as they have been since before I started the Artist-in-Residence last June. I suppose what I am saying is that I had the “essence” of Wyeth’s compositions in my visual memory as I worked on this piece this evening.

The painting time has been delicious, and I’m appreciative for that space. Now it is time to return to classroom preparations. Monday is approaching quickly.

Thanks for reading. I hope to have time, space and a quality idea to post on the blog tomorrow or sometime this weekend.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Conflicted, as Usual

August 21, 2015
Trying to Get Day One Prepared

Thrashing my Way through Preparations for Monday

I force my mind to become self-absorbed and not let outside things distract it. There can be absolute bedlam without so long as there is no commotion within.

Seneca

I shun father and mother and wife and brother when my genius calls me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

In Arlington, I am seated in the rear of my classroom, hammering out Advanced Placement Art History teaching points for Monday’s first day of school. Meanwhile in Corpus Christi, my new friends are assembling a one-man show of my watercolors from the Laguna Madre Artist-in-Residence experience last June. The show will be held in the university library the last three weeks in October. A larger show will follow next March in the Art Center of Corpus Christi. Focusing on my job here is demanding a Stoic resolve.

But that is what life contains-conflicts. Always. Currently, I am wrapping up a week of meetings, and my time would have been much better spent organizing the teaching points for my five subjects. But that point is never considered by those in charge of setting up these calendars. I suppose it is the state legislature that believes they are developing us as professionals by requiring long hours of sitting through meetings that penetrate our classroom efforts as effectively as a spider does water.

As I thrash out this new curriculum for Advanced Placement Art History, mandated by the College Board, I find my eye drifting to this watercolor in front of me that I began several weeks ago, and forgot to finish. The hiatus turned out to be good, I believe, because when I looked at it this morning while packing my books, I suddenly got a compositional idea I am anxious to apply–a serpentine line of grasses, foliage and coastal debris beginning with the wildflowers in the lower left foreground, and arriving eventually on the horizon line. Right now, that is all I really want to explore. But . . . I have a job to do, and I cannot put it off any longer.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this day holds great surprises for you.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Relaxing and Rethinking

July 8, 2015

Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.

Gregory Crewdson

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

The Broadcast Booth

The Broadcast Booth

I can think of few occasions more delicious than an evening to relax and reflect over a satisfying day. I am exhausted to the bone, but after a few days of tension building up to this afternoon’s two-hour radio interview, I am serene and thankful that all went well. From the moment I entered the broadcast booth with host Heidi Valdez Hardy, I knew things would go smoothly. She is a confident broadcaster, with a pleasing demeanor and enthusiastic wit.

The afternoon had its points of humor. Fifteen minutes before going live, Heidi asked me if I would mind being the co-host of the program. I had no clue what that meant. Did I know how to navigate facebook? Yes. Then would I mind posting information on her facebook timeline as the show progressed? And would I mind answering the phone when the screen lit up with an incoming call? At first I thought this would unravel me, but as it turned out, I was multi-tasking, and it took my mind off the nervousness I had been feeling about speaking over the air. So . . . I got to be the interviewee, social media secretary, and call screener all rolled into one, and it was wonderful. I had no time to feel nervous or uptight. Quite frankly, it reminded me of days when I worked in the Office of Communications of the Fort Worth Police Department long ago–I just didn’t have to take any 9-1-1 calls today.

The very first call into the program came from Cedar Hill, Missouri, from a friend with whom I had graduated high school forty-three years ago. Heidi could not believe that this was a caller from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The man had the most gracious words of praise to offer, and started the program on a highly affirming note. Thanks, Mark. I really needed that boost.

The two hours rolled by, feeling like twenty minutes. When it was over, I just heaved a sigh of relief and genuine thanks. What a rush of good will. I could reproduce pages of handwritten journal memories from these two hours, and I’m very satisfied that we got to talk in earnest and at great length about the experiences of the Artist in Residence program at the Texas Laguna Madre. A podcast will be posted in the future of today’s show, and anyone wishing to access www.dfwreallifetalk.com may listen to it.

There were two questions posed that moved me deeply, and I want to address those. First,which artist would I bring back to life with whom to have a conversation, if that were possible? I feel that I had waited all my life to answer that, and I was stirred up, just thinking about it. I would start with Andrew Wyeth. I have always been fascinated wtih his eye for the environment, and his way of rendering the details with exacting precision, while at the same time allowing some of the watercolor wash and splatter to spin out of control. I love his balance of control and freedom in the compositions. I feel that his still waters ran very deeply and wish I could have had private moments to talk quietly with him. Edward Hopper is also on my list. That quiet man had such a profound philosophi and poetic mind, with his love of literature and the American scene. I see the profound loneliness and isolation in his urban and small town settings, and wish that I could unlock the secret to instilling that kind of mood into my own compositions. And finally, Robert Motherwell. That brilliant scholar lectured on twenty-seven university faculties, wrote and published essays, edited for scholarly journals, devoured literature and philosophy, and still had time to create a vast inventory of paintings, a huge body of work. How rare to see the scholar and creative artist occupying the same body. And he made no apology for loving both worlds, perhaps because it was all one to him. That is what I want to embody as well. He is my role model.

The second question concerned my ultimate dream or desire. This answer would surprise some, because most would expect me to wish for broader exposure or sales. Of course, those things are important, but there is something more: I love painting more than selling or displaying my work. But I make my art in solitude, and don’t complain about that. What I do covet though, is the Parisian Cafe. Never in my life have I known a gathering place for creative spirits to meet at least once a week. The French Impressionists had their Cafe Gerbois. The Lost Generation met at Gertrude Stein’s. The Abstract Expressionists had the Cedar Bar. The Ash Can School met at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. But I have never had a cafe where I could meet consistently with other creative minds eager to talk of ideas, philosophy, literature, art, music, or any creative endeavor. That I have always craved. That I still seek. When I sit and read a lengthy email from fellow WordPress blogger Corey Aber, I feel that I am sitting in a Parisian Cafe, listening to another creative, eager spirit. I just wish I could physically sit in the presence of a circle of those men and women, and hear their dreams, share in the joy of their explorations, and talk of ways that we can make this world better by living more artful lives.

It is bedtime. But I wanted to put some thoughts onto the blog before retiring. I didn’t think it possible to feel even better than I did before I started writing this, but it happened. It’s been a day worth recounting.

Thank you again for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi now Seeking their Next Artist in Residence

July 7, 2015

I am thrilled finally to get to make this announcement: The Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi has decided to continue sponsoring artists in residence to work at their Laguna Madre Field Station, and more frequently than once a year. The application is not yet available, but they are now inviting artists, writers and musicians to contact them with any questions on the application process. Below is a link that will take you to their website and provide all the necessary contact information. An application will be available shortly. Having just finished this assignment, I am still quivering with excitement over every memory and experience gained from this residency.  Please open the following link to learn more:

http://ccs.tamucc.edu/programs-2/artist-in-residence-program/

Thanks for reading, and please take advantage of this life-changing offer. I also will gladly answer any questions you may have.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

New Photo Album Published on Texas A&M University Corpus Christi website (Artist in Residence at the Laguna Madre)

July 1, 2015

www.flickr.com/photos/80429560@N03/sets/72157654412967715/

I was just notified that the website of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi published a photo album of 28 pictures taken during Media Day while I was on the Laguna Madre. By now, I figured that the media trail would have cooled. But I’m really glad they’re still putting the story up there. The memories are spectacular.

Thanks for looking.

Clarity of Mind

June 21, 2015
My Thoughts are Still at the Laguna Madre

My Thoughts are Still at the Laguna Madre

Hilary Spurling, in her magnificent two-volume biography of Henri Matisse, pointed out that he traveled to exotic places for the same reason as Eugene Delacroix before him–to cleanse the eye. He also took his cues from Paul Gauguin in his visits to Tahiti. Spurling wrote that Matisse’s year in Tahiti led to “clarity of mind”. This is what I am hoping to experience, compliments of a week spent on the spoil island in the Texas Laguna Madre. The quiet, the space, the ability to paint daily unhindered, with no appointments–all of these added up to a terrific week of watercolor output, plenty of journaling and blogging, and my eye was never weary of what surrounded me.

Now that I have been back home for a week, I desire to compost this island experience and translate it into worthy writing and a collection of paintings. Currently, I am carrying with me the Hemingway wistfulness from his book A Moveable Feast–“Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I could write about Michigan.” My mind is locked on the Laguna Madre, and daily in my journal, new ideas are pouring out, whose seeds were sown that week. The only aggravation I’m experiencing is my return to these demanding appointments that try to make me think of other things. I just finished 32 hours of A.P. training for Art History, which was a daily grind last week, and tomorrow I face a three-day (all-day) conference for A.V.I.D. training in Dallas. As I came home whupped every day last week from T.C.U., I anticipate coming home everyday this next week from Dallas, whupped. And throughout these days, voices will be hammering in my ears, urging me to think on a different objective than the one that owns my heart and will right now.

Realistically, nothing we achieve is performed under ideal circumstances. We give our best, working as best we can with what is given us. So, I guess I’ll just suck it up, and do what I can these next three days. BUT!!!!! Beginning Thursday, my calendar is completely clear for a few weeks. And I’ll certainly be ready to churn out some serious “island stuff” once I am free of all these appointments. There. I feel better already.

Thanks for reading (and listening to the whining).

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.