Posts Tagged ‘Claude Monet’

Evening Afterglow

August 20, 2019

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Getting Ready for the Next Class

No more will I dismiss, with haste, the visions which flash and sparkle across my sky; but observe them, approach them, domesticate them, brood on them, and draw out of the past, genuine life for the present hour.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Literary Ethics”

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

The first class of this new semester is in the books, and I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt this fulfilled in the educational enterprise. I haven’t been in the classroom for a year (I’ve taught strictly online), and the one classroom course I had last year at this time was in Logic, and I haven’t found a way to insert creativity and spontaneity into that discipline.  Today was Humanities and our material will run from antiquity to the seventeenth century.

I invoked the twin bards of Emerson and Whitman to set the stage for today’s orientation lecture, and was gratified to see the students respond with interest and enthusiasm. The focus of my lecture was the pair of Emerson texts posted above. In the Humanities class, as we explore literature, philosophy, art and music, I will continually challenge the students to speak with conviction ideas they draw from the creative works. I want them to speak courageously from their own perspectives rather than offer “correct” answers from me. Much of today was spent trying to break them from the habit of offering canned answers to challenging questions. The time flew by, and once we departed, I felt that the first revolution of the wheel was a successful one. Now I lean forward to next Thursday’s encounter.

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“Monet: The Late Years” at the Kimbell Art Museum

Immediately after class, I treated myself to a visit to the Kimbell, a short drive from the university. This was my fourth or fifth time to visit this exhibit, and the galleries were so packed with people on this day, that I could scarcely maneuver to look at the paintings without bumping into someone. The show hangs until September 15, so I decided I would give it another look on another day. With membership, I don’t have to pay admission.

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“Crouching Aphrodite” 50 BC-AD 140, Roman copy of Greek original

The Monet exhibit is on display in the Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell complex. A comfortable stroll to the main Kimbell building allowed me to view the permanent collection with only about 5% of the population I encountered earlier. The leisurely stroll through the galleries I found to be much more relaxing than what I knew at the Monet exhibit.

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Quick Sketch Attempts in my Sketchbook/Journal

I appreciated the comfortable furniture arranged throughout the Kimbell. Taking a seat after some quick sketching, I found myself scribbling out a couple more pages of my thoughts concerning the morning’s class and what I was seeing in this magnificent art collection. The museum time was a fitting reward for the university experience, and I remain grateful for that.

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“In Progress” Plein Air watercolors from Sedona, Arizona

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Working on Them in Groups of Five

This lovely, quiet evening has given me wonderful space to chip away at a large watercolor project begun in Arizona a few weeks ago. I’m also taking frequent breaks to resume reading and taking notes for Thursday’s class. It seems that the transition from summer vacation to fall semester has been a seamless one. What a gift!

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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No Time to Paint, but Always Time to Think

September 30, 2015
watercolor sketch/journal from my first day on the Texas Laguna Madre

watercolor sketch/journal from my first day on the Texas Laguna Madre

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.

Desiré Louis, L’Événement, May 19, 1891, (writing of Claude Monet’s paintings)

This week, I have been jammed by school responsibilities, but cannot take my mind off of painting. I got behind in my school work preparing for last week’s festival and now there is the devil to pay. I am hoping to be caught up by the end of tomorrow. The studio has been calling my name, and I have had to turn my back. But I cannot turn my back on thoughts of painting.

At school the past two days, I have taken time between classes, over lunch, and during conference periods, to do some serious reading on French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. My subjects have been Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. The above quote I lifted from a nineteenth-century publication, loving the rhapsodic discussion of his clouds. This brought to my memory the exhilaration I felt when I surveyed the cumulo-nimbus clouds that hung suspended all day every day over the island in the Laguna Madre where I stayed for a short while last June. Before those days, the only attempts I had ever made at rendering clouds were quick, slap-dash happy washes and blots on my watercolor paper. I was racing toward the main subject, which was always something in the foreground, and the sky was just a nuisance to get out of my way as quickly as possible. All of this changed with my arrival at the Laguna Madre, where I attempted my first “cloud portraits”, actually devoting the majority of my time on rendering the cloud formations I saw hanging in the sky. And once I returned to my home in Arlington, I continued to study the photos I took on location, making new attempts to paint these remarkable portraits. The artist-in-residence experience has changed me profoundly in many ways, and this is just one of them–my taking skies and clouds far more seriously in future paintings.

Another look at my past still life sketches, with thoughts of Cezanne

Another look at my past still life sketches, with thoughts of Cezanne

I should like to astonish Paris with an apple.

Paul Cézanne

This quote from Cézanne brought a smile to my face, when I was painstakingly arranging and rendering sea shells and lagoon debris while on the island. I never had serious designs of astonishing Arlington with sea shells, but I found myself in a state of suspended wonder as I worked and reworked these shells. I found the flowing lines and contours very challenging as my “errant hand” (Cézanne’s angry words!) continued to stumble at drawing them. And then, there was the issue of modeling them to “pop” into that three-dimensional form appearance on the page. None of this came easily. Finally, the words from Cézanne came home to me:

There is neither line nor modelling, there is only contrast. Once the colors are at their richest, the form will be at its fullest.

Thank you, Claude and Paul, for being such kindred spirits, and for being such a comfort to me in this century. The greatest joy I know in painting is feeling this connection, this succession in a tradition of painters, all of us struggling to get nearer to our subjects.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

David Tripp, Artist in Residence. Really?

May 6, 2015

When I was in my third year at the university, pursuing my art degree, my school hosted Jack Tworkov as Artist in Residence. I was not familiar with the title “artist in residence” and knew that Tworkov had recently retired as Chairman of the Art Department at Yale. During the week or so that he visited our campus, he shared with us his current work, and spoke of his years spent with the other Abstract Expressionist painters, and I was amazed to be standing in the presence of such an historic man. In the years since, I have always wondered how it would feel to become an “artist in residence” at a university.

I am about to find out–after a series of negotiations and correspondence of the recent past, I was today informed that I will be Artist in Residence for Texas A&M University Corpus Christi–the “Island University”! This summer, I will be taken by boat to their Laguna Madre Field Station to spend ten days watercoloring en plein air, journaling, blogging, and salt water fly fishing. A one-man show will be scheduled after the residency, and I am available for anything else they wish from me. A plein air watercolor workshop has been suggested, as well as other possibilities.

I was so numbed by the announcement that I hardly remember anything at school after 10:08. When I was free this afternoon, I thought hard about what I could do that would be appropriate for this news. Realizing I had not visited Fort Worth’s Japanese Garden in over a decade, I drove there, arriving at 5:00 and staying till they closed at 7:00. I thought I would immediately find a bench and just sit and write, but I strolled for nearly forty minutes before finally sitting, breathing deeply, journaling, and feeling good feelings.

I threw a little celebration with the koi. They ate well!

I threw a little celebration with the koi. They ate well!

Usually I would celebrate an announcement like this by throwing a party. So, looking at the waters below me brimming with koi, I decided to stick quarters in the vending machine and dump pellets into the water so they at least could celebrate with me. They seemed happy and grateful. Some of them may have even clapped fins.

Looking at the Japanese bridge made me pause and think of the lovely gardens Claude Monet planted at his residence in Giverny. Too bad the Japanese Garden does not allow paint on the premises. I’ll have to work from a photograph on this one.

Before darkness descended, I did attempt a quick sketch of one of the lovely structures placed in the Garden. I plan to come back and try to capture some of the others as well. This is a marvelous place for reflection and peace.

It’s been a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing it with me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Plein Air Retreat with Claude Monet

April 30, 2012

Monet's Giverny in Athens, Texas

Sunday presented me with a bounteous gift.  I received a surprise phone call while in the studio Saturday from a long-time teacher friend/colleague.  Back in the early 1990’s we team-taught French Impressionism to her French classes and my art classes at Lamar High School.  Though we had not seen much of each other for nearly two decades, we continued to share a common thread in French Impressionist art.

She phoned Saturday to say she had just driven past a site in Athens, Texas that reminded her of Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny–a pond on some private property that was glistening in the morning sun with a large body of water lilies.  My friend contacted the owners and secured permission for us to go on to the property.  I arrived the next day, and we went directly to work.  The owners of the property were extremely gracious to us, and I cannot recall a more splendid plein air opportunity than the one I experienced as the sun began to set on this beautiful body of water and lily pads.

I was out of my element, which is always fun en plein air.  I had never before attempted to paint lily pads, and found myself scrambling on this one.  But the sight of the sun, back-lighting the trees behind the pond, proved just as scintillating a subject as the shimmering water surface itself, and I found myself getting lost in this composition.  I have been invited to return when the lilies are in bloom, and I cannot wait for that day to happen.  The two-hour drive was well worth the experience, and I welcome the return.

I loved the connection I felt to Claude Monet as I studied the light playing across the water surface, the flickering leaves on the trees, and the bending grasses.  I did not want to leave the site.  I cannot thank my friends enough for giving me this opportunity.

Thanks for reading.