Posts Tagged ‘David Tripp artist’

Morning Coffee with Dave and Waldo (again)

August 21, 2018

logic

The middle region of our being is the temperate zone. We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science, or sink into that of sensation. Between these extremes is the equator of life, of thought., of spirit, of poetry,–a narrow belt. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

I simply cannot read an Emerson essay quickly; his layers of eloquent prose enrich me so that I have to pause often, reflect, scribble in the journal, and continue on. I would love to linger longer over this bard’s writing this morning, but it is the first day of class for me at Texas Wesleyan University, and I have to drive over to the campus to meet my new students. This semester offers much better than what I’ve known from past decades: As a high school teacher, I taught six classes of four different subjects over a course of a two-day cycle, with classes numbering as many as thirty-five students each. As an Adjunct Professor, my class today will consist of ten students, and I have only two other classes, both online–one with twenty-two and the other, fourteen.

Logic is the class I meet today, and those who know me are no doubt chuckling. One side of my brain has dominated throughout my educational career, and it wasn’t the linear one. I was invited to teach this subject over ten years ago, and it has been hard work for me the whole way, because I just am not naturally built this way. To use Emerson’s metaphor, I have had to be forced into the upper regions of mathematical precision and analysis. My comfort zone has been the arts and humanities in the lower, sensual realm. But thanks to the university’s assignments throughout the years, I feel that I am moving closer to the equator and learning to balance analytics with feelings.

John Locke defined logic as the “anatomy of thought.” I have always been smitten with that idea, and will try again this semester (both in class sessions along with online sessions in my other section) to nurture the students in the search for understanding the structure of our language and arguments.

Gotta run to class! Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself i am not alone.

 

 

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Morning Coffee with Dave & Paul

August 19, 2018

Sunday Tillich

Reading from Tillich after Attending Mass

I am not a Catholic, but attending mass is something I do on occasion. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church is directly across the street from The Gallery at Redlands. I have painted it twice, and for over a year have felt serene every time I hear the church bells tolling the hours. John Donne’s “Meditation XVII” keeps coming back to me.

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Palestine, Texas

Among the books I packed for the weekend in Palestine was volume one of Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology. I read this in its entirety over ten years ago (T. S. Eliot read it twice while crossing the Atlantic, and sent Tillich a “thank you” letter for the contribution). I still return to it frequently to re-read portions I have underlined and notes jotted in the margins. Among my favorite passages is the following:

Theology moves back and forth between two poles, the eternal truth of its foundation and the temporal situation in which the eternal truth must be received. Not many theological systems have been able to balance these two demands perfectly. Most of them either sacrifice elements of the truth or are not able to speak to the situation.

I will have to agree with Tillich on this point. The theologian Karl Barth struggled to bring together the current newspaper on one side of his pulpit and the New Testament on the other. That was 1914. Today I feel is no different. I love to read the New Testament, and am grateful that I was provided an education enabling me to read its Greek text. During mass this morning I attempted to read from my Latin Vulgate. I regret that Latin was never available to me, and though I work in the grammars, I have not paid the price in learning to translate it effectively. But still, I enjoy reading the text and learning what I can from it.

But the current news, well, I won’t waste time addressing that. In this country, I feel that religious leaders with the biggest megaphone are the least effective, or relevant, in bridging the message of the New Testament to bear on these times. And our nation certainly lacks courageous prophets of the ancient Hebrew heritage who withstood rulers clearly on the wrong side of the truth. Still, I search for meaning and coherence in this life we live these days.

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Sunday Morning in the Gallery at Redlands

The weekend spent in the gallery was refreshing to me, to say the least. I left here fifty days ago to travel, and I so loved my odyssey. But it was a thrill, feeling that I had a home where I could return. And the people of Palestine certainly made me feel welcome. On Saturday, a high school friend came down from Paris, Texas to visit, and I had not seen her since she graduated college and packed her car for Houston to accept her first teaching position. That must have been around 1976. So, we had much catching up to do.

And then Sunday, a dear friend that I met through this hotel a year ago came by for an afternoon visit. We hadn’t seen each other in about three months, so we also had catching up to do. What a homecoming this has been.

Sunday cloudcroft

(Sorry about the Reflection!) My Plein Air Watercolor from Cloudcroft

Sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck, I began this 8 x 10″ watercolor on the edge of the town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico several months ago. I decided to frame it for the gallery and brought it down to add to the collection this weekend. We are offering it for $200 in its 11 x 14″ frame.

Sunday box

(Ugh! Reflections!) Box Canyon at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

One of my most thrilling mornings at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico was hiking back into Box Canyon, and pausing beside a stream to set up an easel in the shade and attempt this 8 x 10″ plein air watercolor of this magnificent bluff towering above me and the trees. I am still fascinated at the colors and textures and striations of massive cliffs, and am struggling to find the right color combinations for rendering them. I’ll continue to study this matter. This watercolor as well, in its 11 x 14″ frame, is offered at $200.

Today is the first day of the semester at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. I have two online classes ready for viewing. Tomorrow will be my first time in the classroom. Time to hit the books!

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave & William

August 19, 2018

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Pondering William Wordsworth, “The Prelude” 1850

Imagination having been our theme,

So also hath that intellectual Love,

For they are each in each, and cannot stand

Dividually.—Here must thou be, O Man!

Power to thyself; no Helper hast thou here;

Here keepest thou in singleness thy state:

No other can divide with thee this work:

No secondary hand can intervene

To fashion this ability; ‘tis thine,    

The prime and vital principle is ‘thine

In the recesses of thy nature, far

From any reach of outward fellowship,

Else is not thine at all.

William Wordsworth, “The Prelude,” 1850

After a fifty-day hiatus, I finally return to The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas for the weekend! I have so missed this place, though my recent travels through west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado played their restorative roles in my soul. I thought it fitting to pack my Wordsworth “Prelude” for this weekend excursion. Before attending the eight o’clock mass this morning across the street at Sacred Heart, I felt this urge to re-visit Book Fourteen of this massive work.

For decades, I have been fascinated with the way thinkers have continually bifurcated the human experience–soul/body, spirit/flesh, Apollo/Dionysus, reason/passion . . . on and on and on. I have followed these discussions with fascination and don’t believe I shall ever lose interest. And now here, with Wordsworth, we have intellectual love and imagination. They cannot be separated, and no one can help us sort out how to let them thrive. I would not be telling the truth if I said I understand fully what Wordsworth meant by these categories. I know he wrote this piece for Samuel Taylor Coleridge and pleaded with him to understand it on the author’s terms. I hope I can do that as well, but in the meantime, I am intrigued, at what I am reading, and hope I can get to the bottom of his ideas.

In the prior stanza, regarding imagination, Wordsworth equates it with “absolute power”, “clearest insight”, and “Reason in her most exalted mood.” And then he lays out these words which truly stir my blood:

This faculty hath been the feeding source

Of our long labour: we have traced the stream

From the blind cavern whence is faintly heard

Its natal murmur; followed it to light

And open day; accompanied its course

Among the ways of Nature, for a time

Lost sight of it bewildered and engulphed:

Then given it greeting as it rose once more

In strength, reflecting from its placid breast

The works of man and face of human life;

And lastly, from its progress have we drawn

Faith in life endless, the sustaining thought

Of human Being, Eternity, and God.

Wow! Personally, I have been applying this stanza to my own reasoning life from its childhood, formal education, attempted liberation, and now my senior years. It fits, even if I am not interpreting this piece the way Wordsworth meant it. I smile as I apply the words “lost sight of it bewildered and engulphed” to my many years of education as I thrashed about, trying to find my own way through all those voices and texts. I still do not know where exactly these verses will take me, but I am enjoying the odyssey, to be certain.

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Perhaps I should have titled this entry “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”?

I am introducing fourteen new watercolors to the gallery collection this weekend. I have posted a few of them above. I regret that the glare of glass interferes with decent photography. In hindsight, I wish I had photographed these before framing, but–live and learn. Seated at this desk, I am looking up at them with delight, and feel warmed by some of the best memories of my life with these recent travels.

Time to go to church. Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal, feeling alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Waldo

August 17, 2018

emerson

A political orator wittily compared our party promises to western roads, which opened stately enough, with planted trees on either side, to tempt the traveller, but soon became narrow and narrower, and ended in a squirrel-track, and ran up a tree. So does culture with us; it ends in head-ache. Unspeakably sad and barren does life look to those, who a few months ago were dazzled with the splendor of the promise of the times.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

In three days, I will commence my second year of teaching in this semi-retired mode, and I cannot overstate the glory of this. Since 1989, Ralph Waldo Emerson has been my patron saint, empowering me to “survive” as a public school teacher by cultivating a life of the mind and making no apology for it. In the three decades of service, I cannot count the number of times we were promised a better teaching environment by voices from the campus, district and state. In retrospect, I count all those promises as empty as those made by politicians running for local, state and national office–empty words uttered either by those who lack the power to deliver, or even worse, those who know they cannot deliver, but utter the public lies anyway. I have been fortunate not to depend on them, but to rely on myself to cultivate an inner life that can continue to sustain, despite the climate of this external culture.

I love Emerson and his legacy for a number of reasons, chief among them the reality that he was a mediocre student who found his voice later in life. I can identify with that. No one would care to look at my public school transcript; I was one of those ‘tweeners easily forgotten–not in the top level of achievers, nor in the bottom level of high maintenance. I just did what was needed to get by and left no footprint when I graduated and headed off to the state university.

One year into my university experience, I woke up intellectually. I credit the environment of the Baptist Student Union and the Jesus Revolution for that. With a support group around me, I found inner strength in studying the Bible, which in turn would lead me to an early experience in the pastoral ministry, followed by ten years of seminary training, earning the M.Div and Ph.D.

Upon leaving the seminary, a major earthquake occurred in my life, which I choose not to describe in detail. All I care to say is that I found myself very much alone in this world, flush with existential despair, with no resources except my own abilities. After drifting from job to job, I decided to put my educational credentials to work and signed a contract to teach public school full time and at the same time found work as an adjunct instructor in a local university. In this new environment, I looked about for a mentor. I could find no living person to match my needs for friendship and understanding. In 1989, I discovered the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and from there began to understand the value of solitude and a life of the mind.

Of course, others would quickly follow: Henry David Thoreau, Paul Tillich, Edward Hopper, James Joyce–the list could go on and on, and I could likely begin blogging my responses to those heroes. But this morning, I choose to write of Emerson, the first one to get my full attention.

In an earlier blog (Coffee with Dave and Barnett), link provided),

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/8594332/posts/17489)

a very good friend and colleague of mine posted a comment that she had just completed an art project inspired by her reading of the Genesis creation account. In response, I would like to re-visit one of my favorite passages from Emerson’s “The American Scholar”–

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went out from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

I cannot think of a more eloquent statement of the divine nature of the creative act. The creative soul stands enveloped in this environment, breathes it in, holds it, ruminates, composts, arranges, and then pushes it back out in some form of expression. That is our highest act, our most sublime endeavor. This morning, I salute all creators as kindred spirits, and feel deeply honored to be counted among you.

Thank you always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Joseph

August 17, 2018

jmw turner

Turner had already learnt that part of the job of the artist is to improve on the actual view as it is reimagined on paper.

Franny Moyle, Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

Reading the Joseph Mallord William Turner biography this morning over coffee yielded several of those Ah-Ha! moments for me, especially the quote posted above. I have to face the reality as a musician as well as an artist that I am often bound tightly by my subject matter. As a guitarist, I am often “page-bound”, unwilling to allow spontaneous flourishes into my music because I am focused on the notations in the book before me. I can also be “recording-bound” if I am trying too hard to copy a particular guitarist’s riffs on the song I am playing instead of trusting my own inner voice. I must learn to let the music flow within me and respond to what I hear internally.

The same goes for painting. Whether I am working en plein air or from a reference photo, I often find myself sticking strictly with the subject before me instead of trusting my “inner eye” to edit a composition on the paper before me and create a quality painting rather than a strict copy of the subject I am viewing. I needed this word from the Turner reading to remind me that this is my composition, and as the artist, the prerogative is mine to put in what I wish and leave out what I choose.

And so, returning to a commission that has held my attention for several weeks, I made the conscious decision today to excise certain details and furnishings in the original photo that I believe bring unnecessary clutter to the composition before me. I am happy that this painting is taking on a “clean” look rather than the typical urban look with its assortment of trash cans, signs, gutters and lamp posts. I learned long ago that I have the ability to render these extraneous objects. But are they necessary in this particular painting? I have decided they are not.

Santa Fe depot

Should be completed in a matter of days . . .

Another Ah-Ha! moment from the Turner reading this morning came from remarks delivered by Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy of which the young Turner was a member. In one of  the president’s discourses, he urged that “invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory.” This reminded me of Emerson’s line from “Experience”–

The history of literature . . . is a sum of very few ideas, and of very few original tales,–all the rest being variation of these.

Years ago, I gave up trying to be original and innovative. I have come to embrace the reality that “I am a part of all that I have met” (I lifted this from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”). Being an artist involves sifting and sorting among all the tricks and gimmicks we have collected over the years with hopes of finding a decent recipe for combining those elements. Yesterday, while listening to the Ken Burns documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright, a commentator, in discussing Wright’s early work at the drafting table, said that he was “developing his grammar.” I like the sound of that! In my senior years as an artist, I suppose I am still trying to develop my grammar.

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Reading Turner made me feel that I’d returned to graduate school

And finally, the Turner biography discussed Edmund Burke’s notion of the “sublime” which played a role in the changing aesthetics within the Royal Academy by the time Turner studied there. In his pivotal work A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Burke attacked the classical notion of his day that assumed the most important part of a work of art was its clarity and clean definition.  I turned to The Encyclopedia of Philosophy for further discussion of  Burke’s ideas:

What is greatest and noblest is the infinite, and that the infinite, having no bounds, cannot be clean and distinct. He argued that the imagination, moreover, is most strongly affected by what is suggested or hinted at and not by what is plainly stated.

Reading those words reminded me of the advice given by the late Andrew Wyeth–the strength of a composition lays not in what you put into the picture, but what you leave out. A judge at one of my competitions years ago told me that she had a particular eye on the drawings and paintings that left “space” in the picture plane that invited the viewer in to complete the narrative. I’ll never forget that piece of advice. And so, in future watercolor endeavors, I will be exploring this idea of leaving certain areas of the composition undeveloped while choosing to detail other parts. I’m interested in seeing where this is going to lead.

This morning has been an enriching one. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Carrying the Wilderness Back into the City

August 15, 2018

cloudcroft

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

John Muir

The watercolor above was begun one late afternoon a couple of months ago while relaxing at the edge of the quaint little town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. I stopped before getting to the tree on the right, because I was dissatisfied with my way of rendering trees.

On my last Sunday recently in South Fork, Colorado, I went wild with a series of experiments on the evergreens I enjoyed every day outside the cabin where I resided. I am still trying to absorb all the new things I tried. But this afternoon, I decided to apply some of those new experimental techniques to this tree on the right. I’m happy with the result.

All the while I painted, I thought of the John Muir quote above, and a kindred quote I have always loved from Emerson’s Nature:

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith.

Thanks to a long, relaxing vacation, I feel in many ways that I have returned to reason and faith. There is no describing this sentiment.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Henry

August 15, 2018

I am home now, my imagination overrun with memories of natural beauty that was my real home for most of the summer.

dave & henry

Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have . . . Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)

That I might never be blind to the beauty of the landscape! To hear music without any vibrating cord!

And so scribbled the thirty-three-year-old Henry David Thoreau in his journal while rhapsodizing over the landscape  engulfing him. Yet, while beholding the richness of the land, he languished over his perceived poverty in his own soul:

Looking through a stately pine grove, I saw the western sun falling in golden streams through its aisles. Its west side, opposite to me, was all lit up with golden light; but what was I to it? Such sights remind me of houses which we never inhabit,–that commonly I am not at home in the world. I see somewhat fairer than I enjoy or possess.

A fair afternoon, a celestial afternoon, cannot occur but we mar our pleasure by reproaching ourselves that we do not make all our days beautiful. The thought of what I am, of my pitiful conduct, deters me from receiving what joy I might from the glorious days that visit me. After the era of youth is passed, the knowledge of ourselves is an alloy that spoils our satisfactions. 

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 1850

Thoreau

I awoke this morning in my own bed, after a forty-five day odyssey across Texas, northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. In my sleep, the babbling sounds of the South Fork of the Rio Grande rolling past my cabin deck soothed my dreamscape. Waking up to suburban Arlington, Texas was not the fairest of greetings. I swear I can still smell the pines that I strove to paint early each morning in that fifty-degree Colorado climate. And if I close my eyes, I can still see the chipmunks scurrying about the deck in search of food.

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chipmunk

I am fortunate to be old enough to know better than to lapse into the kind of dissatisfaction Thoreau was facing in his journal. True, Arlington for me comes nowhere near the sublimity of the Colorado Rockies or the New Mexico canyons. But I have been blessed to spend a cool, seasonable summer in those environs, and I believe they have made me a better person to face the tasks that now lie before me. And I am old enough to know that the real wealth is what lies inside my soul, and my genuine happiness stems from my urge to create something from it. I could never possess the landscape, but can only enjoy it as a gift. Thoreau actually knew that as well:

I have frequently seen a poet withdraw, having enjoyed the most valuable part of a farm, while the crusty farmer supposed that he had got a few wild apples only. Why, the owner does not know it for many years when a poet has put his farm in rhyme, the most admirable kind of invisible fence, has fairly impounded it, milked it, skimmed it, and got all the cream, and left the farmer only the skimmed milk.

Emerson believed that the quality of life is carried inside oneself, not in the abundance of possession:

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. 

Today marks a new day and a fresh beginning. Thankful for the summer restoration, I find myself able to pursue new work, new endeavors, while I continue to carry the thankful memories within.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

Musing over the Creative Efforts

August 11, 2018

nearing closure

Closing in on the Finish of this Watercolor (I think)

Creative algorithms undulate beneath the dark, quiet pools of solitude.

David Tripp

O.K., so I open with a post of one of my original quotes, not even half-baked, being less than an hour old at this time. This morning, at the dining room table, I was feeling creatively “flat”, and chafed inwardly that it was Saturday morning and I was still unsatisfied at the progress I was making on my preparations for this fall’s term.

After breakfast, I put on my Big Boy pants, and went out, looking for a public, yet quiet spot to work on my courses. I settled on a public library, and before roughing out my syllabus for Classical Judaism, opened Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and began reading, for about the fourth or fifth time, these marvelously personal documents.

Rilke writes so eloquently about the gift of solitude for creative exploits, and as I wrote, I began compiling a list of books from my personal library that I plan to place on my writing desk once I get back home again: Solitude, by Anthony Storr, A Sand County Almanac, by Leopold Bloom, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, The Eternal Now, by Paul Tillich, Quiet, by Susan Cain and Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers.

As I began writing from memory some of my favorite quotes about solitude, and then exploring the Internet for more quotes, I wondered why I had not by now come up with my own original line about solitude. So, I fiddled with this, and before long had a page of quotes, stopping with the one I posted above.

I plan to continue noodling with this quote because I am still wrestling with some of the ideas. To begin with, I have difficulty associating “algorithm” with “creativity”, I suppose because I cannot conceive of a set of rules or specific process that guarantees creative results. That is why I used the word “undulating” to describe these steps, because they seem always to be changing, for me as well as for all that I have read of the myriad of creative spirits who have preceded us and left behind testimonies of their processes.

The image in my memory that inspired the quote I am composing is what I saw at Beaver Creek Reservoir on a couple of occasions recently in South Fork, Colorado. While moving from place to place, seeking a decent spot to fish for trout, I happened across this location in the reservoir where the creek flowed into the enormous lake. The water was clear as crystal, the sun was low on the horizon, and with the help of polarized sunglasses, I was allowed to peer deep beneath the surface where I saw myriads of rainbow and brown trout, darting and circling deep below. I felt a calming effect as I contrasted the glassy, mirror-like surface of the quiet waters with the constantly changing configurations of trout too numerous to count, congregating, separating, clustering again, scattering again. As I watched this constant pulse, I laughed, remembering a scene from the film A Beautiful Mind. John Nash’s colleagues at Princeton were making fun of him as he walked backward, stooped over a cluster of pigeons in the grass. He responded that he was trying to determine the algorithm of the pigeons’ movements as they searched for food.

I suppose that is the fallacy of trying to write about the creative process. But at any rate, I found the inspiration to dive back into my course on Classical Judaism, and before I knew it, managed to organize the body of research I have worked on all summer into a semester’s strategy, and then arranged it into my fifteen-week schedule. So . . . the early morning’s chafing finally yielded to a satisfying conclusion.

I have posted above the watercolor commission that I began about a month ago, and recently resumed after a vacation hiatus. I feel that I am getting closer to the end, and that is a good thing. College begins for me in about ten days, and I need to begin pouring more daily hours into that endeavor. I am privileged to teach Classical Judaism (online) for the first time ever, and will also devise a way to coordinate a pair of Logic classes (one online, the other in the classroom). I am sufficiently rested from my travels and changes in perspective, and though I still have New Mexico and Colorado in my dreams, I am grounded once again in Texas soil.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

In the Great Silence of these Distances

August 8, 2018

Riverbend Resort

Last Week

starbucks

This Morning

The month-long Odyssey has been an abundant blessing, moving across Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Though I have moved on from the mountains, I still feel their call rising within me. This morning, situated in the city, I have moved into the interior, into the Cave, which is fitting, because time has arrived for me to devote the remaining two weeks to university preparations involving intense study and the creation of necessary documents for three courses.

I will also be focused on commissions I have in the hopper, so watercoloring will also be part of my daily diet. I cannot conceive of anything more rewarding—a life of the mind each morning, and the creation of art each afternoon.

As I work, images from Colorado still flood my inner vision, both of mountains and of wild critters that visited me daily.

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The Mountains Called out to Me, and I Answered

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A Friend Recently Called me Saint Francis

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I Still Hear the Birds Conversing about the Deck

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This One Appeared Curious over what I was Reading . . .

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. . . and This One Spent Three Days with Me as I painted

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For the rest of my years, I’ll be grateful for the memories of this month-long Odyssey, as I am this morning grateful for this gift of teaching university students. In two weeks, I shall open the next Chapter, and commence the challenge of inducing young minds to embrace new ideas from Judaism and Logic at Texas Wesleyan University. Since the year 2000, this small private institution has embraced me as I have explored with my students ideas contained in the New Testament, Old Testament, World Religions, Logic, Ethics and the Humanities.

Life is much more comfortable for me now than it was when I first began my own university studies. I no longer feel the anxieties associated with having more questions than answers. After all these decades, I still have more questions than answers, but it is O.K. I hope I can pass on the wisdom to these new students that I read in the letters from Rilke to a young poet:

You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. 

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Resuming the Commission this Afternoon

After a three-week hiatus, I am also returning today to complete this promised commission. Throughout my travels, this image has continued to compost in my mind’s eye, and I am enthusiastic to pick up the brush and resume work on this engaging subject.

Time to go to work. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Hoping to Turn a Corner

August 5, 2018

S tree

Sunrise View from my Cabin Deck

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings . . . 

. . . the imagination must learn to ply her craft by judgment studied.

William Wordsworth, “Lyrical Ballads”

Every morning for this past week, I have been spellbound at the sight of this evergreen below my cabin deck when the sun rises and washes it like this.  After making a couple of watercolor studies of the rugged pine that is closer to my cabin, I mused about how to paint such an evergreen as this. For days, I ruminated over how to approach the problem. This morning, reading Heidegger’s “The Thinker as Poet”, I came across the following:

As soon as we have the thing before our eyes,

         and in our hearts an ear

         for the word, thinking prospers.

Recently, I revisited Annie Dillards reference to “the tree with lights” in her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  This morning, as Dillard, Heidegger and Wordsworth converged in my imagination, I decided to try and paint evergreens in experimental fashion.  I have brought along on vacation with me a children’s book, titled -Ish by Peter Reynolds. The story is a delightful one that has reminded me that I don’t have to copy nature with the accuracy of a photographer. Rather, I just need to make these trees look “tree-ish.” During my years of teaching art history, I was always intrigued by Xie He’s Six Canons, and decided today to see if I could put his principles to work. I split my time evenly between painting, reading, and scribbling observations in my journal.

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Work in Progress

I painted all morning, took a break for lunch, then again all afternoon. Throughout the morning, I was continually visited by the little wild critters.

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Here is a Bold and Hungry Little Fellow

Chipmunks continually scurried about the deck, searching for scattered sunflower seeds I had tossed about me. This one in particular climbed up my pant leg and looked in my lap for seeds. I decided to gather a few in my palm and reach down. Sure enough, he came fearlessly to me and ate every morsel.

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Guarding my Paintings

This gorgeous bird (I believe he is an Evening Grosbeak) has spent the last three days perched near me on this deck while I painted or read. When I take sunflower seeds to him, he might scamper a few feet away from me, but never flies away. He just stands nearby, like he’s waiting for something, and remains long after he’s eaten all my offerings.

I’m not certain that I have yet arrived at a solution for painting evergreens in watercolor, but I certainly pulled out all the stops as I experimented today, following Wordsworth’s message of spontaneously pouring out all my passions at first, then returning after the pieces dried to try and complete an attractive composition “by judgment studied.” I am exhausted by the process, but am exhilarated by the feelings I experienced today in pursuit of this process.

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That’s all for this day. Thank you for reading.

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I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.