Posts Tagged ‘Emily Dickinson’

A Certain Slant of Light

June 14, 2014
Silence of Saturday Morning

Silence of Saturday Morning

There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons – 

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes – 

 

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us – 

We can find no scar,

But internal difference,

Where the Meanings, are – 

.  .  .

Emily Dickinson

This particular Saturday has been a lengthy, pensive one.  Recent events brought me to a state of mind where I thought it best to stay indoors the entire day and devote this space for important, quiet matters.  As I sat at breakfast, the words from Emily Dickinson continued to murmur throughout my soul, again and again.  It was necessary to think on these matters, and I believe her words set me on a fitting course for the day.

Reading Away a Quiet Saturday

Reading Away a Quiet Saturday

Following breakfast, I returned to the pages of Thoreau, and was filled with wonder that a twenty-four year old could write out such incisive thoughts:

A momentous silence reigns always in the woods, and their meaning seems just ripening into expression.  But alas!  they make no haste.  The rush sparrow, Nature’s minstrel of serene hours, sings of an immense leisure and duration.

When I hear a robin sing at sunset, I cannot help contrasting the equanimity of Nature with the bustle and impatience of man.  We return from the lyceum and caucus with such stir and excitement, as if a crisis were at hand; but no natural scene or sound sympathizes with us, for Nature is always silent and unpretending as at the break of day.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, April 25, 1841

Thoreau’s thoughts threw into bold relief the reality of how busy my life had become of late.  I have been out of school a week, but never found the brake to slow things down, until yesterday.  Tuesday I will return to begin summer school, but that is Tuesday–right now, I need to “be still and know.”  Thanks to the morning’s meditations over Thoreau, I managed to relax in the chair well into the afternoon, thinking, writing in the journal, and reading the kinds of things I need to be reading at this moment in my life.

I did return to the drafting table.  Taking out a watercolor sketch I began shortly after Easter, I decided to complete it and make a 5 x 7″ composition, suitable for matting.  This is a Victorian home in Weatherford that has been converted into a popular Bed and Breakfast, The Angel’s Nest:

As for the Edward Hopper study of Marshall’s House, I spent hours this afternoon masquing, applying wash, masquing further, drybrushing, and masquing some more.  This required long stretches of drying (and reading) time.  I also tightened up some of the details on the house, thinking of Andrew Wyeth’s pencil work and precision.  I have now stripped away the masquing and need time to decide how to “clean up” those areas around the masque marks.  There is plenty of time for that later.  For right now, I would like to stop with this one and spend more time looking at it and figuring out what exactly to do next.  I do like the way the contrast is beginning to pop.

Still Experimenting with the Hopper Composition

Still Experimenting with the Hopper Composition

Afternoon has now stretched into evening.   I am not exactly sure what to do next, but thought I would go ahead and release this blog, and thank all of you for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Better Slant of Light

December 28, 2013

Morning Winter Light in the Writing StudioWinter Slanting Light in the Writing Studio

Nothing goes by luck in composition.  It allows of no tricks.  The best you can write will be the best you are.  Every sentence is the result of a long probation.  The author’s character is read from title-page to end.  Of this he never corrects the proofs.  We read it as the essential character of a handwriting without regard to the flourishes.  And so of the rest of our actions; it runs as straight as a ruled line through them all, no matter how many curvets about it.  Our whole life is taxed for the least thing well done; it is its net result.  how we eat, drink, sleep, and use our desultory hours, now in these indifferent days, with no eye to observe and no occasion [to] excite us, determines our authority and capacity for the time to come.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, February 28, 1841

Reading from the Thoreau Journal

Reading from the Thoreau Journal

Good morning!  About thirteen days ago, I posted my last post about a “Slant of Light.”  Since then I have closed out two campus semesters, Christmas vacationed in the St. Louis area with my parents (who have no Wi-Fi) and returned home at midnight last night.  I was too wired-and-tired to sleep, it appears.  Finally I crashed around 3:30 a.m. and awoke again around 7:30.  No doubt I’ll crash later today, but for now, the coffee is brewed, Thoreau is touching me with his meditations, and I have so much reading and watercoloring on my mind.  I will be following up with posts as this day unfolds.  I did manage to create two 8 x 10″ watercolors while in St. Louis, managed a ton of quality reading, and still found warm conversation time with my parents and son.  Friends also reached out from several directions and I love all of them as well.

So, to all my readers, thank you for spending a moment on this page with me, and for all the earlier times this year we have shared.  You have truly enriched my life, enabling me to write and post about things that matter to me.  This is a great time of the year for quiet and reflection, and I am ready to settle into that now that my travels have ceased for awhile.  A host of pensive scribbles in my personal journal need to be re-visited and fleshed out.  Perhaps some of those will find their way into this blog as well.

More later!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

There’s a Certain Slant of Light

December 15, 2013
First Waking Moment of Sunday

First Waking Moment of Sunday

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

Emily Dickinson

I love Emily Dickinson’s work, but have always wondered over this verse.  Like Edward Hopper, I love slanting light, and I love the quality of winter light the most.  So, when I awoke this morning and saw this on my bedroom bookcase, the words of Emily’s poem immediately flashed across my consciousness, and pulling the poem from my book, re-read it.  Still it reads with a sorrow that I never feel when gazing at winter light.  I always wonder if I am misinterpreting her in this poem.

I could not wait to enter the studio with such clear, cleain light flooding my house.

Race Horse Commission

Race Horse Commission

I am spending today, trying to finish this final commission to be devlivered on Monday.  That will make three commissions in three days signed, sealed and delivered.  A load will roll off my back when that happens.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for those two ice days that opened up a four-day weekend for me.  Withouut that precious time, I’m not sure how I would have pulled off these commissions.

Two Commissions nearly ready

Two Commissions nearly ready

The gas station painting will be delivered to its new owner this afternoon.

Christmas Commissions in Progress

Christmas Commissions in Progress

The Jeep painting I delivered yesterday.  I’m starting to feel like Santa Claus.

Back to work.  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.

There is a Certain Slant of Light

February 6, 2013
Watercoloring in the Afternoon, with thoughts of Emily Dickinson

Watercoloring in the Afternoon, with thoughts of Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

Emily Dickinson

This afternoon, as I chip away at this still life, I am flooded with the silence of the day, the slanting light that I cannot keep away from my garage door windows (all the blinders I taped up day-before-yesterday have fallen off), and the sense of relief that follows a noisy day of high school teaching.  Only the drone of my clothes dryer just on the other side of the utility room door is heard, except for the occasional rustle of dead, dry leaves blowing across my driveway.  It is an affirming ambiance for painting.

Emily Dickinson’s poem is considerably darker than what I feel right now.  I thought about her “slant of light” as the sun came out a few minutes ago and threw its shafts through my windows and across my still-life arrangement.  And I recalled that it was a winter light of which she spoke.  And I knew that the poem was overflowing with the mixed feelings of sublime and depression in regard to religious sentiment.  That final note is not on my heart as I write this.  I’ve been listening to Voices and Visions broadcasts of the works of Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams, and I once again am finding myself lost in these objects before me, and I regard that as a good thing.

Thanks for reading.

There’s a Certain Slant of Light

July 13, 2012

There’s a Slant of Light

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

Emily Dickinson

From my childhood, I have been arrested at the sight of dramatic sunlight and shadows falling across abandoned structures such as this one I found north of Weatherford several summers ago.  I believe, however, that my sentiments have always lay closer to the painter Edward Hopper than the poet Emily Dickinson, though I confess that Dickinson’s poetry evokes considerably more than Hopper’s testimony:  “All I ever wanted to do was paint the light on the side of the building.”  Having read hundreds of pages of biography on Hopper, I have come to the conclusion that his disposition was closer to Emily than mine.  I personally find a sense of joy and the sublime when I see a 45-degree slant of sunlight across a dilapidated structure, and have felt that for as long as I can remember.  The young Henry David Thoreau recorded in his journal: “Aeschylus had a clear eye for the commonest things.”  I could say the same for myself, except that, to me, these “commonest things” cease being prosaic the moment they are bathed in natural light, the moment a geometric, hard-edge shadow emerges to define their contours.

I have spent some of this Friday morning, gazing out the window of my studio into the backyard, admiring the patterns of sun and shadow falling across my privacy fence.  I often wish I could call up the kind of language that Wordsworth did when he described the stirrings he felt deep within, as nature invited him for a closer inspection.  All of these things matter to me as I write this morning, and seek a way to complete this small watercolor that I started and abandoned over a week ago.

studio

My apologies for leaving the blog dangling for so long, again.  I spent the past week attending the Advanced Placement Summer Institute at TCU.  I have to fulfill my Art History requirement there every third summer.  The classes lasted from 8-4:30 daily, and I hadn’t realized how many years it had been since I sat and listened for such long stretches, taking notes, focusing and experiencing brain drain.  When I got home every evening, I had nothing left to give at the studio.  So, I gave my painting a rest.

This morning, I am thinking of finishing this small piece, matting and framing it to put in a Craft Show tomorrow (Saturday) from 9-3:00 at the Stephen United Methodist Church, 1800 W. Randol Mill Rd., Arlington, Texas.  It is time to get some more of my original small watercolors out into the marketplace.

Thanks for reading.