Posts Tagged ‘Garrison Keillor’

A Brighter Morning

January 9, 2021
Paddington just keeps growing and stretching

Brethren preached separation from worldly pleasures, but my mother laughed at comedians, particularly Gracie Allen, who said, “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

Garrison Keillor, That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life

This morning was brighter, filled with more color, than the past two days. Sipping coffee before the fireplace, reading more of Garrison Keillor, dog snuggled under the blanket with me–yes, a much warmer morning. Entering Studio Eidolons a few hours later, I found Baby Paddington looking not so much as a baby anymore. He seems to stretch halfway across the room now when he’s looking for something beneath the tree. We’ve decided to let the tree remain through January, since we spent so little time in the house with the Christmas decorations in place. Now we can enjoy them for a few more weeks without departure interruptions.

. . . painters must devote themselves entirely to the study of nature and try to produce pictures which are an instruction. Talks on art are almost useless. . . . Literature expresses itself by abstractions, whereas painting by means of drawing and colour gives concrete shape to sensations and perceptions.

Paul Cezanne, letter to painter friend Emile Bernard

Today I have worked further on this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of winter trees I photographed in St. Louis when we visited during Christmas 2017. I painted them once before, and sold the piece before I was emotionally detached from it. That happens sometimes. For three years, the image has continued to burn on my retina, so I researched the files in my smart phone to find the photo and give it another crack.

Having stripped away the masquing, the snow seems to be showing up OK now. I have just barely begun to place the dead tree branches into the gaps on the left side of the composition. This is going to take considerable time as I’m spending more time enlarging the photo on a flatscreen TV and working on the nuances of the branches (color, thickness, direction of movement, density, and so on). I’m still trying to find the recipe for the neutral coloring of the trunks and branches as well.

Yesterday I struggled with a problem that Cezanne expressed in his writings, namely that the difficulty in painting a cluster of trees was separating out all the shades and tints of green so the painting doesn’t become dull and monotonous. I haven’t solved that problem to my satisfaction, but I think the painting is OK so far. Today I struggle with the Cezanne quote posted above concerning the relationship of literature and visual art. Last month, I had an engaging conversation over dinner in St. Louis with my high school friend Clarry Hubbard, a retired journalist. He expressed how he continually wrestles with visual images as he writes, and I countered with my own struggles, attempting to express visually the literature I read and hear. Soon, I hope I can find a way to write more lucidly about what I am trying to do with brush and paper. In the meantime, I echo Gracie Allen’s sentiments: “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

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.

Painting through the Darkness

January 8, 2021
Beginning of an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of winter evergreens

I promise to love this life I was given and do my best to deserve it.

Garrison Keillor, That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life

For 48 hours, I have been drifting in the darkness of this nation along with everyone else. I choose not to post my perspectives on this event, but still acknowledge a profound pain over events that defy description. Waking before daylight, I found solace this morning in the opening chapters of Garrison Keillor’s recent work, and when I reached the quote above, I had to close the book and just sit in silence for awhile.

Henri Matisse’s life as an artist lived through two World Wars, yet his art never reflected the dark eras of those times. Biographer Hilary Spurling observed “His deepest instinct in the face of erupting violence and destruction was to respond with an affirmation of everything that made life worth living.”

And so I as well have immersed myself the past couple of days in a series of watercolor experiments, recording many observations in an attempt to crank out better work in 2021. In the days ahead, I hope to share some of the insights I’ve recorded along with fresh ideas I’ve gleaned from reading and journaling. Meanwhile, I urge all of my readers to look ahead, to hope, and try at every turn to contribute something of value to our communities.

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.

No Ideas But in Things

December 19, 2012

Vintage Coffee Tin and Suitcase

Vintage Coffee Tin and Suitcase

I believe it was Garrison Keillor who warned that when mining for deep truths, we should be careful not to come up with a handful of horse hockey.  So, with reservation, I confess that I am still muddling about with Imagism, a movement in poetry traced back to 1912, involving Ezra Pound, H. D., William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot and a host of other literary heavyweights.  This group of writers was interested in approaching objects directly with language, cutting unnecessary words and ornamentation.  I have much of that on my mind as I work at watercoloring these still lifes of late.  I also have Andy Warhol and the Pop culture all over me as well:  “A thing is a thing.”

I listen seriously as Andrew Wyeth testifies that one can talk too much about one’s art instead of just doing it and exploring it.  But I am earnestly in search of a theory, a reason.  It’s not enough for me just to say: “I make art in order to remember.”  Sure,, nostalgia is in my work, and the objects I select to paint resonate with my past.

I’m nearly finished with this still life posted above.  I can’t say I’m too happy with the finished results, but I did enjoy gazing at these objects over the past couple of afternoons, and I enjoyed the process of trying to solve problems in capturing and recording them in watercolor on paper.  I’m not sorry I tried.

Tomorrow is the first day of final exams.  I just finished typing up all mine to give to the classes, and I’m seriously considering a good night’s sleep and an early arrival at school in the morning.  So I guess I’ll shut down the studio for another night.

Thanks for reading.

My Town 63050 (Switzer’s Licorice St. Louis)

September 21, 2012

Switzer’s Licorice, St. Louis

If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll know that I have toyed with reviving a project I abandoned about a year ago–a series of watercolors titled “My Town 63050.”  My inspiration came from Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Garrison Keillor and any other brilliant mind who created their own fictitious town and grew wonderful stories about them.  I once thought I would do the same with watercolor.  Yesterday evening, I began a small watercolor sketch of the old Switzer’s Licorice building on the St. Louis riverfront that has since been demolished.  I grew up looking at that lone sentinel of a building sitting north of the gateway arch, above the Mississippi River.  I figured it was time to re-do a painting of it.  Formerly it had stood in the background of a 1999 watercolor I had titled “Turvey’s Corner.”  I look forward to finishing this and matting it to put in my booth next week when I attend Taste of St. Louis art festival.

Thanks for reading.