Posts Tagged ‘Gertrude Stein’

Late Night Reading and another Tree Study

January 17, 2016


They went through me like an arrow, and from that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Robert Motherwell, upon seeing for the first time Henri Matisse’s paintings

This delicious Sunday night has been spent before the fireplace, reading more than forty pages from this new Motherwell book I just received. I posted his observation above of what happened when he was in his early twenties and saw paintings by Matisse in the home of one of Gertrude Stein’s brothers in Palo Alto, California. His testimony echoes what I felt when I saw my first Andrew Wyeth book in my ninth-grade art class. What a rush to recall that moment.

I closed the book and returned to my drafting table to experiment some more with the rendering of winter trees in pencil. I purchased a sketch book in an antique store last month, and am enjoying the qualities of the aged, darkened paper in the book. I’m still cutting lines into the surface of the paper with a ballpoint pen that has run out of ink, then dragging a 9B pencil over the creases. In addition to the soft pencil and dry ballpoint, I just just used a No. 2 pencil manufactured by Papermate–a Mirado classic. I have fallen in love with these, and find them in Albertson’s grocery stores and H-E-B stores as well. For the really fine and light lines, I use a 6H pencil, and from time to time I drag a blending stump through the pencil work. I’m still not sure what I’m doing, but loving the experiment.

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.


Opening the New Year and Avoiding the Measuring Worm

January 1, 2015
Back Home, and Ready to Work Again

Back Home, and Ready to Work Again

He comes over from London and he sees a good picture and takes a pencil out of his pocket and you watch him measuring it on the pencil with his thumb.  Sighting on it and measuring it and seeing exactly how it is done.  Then he goes back to London and does it and it doesn’t come out right.  He’s missed what it’s all about.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The words posted above are Hemingway’s recollection of Gertrude Stein’s description of the painter Wyndham Lewis.  She always referred to him as “the measuring worm” because he seemed to believe that art could be quantified by the correct arrangement of techniques.  From her perspective, Lewis was always assessing other painters’ works in terms of design elements, beleiving that if he copied those elements he would create the same quality of paintings.

These words have remained at the forefront of my thoughts during the past couple of weeks as I have enjoyed the holiday season.  My travels took me to Austin, Texas, across Oklahoma, and all over Missouri.  Returning home briefly I then took another New Year holiday to east Texas, enjoying the company of the best of friends.  All the while, I thought about art, worked in my sketchbook and journal, read many texts, and continued pondering the magic of Art.  After this respite, I feel that I am no closer to describing what takes a work of art to the sublime heights of Art.  And I am no longer confident that I will ever reach that summit where I could speak clearly about the essence of Art any more than I could describe the essence of Religion.  But I love the endeavor, and this evening, finally enjoying the quiet of my own home and listening to the music of Anita Baker, I took out this watercolor sketch begun a few days ago in Missouri and tried to push it a little further.  Bending over the wet surface and watching the reds, greens and yellows floating in the layers of water, I got excited all over again, watching the pigments emerge into the semblance of an image of fresh apples.  Yes, the composition is quite small, but very intoxicating to me tonight.

I’m ready to lay this aside and return to reading texts from Hemingway, Wilder and Henri.  I feel the stirring of muses and hope I can put some things into my journal that will breathe new life into my art endeavors.

Thanks always for reading.  I have so much I would love to share about this recent holiday vacation.  I’ve been in remote areas where I could not access Internet, but time away from the blog has helped recharge my batteries.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

A Modern Re-Formation of the Parisian Cafe

May 15, 2013

Eight days have passed since my last blog post.  I was struck down by a viral infection, my entire body ached, and headaches prevented me from using my eyes to read or paint.  But I had plenty of time to think (and sleep).  First, I thank all of you readers who found out I was ill, and reached out to me with gracious words.  That gesture of kindness set off a litany of thoughts that I’m still trying to sort out, and hope to set forth in tonight’s post.

I’m thrilled to report that my sickness has apparently passed, and though quite weak, I at least am able to read and write again, and look forward to painting as soon as possible.  I was in the mood to paint this evening, but storm watching took precedence.  Forty-five minutes ago, a tornado passed over my neighborhood, fortunately not touching down, but the local sirens blasted for a good ten minutes until certain that the menace had departed.

Getting back to the well-wishers from the blogosphere, people I have not even met personally–I could never adequately tell you how much I appreciate your good will, and how your kindness has put some things in perspective for me.  For years I have assembled, through my studies, all these fascinating pieces to a puzzle of Parisian café life in the 1920s and 30s.  I was engrossed in the general daily cycle of Picasso’s life, as he painted in the studio all night long, went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, rose and went to the café to socialize with other creative spirits, then returned to the studio in the late afternoon or early evening to begin the cycle anew.  He balanced his creative solitude with his social needs.

I have always regarded the making of art as a solitary enterprise, and that is where I spend long hours in my special Cave, making art, reading, journaling, always thinking and planning anew.  My daily round of public school teaching surrounds me with people, and I do enjoy the bond of exchanging ideas with students, lighting fires and watching them respond with enthusiasm.  But I really do not thrive any longer in the work environment.  I make my living there, do my duties there, and try to have a good time while educating students.  The blogosphere has become my Parisian café, and I never really realized it until this time of illness.  There are scores of blogs that I have to visit daily, and I am always amazed at the ideas, the poetry, the images, the songs that soar through those blogs.  And I occasionally post comments and some of those actually germinate into an ongoing dialogue with that creative spirit/blogger.  And I try to answer every single post on my blog, and there are a number of those creative spirits who continue to “talk” to me.  Always I have found encouragement and gleaned new ideas through these encounters.  But I guess it wasn’t until I became ill, stopped blogging (too sick even to think about writing), that I was shocked to receive words of encouragement from other bloggers who had “missed” my daily posts.  What a surprise, how unspeakably touching that was!  It was then that I realized that I had finally found a “café” where I could commune with other creative spirits.

In the days ahead, I hope I’ll be able to find quality time to integrate all my scattered notes and files from over the years, studies I had done of those café spirits of Paris—Picasso, Hemingway, Stein, Joyce, Anderson, Sartre, and see if I can find a way to consolidate the visual and literary arts the way this generation managed to do.  I feel privileged to sample this synergy of the Parisian café.   My heartfelt thanks goes out to this corner of the blogosphere.  You do make a difference—at least you have for me.  I can’t wait to re-join you in the next conversation.  I cannot wait till the next moment when I stride into the cafe and take my seat among these artistic spirits.  We’ll join in the spirit of Picasso and his literary friends as we exchange our views and encourage one another to continue on in this enterprise.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog, knowing full well that I am not alone.