Posts Tagged ‘Goethe’

Whittling and Weaving

January 6, 2020

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Goethe’s works, letters and diaries fill 143 volumes . . . of course by no means everything he wrote is first-rate, but – or perhaps it is because – he worked constantly and never sought the easy way out, least of all by following a formula.

Walter Kaufmann, Introduction to Goethe’s Faust

I cannot express the depths of my admiration for the writings of Goethe, and only wish I would have begun earlier in life to study his works. While working on this recent watercolor, I have been re-reading Faust during the drying periods. And as I read of Goethe’s prolific output, I am reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the way his study was strewn with unfinished manuscripts and projects. After all these years, I have hundreds of volumes of handwritten journals on the shelf, years of blog posts in the cloud and hundreds of drawings and watercolor attempts stacked in the studio and stored in steamer trunks and suitcases. Knowing that Goethe continually edited his old works, I consider the possibilities of revisiting and revising my own.

As I continue fiddling with this watercolor, the extensive network of tree limbs and layers of woven grasses have drawn my focus to matters of design not often visited, and I am really enjoying this journey while at the same time pausing to read and ponder the most engaging literature.

When I focus all my attention on a patch of grasses within just a couple of square inches, I feel I am using a penknife to whittle on a log. I am easily swallowed up in such a tiny part of our world. And my mind visits so many unrelated ideas while I work at leisure. I cannot describe the well-being I experience when I am in my element.

I suppose the reason I feel so good about all this is because I am not following a formula, I am not bored by repetition, I am not on an assembly line cranking out product. I feel like a creator, free to experiment, not needing permission to spend time doing this. The lovely gift of retirement includes rising before daylight on a Monday morning, not having to go to work for someone else, but making coffee and entering the studio to play another day.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz on websiteI 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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A Thinker’s Well-Being

January 5, 2020

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Continued Work on the Dickens, Texas Landscape

. . . they make life harder for themselves than they should. Oh, that at long last you had the courage for once to yield yourselves to your impressions, to let yourselves be delighted, let yourselves be moved, let yourselves be elevated, yes, to let yourselves be taught and inspired and encouraged for something great . . . 

Goethe, conversation with his young secretary Eckermann, May 6, 1827

I didn’t post yesterday, choosing instead to make another sojourn out to Dickens, Texas to enjoy the fabulous barbecue there and then to stroll about the landscape in a nearby roadside park that offered access to a fascinating gorge and waterfall complete with walking trails. While on site, gazing at the fields of tall dead grasses, I recognized immediately that my yellows are too warm and intense than what I actually see during these sunny winter Texas days. Once I got back home, I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not I should neutralize my warm yellows or just let them continue as they are, and try to get the colors right on a future attempt at this landscape. Already I have poured quite a bit of work into this one, and wonder if I dare make such a profound change in its overall look.

Waking this Sunday morning, I chose to spend some quiet time reading and reflecting before resuming the painting. For a few days I have enjoyed the crackling intensity and restlessness of Faust. This time I decided I wanted to read from a quieter spirit. Having worked on the text of Plotinus Enniad I, I had focused all my previous efforts on his thoughts in Book 6 “On Beauty.” This morning I spent about an hour on Book 4 “On Well-Being.” Good choice. The word translated “well-being” is ευδαιμóνια (eudaimonia).

I discovered in this morning’s study that Plotinus, after examining the works of Aristotle and Stoic writers, concluded that “well-being” can be achieved by what we call today a “Life of the Mind.” Plotinus determined that the highest good results from a “life of the Intellect, independent of all outward circumstances and material and emotional satisfactions of our lower nature” (introductory statement from the editor Jeffrey Henderson). As I worked through the Plotinus text and read comments from the editor, I was surprised to find a parallel between Plotinus’s words and those from the Parable of the Sower we read from the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament.

Plotinus argued that the accumulation of material comfort can easily distract one who has the capacity of a life of the mind from actually experiencing this richness. When Jesus mentioned the four types of soils, he referred to the one overrun by thorns and thistles. He said this was indicative of those who wished to seek higher values, but the cares and “distractions” of this age sprung up and choked out the growth of the newly planted crop, thus rendering it unfruitful. I smiled at this for a number of reasons, one of which I’ll mention and then leave alone:

I purchased a book a few days ago, explaining how to incorprate Instagram into one’s business. As readers are aware, I launched a new website recently, and since that day have been studying ways to use social media to raise my profile in the art world. As one who loves to read daily, I have found myself recently struggling to balance this study of business and marketing with my longtime love of classical learning. Today I returned to classical learning, and feel much richer for it. In fact, I am more motivated to paint now than I have been while reading and exploring Instagram. Who would have guessed.

There, I said it. Now I’m ready to return to the painting. Thanks for reading, and yes, please take a look at my website if you haven’t:   www.davidtrippart.com

Shultz on websiteI 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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Lost Among the Layers

January 3, 2020

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Reference Photo for my New Watercolor

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The Foundation: Three Layers of Masquing Removed

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Building the Composition

Mysterious in the light of day,

Nature, in veils, will not let us perceive her,

And what she is unwilling to betray,

You cannot wrest from her with thumbscrews,

wheel, or lever.

Goethe, Faust

After working well into last night on this watercolor, I awoke this morning with the feeling that I would lay it aside and just spend time reading for awhile. All that changed when I received a phone call from an artist friend with whom I hadn’t visited in ten months. Our chat lasted nearly half an hour, and my creative energy level has been buzzing ever since.

Today, after burrowing through several layers of wash and masquing, I have reached a point where I am unsure of my next step. The Goethe quote came to mind, because I have always been convinced that there is no algorithm, no template for painting a landscape, at least not for me. That is why I sometimes struggle when conducting a watercolor workshop on landscape painting because I seldom find myself repeating the same sequence of techniques each time. One of Edward Hopper’s contemporaries criticized his oils because of the many preparatory steps he took in drawing and watercolor sketching before approaching the final canvas. Every compositional detail had been worked out in advance. The critic regarded the oils as too preplanned and stale, but thought that Hopper’s watercolors, on the contrary, showed discovery happening all the time. I take solace in that.

Today, I have been alternating my painting with my reading. I have no choice. The decision made to engage in an Andrew Wyeth-style technique of dry brushing winter grasses means, for me, layer upon layer of masqued weed lines followed by progressively darker washes, along with toothbrush-spattering of masquing fluid and pigments. I also combine the sprinkling of salt and stale breadcrumbs. While doing these activities, I make intermittent swipes of weed patterns, using graphite pencils and X-acto knife and pocket knife. This is an all-day affair because of the length of time required for drying between layers of experiments. With temperatures outside in the thirties, the watercolor paper is not drying very quickly, and I have never been fond of standing with a hair dryer to speed the process.

So, I pause for long drying periods to read, and Friedrich Schiller has been a most favorable intellectual companion. I’ve been reading his letters about aesthetic education, and frequently return to Kant’s The Critique of Judgement to get a better handle on some of the categories Schiller mentions in passing. I am finding this reading very engaging as well as challenging. And I feel like the charicature of the mad scientist as I explore these layers of color and texture and look continually at enlargements of this reference photo to figure out how to capture these nuances of nature. These sentiments led me to return to the pages of Goethe’s Faust and now I enjoy them as I sit beside the fireplace, absorbing its warmth during this winter season.

I have burrowed deeply into this landscape and am enjoying the study and exploration. My three areas of focus are the horizon structures, the network of dead tree branches and the endless woven patterns among the grasses.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll check out my blog www.davidtrippart.com

Shultz reducedI 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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Goethe’s Final Words: “More Light.”

December 25, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg8pN4GjvxI

On Christmas morning, I was handed a smart phone with the YouTube video from Northern Exposure featuring the local radio DJ making a stunning statement before the town before plugging in a spectacular Christmas light display. Last night, just as it was getting dark, I drove through the High Ridge suburbs to find and photograph the lawn scene that makes me laugh every year–the lighted figures are literally shoulder-to-shoulder, covering every square foot of the residence’s front yard.

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High Ridge, Missouri version of the Griswold Family Christmas

I love the Northern Exposure recitation because the DJ opens with Goethe’s final words, “More Light”. And during this Christmas season, I wish for the darkness of our nation to find light. I am reminded of the passage from the prophet Isaiah: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

Last night I went to church with my brother. The small Methodist church was packed to capacity, the service was lovely, and we closed by taking candles out into the night and standing in a large cluster, lighting up the darkness of House Springs, Missouri. The experience was a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Eve.

Back home with my parents, siblings, and our grown children, we had the best of possible evenings–abundant food and conversation, gift exchanges, and later a raucous time around the large table playing a ridiculous card game, Pounce. I surreptitiously recorded some of the rounds with my smart phone, and we laughed hard and long, listening to the replays. I will not post them on this site.

Last week I worked on four 8 x 10″ watercolors and installed them in 16 x 20″ frames for my immediate family members. I posted Dad’s then, but now post all four of them below along with what I wrote and included inside the Christmas cards accompanying them:

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Sister’s Gift

Grand Canyon Storm

The summer of 2019 invited the aged painter to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Perched high atop the gorge, he painted quickly as the dark clouds advanced, and took his chances when the first jagged branch of lightning carved its way toward the rocks below. The storm was twenty miles away and would not arrive for another hour. The only thing an artist needed to do was savor the colors and interpret the developing story approaching him.

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Brother’s Gift

Blues Jam

A pair of aging blues troubadours played deep into the night at the empty pool hall. Slouched in his chair, Donnie blew mournfully into his harp, swaying to the blues progressions dancing off the strings of Rick’s Fender Strat. No words were sung this time. The blues tune told the story to anyone listening this night.

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Mom’s Gift

No One Swings Today

No one will sit on the porch swing this summer day. Along with the house, it has received its fresh coat of paint and now hangs quietly in the afternoon porch shadows while it waits for the McNeely clan’s arrival tomorrow for the 4th of July. Meanwhile, in the quiet of the day, the flowers stretch toward the sunlight, bursting with new color to greet the family.

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Dad’s Gift

Fishing Rhapsody

The solitary figure of a fisherman stands beside the river in his overalls and wading boots, cap pulled low, white beard glowing in the morning sunlight. Canopies of verdant trees engulf him as he lingers on the sloping bank, rod held low before him. Golden sun-dappled waters flow past him and the bright sky reflects a winding path down the center of the channel. Layers of pebbles, flat rocks and bubbles shimmer below the surface of the babbling waters as schools of fish lounge in the shadows beneath. The fisherman continues to stand and survey the waters while the murmurs of the river speak its language from the foundation of time.

Now, as I sit at the hotel room desk and write these things, it is Christmas morning and I hope with all my heart that today will bring Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Thanks always for reading, and I hope your Christmas is the Best.

Shultz reduced

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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Morning Coffee with Dave and the Journal

January 10, 2019

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Science is not enough, nor art;

In this work patience plays a part.

A quiet spirit plods and plods at length;

Nothing but time can give the brew its strength.

Goethe, Faust

Writing my memoir has forced me to spend more time thinking over my past, and currently I am working on the second installment from the Julia Cameron assignment (ages 6-10). That period, of course, comprises my sense of lostness during elementary school. Throughout those years, I never felt that I was on track as far as what was expected from good students. I was a daydreamer, and seemed to absorb very little from classroom instruction. I certainly did not feel that I was one of the “smart ones” and my grades certainly were nothing to admire.

Once I reached the university, I realized I was going to have to grow up and accept responsibility if I was to remain in school. I worked hard. Damned hard. And I felt that I was twelve years behind my colleagues. And forty years behind my professors. When I talked to trusted advisors about my deficiencies and my desire to acquire knowledge, they would smile smugly and simply say “It will come. Be patient.” It did.

Fifteen years later, in my first year of teaching high school, I read for the first time the poetry of Walt Whitman. These stanzas from “Song of the Open Road” went right to the core of things for me:

Here is the test of wisdom.

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, 

Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not

      having it,

.    .    .

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,

They may prove well in lecture rooms, yet not prove at all under

           the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing

           currents.

I knew, as a rookie teacher, that I was no longer lacking in knowledge and wisdom when it came to instructing the youth. But what I had never realized before that day reading Whitman was this:  There is no royal road to wisdom.  We live in an age that demands shortcuts, that wants to know the bottom line now, right now. And the reality of life is that there are things, including wisdom, that require time, much time.

When I was a student in public school, the craze was speed-reading. Courses were offered in speed reading. I always thought that I was a slow reader. One day I realized that yes, I am a slow, deliberate reader. I am a plodder, not a quick thinker. Quality ideas, for me, require time.

This has been a good morning for me at the desk. Last night I took from my shelf a pair of journals from the year 2017, and perused them out of curiosity. I read with delight the pages of notes I recorded from my first reading of Goethe’s Faust. I close this blog with yet another of his sterling quotes that paints the picture of my experience when moments in the study are at their height:

When in our narrow den

The friendly lamp glows on the shelf,

Then light pervades our breast again

And fills the heart that knows itself.

Reason again begins \to speak,

Hope blooms again with ancient force,

One longs for life and one would seek

Its rivers and, alas, its source.

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.

A Shout-Out to a New Writer Friend

June 15, 2018

I awoke abruptly this Friday morning from a deep REM sleep blistering with those frustrating dreams that reveal so much about our unresolved issues. I won’t go into it–I laugh at that common sentiment that says “Don’t tell me about your dream. It’s yours. It interests you, not me.” Without going into the details, I’ll just say that the dream involved me dropping the ball, yet again, on something that should have been done. After I scribbled out pages and pages in my journal, trying to unpack the ideas before they evaporated, my mind suddenly suddenly recalled yet another important detail I have not addressed. So now I try .  .  .

I met Jonnie Martin about a month ago while sitting in my booth at an art festival. She was very engaging in conversation, I learned she was a serious writer (already with novels published) and a passionate one at that. She also had pursued journalism for many years. Now she is neck deep in her first adjunct professor experience at Tarrant County College, and is sweating out the details of getting a writing course on track for this fall’s semester.

Jonnie reached out to me the week after the art festival, asking permission to write a series of articles about me. This certainly gave me pause. I have believed for years that I was “interesting” enough for an article or two, yet every time a newspaper or magazine or radio personality would approach me for my story, I felt paralyzed, and felt that I should articulate that stereotyped police line: “There’s nothing to see here, folks. Move on along.” But with Jonnie it was different. She was thorough, asking for my professional resume, and providing a long list of specific questions. And I really enjoyed answering the questions and providing the document.

Despite all her energy spent on the college course for this fall, she is still trying to set up a feature article for me in a local magazine. Meanwhile, she has posted the following on her blog and I’m extremely proud to read it. And I encourage you to read her blog at: https://jonnietootling.com

I am posting her article below, but please, read her other entries. She is a most engaging writer, satisfying the serious reader on many levels.

And thank you for reading me.

KINDRED ARTIST

Posted on June 10, 2018by jonnietootling

Arlington artist David Tripp describes his quest as one of capturing onto canvas the world he sees in his mind, and that is not unlike the role of a writer.  Akin to David, we too apprehend, interpret, report out our vision in a variety of literary forms.

For David, his current art form is watercolor, which happens to be my favorite medium, and is how David and I first connected at a recent Arlington art festival.  There is a natural feel to watercolors, a gentleness, a transparency as your eye sifts through the layers of paint and water and meaning, and David’s technique is exquisite.

Thumb through the art that he brings to a festival and you will find paintings of old buildings, abandoned service stations, relics of yesteryear.  Since 2017 he has been focusing on the structures that reflect the past of the Texas State Railroad, as well as the historical sites and artifacts of the little town of Palestine, Texas.

I have learned other fascinating things about David, including his formal education in art, his high school and college teaching credentials, his endowments and honors of various types.  Students at Martin High School see his art daily in the murals painted throughout their building.  David’s art is available at various festivals and The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine is now the permanent home for his collection.

All this is of interest as I learn about David and observe him through my writer’s eyes . . . but what enthralls me most is his philosophical approach to the role of artist — capturing onto canvas what he perceives with his artist’s eyes, processes through his artist’s mind.

In one of his blogs he quotes a passage from Goethe:  “The beginning and the end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, molded, and reconstructed in personal form and an original manner.”

Clearly this process applies to artists as well as writers.

I shared the quote with our family philosopher, my brother Del McAmis, who was equally fascinated, and responded with his own deconstruction of the phrase. 

“We think there is a one-on-one relationship between the objective world and how we see it, but that is very naïve.  We don’t just ‘see’ things – we mold them and reconstruct them according to our own psychology. . . .  The great writer [and I should add to Del’s note, the great artist] is one who can ‘mold and reconstruct’ his or her experiences into an understanding that enlightens others.”

And so it begins – my quest to learn more about David, his art, his creative ideology, his deep and grounded thoughts about life, at least partially coming from his scholarly education in not only art, but philosophy and religion.

But that is for another exploration, in which I have apparently been joined by brother Del.  Hold on, David Tripp – inquisitive minds want to know more about you. 

— Jonnie Martin

Today I Build my House Again

May 10, 2018

Terlingua framed

Framed watercolor of Terlingua Ghost Town

The beginning and the end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and an original manner.

Quotation from Goethe to Jacobi, Frankfurt, letter of August 21, 1774

While assembling my gear for today’s load-in at Arlington’s Art on the Greene, I brought up YouTube on my television and listened to the “Edward Hopper and the Blank Canvas” documentary. I had to stop loading and write out the Goethe quote that really resonated with me. It is said that Hopper carried this quote on a piece of paper in his pocket as he went about looking for subjects to paint. I someday would like to construct a well-worded definition of art as a number of these remarkable thinkers have done before us. Anytime a muse speaks of art as a combination of our inner world with the outer world, I feel a rush of new energy and enthusiasm.

In an earlier post, I tried to explain how my theory of plein air painting parallels the practice of Georgia O’Keeffe. She painted her landscapes directly, then brought them into the studio to revise. The finished result was the abstract work that we admire. For me, it is a little different–I love to paint directly from nature, but sometimes do not finish the work on site. I’ll take a reference photo, and for days the image of what I tried to paint will compost in my mind until I think of compositional matters to resolve in the piece. When I return to the work with fresh eyes, I make whatever alteration is necessary, most of it involving the perimeter of the painting as I decide which portions to leave blank and which ones to render in some combination of texture and color. One of the things that made this past week so difficult was the plein air competition in Waxahachie–all works must be created exclusively on site. Therefore, I could not work in the studio, but chose to return daily at the same hour to the sites where I began each of my three paintings, and push further with the composition. Still, the composting activity happened in the evenings when I looked at the in-progress paintings and made mental notes of what I wished to accomplish at my next session.

This morning I finally framed the Terlingua ghost town I visited about a month ago. I took a number of photographs of the church on the hill as the sun was setting, and for weeks afterward continued to re-visit the subject in my mind’s eye. Once I set out to paint it, I reproduced the church, looking at the photos I took. Then again I laid it aside as I continued to ponder (compost!) how to render the surrounding terrain. After a few more days, I reached a decision and finished it.

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 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.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

This Emerson quote has flooded my soul since 1992, when I first read it while studying in Oregon, and I have re-read “The American Scholar” every semester since that remarkable day. Every word of the statement clamors for my attention, but this morning I’m fastened on this portion: “Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.” When I was young, I relied on my eye-to-hand coordination and what others call “talent” while trying to make art. In my senior years, things have changed. I am wishing more and more to pour a life of experience and depth of feeling into my paintings. When viewers see my work, I appreciate them telling me I am “talented.” But frankly, I have known that from my youth. What I really want to know is if anything I paint stirs them, holds them, resonates with them. Ken Wilber wrote that beauty “suspends the desire to be elsewhere.” I guess what I wish to know is that someone experiences “beauty” when they look at something I painted. That fact holds much more value with me than someone acknowledging that I have talent.

All creation, because it is such a drawing-up, is a drawing, as of water from a spring.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

This afternoon I’ll experience the rebuilding of my house, as I set up the 10 x 10 booth for display and sale of my work. There have been times past where I dreaded this moment, but this isn’t one of those. A couple of weeks ago, I had my best experience of assembling and disassembling my booth and gear at the Dallas Arboretum. Richard Greene Linear Park, where I set up today, is filled with large shade trees, and wind often blows across the lake to provide comfort as we labor over our steel poles and vinyl tents. I’m looking forward to another good festival.

Richard Greene Linear Park is located in Arlington at 1601 E. Randol Mill Road. Hours for this event are Friday 3-10; Saturday 11-10; Sunday 11-5.

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.

 

Waxahachie Plein Air Wanderings

April 23, 2017

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Louis I. Kahn

Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Edward Hopper

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The former Bailey Print and Typewriter Store, College Street, Waxahachie Texas

I awoke Saturday to a 55-degree windy morning, but was excited to have a clear calendar for plein air painting.  Paint Historic Waxahachie is now in full swing, and will end on May 14. I have been eligible to participate since April 1, but have been mired in too many retirement-and-tax-related tasks to make the forty-minute drive to this quaint town and begin painting. This was my first day to get after it. With a hot cup of coffee and three layers of clothing (shirt, hoodie and denim jacket), I set up my easel just off College Street and resumed a plein air sketch I had begun last week, but was aborted because of a heavy rainstorm. My motivation was high, and the building on my right kept the wind from reaching me. And though I was working in the shadows, pedestrians were still finding me and stopping to look at my work in progress and chat. Waxahachie has always been filled with the friendliest people, and I have enjoyed the pleasantries of their conversations without fail. I have never felt like a stranger in that town.

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I decided to stop and let the painting rest at this point. I can always set up the easel in the same spot and work further on the composition if I choose. But for now, I’m going to move on to other ideas and return to this with a critical eye next time I visit Waxahachie.

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Upper Balcony along College Street

Stepping into the sunlight on College Street, my sight was arrested by the bright morning sun on the light yellow upper balcony of this building, framed against dark rustic brick and trees. I could not stop gazing at it and thought, “Oh, why not?”  Setting up my easel, I drew for quite awhile, trying to get the proportions of the balcony and building right. By the time I began painting, my teeth were chattering as College Street had become a virtual wind tunnel for those freezing blasts of arctic air. The temperature had only risen to 57 degrees and my coffee mug was empty. Nevertheless, I tooled away on this composition for awhile, enjoying the view immensely, though the discomfort of the cold winds continued to intensify.

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Finally, around twelve noon, I had to stop. I was afraid I would make myself sick in the cold winds. This one also I am not satisfied with as a finished composition, so I intend to put it back on the easel when I return to Waxahachie for my next plein air attempts.

The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and original manner.

Goethe

My Saturday seemed to apply Goethe’s theory of writing to painting. While moving about Waxahachie, certain sites I viewed resonated profoundly with certain emotions and memories I have treasured throughout my life. Every time I set up the easel and got out the tools, I felt that I was engaged in a dance with the subjects before me, and I hoped that my responses on the blank page were worthy of the beauty my eye beheld in front of me.

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.

Unveiling a New Addition to the Show this Weekend

March 29, 2017

card Weatherford Victorian Salute vertical

“Angel’s Nest” Weatherford, Texas

This striving after imitative expression, which one meets every where, is significant of the aim of nature, but is mere stenography.  There are higher degrees, and nature has more splendid endowments for those whom she elects to a superior office; for the class of scholars or writers, who see connection where the multitude see fragments, and who are impelled to exhibit the facts in order, and so to supply the axis on which the frame of things turns.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Goethe; or, the Writer”

Returning to a day job after an exciting weekend of art-related activities could be compared to diving into a warm pond after a sauna.  It is only Wednesday, but the week has been comparatively tepid. The watercolor posted above is on a full-sized sheet of 300# D’Arches paper. The original frame was damaged, so I’ve decided to re-frame it and bring it to hang in my show this weekend. It has been out of the public eye for about three years now, and the time is long past due to make repairs and bring it back out.

I have returned to reading Goethe during this week, and decided to pick up Emeson’s essay on that marvelous sage, probably the Shakespeare of Gemany. On Monday evening, feeling a bit hungover from the weekend show, I drove out to a beautiful green belt on the east side of Arlington, found a park bench, and read this essay until dark.  I cannot describe the feelings that washed over me, but the passage I’ve cited above gripped me the most.  With Emerson and Hemingway, I have frequently translated the theories of writing to the visual arts, and here is another example.  Emerson contrasts the stenographer with the poetic writer, and I always feel the conflict between the illustrator and the fine artist when I attempt to paint.  When I decided to tackle this magnificent Victorian house in Weatherford, Texas (where I stayed during my 60th birthday), I knew that I wanted to go beyond mere description of that intriguing structure, to transcend the architect’s rendering of the subject. That is the main reason I kept the subject small on the paper and devoted the greatest expanse to the sprawling lawn in the foreground. I am wishing to paint this subject again, because I’m not satisfied with every aspect of it and would love to have another run at it. I have always loved Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” and have always wished to render a house atop a hill with that expansive sense of space surrounding it.

Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to return the The Gallery at Redlands for the weekend.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Satisfying Return to the Studio Tonight

February 6, 2017

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Die Zeit ist kurz, die Kunst ist lang. (Time is too brief, though art’s forever.)

Goethe, Faust

The soft darkness and stillness of this night welcomed me back to my abandoned studio. There have been too many lengthy lapses in creative activity, thanks to school-related tasks that have driven me far from my element, and I chafe at the realization that the “system”, while crowing about “what’s best for the students” never considers the value of an instructor’s personal enrichment. To me, the development and enrichment of the instructor is by far the best gift to offer students.  Way back in 1995, The National Endowment for the Humanities granted twenty-five of us the last of the Teacher-Scholar Awards (Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” killed the program). The award was a one-year funded sabbatical leave of absence, grounded in the philosophy that teachers are better for their students when they are granted time off for educational advancement, scholarly study or personal enrichment. In twenty-eight years, I am glad that I had that one year to re-tool and re-think what I was trying to do in the classroom. I am aware that many are quick to retort that teachers have summer vacations, but that didn’t begin happening to me until two years ago–I always taught both semesters of summer school, hence no summers off from the classroom. I have been a year-round teacher until recently.

But that’s not why I’m pausing to write this night!  I was fortunate to finish tomorrow’s classroom preparations with enough of an evening before me to re-enter my studio and resume work on two abandoned watercolors. I believe I have finished the still life of the doorknob and Indian corn.  I only needed about an hour to stitch up some details on that large painting that had annoyed me. As for the smaller one of myself in the chair, I’m getting closer to finishing it out as well.  I’m still working on me, as well as the objects surrounding me, and feel that I need one or two more sessions in the studio before I can call this one complete. I am particularly fond of working on the small composition because it was born in the cozy quiet of the store I so love to inhabit when I can get out of the city for a weekend. Every time I peer into this picture, I feel myself back in the store, back in the quiet, back in the cozy embrace of a good life.

I still have not completed my reading of Faust, because I continue to pause, underline, highlight, scribble in my journal, and muse over the power of his words. When I read this line that time is brief and art is forever, my soul feels soothed. Art for me is a sanctuary. One of the portals outside the Saint Louis Art Museum reads: ART STILL HAS TRVTH. TAKE REFVGE THERE. That quote from Matthew Arnold has nourished me throughout the years. My heart vibrates when I think of the kindred spirits I know personally who enrich themselves with creative endeavors–writing, making art, playing a musical instrument, or just reading for pure pleasure and enrichment. When we are allowed quiet evenings to engage in these pursuits, we are wealthy indeed.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.