Posts Tagged ‘Grand Canyon’

Whispers in the Dark

July 31, 2019

No man ever will unfold the capacities of his own intellect who does not at least checker his life with solitude.

De Quincey

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Rich Morning Reading

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Beginning of a Grand Canyon experiment–16 x 20″ watercolor

A large part of my library is in my bedroom. I love to retire to bed, and look up through the gloom at the towering bookcases. Before drifting off to sleep, my imagination often conceives whispered conversations among the volumes, dialogues between creative spirits separated by centuries and countries. They whisper softly so as not to disturb my sleep. But shortly after the morning light breaks through my windows, the whispering is interrupted by a shrill whistle from one of them: “Hey Tripp! Get up! We need to talk!”

This is how I choose to explain the phenomenon that always, always occurs within minutes of my feet hitting the floor–my mind floods with ideas from a myriad of sources. And I almost always move to my desk (also in my bedroom), open my journal, and scribble as fast as I can, trying to capture these fleeting ideas and shape them into some kind of meaningful essay.

The discussions that filled my dreams last night and continued throughout this day revolved around my high school art teacher’s theories of abstract art and composition. For a couple of days now, I have been tinkering with a 16 x 20″ stretched sheet of watercolor paper, wondering how I can capture a small piece of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and shape it into an attractive composition.

In his journal, dated September 1850, Henry David Thoreau wrote: “That I might never be blind to the beauty of the landscape! To hear music without any vibrating chord!” A few weeks ago, when I stood for the first time at the North Rim, I tried to record words in my own journal to capture what was happening to me. I fumbled and eventually gave up, closed the notebook, and just gazed in wonder at what was sprawling below me. I did get out my supplies on the spot and attempted a plein air sketch of what I was viewing. Now in my studio I am studying reference photos I took with my phone and am working on a larger composition, combining both tight details and loose interpretations with pencil and brush. And as I work on this, I recall with gladness the feelings I knew when I was on location, and continue to play in my mind the words recorded by sages I have studied who wrote so beautifully about the wonders of our natural wilderness.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Finding my Way to the Core

July 21, 2019

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The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

What is that abridgment and selection we observe in all spiritual activity, but itself the creative impulse?  . . . all the weary miles and tons of space and bulk left out, and the spirit or moral of it contracted into a musical word, or the most cunning stroke of the pencil?

. . .

The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety.

. . .

The power to detach, and to magnify by detaching, is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet. . . . The power depends on the depth of the artist’s insight of that object he contemplates.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Art”

A quiet, tranquil Sunday afternoon now yields quality space for reflection over a recent vacation across New Mexico and Arizona. Our journey included adventures into the natural wonders of the Sandia Mountains, The Grand Canyon North Rim, the Red Rocks of Sedona, the Petrified Forest and Painted Canyon, along with Route 66 visits to memorable landmarks in Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As Hemingway testified that he could not write about Michigan until he was in Paris, and could not write about Paris until he returned to the United States, so I acknowledge that I still haven’t figured out how to record in writing or paint my responses to this first visit to the Grand Canyon. While standing and looking out across the North Rim, I felt a visitation that cannot be described, and at the same time realized that I would not be able to complete a comprehensive watercolor of my initial sweeping views. I spent the entire first day walking and looking, sitting and looking, standing and looking, all the while scribbling and sketching in my journal in a state of perpetual wonder . . . and decided to wait until the following morning to rise and walk to the rim and sketch in watercolor my first small study of what lay sprawling below.

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Early Morning Sketch of the North Rim

Rising early, I walked one hundred feet from my cabin to the North Rim, found a comfortable seating position, and made my first watercolor sketch as the sun rose and bathed the canyon below. After about forty-five minutes, I returned to the cabin to spend some time writing and drawing in my journal. During this quiet time, new ideas finally began to emerge and I had a clearer perspective on what I wanted to do.

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Quiet Morning at the Grand Canyon Cabin Writing Desk

Later in the day, while a storm gathered over the South Rim twenty miles away, I hiked down the Bright Angel Trail and found another comfortable spot to sit beneath a tree and out of the sun. As the storm moved slowly toward me, I worked on a second quick watercolor sketch of the vista, stopping just as the rain began on the North Rim.

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Approaching Storm from the South

On my third day, I took a seat outside the Grand Canyon Lodge and tried my hand at capturing the calligraphic white lines all over the side of one of the cliffs below where I sat.

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Rock Striations and Unusual Textures Among the Rocks

Not long afterward, I attempted a fourth watercolor sketch, but it is so ugly I choose not to post it. I felt that I had learned a great deal from my first attempts, and later while visiting the Red Rocks of Sedona, I began an additional nineteen watercolor sketches. At the time of this writing, I am still developing them and trying several new approaches that I look forward to sharing with my readers.

Throughout this journey, Emerson’s essays have provided a never-ending source of enrichment for my thirsty soul, and I inserted quotes above from his work titled “Art”. I knew from the start that I could not create comprehensive watercolor paintings while on the move with a few plein air sketches. But I did use the sessions for “information gathering”, and rediscovered the joy of drawing with pencil and pen & ink. I also worked on some new compositional configurations. In good time I will be bringing these out to share with you. Once I get back into my home studio, I plan to work on some larger, more comprehensive paintings of that magnificent North Rim of the Grand Canyou.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Return from the Wilderness

July 19, 2019

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Nature does not like to be observed, and likes that we should be her fools and playmates. We may have the sphere for our cricketball, but not a berry for our philosophy. Direct strokes she never gave us power to make; all our blows glance, all our hits are accidents.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

I send out greetings from Albuquerque this morning, and am on the journey home after spending a couple of delicious weeks traveling throughout the West. For days, my senses have been overpowered by the majesty of our natural world, and I wonder how long it will be before I can sort all of this out and resume blogging. I have filled my journal to overflowing and attempted over twenty watercolors since I have been out. Once I am back home I will begin unpacking, unraveling, unscrambling and hopefully re-assembling some projects worth sharing on this platform. Meanwhile, I’m posting a few random pictures of what I encountered.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding msyself I am not alone.

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