Posts Tagged ‘Henry Miller’

A late night in the gallery, with Henry Miller keeping me company…

April 16, 2021

For the record, I am not a surrealist. But my, oh my! Can Henry Miller soar into the stratosphere when he writes about the act of painting!

Surrealism is not a mode, a technique, an invention, a club, or an atelier, or a platform, or a fine sounding phrase. It is five minutes of eternity. Five minutes with the Holy Ghost. It is a little this side of Peru, or maybe three inches nearer. The square inch of the water color that you do with fever and intensity, unconsciously, accidentally, bravo and braggart, and humble son of God at the same time, all in one.

The ecstasy I feel when a watercolor is looking good under my gaze–I’ve never been able to speak or write adequately about how that feels. But Henry Miller encapsulated it while discussing surrealism. I just choose to file this under “ecstasy while making art.”

I spend too much time on the blog talking about how much this “clean, well-lighted place” (Hemingway) inspires me. I have not adequately informed interested readers that this lovely space has been thought out, organized and implemented by Sandi Jones, the better half of me. I’m just a painter and dreamer, with no clue of how to create space that the Danes describe as hygge. Sandi does that. My friends know that. It is past time for the readers to know it too. She also designed Studio Eidolons in our remodeled home. None of this would be happening without her.

The night has drawn quiet, as I now try and figure out whether I want to paint or continue to read and swoon over the writings of Henry Miller’s To Paint is to Love Again. Tough choice.

Thanks always for reading.

Stop the Static

April 9, 2021
Dark, cool morning in Palestine, Texas

“Stop listening to the static. . . . everything in the world is like this transmission making its way across the dark. But everything–death, life, everything–it’s all completely suffused with static. But if you listen to the static too much it f*cks you up.”

As a television viewer, I am far behind the times, often choosing to binge watch a series created years ago. A few days ago, I finished watching “Six Feet Under”, a deeply moving experience for me on many levels. In the final episode, one of the deceased appeared to his sister whose life was in turmoil, and he advised her that she must find a way to “stop the static”; there was far too much anxiety roiling her inner world and she needed to find a way to stop it. She was an artist, and the advice of course was quite sound.

For several days now, that inner voice has resonated with me. Stop the static. We live in an age of anxiety, much of it of our own making. I know a number of individuals in my art circles who cannot seem to find peace in their lives. Of course, the caricature of the temperamental artist continues to play out in our days, along with the depressed artist, the repressed artist, etc. But a number of my artistic friends seem to spend more time spewing negativity on Facebook. I can’t help but wonder what is stirring them up–too much time in front of the daily news cycle? Too much time reading others’ negative comments on social media? What exactly is stirring them up, preventing them from making art?

For me personally, retirement in 2017 slowed my inner world down considerably, and even though daily life details have multiplied in the past couple of months of gallery ownership, I still appreciate a quieter inner world for myself. No doubt much of it is due to a targeted avoidance of the daily news cycle and toxic remarks on social media. Life is too short to swim in the sewers of negativity. And as for the accelerated lifestyle of our current world, I purposely choose to seek out the quiet spots and sweet solitude. My mornings (and most of the day actually) avoid social commentary on Facebook, as well as tuning in to the television to listen to the daily news (mostly negative). I have far too many books with affirming observations and exciting visions for contributing to a better world. I will never get around to reading them all, but my excuses will not include the admission of fiddle-farting on the Internet, stuffing my mind and psyche with someone else’s venom. Stop the static.

Without an alarm, I somehow woke at 4:50 this morning, ideas visiting me in great abundance, but not disturbing ones, not negative thoughts. I chose to get up and scribble in my journal the fresh ideas, grateful for the visitation. By 7:00 I was in the gallery for coffee, reading, and now am ready to go back to the drafting table and visit my watercolor from the night before, viewing it in this lovely morning light, remembering the precious words from Henry Miller:

To get up at the crack of dawn in order to take a peek at the water colors one did the day before, or even a few hours before, is like stealing a look at the beloved while she sleeps. The thrill is even greater if one has first to draw back the curtains. How they glow in the cold light of early dawn!

I sense my watercolor whispering to me from across the gallery. It’s time to step into the fresh light and see if I can create something worthy of these positive sentiments.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I bog to remind myself I am not alone.

Thoughts in the Night While Painting in The Gallery at Redlands

April 8, 2021
After a four-day hiatus, it’s good to be working on this painting again

The celebrated biographies give us the sufferings and hardships of the great. But the sufferings and hardships of the unknown are often more eloquent. The tribulations of fate weave a mantle of unsuspected heroism about these lesser figures. To win through by sheer force of genius is one thing; to survive and continue to create when every last door is slammed in one’s face is another. Nobody acquires genius: it is God-given. But one can acquire patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding. Perhaps the gretest gift the little men have to offer us is this ability to accept the conditions which life imposes, accept one’s own limitations, in other words. Or, to put it another way–to love what one does whether it causes a stir or not. Of the highest men Vivekananda once said: “They make no stir in the world. They are calm, silent, unknown.”

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

As the hour approaches 9 p.m., The Gallery at Redlands is quieter. My eyes are tired from working on the watercolor at the drafting table (bless you, Tim and Patty for that wonderful gift!). Sitting now at the desk I’ve taken up my continued reading of this beautiful volume from Henry Miller (bless you, Stacy and Leigh for that gift–I still cry when I think of opening the wrapping paper that night!)

I want to dedicate this blog entry to the Unknown Artist, the One who continues to work faithfully on his/her craft day after day, even when no one seems to notice. I salute the artist who realizes the world doesn’t need his/her creative effort; if the artist quits, the world will continue on its way. I still shudder at the memories, the Angst I knew in the 80’s and 90’s. I still remember those nights of sadness when I couldn’t sleep because I was mired in all that self-doubt that arose because of a general lack of recognition or appreciation for my artistic efforts.

The art world has changed profoundly for me since those days. Not that I consider myself successful or widely-known in the art world. I think what it boils down to is the reality that I worked a job for twenty-eight years, earned a pension and retired. Once my job supported my lifestyle around the turn of the millenium, I suddenly realized that I did not need the income for art sales, and I no longer expected to become famous. That turned out to be liberating. As I recall, somewhere around the year 2000, I found myself happy in the act of creating instead of fretting over marketing details or standards of success.

But our world remains filled with artistic, creative, driven souls who suffer, either because they cannot make a living and/or they create without any measure of success or recognition. I don’t know which is worse. All I know is that when an artist is unhappy, I feel guilty because my life has turned in such a way that I have the ability to make art, and love the work, and don’t have to depend on selling it.

I am still surprised to own a gallery now. It has been over two months since we turned that corner, and it is still quite new and quite surprising for me. As for The Twelve in The Gallery at Redlands, I just want them to be successful, and I want them to be happy in their creative work. I want them to know the bliss and fulfillment of having the strength and wellness to pursue their bliss.

I am turned off by art blogs that tell us how to become millionaires, how to market our work, especially the ones who solicit money from us for their packaged programs that guarantee financial fortune. I despise the unwritten sentiment that if we are not financially successful then we are just mediocre or lazy artists. From my perspective, this gathering of The Twelve in our gallery has shown me more love and compassion than I believe I’ve ever seen in social gatherings from my past. There is a wonderful vibe among this community. Something is in the air. And I truly believe that Palestine and east Texas are on the verge of artistic enrichment. I truly believe that The Twelve are committed to improving our community by celebrating art, by delighting in the act of creation. And I am proud to be numbered among them.

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.

Demonstration at the Trinity Arts Guild in Bedford, Texas

December 3, 2013

The demo watercolor in progress

The demo watercolor in progress

Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. . . . In becoming an end, it defeats itself.

Henry Miller

Today was a particularly trying day at school, and a long one at that.  But I felt generally buoyant, with memories of last night’s encounter with the Trinity Arts Guild.  I was delighted this afternoon to receive some photos taken by the host last evening, and gladly post them now.  I met an amazing group of artists, and really enjoyed the flow of energy back and forth as we talked for over two hours.

Thanks for reading, and thank you, Nancy Thielemann, for sending the photos.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.