Posts Tagged ‘Howell Raines’

Fishing Stories in the Velvet Night

December 6, 2014
Assembling a Fly Fishing Still Life

Assembling a Fly Fishing Still Life

We spoke of fish caught and lost, of boats bought and sold, of storms endured, of lines broken and tackle destroyed, of friendship embraced, of lore imparted, of great lies told on waters long since impounded in the still, unrippling lakes of memory.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis

With Texas temperatures hovering in the mid-sixties on this Friday night, I found a delicious space in time, clearing out my favorite studio space in my garage and setting to work on a fly fishing still life arrangement. I have posted a photo of the assembly in progress.  The quality portion of this night was spent walking about and looking at this from several angles while adjusting lights to suit my eye for a potential watercolor composition.  I love the above quote from Howell Raines, and can picture these objects talking in hushed tones among themselves in the night of similar memories and adventures.

The Thanksgiving holiday last week put me in the spirit to paint and I’ve waited all week for this time to come.  It appears that I’ll be able to get after it tomorrow and Sunday.  No appointments are on my radar and I look forward with great anticipation to this encounter.

More later . . . 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.

Advertisements

A New Year Approaching and Thoughts on a Life of the Mind

December 30, 2013
Another Dellicious Morning for Reading and Reflection

Another Dellicious Morning for Reading and Reflection

Bob told me the reason he’s after Newsweek is so they’ll do a cover story on me, but I don’t want one.  I mean, what’re they going to say?  Reporters will just rehash.  “He lives on the Upper East Side with two dachshunds and he’s a sometimes walking-stick for Paulette Goddard.”  Well maybe they’ll feel the same way I do, too, that it’s too boring.  I mean you have to do something different like get married and have a couple of kids or take a few drugs or lose a few hundred pounds or die, to be good copy.

The Andy Warhol Diaries, September 17, 1979

I was amused beyond words when I read this from Andy Warhol this morning over coffee.  As I think of the life he lived, I don’t think of the details he just dropped; I think of an artist who was driven hard by creative endeavors and business decisions during the morning and afternoon hours each day, who then spent every evening chasing parties, nightclubs, gallery openings and headlines.  And from my own personal perspective, I find his nightlife boring material for reading, but his art and business affairs I find endlessly fascinating.

I remain surprised at the vacuity of the Warhol Diaries.  I don’t know if he thought the gossip was good copy worth selling, or if he really did not spend much of his life in contemplation.  There is the testimony from one of his staffers that he spent the morning “paying the rent” (working on commission portraits).  Then, in the afternoon he would go into the Think Tank with his associates and ask: “But what can we do for Art?”  After reading several more pages of him, I pulled from the shelf my copy of Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind and began experiencing deeper satisfaction in reading.  I should have read this treasure decades ago.  I love her introduction as she discusses the classic Western disjunctive between thinking and acting.  Citing the work of Thomas Aquinas, she presents the following:

Seen from that perspective, the active way of life is “laborious,” the contemplative way is sheer quietness; the active one goes on in public, the contemplative one in the “desert”; the active one is devoted to “the necessity of one’s neighbor,” the contemplative one to the “vision of God.”

As a school teacher, I surprise and disappoint some in that I’m almost never seen at school-related extra-curricular events.  I go home.  And I don’t read long hours in the evening because I feel the compulsion to create better lesson plans (I know that after a quarter-century of teaching, I could enter the classroom with zero preparation); I read long hours in the evening because I love the contemplative life, and have at least since before my years in graduate school.  It has become my lifestyle.  And currently, my division between thinking and acting is my division between reading and making art.  The two dimensions feed off each other.  And I would concur with Andy Warhol that my lifestyle would not provide good copy.  By today’s standards, it would be judged as boring.  However, I am not bored.  This holiday season has been bliss-filled because I have been able to devote entire days and evenings to reading, journaling and making art.  And I offer no apology for that.

We are not on this earth for long.  Part of what a midlife crisis is about is figuring out what gives you pleasure and doing more of that in the time you have left without asking for permission or a financial or emotional subsidy from anyone else.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

Hannah has been excellent company this morning, and she has inspired me to begin a second watercolor, to work on alongside the one I began yesterday.  Who knows, tomorrow I may choose to begin a third.  It’s great to have some time and space to chase these delights.

Thanks fo reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Painting on a Sunday Afternoon, While Dreaming of Fly Fishing

September 23, 2013
Nearly Completed Watercolor

Nearly Completed Watercolor

This is a lesson that Henry Beston set down more than sixty years ago in a book called The Outermost House.  “For the animals shall not be measured by man,” he wrote.  “They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

To embrace this knowledge in one’s inmost heart is to depart from the Redneck Way and to know, as Dick Blalock says, that “fishing is not about food.”  It is a way of interrupting the invisibility of these shining creatures and existing for a moment with them in their wildness and transience, their indifference to our approval and their dependence on our restraint if they are to add another hour to their ten thousandth year.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis

Though it has been two weeks, my heart still goes back to Beavers Bend, Oklahoma.  It was two weeks ago that I finally “solved” the trout problem that had plagued me for over ten years’ worth of visits to that beautiful place.  I just could not catch trout of any significance.  I have been a passionate fly fisherman for over ten years, and have known the thrill of raising trout in Colorado, Arkansas and even in Texas winters, but never in Oklahoma.  Finally, two weeks ago, I managed to catch four beautiful rainbows.

The setting that I have worked on in this watercolor is the exact spot where I connected with the trout.  When I finished and left the stream, I took out my camera and managed several photographs of other fly fisherman that had moved into the vicinity.  They were welcome company because they were quiet, serene, and respectful of the rules in that restricted zone.  It is a barbless hook zone, though unfortunately not enforced.  If one fishes below the spillway, s/he could be checked three or four times daily by game wardens, as I have.  But never here in the restricted areas where it should matter most.  There was a sour moment when several Philistines moved into these waters with their treble hooks, live bait, beer and obnoxious noise and splashing about.  They had no luck, and fortunately for all of us, moved on, and quiet once more descended on this lovely evening sanctuary.  I released all my trout, as did the fly fishermen around me, and when I left, I left satisfied and fulfilled.

This painting of course will never do justice to the lovely setting that was mine for a day, but at least the memories will continue to wash over me as I look upon it.  I still have some decisions to make about the water surface dynamics, and some of the tree areas are still not to my satisfaction.  High school and university exacted a heavy toll from me today.  I didn’t finish my necessary prep work till 11:30 tonight, so alas, I have nothing left in me to paint.  Maybe, hopefully, I can return to this tomorrow, and perhaps finish it.  And then I’ll find a new subject to paint.

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.