Posts Tagged ‘Isaac Newton’

The Sanctity of an Artist’s Working Space

February 25, 2014
Working on a Small Watercolor Tonight

Working on a Small Watercolor Tonight

I seem to have only been like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

Putting more space between tonight and my recent illness, I am finding a renewed delight, tinkering with watercolor projects.  The shock of discovery is returning, and I feel like a small boy again, oftentimes my eyes widening with suprise at what comes out of the end of my brush, or what pools up on the watercolor page.  And all the while I work on this watercolor, I feel ecstasy in knowing that I am a part of an extensive tradition, an endless line of creative spirits.  In the stillness of this studio, I work while listening to the voices of Robert Motherwell, Willem De Kooning, Andrew Wyeth and Joseph Campbell on the VHS and DVD documentaries that I have stockpiled over the years.  I love being a part of something much larger than myself, something much larger than this moment.  I sense an immortality in all of this.  I have read, over and over again, Julia Cameron’s work The Artist’s Way.  Writing from her Upper West Side Manhattan environ in that day, she pushed out these words: “Artists toil in cells all over Manhattan.  We have a monk’s devotion to our work–and, like monks, some of us will be visited by visions and others will toil out our days knowing glory only at a distance . . .”  I love the sanctuary feel that floods my studio space in the night when things get quiet and I have only my thoughts moving about as I bend over the watercolor and explore its dynamics.  There is so much waiting to be explored, that I keep coming back to Newton’s testimony that the small boy turns over pebbles while the ocean of truth waits beside.

ART STILL HAS TRVTH.  TAKE REFVGE THERE.  These immortal words of Matthew Arnold are chiseled over the portal of the Saint Louis Art Museum.   I have read them on repeated visits to that “cathedral of art.”  And I take them to heart tonight.  My working art space has become the cleft in the rock, the shelter from the storm, the safe haven, my refuge.  Life has had its difficulties lately, but I’m grateful for sanctuary this night, for the quiet hours to pursue art, while outside the temperatures continue to drop and the rain continues to fall.

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.

Forfeiture?

September 6, 2013
Late Afternoon Studio Work

Late Afternoon Studio Work

Forfeiture, the third fundamental attribute of human being, means “ontologically” that we forget “Being” for particular beings.  In a human sense, it means the scattering of the essential forward drive through attention to the distracting and disturbing cares of everyday and of the things and people that surround us everyday.  Thus, inevitably and continuously, the forward driving “I” is sacrificed to the persistent and pressing “they.”  To the question “who is human being?” we must answer, “the indifferent and anonymous crowd–das Man.” Human being in its everyday mode is promiscuously public; it is life with others and for others in alienation from the central task of becoming itself.

Marjorie Grene, “Martin Heidegger,” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy

A second week of classes is now in the books, and what a storm this one was!  I’m not sure how long it is going to take before I feel that I am in the flow of it all.  I posted the Heidegger meditation because I have been conscious all week of chasing details totally unrelated to my painting, and regretting every frenetic moment.  Teaching is what I do, and it has always involved the chasing down of a myriad of details, and I do enjoy that kind of pursuit, but I do question daily whether or not I’m finding my core.  When painting, I feel that I am at my core, doing what I was created to do.  But, I have to do my job daily, and at the moment, the job is keeping me away from the drafting table.

I don’t know what I may seem to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing in the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

When I finally did sit down to the drafting table, late this Friday afternoon, the Isaac Newton quote continued to rattle around in my head.  In my most sober moments, when focused on some detail such as this watercolor that I am now rendering, I think of the ocean of truth at my elbow that is getting no attention from me.  I have a stack of books next to me, a bundle of journals behind me, and dozens of scattered thoughts clattering around inside my head while I try to paint.  School does that to me.  In the past several days, students have dropped incredible thoughts on me, and I’ve been writing frantically in my journal, trying to chase down these ideas to see what new things I can learn from the experience.  When the painting begins, the musing just won’t stop.  And I like that.

Close-up of the Truck in Progress

Close-up of the Truck in Progress

Before the afternoon light faded from my studio windows, I managed just a little more detail work on this pickup truck.  The reflections in the windows I found a bit tricky, and I had trouble keeping my hand steady for the body molding and the door sign.  So far, I’m generally pleased with what’s emerging.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am never alone.