Posts Tagged ‘James Joyce’

Bright Sunwashed Morning for Painting

December 16, 2017

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Finis

Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet. Over his limbs in sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning knowledge, a morning inspiration.

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Waking to a 36-degree morning in Palestine, Texas, in The Redlands Hotel, was a sublime experience. I lay in the darkness of the pre-dawn, unsure of the time, but thinking good thoughts, hoping for bright sunshine so I could return to The Gallery at Redlands downstairs and resume this watercolor sketch I began last week of the Chamber of Commerce building visible through my gallery window.

I have always loved the quality of winter morning sunlight when the weather is snappy cold, and am so happy for the first day in weeks that I have not had appointments and details to tend. I anticipate a day of painting, reading, and merely enjoying life at its fullest. My “American Railroad Odyssey” show closes at 10 p.m. and tomorrow I will take down the show and reconfigure the gallery display.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

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Waxahachie Portals

April 29, 2017

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A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Finding time to blog has been difficult of late. Since my last post, I have made several journeys to Waxahachie, forty minutes from where I live, and leaving in the late afternoons after a day in school has often found me fatigued once I arrived. Still, I managed to slog through a couple of compositions, but by the time I arrived home late at night, I was too sleepy to blog, and still had school to prepare for the following day. So it goes.

The weather has been pretty uneven lately, thunderstorms alternating with bright sunshine. Sometimes I wonder if a washed earth emits different colors, as I have been fascinated with the way the Ellis Country courthouse seemed to “light up” before my eyes late in the days. As earlier stated, I seem to arrive on site, too tired to paint, and have spent much time circling the courthouse looking at it from all angles. On this particular afternoon, the sun popped out as I was gazing at the southwest corner of the building. The curvature I found fascinating, and I wanted to find a way to capture the pink marble and red granite surrounding the window.

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Once I stopped with this one, I was satisfied with the compositional arrangement, though I felt that I had “missed” on the color of the stones. A very dear friend and teaching colleague of mine who is also an architect, paid me the ultimate compliment when he looked at this sketch the day after, calling it “a poem.”

Returning a few days later in the week, I found myself tired again, and walked listlessly around this same building, looking for something to try and capture on paper. Again, the sun came out just as I was rounding the southeast corner of the courthouse, and as it had rained earlier, I again found myself smitten at the sight of the colors on the building.

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Determined this time to focus more on the color of the marble and granite, I worked more deliberately on those hues, hoping not to overwork it.

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Time has now expired for the “early bird” plein air painting of Waxahachie. The main portion of Paint Historic Waxahachie will kick off next Saturday, May 6, and will last through the following Sunday. I can use this week off, hoping to regather my strength and stamina for that following week, when painters from all around will descend on that town and crank out a high volume of work. I’m glad I chose to sign and pay up early so I could tune up with five paintings before the starting gun. I’ve definitely been out of plein air practice.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Depth

May 10, 2016

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Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences.  The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.

James Joyce, Ulysses

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”

Late last night, while trying to read Ulysses, I came across the above passage and just had to close the book and my eyes for a spell.  I needed some kind of epiphany, coming off a scintillating week of plein air painting activity in Arkansas and re-entering my high school to face a pile of work from my weeklong absence.  It was like plunging into a warm summer pond after leaving a sauna.  I had no idea how a single Monday could suck all the creative aspirations out of me, but I guess that is how the daily job can be.  Today is better, because I’m feeling the inspiration once again that fueled my desires last week.

I have an incredibly busy two weeks facing me before I leave for another round of art festivals and plein air workshop activity.  There is so much preparation that goes into leaving for these activities, and I enjoy most of those details, especially the anticipation of the events.  But at the same time, I have this need to stop, rest, contemplate, and make new art.  I have always believed that quality art comes out of the depths, and for me there is no depth when I am covered up in social encounters.  The book I read last year that has come to mean so much to me, Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers, urged to the reader that depth is sacrificed when one’s life is immersed in social media.  I could not agree more.  The art events that have enveloped me the past several weeks (with more to come) have taken me to the heights, but alas, I am not making art, not exploring new frontiers, and feel that a significant part of me is drying up.  I’m glad that I know how to fix this; I just need to find a way to adjust my daily calendar in order to get back to drawing and painting.

I apologize if this has come out as a “whiny” blog (I detest those!). I suppose that what I’m putting  out there right now is more of my private journal musings.  But still, there may be many of you who need to read these kinds of things, so thanks for reading.

I paint in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Saturday Art

January 9, 2016

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Perhaps tomorrow (Sunday) I will find more quality time for blogging. Today I have cleaned house thoroughly, read prodigiously, and worked on three watercolors (that hopefully I’ll post tomorrow) and barely got underway this drawing of the tops of winter trees in my own backyard,

The day has been a delicious one with temperatures hovering in the forties and then the thirties.  Tonight they are expected to dip into the twenties. The fireplace has burned all day, lending a pleasing ambiance to the living room and studio. And my reading from James Joyce’s Ulysses and Harold Bloom’s The Daemon Knows has refreshed my soul.

Thanks for reading.

Cozying into a Perfect Friday Night

January 8, 2016

foodieAs Texas temperatures drop to around forty tonight and into the twenties over the weekend,  I stacked the firewood in delightful preparation for a cozy weekend at home. School went very, very well this first week of the spring semester, and I celebrated by preparing one of my favorite meals.

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Now I retire happily to my favorite piece of furniture in the house and spend quality time writing and digging into the delicious literary works from authors that drive my imagination (lately Joyce, Shakespeare and Marvell). The philosophy and art history classes this past week have lit a fire beneath me, and I’m grateful for time and space to explore new avenues.

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I am re-posting this tree drawing I did early this morning before school, when things weren’t going as great.  I think drawing did a great deal to lift me into better spirits.  In many times, art has been a healing friendship that has improved my outlook on this world.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Dawn has a Pulse

January 4, 2016

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When one reads these strange pages of one long ago one feels that one is at one with one who once . . . 

James Joyce, Ulysses

Today marks my return to school, though students do not arrive for two more days. Monday and Tuesday are designated for work in the classroom and attending meetings. With a 33-degree temperature outside, I knew my room would be frigid, but I am layered up and my mind has finally percolated along with fresh coffee, and ideas are flowing.

I awoke at 5:00, and decided not to come to the classroom till 8:00. The hours spent at my writing desk proved fruitful as I continued to read from James Joyce and write in my journal. I love this writer’s love of language and his playful manipulation of it. He already has me laughingly describing my attempts that don’t hit the mark.  Now, when a watercolor or drawing doesn’t reach my standard, I can say that I “almosted it.” I like that better than “blew it” or “failed”. Last night I posted on the blog a failed watercolor attempt and only captioned “Oh well.”  I now think “almost” would have been more fitting.

On a more sobering note, my reading of Ulysses is dredging the silted-up canals of my own personal history, and the debris rising from the dark floors to the surface of these brackish waters of my surroundings holds my attention now. And I am grateful for this opportunity to evaluate and recalibrate where my life is going. Though my biological years classify me as a senior citizen, I am at heart still a schoolboy, only now I am more engrossed in these daily lessons. I know the idea of a New Year is manufactured, but I’ll still take it seriously. This is a New Era, a New Chance, a Fresh Chapter. A New Resolution.

When I rose from my desk to leave for school, I was shocked at what I saw out my bedroom window–a blue/lavender sky with a network of winter trees lacing the horizon. Last week, while at breakfast with my dad at Dave’s Diner in High Ridge, Missouri, I saw that same network of winter tree branches against a morning sky and thought “What a watercolor that could make, if done properly”. So, this morning at my school desk, I am trying. And I certainly don’t have an algorithm for painting winter trees, but I’m chipping away at this small composition with sincere delight, while listening to an excellent PBS “Voices and Visions” documentary on the work of Ezra Pound. I’m so glad I’m not teaching today. There is so much waiting to be discovered.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Reading is not a Wasted Activity

January 2, 2016

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Mother indulgent. Said I have a queer mind and have read too much. Not true. Have read little and understood less.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Decades ago, a relationship ended between a young lady and myself shortly after she announced to me that I read too much, and reading is boring.  I never once looked back with regret on that broken engagement. And I suppose that for as long as I live, I will hear someone express the sentiment that reading is a waste of time and energy.  I could not disagree more vehemently. It has been reasoned to me that I read because I am a teacher.  Not true.  I am a teacher because I read–that was the order in which my life events progressed.  I became a lover of ideas, books were a major source for those ideas, and teaching became a natural forum for me to express what I read.

Why do I read?  For a variety of reasons, all of them defensible.  But fundamentally, reading makes me think. Reading engages all of me. When I linger over lines from Shakespeare or James Joyce, I have to work at understanding, and when the meaning finally rises to the surface of my consciousness, amazing things begin to happen.  The new thought dredges up other coinciding memories from past experiences and ideas from other sources.  And slowly a new skyscraper of truth is erected.   My city of ideas has enlarged and my own being has enlarged. I am a transformed person, with renewed energy to live life and to create new possibilities. The process of reading is like no other–there is a depth of excavation, followed by the laying of a new foundation, followed by the construction of a new structure that is then added to an expanding city of thought–a philosophy still under development.

These events do not happen when I am scanning newspaper headlines, staring at a news broadcast, sitting in a room full of chattering people, or jumping from link to link on the Internet. They do not happen there.  They happen in the soft confines of my reading chair before the fire or in the corner of my study, at my writing desk.  Reading, for me, is always time and energy well-spent.

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Happy New Year 2016

January 1, 2016

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Don’t mope over it all day, he said.  I’m inconsequent.  Give up the moody brooding.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Good day, Dear Friends, and Happy January 1, 2016.  One of my New Year resolutions was to work on art every single day of 2016.  Halfway through my morning, while reading from James Joyce, I suddenly said to myself “Oops!  Haven’t done the art thing yet!”  So, I returned to my favorite tree next to my living room and gave it another shot above. I guess I don’t have much to say about this one except that I turned the art wheel of momentum one more revolution.  May it continue.

I may be returning to this blog later today–I woke up to this wonderful morning and immediately began composing a short story about my late Uncle Paul, experiencing deep cathartic feelings from the experience.  I don’t want to put it on the blog until I have it completed and (hopefully) polished.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

The Purity of the Winter Morning Light

December 31, 2015

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Introibo ad altare Dei (I will go to the altar of God).

James Joyce, Ulysses

This entire serene morning was spent in front of the fireplace, and I read slowly the first twenty-six pages of Joyce’s Ulysses while enjoying the delicious warmth and sounds of the fire.  My only break from reading was to draw again the tree outside my living room window.  The winter light is so clear and crisp, and the sun was out for the second consecutive morning, lighting up the tree in contrast from its dark background.

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I’ve placed this 5 x 7″ drawing in an 8 x 10″ mat and have placed it on the market for $40.  As I continue the practice, I’m growing more comfortable to rendering tree bark in graphite, and am already looking forward to the next try.

Listening to Youtube documentaries last night on James Joyce put me in the mood to re-try Ulysses before the fire this morning.  I had never managed to get past the first dozen pages without losing interest, and don’t understand why I’m finding it more readable now.  Joyce’s grappling with his Jesuit past parallels my own coping with my Southern Baptist roots.  I suppose that is a start.  But there is much more–I really enjoy the musicality of Joyce’s language when I am alone and reading aloud.  Harold Bloom reminded me of the importance of hearing quality literature, not just reading it.  After twenty-six pages, I am stunned at the artistry of Joyce’s writing, and this makes me want to take my own writing more seriously.

James Joyce also has much to say to anyone who would follow his/her artistic bliss.  He himself fought through so many snares (he called them nets) as he sought to fly above the standard literary canons of his day.  I’ve always been aware of the snares, but I feel that my own are more internal–that I have to fight through personal laziness and lethargy and moodiness rather than interference from outside, social forces.  In my later years, I’m more conscious of the energy required to create consistently.  I’m working on that.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Drawing into the Night

December 30, 2015

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You are an artist, are you not, Mr Dedalus? said the dean, glancing up and blinking his pale eyes.  The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.

Ovid, Metamorhposes–(“And he applied his spirit to obscure arts.”)

This evening, I’ve been in a James Joyce mood.  I read his Portrait of the Artist back in 1988, when I was working nights as a dispatcher for the Fort Worth Police Department.  I would begin teaching that fall, and I never forgot the ideas Joyce instilled in me, particularly with this autobiographical creed.  I wish to read the work again in its entirety–I have re-read large portions of it throughout the years since I first read the entire work.

The Ovid quote that opens Joyce’s book haunts me, as did my first encounters with Andrew Wyeth art.  I’ve never been able to explain what it is that I see in particular subjects that is “beautiful” or why the subjects hold me the way that they do.  I have stared at winter trees, stripped of their foliage, since 1969 when I first saw the Andrew Wyeth drawings, drybrush sketches, watercolors and egg tempera pieces.  In recent weeks, I’ve been doing drawings of trees from life, then when they were no longer available, drawings from my drawings.  This morning I was enchanted by a tree in the winter light just outside my living room window, and I drew it with a great sense of well-being.  Tonight I’m drawing it again, using my first drawing as a model.  I also photographed the tree twice today, and plan soon to do drawings from the photo.  In time, I plan to switch to watercolor to see how well I can handle these subjects in color.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.