Posts Tagged ‘literature’

The Purity of the Winter Morning Light

December 31, 2015


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.

living room tree

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.


Creating Watercolor Christmas Cards in the Man Cave

November 29, 2011

Christmas card workspace

It’s hard to find quality time to paint when school is in session.  Nevertheless, I retreated to my Man Cave (dirty garage!) immediately after school today to resume work on Christmas card #2.  Tonight, with the help of a dear friend, I plan to resume work on my “store” opening soon at  So, during this brief interlude between school and technical support, I find joy in painting once again.

Once this card is finished, I’ll post a tighter image of it and discuss what I’ve discovered in the process of rendering it.  As for now, all I can say is “Hurray for Prismacolor watercolor pencils”!  They are making the task go very quickly and efficiently.   It would be wonderful if I could finish this tonight, but I have my doubts.  Tomorrow my Philosophy class begins work on Nietzsche, and I still have plenty of prep work to do on him tonight after I finish work on Cafe Press.

What I am about to write may appear to have nothing to do with my painting, but I know in my heart that it does.  Yesterday I resumed my interior dialogue with some great minds that I had abandoned months ago.  The demands of my daily schedule, and certain priorities I had established simply pushed them out.  And to them I have now happily returned.

Since the 1980’s I have been absorbed with the history of ideas, and that particular discipline (I hope) has been able to rescue me from becoming too pedantic in the courses I teach.  I must say, with regret, that the abandonment of this fruitful dialogue more recently turned my high school courses into catalog summaries of the essential elements assigned to each discipline.  Since yesterday, I have worked to find my way back to the multidisciplinary path I once knew, and have come to miss.

My reading has been primarily in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” and “The Waste Land”.    But thanks to The Teaching Company, I have had the enriching experience of listening to VHS tapes and DVDs on Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition as well as An Introduction to Greek Philosophy.  I have been filled with lectures on the Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle as well as Erasmus, Descartes and Spinoza.  Though I cannot describe how the fellowship of these thinkers has seeped into my painting, I can at least testify that they have soothed my mind and put me in a proper space for painting.  Hours pass by that feel like minutes.  I’m glad to be back once again in the company of these magnificent minds.

Thanks for reading.