Posts Tagged ‘loss’

A Presence Emerging from the Loss

January 15, 2013
Still Life with Pepsi-Cola Carrier

Still Life with Pepsi-Cola Carrier

Many fail to grasp what they have seen,

and cannot judge what they have learned,

although they tell themselves they know.

Heraclitus

How splendid to be able to enter the Man Cave, having finished tomorrow’s school assignments by 8:30.  Temperatures hover around 34 degrees now, and are expected to drop to 25 by the time I rise to go to school in the morning.  Some freezing precipitation may occur, but not enough to close school–nothing would excite me more than to be given the Gift of painting in the Cave all day tomorrow.  But alas, I daydream.

My first class in the morning will be Philosophy, and we will begin research on the Presocratics (a real highlight for me).  Hence, I dropped a Heraclitus fragment above to open tonight’s blog.  And the quote has an amazing application to my current practice of still-life painting.  I acknowledge that I have failed in times past to grasp the objects before me when attempting to paint them, that I have assumed too much knowledge of art technique, and used that knowledge as a substitute for a basic apprehension of the nature of the objects before me–Mr. Scucchi, my first of four high school art teachers, said: “I am not teaching you to draw; I am trying to teach you to see.”  That stays with me.  In drawing and painting, vision is everything, the alleged steadiness of the hand is very little.  And I laugh when I recall a line from the motion picture Lust for Life, when Paul Gauguin criticizes Vincent Van Gogh, yelling: “You paint too fast!”  To which Vincent retorts: “You LOOK too fast!”  I stand guilty of the same.  So, tonight, I am spending more time staring at this doorknob and Pepsi-Cola carrier than actually drawing and painting.

And while I look at these antique objects, I feel something splendid as I contemplate the worlds from which these came, a world that is no longer here.  In preparing for tomorrow’s Presocratic lecture, I came across a statement concerning four Presocratic fragments that Martin Heidegger translated and published:

Four fragments of early Greek thinking dominate Heidegger’s thoughts in the present collection.  Each is a truncated monument of thinking.  Like the torso of a river god or the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, each fragment conveys a sense of loss, of tragic withdrawal and absence; yet each is a remnant of an exhilarating presence.

Loss and presence.  What a juxtaposition!  Of course, I have spent much of this evening thinking about Steve, my recently deceased artist friend whom I knew for fifty-four years.  I have lost him, but in the quiet of the studio, he is present.  Words he spoke, his laughter, our discussions of what we wanted from our art.  It’s all there.  He’s still here.  A loss, and at the same time, a presence, a comfort.  That is a Gift.

Thanks for reading.  I’m ready to go back and stare at these objects a little while longer before sleep overpowers me.

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, Loss and Presence

April 23, 2011

Sketches in the Studio

1887 relic of 4th Methodist Church Fort Worth, Texas

Today, Friday morning, April 22, 2011 begins a 3-day weekend for me.  While in classes yesterday morning, I suddenly was seized with this notion to visit this relic from the edge of downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  It is what remains of the 1887 Fourth Street Methodist Church (today First Methodist Church, in a different location).  The ruins were discovered a few years back when demolition began of a storage facility, with no knowledge that the skeletal remains of this vestry were within the old structure.  The Bass brothers decided not to destroy the relic.

For the past two weeks (is this serendipitous?) I have been mulling over William Wordsworth’s “Lines.  Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour.  July 13, 1798.”  I have also lingered over a watercolor by J. M. W. Turner, composed while the painter was quite young and visiting that same Medieval ruin of a church.  The poem and the painting have been on my mind the past few weeks, again with all those Proustian notions–of memories, of loss and of presence.

Other writers have expressed this better than I, but I know these heart-shuddering sentiments of standing in the midst of something left over from the past, with the wreckage of decomposition prevalent, and I simultaneously feel a profound loss and an exhilarating “presence.”  This is what I feel when I look on this church ruin adjacent to a thriving Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas.  At the close of the 19th century, worshipers, mourners, seekers–people of all persuasions–lingered on these grounds and worshiped within the sacred space.  I tried to focus on those matters while the traffic of downtown Fort Worth whizzed past me.  One memorable moment during this 30-minute sketching exercise was a courteous bicycle security guard working for the city stopping by and chatting with me for a few minutes.  Her presence, and the knowledge that there were “many of them” about the town, made me feel safer to return here and sketch again.  Indeed I shall.

Thank you for reading.  It is now Saturday, and I hope to get some quality work done in watercolor by the close of this day.

A Walden Pond Remembrance–January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

Dexter, Texas (Ghost Town)

It looks as though tomorrow I can pursue new work, and stop posting these old watercolors from my past.  This one is of a cabin in Dexter, Texas (now a desolate relic of a town–probably a ghost town).  From the time I photographed the cabin (around 1986), I was smitten at its resemblance of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond.  I didn’t get to visit that historic site until the mid 1990’s, but the replica cabins I’ve seen at the Pond and at the Concord Historical Society match this as to size.  Only difference of course is Thoreau had only one door at the end, and a window on both sides.

A couple of year ago, I returned to the Dexter site, and was saddened to see only one wall still standing of this cabin, and completely overgrown with trees and underbrush.  It was not even approachable.  Nature always reclaims what isn’t overrun by people.

I was proud of the painting from the time I executed it.  Thrilled that the drybrush on the woodwork of the building “worked” as did the torn-up roofing.  I was pleased with the blistered wood around the door frame and window sash, and the way the horizon trees washed out in the distance.  These were several “firsts” for me, and though I do these kinds of techniques now without fear, I seem to lack the spontaneity that appears in this painting, and of course I no longer no the profound serendipitous delight of seeing something new emerge beneath my brush.  While I was in visiting family in St. Louis, I was surprised to receive a check in the mail from the Hillsboro Gallery with the notification that this painting had sold.  I called the love of my life (now my wife) and told her the great news over the phone.  Then when I returned home to Texas, and went to her place to visit, I was gratified to see this hanging over her fireplace–a secret sale!  Now it is in our home, belongs to her, and I’m still delighted that it is where I can see it any time, every day.