Posts Tagged ‘Marcel Proust’

Late Night Moments with Proust

July 17, 2014
Proust Collage and French Editions

Proust Collage and French Editions

I dined with Legrandin on the terrace of his house, by moonlight.  “There is a charming quality, is there not,” he said to me, “in this silence; for hearts that are wounded, as mine is, a novelist whom you will read in time to come asserts that there is no remedy but silence and shadow.  And see you this, my boy, there comes in all our lives a time, towards which you still have far to go, when the weary eyes can endure but one kind of light, the light which a fine evening like this prepares for us in the stillroom of darkness, when the ears can listen to no music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.”

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

The hour is drawing late.  I have read and written since about 4:30 this afternoon.  I taught summer school from 7:30 till 12:45.  But there is no school on Fridays, and that is very good, since sleep is nowhere near at this point for me, and I am deeply stirred by these beautiful words, even in translation.  I am perpetually amazed that a French author can resonate so deeply with me, knowing that I am reading an English translation, and wondering at the same time what it must be like to read him directly in his own language.  What amazing feeling and insight!  As I read these words, I had the soulful harp music playing from Hilary Stagg’s CD “The Edge of Forever.”  The ethereal quality of this music is no doubt enhancing the kind of reading I’m doing tonight.  I am committed to reading Proust because he wrote from a perspective that we experience primal re-visitations of warm memories from our past, often triggered by some sensation of taste, hearing, touch, smell or vision.  I have always held firmly to that conviction, and love reading his work.

I have posted a small collage I did of Proust some years back, and added some photos of his early publications that were sent me last year when I placed in a Proust competition sponsored by one of our WordPress bloggers.  

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog ro remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Afternoon Drybrush Study of Screen Door and Companion

April 23, 2013
Drybrush Watercolor Study of Pair of Doors

Drybrush Watercolor Study of Pair of Doors

I was confronted for the first time, I suppose, really with the thing that I did, whereas up until that moment I was able to remove myself from the act of painting, or from the painting itself.  The painting was something that I was making, whereas somehow for the first time with this painting, the painting itself had a life of its own in a way that I don’t think the others did, as much.

Barnett Newman, April 1965 Interview

Wow.  I am breathless right now.  This 8 x 10″ drybrush I began several days ago, having only about 45 minutes to begin it before I lost the light.  Today after school, being tired of the cafe piece I had been working on, I decided to set up the easel in front of my pair of doors and resume this, though the light was rather poor.  Didn’t matter–I decided to focus on the wood textures of the door on the right, and see if I could find a way to solve the screen door on the left.

I don’t know how to say this, except to say that I felt that this composition painted itself.  I felt that I put out very little effort, puzzled very little, hesitated almost not at all.  Next thing I knew, I was stopping.  I believe I worked on it only about an hour, certainly not any longer.  And suddenly, it looked “finished.”  Maybe tomorrow I’ll change my mind and push it further.  But I’m stopping for now and just looking at it.

I posted the Barnett Newman quote, because that is what I experienced this afternoon in the Man Cave.  It doesn’t come along very often.  I felt as though the picture was painting itself before my very eyes, and all I had to do was watch it happen.  Amazing.

I have so many Proustian memories of the screen door growing up–my grandparents’ houses, the country store I frequented when visiting grandparents.  How I loved the slap of the door slamming shut (it always angered my Dad when I let it “thwap” loudly like that). Perhaps later I’ll write more about those memories.

But for now, I’m pretty wiped out–the state-mandated testing at school today (with no relief break during the four hours, thank you very much), followed by regular classes in the afternoon, pretty much sucked the best out of me, and I’m surprised I had anything left to come home and paint today.  Glad I did.

And thank you for reading.

A Delicious Afternoon in the Man Cave, Sketching, Watercoloring, Reading, Journaling, Pondering

April 19, 2013
Beginnings of a cafe still-life

Beginnings of a Cafe Still-Life

Only through art can we get outside of ourselves and know another’s view of the universe which is not the same as ours and see landscapes which would otherwise have remained unknown to us like the landscapes of the moon.  Thanks to art, instead of seeing a single world, our own, we see it multiply until we have before us as many worlds as there are original artists.

Marcel Proust

I emerged from school to face my weekend with a heart full of gladness.  The 67-degree sunshine and soothing breeze made for a heavenly afternoon in the Man Cave, and I immediately went back to the work I barely commenced late last night–a diner’s mug on a checkered cloth, with vintage spectacles and an old envelope.  All I accomplished last night were laying down the shadows, wet-on-wet. This afternoon I got after some color blocks on the fabric, some further modeling and glazing on the mug (including some of reflected pinks of the cloth on the side of the mug), and a little bit of work on the spectacles.

Once the painting got overly wet, I decided to settle into the comfy chair for some reading in the Hemingway biography.  But the Cave was darkened by the positioning of my doors (trying to control the lamp source on the still-life), and I suddenly got an idea for some reading light.  Yesterday, while browsing the antique store, I found something I had wanted for ten years but could never find–an old vintage “farmhouse-style” screen door!  Price was $37.  I loaded it in the Jeep and brought it to the cave.  It had been propped behind some still life objects for a future composition, but today I decided to use it functionally–I spread my doors and inserted the screen between them to let in the light and the breeze.

Once I sat with the Hemingway biography in my lap, and felt that first caress of the breeze coming through, I laughed out loud, remembering the Seinfeld episode when Kramer installed the screen door on his apartment entrance, and sat outside in the hall with a garden hose, watering plants!

Interior of Man Cave. looking out screen door
Interior of Man Cave. looking out screen door
Standing Outside the Man Cave, looking in the screen door

Standing Outside the Man Cave, looking in the screen door

Quick Attempt to Sketch the Man Cave Doors

Quick Attempt to Sketch the Man Cave Doors

After reading the Hemingway biography for a stretch of time, I then turned to my Journal and recorded some of the highlights of this day, especially some new ideas planted recently by my high school students (at my age, they still astound me with their insight and creative ways of looking at the world).  I then returned to work a little further on the table cloth patterns of my new cafe painting.  Then, taking a stretch break, I stepped outside the Cave and was surprised by the sight of the western sun on my screen door and the adjoining one.  I quickly installed a porcelain doorknob, set up my plein air easel, and went to work as quickly as possible, like a man possessed, before I lost the sunset light (about 15 minutes).  I absolutely loved getting into the wood surfaces of the doors along with their knobs, handles, keyholes, etc.  Once the light faded, I decided to call it quits on this one, and perhaps will return to it at the same time tomorrow evening, or Sunday evening.

I cannot describe my disposition this afternoon, except to say I was quite “scattered”.  I wanted to paint everything, draw everything (I left out the detail that I also worked out some pencil sketches of the diner’s mug because I was having some problems “solving” it’s form.  I didn’t bother posting those photographs, because I feel I’ve already loaded plenty into this post).  It was a delightful afternoon, divided between two paintings, some sketches, excellent reading, as well as some thinking and journaling.  All the best things were here for me this day.

Rapid Watercolor Sketch of the Door knob

Rapid Watercolor Sketch of the Door knob (about 15 minutes)

I have an invitation to go on a plein air excursion with friends this weekend, and I’m seriously considering it.  I’ve waited all winter for this opportunity, and have had only one such encounter.  I’m ready once again to get outside and into the light.

This has been a beautiful afternoon and evening.  Thank you for sharing in it with me.  And thank you always for caring enough to read me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Day More Proustian than Warholish

March 9, 2013
Acrylic on Canvas in Martin High School Library

Acrylic on Canvas in Martin High School Library

My Spring Break should have started yesterday at the end of school, but I believe it actually began tonight at 7:03.  That was when Something Happened (I love that title from the Joseph Heller novel, and loved the novel–it should be read by every man over 40).  Now I feel a real Break, a real potential for cleansing, for enlightenment, and am glad to have enough “juice” in me to stay up awhile tonight and try to record some meaningful thoughts.

Among the plethora of books I’m trying to read at the same time (such a bad habit), there is included the Andy Warhol Diaries.  Geez, the man can be so vacuous!  It’s been reported that he suffered dyslexia, and therefore didn’t write.  The Diaries  are actually transcribed from daily phone calls he made to Pat Hackett.

So, with feeble humor, I begin this blog in Andy Warhol Diaries fashion, and promise to do it only once:

Woke up at 8:25 this morning without the alarm.  Showered, dressed, drove to Kroger and bought basic groceries ($45.30, 4 miles).  Cooked breakfast in the kitchen.  Spent three-and-a-half hours cleaning a study that I had abandoned over a year ago (second bedroom in the house) and gathering information to file my taxes.  Watched on TV the St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in overtime 4-3 and was glad.  Got a voice mail at 7:03.  Filled up my gas tank ($58.92) and returned some belongings to a friend ( 83 miles).  Drove home through a hellacious rainstorm.

Great stuff huh?  Imagine someone buying a book with 807 pages of that.  I just did, and I’m reading it.  To be fair, I am gleaning the occasional Pop Art history from his daily musings, but wow, I have to plow through so much vacuous verbiage to mine those facts.

And now, the actual day:

Following breakfast I settled into my comfortable living room reading chair and continued my reading of Proust (Swann’s Way).  I could not get past this story:

[Legrandin] came up to us with outstretched hand: “Do you know, master booklover,” he asked me, “this line of Paul Desjardins?

            Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue.

Isn’t that a fine rendering of a moment like this?  Perhaps you have never read Paul Desjardins.  Read him, my boy, read him; in these days he is converted, they tell me, into a preaching friar, but he used to have the most charming watercolour touch—

Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue.

May you always see a blue sky overhead, my young friend; and then, even when the time comes, as it has come for me now, when the woods are all black, when night is fast falling, you will be able to console yourself, as I do, by looking up at the sky.”  He took a cigarette from his pocket and stood for a long time with his eyes fixed on the horizons.  “Good-bye, friends!” he suddenly exclaimed, and left us.

I could not stop laughing.  To put it in context, the author thought he had been snubbed the day before outside church by Legrandin.  Now, while walking, he runs into the man again, and out comes all this verbiage over one line of a poem that is supposed to be profound, and then just as quickly, the man walks away.  No conversation.  No exchange.  Just a quick moment to pontificate, and then move on.  I laugh as I recall the many, many times this has happened in my past and present.  Not just that kind of treatment from someone putting on superior airs, but that kind of insipid advice to look to blue skies when the woods turn dark.

But the line that actually made me record this was: “in these days he is converted, they tell me, into a preaching friar, but he used to have the most charming watercolour touch.”  Ahhhh.  I spent most of the day digesting that.  I guess I’m going to adjust my goals to include some line about trying to learn to write (and blog?) with a “watercolor touch.”

Not long after Proust “tagged” me, I suddenly, while texting a dear friend, was pointed to a new direction in watercolor that had been in the back of my mind for a few days.  And after these texts settled, I suddenly “saw” what I want to do next.  But alas, it is 10:53 now, I am still in the mood to read and write in my journal, and it’s raining cats and dogs outside and the Man Cave is smelling kind of moldy.  I also don’t enjoy the garage lights too much after dark, preferring instead to let the natural light flood in through the garage door windows (or even open the door completely, weather permitting).

So instead, I post this 3 x 4′ acrylic canvas I painted as part of a series of “book covers” for the Martin High School library (where I teach full time).  And tonight, I choose to sit up late and read some more of the Nick Adams series from Ernest Hemingway, most particularly the two-part “Big Two-Hearted River.”  That has been one of my favorite short stories since high school, and though I will not be able to journey to Colorado this Spring Break to fly fish for trout, I know I will again some day.  Meanwhile I enjoy it vicariously by reading Nick’s story.

My plan is to begin this new series of watercolors tomorrow, and begin posting them as they emerge.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the Hemingway canvas.

Thanks for reading.

In the Man Cave with Andrew Wyeth, William Carlos Williams and My Grandfather

October 29, 2012

No Ideas But in Things

–Say it, no ideas but in things–

William Carlos Williams, Paterson

Midway through my art history class today, while studying the Roman Colosseum, I suddenly knew what I was going to attempt this afternoon.  There were so many tasks to get out of the way first, but finally, at 4:30, I entered the man cave, and two hours later, this drybrush watercolor sketch lay before me.  I could never faithfully record what flooded my soul during those two hours, but let me try . . .

For years, I have sat for long hours in my booth during art festivals, alone, with little more to do than stare at the antique doors used for displaying my framed watercolors.  This particular door came with a nice vintage doorknob, engraved plate and locking system.  I have had it for over ten years and cannot begin to calculate the hours I have spent staring at it.  It used to sit in the back of my classroom.  My grandfather Tripp had such a door to the little house in which he spent his evenings after supper, and as a child, I was fascinated with the door knob and the engraved plate, as well as the chipped finish of several layers of paint on his door.

After a weekend spent viewing Andrew Wyeth drybrush works, and a couple of days poring over color plates in the books I own of his collections, a recurring idea came to me from William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and the Imagist movement in writing–no ideas but in things.
Earlier this year, I made some Pop Art attempts at recreating tins advertising Lucky Strike and Maxwell House.  The paintings have a prosaic quality about them, much like Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.  But now, I wished to execute an exacting, detailed drybrush rendering of this old doorknob that looks like the one I saw as a small child at my Grandfather’s.  So, with the western sun waning this afternoon and flooding the garage with yellow light, I sought a way to channel that warmth into the back of my man cave (I probably looked quite the fool, pulling antique doors in front of my garage door windows to block out excess light, and stacking crates on top of trunks to block out further excess light–it seemed to take forever to get the lights and shadows to work properly on just this one doorknob!  But somehow, I felt that the effort would pay off.  And it did.

I may awaken in the morning, take a fresh look at this sketch, and decide it is garbage.  But even if that is so, I am convinced now that I am on a path that is worth following further.  I want to develop a skill to record these objects in a way that brings back the warm Proustian sentiments I have known throughout the decades of my life–the thrill and shock of recognition when I see a prosaic object that is charged with primal memories that matter to me, memories from my childhood that still linger and flood my being with a sense of good will.

To say it again–no ideas but in things.  Thank you Andrew, William, Ezra and Willis (my grandfather).  You have given me something worth pursuing.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

Maxwell House Memories, with Touches of Andy Warhol and Marcel Proust

September 7, 2012

Maxwell House with Touches of Andy Warhol and Marcel Proust

O.K., so I’m not drinking Maxwell House tonight (actually, it is Starbuck’s Pike Place Roast).  But I like the Maxwell House commercial layout much better than Starbuck’s, and it is probably safer to paint their copyrighted image and publish it than it would be to copy Starbuck’s.  This is another watercolor I am trying to finish so I can matte and shrinkwrap it by festival time.  I got the urge to watercolor some still life objects carrying commercial brands several weeks ago while I was lost in Andy Warhol research for my art history classes.  This just happens to be one that got abandoned and forgotten.  Today I have pulled from my storage area about eight “in-progress” watercolors started over the past three months and forgotten.  It would be nice to add them to my inventory next week when I put my art out on the streets.  We’ll see what happens.

Oh well, it is already 9:30.  Looks like it’s going to be another late one tonight.  So much still to pursue.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Uh-Oh. Another Warhol in the Making

August 21, 2012

Maxwell House Watercolor in Progress

Good evening from the studio.  As some of you know, I am now neck-deep in back-to-school Inservice meetings (some of them as interesting as watching paint dry).  I am determined that school this year will not derail my blogging.  I had too many excuses for my blog going on semi-hiatus this summer (all of them poor ones).  I will not let this happen again.  This year’s school schedule will not be the black nightmare of last year’s.  I am happy to return to only six classes to teach, all of them subjects I enjoy.

Andy Warhol still resonates with me.  He died at the age where I find myself now (58), and this is sobering.  I have not made the mark yet that I wish to make with my contribution to the artistic enterprise, and perhaps I will not.  But right now, the inclination to explore and experiment is very strong with me, so I am making a concerted effort to explore alternatives while at the same time developing the genre that I have tried to anchor in recent years (and still remain a somewhat-decent school teacher).

I went to the Man Cave and fished out this Maxwell House tin that I purchased a long time ago in an Oklahoma antique store along Route 66.  My earliest “Proustian” childhood memories include the sound of the stove-top percolator gurgling in the pre-dawn, and my sitting in a high chair at the breakfast table, watching my father eat bacon and eggs before leaving for work as a garage mechanic.  I still remember the aromas and the warmth I felt in that safe world.  I don’t believe my parents drank Maxwell House (actually it was 8 O’Clock Bean) but that goofy commercial that made the percolating sounds musical will be stuck with me throughout my life, I confess.

Thanks for reading.  I think this painting has dried enough for me to push it further down the road to completion.  I started it this afternoon as soon as I got home from school, and I hope to have quite a bit more done before retiring to bed later.

Bob Phillips Texas Country Reporter Festival in the Books

October 31, 2011

Waxahachie Commerce

The Bob Phillips Texas Country Reporter Festival on the town square in Waxahachie was a fabulous success.  The bright sunny weather featured cool breezes that held the temperatures in the low-70’s and the ten-hour festival blew by fast.  It was my third consecutive year to have my booth in the VIP section on Franklin Street, just in front of the main stage, and the time spent with my friends and patrons from past festivals was exhilarating.

I am posting a watercolor that I did of two businesses on College Street (also on the square) that unfortunately burned last year and have been torn down.  During breaks in the festival proceedings, I turned a sad eye on the ruins where these two businesses formerly stood.  The law office had purchased this watercolor back in 2009 at the close of the Paint Historic Waxahachie event, my first time to participate in that plein air enterprise.  That event actually marked the beginning of my own plein air odyssey.  So, to look on this painting, and to travel to Waxahachie to see the ruins, fills me with a sense of sadness, as well as gratitude for the poignant memories left by that site.

I am still selling plenty of greeting cards of this image, so the residents apparently still cling to the memories as well.  Maybe all of us can take pages from William Wordsworth and Marcel Proust, who wrote of those primal memories worth carrying with us.  Oftentimes, we look back and find defining moments in them, that otherwise may have passed into oblivion.  The core of my watercolor collection seeks to capture those cultural relics from my own past, because I want to remember those thriving businesses that now stand as sere architectural husks.  Hopefully, I can begin my next composition today, when school is over.

Thanks for reading.

David Tripp watercoloring a 1903 cabin from Flippin, Arkansas

September 10, 2011

Tripp painting historic cabin in Flippin, Arkansas

 With watercolor pad and digital camera at his side, Texas watercolor artist David Tripp drives his Jeep along meandering county roads, seeking small towns and open countryside to paint.  Every day presents a new opportunity for discovery of some artifact reminiscent of earlier decades of energy and prosperity.  Today, only the shells and husks remain of filling stations, general stores, movie theaters and other public buildings formerly stirring with conversations, stories and glimpses of life. David’s watercolors feature subjects drawn from 1950’s America, now present as mere relics of a once-thriving civilization fading from our American landscape, but not from our memories.

David received his Bachelor’s degree in art from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in 1976, focusing on drawing, painting and art history.  Graduate school took David’s curiosity down a more academic path, focusing on philosophy, religion, literature, and art history, finally earning him the Ph.D. in 1987.  Since then he has been a full-time educator in high school and part-time at the university. 

Every derelict commercial structure or private residence leaves this artist with a feeling of profound loss, but at the same time an exhilarating presence. The writer Marcel Proust has pointed out the thrill of beholding an object capable of triggering profound memories from our youth, and our being filled with a sense of warmth and gratitude.  Pausing before these subjects allows space to re-live important elements from our past, the recollections that create what we are now.