Posts Tagged ‘Matisse’

Looking Ahead, to Making Art and Workshops

February 27, 2016

long dock

The little stump of candle left by the memory of his predecessors casts no light on the way ahead, only on what lies behind. The artist is so made that he can’t go back without giving himself up for dead. He must go forward in whatever direction his efforts may carry him—for every generation the ground behind you is a quicksand.

Henri Matisse

Though my body resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex this weekend, my spirit has soared ahead to Spring Break and my return to Corpus Christi for my one-man show, “A Week on the Laguna Madre,”showing March 3-26. The artist’s reception will be held Wednesday evening March 16, from 5 till 7:00. I have been invited to conduct two plein air watercolor workshops while there that week. The first will be for two and one-half days, March 15-17 at the Art Center. Tuition for this one is $250. Details for this show are on the following link.

Immediately following that workshop, I will take six applicants for a two-day (0ver night) workshop on the spoil island in the Laguna Madre, where I served my residency in June of last year. Tuition for this is $290. Anyone interested in applying for the island workshop may go to the following link:

AiR Program News

Below is a cool link of a helicopter video taken while flying over that island:

I have spent most of this Saturday morning writing, an activity I wish I would practice more often, like my poet-friend. But I awoke with so much on my mind and had to find a way to get it on paper. Below is a portion of what I’ve written:

You won’t find Poussin in Cézanne.

You won’t find Cézanne in Matisse.

You won’t find Matisse in Motherwell.

And you won’t find Motherwell in me. But the passion, the ideas are still there, undulating beneath the placid surface waves of my consciousness. When I make art, I enter a different world. And it is the act of drawing and painting—the dance—that moves me more than the image that emerges from the white picture plane. And the dialectical struggles inherent in composition also energize me. One stroke calls out for a second. A warm color coos for a cooler one. A dark tone whispers for a lighter one to conjoin. I hear this conversation among the elements as I arrange them like a little boy arranging his miniature soldiers on the field of combat. And I feel that in this action I am partaking in something cosmic and historical—I am part of this web of current existence as well as an extension from the past. And my directional light comes from the past, from behind. It is never found out front.

(Matisse) “The little stump of candle left by the memory of his predecessors casts no light on the way ahead, only on what lies behind. The artist is so made that he can’t go back without giving himself up for dead. He must go forward in whatever direction his efforts may carry him—for every generation the ground behind you is a quicksand.”

And then there is this, lifted from a journal entry dated August 19, 2007, following a 3200-mile road trip from Texas to Missouri to Kansas to Colorado to New Mexico and back home. I was seated on the front porch of the Peter Hurd Ranch in San Patricio, New Mexico:


I am the artist. Like Andrew Wyeth I now focus on the close-up leaves and plan to study Albrecht Dürer. Remember [my high school art teacher] Mr. Scucchi’s crow quill pen and ink wash of the corn stalk. Amazing! I will study these. Now, I am more artist than teacher or philosopher or musician. My imagination is flooded with images of the beautiful world which I have always loved, always scrutinized. But now, somewhere between Thoreau and Wyeth, I let nature seep through my pores.

Somewhere Between Wyeth and Thoreau

Somewhere, between Wyeth and Thoreau, I pause. Like Wordsworth I pause. My Grandma Tripp’s yard with all its odd fencing, vegetation and brooder house, comes back to me in waves. Ghosts. Voices. Whispers. I pause. Epiphany is there. The drawing and watercolor emerge from the white void, the white cloud of the paper plane. Surely there is Oriental thought here as well. Explore. Gaze. Contemplate. Ruminate. Let the images emerge. In the words of William Carlos Williams, “Let it come to you!” Myriads of images. And when the dust settles, package them and store them for future display or studio use.

Thanks for reading my wandering thoughts . . . It’s been a most pleasant Saturday morning over coffee.

Friday Night and the Beginning of the Christmas Recess

December 19, 2014
First Night of the Christmas Break

First Night of the Christmas Break

The grizzled teacher slowly woke from his late afternoon December nap, felt the winter chill filling the bedroom and decided to pull on warm clothes, draw the quilts up over his lap and prop in his bed with a pile of books and a fresh pot of coffee at his elbow.

It was the first evening of Christmas break, a two-week holiday from high school classes.  As he gazed across his room at the volumes on the bookcase inviting him into the spring term of classes–DeKooning, Motherwell, Rothko, Pollock, Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound, Eliot and William Carlos Williams–he felt a stirring of contenment under his skin much like the spring thaw bursting through the winter rocks.  He opened his first book and began . . .

Thanks for reading.  I’ll probably post more later . . .

An Artful DayThrough the Eyes of a Child

March 15, 2013

After a week of making art, I was given a luxurious opportunity today to leave the studio and enjoy someone else’s art for a change.  A former student of mine invited me to join her family and view art work from the hand of her first-grade daughter, on display in a public venue.  I have had the privilege over the last couple of years to witness this young girl’s artistic explorations, by way of digital images sent to me.  But today I actually beheld her work in the original, along with a host of elementary school pieces in the display.  The freshness and originality of vision just took my breath away.  I had experienced joy before, seeing photos of her creating art work in her home on Saturday mornings, or during inclement weather.  But I was not prepared for what I saw today, and was touched deeply by the flicker of pride lighting her countenance, as she saw her work displayed prominently.

The entire display was magnificent.  Funding for the visual arts in Texas public schools is very slim, and given grudgingly, unlike funding for sports or performing arts.  But these restricted funds have not been able to amputate the spirit, or truncate the effectiveness of dedicated public school elementary art teachers.  Though often relegated to pushing an art cart up and down the corridors, from classroom to classroom, restricting students to once-a-week art sessions, the history and culture of the visual arts is still poured into these young spirits, and it manifests itself in these public displays.  I am a teacher of art history in a public high school, and I know it was no fluke to witness echoes of Matisse, Van Gogh, Warhol, Monet and Kahlo seething on the surfaces of these drawings, paintings and mixed-media endeavors.  These young spirits have been given the opportunity to know firsthand the  fullness and felicity of a well-rounded life that the visual arts make possible.

When I was a boy, I didn’t quite understand the motto carved over one of the portals of the Saint Louis Art Museum:



Now, in my later years, I feel it more than ever before, and this young artistic spirit today renewed that sentiment.  Hats off to her teacher, the other elementary art teachers and willing students of that school district.  May others capture your vision.

Thank you for reading.