Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Arnold’

Art as a Healing Balm

March 4, 2017

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“Art still has truth, take refuge there!

Matthew Arnold, “Memorial Verses April 1850”

Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking before an adult Sunday School group at a local church. Most of this day was given to preparing my remarks, taking Matthew Arnold’s statement as my point of departure. A number of things have happened around me that have saddened a large number of people whom I love, and the tragedies have been mine as well. We lack satisfying answers when grief invades our lives, and sometimes it is all I can do to pick up the brush and go through that portal into the sanctuary of art, and give healing a chance. Thanks to time spent watercoloring, and resuming my reading of Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be, I have managed to find some quality in this day.

The day has been cold and rainy, and I felt it necessary to keep a fire burning in the fireplace. In the comfort of that warmth, and ignoring the grayness outside as much as possible, I returned to this watercolor and have nearly finished it. The setting is the farmhouse where my grandparents lived in southeast Missouri. The old building is barely standing today, and no longer has the front porch where I have positioned myself with a guitar I purchased from my late uncle’s estate. Of course, being twelve hours away from this location, I had to settle for a selfie taken in my backyard. Only in my memories can I place myself on the porch of that ramshackle house where I used to spend the summers of my childhood.

I’m pleased that this painting has turned out good enough to frame and put into my March 24th show. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, I’ll complete it tomorrow and deliver it to the frame shop on Monday.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to cope.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

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Musing Over New Year’s Resolutions and Starting a New Painting

December 29, 2013
Bait Shop

Bait Shop

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

This day has had more than a fair share of rewards.  I’m pleased that I rose early from a good night’s sleep, enjoyed a good breakfast, and devoted some serious “chair time” to reading Ecclesiastes in its entirety, taking my time, letting the message seep in.  The words of the Preacher have lingered with me throughout the day, and put me in the mood to begin a new watercolor.

This is an 8 x 10″ sketch I’ve begun on a bait shop I photographed a few months ago when I was on the coast.  The details are slowing me down considerably, so it’s not shaping up as quickly as I had imagined.  But there is no deadline here; I hope to begin a larger, more serious watercolor of the same subject once I get more comfortable with it.

I am haunted by the words of the Preacher posted above.  As I move toward the New Year and contemplate the things that matter, I find myself saddened deeply by the sentiments of one who feels that the final assessment of his life’s accomplishments was empty.  I have always felt sorry for anyone who hated his/her job.  I have not known that misfortune.  But sadder still is this writer’s broader assessment of his life’s accomplishments.  How could one regard the overall value of a life’s endeavors as worthless?

Personally, I have enjoyed life as an educator, and I’ve pursued this nonstop since 1985, full time since 1988.  Besides teaching a handful of my favorite subjects, I have also tried to pursue a life in the arts.  In my later years, art has become more my center.  The line from Hippocrates resonates profoundly with me:

Life is short,

and art long,

opportunity fleeting,

experience perilous,

and decision difficult.

I don’t fret over Malcolm Gladwell’s dictum that 10,000 hours are required for one to master his/her field.  I think I have put in my 10,000 hours, paid my dues.  But as I grow older, my awareness increases that art technique requires long and sustained study and practice, and life is comparatively short.  I understand better at my current age why Leonardo and Michelangelo felt a pang of discontent that they would not live long enough to figure it all out.  I’m just glad that I haven’t gotten so old that this reality bothers me.  I know I’ll never “get there”, but that’s not the point–I love the process, love the search, love the endeavor.  I’m still enchanted when I see paintings emerge beneath my brush.  I cannot describe the emotion I feel as that happens, and I can never express how grateful I am that I was given this chance while on earth to engage in this task.

And sometimes, others join in on that bliss.  Tonight, I received two emails, fifteen minutes apart, from two patrons that commissioned work from me for Christmas.  They wanted me to know that they loved the paintings, and so did the ones who received them as gifts.  Patrons will probably never know just how deeply I am stirred to hear that someone else has been touched by something I  made.  Those two emails in themselves were genuine Christmas gifts to me, tonight.

Art still has truth, take refuge there!

Matthew Arnold, “Memorial Verses April 1850”

This has been a most satisfying day.  Meaningful reading and reflection, another chance to pursue watercolor, and gracious words from good friends.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

In the Studio Tonight

In the Studio Tonight