Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Applying the Brakes

October 12, 2015

imageThe simple act of going out for a walk is completely different today from what it was fifteen years ago. Whether you’re walking down a big-city street or in the woods outside a country town, if you’re carrying a mobile device with you, the global crowd comes along.

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry

This evening I went out to do some necessary errands, and as I backed out of my driveway, realized I had left my phone in the house. I didn’t even think for a moment of getting back out and going inside to retrieve it. Instead, I thought “Good!” and went on my way for about an hour’s worth of errands. Funny how I kept reaching for my pocket for a phone that wasn’t there. In response, I’ve set up a lesson plan for tomorrow involving social media and how distracted it has made us. I’m looking forward to the responses. At the end of this month, I’ll be giving a public talk on the book quoted above and what its message has come to mean to me.

For an hour before bedtime, I decided to push aside my assignments that are never completed (and probably never will be, as long as I remain a teacher–funny how the world expects us to work on this stuff throughout the school day, and until bedtime each night). Taking out my pencils, I began working on sketches again to relax and unwind. The one posted above I began several weeks ago, and then pushed aside, forgetting about it until now. I’m placing it inside a 5 x 7″ window mat that fits an 8 x 10″ frame. I’m going to offer it for $40. I’m surprised at how drawing has slowed down my frantic world, and I’ve taken the practice up almost daily. Maybe I’ll crank out a series of 5 x 7″ pencil drawings and see how they package. I had no idea they would look this fresh, torn out of the sketchbook and matted.

Thanks for reading.

Nature Wears the Colors of the Spirit

December 7, 2014

Yet it is certain that the power to produce this delight does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both.  It is necessary to use these pleasures with great temperance.  For nature is not always tricked in holiday attire, but the same scene which yesterday breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic of the nymphs is overspread with melancholy today.  Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Waking at 7:58 this morning to a dark overcast 48-degree Sunday morning gave me pause, because I felt so good.  Wondering why the gloomy exterior made me warmer inside reminded me of this Emerson text that I searched out and posted.  I responded by putting on Mozart so that once I emerged from the shower and fixed breakfast I was able to say honestly that even the eggs tasted better this morning.  I never know how to explain this phenomenon (waking to a dark overcast morning creating warm solitude just as easily as it creates despondency and loneliness) except to say that many friends yesterday (both living as well as those deceased who still speak through their written words) managed to put a great deal of wind in my sails, and I found myself happy in my work.  Today I rise, happy to return to the task.  I have a still life waiting patiently for me in the garage studio. . .

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.

 

 

Back to School, and the Painting Continues

January 7, 2014

Nearing the Finish of this Hermann, Missouri Watercolor

Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven.  Know then that the world exists for you.  For you is the phenomenon perfect.  What we are, that only can we see.  All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do.  Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobbler’s trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar’s garret.  Yet line for line and point for point your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names.  Build therefore your own world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Today was the first “teaching” day of school (yesterday was a work day).  I have managed to keep painting on this small watercolor, and have started a second of the same composition (much larger), as well as a couple of experimental still life watercolor sketches.  I just have had problems stopping long enough between school assignments to get the blog up and running again.  This watercolor posted is nearly finished, and should be wrapped up once I put in a solid hour of uninterrupted attention to it.

As the new semester dawns, I am filled with this Emersonian sentiment of building my world from the inside out.  I have a number of ideas percolating about art, literature, philosophy, and am nearly ready to start posting them.  Tomorrow begins a brand new philosophy class.  Enrollment shot up from 16 to 30 between Christmas break and now.  I am anxious to meet them at 7:35 tomorrow morning.

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.

Creating My World in Watercolor

January 5, 2014
Detailing with Joy in my Heart

Detailing with Joy in my Heart

The problem of restoring to the world original and eternal beauty is solved by the redemption of the soul.  The ruin or the blank that we see when we look at nature, is in our own eye.  The axis of vision is not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opaque.  The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

I laid the watercolor aside for a couple of days, and relaxed.  I return to school tomorrow, so I knew I needed some downtime, and I got it.  This morning, I awoke feeling restive and knew immediately that I needed to return to my Source.  Settling into my favorite reading chair, I scribbled out several pages of journal musings, read some more from Isaacson’s biography on Benjamin Franklin, then turned to Emerson’s Nature.  Twice a year, I introduce my philosophy students to the first half-dozen pages of this publication.  But this morning, I intentionally turned to the final four pages.  The conclusion just hasn’t gotten enough attention from me.  The reading was timely, became an Oracle for me.  I know that my life is obsessed with the pursuit of Beauty, Quality.  And I was struck by Emerson’s notion that we need to redeem ourselves if we are to find redemption and beauty in Nature.  So, I knew it was time to get back to work (play) over the watercolor that’s been composting in my mind the past 48 hours though I haven’t touched it with a brush.

When I bend over and peer into the surface of a watercolor in progress, my world improves dramatically.  This morning, I focussed on details in this little town–a myriad of details probably not seen by passersby, but nevertheless there.  And the longer I looked, the more I enlarged the photo on my laptop screen, the more details I saw, and all of them delighted me.  So . . . I’ve spent a large part of the morning, chipping away at details that probably don’t change the overall appearance of the painting significantly, but nevertheless fill me with a sense of satisfaction.

We’ll see where this one takes me.  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.

Strawberry Fields Forever

October 31, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

Leaving school this afternoon, I drove my Jeep out into a beautiful world, awash with Texas sunny skies and temperatures at 71 degrees with cool breezes filling the air.  I slipped a Beatles Anthology CD into my player and listened to the three different renditions of Strawberry Fields Forever.  I felt a sense of sadness, realizing that I miss John Lennon more now than I did in the immediate years following his untimely death.  Maybe I lacked maturity in those days, but his death was a sensationalist event in the media and I never really felt the sense of sorrow and loss until much later.  Now, I have trouble listening to Imagine and Strawberry Fields.  As the song played, my mind’s eye was filled with this image from Stovall Park in south Arlington, Texas.

I drove to the park, got out of my Jeep and walked to this location, and as I gazed at the tree in the late afternoon sun, the muse whispered sweetly and gently into my ear, and I knew I had to give it a shot.  I must say the muse was with me this time, as I felt genuine joy working on the piece, though I only lingered 45 minutes over it.  I was intrigued with the darkness and density of the tree, with the sun behind it, and the contrast of the yellow, sunlit leaves in particular places.  I also felt stirred at the dark lavenders and crimsons I sensed in the sprawling shadows beneath the spreading tree.  The only part at which I labored the most was the dark density of the body of the tree top, trying to find the right kind of blue tones to put into the shadows.  I’m not sure that I got it right, but I think I have improved over past attempts at painting trees en plen air.  I hope I can find a way to do it tomorrow as well.  My dreaded 4-class school schedule will hold me until nearly 3:00, but maybe I can get away quickly enough to capture the afternoon light again.

Thanks for reading.

Relaxing and Watercoloring in Rural Crockett, Texas

October 24, 2011

Rural Crockett Rest Area

This weekend was filled with relaxation and plein air watercolor sketching in Crockett, Texas.  I met two new dear friends who invited me to their property over the weekend to scout and sketch subjects that they knew I enjoyed watercoloring.  This is the first of two that I worked on while there (aside from taking dozens and dozens of digital photographs and enjoying engaging conversation).

The sun was setting, cows were calling out for dinner, and deer were emerging from the nearby wooded area to forage in the cow pasture for food.  I couldn’t think of a lovelier setting, and I thought the sight of this restful bench was just the right subject to put into the heart of the composition.

Thanks for reading.