Posts Tagged ‘odyssey’

Odyssean Wanderings

February 2, 2019

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Time Divided Between Painting and Reading

Why, dear child, what craziness got into your head?

Why bent on rambling over the face of the earth?

Homer, The Odyssey

Saturday morning finds me well-rested, and working in The Gallery at Redlands. My attention moves back and forth between a commissioned watercolor and the reading of Homer’s Odyssey. The reading always seems timely, as this morning I came across the passage of the elderly nurse grieving at the news that Telemachus was about to set sail to distant Sparta and Pylos in search of his father Odysseus. She wonders why he is bent on rambling.

As I am now composing my own memoir, imspired by Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I acknowledge that I have always been a wanderer at heart, though I managed to hold down the same job for twenty-eight years. Still, I always had the urge to travel, and since retiring, that gift has been offered to me. Having spent a week in west Texas, I made the five-and-a-half hour drive home to spend a few days, and then found myself moving back and forth between Palestine and Arlington (two-hour drive), as I celebrated the birthday of a dear friend in Palestine, returned to Arlington to work as district Spelling Bee pronouncer for my twenty-fifth year, and then come back down to spend the rest of the weekend working in the gallery, my sacred space.

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Celebrating Ron Darr’s Birthday at the Red Fire Grille

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Gallery at Redlands with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM Broadcasting

The morning after Ron’s birthday celebration, we had fun meeting the Smooth Rock broadcasting team. Kevin and Marc welcomed my friends to the station and visited with them for a long stretch of the morning.  Driving back to Arlington, I rose early the next morning for a Spelling Bee, featuring two competitions that stretched from 8:30-3:30. When it was over, the children were exhausted as was I, and I still had a two-hour drive ahead of me, as I chose to return to The Gallery at Redlands to spend the weekend.

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Posing with One of the Champions

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Posing with a Co-Champion and his Sister who went Deep into the Competition

Outside, Palestine is dark and overcast–the perfect environment for coffee, books and painting, from my perspective. Tonight, Kevin Harris will be doing a solo acoustic gig at Bishops Barbecue. I look forward to attending that event. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the Saturday calm in the gallery.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom from Want

December 3, 2014

Freedom from Want, by Norman Rockwell

The Thanksgiving hiatus brought a welcome balm to my overworked soul.  I journeyed to my boyhood home outside St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with my parents, siblings and their children that took on the spirit of this Norman Rockwell painting posted above (I was so delighted to see that painting at a show this past summer at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum).  Along with the excellent food came several days of snowy weather that yielded a quantity of watercolor attempts and hours of reading pleasure from James Joyce.  I plan to post more on that later.  I had read Joyce’s Portrait back in the late 1980’s, and was moved by it then, but moved much more profoundly during this recent odyssey.  I was of course glad that talk around our Thanksgiving table wasn’t filled with the toxic religious debate featured in the Joyce novel during their Thanksgiving.

At the risk of sounding Buddhist, I want to say a word about Thanksgiving and the ability to let go.  The painting above is part of an important Rockwell series, and Freedom from Want is a theme that resonated with me throughout this recent break and in recent days back on the job here in Texas.  The human condition is often overwhelmed with this sense of want, particularly a desire directed toward something that is not easily sated.  I often wonder if part of growing up is realizing that life can improve immeasurably to the proportion that one is able to let go.  I’m reminded of some of Henry David Thoreau’s dry humor in Walden:

. . . a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

One of the more painful lessons I’ve endured in life is learning to relinquish things that bring more pain than pleasure.  Of course there is always talk from the other side about high-yield risks, but one can never lose what s/he doesn’t put out on the table.  So much gets put out there in life that yields no return, or worse still, yields pain that we are better off without.  Freedom from want.  I’m a little better tonight because of some hard lessons learned along that vein.  Perhaps this is one of my better Thanksgiving seasons.

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.

 

 

 

 

A Meditation on the Seasons of Creativity

November 25, 2012

Christmas Card Workspace in the Man Cave

Good morning from the “bedroom’ studio of Arlington, Texas.  I confess that I have posted a year-old photo of what I was creating during the Thanksgiving Break last year.  I plan to return to the “Man Cave” studio later in the day to paint.  Currently, I am propped in bed with coffee, two slumbering Shih-tzu dogs, one cat and a large pile of volumes and journal.   And life is pensive but serene.  My breathing is slower and easier.

Let me open by saying I am not sure where this blog entry will take me this time.  It may be a stream-of-consciousness, with little-to-no-editing, but I’ll take my chances.  I am in bed with a large volume of Henry David Thoreau journals (the Harvard volumes 1-7, 1837-1855 are in one immense tome) and reading pensively his entry of June 20, 1844:

If we only see clearly enough how mean our lives are, they will be splendid enough.  Let us remember not to strive upwards too long, but sometimes drop plumb down the other way, and wallow in meanness.  From the deepest pit we may see the stars, if not the sun.  Let us have the presence of mind enough to sink when we can’t swim. . . .

When the heavens are obscured to us, and nothing noble or heroic appears, but we are oppressed by imperfection and shortcoming on all hands, we are apt to suck our thumbs and decry our fates.  As if nothing were to be done in cloudy weather, or, if heaven were not accessible by the upper road, men would not find out a lower.  Sometimes I feel so cheap that I am inspired, and could write a poem about it,–but straightway I cannot, for I am no longer mean.  Let me know that I am ailing, and I am well.  We should not always beat off the impression of trivialness, but make haste to welcome and cherish it.  Water the weed till it blossoms; with cultivation it will bear fruit.”

I love reading words of wisdom that address our cycles of creativity and un-creativity, our highs and lows, our energy and our inertia.  When I was younger, I was frustrated by those times of famine, when I was not “on” creatively.  I think I was “saved” by essays of Emerson and poems of Whitman that addressed those cycles as natural.  (most notably Emerson’s “The American Scholar” and Whitman’s “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”).  We inhale, we exhale.  We intake, we exhaust.  We inspire, we expire.  Emerson wrote that it comes into us as life, it comes out of us as truth.

I could describe my current moment as low, as lethargic, as uninspired, as inert.  But the reality is, I am taking in sublime thoughts from Thoreau, from Emerson, from Whitman . . . and I am pushing them back out, distilled by my ever-emerging philosophy.  Sitting up in bed, surrounded by an untidy house and slumbering critters, I am setting a course for today’s navigation (the Hebrew word translated “wisdom” is chochma–“the helmsman, or art of steering.”  I am plotting a course with mandatory stops in Romanesque Europe (A. P. Art History for tomorrow) and Act I of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (English IV).  Beyond those towns, who knows?  Maybe a return to my watercolors (I think I hear the longhorns shuffling around in the garage, they must be getting restless).  But whatever occurs along my way, I am anticipating another good journey today.

Thanks for reading.

A Summer Morning in Sleepy Winfield, Missouri

April 27, 2011

Winfield, Missouri Store

I have put in two consecutive late nights in the garage studio, painting till past midnight.  It makes it a little rough, going to school the next morning, but there it is.  This is another full-size sheet of watercolor paper (22 x 28″).  I have painted this abandoned store twice before.  I discovered it in the summer of 2009 while driving highway 79 north of St. Louis along the Mississippi River.  The small town of Winfield is where this store rests, just along the west side of highway 79.  The light was so bright that August morning, the sun had just risen.

I’m having some struggles with this painting (I hate it when a watercolor starts out badly!).  I poured quite a few layers of pigment on the tree/foliage area at the top, wanting to get the woods very dark and deep.  I’ve decided to just let the foliage be for the time being, and go ahead and work on the store facade.  Tonight involved plenty of close, tedious drawing and drafting, but I’m still convinced that a strong and accurate drawing will yield a good watercolor (hope I’m right this time!).  I’m not sure that the pencil work can be seen in this photograph, I always have trouble getting a good digital image under light bulbs late at night.  Most of my blog shots are taken out in the driveway in the middle of the day.  I guess I’m admitting that as a photographer, I fly by the seat of my pants.

At any rate, I am finally settling into, and enjoying this watercolor composition.  And with the kind of school schedule I have this week, I reckon that I’ll be having to put in late hours in the garage studio (my least favorite time to paint).  I’ll take what’s offered.

Thanks for reading.