Posts Tagged ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’

Morning Coffee with James Joyce

September 27, 2018


His soul had arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her graveclothes. Yes! Yes! Yes! He would create proudly out of the freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he bore, a living thing, new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable, imperishable.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Several days of travel and appointments finally caught up with me, and I woke this morning, not feeling very rested or restored, and I had a 9:35 Logic class waiting for me. Skipping breakfast, I went to my desk and finished prepping for this morning’s session, and, not knowing what to take along to read (I usually arrive thirty minutes ahead of class, just in case a rush hour or traffic accident delay should throw me off schedule), I pulled an old journal off the bookshelf, from December 1 2014-January 10, 2015.


After I got to the college, I read from the early pages of the journal that had recorded a particularly bleak and cold St. Louis winter morning. Reading this James Joyce text overflowed my soul with joy on that particular morning, and it revisited me today.

Coming home to a fresh stack of college grading, I French-pressed some coffee beans purchased in Crested Butte, Colorado, went to my desk, put my head down, and plowed through the stack of documents. Before I realized it, the grading was done, and college doesn’t resume for me till next Tuesday. Wow, the weekend already! And a fresh inspiration from the precious writings of James Joyce.

Happily, I am returning to my studio to make art.

Update on the radio station: yesterday they sent me the photo of the station logo now attached to the lower part of our gallery window:


I also received confirmation that the radio station’s first live broadcast, “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” will be Monday, October 1.

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.

Return to the Studio of Dreams

December 13, 2014
Back to the Studio after a Brief Hiatus

Back to the Studio after a Brief Hiatus

Look here, Cranly, he said.  You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do.  I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do.  I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use–silence, exile, and cunning.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Hello, everyone!  I have returned, not from sickness, but from a three-day AVID national conference in Orlando, Florida.  We had to rise at 4:00 Thursday morning, and frankly, I never quite got used to that early rise, coupled with the one-hour time change on the Atlantic coast.  We were packed into solid meetings throughout each day, but managed to arrive back home Saturday evening.  Sunday will be a nice restorative buffer before I return for school next week.

I missed my garage studio like a long lost friend, and was pleased to see my supplies laid out as I left them Wednesday night.  I’m sleepy now, but perhaps I can shake off some of this weariness and pick up the brush tonight. If not, there is always tomorrow, and I could probably rise early.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting more as soon as possible.  It’s good to be home.

Some After-Hours Disney Nonsense

Some After-Hours Disney Nonsense

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Taking a Break from the Studio

January 5, 2013

The still life hasn’t changed from last night.  I took the day to enjoy reading and reflection, and occasionally stared at the painting on the easel across the room to determine what exactly to do next, how to finish the piece and sign it.  I still feel the need to put at least some color on the burlap in the upper right of the composition.  I’m not going to rush this.

I laughed out loud when I read the following from James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  He was remembering details from his early childhood schooling:

And there were nice sentences in Doctor Cornwell’s Spelling Book.  They were like poetry but they were only sentences to learn the spelling from.

I have tried over the years (with very little success) to teach myself Latin, using Wheelock’s grammar.  I loved the Latin sentences borrowed from the classics:

Philosophia est ars vitae.


. . . but they were only sentences to learn the Latin from.

Once I finish this still life, I have this notion that some will look at the painting and say “How nice, but why these objects?  They are just antiques.”  And perhaps I could add: they are very nice antiques, but they are only to learn still life painting from.

Enough silliness for today, huh?  It has been a nice break.  The reading has been restorative.  And the down time has proved to be restful.  I have an idea for a watercolor sketch that I think I may try out next, and then perhaps return to this still life and finish it.

Thanks for reading.

A Still Life of Sensible Objects for an Aesthetic End

January 4, 2013
Watercolor Still Life Nearing its End

Watercolor Still Life Nearing its End

Art, said Stephen, is a human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

As I work into the late hours of Friday night, I see this still life drawing to a conclusion.  For several days now, as I have worked at it, I have mused over why an artist would paint a still life, why patrons would want to purchase a still life, why viewers would even pause to give a second look to a still life.  I like the comment from Joyce’s novel, that artists are assembling materials for an aesthetic end.  As posted earlier, I have selected objects from a childhood that I wish to remember, and, to me, art is about remembering.  I also am trying to develop skills in rendering subjects that I am not used to painting.  I have created dozens and dozens of landscapes and architectural subjects in watercolor.  But still life objects I have avoided, and so I figured it was about time to go after a subject that is not considered my forte.  And I have enjoyed this endeavor more than I can express, mostly because I was not allowed to put my brush on automatic pilot.  I really had to stare at my objects and make decisions about colors, about contrasts, and about textures.  I enjoyed the thinking processes and the problem solving that was demanded by this subject.  And frankly, I hate to see this painting drawing to a close.  A 28 x 22″ painting truly had me lost on a number of occasions, but I really found this to be a stimulating project.  And I’m going to be sorry to stop and sign it.  I anticipate that I could be finished with it over the weekend, before I return to school on Monday.

Thanks for reading.

Beginning a Colorado Watercolor, in the Man Cave

May 19, 2012

Saturday Morning in the Studio

It is a delicious sunny Saturday morning in suburban Texas.  The sun is bright, and temperatures have not yet risen.  I’m in my new studio/man cave beginning a watercolor of St. Elmo, Colorado.  I took a number of 35mm slides years ago, using my SLR camera, and thanks to an old carousel projector, I am able to project the image nice and large in the back of my garage.  The portable antique doors have shielded the bright Texas sun from this rear wall, so the projection is quite good.  The two bucket candles of citronella seem to be driving the mosquitoes away (they’ve sucked plenty of blood out of me the past several days and I’m sick of them).

I have a Mystic Fire Video playing of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  Reading that novel changed my life back in 1988, convincing me to turn to art and teaching as a profession.  I read it while dispatching for the Fort Worth Police Department late nights.  I am so grateful that someone produced a film of it–a quite moving one.  It has convinced me that it is time to read the novel again.

But now, I turn my attention to painting.  I took a number of slides of St. Elmo before taking my 4-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee on a foolhardy climb over Tin Cup pass.  We survived, but I still marvel at my stupidity in that effort.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to show you before this day ends.  So far, I have only drawn the composition and blocked in the cerulean sky.  I have masking drying on the highlights of the evergreens, and will turn my attention to the distant horizon next.

Thanks for reading.

Evening in the Garage Studio Painting the Fort Worth Flatiron

February 2, 2012

Flatiron in the garage studio at night

The school schedule finally knocked me down.  I called in sick today, slept till nearly noon, and woke up feeling better than I have in months.  Retiring to the garage studio (man cave?), I resumed work on this Fort Worth flatiron building that I have been unable to give undivided attention to since its inception.  The result is that today it has made notable progress.  Tonight I finally drenched the foreground street with warm neutrals, trying to render the mottled shadows of the overhead trees, and hopefully get this building to “pop out” more.  I still have to darken the areas behind the building as well, and will get to them when I can, perhaps tonight.  I’m not tired yet, though this is just about all I’ve done the entire day.

I have been drinking deeply from the Mystic Fire video presentation of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  Many of his Irish Catholic tensions stemming from his upbringing have close parallels with my own Midwestern Protestant past.  I’ve been haunted lately by the closing words of his novel, describing his sentiments while in exile:

“O life!  I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

April:  Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.”

Thanks always for reading.

Second Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Day from the Man Cave

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 2 of 3

This is my second of three attempts to do a plein air watercolor sketch of my neighbor’s trees and bushes during a heavy rain storm here in Texas.  I made heavy use of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton watercolors with this particular piece.  I also returned to my D’Arches watercolor block with 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper.  The other two studies made use of a new product I picked up a couple of weeks ago: Fluid Watercolor Paper, the Easy Block.  The Fluid Paper is considerably cheaper than D’Arches, and seems to hold up O.K. on quick plein air sketches.  I like the way it receives the Prismacolor Pencils as well.

The cool breezes created a spectacular ambiance for painting in the “man cave” today.  While sketching, I felt my soul flooded with deep feelings as I listened to a production of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Mystic Fire Video.  It wasn’t necessary for me to be reared as an Irish Catholic to identify with much of what happened to him in his formative years.  The film sent me back to a book I haven’t read in over a decade, but have decided to give it another look: Anthony Storr’s Solitude.  I find it hard to experience a genuine, sustained solitude with my packed teaching schedule and weekly art festivals.  But there are those profound moments of being alone that I find myself working on some issues I haven’t faced in many years.  I keep hoping that some of this will translate into my painting.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Thanks for reading.