Posts Tagged ‘Santa Fe Depot’

Musing over the Creative Efforts

August 11, 2018

nearing closure

Closing in on the Finish of this Watercolor (I think)

Creative algorithms undulate beneath the dark, quiet pools of solitude.

David Tripp

O.K., so I open with a post of one of my original quotes, not even half-baked, being less than an hour old at this time. This morning, at the dining room table, I was feeling creatively “flat”, and chafed inwardly that it was Saturday morning and I was still unsatisfied at the progress I was making on my preparations for this fall’s term.

After breakfast, I put on my Big Boy pants, and went out, looking for a public, yet quiet spot to work on my courses. I settled on a public library, and before roughing out my syllabus for Classical Judaism, opened Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and began reading, for about the fourth or fifth time, these marvelously personal documents.

Rilke writes so eloquently about the gift of solitude for creative exploits, and as I wrote, I began compiling a list of books from my personal library that I plan to place on my writing desk once I get back home again: Solitude, by Anthony Storr, A Sand County Almanac, by Leopold Bloom, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, The Eternal Now, by Paul Tillich, Quiet, by Susan Cain and Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers.

As I began writing from memory some of my favorite quotes about solitude, and then exploring the Internet for more quotes, I wondered why I had not by now come up with my own original line about solitude. So, I fiddled with this, and before long had a page of quotes, stopping with the one I posted above.

I plan to continue noodling with this quote because I am still wrestling with some of the ideas. To begin with, I have difficulty associating “algorithm” with “creativity”, I suppose because I cannot conceive of a set of rules or specific process that guarantees creative results. That is why I used the word “undulating” to describe these steps, because they seem always to be changing, for me as well as for all that I have read of the myriad of creative spirits who have preceded us and left behind testimonies of their processes.

The image in my memory that inspired the quote I am composing is what I saw at Beaver Creek Reservoir on a couple of occasions recently in South Fork, Colorado. While moving from place to place, seeking a decent spot to fish for trout, I happened across this location in the reservoir where the creek flowed into the enormous lake. The water was clear as crystal, the sun was low on the horizon, and with the help of polarized sunglasses, I was allowed to peer deep beneath the surface where I saw myriads of rainbow and brown trout, darting and circling deep below. I felt a calming effect as I contrasted the glassy, mirror-like surface of the quiet waters with the constantly changing configurations of trout too numerous to count, congregating, separating, clustering again, scattering again. As I watched this constant pulse, I laughed, remembering a scene from the film A Beautiful Mind. John Nash’s colleagues at Princeton were making fun of him as he walked backward, stooped over a cluster of pigeons in the grass. He responded that he was trying to determine the algorithm of the pigeons’ movements as they searched for food.

I suppose that is the fallacy of trying to write about the creative process. But at any rate, I found the inspiration to dive back into my course on Classical Judaism, and before I knew it, managed to organize the body of research I have worked on all summer into a semester’s strategy, and then arranged it into my fifteen-week schedule. So . . . the early morning’s chafing finally yielded to a satisfying conclusion.

I have posted above the watercolor commission that I began about a month ago, and recently resumed after a vacation hiatus. I feel that I am getting closer to the end, and that is a good thing. College begins for me in about ten days, and I need to begin pouring more daily hours into that endeavor. I am privileged to teach Classical Judaism (online) for the first time ever, and will also devise a way to coordinate a pair of Logic classes (one online, the other in the classroom). I am sufficiently rested from my travels and changes in perspective, and though I still have New Mexico and Colorado in my dreams, I am grounded once again in Texas soil.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

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A Rolling Stone

July 15, 2018

rollingstone2

Work in Progress on a Commission

In recent weeks, I’ve done everything except gather moss. Since Bloomsday (June 16), I’ve had the itch to wander in the fashion of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and so I set out to experience adventures between Arlington, Fort Worth, Denton, and Palestine, Texas. But all the while I wandered and collected experiences, I itched to return to the mountains, and on July 1, after finishing my last art show of the summer, I began loading the Jeep for my journey west. Of course, I had to bring my work along with me, so I decided to call it a “working vacation.”

rollingstone

This watercolor is commissioned by a special man who had his own epic “Ulysses” experience while at Fort Worth’s Santa Fe Depot in recent years. I haven’t yet heard his full story, but this view of the depot triggers deep-felt memories for him, and I’m delighted to take on the task of recreating the image.

Pointing the vehicle to Amarillo, and subsequently travelling the great Southwest, I have painted daily, and prepped for my fall load of college courses. These regular activities, along with moving about and experiencing new things, has kept my life busy and satisfying in the best way.

rollingstone4

I accepted an invitation to watch a parade and local rodeo in O’Donnell, Texas, and took dozens of pics, marveling at every turn. A heavy shower watered the countryside that afternoon, cooling temperatures and making for great photo opportunities.

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rollingstone3

Though growing up in the St. Louis area, my father was always fascinated with the rodeo, and I attended these events as a child, seeing my last one while in high school. Now, forty-five years later, I attend a small town event, and experience an unforgettable evening.

rollingstone6

I still haven’t reached the mountains, but they are still on my radar. I am dying for the opportunity of plein air painting again.

I would like to say more, but I’ve promised myself a full day of class preparations, and I haven’t even yet started. So I’ll just say Thanks for Reading, and I hope to post again before too long.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Losing Myself (or Finding Myself?) in a Large Watercolor

July 11, 2018

commission tues

Santa Fe Depot in Fort Worth, Texas

It is humanity’s tragedy that today its leaders are either sullen materialists or maniacs who express the psychopathology of the mob mind.

Barnett Newman, 1933

I was stung this morning by these words from Barnett Newman (an artist and thinker), published in 1933 when he was running for mayor of New York City, being dismayed at the slate of candidates. These words could have been printed in this morning’s newspaper. Throughout my six decades-plus of living, I am losing hope that matters can improve in our nation’s leadership, or the rank and file of American voters that judge them worthy at the ballot box.

I’ll try to get this negative stuff out of the way quickly. Also this morning, I read an article from The Atlantic, posted by one of my stellar former students on Facebook: “The Wisdom Deficit in Schools.” The argument was one I held to no avail for nearly three decades in public schools. I am losing hope there too, and am glad to be retired. In three decades, I saw no improvement, only state legislators who dared not enter the premises of public schools while continuing to drain them of their resources, along with “experts” putting out annual talking points to improve education. And I concluded that most experts are to education as bumper stickers are to philosophy. The only thing I could do in three decades was teach the students entrusted to me to the best of my ability, with resources gleaned from my own education, hoping it would be enough–it was all I had to offer. I once read from someone that education was the pouring out of a life. And I did that (still do, but with much more fulfillment in semi-retirement).

Enough of that.

I rose from my reading and went out, hoping to waddle my way out of the cesspool of negativity that was drowning me. I found a public facility conducive to a studio, spread my supplies across a large table, dialed my phone to my favorite YouTube music, and proceeded to swan dive into this 30 x 22″ watercolor. And the longer I drew, painted, wiped, and splattered, the more contented I grew.  It always happens that way.

Years ago, I made art, hoping for attention, sales, and a sense of self-worth. Today, I can honestly say I am blessed to have received satisfying measures of those. Now, I make art because it brings quality to my life. As I paint and listen to music, messages sink into my soul that I have gleaned from my reading earlier in the day (today from Barnett Newman, Edward Hopper, Eugene Delacroix and Ralph Waldo Emerson). And yes, I am currently on vacation, but it is a working vacation as I pursue this promised commission and prepare for three college courses in the fall. And it is all good.

Eugene Delacroix has spoken to my soul repeatedly, and I thank God he kept journals. I’ve posted this one before, but do so now again, because he pours out his sentiments in words more eloquent than mine, and all I can say is that I affirm his testimony 100%–

(from Sunday, July 14, 1850): Today, Sunday, I may say that I am myself again: and so it’s the first day that I find interest in all the things which surround me. This place is really charming. I went this afternoon, and in a good mood, to take a walk on the other side of the water. There, seated on a bench, I started to jot down in my notebook some reflections similar to those I am tracing here. I told myself and I cannot repeat it to myself often enough for my repose and for my happiness (one and the other are but a single thing) that I cannot and must not live in any other way than through the mind; the food that it demands is more necessary to my life than that which my body calls for. 

Why did I live so much, that famous day? (I am writing this two days afterward). It was because I had a great many ideas which, at this moment, are a hundred leagues away. The secret of not having troubles, for me at least, is to have ideas. Therefore no effort is too great if it gives me the means of bringing them into existence. Good books have that effect, and above all certain ones among those books. The first thing to have is health, to be sure; but even in a sickly condition, such books as those can reopen sources through which imagination can issue forth generously.

Thank you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.