Posts Tagged ‘Sir Joshua Reynolds’

Slowing Down and Savoring the Gift

December 9, 2019

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Precious Monday Morning Silence

The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

With overwhelming gratitude, I entered my suite at the Redlands Hotel last night after breaking down the weekend Christmas Show, loading, then driving two hours back to Palestine from Dallas. Deciding not to set an alarm, I slept in this morning, but woke from dreams so distressing that it took nearly an hour of wandering around the suite before I could shake the troubles loose and return to my comfort zone, pictured above.

At that moment, I changed my plans of departing by noon for my home. Instead, I am spending the entire day in the Gallery at Redlands, taking my time with the unloading of the Jeep and restocking the gallery, and making sure I give plenty of time for thanksgiving and reflection over the warm weekend I experienced at the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall. This is my third year joining this assembly of twenty-or-so artists,  and their love has been so affirming for me during the holiday season. My pulse has finally slowed down, and I am reading quality material and thinking good thoughts. I’m glad the troubling dreams prompted me to slow down, linger, and enjoy this gift of life.

I posted the Emerson quote above because it reminds me of something I had been taught in earlier years about the thought of Immanuel Kant, the Prussian philosopher who crowned the Age of the Enlightenment. He wrote volumes about the way in which our internal mind organizes external stimuli. As an artist, I will never tire of studying this. While sitting through the weekend show, I continued my reading from Sir Joshua Reynolds, and yesterday came across this same idea of the artist organizing the data received from the world:

My notion of nature comprehends not only the forms which nature produces, but also the nature and internal fabrick and organization, as I may call it, of the human mind and imagination.

These words were delivered December 10, 1776. Tomorrow will mark the 243rd anniversary of their delivery into our intellectual atmosphere. This morning, refreshing these words in my journal, I decided to write a blog to discuss my core values regarding the making of art. As I present this, I want the reader to know that I am not trying to tell others how they should approach art. I love the diversity, the expansive constellation of creative spirits that comprise the artist network, and will never cease loving to hear of their perspectives. So, if you would like to respond to this blog, please let me know about your approach to art. I listen, and learn from others. Tell me how you approach this enterprise.

I shall begin by saying that my chief inspiration for art comes from my reading, listening to YouTube lectures, and observing objects with my eye. Though I gladly teach workshops, I don’t enroll in them to learn the techniques of others. At my age of sixty-five, I have already added a number of tools to my toolbox, and still add new ones as I discover them in my own laboratory, or hear from an artistic friend, or read of some new tool. But I do not focus on the tools of the trade nearly as much as I do the philosophical framework of art in the abstract. Hence, my ideas come from reading broadly, and I delight in the essay, the biography, poetry, history, philosophy, theology–all of these areas add contours and accents to what I am assembling.

At my age, I have also cut back severely on competition. Entering competitions requires money and following rules that sometimes are not my own. I don’t like an organization dictating to me the specifications of framing, or telling me that if I use India Ink (which I have done with two of the last one hundred paintings), that it must be less than a certain percentage of the surface area. I have also grown tired of researching the judge to find out what genre s/he prefers when handing out awards. And finally, I have never once sold a painting hanging in a competition, though I paid out money to enter and frame it.

Which leads to the next item: I am not pursuing “signature status” of any particular watercolor society. I already have a doctorate, and have never included Ph.D. in my signature. So why would I want to put initials following my signature to signify I have “status” with a professional watercolor agency?

Which leads to the next item: At my age, I no longer worry over my resume. I have deactivated my status with Linked In because I am not seeking a job. I am retired. I am no longer thirty years old. I have a very lengthy resume, and was required to update it for the university once a year, but now I am not at a university, and frankly, I never opened and read my resume unless I was required to update and send it somewhere. For me personally, resumes are boring. I never read them. Ever. Because I am not on some hiring board that is required to evaluate someone else’s credentials.

OK. So I have poured out some paragraphs of what I am not. Now, what am I exactly? This is the more difficult part of my confession. To start with, I am still a dreamer. I still have the fascination I had when I was four years old, standing in my yard alone on a breezy day, feeling caressed by the world, feeling observed while I was observing, and wanting in some way to respond to that Presence. That little boy is still in me, and I still tremble before the Presence.

My life is still a narrative, from one moment to the next, on any typical day. A story is always emerging from me, and the people who surround me continually pour stories into my imagination. Words they speak frequently put images in my head for paintings. Paintings are also revealed to me by the landscape, and by objects. My brain is drained from exhaustion when I spend hours in a museum, an antique store, a bookstore, or a lengthy walk through a different neighborhood. Everything I encounter puts out a call to create a drawing or painting.

Throughout my days, I sense a continual internal dialogue with other creative spirits who have long ago departed this planet–Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, N. C. Wyeth, Paul Tillich, Robert Motherwell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau. I continually return to their written and visual works because they created them to communicate with others, and I am honored to be counted among their listeners. And every time I complete something I feel is worthy, I breathe a prayer of thanks to them for their continued encouragement.

Though I have slowed down today, my art and furniture are not going to unload themselves, so I suppose the time has come to begin the task of re-organizing the gallery and tending to business affairs that need to be addressed today. But thank you for taking the time to read me, and please, if you have ideas you wish to share, I would love to read them, and I am certain many of my readers would as well.

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Thanks again for reading.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.