Posts Tagged ‘Texas Laguna Madre’

To the One Who Knows

July 25, 2015
Going over sketches and studies of the Laguna Madre Project

Going over sketches and studies of the Laguna Madre Project

The Mother Lagoon

The Mother Lagoon

The mythologies, those vestiges of ancient poems, the world’s inheritance, still reflecting some of their original hues, like the fragments of clouds tinted by the departed sun, the wreck of poems, a retrospect as [of] the loftiest fames,–what survives of oldest fame,–some fragment will still float into the latest summer day and ally this hour to the morning of creation.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 6, 1845

Long ago, on a late-night television talk show, I recall a host asking his guest why he spent so much time with the obscure hobby that he was presenting that night. His answer I’ll never forget: “For those who don’t know, no explanation is possible. For those who do, no explanation is necessary.” I post that remark, because I am surprised, and gratified, that there are those of you who take time to read my blog, and some of you check it out daily. Thank you. A couple of decades ago, I was filled with a youthful arrogance convinced that everything I thought and said was publishable, and should be heard/read by multitudes. I stopped thinking that years ago, and today find myself surprised to find anyone interested in my daily musings. I am still shocked at the remembrance of “media day” when I was on the Texas Laguna Madre. I saw nine people approaching in a boat with cameras. “Really?” I thought. I’m just a guy painting on the island every day. I’m boring. There is no story here. And still I am very, very pleased, and gratified, that they found the work fascinating that day. And to this day, none of those people who showed up that day has a clue as to how they filled me with a sense of pride and good will. I still look at the videos they edited and read the articles they published, almost daily.

Good day to all of you. Texas temperatures outside are soaring toward their appointed mark of 100 degrees. I have chosen to remain inside a darkened, air-conditioned studio to pore over pages of scattered thoughts and sketches scribbled in the weeks leading up to my time spent on the island in the Texas Laguna Madre. I have a 9 x 10″ stretched piece of watercolor paper sitting outside drying in the sun. Soon I’ll be watercolor sketching a small vignette of a piece of the Laguna Madre that I photographed and have been staring at on my computer most of the morning.

Thoreau is turning into the best of comrades. His journal entries from the Walden Pond years are really stunning me, particulalry the one posted above. For years I have felt shudders running through me while translating two lines from a Presocratic fragment, or gazing at a shard of an Attic Greek krater, or looking at the angles of what remained from a shattered Greek temple from the Doric ages. Thoreau is right–like color filling the clouds of a sun that has already departed, there is a Presence that flickers in these artifacts, and throughout each day on the island, I shuddered while looking on the beauty of my surroundings in that exotic place. And today, as I look back over my notes and sketches from those days, I feel my soul returning to that sacred place.

Time to paint! Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember (and today I do remember).

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Relaxing and Rethinking

July 8, 2015

Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.

Gregory Crewdson

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

The Broadcast Booth

The Broadcast Booth

I can think of few occasions more delicious than an evening to relax and reflect over a satisfying day. I am exhausted to the bone, but after a few days of tension building up to this afternoon’s two-hour radio interview, I am serene and thankful that all went well. From the moment I entered the broadcast booth with host Heidi Valdez Hardy, I knew things would go smoothly. She is a confident broadcaster, with a pleasing demeanor and enthusiastic wit.

The afternoon had its points of humor. Fifteen minutes before going live, Heidi asked me if I would mind being the co-host of the program. I had no clue what that meant. Did I know how to navigate facebook? Yes. Then would I mind posting information on her facebook timeline as the show progressed? And would I mind answering the phone when the screen lit up with an incoming call? At first I thought this would unravel me, but as it turned out, I was multi-tasking, and it took my mind off the nervousness I had been feeling about speaking over the air. So . . . I got to be the interviewee, social media secretary, and call screener all rolled into one, and it was wonderful. I had no time to feel nervous or uptight. Quite frankly, it reminded me of days when I worked in the Office of Communications of the Fort Worth Police Department long ago–I just didn’t have to take any 9-1-1 calls today.

The very first call into the program came from Cedar Hill, Missouri, from a friend with whom I had graduated high school forty-three years ago. Heidi could not believe that this was a caller from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The man had the most gracious words of praise to offer, and started the program on a highly affirming note. Thanks, Mark. I really needed that boost.

The two hours rolled by, feeling like twenty minutes. When it was over, I just heaved a sigh of relief and genuine thanks. What a rush of good will. I could reproduce pages of handwritten journal memories from these two hours, and I’m very satisfied that we got to talk in earnest and at great length about the experiences of the Artist in Residence program at the Texas Laguna Madre. A podcast will be posted in the future of today’s show, and anyone wishing to access www.dfwreallifetalk.com may listen to it.

There were two questions posed that moved me deeply, and I want to address those. First,which artist would I bring back to life with whom to have a conversation, if that were possible? I feel that I had waited all my life to answer that, and I was stirred up, just thinking about it. I would start with Andrew Wyeth. I have always been fascinated wtih his eye for the environment, and his way of rendering the details with exacting precision, while at the same time allowing some of the watercolor wash and splatter to spin out of control. I love his balance of control and freedom in the compositions. I feel that his still waters ran very deeply and wish I could have had private moments to talk quietly with him. Edward Hopper is also on my list. That quiet man had such a profound philosophi and poetic mind, with his love of literature and the American scene. I see the profound loneliness and isolation in his urban and small town settings, and wish that I could unlock the secret to instilling that kind of mood into my own compositions. And finally, Robert Motherwell. That brilliant scholar lectured on twenty-seven university faculties, wrote and published essays, edited for scholarly journals, devoured literature and philosophy, and still had time to create a vast inventory of paintings, a huge body of work. How rare to see the scholar and creative artist occupying the same body. And he made no apology for loving both worlds, perhaps because it was all one to him. That is what I want to embody as well. He is my role model.

The second question concerned my ultimate dream or desire. This answer would surprise some, because most would expect me to wish for broader exposure or sales. Of course, those things are important, but there is something more: I love painting more than selling or displaying my work. But I make my art in solitude, and don’t complain about that. What I do covet though, is the Parisian Cafe. Never in my life have I known a gathering place for creative spirits to meet at least once a week. The French Impressionists had their Cafe Gerbois. The Lost Generation met at Gertrude Stein’s. The Abstract Expressionists had the Cedar Bar. The Ash Can School met at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. But I have never had a cafe where I could meet consistently with other creative minds eager to talk of ideas, philosophy, literature, art, music, or any creative endeavor. That I have always craved. That I still seek. When I sit and read a lengthy email from fellow WordPress blogger Corey Aber, I feel that I am sitting in a Parisian Cafe, listening to another creative, eager spirit. I just wish I could physically sit in the presence of a circle of those men and women, and hear their dreams, share in the joy of their explorations, and talk of ways that we can make this world better by living more artful lives.

It is bedtime. But I wanted to put some thoughts onto the blog before retiring. I didn’t think it possible to feel even better than I did before I started writing this, but it happened. It’s been a day worth recounting.

Thank you again for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.