Posts Tagged ‘Tintern Abbey’

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

plaque

Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

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Drifting Thoughts of Tintern Abbey

October 6, 2016
claude

Abandoned Gas Station in Claude, Texas

These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet . . . 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798”

In these final days, while inching closer to completing this watercolor, I have found myself spending more time gazing at it than actually painting. In many ways, the closing notes to a complicated composition are the most critical, and this one has certainly given me pause, again and again, throughout the past days.

This morning, Wordsworth’s haunting thoughts revisited me as I lay in bed, slowly waking in the predawn. I could see the image of this painting in my mind’s eye as well, comingling with all the sweet remembrances of passing through this small Texas panhandle town in the heat of past summer excursions to Colorado. And, true to the lines of Wordsworth, this quiet image has remained in my mind as a sanctuary amidst my bustling classrooms throughout the morning of this day. While growing older, recollections such as this wax sweeter, especially when I find myself in the nexus of nagging deadlines and job-related expectations. Memories and painting provide a precious sanctuary.

Thank you for reading.

I paint because I want to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Scattered to the Winds

March 25, 2014
Saint Ignatius Academy Fort Worth, Texas

Saint Ignatius Academy
Fort Worth, Texas

In a traditional school setting, intensity is diluted by short and widely-separated class meetings, continuity is lost as everyone scatters to the winds at the end of each class period, and ideas dissipate before they ever develop.

Ted Orland, View from the Studio Door

Since graduate school days, I have been regretfully aware of a lifestyle too hurried for ideas to settle and compost.  Having been a teacher now for twenty-five years, things have not changed.  Ideas sprout, but time is not allowed to water and cultivate them.  The bell rings, another class begins and the subject changes.  Even as a teacher, I face that issue–something comes up in class that gets my attention, but I cannot walk away and sit in silence, record it, modify it, work on it.  Soon the bell rings, they leave, others file in, the bell rings, and we begin another cycle (with me, often another subject from period to period).  One advantage that I do have as a teacher, though, is that I don’t have to dash out the door at the bell, and while students leave and others enter, I often scribble down the abbreviated notes of ideas that have seized me in the moment, and (sometimes) return to them later in the day when things have quieted.  But still, I often turn back to old journal pages to find these notes abandoned as well.  But thanks to the journal, they have at least been snared in the net, and I can disentangle them and re-work them.

Today in Advanced Placement Art History, we looked at the English Romantic painters, and I had to pause when we viewed Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Tintern Abbey.

Tintern Abbey by J. M. W. Turner

Tintern Abbey
by J. M. W. Turner

This medieval wreck had stirred the imagination of William Wordsworth to the extent that he revisited the memory five years later and composed the poem “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tinern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798”.  The poem then inspired J. M. W. Turner to create this marvelous pencil and watercolor rendering.  My painting above is of Saint Ignatius Academy, located at 1206 Throckmorton Street in Fort Worth, Texas.  A few years ago, I had traveled to the city with the intention of painting Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, only to find the building in too good condition for a rustic painting.  I turned in surprise to see this neighboring structure, from 1889, erected in the French Second Empire style.  The facility was no longer in use, and as I strolled the grounds, looking in windows, sitting on steps, observing closely the weathered portals and window frames, I felt the same sense of loss and presence that floods the minds of romantics when they look upon ruins that once thrived.  And I had to paint it.

Memories and significant ideas are always visiting us, and if we don’t find a way to hold them, mold them and preserve them, they scatter to the winds.

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.

 

 

Commission for a Gorilla Drawing

May 17, 2012

Gorilla drawing

O.K.  This is not what I do.  But for money, I’ll do anything.  I had a commission to draw a gorilla and this is what happened.  No comments necessary.  I just always wish to post a picture with my blog.  So, now with that out of the way, I can write about what’s on my mind today.

With the weekend approaching, my time will be divided between preparing my inventory for next weekend’s art festival at the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, and beginning a new watercolor.  I wish I could focus on the latter, since I still have not made up my mind what to paint next.

First Methodist Church Fort Worth

I am giving serious consideration to a watercolor of First Methodist Church of Fort Worth.  For years, I have wanted to paint a French Gothic cathedral, but having never journeyed to France, I keep considering an American clone of one.  I have eyed this church for over a decade, and am closer to a decision.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Catholic Church I completed last week, and have mused over the possibility of leaping into another one immediately.  In fact, I photographed this church on the same day as I did the one just painted.

I cannot say that there is a church structure to strike me the way the medieval ruins of the Tintern Abbey church moved the likes of William Wordsworth and Joseph Mallord William Turner.  I only attended this church twice in my lifetime, but spent a most rewarding afternoon in conversation with a former pastor of this congregation, the Reverend Barry Bailey.  He studied under Paul Tillich at Union Theological Seminary–the only human I know personally who had this experience.  I will never forget the observations that Rev. Bailey shared with me, and the sensitive way that he entertained my endless questions that afternoon.  I have always found it difficult to find a minister so willing and interested in discussing theology and the directions it took during the twentieth century.

So, perhaps I’ll turn my attention to this edifice this weekend, and thus begin my new adventure in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

 

Return to William Wordsworth and the Tintern Abbey Feeling

April 19, 2012

Closeup study of Saint Ignatius Academy

Good evening from the garage studio.  The skies are darkening, and the suburban sounds are quieting as the neighborhood settles into another balmy spring night.  I’m finally refreshed after taking a power nap today.  I should feel guilty about those, but cannot.  I don’t sleep well at night, rise at 6:00, and today the Kimbell Art Museum field trip with the Martin High School Art Club sucked all the energy out of me.  The students were the very best–I’m always proud to be associated with them in public places.  This is my third museum tour with them during this past year, and always they have shown wonderful, mature decorum in the art venues.  As far as “energy sucking” I must admit that I cannot casually look at art in a museum.  I feel as though I have read a stack of volumes in a university library by the time I emerge.  Our museum docent today was first rate, and of course the Clark collection of French Impressionist and Barbizon School paintings just took my breath away.  Now I wish I could take off a year and try to learn landscape painting in watercolor, studying Pissarro, Monet and Sisley.  What an epiphany today was.

I managed to crawl back into my garage studio shortly after 6:00 this evening, and have just now paused to photograph, step back and look at today’s work (which started this morning shortly after 6:00 a.m.–I already posted that) and reflect.

I wish I could do for Saint Ignatius Academy of Fort Worth what Joseph Mallord William Turner did for Tintern Abbey in 1794.  Tintern Abbey was a Gothic church rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries, but then fell into ruins after the 1530’s when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.  William Wordsworth in 1798 was moved to write that beautiful poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” as he felt the overwhelming sense of presence and recollection while standing among those ruins.  If you have followed my blog and website (http://www.recollections54.com) you understand that this is the kind of thing I try to do in watercolor with our 1950’s America–recover a sense of recollection while standing in the presence of these relics of our own landscape.

I believe this Saint Ignatius structure was erected around 1886 (I’ll have to go back and re-check my notes on this).  As I worked on those upper story windows this morning in the pre-dawn darkness, I mused over the Jesuit scholars that perhaps sat behind those windows in the pre-dawn, lingering over manuscripts and preparing notes for classes.  I was of course reminded of my own seminary studies in the 1970’s and all those times I had to pull “all-nighters” just to stay caught up with the daily assignments and deadlines.  I still recall having to set clocks for 3 and 4:00 a.m. just to translate Hebrew for an 8:00 class.  I worked as a welder till 10:00 or midnight the night before, and the schedule was absolutely numbing.  But I do look back on it now with a serene sense (that I certainly did not hold then!).

I guess my next step is to tackle the pale green tiles of the mansard roof.  I already gave the ones to the extreme right a shot.  I’m not sure how I’m going to balance them with other colors I’ve chosen.  Perhaps I’ll shift my lavenders to a pale rose and see if that better complements the greens on the roof.  So many decisions.

Thanks for reading.

 

Ozark Court on Historic Route 66

December 14, 2011

Ozark Court on HIstoric Route 66

This watercolor was a quick-study of a scene I have returned to for nearly three decades.  I blocked in the sky as a demonstration for a student several weeks ago.  Finding this discarded study recently, I decided to put a landscape under the sky, and had been musing over an 8 x 10″ photo I took of this Ozark Court hotel on historic route 66.

This abandoned hotel site has been a sad scene for me during the years I have traveled back and forth between Fort Worth and St. Louis.  I have watched its decay throughout the decades, and now I am sad to report that the sign has even been removed.  I never recall seeing this business open during my travels, but the sign was always a reference point for me, and of course the nostalgic memories of highway motels always stirred my imagination.  This setting was always a welcoming sight for me, particularly when I felt weary and lonely from travel.

I was always touched by the lines from William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.”  The shell of that Medieval church stirred him in ways similar to how I feel when I travel and look upon ruins such as this–a reminder of yesterdays that will not be returning.  I miss many of these business establishments and their collective histories.

In a couple of weeks, I will be journeying past this lonely spot along Interstate 44 yet again, and no doubt will feel a tug when I drive past this pair of buildings marking what used to be a warm, welcoming spot.

Thanks for reading.