Posts Tagged ‘View from the Studio Door’

The Sanctity of an Artist’s Working Space

February 25, 2014
Working on a Small Watercolor Tonight

Working on a Small Watercolor Tonight

I seem to have only been like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

Putting more space between tonight and my recent illness, I am finding a renewed delight, tinkering with watercolor projects.  The shock of discovery is returning, and I feel like a small boy again, oftentimes my eyes widening with suprise at what comes out of the end of my brush, or what pools up on the watercolor page.  And all the while I work on this watercolor, I feel ecstasy in knowing that I am a part of an extensive tradition, an endless line of creative spirits.  In the stillness of this studio, I work while listening to the voices of Robert Motherwell, Willem De Kooning, Andrew Wyeth and Joseph Campbell on the VHS and DVD documentaries that I have stockpiled over the years.  I love being a part of something much larger than myself, something much larger than this moment.  I sense an immortality in all of this.  I have read, over and over again, Julia Cameron’s work The Artist’s Way.  Writing from her Upper West Side Manhattan environ in that day, she pushed out these words: “Artists toil in cells all over Manhattan.  We have a monk’s devotion to our work–and, like monks, some of us will be visited by visions and others will toil out our days knowing glory only at a distance . . .”  I love the sanctuary feel that floods my studio space in the night when things get quiet and I have only my thoughts moving about as I bend over the watercolor and explore its dynamics.  There is so much waiting to be explored, that I keep coming back to Newton’s testimony that the small boy turns over pebbles while the ocean of truth waits beside.

ART STILL HAS TRVTH.  TAKE REFVGE THERE.  These immortal words of Matthew Arnold are chiseled over the portal of the Saint Louis Art Museum.   I have read them on repeated visits to that “cathedral of art.”  And I take them to heart tonight.  My working art space has become the cleft in the rock, the shelter from the storm, the safe haven, my refuge.  Life has had its difficulties lately, but I’m grateful for sanctuary this night, for the quiet hours to pursue art, while outside the temperatures continue to drop and the rain continues to fall.

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.

Thoughts Scattered in the Winds

February 24, 2014
Trying to Get Some Thoughts to Fly in Formation

Trying to Get Some Thoughts to Fly in Formation

In a traditional school setting, intensity is dilluted 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 fully develop.

Ted Orland, View from the Studio Door

Throughout my years, I have wrestled with this reality.  As a graduate student, when ideas moved me profoundly, I found myself frequently scrambling to assemble my scattered, fractured thoughts into some kind of order and save them in such a way that they would not disappear between class periods, or while sleeping at night.  I never found a “system” for organizing all that knowledge.  Years of teaching school since those days have only added to the mix.  Students stimulate me daily with new ideas, alternate vistas, novel perspectives, and every time the bell rings and they sail out the door, I find myself reaching for the journal and trying my best to record the snippets of thought as the next class files in with their new packages of words and ideas.

This evening, while working on a commission, I continually found myself stopping in the middle of a brushstroke, drawing out the journal and recording yet again.  It never ends.

Stream of consciousness
On a sleeping
Street of dreams

Like scattered leaves
Slowed in midfall
To the streams

Of fast
Running rivers
Of choice and chance
And time stops here 
on the delta
While they dance
While they dance

David Crosby, “The Delta”

I suppose I have recovered from my recent illness.  I’m thinking again.  Painting again.  And smiling again.  Maybe some of these things will assemble themselves into something sublime.  I can always hope  . . .

Thanks for reading.  Once this commission is completed, I’ll hopefully get some new paintings back online to share.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

First Attempt of the New Isis Theater in the Fort Worth Stockyards

June 30, 2013
New Isis Theater, Fort Worth

New Isis Theater, Fort Worth

. . . having a working command of the creative process–that is, all those elements that lead to the making of art–is truly essential.  The creative process unfolds as you find the essential tools in your toolkit.  It means finding your subjects (not someone else’s) and finding your materials (not someone else’s) and most of all it means finding a way to live your life so that you can engage again and again the things you care about the most.  

Ted Orland, The View From the Studio Door

As Sunday fades into the late afternoon, I realize that I will soon have to lay aside my art work and take up Shakespeare for tomorrow morning’s summer school class.  Teaching pays the bills; I do that so I can live to make art.  Teaching supports my habit, though I must immediately add that this is the only profession in my career that has truly fit me.  I have never stopped loving the educational enterprise.  Perhaps that is because I am still a student, and always will be.

I have made two trips to the Fort Worth Stockyards in the past four days, both times in triple-digit temperatures, and both times returning to my studio with a renewed interest in pursuing a series of studies in the edifices on North Main, especially the New Isis theater.  As I continue to work on this watercolor, as well as additional compositions of this historic theater, I will have much to report concerning its history.  I have been fascinated to find pages and pages of data on this remarkable structure and the stories it embodies.

I have not put much work into this piece yet, save for the sign, the part that holds the most fascination for me.  I’m about ready to move down into the awning and left to the pair of doors ready for rendering.  The sign was a great source of joy, and I guess I can say that the most “fun” part of the painting is now behind me; everything else should just be supporting detail.  Having said that, I may be closer to the end of this sketch than I realized when I began this blog post.  But so it goes.

Thank you for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.