Posts Tagged ‘William Carlos Williams’

Musings while Inspecting a Bomber Close Up

January 6, 2013
Beginning Watercolor Sketch or a Vintage Bass Plug

Beginning Watercolor Sketch or a Vintage Bass Plug

In my recent watercolor Odyssey, I have wandered from the macrocosms of landscapes and cityscapes to the microcosms of still life objects, and now this single three-inch wooden plug of a vintage Bomber, popular in my youth for reconnaissance missions involving largemouth black bass.

A new friend recently lent me an old metal tackle box overflowing with the vintage lures that instantly translated me to my childhood world of fishing in mid-America.  It has been many decades since I recalled the names of our most popular lures–the Lazy Ike, the Lucky 13, the Hula Popper, the Jitter-Bug, the deep-diving Rappala, the hump-backed Rebel.  All of those memories flooded back to me in a torrent.  As though it were yesterday, I closed my eyes and recalled that hot and muggy summer evening at a neighborhood lake, where at age ten, I felt the jolt of a four-lb. largemouth bass slamming into my wooden plug with its three double hooks.  Five minutes of an eternity later, I was looking down upon my own landed lunker, in disbelief, watching him twisting in the weeds.

As I began sketching this last night, my eyes moved all over the body of this lure.  Every crack, every stain records a piece of its unique history of fishing holes, tackle boxes, garages, station wagons, tents, picnic tables, conversations and laughter.  It may have been dropped thoughtlessly to lie on the bottom of a john boat, its treble hooks snarled in a net, listening to the voices and laughter of celebration over landing a six-lb. bass, as cameras were being drawn from the knapsacks.

So many stories, ideas and images packed into a three-inch wooden plug.

So much lingers upon

a red-and-white plug,

bathed in white light,

beside the green box.

(O.K.–I am cheating off of William Carlos Williams and his The Red Wheelbarrow).

Thanks anyway for reading.

Peeling Back the Layers of the Watercolor Still Life

January 1, 2013
Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

Ernest Hemingway could not write about Michigan until he was in Paris, and could not write about Paris until he had returned to the United States.  On this first day of the New Year, I am returning to my ninth grade in House Springs Missouri, at Northwest High School.  In Proustlike fashion, this still life with the kerosene lantern is transporting me back to my Art I class, period 1, when we walked into class and saw a collection of at least fifteen objects assembled in the middle of the classroom, and the table arranged in a circle about the perimeter.  Each of us was given a full-size sheet of newsprint paper (perhaps 18 x 24″), a charcoal pencil, a blending stump and a kneaded eraser.

Immediately, a girl protested: “Mr. Scucchi, I cannot fit all that on this paper!” Coolly, the teacher replied: “Did you ever draw a house?”  Discussion over.  Time to draw.

At college there was an ancient Greek vase on the table in the seminar room where our class in Greek was held.  Fresh from Michigan, I had never seen anything before with lines so simple and yet so beautiful, and I marveled at it day after day.  In those hours of a student’s trancelike wonder there was born the resolve, unconscious at first, to go to Greece. 

The Art I students would sit before this giant still life for three weeks, fifteen instructional periods.  And in those periods, I became lost in wonder at the kerosene lantern, the focal point (for me) to this immense pile of objects that included a jug, a Ruffino wine bottle with straw bottom, corn scoop, football helmet, antique water pump, bricks and drapery.

With charcoal pencil and blending stump, I became absorbed with the textures of the kerosene lantern, the complications of a smoky globe with highlights and scratches and thin wires wound about it, the rusted and pitted armature catching highlights and absorbing shadows, the thinness of the bail that arced above the lantern, and the issues of rendering this delicate piece of iron with charcoal as it presented itself as a string of highlights, mid-tones and shadows.  I realize now that, as a ninth-grader, I was not as dull as I and my peers had regarded me.  It is a certainty that I was not academically astute or interested, but during those days I realized that I was visually alert and interested in these objects.

No Ideas but in Things.

Caught Somewhere Between Pop and Imagism

December 1, 2012
Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Saturday night finds me relaxing outside the Barnes & Noble Store at University Park in Fort Worth, one of my favorite places to chill.  I am posting the finished watercolor that I signed this afternoon, having returned from the Tyler Museum of Art to admire the Wyeth exhibit.  I was inspired to finish some of my dangling watercolors, so I first wrapped this one up, deciding only to scuff up and scumble the left-hand side of the table top, which I thought was lacking in woodgrain texture.  I’ll never forget working on this composition.  The cigarette tin I painted earlier this summer, inspired by Andy Warhol’s Pop images.  I was afraid to paint a prosaic image such as this tin which I purchased many years ago in an antique store.  But I finally decided to give it a try, and enjoyed immensely the sensation of focusing on the damaged paint and rust on the tin, and most particularly the peeling adhesive stamp on the lower left corner.  I experimented with watercolor, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite and salt texturing, finding all these techniques to be plenty of fun.  My recent doorknob paintings have given me the courage to attempt this table top as well.  I still have so much to learn when it comes to rendering wood surfaces.  I’m looking forward to more experiments here.

Thanks for reading.

A Relaxing Afternoon in the Man Cave

November 9, 2012

Friday in the Man Cave

Well, another week of public school is in the books.  The students were wonderful, but I came home tired today.  I sat in the man cave and messed up the watercolor that I started recently.  So, I took a nap and returned to it refreshed.  Hopefully I have restored it and have it moving in the right direction again.  I am at the stage where I am combining drawing and drybrush, working these over the layers of wash already laid down.  I love this weaving stage of the watercolor.  I chose to stop at this point and let the composition sit for another day or so.  I believe that composting is the right direction for me right now.  I need to take my time and let this painting mature.

Thanks for reading.

Drybrush Beginning on my Third Vintage Doorknob with Musings of William Carlos Williams

November 7, 2012

Beginning of Third Vintage Doorknob Watercolor

With daylight saving time providing much longer nights, I found myself desiring to withdraw to the man cave this evening and begin my third watercolor attempt of a porcelain doorknob from my collection.  About ten years ago, I began collecting old doors to hinge together and use as temporary walls for displaying my watercolors in art festival booths.  Because the doorknobs and lock plates interfered with folding the doors together and transporting them, I removed them all, stored them in my classroom locking cabinet and forgot about them until recently.  Now I’ve gone on this still life watercolor binge, inspired by a recent visit to the Wyeth exhibit at the Tyler Museum of Art.

For several decades, I have pored over images of Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings of dilapidated doors and knobs, and have stared at real ones as well.  In a Proustian sense, they take me back to my grandmother’s ramshackle house that featured abused doors and porcelain knobs with skeleton key locks.  I always found them more fascinating throughout my childhood than the doors of our suburban home–brass knobs with all the doors featuring the same wooden stain.

As I worked in the studio this evening, I continually replayed the Voices and Visions VHS tape of William Carlos Williams, a family doctor who drove around his small New Jersey town in the 1930’s, taking in images all day, recording them on prescription pads and converting them to poems every evening, late.  Imagism emerged in his works, along with those of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.  “Say it again–no ideas but in things.”  Several months ago, I made a couple stabs at painting still life objects in a prosaic, commercial fashion, much as Andy Warhol did with his Campbell Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.  I have pulled them out recently, wondering if I should put the images on an old wooden table, or in front of one of my ten vintage doors resting in the man cave.  I’m fascinated with these images of late, staring at them, watercoloring and sketching them, reading William Carlos Williams poems and continually looking at Andrew Wyeth and Andy Warhol paintings of prosaic objects.  I am not sure where this is going to lead, but I must say I am gleaning much satisfaction, personally, from these experiments.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Drybrush of the 2nd Vintage Doorknob

November 5, 2012

Second doorknob finished

Finally, I have completed my second attempt of a close-up of a vintage doorknob.  Andrew Wyeth and his drybrush technique has inspired me since ninth grade, but finally I work up the courage to attempt a still life with my own watercolor techniques.  This has been a fun adventure.  Earlier this year, I painted a vintage Lucky Strike metal cigarette case and a vintage Maxwell House coffee tin.  They have been posted in earlier blogs.  I think I’ll keep experimenting in this genre and remembering the literary theories of Imagism championed by William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound–no ideas but in things.

Thanks for reading.

In the Man Cave with Andrew Wyeth, William Carlos Williams and My Grandfather

October 29, 2012

No Ideas But in Things

–Say it, no ideas but in things–

William Carlos Williams, Paterson

Midway through my art history class today, while studying the Roman Colosseum, I suddenly knew what I was going to attempt this afternoon.  There were so many tasks to get out of the way first, but finally, at 4:30, I entered the man cave, and two hours later, this drybrush watercolor sketch lay before me.  I could never faithfully record what flooded my soul during those two hours, but let me try . . .

For years, I have sat for long hours in my booth during art festivals, alone, with little more to do than stare at the antique doors used for displaying my framed watercolors.  This particular door came with a nice vintage doorknob, engraved plate and locking system.  I have had it for over ten years and cannot begin to calculate the hours I have spent staring at it.  It used to sit in the back of my classroom.  My grandfather Tripp had such a door to the little house in which he spent his evenings after supper, and as a child, I was fascinated with the door knob and the engraved plate, as well as the chipped finish of several layers of paint on his door.

After a weekend spent viewing Andrew Wyeth drybrush works, and a couple of days poring over color plates in the books I own of his collections, a recurring idea came to me from William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and the Imagist movement in writing–no ideas but in things.
Earlier this year, I made some Pop Art attempts at recreating tins advertising Lucky Strike and Maxwell House.  The paintings have a prosaic quality about them, much like Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.  But now, I wished to execute an exacting, detailed drybrush rendering of this old doorknob that looks like the one I saw as a small child at my Grandfather’s.  So, with the western sun waning this afternoon and flooding the garage with yellow light, I sought a way to channel that warmth into the back of my man cave (I probably looked quite the fool, pulling antique doors in front of my garage door windows to block out excess light, and stacking crates on top of trunks to block out further excess light–it seemed to take forever to get the lights and shadows to work properly on just this one doorknob!  But somehow, I felt that the effort would pay off.  And it did.

I may awaken in the morning, take a fresh look at this sketch, and decide it is garbage.  But even if that is so, I am convinced now that I am on a path that is worth following further.  I want to develop a skill to record these objects in a way that brings back the warm Proustian sentiments I have known throughout the decades of my life–the thrill and shock of recognition when I see a prosaic object that is charged with primal memories that matter to me, memories from my childhood that still linger and flood my being with a sense of good will.

To say it again–no ideas but in things.  Thank you Andrew, William, Ezra and Willis (my grandfather).  You have given me something worth pursuing.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

Plein Air Watercolor with thoughts of Andrew Wyeth and William Carlos Williams

February 12, 2012

Fall Foliage watercolor sketch

Good day!  As stated yesterday, I have too much on my plate this weekend.  Considerable band activity, rehearsal time and general fun has eaten away at much of it.  Business-related paperwork and school preparations have taken the rest of it.

But yesterday, I had a moment’s respite to dive back into some William Carlos Williams poetry.  I purchased volume 1 of his Collected Poems this past year, and swore I would not lay out the money for volume 2 until I had read all of volume 1 (such promises usually keep me from every buying a volume 2).

As I read his poems “Spring Strains” and “To a Solitary Disciple” I experienced what Robert Motherwell often described as a “shock of recognition.”  This young physician/poet was constantly calling out the complementary colors of blue and orange as he rhapsodized on the landscape enveloping him.  It reminded me of that time in my youth when I felt I had finally found the key to unlock the door to landscape colors.  Always being fond of Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush renderings of fall and winter landscapes, I always found dissatisfaction with my own efforts, relying on neutral colors purchased in the art stores (sepia, burnt umber, payne’s gray, yellow ochre, naples yellow, etc.).  I always thought my colors were flat and barren, while Wyeth’s colors glowed with some kind of energy that I see when I look upon nature herself.  One day I decided to work the complementary colors, and voila!  my natural compositions began to take on a life of their own.

The sketch posted above was kicked out in about 30 minutes.  It is rather small, approximately 9 x 9″.  But I worked exclusively in reds-greens, blues-oranges, and violets-yellows to get this autumnal late-afternoon effect.  I then felt a connection to Andrew Wyeth (wish I could say that I was “channeling” him!), and this morning, as I mused over the William Carlos Williams lines, I suddenly went back into the studio to pull this piece and look it over again.  Wow, I now wish I had this afternoon available to paint!  But, appointments linger . . .

Thanks for reading.

Ready to Watercolor Harleys Again

October 10, 2011

Harley Chicks

Besides getting ready for my return to school, I spent most of this day printing 5 x 7″ greeting cards of my watercolors for this weekend’s festival.  When looking at some of my Harley paintings from the past (including this one pictured), I decided to make another run at a Harley watercolor.  I have no originals left, and the time is past due for me to get some fresh Harley paintings out to these fall festivals.

I titled this one Harley Chicks because of my amusement at Luckenbach, Texas to see chickens hanging out with the parked Harleys.  Someone later told me it was because they picked bugs out of the tire treads.  I never noticed that.  I just took plenty of photos of them just standing around the bikes.

I have this notion of someday painting a red Harley with white chickens surrounding it, so I can spoof the William Carlos Williams poem:

So much depends

upon a red wheelbarrow

glazed with rain water

beside the white chickens.

That is not what I’ve started today, however.  I have a photo I took a couple of summers ago of some overweight bikers getting on their Harleys in front of a candy store.  I’ve decided to give that one a shot.  Too bad I don’t have enough accomplished to post that picture tonight.  I really hope to, tomorrow night.

Thanks for reading.

William Carlos Williams and Rural Colorado Mailboxes

July 5, 2011

Colorado Mailboxes

This morning,  my mind has drifted back to the poetry and legacy of William Carlos Williams, whose theory now known as Imagism was laid out in a line from one of his poems: “No ideas but in things.”  Williams chose to remain in the quiet town of Rutherford, New Jersey, where he worked as a physician and created as a poet.  I love this statement from his Autobiography: “All that I have wanted to do was to tell of my life as I went along practicing medicine and at the same time recording my daily search for . . . what?  As a writer, I have been a physician, and as a physician a writer; and as both writer and physician I have served sixty-eight years.”

This small town physician drove from residence to residence throughout his working days, his eyes always taking in images that seemed to contain the stuff of revelation in them–a red wheelbarrow, shards from a broken green bottle, a housewife stooping outside her front door to pick up milk bottles–all of these images were recorded on prescription pads, and long after nightfall would grow into poems.

For several years I have wanted to do with watercolor vignettes what Williams did with small poems–record objects that I take in during the day that strike some kind of chord of recognition from my past.  So, with this current posting, I began by sorting through my plein air sketches from the past, and stopped with this tree top in my neighbor’s yard that I painted from my garage studio view early one morning.  Turning to my digital library, I pulled up this pair of rural Colorado mailboxes that I photographed last summer as my wife and I stopped alongside the highway to admire a railroad bridge and the deep gorge cut between two mountain ranges.  After photographing the bridge a dozen times, I turned and my attention immediately fastened on this pair of mailboxes.  I probably looked like a stooge,  shooting pictures of old mailboxes when all the natural beauty of the Colorado mountains lay sprawled before us.

Twice in my life, I have lived in an isolated rural setting, and depended on a mailbox much like these to keep me in contact with the civilized world.  In 1973, I worked for a summer at J. P. Coleman State Park near Iuka, Mississippi.  The postmaster arranged for me to use an abandoned mailbox along one of the county roads, but it required a 3-mile walk for me to reach it from the interior of the State Park where I resided.  I daily made that 3-mile walk.  I was a college student on summer vacation and was blessed with a plethora of “writing” college friends that led to “something in the box” almost daily.

In 1986 I lived in rural Whitesboro, Texas,  on a Farm Market road seventeen miles out from the nearest city.  Again, the mailbox kept me in touch with my remote friends and working associates.  While living there, I spent many afternoons in the shade of the front porch, watching the mailbox down the dirt road and the approaching mail truck to see if the driver was going to stop.  Letters, packages, anything left was a “connection” with my working world beyond the horizon.

Although the sight of rural mailboxes has held my attention for years, it is only now that I pause to paint a pair.  I’ve selected another photograph from my Arkansas odyssey of last year, and am considering a small watercolor sketch of that one as well.

Thanks for reading.