Monday, December 16, 2013

Stump #8

Stump #8
  oil on canvas  22" x 28"

"There is a time in life when you just take a walk.
And you walk into your own landscape."
Willem De Kooning

There is a great feeling when one simply paints and finds answers to the puzzle as that process unfolds - a feeling of freedom and 'absorbedness' - being lost in one's own landscape. Why a stump? I couldn't exactly say except that the color, the texture, the way each one relates to its surroundings, even as it disintegrates into the surroundings, all are attractive to me. These aspects allow me try to conjoin abstract action to concrete subject - emphasizing what I love about oil paint - its viscous, almost clay-like quality.
Now I will go and find another stump - or some other combination of visual effects and poetry - as I walk into my own landscape.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December Oak, Robert Frost, Andrew Wyeth, Dean Taylor Drewyer

December Oak
  oil on canvas  12" x 16"  

"Like ice on a hot stove, a poem must ride it's own melting."
Robert Frost

"Time is holding it's breath for an instant and for an eternity. 
That is what I'm after."
Andrew Wyeth

One could substitute 'a painting' for 'a poem' here and not be far off the mark. Frost knew the fleeting sense of a moment passing by and the difficulty of staying withing the idea sparking the original act, of orchestrating all the tools at hand in one direction. The constant battle is to enter into the moment, remain focused on the original expressive intent, and discover time-less imagery as if by accident. 
No small task but one that seems hypnotic in its persistent attraction.

I am never far from these fields,
buried as they are in my deep.
Their wind sounds find me
encased in my dreams, lost
in the darkest night's shadow,
slant light running loose in my sleeping eyes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Edge Of Autumn, Paul Cezanne

The Edge Of Autumn
 oil on panel  9" x 12"

"With an apple, I want to astonish Paris."
Paul Cezanne

Cezanne had a penchant for the simplified, in both his painting and his comments. ("Monet is only an eye but what an eye!")  His constant effort was to get at the essence of his subject by eliminating the superfluous and unnecessary. Whether a mountain or an apple for subject, his painting was a battle against his limits of technique as tempered by his intense commitment to his ideas. In this painting I have switched my technique a bit - focus on breaking color, light, and value into controlled flat shapes - staying away from painterly modeling and tonal differentiation. I wished to get hold of the feeling of thick woods and an impenetrable wall of foliage - with the light beginning to get through as leaves begin to change and fall - the first edge of autumn as it happens. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Maine Swamp, Wolf Kahn

Maine Swamp #2
 oil on panel  11" x 14"

"Nature is quite generous for providing material for one's imagination.
A work of art is, above all, the celebration of the particular. 
This applies to thought as well as practice."
Wolf Kahn

Wolf Kahn is not stating opposites here, though at first reading it may appear so. Instead he is describing the absolute bedrock for any painting worthy of being considered art - the foundation of that 'celebration of the particular' - read as true seeing and not approximating - must be present as the gateway to the artist's imagination and as a tool for reaching the expressive intent. Within the patterns and spaces of this swampy marsh imagining can take flight, buoyed by the discipline of looking and exploring.
That's the fun of it - getting the color and the marks of paint to describe while not dictating - to allow artist and viewer to imagine.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Down The Road #2, Richard Diebenkorn

Down The Road #2
 oil on panel  6" x 8"

"Attempt what is not certain. Tolerate chaos."
Richard Diebenkorn

When I begin a new painting it seems I have certain difficult lessons to learn all over again. At the outset, emptiness of the picture space and the swirling, throbbing visual world must be brought to a common ground and there seems no sure path to get what I'm feeling and truly seeing into comprehensible form. The key to starting is to welcome these uncertainties as a gift, a challenge, an opening. Soon enough it will become a battle. During each one there comes a moment early on when one is lost, when the chaos of subject and marks are in disarray - then I step back and reconnect with what attracted me to begin - what I loved about this place in time - and then dive back in with renewed clarity. The vision clears and the image is rediscovered.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Roadside Shed, Balthus

"Roadside Shed"
 oil on panel  11" x 14"

"Painting is the passage from the chaos of the emotions 
to the order of the possible."

Could not pass up this deserted old shed along a rural road somewhere in the White Mountains, near the border of New Hampshire and Maine. Seems the buildings are slowly sinking back into the tangled grasses and saplings rubbing against the walls - only the power line pole still keeps its posture erect. I find these sorts of places magical in the combination of the temporal man-made and the relentless natural - a visual tension that defines the space. The painting just tries to capture the essence of that tension.

September Woods, Nicolas DeStael

September Woods
  oil on panel  9" x 12"

"True painting always tends towards the impossible sum 
of the present moment, the past, and the future."
Nicolas DeStael

Coming to grips with the chaotic visual stimulus found in nature is a large part of figuring out how to paint. I have never been interested in scenes or views - and while there are maybe hundreds of painters here in the States doing well while recording or illustrating the great mountains and shimmering lakes of the Rockies or the surf crashed cliffs of California - these things have never triggered me to paint them.  I am drawn instead toward the rough fringes rural places where they bump against the populated and developed; the tangled wood's edge, the fallow fields, the junkyard or the collapsed buildings. I guess part of the attraction is to be left alone to deal with these things, un-jostled by tourists or painting clubs. Wherever I am or whatever my subject, the only way to organize an approach toward "the impossible sum" of past, present, and future that must be compressed into a painting, is to stop and look and discover the poetry of the moment and place. 

"September Woods" is a small section of the edge of a copse of trees somewhere in Maine. Nondescript and easily passed by this place is nothing special - except that it holds everything vital and beautiful about life on a sun drenched day.  Shadow and light, color and space organized by the dancing vertical tree trunks moving forward and back, amongst the diagonal tumble of light as it falls on clusters of leaves and grasses.  The painting exists as simple evidence of one attempt at the impossible, pitted against one painter's limits, 
fueled by the joy experienced in the attempt.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Barn and Trees 
charcoal on toned paper  24" x 28"  

    Someone wrote "Drawing is the probity of art" - and I suppose that is most true when one is searching for what it is that matters - what is important. This is because drawing forces one to confront humankind's most basic impulse, capturing and making a record of one's fleeting understanding a small piece of the world. It is what the earliest cave drawings are all about and what any contemporary mark-making is also about. Because 'probity' is about truth and actuality as far as one can take it - and one's limitations in that direction are the core of one's being. We are our limitations as evidenced in our work - that is our true self and that is OK.  As long as we keep pushing at that boundary in terms of learning and knowing and taking joy in the effort, finding our limits is a wondrous thing and at the very  heart of drawing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marker, Wisawa Szymborska,"unfathomable life"

  oil on canvas   40" x 50"  

"For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life."

From "Poems New and Collected," by Wisawa Szymborska

I've always thought that the island refered to in this poem stands for the world and our individual lives here. The evidence left behind for us seems to mark our way 'into the the depths' - perhaps death and what awaits us there. But then the whole idea of this plunge is rescued by the "unfathomable life" ending. So perhaps the poet is refering to birth or maybe the rebirth that occurs when one finally realizes we are only here to embrace it all and do what we can while we can.

This large painting of a rotting stump, deep in a wood, represents both sides of life - the obvious remnant of a large tree once standing here - but in its beautiful decomposing also the material of rebirth and life. 

Once I was out painting in the field and someone came up behind and watched for a few moments and then commented something to the effect that 'while that's a nice painting, no one will ever want it'. I asked why she felt that way and she replied 'because there is a dead tree in it - noone wants to buy a dead tree in a painting'.  I told her I hadn't even thought of it as a dead tree - it was a passage of a silvery blue-gray that fit with the composition and color  scheme. She rolled her eyes and left - I left the tree where it was.

Early on the morning after I finished this large painting of this rotting stump - I was seized by the idea that I'd gone way over the top and that the painting was an empty exercise. I walked over to the studio in my slippers and realized what it was - the evidence of a week's worth of concentrated joy - joy made up of the color, the thick brushwork, the color, the space and form coming to life - all in concert to establish a moment that sums up the wondrous chaos and purpose of the cycles of life. Enjoy it if you will, and consider those scattered footprints that all lead to such a joyous plunge! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Winchester Study, W.B. Yeats, Andrew Wyeth

Winchester Study
  oil on panel  7" x 9"

"What we make out the quarrel with others, rhetoric; 
but out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry."    
W.B. Yeats  

"I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious."
Andrew Wyeth

This image has been with me for 15 years or better. In the middle of a small city there once stood an abandoned mill or factory, probably built around the turn of the 20th century. When I discovered it the buildings were empty and the fencing around them had gaps and holes. I took my camera in on a beautiful fall day, intent on getting everything I could then and to return the next week with my french easel to make oil sketches. I shot three or four rolls of black and white film - all I had with me that day because I had simply been running an errand and hadn't counted on such a visual gold mine to appear. My return with painting gear was delayed a week or maybe two but finally early one morning, with similar light conditions once again present, I loaded up the painting gear and headed out for Winchester.  When I reached the spot, full of anticipation for an entire series of paintings - I found the buildings had all been bulldozed to a pile of bricks and rubble. Completely destroyed.

Since that day those images on black and white film that I processed and printed, have been embedded in my memory, my imagination. I have debated trying to make paintings from them - worrying ways to separate my painting process from the dictatorship of photo detail. I have wondered and dreamed and imagined how best to deal with these images of places no longer existing. Ghost buildings.  Lately I've begun making rough charcoal sketches and small oil studies, debating, worrying, dreaming of strategies to keep the images ghostly and mysterious without losing their particularity. As much from the subconscious as from the images - and I believe I will discover,  art lives on the razor edge between the two.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two larger works from up on Bear's Den

Top of the Ridge, Bear's Den
  oil on canvas  34" x 48"

June Day, Near The Appalachian Trail
  oil on canvas  34" x 28"

"The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy."       Ezra Pound

"Painting is the passage from the chaos of the emotions to the order of the possible."

I would often tell students that they were engaged in advanced physics when making paintings. Those who were with me for the first year would give a look like, "what in the world is this guy saying?"  Considering Ezra Pound's quote above and it begins to make sense. Painting, at its best, is a representation of a fleeting moment, distilled from a compression of hours of work - powered by a "cluster of fused ideas", dealing primarily with light energy as it bounces around and off of solid mass. The incredible thing is that all this complex process is set in motion by our humanity - our imagination, our recognition, our experience. This is, to my thinking, where art exceeds physics, in that it takes abstract ideas like time, space, form, energy - and brings them back within our capability to understand, to experience empathy and to connect with each other in our common life experience. Quite a wondrous occupation, wouldn't you agree?

Passage at Bear's Den

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  
Ernest Hemingway

"I want to be connecting with the subconscious, if I can call it that, because there are not too many words to describe the real deep inner part of a human being ... I want to be at that place where everything is blotted out and where creativity happens ... and to get there I practice, you know I'm a prolific practicer, I still practice every day. You have to have the skills, then you want to not think when you're playing, that's when you let whatever deep level of creativity, spirituality, I mean, you know these words are so inadequate these days but you want to get to this place where they exist."
Sonny Rollins

The quote from Sonny Rollins (posted on FB by Victoria Webb, a marvelous painter down in Georgia) could have as easily come from Willem de Kooning or a generation later, Richard Diebenkorn. Hemingway in his quote, is writing about the same place but in his style has distilled his process down to a simple, graphic image.  The real question facing us all is how can we get to that magic, deep level of spirituality reliably and consistently? Sonny Rollins, a master musician, says practice - 
like the old joke, "new comer to NY City asks cabbie, 'How do I get to Carnegie Hall?' The cabbie answers, 'Practice, practice."   And it is true that the best way to creative sources lies in a regular, daily practice of one's expressive craft.   That daily practice however, is simply kicking the door open to possibilities. One must then enter in and find the state of mind required - and this is perhaps best discovered by attaching the painting process to one's original discovery of the poetry in the subject.
 The visual power that speaks to the subject can always be found in the form, the value structure, the space, the color -  it is up to the painter to decide how to use them in pursuit of the expressive effect.
 This is Hemingway's 'bleeding', for this is always a difficult thing, to penetrate the outward life and obliterate the world's distraction - but possibly the most noble and enhancing of all human endeavor - connecting all of us to a basic human desire; coming to grips with the essence of being alive!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Trees - Robert Henri - expressive purpose

Summer Trees
  oil on panel  8" x 10"  

"The more simply you see, the more convincingly you will render." Robert Henri

  Perhaps the best advice to help one to see simply is to decide what the poetry or the visual trigger is in the work. Often for me, it can just be the gesture of a copse of trees, emerging from an overgrown meadow. Then as I locate the darkest values and the lightest, warmest values, I begin to build the space with slabs of paint. As the painting progresses it is no longer simply a rendering but a search for or a battle to maintain a connection with that visual poetry. Color choices, composition, paint handling, contrast are all decisions made much easier when guided by that initial visual/poetic choice. 
Form therefore follows, in the matter of painting, expressive intent. The humble subject is often the best path to truth and beauty - and a reminder of the joy of just being completely in the moment and at that place for a little while.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bear's Den, July. Edgar Degas; Antonio Lopez Garcia

Bear's Den, July
  oil on linen  8" x 10"  

"It isn't how to paint, it is what to paint that matters."
Edgar Degas
"...painting is always a fiction... it reconstructs and interprets the world. Simply put, objectivity and subjectivity are not mutually exclusive."
Antonio Lopez Garcia

Both these painters are saying the same thing, each in his own way. The reasons for painting dictate the method and process - and the reasons for making a painting are triggered by the subject, the visual incident. Once embarked on the process the painting becomes an imaginative construct aimed at the painter's angle on the poetry embedded in that subject. While struggling to adhere to the elements necessary to capture the poetry, the painter interprets the subject. 
This little study of rock formations near where I live has in it a sense of abstraction built on how I saw the shadow and light and the massive forms of the rocks - yet clings (maybe desperately) to as much of the place and space as I could. The balance between the two (abstraction and actuality) set up a visual tension that gives painting life. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Field, 2013 - quote by Paul Cezanne

July Field
  oil on panel  7" x 10"  

"A minute in the world's life passes! To paint it in it's reality and forget everything for that! To become that minute..."  Paul Cezanne  

The summer is ripening fast now - with 95 + degree days and high humidity it seems no one (including me) can keep up with the mowing, the vines and weeds especially seem to be in their glory. The trees throw black shadows and the fields provide some color other than the intense green that dominates earlier in the summer. From here on, things get better and better visually, if one can take the heat.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Road To Lincoln - near our home

Road To Lincoln
  oil on panel  8" x 10"  

This ground has been shaped by lives lived hard in this place, 
marked by patterns of fence lines devoured by vines
and openings filled with scrub second growth and brambles,
jade and red settings for the elder oaks to spread hope
to an indifferent sky, cold-blue and infinite. Gnarled, twisted 
as they reach to the sun, stoic and handsome as survivors, 
worn as time's witness.

It is here that I must take measure of my heart
and this place, with deliberate speed
and unmeasured memory, to bring home
my offerings without words, without explanation.
Unspoken messages marked out on cloth,
like some lost wanderer, leaving for any who might see,
a part of what he's found, unsure of any reply.

from the poem, "Witness", by Dean Taylor Drewyer

This is an excerpt from a poem of mine about making paintings on the land around my home in still somewhat rural northern Virginia. There was a large deserted farm not far from here out of which the builders had not yet started in carving home sites. I would drive my truck out into the farm to paint. This is where the poem came from -  this particular painting I just finished  is from a spot along the dirt road we live on - just a couple of hundred yards from my studio.  Someone once asked me why I spent so much time painting trees and overgrown fields at the edges of farms and towns - forgotten or neglected places. I suppose one reason is, people seldom bother me in those spots as I work.  Carefully considered, I think it is more because the gesture, the posture, the confusing structure of these trees and vines and saplings and weeds and grasses fascinate me. I suppose when I tire of them I will find something else, in the mean time I'll keep going. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pathway Back - The 6 am Walking Club

Pathway Back
  oil on panel  7" x 10"  

Let me seize the air

pulsing down these hills,

kissed by a moment's cold frolic,

without thought of the strangling calendar.

Let my feet step freely into the swirl
the yellow tall tangle grasses,
my head up among intemperate clouds,
at one with my precious delirium.

There are no dances so
sweet as these hours of mine,
poured out on the land,
standing at the edge of mystery,
boldly greeting my imperfection,
held out as an offering.

I am never far from these fields,
buried as they are in my deep,
their wind sounds find me
encased in my dreams, lost
in the deepest nights' shadows,
slant light running loose in my sleeping eyes.

A poem about making paintings from a collection of my writing, from several years back.
Each day as I go to paint, these lines sometimes come to mind - as they did when we were at la Madelene, as I went out in the mornings. True, the 6 am walking club never quite came together but being out at that hour allowed me some magical times, completely alone and able to capture a small bit of that time, that place, and that feeling.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Into The Orchard, Sally's Panel

Into The Orchard
  oil on panel  12" x 16"  

"Painting is an art in which one suddenly recognizes 
what one has never seen before."
Richard Diebenkorn

What the artist is referring to is the nature of the process of painting - how it requires planning and an understanding of composition, technique, and materials beforehand - and then thrives in an attitude of exploration and discovery during execution. 
This work was painted in the cherry orchard behind la Madelene - on a panel brought to me by Sally Balick on the third day, a true and welcome kindness. Sally is a terrific painter who was helping Ruth and Julian with the week full of painters at la Madelene and out of the blue she asked if I would like a larger surface to work with - voila! An example of the wondrous people and experience at that place - everyone together and supportive. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Toward The Cherry Orchard, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore

Toward The Cherry Orchard
  oil on panel  7" x 10"  

"...they are annoying, these young people. They want us to believe that we are old - that we are ill, have white hair, no longer able to pay court to a woman. What of it? There is more to life than that! We have the will to work - we are not old."
  Edgar Degas  

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is - it must be something you cannot possibly do!"
  Henry Moore  

Both of these quotes are from the time when each of these distinguished artists were old and near the end of their days. But there is a message here for each of us, no matter what our age. It is our work that gives us something that might be called 'absorbedness' - that wonderful state of mind when all the world, except the focus of our working attention, goes away. That work also contains those days when nothing seems right, when the visual problem dogs one's steps and all attempts seem wrongheaded. Those days are as valuable as the good ones, for they teach us what we don't want the work to be and gives a reason to keep at it - and it is so important to mine those bad days for ideas to go forward 
and not allow them to be a roadblock. Sometimes I think that all talent really is, is the ability to see possibilities in perceived disaster.

So, what in the world did Henry Moore, the greatest sculptor of the middle 20th century, mean  by "It must be something you cannot possibly do"?  Perhaps it was to be the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo or, more likely, simply to pursue that evasive visual image that he always had in mind - changing as his life's work progressed and always just a little out of reach.  That is where I try to be - always in pursuit of the image I have in mind, just a little out of reach. Frustrating? Sometimes - but a true source of happiness. Maybe in each painting I can get just a little closer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Looking Back From The Orchard, Richard Diebenkorn

Looking Back From The Orchard
  oil on panel  12" x 18"  

"I can never accomplish what I want - only what I would have wanted 
if I had thought of it beforehand."      Richard Diebenkorn

The wondrous thing about making paintings is discovering anew the place one chooses to paint, even though one has walked through that place many times previously. Someone once sked me if I made paintings in order to leave something of myself behind - my work as a kind of tombstone or memorial. I don't believe so. I make paintings because every one is a kind of rebirth into a new world, in places rediscovered. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last Morning At La Madelene, Walt Whitman

Last Morning at la Madelene
  oil on panel  

"I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, 
and accrue what I hear into myself,
and let sounds contribute toward me."
Walt Whitman

If one substitutes the word look for listen, see for hear, and sight for sounds, this quote from Whitman becomes a wonderful piece of advice for the painter. To be clear eyed and disciplined in truly seeing the world, the painter begins to be able to extract (and accrue) form from chaos, understanding from unknown. Spaces, shapes, patterns, similarities and differences begin to become evident and 'contribute toward' the painter. Of course, this has to happen anew each time one begins a new work - but take a page from Whitman - 'do nothing for a long time but look' - the poetry of the visual moment will more easily and readily be found.

  Afternoon Sky, Looking West From La Madelene
  oil on panel   6" x 10"  

"It is not enough to know your craft - you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more".        Edouard Manet

This view was right out of the door of my room and over to the left, looking at the hill that stood, looming over the cherry orchard. I allowed the burnt sienna tone on the panel to leak through in the sky, creating or emphasising the warmer tones of the clouds. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Iris at la Madelene
  oil on panel  

    “Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” Edgar Degas

One could not possibly paint iris or any complicated subject well without being willing to abandon any pre-conceived notion of what and iris should look like. This is the knowledge Degas insists a painter of 'good things', or what we might call visually compelling work, must lose. Granted, as one decides on a subject for a painting on a May morning, one will consider the location and the light - and the iris blooming may well be an inspiration. But when the painting begins, the painter must abandon what is known about trees or flowers or buildings and react to the shape, the form, the space, the color, and the value - while keeping the strategy for the poetry of the place alive. The painter allows the painting to dictate process and technique and each painting requires different things - thus creating the setting in which 'the painter no longer knows what he is doing' and simply follows the process. Then the good things happen.

Late Summer Hills
  oil on canvas  20" x 30"  

A well known painter of his time called out, upon recognizing Degas on the street, " Monsieur Degas, you must come and see our latest exhibition of watercolors!" Then he gave a sudden glance at the worn mackintosh Degas was wearing and added, "You may find our frames and carpets a little too fancy for you, but art is always a luxury, isn't it?"
"Yours perhaps," retorted Degas, "but mine is an absolute necessity."

Today I am 63 and while, in my mind I always seem to feel about 28, certain realities do begin intrude. The french easel is just too damned heavy to lug around; it seems to take me forever to settle in to the poetry of the moment and get set up and make decisions to put a brush to work. Then I walk over to the studio and these difficulties all melt away as I survey the work emerging and anticipate the ones I will find my next walk outside - and I consider my happy days with Dustin and Paula, I understand that years don't matter except for what joy one extracts from them. Absolute necessities.

Friday, June 7, 2013

  Courtyard Sycamore
   oil on panel  

"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." 
 Claude Monet

"Paint the essential character of things. 
When you do a thing with your whole soul and 
everything that is noble within you, you will 
always find that essence."
Camille Pissaro

This was done later on an afternoon and late in the week. My arthritic back pain was kicking in pretty good and so I parked my backpack kit and sat on the steps there in the courtyard at la Madelene. The courtyard is dominated by a beautiful, big sycamore tree that had been radically pruned back. These are the trees that line the main streets of all the small villages all through that part of the world and when they are pruned back like this one, they appear to be huge, complex sculptural forms. This tree had been on my mind all week - how to paint the big monster - what was its essential character?  Then I found myself sitting and looking, right up under that tree, and I determined to paint it, then and there. I set up and went to work simply engrossed with the light and shadow defining the smooth large trunks and branches, as they split and diverged near the center of the tree. The complex structure suddenly became a simple problem in shadow and light, form and the space cut up by that form. In 30 minutes I had it - I stopped. I could do no more to advance the idea of the essence of that big tree. Someone had been watching me and asked how I could have done it. My reply has to be, "by deciding to discover the simple, essential character of the tree.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

La Madelene, Afternoon
  oil on panel  

This excerpt from a poem by May Swenson seems to me to have been written for a painter as a wondrous list of how to live - at the same time the first part of the poem describes as closely as anyone who has ever been immersed in a place while trying to paint that place, possibly could.  
The poem does what the best painting does; reveal, evoke, and surprise one about something known that thereby,  becomes new.

Earth Your Dancing Place
by May Swenson

Beneath Heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

I intend to do my best to 'remain aghast at life' and in my excitement try to catch hold of at least a small piece of it - and endeavor to enjoy every moment of the effort.  May Swenson closes with another bit of marvelous instruction.

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

Hope to see some of you out there in the "silver wind" painting at "your dancing place".

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Poppie Fields, Provence
  oil on panel  

"It is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of one's gratitude for the gift of life."
Stanley Kunitz 

The artist, Stanley Kunitz was speaking of what the essence of the creative act might be, where its origins could be found. I agree whole-heartedly. Making paintings is for me a sacred act of sorts and definitely a celebration. This why competitions at these ever popular 'paint-outs' puzzle me - how is it we can reduce something so deeply elemental to a contest without devaluing the whole idea? I have recently lived among a group of painters who, rather than compete with each other, banded together to assist and support each other. Perhaps this sort of feeling emerges at the paint-outs, but I spent time with a group of folks who each improved their awareness and process steadily and had a great and rollicking time doing it!  A large part of this magic was the setting, another larger part were the sponsors, Julian and Ruth. Credit also must go to the make-up of the group of painters during that week - a funnier, friendlier, better group could not have been imagined. Seemed to me they were all attuned to the above statement.