Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Instruction In Joy and Acclamation, Mary Oliver, Spring Creek

Spring Creek
  oil on panel  10" x 10"

"It was what I was born for - 
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world - 
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy
and acclamation."

from the poem "Mindful"
by Mary Oliver

Sometimes, when someone asks me how long it takes to make a painting, I answer that it took 64 years - all my years so far in this world.  I'm not being flip and I understand that a non painter (read more normal person) wonders on such things because in industrial society work is divided into weeks and days and hours and value id assigned accordingly.
I am being quite serious with my answer because this has turned out to be what I was born for and everything in my life has in someway affected me and propelled me toward making the particular painting I am working on at the moment!
The other problem with answering such a question is that I cannot predict and in the end cannot know how long each one takes - because while I work I sort of disappear and become blissfully unaware of time. I can tell you that I am at this task every day, instructing myself over and over in "joy and acclamation." Another entry might deal with the assigned value - suffice for now to say each one I feel is a reflection of my soul.   Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2015

"The Collaboration", at the Swallows Falls, Western Maryland, Van Gogh, Degas,

Top Of The Falls
  oil on panel   9" x 12"

Bottom Of The Falls
  oil on panel   6" x 8"

"I am seeking. I am striving I am in it with all my heart.
Vincent van Gogh

"It is much better to draw what one has in one's memory. It is a transformation in which imagination collaborates with memory."
Edgar Degas

I learned a very valuable thing while getting these images started at the foot of this waterfall in Western Maryland; never sit for three hours on a boulder, in the shade. Even with a jacket beneath you. It took a couple of hours to thaw out from the chill! These were touched up or finished up in the studio but I feel retained the 'presence' of the place and day - and that is the danger, that you will make one touch too many and kill the spontaneity.  That is where Degas' collaboration comes in - once when someone asked me how this works I responded that I just dream myself back to the place and the day. They looked at me a bit askance after that but it is exactly what I do though I could not say how. 
Except that I am in it with all my heart. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fastwater and Rocks, Robert Henri, Ranier Maria Rilke,

Fastwater and Rocks
  oil on panel  12" x 16"

" I know nothing better than being present and clear eyed when the miracle happens."
Robert Henri

"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing.  Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude are everything."
Rainer Maria Rilke

Someone asked me how I could get the movement in the swirling water of a fast moving stream - how could one make paint do this? The only answer I know is to see with the closest possible care and to know how to see form, shape, space, value. But then one must use memory and understanding and imagination as well. Forty years of using oil paint allows a certain freedom as well and it is vital to trust one's drawing. 
There are times when I am so immersed in the process that I'm is not entirely sure of how it came about.   I think that immersion is what Henri refers to as 'being present,' and perhaps 
Rilke's 'porous ego' is the ultimate state of awareness, in this case, of what that water is actually doing. Enjoy!. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Once More The Fleeting Sensation, Marcel Proust, Ranier Maria Rilke, paintings as offerings, Bear's Den

Winter Rocks at Bear's Den
  oil on panel  11" x 14"

Early December at Bear's Den
  oil on panel  11" x 14"

"I ask my mind to make one further effort, to bring back once more the fleeting sensation."
Marcel Proust

"What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams; there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are."
Selected Letters of Ranier Maria Rilke

As not for a long time, the present depth of despair over the news from Paris can be overwhelming and at the same time a cause for zeroing in on what we hold dear. As Rilke writes, it is at these times our joys and dreams stand out in stark contrast and we see how beautiful they are. The arts can be a refuge at times but it seems to me this time we must use them as a banner of shared humanity against ignorance and selfish, empty dogma. 

Here I offer two paintings from a favorite place, high on a ridge in the Blue Ridge territory, west of our home. It is a place of huge boulders and forests and the Appalachian Trail. It is here I can ask my mind, caught in the whirlwind of events, 
"to bring back once more the fleeting sensation."