Is Art Justified?

February 25, 2017

Pot of yellow primroses

Pot of yellow primroses

“There is not a significant artist in the world who is not asking himself whether his art is justified — not on account of the quality of his talent, but on account of the relevance of art to the demands of the time in which he is living.”
— John Berger, from “Revolutionary Undoing,” Landscapes: John Berger on Art

“There is vitality, a life force, energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable or how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.  You do to even have to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open.”
— Martha Graham, from Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham by Agnes de Mille

Quotes like these help me to feel better about making art.  I sometimes feel my paintings are frivolous when each morning the news is full of serious and worrisome threats to a peaceful world.



The Primrose Path

February 11, 2017

Primroses are making a late-winter appearance in grocery stores around here.  They are a welcome splash of saturated color and hold the promise of Spring and gardening.

Watercolor sketch of yellow primroses

Watercolor sketch of yellow primroses

Ink sketch of primroses (primula)

Ink sketch of primroses (primula)

Watercolor vignettes from Tasha Tudor's Garden

Watercolor vignettes from Tasha Tudor’s Garden


Texas bluebonnets

We saw our first Texas bluebonnets in a ditch from the windows of the car rental shuttle at the Houston airport, but we couldn’t stop for photos.  That first sighting whetted my appetite, so the hunt was on.  I next saw some at a nursery in Chappell Hill.  Chappell Hill is on the “Bluebonnet Trail,” and I had read that one could sometimes find early blooms along the trail at Old Baylor Park in Independence, so we made a point to stop there.  We were in luck.

Potted bluebonnet for sale in a Chappell Hill nursery

Bluebonnets and white wildflowers at Old Baylor Park

Wildflowers in bloom at Old Baylor Park in Independence, Texas

 After Independence, bluebonnets proved elusive until later in our trip when we drove south of San Antonio.  Suddenly we saw bluebonnets growing in profusion in huge patches along I-37.

Texas bluebonnets along I-37 south of San Antonio

Bluebonnets along I-37

We saw plenty of other wildflowers along the roadsides of Texas.

Coral-colored Indian paintbrush near Old Baylor Park

Butterfly and wildflower

Flowering plum and butterfly

Tiny blue wildflowers

White wildflower

Cactus in San Antonio

Patch of evening primroses growing wild in a ditch

Coreopsis growing close to the ground, North Padre Island National Seashore

Prickly poppies, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Huge thistle near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Wildflowers in a meadow near Brazoria

Wisteria in bloom on the drive to Huntsville, Texas

Bee in the wisteria blossoms

Soft Silken Primrose

March 5, 2011

“O fairest flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
soft silken Primrose fading, timelessly. . .”
     — John Milton, “On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough”

Ephemeral primroses

Short-lived primroses

Watercolor sketch of primroses

A Good Day

February 24, 2011

Primroses in hanging bags

I saw these hanging primroses at the grocery store, and I thought they looked like miniature vertical gardens.  The rows of primroses were stacked in a heavy plastic bag into which holes had been cut for the flowers to be inserted.  I thought I could probably make one myself with a pair of old blue jeans rather than a plastic bag.  But instead of making one, I sketched it. 

Any day that I make time for sketching is a good day, no matter how poor the results!

Watercolor sketch of hanging primroses

Restored by Green

February 8, 2011

“A single green sprouting thing
would restore me . . .”
     — Jane Kenyon, “February: Thinking of Flowers”

Early primroses and bulbs

Maybe we’ll have April in February again this year.  I am starting to see green shoots from the early bulbs already.  Can Spring be far behind?