Pursuing the Impossible

September 18, 2013

“The main problem with turning the world into language is that it’s, well, impossible.  The word is always less than the thing it is meant to represent.”
— Stephen Dobyns, Next Word, Better Word:  The Craft of Writing Poetry

Watercolor and pencil sketch of yarrow

Watercolor and pencil sketch of yarrow

I’m convinced that art is a worthy pursuit and that if I persist, if I practice painting on each of my days off from my paying job, then I will eventually become a good artist.  This may take years, thousands and thousands of little paintings, and I am okay with that.

Right now, I have many dissatisfactions with my work.  And if I read Dobyns correctly, I can expect to always be searching and reaching for improvements.  He says, ” . . . I also thought poetry was something from which I could always learn more.  It was a country whose boundaries were never fixed, that always seemed to expand.”

The challenges of painting are intrinsically interesting to me.  I seem to be the kind of person who needs to learn by doing, by reading and looking at others’ works, and then by trying again.  I need to learn slowly.  So far, I am largely self-taught.  So there is a danger that I am repeating bad habits.  Maybe someday I’ll take a painting class, but for now, as long as my dissatisfactions do not turn into discouragement, I need to struggle on my own, charged by hope.

“Hope
to be imperfect
in all the ways
that keep you
growing.”
— Alice Walker, from “Hope to Sin Only in the Service of Waking Up”

So when my paintings fall far short from the things they are meant to represent, I hope to stay hopeful and take up the brushes again.  I expect perfection to always elude me, but there is beauty in imperfections, too.

 

 

August Days

August 23, 2013

“Nature has, for the most part, lost her delicate tints in August. . . . The spirit of Nature has grown bold and aggressive; it is rank and coarse; she flaunts her weeds in our faces.”
— John Burroughs, “August Days”

Dried ferns

Dried ferns

“August days are for the most part tranquil days; the fret and hurry of the season are over.  We are on the threshold of autumn.  Nature dreams and meditates; her veins no longer thrill with the eager, frenzied sap; she ripens and hardens her growths; she concentrates; she begins to make ready for winter.”
— John Burroughs, “Autumn Days”

We’ve had a drier-than-normal summer so far, so things are definitely weedy and seedy around here.  Here are some images from a recent walk about my neighborhood:

Dried fern

Dried fern

Bindweed

Bindweed

Is this yarrow?

Is this yarrow?

Seed heads

Seed heads

Rose hips

Rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How wonderful yellow is.  It stands for the sun.”
— Vincent Van Gogh

The sunflower’s sunny face

Sunflower silhouette

Garden art: a sunflower plate on a garden gate

Orange-yellow squash blossom

Bed of yellow yarrow

Yarrow crowned with yellow

Yellow and orange blanket flowers

Yellow lily

Garden loosestrife

St. John’s wart, a popular ground cover in Seattle

Our yellow weed, the dandelion

Yellow chairs bolted to the pier overlooking Elliott Bay in downtown Seattle

Yellow chairs with ferry, Elliott Bay

Yellow chairs with ferris wheel, Seattle waterfront

Summer sweet corn on the cob

Lemons in a blue bowl