Friday, March 29, 2019

Reflecting on All That I Know

     Some few years ago my wife and I began taking day trips around New England.  We decided to travel to destinations within a three hour car ride.  I find driving relaxing, and, well she enjoys the company, me.  One of our go to spots is Rockport Massachusetts. 

It is a small artistic seaport community about an hour north of Boston located on a jutting out bit of land that creates a picturesque harbor for both pleasure craft and working lobster boats.  There is also a fleet of rental kyaks that shove off from a dock just east of Rockport’s most famous icons, Motif #1, a deep red boathouse that has been the subject of artist’s and photographer’s work for years beyond memory.

     I chose not to paint it.  I looked south to the mixed fleet of vessels that filled the harbor and the old colonial buildings in the distance behind them.  What caught my fullest
attention were the reflections and the movement of the waters surface as it moved and shaped those reflections.  Color upon color shimmered and danced to music I could not hear.  But I felt it, and out came my pencil.  A few quickly drawn lines and some scribbles, a few short notes and a trip to the studio begat the drawing.  This was the foundation.

      There is not an attempt to create a portrait of these reflections or their source.  This was an effort to dig deep into my knowledge, limited or not, of color.  I stressed high intensity and unnatural color, some might say crayon box of colors, and fit them together in a way that feels both calm and satisfying.          The reflections act as a metaphor for my understanding of color and how it works.  The motif, Rockport Harbor and the working boat also a metaphor, serve to remind me of the work and beauty of my journey as an artist.
The passionate red of the vessel in the lower right, welcomes a viewer into the story, the vertical lines, telephone posts, radio antenna, play a rhythm to an hypersonic song. 

     The swirls of current and dots of color dance around the reflections and the thoughts as I consider the lessons and advice that led to years of continued searching and discovery.  

     I find comfort in those lessons and in those thoughts as I sit on a weathered old dock, reflecting on all that I know. 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Morning Light, Wharfside

                        "Red sky in morning, sailor take warning."
     I heard that old rhyme so many years ago, it sits with me like a prayer told after confession. 

     It’s just a part of me. 

     2/3 of my life have passed since my time in the U.S. Coast Guard, and my memories of that time, while fading, are as much of who I am as the old rhymes and prayers of my boyhood.  We don’t have to think about breathing, it just happens, and time slips aside, revealing times and faces lost behind the mists of priorities, deadlines, and trauma.  Sometimes, I remember an emotion or a sensation, not quite as powerful as a full on emotion.  I embrace my memories as well as those feelings.  They are whispers of my muse, gentle, prodding, sometimes downright inspiring. 
When it happens, I get quiet.  My breathing slows.  My eyes loose focus and I am seeing on another more clear level of awareness.  I get that feeling when I am looking at a masterwork at a museum, a newly discovered painting in a random gallery with a forgotten name, or when I see and image that needs to become one of my paintings.  Morning Light, Wharfside is inspired by just such a moment.

        Walking along a wharf in Provincetown, Ma, I had such a sensation, bringing me back to my nineteenth year on this earth.  I was a seaman on a Coast Guard cutter, the Cape Horn to be specific, 95322 painted in black on her gleaming white hull. 
     Yes, I painted those numbers, and the name on her stern as well.  I stood watch many times during my two years serving on her crew.  Daytimes, evenings, late nights and early mornings, and after all those years, I know I am still a bit of a night hawk.  I prefer the night to mornings.  I function better in every way.  In fact I hate mornings.  Back then, as that nineteen year old, and for a few more years, my favorite time of day was sunrise.  Not the sunrise you see when you get out of bed early enough to see it, but the sunrise you see after a night, awake, aware, and active.  That sunrise would link two days together, and fill the new one with hope.  I never felt as though a red sky was necessarily a warning, I loved the mood of the red or really, magenta color.  It filled me with hope for the new day.

     Some thirty-five years later, standing on the shoreline that gave a great view of the wharf in Provincetown, on a hot afternoon, I felt that shift in time, a sidestep into old emotion.  The magenta to red, the first rays of sunshine reflecting from the building, the people waving behind them, and the light flickering along the water surface.  They are all symbolic to me.  As I painted this piece, I felt every bit the older, wiser man I had become, looking back, connecting with the young man discovering hope in the early light, and I realized that his hope was not misplaced.