Monday, July 18, 2011

Out There

Lately I haven't been able to post very much. Sorry to all of you faithful readers ... both of you. It's not that I haven't been working, it's that I have been doing a lot of hiking, exploring, painting, and also, the new studio -- and gardens -- have taken up a lot of time. Currently I have about five paintings in various stages ... not including three or four plein air pieces that need a lot of help.That's me at Lost Lake; that's the back of Half Dome in the distance. If this lake is lost, what does that say about me?

I worked on two plein air pieces in one of the Sequoia groves -- neither of which I thought were very good ... I also did one of Yosemite Falls that's particularly mediocre ( I do have some great excuses for that one ... but, really ... yecccch). I also used one of my "dipped" boards ~ made in Medical Lake a few years ago and I'm just now getting around to using it ... and still have three more ~ at the Friday painting group a few weeks ago. When I did it, the portrait seemed to jump right out and it was quite exciting ... however, now I like it less each time I look at it. Into the pile leaning against the wall in the garage it goes.

And so it goes ... it's always a struggle with the id as much as anything else. Part of it (the struggle) is the fact that I've been going through boxes and boxes of stuff that I've done over the years. Sooo much stuff. Some of it is really quite nice, some of it is good, a lot of it is mediocre, and there's a lot of pure fecal matter in there as well. It all comes together to make an autobiography in a way.

That's all well and good, except, since my Dad's passing, I've got a different kant to my view of life. It's not quite the "what is it all for?", or "what does it all mean?" thing; it's more of a "who really gives a rat's ass" kind of thing. My Dad was meticulous about keeping records of things and numbering and dating everything. He was keeping a notebook of all of his artwork back when he started into it when he was around 35 or 40. He has a book that lists all of his paintings, when he did them, who bought them or who he gave them to, how much the purchasing price was, the number of the painting, etc. He did over 1,700 paintings. He also kept track of all of his other collections and his travels and adventures ~ and put together an autobiographical sketch in short pieces called "My Anecdotal Life".

The thing is ... as amusing as his stories are ... and as good as his record-keeping was; he's gone. It's not that people don't care or don't miss him, or anything like that -- it's that people have their own lives to live. The hurt and loss pass, and all of the work is set aside and forgotten -- or, maybe not forgotten, just only important for a few minutes at a time. It will never be as important to anyone else as it was to him.

I look around at all of the crapola that I've shoveled at the world in the last fifty years -- and I've got boxes of it -- and I ask "who gives a rat's sphincter?" I have about six or eight boxes of journal notebooks ... the last nine years written in code ... they have drawings and stories and all kinds of crap in them. But who is it all for ... what was it all for? And I come round to that validity question for myself again. Why do I write all of this stuff down? WGARA?

There are only a couple of reasons that I keep doing it: the first is that it's a great exercise for my mind and to keep in the practice of writing, another is that I've done it for so long (more or less steady since the late seventies), and for another, every now and then when I stop to look back at them, it's entertaining -- mostly that I can look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking. Mostly, though, I suppose that I do it because my memory is so faulty that I have to write everything down. If I ever get Althimers, I'll never know it, because I can't remember anything anyway (including a close enough spelling so that the computer can figure out what I'm trying to spell). The most beneficial part of keeping a journal, though, is that it helps me to work things out in my head. Lots of people have to talk to other people to work things out -- which is great in some instances -- but I've learned how to deal with things without bothering the crap out of my fellow man.

All this being said, I still kind of wonder about the validity of the thing! And painting? Drawing? Etching? I guess every artist asks these things of themselves. The thing is, it's not like any of us could just stop doing the thing that drives us, can we?

Okay, so, now that I've dumped all of that -- I'll try to get some pictures of my recent projects ... and maybe some of my new studio on here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Painting at Olmstead Point

Yesterday I drove up into the high country to do some work from Olmsted Point. I love it up there and wish that I could go more often. The road is closed most of the year, though, due to the great amount of snow that they get up there. In fact, there was still snow up there yesterday.
It's only about ten or twelve miles from the cabin ... maybe less, as the crow flies. But it's a tough hike; crows don't have to worry about all of the switch-backs on Snowcreek trail. It takes a good hour or so to drive up there on Tioga Pass Road. I think it was 45 miles. It's well worth the effort to get there, if for nothing else than the cooler weather!
I ended up having to fold up my easel before I was finished as it was very blustery and began to rain hard. I had quite a few visitors and met some real nice people. There will definitely be more painting outings up to that area. The view of distant Half Dome raising its head above the valley so far away is only one of the great sights one can see from up there; Tenya Lake and the numerous peaks around it are also amazing.