Last night I was reading the book "Brave Companions" by David McCullough. It is a book of profiles, ranging from engineers to naturalists to artists. One profile is of the great American artist Frederic Remington. Remington wrote nearly as much as he made art, but his writings were not about art, but about cowboys and Indians, and the changes occurring in the western United States during the late 1800's. However, just once McCullough does quote Remington about art, and it applies to my enormous efforts in the making of art. Remington said, "Without knowing exactly how to do it, I began to try to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded. Youth is never appalled by the insistent demands of a great profession."
You may have read between the lines in my recent posts. I constantly am surprised at the enormity of commitment required to make great art. There is nothing casual about making art. I should not be surprised at this, but the daily absorbance of my full quantity of physical, intellectual, and emotional energy often makes me contemplate the reason for my commitment. The sun may shine, a glorious day it may be, but I would rather be making art than observing the beauty which surrounds me. Making art is observing nature, but it is the nature of my being, not of my surroundings. Strange as it seems, I am not the first artist to notice this behavior. Tolstoi wrote of his envy of a lizard who could enjoy life by simply basking on a warm rock in the sun, and he also envied the abandonment to joy he saw in peasants as they danced. Tolstoi wanted to bask in the sun, and dance with joy, but he could allow himself neither of these pleasures. The simple joys of life did not come easy to Tolstoi; instead he was compelled to write great novels. The reason I prefer to make art, rather than bask in the sun, is not altogether known, or describable. I do know there is happiness in my success of seeking and finding. Yesterday the painting "Window" took another step toward clarity. This is reward for my commitment. I am like Remington, in that I am trying to "record some facts..." and the more I look the more the panorama unfolds.
Yesterday's drawing is a good one. I am delighted with its light, its forms, the play of the pencil line across its surface, and the expressive quality of the figures.
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