“Where’s My Classroom???”

Ha ha ha ha! Today’s prompt is “nightmare” and last night over and over again I had “teacher dreams.”

If you’ve been — or are — a teacher I don’t need to explain anything but for those of you who have never entered a classroom in that capacity there are certain dreams that most teachers can expect to have during their career.

Teachers really DO dream they walk into their classroom naked. I dreamed that until I DID (essentially) walk into my classroom naked. I wrote about that HERE. It’s a funny story but I don’t want to write it AGAIN. ONCE was enough. The other dreams fit more the anxiety and frustration dream genres. They are almost always about the first day of school, an earth-shattering event that happens every fall.

Every fall since I began teaching — and since I retired — I’ve had those dreams. Last night one right after the other. They were classic. In one dream, I didn’t have clothes because I was suddenly about to start teaching, and all I had with me were the clothes I typically wear now — jeans, T-shirts, shorts, T-shirts. Someone pulled a bunch of clothes out of a costume rack from the theater classes. None of them fit, but I had to go to class anyway. Then, several times, I had the classic dream of having a class, no real description of the class, and no idea where the classroom was. All the people in THAT dream are superlatively helpful giving directions, “Oh, it’s over there!” My teaching dreams are always on a campus I KNOW (some version of San Diego State) but it’s never the same twice, familiar buildings in unfamiliar places.

In my sleep I was detached enough to protest, “Yeah but I’m not teaching anymore!” Unless you’re a skilled lucid dreamer, your dreams don’t “listen.” Were these nightmares? Yes and no. For the “me” in the dreams, definitely. For the me curled up under my duvet the dreams were entertaining.

A real nightmare happened last year when it snowed 12 wet inches here in Monte Vista, breaking trees and challenging everything. Whole flocks of migrating birds fell from the sky, dead. It was a very bad, bad in the sense of evil. Definitely a lesson for me in “be careful what you wish for.”


Meanwhile, I’m continuing to paint apples. It’s strangely soothing and seems to be helping me think things through.

Who knew. The problem is I’m going to have to bake them soon. I guess I can paint a pie. And, you know, an apple for the teacher.

The Apple(s) of My Eye

This past Saturday my friend and I went to pick apples. I picked some and then, seeing how incredibly lovely they were on the tree, I took some photos. I have had a lot on my mind in recent weeks — some of it personal, related to to me, some involving a friend who has been struggling with himself. If you’ve ever had to struggle with yourself, you know it’s no fun.

So, since I’m in an artistic slump (it happens and doesn’t worry me) but really wanted to make art I decided on an “apple a day.” Today, as I worked on the fourth apple, I thought about art philosophy and criticism.

This past Saturday my friend and I went to pick apples. I picked some and then, seeing how incredibly lovely they were on the tree, I took some photos. I have had a lot on my mind in recent weeks — some of it personal, related to to me, some involving a friend who has been struggling with himself. If you’ve ever had to struggle with yourself, you know it’s no fun.

So, since I’m in an artistic slump (it happens and doesn’t worry me) but really wanted to make art I decided on an “apple a day.” Today, as I worked on the fourth apple, I thought about art philosophy and criticism.

It’s unlikely I will ever be a NON-representational artist. After spending time last week with an artist friend who had a very different philosophy and who chides me for being what I am, I’ve been thinking about that. I finally told her, “I don’t see me doing abstract paintings.”

“Why not? Your brush strokes are abstract.”

It’s not because I don’t like abstract art. I do. It’s just not fulfilling for me. My primary relationship is with nature; the important questions for me are “how does this work? What is it really? How can I see it better?” For me, a painting is a synthesis of brush strokes. It’s not brush strokes. It’s a totality. For me, it’s a way of seeing.

So, four days of apples. Some from “life” (those I picked), one from a photo. These are notecard size and I’ll use them for that.

I could hear my friend in my head saying, “You don’t have to get every little thing!” a chorus I’ve heard before. But what is it to work toward “every little thing”? (Which I don’t actually do) As I worked on the two apples on the tree I realized what was going on in my head. I was relieving the stress of the last several weeks. I was meditating. The image — the colors of the leaves, the striations on the apples, the problem of the branch — all of it — drew me out of my self into a clearer mind. There’s not much smaller to make art with than the sharpened end of a watercolor pencil.

Reblogged from My Amazing Life Distilled.

Ruminations

Sometimes it seems like my mind is a kettle brewing stuff while I sleep. I woke up thinking about two very difficult things: communication and mastery. It struck me that they might be related.

Back when I had an art shed and lived in California, I started a blog on blogger about painting. I called it “A Lifetime Apprenticeship” because I couldn’t imagine ever being a master or even imagine what it would mean to BE a master. I also decided that becoming a master would be the end of the exciting part of painting which, at the time and still, seems to be learning more and doing better.

I still think that way, and it’s a good thing because I’m a long way from being a master, but… I wonder what it would be like to approach a project and KNOW it’s going to work out. I wonder if that’s even possible.

I did a drawing yesterday that seemed to be going really well and then, later, when I looked at a photo of it, I realized the river in the drawing was behaving in a manner that is impossible for rivers, all for want of a line.

The thing about this is that I’m OK with that. I’m even OK with, “I’ll never get it,” and that doesn’t discourage me because I don’t even know what “it” is.

As for communication, I can’t begin to figure that out. Like drawing and painting, there’s probably no mastery. Unlike drawing and painting, I can get discouraged, fatigued, disgusted, and hopeless about communication. It’s all Samuel Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Sage Grouse in Luv

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2021/03/15/rdp-monday-kettle/

The Easel

Yesterday I drove along the 18 miles of Road T in Saguache County Colorado. That was after some 20 miles on the US Highway 285 and before another 15 miles on paved Saguache County Road T. Saguache County is the first county north of my own, Rio Grande County. I was heading to the old mining town of Crestone — now arty-farty spiritual center — to buy my easel.

Nothing notable about the deal — except getting a $500 easel for $100 — but driving toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains takes my breath away. They resemble the Alps in the way they rise from the valley floor, rugged and young.

The easel is large and it was a struggle to get it into the house, but I did it. But then — as happens — I realized I had to move stuff out of my studio and THAT led to moving stuff out of my living room. It’s interesting how when you get a small piece of new furniture you might end up re-arranging everything and cleaning.

I don’t know yet if in this picture the gray will turn to blue…

I haven’t figured out everything about it yet — the main thing I still have to work out is adjusting the up/down of the tray on which the painting rests. I see how to do it, I just haven’t been able to do it! I’ll make it work for this big painting, but it won’t work for a smaller one but if I never manages that, a cool thing about this easel is it can go flat, like a table.

Now my little studio has three work “surfaces.” A dedicated drawing table, the table of all work, and an easel. Pretty up town, I’d say.

OK, this isn’t much of a video, but I thought, since I have this fancy new upgrade I should try it…

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/10/22/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-grey-turns-to-blue/