Posts Tagged ‘Robert Frost’

I love the true story I read in a magazine years ago.  A man wrote about how when he was a child he visited his grandparents in New England every summer.  One year as his grandpa was driving him home from the train station, the boy saw a man just sitting on his porch and staring into space.  He asked his grandpa, “Who is that man?”

Grandpa answered, “I don’t know his name, but he just sits there and doesn’t work at anything.  He’ll certainly be on welfare come winter!”  Later they learned the name of the man on the porch.  It was Robert Frost.

Obviously, poets and writers need to sit and stare off into space because their minds whirl among a kaleidoscope of ideas while ever grasping for the most effective words to express their thoughts.  Many a summer day I lounge on the patio, gaze at the clouds overhead and—like Robert Frost—don’t work at anything but the mental process of wordsmithing.  I’m grateful that my all-time favorite poet set such a wonderful example.

Painters need thinking time, as well.  Many a night, when I’m tempted to get out of bed and go to my work table, I decide instead to remain cozy and warm under the covers and “just think” about what I will paint the next day.  I am blessed to have a visual brain.  Even though words have always been my forté, my mind instantly converts words and concepts into concrete pictures—Technicolor® images at that. 

I lie in bed, or sit on my patio or couch, and think:  Alizarin Crimson—and a touch of Cadmium Yellow.  Shapes dance in my brain, and by the time I sit down before a piece of paper I sometimes have a rendering in my head. 

Then the fun begins, as watercolors are like cats:  they have a mind of their own, and they insist on doing their own thing.  People don’t own cats; cats own people.  I think you get the picture.  Unless you are a Turner or a Constable—or someone of similar ilk—the watercolor medium exerts a lot of control over the artist.  Perhaps the required flexibility on my part is one of the many reasons I love water media.  Watching paint do its thing on a wet surface is fascinating.  

When concluded, a painting may be completely different from its inception.  Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow may turn out to be Opera Rose and Viridian.  The shapes may bear no resemblance whatsoever to their original design.  Yet I know that each painting is ultimately more interesting and varied because—like Robert Frost—I’ve allowed myself some thinking time!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011


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