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Posts Tagged ‘Lyle Lovett’



To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.

We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in.

― Oliver Sacks. New Yorker article 2012



I was thinking this morning about how I would describe the painting at the top, Steady As She Goes. It is included in the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery which opens today. 

At first, I was thinking about sailing but I really don’t much about that subject. I can try to imagine the thrill of the open water, the feeling of untiy with the natural world, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the same as the real experience.

I began to wonder what was the underlying appeal of sailing, of open water. All that came to me was the word escape.

That made sense. You’re free from the ties that bind out there, subject, of course, to the whims of Mother Nature. We can never free ourselves from her her apron strings.

Yes, escape. And that representation of escape might be the appeal of these boat paintings even for us non-sailors. 

I searched for  a few words from others to describe that and came across the excerpt from a 2012 article in the New Yorker from the late Oliver Sacks, who wrote about how we need some form of escape from the day-to-day, an outlet where we are free from the restrictions set upon us by others. 

I was torn between the Sacks excerpt and these words from the great Graham Greene:

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

It seemed a little more pointed at creative types but made great sense to me. My work certainly does provide me with an escape route from the stresses and pains of the real world. 

I wasn’t sure which quote to use but, in the end, I guess I opted for using both.  After all, this is my blog and I can do what I want. I make the rules.

Maybe this is, in itself, a form of escape?

Maybe I should take up sailing. Since it’s about 8° this morning, that seems unlikely anytime soon. So, let’s listen to a favorite song from Lyle Lovett. It’s If I Had a Boat from his epic 1988 album Pontiac. I listened to this album over and over back then and it was a means of escape at times. It still holds up beautifully to this day.

Hope you find your own escape route and have a good day.



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And now the mystery masked man was smart
He got himself a Tonto
‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said, “Kemo sabe
Kiss my ass I bought a boat
I’m going out to sea”

Lyle Lovett, If I Had a Boat

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The painting at the top is a new one, a 12″ by 24″ canvas, that I am calling Breakout. It’s headed to the West End Gallery as part of my upcoming solo show, Moments and Color, that opens in a couple of weeks, on July 12.

These boat paintings might well be my favorites to paint. I think it’s the simplicity in the design that makes this so. There are so few elements that I have to really focus on subtleties of color and shape to create a sense of motion and emotion in the work. Everything has to be right, has to be properly harmonized with the whole.

That sounds kind of nebulous, I know. But a line straying here or there can make you question the credibility of the whole thing and keep you from allowing your mind to fully embrace the piece. For example, while I don’t know a thing about how waves  break on the sea, I feel that the curves of the wave have to make sense. They must have that sense of rightness that I often mention here, the one that allows your brain to easily absorb what is being communicated.

Wow, that sounds even more nebulous.

Let’s just leave it as this: I like these paintings and the exhilaration of freedom they possess. I am not a sailor but I certainly understand the primal appeal and romance of feeling yourself in harmony with the great forces of the wind and water.

Here’s a favorite song from so long ago. God, it’s hard to believe it is over thirty years old. It’s If I Had a Boat from Lyle Lovett‘s wonderful 1987 album, Pontiac. It’s a song that has always had a great calming effect for me and it pretty much fits the feeling I get in this painting.

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The ServantThis is a little exercise that I did when I was first painting and still working as a waiter at a Perkins restaurant.  I call it The Servant and it sort of sums up my time as a waiter, except for the fact that  I never wore tails when serving pancakes.  It was a great learning experience however.  I think everyone should wait tables for a while.  Teaches humility.  

I remember going to some openings and being praised for the work.  “Oh, this is so wonderful” this and  “You’re doing great stuff” that to the point my head barely fit in my car to drive home.  Then the next morning I was pouring coffee for a factory worker or a trucker and I would realize that for most people my so-called triumph was an absolute nothing.  Didn’t matter and never would.  

My head returned quickly to its normal size and would resume my duties as a server, all the time whistling and humming tunes in my head to pass the time.  Here’s one from Lyle Lovett that was a favorite back then and still is.

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