Art critic John Yau answers the question "why can't we see her eyes?"
Reading Series #2, 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, graphite, 2013 Rick Beerhorst
I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything. Steven Wright
Reading Series #1, 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, graphite, 2013 Rick Beerhorst
The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading in order to write. A man will turn over half a library to make a book. Samuel Johnson
Reading series #3, 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, graphite, 2013 Rick Beerhorst
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison
Bookish, Constanza Camarillo
Sabriel, Pearl Beerhorst, drawing available here
The Bridge, Ann Wood
I began reading to Rain and Grace from a new fairytale book last night at bedtime. The book has come from Pearl's Room. I asked Pearl for suggestions because we just finished up Little House On The Prairie and we needed a new book. She wisely recommended The Violet Fairy Book first published in 1901 by Longmans, Green and Co., London. In the preface it includes this;
The stories in this book, as in all the others of the series, have been translated out to the popular traditional tales in a number of different languages. These stories are as old as anything man has invented. They are narrated by naked savage women to naked savage children. They have been inherited by our earliest civilised ancestors, who really believed that beasts and trees and stones can talk if they choose, and behave kindly or unkindly. The stories are full of the oldest ideas of ages when science did not exist, and magic took the place of science.
Can there be anything better than sending children off into their dreams through the pages of an ancient fairy tale?
Photo of Rain Beerhorst by Pearl Beerhorst
Last night I watched the end of the movie Ice Age with Rain and Grace snuggled into the old goose down couch (rescued from the curb two years ago). After the movie and brushing teeth they got into their bunk bed up in the attic. I read one more chapter of Little House on the Prairie. It was the chapter when two Indian men come to the house when Pa is away hunting and Ma has to fix them cornbread. The dog Jack wants to attack them but he's chained up. Laura and Mary are terrified. The "wild men" smell bad because they are wearing fresh skunk skins to cover their private areas (which is all they are wearing). Eventually they leave and Pa comes home.
Having a bunch of children around all the time has shaped Brenda and my life into something very unusual and beautiful. It is often hard and rarely convenient but it is truly fetching. It is wonderful because the children lead us into the unpractical over and over again. They call us into the woods, cartoons and crayons and it is in these places where no money is made and the career does not go forward that God surprises us with a place for our hearts to become new again.
This painting is an amalgam of different reference material. I made use of late medieval painting reproductions, three of my children posed at different times as I worked out the composition in with preliminary drawings. I also simply invented details in the painting both in the young woman and in the landscape back ground. The still life in the foreground was almost entirely painted from what I set up in the studio and observed. All these different sources coming together create for me a peculiar blend that results in an image that hovers between observable reality and reality dreamed or imagined. This is my attempt to knit the mundane with the supernatural, the physical with the mystical.
This is the book that our daughter Grace has recently made that chronicles her experience in the hospital at about a month ago. She was there for a week with her mother at her bedside. It is interesting to me how she just decided to create this book. It reminds me of all the artists who took their difficult experiences and turned them into art. Frieda Kahlo would be an obvious example. Also there were people like Gaugan who were given art supplies while they recovered in their hospital beds and began his transformation from stock broker to full time artist.
I love this little book and I couldn't help but share it with you here.
This was my sketch done in the hospital while Grace was at the begining of her stay.
I would be hard pressed to think of a book that has made a deeper impression on me in my youth. I was 22 and is was the summer of 1982. I remember sitting on the curb of a building on Lake Drive long since torn down, reading On The Road while my laundry spun dry. I really loved that book and the characters who were living their lives like "roman candles in the sky". I have been living my life on fire ever since.
In to Her Book by Rick Beerhorst
When all the world is old, lad
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
The painting above entitled "Into Her Book" she holds a German copy of All Quiet On The Western Front. This is a brand new painting taken out of its frame that measures 8x10 inches and is oil on a wood panel.
What is the experience of reading a story? How does it work really? We are creating the images in our mind as we read, and they are completely personal and unique to each person reading or hearing the story. This is different than watching a film, where the filmmaker has created his vision of the word for us.
The experience of reading a book is a slow infusion of the story into our soul over a period of time, usually interrupted by other life experiences that occur between the time we put the book down, and when we pick it up again to resume reading. This slow-drip into our soul's vein gives us time to assimilate the story in a deeper way perhaps - than the dump-truck drop-off of a 90 minute film.
There is also the weight of the book, the illustrations and the feel of the paper on our fingers. Sometimes books have a smell. Sometimes a forgotten pressed flower falls into our lap from a summer day 70 years ago. Perhaps there is an inscription on a blank page or inside cover telling us this book had been a Christmas gift to a daughter in the December of 1948.
The woodblock image here was created for a new book coming out from InterVarsity Press titled Making Peace with the Land: God's Call to Reconcile with Creation. I have included the final sketch that was approved before the block was cut. Creating art for books and magazines is a very different process than how the majority of my art is created. In some ways it feels more relational. I have to work with a client in order to stay within their specific needs for that project. It can be humbling and difficult to make work but it also feels good to serve in this way.
I was particularly inspired by this book for the way its subject matter reaches into an important part of our families journey over the past six years. We have created a micro urban farm here on our city lot out of a desire to get more connected with the land. We want to be more involved with where our food comes from and in the process we have become more connected with God because the land and all of nature is after all his handiwork.
I discovered this little book with a record in the middle at a Breathe Owl Breathe show in Grand Rapids this past year and it has haunted me every since. I just ordered my own copy this morning, taking the plunge and spilling $33 out of my pay pal account. If I want to be supported as an artist it follows that I need to support other artists as well.
I love this book for the way it marries visual art with music in the context of children's literature. As a parent who is still reading to his children every night, it is very important to find books that I can love as much as the children. Last night we were in the magical world of the brothers Grimm Fairy tales. I look forward to the arrival of The Listeners and the adventure that awaits us there.