jim stegner is the central character in the new peter heller book the painter. in the heller book stegner describes his awe as a seventeen year old boy viewing the winslow homer painting “fog warning” at the san francisco museum of modern art.
the winslow painting shows a fisherman in a small boat facing an approaching wall of fog. the fisherman is alone and appears worried that if the fog surrounds him he could be lost at sea forever. young jim stegner immediately decided that he wanted to make stuff come alive as he had seen in the homer work and became a painter.
this driven creative feeling of “i want to do that” is exactly how i felt many years ago after reading the poetry of richard brautigan in his books rommel drives on deep into egypt and the pill versus the springhill mine disaster.
as a younger poet i quickly discovered that discipline – both mental and physical – were crucial to finishing an artist’s creative works. in a recent issue of “the daily rumpus” editor stephen elliott quoted a new york times study of creativity that stated the “way a brain works is similar to an elite athlete.”
becoming a determined artist anxious to discover experiences that i had never felt before, i established a rigid working schedule for my writing days. the outline of my basic habits are revealed in the “splake: a day in the life” dvd.
in the video the alarm wakes me early in the morning and i shower, knot my ponytail, quickly check the home computer and have breakfast at the bard res. then i drive to my studio in the vertin arts building to work. during this early morning time i check on the latest e-mails, jump start my brain with a crossword puzzler or two and review the planned agenda for that day.
however, after an hour or two i pause to get a second cup of coffee and check up on local calumet gossip at the orson welles booth in the evergreen café. at the evergreen café i chat briefly with the waitresses, mary rowe and patrice kauppinen and jikiwe, director of the vertin art gallery. when i made the “a day in the life” video jikiwe and i used to discuss the future issues of cliffs soundings, the literary magazine that we produced on the evergreen café mornings.
“a day in the life” video finishes with a second early morning drive from my ash street old mining row house in the tamarack location to the vertin building in an early morning blizzard. the careful viewer will note that the snowflakes are thick and there is also about eight inches of fresh snow covering the street. a person familiar with calumet architecture can see the red sandstone structure of the old calumet theater building while driving on sixth street to the red blinker light and the vertin art gallery
NOTE: as an additional footnote, since my early mornings in the studio in the vertin art gallery i have moved my writing location to the “splake writing room and library” in the calumet art center building.
“splake: a day in the life”