Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Life of an Oil Painting

Spring 2010 on the Arno
2' x 4' oil on canvas

Session 1: Sky background complete, some layout of colors

Session 2: More blocking in of colors

Session 3: Detail work on left side

Session 4: Some detail work moving to the right side

Session 5: Some corrections to the original buildings sketch, plus work on trees

Session 6: Completed bridge

Session 7: Completed river

Session 8: Finished glazing for shadows, depth, and color

Finally, finished and framed! 
(Framed by Hobby Lobby)

And now for sale for a little travel escapism!

Monday, September 7, 2015

As You Like It: Education from Arden

A close reading examining the concept of education in the forest of Arden...

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It begins with Orlando bemoaning his elder brother’s neglect for Orlando’s education. Orlando, as nobly born as his brother Oliver, feels he needs the formal education his other brother Jaques is receiving as he believes there is no advancement in living “rustically” (1.1.7). However, the rustic country people met later in the play, and the natural ways of the forest seem to offer a more honorable and even Christian knowledge and sense of the world than formal university training imparts. The forest of Arden in As You Like It provides the characters with an education they need to live within the parameters of fallen human nature.

At court, corruption, deception, and malicious conniving have run amuck. The politics of power have clouded good, honest sense and judgment while the court formalities restrict and confine more natural relationships. Brothers such as Duke Fredrick and Duke Senior turn against one another. Oliver plots against Orlando: “I hope I shall see an end of him; for my soul (yet I know not why) hates nothing more than he” (1.1.164-166). Even when reason is acknowledged as absent, Oliver does not pretend the slightest need of it for motive in getting rid of his brother. Even when the characters attempt to express love, the court seems to throw up its barriers. As close as sisters, Celia and Rosalind cannot accurately articulate their feelings for each other. Celia tries to cheer Rosalind by taking a wrong approach. Offering Rosalind Celia’s own father to take for her own when he is the very man that banished Rosalind’s beloved father shows that Celia’s heart is in the right place but does not actually soothe Rosalind’s sense of loss (1.2.9-14). Yet, Rosalind still loves Celia, but also cannot communicate her true affection as Celia notes: “Herein I see thou lov’st me not with the full weight that I love thee” (1.2.8-9). Romantic love is also confined to the point that Orlando cannot respond to Rosalind whom he has fallen in love with on sight. Orlando asks himself, “Can I not say, I thank you?” and “What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue?” (1.2.249; 257). Contrast these moments to what happens later in the forest of Arden. Brothers must help one another in survival, reconciling one another. Friends rely on each other and trust one another in ways that do not need to rely on speech. Lovers can take the time to learn about one another and communicate unconstrained. Formal education and practices of the court seem to fail where informal education teaches within Christian values and true relationships.

Although the country rustics are technically uneducated, they demonstrate more knowledge of honest and sincere living than do the courtiers, initially. As Orlando compares himself to the rustics, he fits in this category, too (1.1.7-9). His brother Oliver muses, “Yet he’s gentle, never school’d and yet learned, full of noble device, or all sorts enchantingly belov’d, and indeed so much in the heart of the world, and especially of my own people, who best know him, that I am altogether mispris’d” (1.1.166-171). Still, after neglecting Orlando’s formal education, Oliver finds him knowledgeable and well-loved by his people. Oliver shows Orlando to have that sincerer connection with others and a gentle demeanor even though it was not learned at university. In the forest of Arden, the court clown Touchstone finds some similar attributes to be true of Corin, a shepherd. Touchstone asks Corin if he “[h]ast any philosophy” in him to which Corin answers in a series of observations about living life, concluding with, “he that hath learn’d no wit by nature, nor art, may complain of good breeding, or comes of a very dull kindred” (3.2.21; 29-31). Corin’s negatives suggest that “wit” can be in a man’s nature. Touchstone pushes Corin, saying, “Why, if thou never wast at court, thou never saw’st good manners, then thy manners must be wicked, and wickedness is sin, and sin is damnation” (3.2.40-44). What is more important here is what Touchstone is not saying. By not being at court, Corin has also never seen the wickedness and corruption of the court. Corin relents, saying that Touchstone has “too courtly a wit” for him, but the word “courtly” brings along the other corrupted aspects of courly life as well; Touchstone is being tricky and deceptive in his playful argument. Corin instead proves his own honesty and sincerity as untainted by the power struggles of the court.

In the forest of Arden, the confines and restrictions of the court are loosened, and the characters learn a more honest way of living within a fallen world that loves to breed corruption. The courtiers get to play (or act out in) a space without danger or threats from one another, in so doing, being educated in the life of the rustics. The rustics, however, are not without knowledge. Their knowledge of life has been taught to them more informally, but seems to keep their lives sincere and relationships genuine. Living in direct contact with nature and the forest seems to provide the characters with a deeper connection to Truth.   

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 403-434. Print.