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Showing posts with label studio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label studio. Show all posts

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Nathaniel's E-Journal August 2005, "Beginning A New Chapter..."


Summer in West Virginia hasn't changed all that much in a hundred and fifty years and tonight is no exception.  It hit the upper 80's which in and of itself isn't so bad, but the humidity makes it feel much worse.  Brian and his family are out of town, so I spent part of the evening with Jack, the town's physician, and his family.  They know my secret and have kept it to themselves for the past one hundred and twenty years.  It was nice spending time with his mother and grandmother.  As much as time has passed I still see them both as little girls who I used to take up into the evening sky on a warm summer night.  

But only when the sky was clear.  Tonight there are clouds overhead so I can't even enjoy the stars.  I'd have spent the rest of the evening with Jack and his family, but they were hosting a party with others from out of town and I didn't want some of our conversations overheard, so I left early and headed to The Crypt.

One of the nice things about having a private club that's located in the basement level of an old building is that it doesn't get too hot down there and I'm not the only one who knows this fact.  Even before I turned down the alley and reached the stairs that led down into my club, I could hear the music playing, accompanied by laughter and cheering.  


Upon opening the door I find the room is full bodies gyrating to the latest hit tunes my new disc jockey is playing.  He goes by the name of Scar-Man due to on old wound that runs from his forehead and across his face.  Thank God I got to him in time, otherwise it could've been a lot worse.  I've offered to help him get it fixed but he always refuses.  "I need to remember where I've been... so I don't forget where I'm goin'," he always tells me, so I leave it at that.

He spots me from across the room and gives me a questioning look.  Some nights I like to make a grand entrance, other times I don't.  Tonight is one of the latter.  Instead I find myself in a reflective mood and give a little shake to my head.  He nods and keeps the party going.

I quietly make my way through the crowd in my own unique way.  I pass between bodies that only a fly could navigate without anyone noticing.  Soon I've reached a dark quiet corner of the room where I can observe without being noticed.  There is a table here and I settle in and let my eyes roam.  Oddly enough they fall upon one of the old vaudeville posters I have lining my wall.  My mind begins thinking about how things were back in the 1910's and the 1920's.  Without realizing it, my eyes swing back to the crowd on the dance floor and I see something wondrous.  My eyes are clearly seeing the young people moving back and forth, flirting, and kissing and having a wonderful time.  Yet in the same moment in my mind I'm seeing another image super-imposed over them.  I see uniforms from bygone eras.  One moment I see the Union blue, then the brown ones we wore back in World War I, in another instant I'm seeing the dresses become flapper style, while the young men are decked out in the old Zoot suits.


The styles continue to change, yet the emotions and feelings are still the same as I watch the figures both before me and in my memories.  Something stirs within me as I stare.  Soon I leave my little corner of the club and head upstairs.  Normally, I'd take the actual stairs themselves, but tonight I take my 'mist' form and head upwards until I reach the door that leads to my art studio and slip through the open transom above it.

Once inside my artistic sanctuary I solidify and stare around at my surroundings.  Canvasses, both finished and still under way, line the floor and walls.  




I soon find myself studying each one intently.  My mind begins to think back to when I created each one and the story that led to their creation.  But more than just the stories return, so do the emotions that inspired the imagery.  Before long I find myself exploring where those stories and feelings began which culminated in these artworks.  I've often heard people say, "I wonder what the story is behind this art piece..."   Well, I know each and every story behind my works.  Some of them are simple, others could fill page upon page of a number of books.  

"And I'm the only one who still knows most of them..." I murmur to myself as new thoughts enter my mind.  "Do I dare..." I whisper to the silence that surrounds me.

TO BE CONTINUED...








Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nathaniel's Blog July 23rd, 2014 - Reflections On The Past And Ponderings Of The Future...

The Crypt is silent tonight.  It's a Tuesday and the place is closed as usual.  Usually I only open the place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  If I have it open during the regular weekdays, a lot of the kids would never get enough sleep for school the next day, and I don't want to deal with angry parents complaining that my place is an attractive nuisance.  Not that anyone would believe it.  My place is a drug and alcohol free zone.  It's actually one of the safest places teenagers can come to get away from the darker elements out there. 



Still, keeping the place open seven days a week would be quite demanding on me and my DJ Scar-Man.  He has a family these days and needs to be able to spend time with them.  And I need time to myself.  Even after a hundred and fifty years, I still enjoy some 'me' time.  I know, I know, most vampires you see in movies or read about are lonely and longing for company.  Well this is real life and I have plenty of extended family and friends who love to have me visit, or who like to drop in to see me, and I love it.  

However, I do need some time alone every so often and tonight is one of those evenings.  So with the doors locked up I've scaled the many steps that lead to the top of this old building where my art studio awaits.  I though I might be in the mood to pick up a brush and work on a canvas or two, but not at the moment.  Instead, I'm in a more contemplative mood.  



There's a huge picture window at one end of the studio that allows me to gaze out at the town.  It's very pretty at night.  The streetlights are lit up, as well as a number of houses.  The evening is still young so very few have gone to bed just yet. 


Who knows who I might meet this evening if I venture out into the streets.  That's half the fun of being a night walker.  It's always an adventure.  You see things and people, most folks overlook in their busy day.  For me, I find stories and inspirations for paintings, novels, or just things that make you think a bit.  No, I'm not  one of the gloom and doom vampyres of legend.  I'm going to be walking this earth for some time yet and I'm fully aware of it.  I am what I am these days.  Although I did not choose this existence, it was pushed onto me by a very unlikely source, but unlike others I treasure each moment I have.  

I've touched and had my life touched by so many wonderful people.  Not just the stars I met back in vaudeville, or the heroes I met out on the battlefields, but everyday people and I thank them for it.  The ones who've come and gone, as well as those who are still with me now.  Yes, I've said goodbye to a good many friends over the decades, but there are always new people entering one's life that you can share and experience so much with.

In my hundred and fifty... correction hundred and sixty-seven years on this planet (I always forget to count my life before the change) I've seen so much.  How many people can claim they saw the first silent films?  Or heard the first radio broadcasts?  I encountered and even got to work on some of the earliest computers when punch-cards were the high point of technology.


Plus I got to watch man reach the moon and take his first steps onto that barren alien landscape.  And there are so many years ahead of me, which both fill me with wonder and a slight dread.  For unlike vampyres of legend I do age, albeit at a much slower rate.  I was only seventeen when I was changed and these days I barely look thirty.  For every ten years that pass for others I age only one.  This means I have a long time ahead of me, but what about when I finally start to reach 'old' age?  Will I start to turn grey and less able-bodied?  With I spend centuries trapped in a body that is feeble and infirm?  That' is a frightening prospect, that I try not to think too much about.  

There's still so much about my condition I don't know anything about.  In spite of twenty years spent getting degrees in botany, anatomy and physiology, and several other sciences, there's still so much to learn.  Luckily, science continues to move forward and I can always go back and take more classes and learn more about the new discoveries that may help me fully understand what I've become.  And that's something I actually look forward to.  

I love taking classes and learning new things.  I've taken all kinds of classes over the decades including art, dance, languages, mathematics, writing, etc.  Learning can be so much fun.  I meet new people and get introduced to new ideas and skills.  Life is a wondrous thing and whether you have only one life-time or many what you do with your time can be very enriching.  It all depends on the individual.  



And right now, this individual feels like stepping out for a while.  I'll come back here later and start working on one of my unfinished canvasses.  There's one in particular I'm very eager to get back to.  

I've already put it on an easel so it can be waiting for me when I get back.  It's a portrait of a young girl with flowing black hair and the most amazing brown eyes.  I can never forget her eyes.  They saw through me like no other and loved me for who AND what I am...



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nathaniel's Blog March 23rd, 201- "Me and My Easel"




Just got back from the museum.  Transcribed more letters onto the computer, while Brian tended to a new exhibit.  I'm pleased to say that the transcriptions are getting easier with time.  Occasionally, I find it more difficult and emotionally draining, but it mostly depends on the content of the letters and who wrote them.

Tonight I was mostly working on letters to friends while I was serving the in the 7th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, more commonly known as 'The Bloody Seventh'.  We didn't start out with that moniker, it came later.  But for the first six months of our existence we were basically guarding the railroads from Confederate raiders.  These letters were from that period.

I enter the building where "The Crypt" is located.  But instead of going into the club itself which is located in the basement level, I head upstairs.  As I've indicated before, I bought the entire structure back during the Great Depression.  It's a four story affair that takes up a small block downtown.  I keep the place in good shape so no politicians can get any funny ideas about declaring the place 'run down' or an 'eyesore' that needs to be pulled down.

The ground floor is currently being renovated to become roller skating rink.  Yes, you read correctly.  A Roller Rink.  There's already some really good hardwood floors and open space down there. It won't be a huge affair, more like a couple of small rinks.  The smaller of the two will be for lessons or private parties, while the other will be more like a regular place.

I had thought about making one of them and Ice Skating Rink, but the refrigeration equipment would have to get run down into the basement area.  Plus there was the risk of any leaks dripping down into The Crypt itself. 

Anyhow, above what will become the roller rink are three floors.  The 2nd floor is comprised of mostly empty office spaces, while the 3rd floor contains empty small apartments.  Occasionally I'll rent a couple out, but not for very long.  I'm not keen on anyone living full time in the same building where I stay whenever I'm in town.  

Then there's the fourth floor, which is closed off to all unless I invite people up.  The entire floor is one gigantic open space that I use as my art studio.  Mostly the room is filled with canvases, oil paints, pastels and the like.  There's a big window that looks out into the sky that I love to work near, especially on nights when there's a full moon, like tonight.


I wander over to where my easel is and pull out one of the many canvasses I've been working on.  That's one of the tricky things with oil painting, you have let each layer dry before you continue.  So whenever I do settle in to work in here, I'll have several pieces under way and a lot of paint on my palette.



I tried my hand at painting after I 'came back'.  It was in the late 1890's, shortly after the death of my first wife Madeline.  We'd been traveling in Europe at the time she passed.  Feeling lost and alone I'd found myself wandering the streets at night.  One evening I'd run across a gallery where a local artist was giving a demonstration.  I wandered in and sat down to listen.

By the time he'd finished, I was eager to talk to him about doing a portrait of my dear Madeline.  Alas the  speaker refused, but another fellow who had attended the talk was only too happy to talk with me.  He was an older man, Professor Otto Hofstadter.  I often wonder what turns my existence would've taken had I not met him that night.  Much of man I have become I owe to him.

We spent many evenings talking and eventually Otto found an artist who was renowned for his portrait work.  I still treasure the portrait Mr. Sargent did of my Madeline, but I remember him more fondly for taking me under his wing.  I studied oil painting under his watchful eye for three years, but then I had to return to America to deal with issues regarding my Madeline's estate.  

But like any good pupil, I continued to learn more from other teachers, some of them recommended to me by my mentor.  I did not see him again until 1918 when we met in England.  He had just been hired by the British Ministry of Information to paint a series of images depicting the Great War (World War I for those not familiar with the original name of that conflict).  His depiction of the victims of 'mustard gas' I still find hauntingly realistic.


I like to think it was my time with Mr. Sargent that got me to try and learn new things.  Otto, being a professor, got me to take night classes and expand my education. But that's a story for another entry.  Right now it's time to get down to some painting.  Light is just right and I know what I want to work on. 

I turn to my unfinished paintings and pull out the one of Brian's daughter Lisa.  She's going to be turning sixteen in a couple of months.  And since I'm doing her portrait in oils, I really want to make sure its fully dried and finished in time.