The Light Within

The Angels and Art of Corbin Hollis Choate

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Trial By Existence . . .

The poetry of Robert Frost has touches my soul like no other poet ever has. There is an instant connection between the two of us that transcends the years and space between us. If I've gone too long without picking up my copy of "The Complete Works of Robert Frost" I begin to feel like something's missing. Here is one of my favorites, it is titled "Trial By Existence" and I think it speaks to me and about my life . . . and the choices made before I came into this world. It talks about God, light and the angels. The life I am living and the things I experience are not of my choosing. I have always felt that I was being guided towards and prepared for something that will make a difference for humanity. For a nearly complete collection of Frost's work for your soul to enjoy, go here.

The Trial by Existence

Even the bravest that are slain
Shall not dissemble their surprise
On waking to find valor reign,
Even as on earth, in paradise;
And where they sought without the sword
Wide fields of asphodel fore'er,
To find that the utmost reward
Of daring should be still to dare.

The light of heaven falls whole and white
And is not shattered into dyes,
The light forever is morning light;
The hills are verdured pasture-wise;
The angle hosts with freshness go,
And seek with laughter what to brave;--
And binding all is the hushed snow
Of the far-distant breaking wave.

And from a cliff-top is proclaimed
The gathering of the souls for birth,
The trial by existence named,
The obscuration upon earth.
And the slant spirits trooping by
In streams and cross- and counter-streams
Can but give ear to that sweet cry
For its suggestion of what dreams!

And the more loitering are turned
To view once more the sacrifice
Of those who for some good discerned
Will gladly give up paradise.
And a white shimmering concourse rolls
Toward the throne to witness there
The speeding of devoted souls
Which God makes his especial care.

And none are taken but who will,
Having first heard the life read out
That opens earthward, good and ill,
Beyond the shadow of a doubt;
And very beautifully God limns,
And tenderly, life's little dream,
But naught extenuates or dims,
Setting the thing that is supreme.

Nor is there wanting in the press
Some spirit to stand simply forth,
Heroic in it nakedness,
Against the uttermost of earth.
The tale of earth's unhonored things
Sounds nobler there than 'neath the sun;
And the mind whirls and the heart sings,
And a shout greets the daring one.

But always God speaks at the end:
'One thought in agony of strife
The bravest would have by for friend,
The memory that he chose the life;
But the pure fate to which you go
Admits no memory of choice,
Or the woe were not earthly woe
To which you give the assenting voice.'

And so the choice must be again,
But the last choice is still the same;
And the awe passes wonder then,
And a hush falls for all acclaim.
And God has taken a flower of gold
And broken it, and used therefrom
The mystic link to bind and hold
Spirit to matter till death come.

'Tis of the essence of life here,
Though we choose greatly, still to lack
The lasting memory at all clear,
That life has for us on the wrack
Nothing but what we somehow chose;
Thus are we wholly stipped of pride
In the pain that has but one close,
Bearing it crushed and mystified.

- The Light Within . . .

Monday, June 19, 2006

Exercise in Line and Light II . . .

If you haven't already done so, please take the time to become familiar with the Art Renewal Center. It is an online museum, which is dedicated to the restoration of truth and beauty in contemporary art, and the revival of long lost standards of draftsmanship and excellence. It is a worthwhile visit indeed, and I truly hope that my work will someday be included in their collection.

It all begins with the basics. Draftsmanship. It's ALL about the drawing in the early stages. This is where you work out problems in symmetry, proportion, and perspective. It's where you decide areas of light and shadow. It's where you get to know your subject . . .let it in . . .so it can be expressed. The drawing is where you create the underlying structure for the painting. It's where you define your space. Structure and space are fundamental. The drawing is where I decide line thickness to show weight and volume. The drawing I ‘m presenting to you tonight was extremely difficult. It is a study of an angel which lives in the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, Russia. I tried to reduce everything to line, while showing you the volume and mass. The lines have an energy which leads your eyes along their lengths. This drawing will probably make it onto canvas someday. Until then it remains an exercise in line . . .and light.

My favorite draftsmen are Michelangelo, William Bouguereau and Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres. If you look at their drawings, the first thing you'll notice is the quality of their lines. They are at once expressive, beautiful, subtle yet bold, forceful and inviting . . .so few lines, so much life.

Michelangelo's drawings are instantly identifiable. At first glance they appear quickly done. But upon further study, you will notice a sublime beauty that reveals itself like a flower, opening layer after layer . . .telling secrets. Each drawing is just a few lines, weight here, volume there . . .the thoughts inside. Michelangelo's drawings are studies in the psychology of his subjects, their souls, as much as they are about their image.

William Bouguereau had the rare ability to work from memory as well as he could work from life. He believed in absolute perfection of the finished image, and thus would create numerous drawings, mastering the history of his subjects. He made a deliberate, careful study of form and technique, and saturated himself in knowledge of classical sculpture.

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres was a master of line. In his time, he created an unrivalled and highly detailed record of the female image, primarily through portraiture. Ingres could, using nothing but line, make you experience the sensation of touching the fabric on his subjects. He was obsessed with perfection and mastery of form. He was an idealist in pursuit of "high art", combining the purity of draftsmanship with a love of classical historic painting.

The Light Within . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From Time to Time . . .

There is this really old, really big tree I like to go and spend time with. It provides a circle of shade which is at least 50 feet across and at the base of this tree is an iron bench. Sometimes I'll sit and study Robert Frost . . . sometimes I'll just sit with a pad and pen, hoping something comes to me. One day last summer I was under this tree with my eyes closed and I must have dozed off. I awoke when a short breeze blew across my face and with it this entire little poem. It was literally written on the wind.

From Time to Time . . .

A gentle breeze
across my face
returns me
from a distant place,
where drifting thoughts
this summer day
carry me
from time to time . . .

The Light Within . . .

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Origins . . .

Lately I've been without inspiration. I have a painting that needs to be finished. In fact, I had a dream a couple of weeks ago where I saw the painting, and it was wanting me to finish it. It's based on the image from my last post about Time, and just how short our lives really are.

The picture above is the one that started everything for me. This is the Archangel Gabriel. When he's not with me he lives at the Vatican in Rome. This picture came into my life at the exact moment I needed it most. I had just received news that a lifelong frient had died, and creatively I was exhausted and burned out. It took some time to figure out how to abstract the essence while keeping the realism and power of the angels. It was time well spent. They helped me deal with the passing of a friend and showed me a new direction for my life.

When I saw this picture a light went on inside me that has grown brighter and brighter. I was to share it with the world. Little did I know what I had started. This picture could have very easily been overlooked, ignored, thrown away . . . but it wasn't. It was meant to be.

Pay attention to the little things in your life, the thing that seem insignificant. They're usually the one that make all the difference.

- The Light Within . . .