Well, I remember the first time. I remember that first, that very first day that I went to school. Your very first day is there with you, too. For an eight-year-old kid—that milestone that he went through is just as far back in his memory as if you’re ninety. Now that’s hard to believe. But it’s true. It is definitely true.
So there I am, see. I remember it so vividly. By the time you go to school you’re already formed. You’ve got your ideas as to what school is about because you know you’re going to go. Everybody talks about school. You’re going to go to school. “Oh, are you in school yet, Jeanie?”
“Where do you go?”
You know that you’re going to go to school one day. I happened to be the oldest kid in my family, so I was the first kid to go to school. My brother was younger. And so, I’ve got all these ideas about what school was about. And I even remember my image of what I thought school was going to be. I had seen pictures of classrooms—with desks. The desk itself was very very attractive to me. The idea of having a desk—little kids love desks. They love to sit at their own little thing. Pile stuff on it. And have their desk. We never lose that, by the way. Oh, there’s nothing that a man likes better than his desk. His place where his little business goes on. Just sitting at it, sending out the bills. Desks have always had a mystical importance in peoples’ minds. And this goes back hundreds and hundreds of years.
So I’m this little kid and I can remember—the idea of having a desk, being in school with all these kids. And I always pictured school too, to have something to do with reading. I was an early reader. And I was a fanatical reader. I could read well by the time I was about four so my whole idea of school was that I would go to school and we would read and I’d have this desk, see. And every time they have pictures about school in ads, what do they always show? They always show pencils and tablets and they always show a kid standing by a desk wearing a little jacket or something, back to school special and so forth. They show blackboards and someone drawing a picture of a teacher. In all the years I went to school I never saw anybody draw a picture on the blackboard that said “teacher” under it. This is one of those continuing myths, that they always have this blackboard with a stick figure that says “teacher.”
I had all these ideas about school. All excited. Now the school that I was going to go to was about three blocks down the street from us. It was a big brick building that sat on the corner. It was the William McKinley School. I see a lot of kids running around out there, and, of course, being a little kid, they all looked like big kids to me, and a couple of kids in the neighborhood who were older than I was, who were already going to school. They seemed to occupy a world that was so exotic and exciting. Not going to school, at home, all I did was fool around. You play and just fool around. So the big day finally arrived. It was one week after Labor Day and all that Saturday we went out shopping and my mother bought all kinds of stuff for me for school. Boy, I was all excited. My kid brother was bugged, because I was going to school and he wasn’t. We walked around stores and my kid brother yelled every five minutes that he wanted one too—whatever I got, he wanted. My mother saying, “Look, he’s going to school, you’re not going to school.”
“Waaaa!” Even then, he was becoming the world’s greatest whiner. He was working on it.
CEZANNE AND JOHN MARIN
While contemplating Cezanne’s use of one or more deliberate strokes of paint near a mountain top in order to hold that mountain and its surrounding sky into the painting’s overall composition, I was reminded that John Marin, in the 1920s and into the 1950s, frequently employed prominent strokes all over his skies as major compositional elements, related not to nature but to the designed picture. (The catalog of one of his gallery exhibits is titled, “Between Realism and Abstraction.”) Cezanne, in his advance toward abstraction, had inspired subsequent artists into the modern era where all of a landscape painting could become an equal part with the rest. Marin sometimes pushed his skies dramatically in that direction:
Then, I found a number of Marin landscapes in which he placed
significant marks near the tops of his mountains.
Response to a cloud associated with the mountain top?
Homage to Cezanne and his use of such strokes near the tops of his renderings of Mt. St. Victoire?
I don’t know.
Three of John Marin’s Watercolors.
To my delight, in the painting below, by making use of the unpainted
white watercolor paper, Marin created a “stroke” by omission!