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“The life of the arts in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”
- President John F. Kennedy


Essays

LIFE AND ACTING: Techniques for the Actor

Let These New Plays Happen to You

Celebrating Uta Hagen Centennial at the HB Studio

Taking the Business of Acting Online

Mary Overlie: Original Dance Anarchist and Post-Modern Evangelist: A Tribute to Mary Overlie 1946-2020

The “Real” Illusion of Mime

Art is the Means by which We Make Ourselves Visible

Theater - A Celebration of All Life

To Think the Thought

Yat Malmgren and the Drama Centre, London

Directions for Directing: Theatre and Method

Writing for Life

Our Theatrical Mission

Strolling Player: The Life and Career of Albert Finney

A Great Reminder for Us All

by David Amram

H20 – Paintings of and About Water

A New Way of Professional Theater

“Let Thousand Flowers Blossom”

A Double Life: My Exciting Years in Theatre and Advertising

Hirschfeld on line

“Action is the direct agent of the heart.”
— Delsarte

“The supreme goal of the theatre is truth, the ultimate truth of the soul.”
— Max Reinhardt

“To flourish, society depends on a strong cultural heritage as well as innovation. The challenge is to breathe new life into the arts. Creativity is at the heart of every successful nation. It finds expression in great visual art, wonderful music, fabulous performances, stunning writing, gritty new productions and countless other media. Giving form to our innate human creativity is what defines us to ourselves and the world.
This is what the arts have always done. The lasting value and evidence of a civilization are its artistic output and the ingenuity that comes from applying creativity to the whole range of human endeavor. What is education if it doesn't teach our children to think creatively and innovatively? What use is a robust economy unless it is within an innovative country that can attract and stimulate the world? How can good governance exist without a population that is engaged, educated and able to form its own opinions?”  Excerpt from an essay, “Reviving a creative nation,”
 – by Cate Blanchett and Julianne Schultz, April 16, 2008, For the Creative Australia Stream at the 2020 Summit

“Simply think the words.”
— Goethe

“Action is the direct agent of the heart.”
— Delsarte

“The supreme goal of the theatre is truth, the ultimate truth of the soul.”
— Max Reinhardt

“Through the unity of reason and emotion, of spirituality and affection and sensation, the actor will discover his creative genius for the stage – the art of acting.”
— Erwin Piscator

“The artist-actor unveils his inner soul.”
— Eleonora Duse

“Living is a process. Acting is the act of laying oneself bare, of fearing off the mask of daily life, of exteriorizing oneself.  It is a serious and solemn act of revelation. It is like a step towards the summit of the actor’s organism in which are united consciousness and instinct.”
— Jerzy Grotowski

“Let us find our way to the unknown, the intuitive, and perhaps beyond to man’s spirit itself.. “
— Viola Spolin

“Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation. Above all things, see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.” – John Singer Sargent

H20 – Paintings of and About Water

“Let the most absent minded of men be plunged into his deepest reveries – stand that man upon his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region…meditation and water are wedded forever.” - Herman Melville, Moby Dick

A short drive along the Natchez trace after a prolonged night of rain in mid-January, dark bare trees bordering fallow farm fields, shows water pooling in every low spot, the ground saturated. Just beyond these fields the Tennessee River (Tanasi in the Cherokee language) is shrouded in a blue mist, cormorants winging their way upstream toward a series of islands. I strain to look up and downstream as I cross along bridge into my home country.

This returning never fails to be memory-provoking and captivating. But my relationship with the river actually precedes my personal memory.

One day, in a flight of curiosity, I was trying to remember when I learn to swim – and couldn't. So, I asked my Dad (this was several years ago) and he told me that he had pitched me in the river when I was a baby (just like his Father had done him) and I swam instinctively. “Don’t tell Mama,” he said. I mentioned this to my brother, Phil, and he had no memory of learning to swim either, so we assume we got the same treatment.

When I mull over events such as these, it’s easy to think of them as metaphors and I do sometimes feel a kinship with the river as a brother, sister, father, mother. The attachment feels like it is embedded in my brain and body.

On the other hand, this feeling may be explained in scientific terms. Moving water produces negative ions which causes our brains to produce serotonin, which causes us to become calmer and more creative.

Perhaps it is a combination of several factors that draws us to water, not the least of which is a physical and aesthetic pleasure of being in and around water. The kinship can be traced further – after all, we began our development in the amniotic fluid in her Mother's womb. In addition, our bodies are around 60% water and our brains are around 75% water.

There remains the simple miracle of water’s composition: two atoms of hydrogen bonded to one atom of oxygen. Simple, elegant and ubiquitous. There are ice balls all through space and it has been shown that these ice balls are coming into our atmosphere daily, vaporizing into water. It is a reasonable guess that the water on earth originated in space from our own solar system and beyond. Water, water everywhere.

The paintings that are in this book are from the last fifteen years with a few older ones. I have added commentary on each painting in order to shed some light on my thoughts as I approach each subject. I hope this will be informative.

These paintings of and about water have practical as well as aesthetic considerations. Protecting the quality of our waterways is not only desirable but imperative. According to Leonardo da Vinci, “water is the driving force in nature.”

Painting by Tim Stevenson

Any particular place on earth can be a source of inspiration regardless of the art form but I find that places with an element of flowing water to be fruitful. Our bodies contain water (up to 60%) and I have often thought that our kinship with water has a molecular basis. The term dehydration could even be a synonym for lack of inspiration. Sometimes when I feel this lack, I refer to the state as “the creek has dried up.” My friends, Gary and Leslie, were kind enough to pose for this one.

Even in my most domestic paintings, nature is not never far away as evidenced by the cards and the mural in the background. The mural is an adaptation of a 17th century Dutch painting by Cornelis Vroom and depicts an estuary off the North Sea. What words can be written in such a setting? Only Donna and a lucky recipient will know.

The passage of time is a mystery and its nature in the subject for speculation. I have included a portrait of Isabella Brandt, first wife of Peter Paul Rubens, along with the painting by Johannes Vermeer, and a scholarly looking carved figure accompanied by a flowing body of water. Counting the relics in human years, about 350 or so, the span seems large but in cosmic time it is insignificant. Still, the passage of time for us seems like a flow – like a river.

The bluffs on the south side of the river where I live show many layers of sedimentary limestone, evidence of a far distant past when this area was completely underwater and the remains of crustaceous sea creatures were compacted over thousands or millions of years to form what is visible today. Over my lifetime, these bluffs have taken on an archetypal quality.

The Cherokees who used to live in the area prior to the European influx called the river “Unashay” or “Singing River.” Local musicians claim inspiration and some even say an Indian maiden emerges from the river periodically to offer songs. Whatever there may be in the myths, inspiration does arise from this perpetually flowing body of water. My subjects, Kimi and Danley, are both accomplished musicians.

This little watercolor was the result of a conversation about exploration. One figure gestures toward the moon, the other toward the creek. The implied analog is a conversation between spirit and flesh, heaven bent and earthbound curiosity. Curiosity is the key component in any case, endless wandering about this earth and cosmos.

After a prolonged period of rain, the horizon is showing some relief. Heavy clouds will dissipate in a short while and the sun will return. For now, there is a feeling of enclosure between earth and sky, one with which I have been familiar since childhood. The sense of place is tangible. 2019 Text and Paintings from H20 – Paintings of and About Water by Tim Stevenson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

TIM STEVENSON One of America’s finest landscape painters, Tim Stevenson recently had a solo exhibition of over sixty of his most recent works featuring the peaceful vistas of the Tennessee Valley, vivid still life and thoughtful figurative paintings in watercolor and oil at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Alabama. A native-born Alabama artist, he has been painting for over forty years in the tradition of the ‘Old Masters,’ (Vermeer and Rembrandt). A self-taught artist who ‘drew pictures for cookies’ at age three, his intermittent excursions into art included cartooning, advertising, illustration and billboard painting along the way. For nine years, Tim taught painting and drawing at his namesake art studio and school, and now teaches a small group of students twice a month in Tuscumbia. He finishes a new painting roughly every two weeks. Mr. Stevenson’s books include Chasing Light: Notes on Creativity and H20: Paintings of and About Water, www.timstevensonart.com


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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