Art of Kenneth B. Houck
Welcome Friends
A brief history of me
Confessions of this Artist
My Poetry
Painters and Poets
Philadelphia Art
Quotations on Art
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Updates (edited 2/21/2016) will pare down periodically:

7/22/16- I have decided to allow the site to expire tyhis September. I enjoyed the exercise of presenting myself to you and myself for a number of years but hhave become uncomfortable with it. There seems to be a certain vanity- can an artist stay in the background while digitally in the foreground. This was never a commercial site but perhaps too much of a vanity and my painting has grown in ever less commercial directions. I think it was useful but no longer feel comfortable with it. I hope everyone understands.

3/25/16- feeling renewed, going to see Liz Osborne soon as we can both get together and want to show/talk of new work. Good lesson in accepting wait is given and waiting for it to mature, emerge. Now feeling not only as peace but strong. Will post and put up some new work after this meeting. Hope all are as renewed this season of renewal,

2/21/16- painting and writing, praying and living, not as much time to mountains as I would desire. Thinking on modernity recognizing it is the art of the unfolding generations asnd not meant to sdpeak top me but I find so little new- found Art, bif versions of small thinks, abstraction of abstraction. It seems to me to be an age of the on screen images for on screen lives; of binary expressions, communication from series of on off switches that remind me of the "I Ching"  idiograms. I think more and more of the hermit in the approved gardens of the Georgian period or perhaps just an intersting Folly, or Walt Whitman offering Oscar Wilde elderberry wine and rocking contently. Time passes on and people in galleries speak of an art I am no longer a part of.

12/22/15- Christmas card is finished but will be about one week late. painting  loaded to painting section  Hope those who wish have a Merry Christmas and the rest Happy Holidays.

12/12/15- Christmas card painting completed so should be in mail next week sometime. Poetry going well but not fast- write like a storm but need to contemplate, edit, contemplate the edit- good discipline and focus for me but so far to go without any urgency, so different than working for a show. Art Basil is drawing the illuminati to Miami and I have the ugly taste of modernity in my mouth waiting to be spit out. I am surprised Trump is not exhibiting his gold toilet. The server for this site crashed last month and then in the fix a sheet of code covered the first page, amazing how long it can take to get a simple thing fixed- or how long it takes to arrange a simple fix. Hope all are well.

July 18, 2015

painting going well- small landscape studies and impressions. poetry? how can I judge what I do not understand, it just flows from prayer perhaps I will someday? Right now a whole portfolio aging and waiting review. Thoughts from " Man's Quest for God" by Abrahham Joshua Heschel. " What would art have been without the religious sense of mystery and sovereighty, and how dreary would have been religion without the heroic venture of the artist to embody the mystery in visible forms to bring his vision out of the darkness of the heart, and fill the immense absence of the Deity with the light of human genius. The right hand of the artist withers when he forgets the sovereighty of God, and the heart of the religious man has often become dreary without the daring skill of the artist. Art seemed to be the only revelation in the face of the Deity's vast silence."

May 12, 2015

Added another poem- "John Woolman is dead".  I continue painting and look forward to some plein aire soon- but also working on the farm, with the dogs, giving not enough attention to my wife, praying, reading, and for some reason writing poetry. Increasingly it is all one.

February 16, 2015
A few small passages from The Spirit of Man in Asian Art, a collection of essays by Laurence Binyon and these are from the lectures on Chinese Painting. "It is the miracle of art that what ia in a man's mind, not only his conscious aim but the imponderable stirrings and promptings that colour his concveption of life, passes into what he makes."   And I might add that it is also a defining element of what is aimed for in universal art, defined not by its price or the dominant element of the society of an age. One thinks of the the art of Southern Sung, of the refinement that was Hang-chow and then itsdefilement in its own heart. He speaks of the essay on landscape by Kun Hsi, written in the eleventh century.. "First he explains the love of the landscape as something innate in man: to get away from the dust and noise of the world to the companionship of woods and springs, mists and vapours, is to realize one's true self. The finest landscapes are thouse in which one can wander, in which one can live."  and then he continues, and  forces me to bow before a Master I cannot meet as an equal stopped by gates far stronger than death"..He has much to say about the painting of mountains, " the divinely beautiful mountains," about trees and mists, and water. Each must have its own life; water must flow and murmur, clouds move, mountains have their light and shade. To render this, there must be a corresponding life in the brush; and for this there needs the utmost concentration of mind. The essential features must be seized; no mere skill can achieve this. It is the mental effort that is insisted on, the intellectual, the imaginative grasp."
     And to have this focus without the supreme failing of choosing Self Love over compassion requires submission to a higher service, can we drink from that cup?

Old that still have meaning for me

December 18, 2015- Happy Holidays. First I must reassure and apologize. This year's cards will be out, painting done on time but late to printer and yes- anyone out there with computer skills would have done them themselves. Next, I continue a different part of life's journey and slowly bringing my Art to its place in it as lessons are learned. The secular present, the spiritual eternal and like a child my work is small but growing. Should have a new gallery of this progress up early in 2015.
            A note from a Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly in his essay Room for the Infinite, 1937:

There is a profundity and subtlety in such pictures that we never should have missed. Such painting carries the universe in its bosum. It sets forth the Infinite, the Everlasting Background and Source of all things, and shows us the infinite particulars as out jutting revelations of Itself. Out from It they came, back into it they retire. There is no disconnection; the finite is a fragmentary disclosure of the Infinite, a rythm-filled continuation of that unspeakably full Life which gives it birth.         

November 15, 2014- Awakening to the internal, to the fellowship of the awakened and the guidance of Our Father. Each day a little more alive and as the internal brightens the external, which was somewhat dimmed, is seen again with greater love. Responding differently to certain paintings, some awaken and draw me deeply not that I do not recognize, skill, creativity, genius but that there is a greater tale to be heard, brother or sister to be found. My own painting- small, humble things at present but still bringing joy. In fact joy of the everyday and small things is becoming the constant. This year's holiday card is almost ready, will put up some of the small gouche early next year.

September 23, 2014- thought I'd just add a few quotes today, this by John Ruskin which I'll put a few on the quotes page as well. Quotations strike different minds in different ways- I've heard them dismissed as "substitudes for the work of thinking" which is of course a quote butI generally find them restful and look to where they touch me or miss, Ruskin does both but then he led a long life in the Arts and Social action before his threat of sanity frayed: " Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking of ideal truth."

March 29, 2014- just a few lines fromIdeals of the East, by Kakuso Okakura on Art in theAshikagu period:
"Virility and activity were necessary in order to suggest to itself the completion of an idea was essential to all forms of artistic expression, for thus was the spectator made one with the artist." and later "A painting, which is a universe in itself, must conform to the laws which govern all existence."  and " Thus a great work by Sesshu or Sesson is not a depiction of nature, but an essay on nature; to them there is neither high nor low, neither noble nor refined."

July 26, 2013- from Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse " The whole was cold and almost cruelly sad, but irreproachably quiet, free from symbolism except of the simple kind without which there can be no work of art, which permits us not only to feel the oppressive incomprehensibility of all nature but also to love it with a kind of sweet astonishment."  A good busy time, paintings coming, a small one finished, thoughts of studies, studio walls lined with thoughts and sketches, the bif first piece of Primavera on good foundation now, developing and growing like the greening of Spring. As usual will post more work in September. Life-so beautiful, so terrible one cannot simply endure it unless a saint like Buddha. If I was an aspiring saint I'd pray and fast but I am but a painter so I paint. How goes the work?