Welcoming 2019

January 1, 2019

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The passions are a kind of thirst, inexorable and intense, for certain feelings or felt states. To find or invent ‘objects’ (which are, more strictly speaking, relational structures) whose felt quality satisfies the passions,- that for me is the activity of the artist, an activity which does not cease even in sleep. No wonder the artist is constantly placing and displacing, relating and rupturing relations; his task is to find a complex of qualities whose feeling is just right – veering toward the unknown and chaos, yet ordered and related in order to be apprehended.

–Robert Motherwell

What an exhilaration to awake to a 19-degree winter morning on New Year’s Day 2019! With no appointments on the books, I felt a soothing calm as the day presented itself with leisure and books. Reading passages from Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell put me in the frame of mind to explore drawing with renewed vigor. He defined drawing as a method for organizing space on a two-dimensional plane.

The first day of the new year often witnesses a different trajectory in my art. Currently I am working on commissions, and will begin posting them, but I also laid down a New Year resolution that I would draw more. So . . . a few years ago, I drew one winter tree per day for the month of January, then matted each 5 x 7″ drawing, framed a few, and sold a large quantity of them. This year, I’m not thinking about the sale, only the hope to improve with the careful discipline and repetition of drawing. My intention is to spend January with a focus on drawing nature.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Finished the Georgia O’Keeffe Pedernal

September 18, 2021
8 x 10″ watercolor $100

Good Morning, Come On In!

September 18, 2021

Standing in the Doorway to The Gallery at Redlands

. . . like the moon, so life surely has a side that is constantly turned away from us, and that is not its opposite but its completion to perfection, to plenitude, to the real, whole, and full sphere and globe of being.

Rainer Maria Rilke, letter written January 6, 1923

Entering the Gallery at 9 this morning, I felt there was something special in the air. Sitting down to read, I wasn’t disappointed. Rilke’s letter has filled me with an indescribable emotion. A few weeks ago, life shifted yet again for me when I accepted this university contract and immediately found myself inundated with students, emails, deadlines, etc. with the opening of a new semester of study. My daily reading was already a reality, just different texts of ethics, philosophy, literature etc. have come across my study desk. College drives most of my life Monday through Wednesday; then Thursday arrives with the Gallery and surrounding of an artist community. When I read Rilke I thought “Of course. Two sides to the moon. And they complete one another.”

Friday Morning Journaling
Today’s Journaling

Some time ago, I decided that I wanted my journal to contain more than scribbled thoughts. I already keep separate sketchbooks for watercoloring and drawing. But for my journal I decided I want each morning’s “marker” for the day’s scribblings to serve as a divider, or title page for quicker reference. This has given me an excuse to return to collaging. I have photocopied and printed scores of my earlier sketches to tear out, cut out, and paste into my journal pages when I feel too rushed to slow down and draw something. But I still draw in the journal as well. It keeps me guessing. Above I’ve posted photos of yesterday and this morning’s journal pages.

Started this 8 x 10″ last night. Will probably finish and frame sometime today

Late yesterday afternoon while drafting next week’s lectures on my laptop, the setting sun lanced my desk top, making it impossible for me to look into the screen of my laptop for about thirty minutes. I moved over to the drafting table and began an 8 x 10″ watercolor of yet another Cerra Pedernal from Abiquii, New Mexico. Georgia O’Keeffe said if she painted it enough times, God would have to give it to her. I’m beginning to wonder if I will wake up one day to find this mesa planted outside my own window. A few years ago, I painted it eleven times during a week that I stayed in Abiquii. Since those days, I have ached to return. Hence, I keep painting my memories of that place.

Warm Remembrance of Riding Andante

. . . and speaking of memories, exactly one week ago, at about this time, I climbed on to Andante and road this magnificent horse around the Key Equestrian Center in Lubbock, Texas. Thank you, Sandi. Looking at the picture this morning (as I have every morning since), I decided to post him as a parting shot on today’s blog.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Friday Morning Greeting from The Gallery at Redlands

September 17, 2021

Early Friday Morning Opening in The Gallery at Redlands

Albrecht Dürer, did after all make the well-known remark: “For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her has it.” “Wrest” here means to draw out the rift and to draw the design with the drawing-pen on the drawing-board. But we at once raise the counterquestion: how can the rift-design be drawn out if it is not brought into the Open by the creative sketch as a rift, which is to say, brought out beforehand as a conflict of measure and unmeasure? True, there lies hidden in nature a rift-design, a measure and a boundary and, tied to it, a capacity for bringing forth–that is, art. But it is equally certain that this art hidden in nature becomes manifest only through the work, because it lies originally in the work.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

Thursday morning was splendid because I knew there was nothing on the calendar until evening when I would be doing a watercolor talk and demo before the Tyler Palette of Roses art association. I decided to spend some quality quiet time propped in bed with coffee, some Heidegger reading, and plenty of journal scribbling. When I came across the text above, I was immediately arrested. I paused and stared straight ahead for awhile, then read the passage over several more times, then began scribbling my journal response.

“Phantoms” 16 x 20″ framed watercolor. $400

I suddenly sprang out of bed, dashed up the hall to Studio Eidolons to retrieve the watercolor I had started recently, put it on the table at the foot of the bed, then climbed back into bed to gaze at it from across the room. I had stopped working on the painting when I resumed classes last Monday and Wednesday (much time was required to prepare and write the lectures for presentation). I thought I was only about 60% finished with the watercolor, with plans to complete the reflections of the mule on the right, then look for ways to make the two riders “pop” more from their background, deepen the colors in the woods above and the waters below, complete the sandbar on the right as well as the tangle of roots to the right, etc. Details, details, details . . .

But as I continued to look at the painting and re-read Heidegger’s take on wresting art from nature, I felt a growing conviction that the painting was finished and ready to frame. I am convinced that any further work on the piece would only diminish the painting’s overall “look.” I signed my name later that day and framed it. Now it is in the gallery window. I like the painting’s freshness, its overall airiness. As for the reflections from the mule on the right, they are sort of there already, if you look (hence the title “Phantoms”). Perhaps a disturbance in the water, or reflected light off the water prevented the reflection from coming into view. And as for all the unfinished details, I believe the observer’s eye and imagination will supply those. My painting life is filled with sad chapters of overworking and losing a watercolor that showed so much promise in its foundational stages. Not this one. The most difficult part of making art for me is stopping before I have pushed the painting too far.

In the motion picture “Six Degrees of Separation”, Donald Sutherland (an art dealer) recounts a dream:

This is what I dreamt. I didn’t dream so much as realize this. I felt so close to the paintings. I wasn’t just selling them like pieces of meat. I remembered why I loved paintings in the first place– what had got me into this– and I thought– dreamed– remembered– how easy it is for a painter to lose a painting. He can paint and paint– work on a canvas for months and one day he loses it– just loses the structure–loses the sense of it– you lose the painting.

When the kids were little, we went to a parents’ meeting at their school and I asked the teacher why all her students were geniuses in the second grade? Look at the first grade. Blotches of green and black. Look at the third grade. Camouflage. But the second grade– your grade. Matisses everywhere. You’ve made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into second grade! What is your secret? And this is what she said: “Secret? I don’t have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them.”

Queen Street Entrance to The Redlands Hotel

I started this blog at 8:30 and here it is 1:25. The gallery has been busy all morning and early afternoon, which is good. I’m going to close before someone else comes in . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Framed and in the Gallery

September 16, 2021

A Day at Texas Wesleyan University

September 15, 2021
Seated outside the Student Center

This has been an unusual day at Texas Wesleyan University. Circumstances made it necessary for me to stay on campus between my 9:00 and 1:30 Ethics classes, and then to remain further for a 3:00 student conference.

I managed to make good use of the time. This is the first chance I have had to focus attention on a presentation I will make Thursday night in Tyler before a gathering of local artists.

Some of the prepared remarks I have been scribbling here in the shade outside the Student Center are presented below:

Shelton Hall. Palestine, Texas
Zephyr Station. Villa Ridge, Missouri

When I view the silent relic of what once was a thriving space filled with chatting people, I feel the same emotions as when I stand beneath the fractured columns of an ancient Greek temple or translate from the Greek a mere surviving fragment of a book.

Heidegger once wrote that before we do any actual translating, we must first translate ourselves to what a fragment says, what it is thinking. Like Hermes, we must first set foot on the distant shores of Ogygia before we can return to the land of our own language with a meaningful word.

One could probably say that I am a painter of nostalgia. The Greek word nostalgia refers to a painful memory. The painful memory I endure while standing amidst abandoned relics is the realization of loss. But if I linger there long enough, contemplating, the sense of loss will be accompanied by a sense of presence. Heidegger wrote about the “presencing” and I feel that when I paint abandoned relics.

The Anaximander Fragment, translated by Heidegger, reads that for all things that have an origin, it is necessary that they have an end. This sad observation increases my desire to record the remains of architectural structures that have functionally perished.

More tomorrow . . . Thanks for reading.

Landscape of the Mind

September 14, 2021

Another piece of landscape about to vanish from view

“Wilderness” has a deceptive concreteness at first glance. The difficulty is that while the word is a noun it acts like an adjective. There is no specific material object that is wilderness. The term designates a quality (as the “-ness” suggests) that produces a certain mood or feeling in a given individual and, as a consequence, may be assigned by that person to a specific place.

Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind

I’m finding it difficult to put quality time into this blog while I’m still not quite balanced beneath this academic load I’m carrying at the university. Hopefully by the time this week is complete I’ll have everything in place to my satisfaction.

Working on tomorrow’s ethics lectures

I will try daily to put up pictures of what is going on and return to my art work before the weekend. The wilderness post above is reference to the piece of raw land Sandi and I stared at today while seated outside a coffee shop in our area of Arlington. It looks much like the land I used to gaze upon while seated in a patio area outside a Kroger store that was constructed in our neighborhood a few years back. I made three plein air watercolors of that strip of land, only to return a few months later to find it completely ploughed and cleared out. Today a shopping center covers that spot–nothing but steel, glasss, concrete and asphalt now and dozens of parked vehicles. Well . . . a sign erected at the site posted above shows that that area is also facing the same fate. Years ago, I saw these things as commercial progress. Now I just am saddened to see the trees cleared, soil ripped and more buildings and parking lots going up. As the green disappears, my spirits continue to sink.

Hopefully, the next blog will be sunnier. Thanks for reading.

Ready to Return to the Painting

September 13, 2021

Just a quick note to my readers to say I’m itching to return to my art. The mules are coming along the way I’ve been envisioning. I’ve just been invited to make a presentation before “Palette of Roses” in nearby Tyler, Texas. I’m seriously considering including this piece in the demo.

Wish me luck.

Creating New Values

September 12, 2021
I once saw a poster that read: A MESSY PLACE IS THE SIGN OF A CREATIVE MIND

Hello again. I’m exhausted today after a weekend 10-hour round trip between Arlington and Lubbock, Texas. However, the Saturday spent in Lubbock was absolutely lovely.

Composing university lectures in the shade of trees

Saturday morning in Lubbock featured lovely 64-degree temperatures and I spent quiet hours in the shade of trees working on material for my Texas Wesleyan online Humanities course. We are about to begin study of the Homeric epics, and refreshing my memories of ideas from The Iliad and The Odyssey was time well-spent.

Riding Andante

At some point Sandi surprised me by presenting her prized mount, Andante, for me to ride. I had never done this, though she has owned him for over a decade. He towers at 17.3 hands, and I am not an equestrian. Yet he is such a gentle giant, a quiet soul. So I got to spend some precious time riding him gently around the spacious pastureland on the property at Key Equestrian.

Home again this Sunday, I’ve worked most of this day on a new lecture for two sections of Ethics meeting tomorrow. The reading from the textbook is titled “Why Life is Absurd.” The lecture I’ve been writing explores the theme of The Absurd and ethical responses from thinkers including Qoheleth (author of Ecclesiastes in the Bible), Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Paul Tillich. Though the research and writing has been arduous, I’ve enjoyed working through the material and attempting a creative response. We’ll see how it all goes . . .

Thanks for reading. It’s good to be home again.

Homer’s Epics in West Texas

September 11, 2021

Before we can do any actual translating, we must first translate ourselves to what the text has to say. We must first travel to the ancient shores of Ogygia before we can return to our present world with a proper word.

Martin Heidegger

Saturday Morning has found me in Lubbock in 64 degree temperatures under clear skies. Shaded from a bright sunrise, I listen to the sounds of traffic on a distant highway, concealed from view by long stands of trees. Sips of Keurig coffee shelter me from the occasional cold breeze.

Next Tuesday my Texas Wesleyan University Humanities online course will plunge into the homeric epics. So I am grateful now for this quiet time and space to enter Homer’s world and see what I can glean from those distant shores of Ogygia to bring back to a Texas gathering.

Yesterday was a long, 5-hour Odyssey in a pickup truck from Arlington to Lubbock, Texas. The long stretch of windshield time afforded me rich opportunities for thinking over the ancient Greek epics, especially when I gazed across the rugged horizon of the Llano Estacado. I am truly blessed now this morning to have plenty of space and time to pore over these texts. Again, my heartfelt thanks to the Seminary for teaching me the Greek language.

The Iliad

Thanks for reading.

On the Road Today

September 10, 2021
Still working on the mules and reflections

Today presents to me yet another long road trip, so unfortunately I will not be able to pursue this watercolor in progress. I enjoyed yesterday’s time in The Gallery at Redlands, and spent hours working on the reflections of the mules, and had to make a lot of decisions about colors in the creek. I am happy with the progress made, and hope to return to work on this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.