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.

 

Sweet Companions in Studio Eidolons

August 4, 2021

I just had to share this photo. Having finished the framing of the Longmire watercolor, I stepped back, unaware that my sweet companions had nestled into their beds and gone to sleep. They warm my heart so! It’s been a long day and I guess they have mailed it in.

Longmire watercolor sketch

August 4, 2021

This is rather tongue-in-cheek, akin to rendering the Marlboro Man, but I’ve always wanted to attempt a watercolor sketch of Sheriff Walt Longmire. My friend and fellow artist (and a member of The Redlands Twelve) Stacy Campbell gave me a Stanley for my coffee, and we shared a laugh about those iconic scenes of Walt Longmire striding along with his Winchester & Stanley.

Pulling Out all the Stops in the Studio

August 4, 2021
Several art projects in progress in Studio Eidolons

A great truth is like a mountain that one walks around, and the changes of its contour as one moves his position only emphasize and revivify its majesty.

N. C. Wyeth, final letter to his son Andrew Wyeth, February 16, 1944

A few years ago, I purchased a volume containing the complete letters of N. C. Wyeth. I have always known that he was a prolific reader and allowed great literature to fuel his artistic imagination. His life as an illustrator has inspired me for years, and frequently in the studio when I find my assignments and commissions stacking up, I return to him for added inspiration and encouragement.

As stated previously, I will return to Texas Wesleyan University this fall as an adjunct instructor to teach an online course in the Humanities. Since learning this, wave upon wave, layer upon layer of rich memories of teaching this discipline has overwhelmed me. Days in the studio are now divided between the academic and creative arts disciplines and so far I am liking that feel, though I am getting tired more easily.

Working on the Humanities course

I will be teaching art, literature, philosophy, religion and music from antiquity to the seventeenth century. I have done this dozens of time throughout my life, but since my last go around in 2019, a number of new realms have opened for me that I would like to pass on to the students. We’ll see if I can get these tucked into my new curriculum.

5 x 7″ image will be priced at $100 once it’s installed in an 8 x 10″ frame

The first of several horses is signed and ready to frame. I’m still puzzling out new ideas for color schemes on the horses’ bodies.

First quick sketch of cowboy

My artist friend and former teacher colleague Stacy Campbell presented me yesterday with a Stanley for storing my daily coffee. In response, I’ve kicked out this quick sketch of Sheriff Walt Longmire from the Netflix series, toting his Stanley and Winchester. My immediate plans call for watercolor sketches of horses, bison, longhorns and cowboys. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes from them.

I am excited that our new website is under construction for The Gallery at Redlands. Dave Shultz has been blazing away at it for several days and it appears to be well over half completed already. As soon as it is ready, we’ll launch it for all of you to see.

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.

New Projects out of Studio Eidolons

August 3, 2021
New Series of Horse Watercolor Sketches

We are not on this earth for long. Part of what a midlife crisis is about is figuring out what gives you pleasure and doing more of that in the time you have left without asking for permission or a financial or emotional subsidy from anyone else.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

As summer winds down, I had the notion to go back to this book I so enjoyed during my own midlife (back in the 90’s) to find this quote that has continued to linger with me. The quote fits my retirement years much better than my midlife years. Returning from the gallery last weekend, my imagination was flooded with images I wish to pursue–watercoloring horses faster and looser with brighter pigments and then framing them for display and sale.

While contemplating this next art project, I was interrupted by a call from Texas Wesleyan University; they’re calling me back after a two-year, COVID-instigated hiatus. By this time I really thought my university chapter (going all the way back to 1985) was closed. But I couldn’t say no to teaching Humanities online. Throughout my teaching career, I suppose Humanities, even more than Philosophy, has struck the deepest, richest chords in my memories.

So . . . I’ll be dividing my time once again between studio and university, but anticipate a much better mix since teaching is no longer a full-time occupation. And I do not intend to fall off on the blogging, so stay tuned . . .

And thanks always for reading.

Preparation for University Humanities Course

New Horizons

August 2, 2021
View from Brookie Cabin, South Fork, CO

Though it’s been a couple of weeks, my heart remains in the Colorado Rockies. I thought of those daily rains yesterday afternoon when the rare thunderstorm “mashed” the skies (Emily Dickinson’s description) here at home.

Heavy Arlington, Texas storms

Before going to the ophthalmologist to get my eyes dilated, I thought it best to send out some thoughts while I could still see. Finishing Larry McMurtry’s Streets of Laredo this morning filled my head with images to pursue next. Once in able to see again, I hope to begin immediately.

Paddington naps beneath the desk
Planning new images for watercolor

I spent the entire morning going through literally thousands of photos I took of horses, longhorns, bison & canyons in preparation for my next series of watercolors & drawings. I leave for St. Louis before the weekend, so hopefully I’ll begin posting before then.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts from Studio Eidolons

August 1, 2021
Home Again Sunday Morning. And it Feels Good

Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

Rainer Rilke, letter dated April 23, 1903

Sunday morning feels serene, being back home again in Studio Eidolons, looking out on the bright morning sun splashing across “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and thinking good thoughts. Most of the weekend in The Gallery at Redlands was filled with meeting and conversing with patrons and squeezing out a bit of time to experiment with watercolor sketches of horses and working up the nerve to use brigher, splashier colors like I was doing earlier with my bison series. I have yet to frame any of the horses because I’m still trying to determine whether or not they are worthy of display in the gallery. I brought them all back home with me. Hopefully I can continue working on them this week.

Experimenting with watercolor sketches of horses
Dave Shultz working on a new website for The Gallery at Redlands

We are thrilled to announce finally that a website for The Gallery at Redlands is under construction. Dave Shultz and I finalized our plans yesterday while he was in the gallery and today he is already working on it. We will gladly keep you updated on this news.

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.

Saturday Musings

July 31, 2021
Morning in The Redlands Hotel

Then Roy Bean got so drunk, he couldn’t talk. Before his tongue grew too thick to manage, Roy Bean became irrritated with Famous Shoes for referring to the words in the Bible as tracks. It did seem to Famous Shoes that they resembled certain birds who skimmed the water’s edge for their prey.

“They’re words, not tracks, you damn Indian!” Roy Bean insisted. “They’re words, like I’m saying to you, now.”

“But words are made from breath. How can they live in such a thing as this book?” Famous Shoes asked.

Lary McMurtry, Streets of Laredo

Rising early in the Redlands Hotel this Saturday morning, I enjoyed a stroll about downtown Palestine before the businesses awakened. It’s been my habit for awhile now to pick up things from the sidewalk that attract my attention that I can stick in my pocket and eventually paste into my journal. This cigarette package I decided to insert and then do a quick sketch with the brush pen I purchased last week, hoping I can get over my uptightness when working with ink.

Trash picked up on the morning stroll, pasted into Journal

Streets of Laredo is turning out to be an adventurous read. I laughed when I read the quote posted above, because Larry McMurtry’s fascination with words always found ways to enter the texts of his stories. I had to bookmark my place so I could lay the volume aside and return to another book I packed for this weekend trip: N. Scott Momaday’s The Man Made of Words. This author, a Kiowa descendent, is fully versed in his own heritage, and also highly educated in the universities and possesses a powerful, artful grasp of language that continually leaves me breathless.

The complexity of language is the quality that gives words their great vitality. We cannot exhaust the power of words; that power is instrinsic. . . . We exist in the element of language. Someone has said that to think is to talk to oneself.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

Years ago, I learned from my readings in Heidegger that the Greek word logos that we often translate as “word” has a fundamental meaning of “drawing together, assembling.” That changed everything for me as I began to ponder the creative power of words. In years of teaching, I tried to urge my students to be mindful of how their spoken or written words contain that power, that force, to create as well as destroy.

All of us can think back over our past, especially our childhood, at the many times words have either empowered us or devastated us. I fear that once we become adults we take that for granted and go through our lives oblivious to the ways that wreckless words tossed about today in the public sector have ways of wreaking destruction. Soon I will be reunited with my friend and fellow blogger Wayne White (“Hank” in my fiction stories). We frequently discuss how we hope that words we put on the blogs will fill people with hope, confidence and strength. And my hope for you today is that you find good things, and say and write good things.

Thanks for reading.

Summer Daze with Larry McMurtry

July 27, 2021
Studio Eidolons

The sun was still high, sulled in the sky like a mule, but Augustus had a keen eye for sun, and to his eye the long light from the west has taken on an encouraging slant.

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Forecast today calls for another 100 degrees in this part of Texas. I came in to Studio Eidolons early this morning to sit at the drafting table, read, sketch and occasionally look out the window across Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

Morning Scribbles

After finishing McMurtry’s Comanche Moon, I surprisingly find myself now 36 pages into a re-read of Lonesome Dove. Why? Because when Larry McMurtry relates a story, I see it, hear it, feel its very surroundings. And I find myself reaching for the sketch pad…

More later… Thanks for reading.

Stream of Consciousness from Studio Eidolons

July 26, 2021
In the Studio Eidolons with Slumbering Paddington

All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lies in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.

T. K. Whipple, Study Out the Land

The Texas forecast threatens a 102-degree day this Monday. Yesterday reached 100, and I enjoyed the entire day indoors, in my pajamas, finishing Larry McMurtry’s Commanche Moon. I had not read Lonesome Dove till a couple of years ago, and now I’ve decided to finish out his series by reading Dead Man Walking and Streets of Laredo. I’m saddened at McMurtry’s recent death and consider myself blessed that I met him on a number of occasions while visiting his Booked Up Inc. in Archer City, Texas. Reading his Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond led me to read Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller” and convinced me to continue following my dream of writing and illustrating a book of short stories or maybe even a novel featuring life in America.

Commanche Moon has reignited my appetite to read the history of the American West and re-visit some of the subjects I was painting a couple of years back while engaged in McMurtry reading as well as historical research on the West. I’m pulling out my sketches of bison, longhorns, horses, Plains Indians and cowboys. Perhaps in the coming days I’ll have new work to show.

Thanks for reading.

Two New Watercolors for The Gallery

July 24, 2021
Sacred Heart Night, 11 x 14″ framed watercolor. $150
Shelton Hall, 11 x 14 framed watercolor. $425

Our human tendency is to concentrate the world upon a stage. We construct proscenium arches and frames in order to contain the thing that is larger than our comprehension, the plane of boundless possibility, that which reaches almost beyond wonder.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

The weekend in The Gallery at Redlands proved satisfying, again. I’ll be here a couple of more hours tonight before heading back home to Arlington. I managed to complete and frame a pair of watercolors as I stayed here Thursday through Saturday. They are now on display in the gallery, and I’m closing out my stay by reading the wonderful words of Momaday, truly a man made of words. I love his statement above, about how we carve out stages and display niches to present the images that arrest our attention. Palestine is a town filled with “paintable” structures, each containing its own rich history.

Thanks for reading.