I began this watercolor in the early afternoon of June 11, 2009. I loaded the Jeep and left my home in Arlington, Texas early that Thursday morning, heading west on Interstate 20 for Weatherford, in search of subjects to paint. By the time I reached the town, it was dark and pouring down rain. I turned northward and drove all the way to Springtown, to find more of the same, and debris scattered everywhere from severe storms the night before. Not knowing what to do, I kept driving north till I found myself in Decatur, and just laughed at the long, circuitous route I had driven, mostly through rain.
Decatur was filled with spectral ghosts from my past. I lived there from 1977-1980, struggling as a young graduate student, a welder at POCO Graphite Inc. and pastor of a country church north of Gainesville. Not the most promising of days back then. I guess you could say it rained on me quite a lot back then.
I was surprised to find, on the backside of Business Hwy. 287, an entire row of fascinating structures, some dating all the way back to the 1930’s. I immediately began work on this watercolor en plein aire, as the sun was breaking through, and the temperatures were tolerable for an early afternoon in June. I thought this old corrugated iron building needed some “pop,” so I added a Texaco sign from the gas station across the street. I completed about 70% of the painting, then forgot about it as I returned to Decatur the following morning and began another watercolor (still to be completed).
I returned to this painting after two weeks passed. I was in Hillsboro, Texas on Saturday, June 27, promoting an event at Burson Gallery, where my work is usually displayed. During some of the quiet afternoon hours, I set up outside beneath the trees, and worked on this from a photograph I had taken while on location in Decatur. Finally, I finished the work last Saturday, August 15, while at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, Texas, during some slow moments in the festival.
It’s getting harder to find stations such as this. But as long as they are out there, I will continue to record them as best I can. They are an important part of my personal past, as well as our collective American memories.