Archive for March, 2010

Union Pacific en Plein Air, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010

Southbound Union Pacific Freight

It was chilly in the late Texas afternoon, but I enjoyed some plein air activity at Lyndon Acres while my wife rode her horse.  I had photographed this southbound Union Pacific freight a few weeks ago while I was watercolor sketching in the old part of the town of Burleson.  The sky I laid in Friday night just before dark (and posted recently).  Yesterday afforded zero opportunities for painting as I had a day filled with errands and then Gallery Night was last night.  Happily, I sold a framed watercolor while there (on my website http://www.recollections54, titled New Mexico Road House).

I’ll be posting this watercolor in progress alongside an identical one featuring a GATX diesel leading the freight.  I’m trying to decide on how much finish work to do with these 8 x 10″ compositions.

Thank you for reading.


Coffee Church finished, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

Cahill United Methodist Church

I will probably title this Cahill United Methodist Coffee Church.  My connection with this subject began several years ago when I painted the rear portion of the church to publish on the cover of a forthcoming fiction novel by a local writer.  I fell in love with the overall location of this scenic church south of Burleson, Texas and just east of Interstate 35.  I returned to the church a year later and began this composition.  I was totally satisfied with the tree on the extreme left, and took a picture of the church, hoping to finish the building part of the composition later.

One Saturday, while working in the studio space behind Arlington’s Upstairs Gallery, I knocked my cup of coffee over and completely flooded this painting.  Instead of throwing it away (because I liked the tree!), I kept it around, and worked on it intermittently, trying to find ways to eliminate the coffee stains.  Finally, I ended up with this.

Thanks  for reading.

Nearly completed the trestle, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

West Arlington, Texas Union Pacific trestle

School has been more demanding than usual this week.  It’s been impossible to get any quality work done on watercolor, and I’ve been lucky to concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time.  I don’t work too well if I’m not afforded at least an hour uninterrupted to pore over a piece in progress.  Several uninterrupted hours are better.

I’m about to leave this one for good.  The work has been sporadic at best (every 2-3 days getting to whack at it for 15-20 minutes).  I think I have enough here for decent future reference.  I would love to return to this scene, about 15 minutes from where I live, and see if I cannot produce a series of studies leading to a nicer finished, larger work.  This one is only 8 x 10″.

Thanks for reading.

Jeep Studio, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

Union Pacific Freight Approaching

Early yesterday evening, a plein air moment presented itself.  I took my wife Sandi to south Burleson to ride her horse.  Then I drove to my favorite part of the old town and backed my Jeep up to the railroad tracks where I’ve worked recently.  I have now begun another freight train composition, this one headed by a Union Pacific diesel.  As to the blue GATX freight composition posed last week, I’ve hit a snag.  I already like it as is–a fresh sketch approach–and cannot convince myself to finish out the composition.  I have had this internal debate for two decades now, when to stop.  I have to admit that many, many of my finished watercolors I like much better while they were in progress.  It seems that sometimes the finished work just sucks the life out of the painting.  Over the years, I have appreciated much more the dry brush studies of Andrew Wyeth, with all the surrounding unfinished white areas, than the watercolors filled with detail border-to-border, or even his egg tempera paintings that cover every square inch of surface.

At any rate, I have the idea of posting this painting-in-progress along with my GATX work for viewers to see, in the even that anyone wishes to “sound off” on this debate–spontaneous unfinished sketch vs. finished overall watercolor painting.

Thanks for reading.

Abstraction, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010


Sorry about the gap in posting.  I’m getting ready to load several images, showing what I’ve been up to this past week.

Those of you who have seen Jennifer in the Hunt may be able to recognize this abstraction.  This is the lower left quarter of that composition.  Cali Kim, proprietor of Arlington’s Art Frame Factory, is the one who does all my limited edition printing.  When she was working on reproductions of the Fox Hunt watercolor, she discovered two potential abstract compositions (lower left and lower right quarters of the original painting).  Experimenting, she finally processed this one, and we have it framed and hanging in our home.  My wife loves it.

Thanks for reading.

So Little Time, March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010

Arlington RxR trestle

Today it’s back to school after Spring Break.  I have classes all day and a college class tonight, so I won’t even look at this until late tonight.  But I shall look at it and nudge it some more then.  I set the alarm a half-hour early, rising at 5:00 this morning, so I could give this 30 minutes of nudging.  It will no doubt come along more slowly than what I’ve grown used to, but nevertheless, I will pledge to do art everyday, even if for only small spaces of time.

Thanks for reading.

Freight Train Approaching, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010

Freight Train Approaching, Burleson, Texas

I found some quality time in the studio tonight.  I’m going to be sad to see Spring Break come to a close.  I cannot produce this kind of quantity or quality when school is in full session.  I’m grateful for this week’s respite–it certainly hasn’t been work.  This is the painting I started this afternoon in Burleson.  I photographed the train previously, but today had the pleasure of working on the surrounding structures en plein air.

A Little More Work on the Trestle, March 18, 2010

March 17, 2010

Railroad trestle at dusk

It’s 1:00 in the morning, and I guess I need to retire to bed.  It’s been fun working in the studio tonight.  After much painstaking drawing, I finally finished the freight train composition and will begin applying the watercolor wash when I rise in the morning (hate to screw it up tonight as I’m feeling the fatigue setting in).  I also returned to the plein air sketch I began early this evening (posted now).  Some more washes applied, and a little dry brush rendering, and a few details sharpened.  Still have plenty of work left on this one, but hope I’ll finish it tomorrow, and then dive into the freight train composition.

Thanks for reading.

Evening by the Railroad Trestle, March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

Railroad Trestle south of Division St. in Arlington, Texas

O.K., there is not much to look at yet, but plenty to discuss.  I have wanted to watercolor this location since last summer, and just now got around to it.  The location is just south of Division Street in west Arlington, Texas, near Rush Creek.  I have looked at this low-clearance trestle for several years, and only recently decided that I wanted to set up on location and photograph a Union Pacific freight as it passed over.  The posted picture represents the 35 minutes I was allowed before the sun set and I lost the light (6:23-6:58 p.m.).  I spent most of the time sketching out the overall composition, and continually erasing to get the subject on the paper the way I wished.  Not much time was allowed for the first series of watercolor washes.  But though the sketch is in its infant stages, I feel very strongly that this could translate into a strong little watercolor composition.

The train never came.  So I packed the gear back into my Jeep (as the light was too low to continue working) and wouldn’t you know–a Union Pacific freight blew by, high-ballin’, and I never heard it approach!  I was below the tracks, and the Division Street traffic was providing plenty of noise, and since there were no intersections nearby, there was no reason for the train to blow its whistle.  By the time I jerked the camera out of its bag, the locomotive had already cleared the trestle, and the following auto transport cars were not interesting enough to photograph.  Oh well.

I cannot describe what I feel when I am outside sketching with watercolor en plein air. I know that artists understand what I’m addressing.  It may surprise some to hear that I’m just as thrilled in such moments as I am when I’m standing in a Colorado mountain stream, fly fishing, waiting for a trout to rise.  Every pore of my flesh is tingling, as I am immersed in the sounds of babbling streams, feel the breeze in my face, smell the air, and hear the birds chirping and insects whirring in the tall grasses.  I felt all those sensations this evening.  The sun was setting low, the landscape was lighting up with the most amazing lemon yellow highlights in the wild grasses, the Division Street traffic was swishing high up behind me, birds lined the power lines, and I was in the element–totally immersed and contented.  It was the highlight of my day.

Thanks for reading.

In a Railroad Setting Mood, March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

Abandoned Shed with Wooden Railroad Reefers in the Rear

While cleaning my studio, I came across a 35mm slide of a watercolor I had created back in the year 2000.  I managed to scan it into my hard drive and post it here.  The abandoned shed, covered with faux-brick tar paper, belonged to my deceased Uncle George in rural Jackson, Missouri.  I added the 7-up sign to give it some pop.  The wooden reefer parked in rear I also added–there were no railroad tracks running across his farm.

The sun is up late this afternoon, so I think I’m going to go out and begin another train composition.  I have one already in progress, but believe I’ll wait until after dark and work on it in the studio.  The sunlight is too good to waste (I wasted plenty of it this morning, cleaning my studio!)

Perhaps I’ll have some good news to post this evening.  Thank you for reading.