Archive for July, 2010

Finished a Commission, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010

West Texas Cabin

Just finished this commission for a wonderful couple I met at the Kennedale Art Festival last Spring.  I’ve worked throughout the summer, between trips, trying to get this one done.  I’m happy with the snowy atmosphere and cool colors.  This is probably my first serious snow scene in watercolor.  I hope to work on some more in the not-too-distant future.

Thanks for reading.


Finishing the Route 66 Billboard, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

Zephyr Billboard Historic Route 66, Villa Ridge, Missouri

I’m nearly finished with this one.  I’ll be leaving for Colorado next week for some more plein air painting (and fly fishing!), and I need to finish up the partial paintings on all my watercolor blocks.  I have several in progress, and the blocks are all tied up until I can tear the paintings off.  A good predicament, I suppose.

I took a number of photographs around Villa Ridge, Missouri while visiting there last week.  Soon, I hope to get into a series of Route 66 nostalgia pieces.

Thank you for reading.

Back from the Road Trip, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010

Town House/Bed & Breakfast, Yelleville, Arkansas

My last plein air attempt occurred on my last day of the road trip.  I had stayed the night with good friends from Cotter, Arkansas.  We rose early the next morning, and gathered with other plein air painters to give this wonderful Victorian home a try.  The building is now a popular Bed and Breakfast.  I allowed myself a 90-minute window, but managed this in just about one hour.  I’m pleased to be adding some speed and accuracy to my plein air attempts.  I used to spend hours just trying to capture a composition such as this.  The plein air practice is beginning to pay off.  This one measures about 9 x 12″.  I still worship the Edward Hopper watercolors of these kinds of subjects, and hope one day to capture his kind of nuances.

Return to Route 66, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010

Villa Ridge Zephyr sign, Route 66

Today, Tuesday July 20, I managed to return to the property of this abandoned Zephyr Station that I sketched last Friday evening.  This time, I focused on the rusted-out, overgrown Zephyr sign on the left border of the service station property.  Since my last painting Friday night, I received email from Christine (the lady who assisted me on my first visit to the property).  Christine informs me that this is the “Old Cooksy Gas Station.”    Moreover, she has since learned that the old Route 66 behind the station (covered by grass now, but leaving a noticeable rise in the roadbed), was once known as the “Old Post Road,” because the Post Office was located on it.  Once the region took on the name of Franklin County, the highways were given their numbers, and this became Route 66.

The weather was perfect for painting, for awhile.  I arrived at 7:02 a.m., the temperature was 71 degrees, and a gentle breeze was blowing, though the gathering clouds had darkened considerably.  After ninety minutes of drafting, masquing and laying in the basic washes, the watercolor became too wet and soupy for any additional work, and because of the dampness in the air, it was not drying.  I decided I could photograph the sign, return to High Ridge and resume work on it indoors, using the laptop for the image.  Thirty seconds after I had everything loaded in the Jeep, the heavens opened, and the deluge began.  I drove home for nearly an hour, taking county roads, and the rain never let up.  My timing was just right.

I’ve worked a little more on this indoors now, and have decided to leave it for a spell, and decide where to work next on it.  The masquing has done its work, and now I need to make decisions on just how to render the highlighted leaves.  The sign is coming along quite well too, but I still need to do some fine detailing and lettering on it.  I’m happy with it so far, and really grateful for two opportunities now to capture some images and memories from route 66.  Incidentally, I grew up about 20 minutes from this highway, and witnessed its painful transition from Highway 66 to Interstate 44.  The old Cooksy Station is about 35 minutes from where I grew up, and where my parents still reside, in High Ridge.

Thanks for reading.

Route 66 Zephyr Station, July 18, 2010

July 18, 2010

Route 66 Zephyr Station

On Friday morning, July 16, I left Arlington, Texas at 6:00 a.m. and began my drive to St. Louis to visit Mom & Dad.  I stopped frequently along the way to stretch my legs and stay awake.  My plan was to get out of my Jeep and paint some kind of historic Route 66 landmark once I neared St. Louis about ten hours later.  I exited Interstate 44 late that afternoon St. Clair, and began looking for the town of Villa Ridge on Highway 100 which is part of the historic route 66.  Highway 100 is hopelessly cut up by the freeway and other county roads, and I seemed to drive circuitously about the region, pointed to all four points of the compass alternately, until I got pulled over by the Missouri Highway Patrol for an illegal turn.  Fortunately, the patrolman gave me a warning, and told me how to get to my landmark.

By the time I had found this abandoned Zephyr station, nearer to Washington than St. Clair, on Route AT, I had only about 30 minutes before the sun would vanish.  I worked quickly, and made the acquaintance of a lady who kept an Appaloosa horse in a 100-year-old barn behind this station in the dark wooded area.  She invited me to see the horse, photograph the barn, and pointed out the raised grassy portion on top of which I had parked my Jeep, which was lined with ancient pines on the north side.  She told me that that was the roadbed of the original route 66!

I’m in Kirksville, Missouri this morning, but will return to St. Louis this afternoon.  While visiting with my family, I plan to make some more excursions out to the historic 66 area.  I have already found a couple of hotels I would also like to paint.  Hopefully time and weather will cooperate.

Thanks for reading.

Queen Anne’s Lace from Queen City, Missouri, July 18, 2010

July 18, 2010

Queen City Queen Annes LaceThough I don’t have access to my beloved Photoshop while on the road, I have found a way to post plein air watercolors to my blog while I’m at it.  I’m delighted now to have that capability.  I’m in my hotel room in Kirksville, Missouri, using a laptop.

Yesterday evening, while visiting with old friends in Queen City, Missouri, I noticed the sun about to set and asked them if they had any Queen Anne’s Lace on their property.  They did, and I had less than 30 minutes to dash this one out before the sun was lost.

I’m drawing from the immortal Marcel Proust now, and his idea of “rembrances from things past” as I share with you that Queen Anne’s Lace was my favorite “flower” when I was a very small child, running and playing outdoors.  I had no idea it was a weed.  I had great difficulty plucking them as their stems were like twine, and yes, they stank.  My parents always reminded me that they were not flowers and they stank.  But to me, nothing was lovelier than the cool white blossoms of the Queen Anne’s lace, especially when the sun was setting.

Yesterday, driving from St. Louis to Kirksville, via Interstate 70 and U. S. Highway 63, I was smitten at the sight of Queen Anne’s lace alongside the highways, standing out against the dark wooded areas, and was transported back to my childhood play.  By the time I had reached Queen City, I had decided against painting old gas stations and architectural relics.  It was time to revisit an image that meant something to me primally, long before I ever took up a paintbrush.

Thanks for reading.

Saying Goodbye to a Friend, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010

Ronny Hopkins, 1950-2010

This morning, we said “Goodbye” to Ronnie Hopkins, our lead singer, vocalist and creator of the Acoustic River Band.  Ron passed away last Thursday, at age 59, after a two-year battle with liver disease.  It remains such a bitter irony–Ron lived a clean and wholesome lifestyle.  We are flooded with stories of musicians and their deaths from substance abuse, but this gentleman lived a life where he did everything right, and currently none of us can find peace with the reality of his leaving the earth while still in his prime, and with so much left to offer. He leaves behind a wife of nearly forty years (he missed their anniversary by two weeks), two daughters and two grandchildren.  He managed to witness his younger daughter’s wedding scarcely a month ago.

Ron was undoubtedly the best guitarist I ever knew, who knew me by name.  He is the best guitarist I’ve heard without being charged admission.  And I was profoundly honored to be invited to join his band.  Technically, I played second guitar, but beside him, I felt like the tenth guitar.  Acoustic River was invited to play two selections at his services this morning, but frankly, Acoustic River without Ron Hopkins was Creedence Clearwater Revival without John Fogerty.  We played his favorite pieces, but knew that we were a mere shadow of the sound we heard when he sat among us, and his guitar resting on the empty chair was the visual reminder of what is no longer with us.

Shortly after Ron became ill, I was commissioned by David Slight, our bassist, to create this portrait as a surprise for Ron while he was in the hospital.  Using a photograph, we tried to capture his quintessential smile that continually disarmed us, and will continue to do so with every memory.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog.  I’ll be getting back to the studio watercolors, but not just now.  It’s taking awhile to absorb all of this.  Thanks Ron, for including me in your full and fruitful musical circle.

Nearing Finish to Road House, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

I’m closing in on the finish of this one.  I need to finish out the pressed tin siding, and continue to work on the shadow at the top of the building, and finally finish out the foreground.  Almost there.  It’s been a long day in the studio and I feel it.

Thanks for reading.

“Nocturne” to be Published Soon, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010


I just received the good news that my painting of Nocturne will be published in the August issue of the Lone Star Horse Report.  Nocturne was a 23-year old Welsh Cob stallion belonging to a friend who boards my wife’s horse and gives her lessons in dressage.  We were all saddened when he had to be euthanized last year.  This painting of him was my first attempt at painting a horse.  I still miss him every time I go to watch my wife ride, and am thrilled that his memory will be published with this image next month.

Back to the Road House, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

Road HouseI’ve laid aside the fly fishing poured watercolor and returned to the road house scene on Route 61 in Southeast Missouri.  I needed time to compost the fly fishing composition–I’m not sure just what to do next on the exposed masked areas.

The pressed tile siding on this building is pitching me fits.  I plan to finish the center of the building with all those “dents” in the tiled surfaces.  Then I need to put boots on the guitar player and drybrush the ground cover around him.  The GMC pickup still needs modeling, and there is plenty of detail work to do on this remarkable building.  Looks like I’ll focus on this one today and hopefully post some progress by nightfall.

Thanks always for reading.