The Artistic Muse–painting, architecture, philosophy and literature merging

Weatherford, Texas Victorian Bed and Breakfast

How resilient the Life of the Mind, even when daily work details work overtime to drive away the creative impulse!  As I write this, I am totally exhausted, teaching high school full-time (or should I say overtime, since an extra class has been added to the previous “full-time” teaching load?) and keeping a busy schedule with art festivals.  I just finished my second festival in three weeks, the two combined festivals spanning six days.  I have two more consecutive festivals the next two weekends, and a final one the last Saturday of the month.  All told, it will be five festivals over seven weeks, the festivals themselves spanning ten days.  Oh yes, and there was the opening of my One-Man Show during that span, and a marvelous newspaper feature article giving me considerable exposure to the community.  The six-week grading period has just ended at school, so grades are due to be posted tomorrow.  Of course, I am still not finished with that task, and tomorrow will no doubt be another late night.

Nevertheless—my head and heart are abuzz with ideas, not always flying in formation.  I’ve never been linear in my processing.  Today alone (besides teaching three Art I classes and one Philosophy class) I have been possessed with musings over the Richard Diebenkorn show that I viewed breathlessly yesterday at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum, along with ideas gleaned from The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell (my favorite “intellectual” artist of the 20th century), an extensive article from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The History of Aesthetics,” the Classical Age of Greek Art (my preparations for tomorrow’s A. P. Art History class), the Art of the Ancient Aegean (my preparations for tomorrow’s two regular Art History classes) and my recent sketches of Fort Worth’s 1907 Flat Iron building erected south of Sundance Square.

As I was musing over Classical Greek architecture, Motherwell’s comments on abstraction and some things written over the years in my personal journals, I decided to re-post this image of a watercolor I created earlier this year of the Angels Nest at 1105 Palo Pinto Street in Weatherford, Texas (   It turned out to be a large vertical painting (approximately 22 x 30″) with the actual Victorian house occupying a small space at the top of a sprawling hill.  The majesty of this site is amazing to behold, and I would love someday to spend a night or two lodging there.  I first decided to paint it last January, when I was journeying to the Brazos River in Possum Kingdom to fly fish for rainbow trout.  The winter sun was extremely bright that day, lighting up this house like a diamond against the azure blue sky.  So splendid was the view, that I went to a great deal of trouble turning my Jeep around on a divided highway and coming back to this spot so I could take photographs to bring home to my studio.  Once I started on the painting, I found little trouble rendering the house, but considerable headaches dealing with that sprawling lawn and treeline.  The painting now is on display at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  My One-Man Show will close Saturday, October 8, at the conclusion of the HandleyFest.  I’ll be present at that festival as well, with my tent in place.

I am stirred up by all these wonderful ideas, and wish I had time to pursue them in sketches and watercolors, but alas, there is a heavy slate of classes awaiting me in the morning, and a department meeting over the lunch hour.  Still, I think I will have a window of opportunity to paint with a friend tomorrow after school, and Thursday as well.  Yesterday afternoon yielded quality time to render the historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie in quick watercolor.  I now have designs on the Fort Worth Flat Iron building, and hope I can get to it, if not tomorrow, then by Thursday afternoon.  Motherwell wrote about the word “abstract,” taken from the Latin, meaning to remove something.  He thinks that abstraction is one’s attempt to remove the unnecessary in order to get at the essence of something.  Much of that notion echoes the ideas of Andrew Wyeth with regard to drybrush renderings.  Today in the Art I classes, I was trying to lead the students in that exercise by drawing coffee mugs, and trying to discern how little of a mug could be drawn before the viewer could recognize its “essence.”  While students worked on coffee mugs, I worked on the Fort Worth Flat Iron in my sketchbook, trying to draw just enough of it to make the structure recognizable in its “essence.”  I next tried it with Victorian homes.  That reminded me to re-visit this Weatherford Victorian painting.

As my company is called Recollections 54 (from my birth year), I still find myself musing over cultural relics that remain from that decade, often in a current state of disrepair, yet possessing enough “essence” to exert their authenticity.  And just as an incomplete structure possesses the power to draw us into its essence, so also a partially-drawn structure can lead the viewer to the portion of the subject that matters, the core, the essence.  We are still able, with a little lingering, to recover some of the warm memories that hover in residual fashion about these structures.  The longer I linger in their presence, and the more time I spend in the writings of kindred spirits like Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn, the more I feel the presence of the muse and feel the stirring sensation of her whisperings.  And once again, I am ready to pick up the brush.  I hope I can tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


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