Archive for October, 2011

Ready to Watercolor Harleys Again

October 10, 2011

Harley Chicks

Besides getting ready for my return to school, I spent most of this day printing 5 x 7″ greeting cards of my watercolors for this weekend’s festival.  When looking at some of my Harley paintings from the past (including this one pictured), I decided to make another run at a Harley watercolor.  I have no originals left, and the time is past due for me to get some fresh Harley paintings out to these fall festivals.

I titled this one Harley Chicks because of my amusement at Luckenbach, Texas to see chickens hanging out with the parked Harleys.  Someone later told me it was because they picked bugs out of the tire treads.  I never noticed that.  I just took plenty of photos of them just standing around the bikes.

I have this notion of someday painting a red Harley with white chickens surrounding it, so I can spoof the William Carlos Williams poem:

So much depends

upon a red wheelbarrow

glazed with rain water

beside the white chickens.

That is not what I’ve started today, however.  I have a photo I took a couple of summers ago of some overweight bikers getting on their Harleys in front of a candy store.  I’ve decided to give that one a shot.  Too bad I don’t have enough accomplished to post that picture tonight.  I really hope to, tomorrow night.

Thanks for reading.

Third Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Texas Day

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 3 of 3

And here is my third watercolor sketch from the Man Cave on a rainy Texas day.  Again, I used Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils along with my Winsor & Newton field box.  I’m ready to pop these three sketches into pre-cut 8 x 10″ white mats.  This next weekend will find me at Edom Festival of the Arts.  I’m pleased that I’ve managed to complete and matt more than half a dozen new watercolors.  My One-Man Show just closed yesterday, so I will also have some framed paintings ready to take to the Edom festival as well.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day–no school.  My sincere wish is to kick out a few more watercolor sketches before classes begin on Tuesday morning.  I’m in the mood.

Thanks for reading.

Second Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Day from the Man Cave

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 2 of 3

This is my second of three attempts to do a plein air watercolor sketch of my neighbor’s trees and bushes during a heavy rain storm here in Texas.  I made heavy use of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton watercolors with this particular piece.  I also returned to my D’Arches watercolor block with 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper.  The other two studies made use of a new product I picked up a couple of weeks ago: Fluid Watercolor Paper, the Easy Block.  The Fluid Paper is considerably cheaper than D’Arches, and seems to hold up O.K. on quick plein air sketches.  I like the way it receives the Prismacolor Pencils as well.

The cool breezes created a spectacular ambiance for painting in the “man cave” today.  While sketching, I felt my soul flooded with deep feelings as I listened to a production of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Mystic Fire Video.  It wasn’t necessary for me to be reared as an Irish Catholic to identify with much of what happened to him in his formative years.  The film sent me back to a book I haven’t read in over a decade, but have decided to give it another look: Anthony Storr’s Solitude.  I find it hard to experience a genuine, sustained solitude with my packed teaching schedule and weekly art festivals.  But there are those profound moments of being alone that I find myself working on some issues I haven’t faced in many years.  I keep hoping that some of this will translate into my painting.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air Watercolor Sketching from the Man Cave on a Rainy Day

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 1 of 3

It has been days since the last blog.  Too much work demanded from school and upcoming festivals.  I got a reprieve from yesterday’s festival due to a scheduling snafu.  My name was not on the master list.  They offered me a booth in the food section, and I decided “No thanks.”  It was nice to be home for a Saturday.

Today it rained cats and dogs all day in Texas.  I re-opened my “man cave” in the garage, with cooling temperatures caressing the environment.  The cool rains made the morning very pleasant, so I stared out at the trees and bushes of my neighbor’s front yard and began work on a series of small watercolors I’ll insert into pre-cut 8 x 10″ mats.  This is the first of the series of three.  I relied on Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton colors from my field box.  I found the sketching to be a nice “loosening up” exercise, and therefore very enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.

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

October 3, 2011

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.

Attempting Watercolor Plein Air over Dinner

October 2, 2011

Historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas

It has been days since I last posted to the blog.  I participated in the Fort Worth Music Festival, which took me away from my work Thursday through Saturday.  Today, Sunday, was my decompression day.  Though weary from the festival exertion, I chose to spend most of my day at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum.  The Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park Series has just opened at the Modern–an enormous show.  I have seen it twice now, and still cannot absorb what is going on in all those galleries.  What a marvelous body of work.  I purchased the museum catalogue and hope to find some quality reading time in the days ahead.  I really want to know more about Diebenkorn’s approach to abstraction.

When the museums closed, I decided it was time to eat, and preferred to be seated outdoors.  La Madeleine (French cafe) on the west side of Fort Worth was an excellent choice.  I thought I would sit outside, and while lingering over Caesar salad and tomato basil soup, see if I could get in some good work with the Diebenkorn publication.  But the slanting light of the western sun was exquisite on the historic Ridglea Theater across the street, and I found myself fishing watercolor supplies out of my shoulder bag, and before I knew it, I was attempting a sketch of this edifice once again.  There are a few things I like about this attempt that I haven’t been able to capture in earlier endeavors, most particularly the popping red colors of the sign letters facing away from the viewer on the left side of the tower.  I found a little more satisfaction with the brickwork on the tower as well.  This will certainly not be my last attempt to capture the Ridglea on paper.

Thanks for reading.