Archive for November, 2012

Finished the Poetry and Cigarettes Still Life

November 20, 2012

Poetry and Cigarettes

My Thanksgiving Holiday is off to a satisfying start.  I have completed work on this small 5 x 7″ still life that features an 1881 copy of Whittier’s Poems and an old Lucky Strike cigarette tin I found in an antique store years ago.   A few weeks back, I surprised myself by doing some close-up studies of antique doorknobs.  This has only whetted my appetite for more.  I have had a fetish for old objects such as these, and have stared at them for years, wondering if I could ever render them in pencil or watercolor (I have always envied other artists who did).  Finally, I decided “Why not?”  I’m glad I finally got around to giving this a try.

The PBS Voices and Visions series has been an inspiration to me since the early 1990’s.  Recently I was directed to the website where all the documentaries can be streamed.  What a wonderful companion piece for the studio!  While working on this still life, I have listened, with deep emotional stirrings, to the presentations on T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens and Walt Whitman.  The laptop is such a great accessory to have handy in the man cave.  My cat even seems to enjoy napping to the sounds of the sonorous voices reading the poetry and opining on the lives of these great writers.  My watercolor supplies, volumes of poetry, a laptop and a cat–who says you can’t have it all?!  I’m looking forward to vacationing in my cave for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

Further Work on the Watercolor Still Life of Poetry and Cigarettes

November 20, 2012

Poetry and Cigarettes Thanksgiving

I shall always be grateful for school Thanksgiving holidays beginning on Tuesday afternoon.  After nailing down a few necessary tasks, my plan is to escape to the man cave this evening and take a serious look at this 5 x 7″ watercolor I began day-before-yesterday.  I feel myself drawn in, more and more, as I gaze on these objects beneath a strong light, and spend quiet moments reading poetry and finishing the Rollo May book My Quest for Beauty.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to post this evening.  Thanks for reading.

A New Still Life Watercolor, with Thoughts of the Fireside Poets

November 19, 2012

Still Life Watercolor of Book of Poems and Cigarette Case

I must be half-nuts.  I have three or four watercolors still unfinished, and here I am, starting on something else.  Last night, I was reading selections from the Fireside Poets, and came across this 1881 volume of John Greenleaf Whittier.  As I thumbed through it, I thought, with great delight, that I was possessing a volume that was for sale on a book shelf while this poet was still living.  Many winters ago, when Texas had snow, I read “Snow-Bound” from this old volume, enjoying a fire and a cup of coffee.

So, last night, before I could talk myself out of it, I dug out my old Lucky Strike cigarette tin, laid this volume on top of it, and began sketching.  Once I had the composition blocked out, I was in the mood to paint, so I took out my Winsor & Newton field box (I recently replaced the pans with colors from the palette I adopted about six months ago).  I am finding a strange satisfaction, painting this small still life with a small paint box instead of the large palette and butcher tray I had grown accustomed to using in the studio.  I am also doing much more pencil work with this piece than is my usual custom.  I’m not sure where it is going to take me, but I’m enjoying this new twist.  This composition is probably not going to grow beyond 5 x 7″.  It is extremely rare for me to work so small.

I have nearly finished the Rollo May book begun over the weekend: My Quest for Beauty.  I will have plenty more to say about that, but wish to return to painting for now.  The man cave is providing an excellent environment, and I have the  “T. S. Eliot” documentary from Voices and Visions playing on my laptop.  This is a great moment.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday Night in the Man Cave, Painting Door Knobs

November 17, 2012

Third Watercolor of a Vintage Doorknob

The weekend has grown quiet, and I managed to find a Saturday night free of engagements, allowing me to return to my forsake man cave.  The drafting table was a mess, and it took some time to get all my debris cleared away so I could resume work on this watercolor abandoned a week ago.  School has been much too busy to my liking, and I’m grateful now for this hiatus, with Thanksgiving break just around the corner.

Though I haven’t been able to paint for a week, I have had the warm privilege of opening Rollo May’s My Quest for Beauty–a book I ordered from Amazon eons ago, that finally arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Though my jealous cat crawled on top the open book on my lap for the first hour, I did manage to get into the text late last night, and spent quite a bit of time in it today (incidentally, the cat is all over me right now, as I attempt to type this entry).

I enclose a gem from Rollo May:

My firm belief is that one paints, as one writes, not out of a theory but out of the vividness of an experience . . . Rational thoughts follow to anchor theoretically the truths that already have grasped us as a vision.

That lets me off the hook.  I cannot explain to anyone why I have attached myself to doorknobs recently.  These relics are what survive of my memories in my grandparents’ homes when I was a child.  I have dropped the Proustian line continually as I blog, and I do enjoy the shock of recognition when I see an antique that unleashes those submerged memories from my past.  Maybe some day I will be able to write eloquently about what I am painting.

Thanks for reading.

A Relaxing Afternoon in the Man Cave

November 9, 2012

Friday in the Man Cave

Well, another week of public school is in the books.  The students were wonderful, but I came home tired today.  I sat in the man cave and messed up the watercolor that I started recently.  So, I took a nap and returned to it refreshed.  Hopefully I have restored it and have it moving in the right direction again.  I am at the stage where I am combining drawing and drybrush, working these over the layers of wash already laid down.  I love this weaving stage of the watercolor.  I chose to stop at this point and let the composition sit for another day or so.  I believe that composting is the right direction for me right now.  I need to take my time and let this painting mature.

Thanks for reading.

Drybrush Beginning on my Third Vintage Doorknob with Musings of William Carlos Williams

November 7, 2012

Beginning of Third Vintage Doorknob Watercolor

With daylight saving time providing much longer nights, I found myself desiring to withdraw to the man cave this evening and begin my third watercolor attempt of a porcelain doorknob from my collection.  About ten years ago, I began collecting old doors to hinge together and use as temporary walls for displaying my watercolors in art festival booths.  Because the doorknobs and lock plates interfered with folding the doors together and transporting them, I removed them all, stored them in my classroom locking cabinet and forgot about them until recently.  Now I’ve gone on this still life watercolor binge, inspired by a recent visit to the Wyeth exhibit at the Tyler Museum of Art.

For several decades, I have pored over images of Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings of dilapidated doors and knobs, and have stared at real ones as well.  In a Proustian sense, they take me back to my grandmother’s ramshackle house that featured abused doors and porcelain knobs with skeleton key locks.  I always found them more fascinating throughout my childhood than the doors of our suburban home–brass knobs with all the doors featuring the same wooden stain.

As I worked in the studio this evening, I continually replayed the Voices and Visions VHS tape of William Carlos Williams, a family doctor who drove around his small New Jersey town in the 1930’s, taking in images all day, recording them on prescription pads and converting them to poems every evening, late.  Imagism emerged in his works, along with those of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.  “Say it again–no ideas but in things.”  Several months ago, I made a couple stabs at painting still life objects in a prosaic, commercial fashion, much as Andy Warhol did with his Campbell Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.  I have pulled them out recently, wondering if I should put the images on an old wooden table, or in front of one of my ten vintage doors resting in the man cave.  I’m fascinated with these images of late, staring at them, watercoloring and sketching them, reading William Carlos Williams poems and continually looking at Andrew Wyeth and Andy Warhol paintings of prosaic objects.  I am not sure where this is going to lead, but I must say I am gleaning much satisfaction, personally, from these experiments.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Drybrush of the 2nd Vintage Doorknob

November 5, 2012

Second doorknob finished

Finally, I have completed my second attempt of a close-up of a vintage doorknob.  Andrew Wyeth and his drybrush technique has inspired me since ninth grade, but finally I work up the courage to attempt a still life with my own watercolor techniques.  This has been a fun adventure.  Earlier this year, I painted a vintage Lucky Strike metal cigarette case and a vintage Maxwell House coffee tin.  They have been posted in earlier blogs.  I think I’ll keep experimenting in this genre and remembering the literary theories of Imagism championed by William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound–no ideas but in things.

Thanks for reading.

A Second Attempt at Painting a Vintage Doorknob with Andrew Wyeth Influence

November 3, 2012

Second Vintage Doorknob in Drybrush Watercolor

With delight, I return to my home (and my man cave) tonight.  I traveled to Bullard, Texas after school Friday to set up for the 5th Annual Jenny Wood Art Show, hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Bullard Mission House.  This is a remarkable show, set up in the memory of Jenny Wood, a quintessential artist of East Texas who passed away five years ago.  The event organizers–a commited community of local artists and volunteers–were among the finest I’ve met in my past six years of art festival participation.  The facility was magnificent–a family life center connected to the Methodist Church there, and I was surrounded by magnificent art.  My thanks goes out to the artists and marvelous patrons who turned out in droves and made the event a success, with a significant amount donated to the Mission House.

The night before I left for the show, I began drawing out the composition posted above–a second 8 x 10″ rendering of another of my antique doorknobs and doors in my man cave (that doubles as a wall for displaying my art at festivals).  I had hoped to work on this watercolor sketch in the hotel room last night, but I got in rather late after setting up my display, and chose instead to unwind in the pool (a wise choice!).  Rising at 6:00 this morning, I returned to Bullard from Jacksonsville (and I highly recommend their LaQuinta), and just before the show opened, I resumed work in this sketch.  I took with me the doorknob, and completed it while at the festival, then returning home tonight, set up in the man cave and focused on the door and the lock plate.  I feel that I am near completion but haven’t yet signed the piece.  After the luxury of setting my clock back and getting an extra hour of sleep, I’ll have a clearer eye in the morning to decide whether or not this piece is actually finished.  But as of now, I am exhausted to the bone, and glad that I can fall asleep tonight with a smile, thanks to the wonderful artists and patrons I met this weekend.

Thanks for reading.