Archive for May, 2013

Honorable Mention and Three Sales Tonight

May 31, 2013
Time For a Cold One

Time For a Cold One

What is the modern concept of pure art?  It is the creation of a suggestive magic, containing at the same time the object and the subject, the world outside the artist and the artist himself.

Baudelaire

I am just now coming off a full week of painting scenes and subjects that resonate with my personal feelings, hoping that the paintings might evoke something from the hearts of viewers as well.  After tonight, I am optimistic.  Things appear to be off to an excellent start.

I was fortunate to pull out an Honorable Mention in tonight’s competition.  As always, more than forty artists filled up the auditorium with quality work, and I’m glad I didn’t have to judge it.  There were many, many exceptional pieces under the spotlight tonight.  “Time for a Cold One”, “The Lone Sentry”, and “Overcast Courthouse” now have homes.  The sale opens officially tomorrow morning, and I’m pleased to have already three pieces going out the door prior to the opening, something that never happened to me before.

I will spend the entire Saturday and Sunday in Waxahachie, painting historic homes on the Gingerbread Trail.  Thousands of tourists turn out for this annual event, and some of us plein air painters intend to get out there in the public eye in order to direct some of that traffic back to Getzendaner Park and the Chatauqua Auditorium to see all the work on display and ready to sell.  I hope the weather holds up.  I’m ready to put in a couple more days of painting before this comes to a close.  It’s been a tremendous week, and I’m very grateful for every success, and thankful to all you well-wishers who posted.

Thanks so much for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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Wish Me Luck, This Weekend!

May 31, 2013
Overcast Courthouse

Overcast Courthouse

All art that is worth while is a record of intense life, and each individual artist’s work is a record of his special effort, search and findings . . .

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The competition phase of the Paint Historic Waxahachie event has ended.  Judging will take place this afternoon, and the show’s preview and awards assembly will be this evening.  I have seven works entered, and hope I can do well this year.  The event has been good to me in the past.  Sales of all work open tomorrow morning, and will extend until Sunday afternoon, at the Chatauqua Auditorium adjacent to Getzendaner Park on Grand Avenue in Waxahachie.  Coinciding with our art sale will be the historic Gingerbread Homes Tour and an art festival in the park.  I plan to paint some of the historic Gingerbread homes on Saturday and Sunday, all the while hoping my work will be selling out of the Auditorium.  Wish me luck!  I’m glad this week is finally drawing to a close.  I’m exhausted, but very happy that two of my works have already sold, prior to the show’s opening.

On a personal note, I have learned a great deal during this week of painting, laborious as it has been.  Thanks to Robert Henri and Paul Cezanne, I have been focusing on some compositional matters, and feel that I am having some breakthroughs.  I am excited to see where this is going to lead.  Painting is such a joy when I feel that I am actually going somewhere with these efforts instead of repeating myself.  More on that later.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Coming Off an All-Day Plein Air Marathon

May 30, 2013
The Lone Sentry

The Lone Sentry

If I weren’t so exhausted and sleepy, I would crank out three blog posts with illustrative quotes from my reading.  But my eyes are barely open.  So I’m going to post all three of today’s paintings on this one post.  I arose at 5:30  this morning, went to school to lay out the assignments from my substitute teacher, and then drove forty minutes south to Waxahachie.  No sooner than I began on this Ellis County courthouse, it began to rain on me.  I packed up my gear and moved beneath an awning.  When the rain subsided, the gale winds took over, and I had to keep one hand on this easel the entire time, as it was trying to blow away, conterting my watercolor into a kite.  Once I finished it, I noticed with delight that Zulas Coffee House had relocated in the Texas Theater on the Waxahachie square.  After going intside and enjoying an iced latte, I moved across the street, this time inside an alcove of the courthouse, as the rains began again.

Two, Please

Two, Please

This painting seemed to take forever, as the details seemed never-ending.  And I certainly felt the fatigue beginning to set in.  I had intended to do a third painting before the 6:00 “Quick Draw” competition, but registration began at 5:30, and as the time was already 4:00, I was certain that I could not comfortably finish a third painting and get to the competition on time.  So I chilled awhile, did a little reading, took a walk, then headed for College Street to begin the Quick Draw.  In this competition, we are given ninety minutes to complete a painting, then put it on auction.  I did manage to complete my watercolor sketch of the College Street Pub, but virtually no one showed up for the auction (I believe only one artist sold her painting), so we packed our gear, enjoyed a late dinner together (about twenty of us in the Pub gardens), and then I headed for the house.  Here is the Quick Draw piece I completed:

The Quiet of the Night

The Quiet of the Night

Thanks for reading.  I need to get some quality sleep, as tomorrow I have school, followed by another round in Waxahachie.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Plein Air Watercolor Adventures Continue

May 29, 2013
Time for a Cold One

Time for a Cold One

Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending.  The risks are obvious: you may never get to the end of the sentence at all–or having gotten there, you may not have said anything.

David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Today was not the best of days to attempt a plein air painting.  I had a school day that just would not seem to end.  The year has seemed far too long for students as well as faculty.  I then had to drive away from Waxahachie to enter seven paintings in a competition in which I like to participate every year (the timing was just not good this time).  I then drove the rest of the distance to Waxahachie, and found a pickup truck again parked right in front of the pub.  So I walked around it, sat in front of the pub, and looked at the planters, carefully drawing their designs and plants, and then went back to the easel and faked it–something I hate doing en plein air.  But the truck never left–it wiped out everything below the awning.  I worked all over on the composition for about an hour, heightening contrasts, warming some areas, cooling others, re-doing some details I thought were poorly and hastily rendered last night.  Finally I decided I could make no further improvement.  I was at the end of the sentence, and not sure if I had actually said anything.

I was robbed of a decent night’s sleep again last night, so I’m really too weary to know whether or not this is much of a painting.  At any rate, I priced it at $150, an 8 x 10″ piece in a white 11 x 14″ mat and sleeved in plastic.  It is also in the Ellis County Art Association Office, awaiting Friday’s judging and the all-day Saturday and Sunday sale at the Chatauqua Auditorium at Gezendaner Park.

I will spend the entire day and evening in historic Waxahachie tomorrow, and earnestly hope I can churn out a decent day’s worth of paintings.  Even if the work isn’t much good, it will have been sublime to have been given that opportunity.  This is indeed a fabulous event: Paint Historic Waxachie, open till Sunday at 5:00.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Painting the College Street Pub in Waxahachie, Texas

May 28, 2013
College Street Pub, Waxahachie, Texas

College Street Pub, Waxahachie, Texas

I didn’t get to Waxahachie until after 3:00 p.m. today.  School had me tied up.  Once I arrived, I decided to check out College Street, just off the town square.  I was delighted to find some lingering sun on the facade of this College Street Pub.  I painted it last year from an oblique angle, and decided this time to give it an “Edward Hopper” full-frontal, horizontal view.  The slant of light was perfect.  The cool breezes were inviting, and I decided not to hurry on this one.  I worked slowly, gladly, until the light began to fade slightly after 6:00, and someone at that moment parked in front of the pub with a quad cab 4 x 4, completly obliterating my view.  I was ready to stop anyway–fatigue again, but nevertheles a sense of gladness and gratitude for the late-afternoon’s opportunity.

I entered the pub and treated myself to a tuna melt on rye with cucumber salad, and a frosty glass of Stella Artois on tap.  Then I retired to the gardens out back with a cup of coffee, read some more Robert Henri, wrote in my journal, and recorded seven critical notes of what I need to do to improve this painting tomorrow when I return to finish it.

Another good day of plein air activity.  I am so deeply grateful for that.  I feel the weariness, comingled with the joy of a decent day’s work.  Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Hoping to “Cleanse the Eye” this Afternoon

May 28, 2013
Chisholm Grill, Waxahachie, Texas, 2009

Chisholm Grill, Waxahachie, Texas, 2009

We read books.  They make us think.  It matters very little whether we agree with the books or not. . . . If you are to make great art it will be because you have become a deep thinker.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I love the sentiment behind the Henri quote.  I was always concerned about the arrogance one could sense behind such a remark.  I did not become interested in the academic side of life until my bachelor’s degree was half-earned.  I never considered myself a serious thinker until I was a year into graduate school.  All I do know is that intellectual activity remains my passion, twenty-six years after graduation, and since I have returned to making art, I have never ceased searching for ways to get my art and my ideas to feed one another.

I have posted my first plein air watercolor from the Paint Historic Waxahachie event, from 2009.  I was seated beneath the shade trees of the Ellis County courthouse, late in the afternoon, terrified by the subject before me.  I really thought I was going to make a mess of it, and remember staring at the white watercolor block in my lap, too scared to lay down the first strokes of the pencil.  Sadly, this cafe burned down a couple of years ago, and demolition removed not only what was left of this structure, but half the block on the south side of the town square.  I had painted the cafe, and later the law office next door.  I had hoped to paint the barber shop and its pole, but sadly it is gone with the rest of the businesses.

I hope when I return to Waxahachie late this afternoon, that I’ll experience what Eugene Delacroix and Henri Matisse described as “cleansing the eye.”  Going to new places to paint offers a fresh perspective, and keeps us from cranking out the same tired compositions.  I feel ready to tackle historic architecture again, and hope I can find some decent sunlight (hasn’t happened yet this time in Waxahachie) to play off the walls of the house.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Finishing an Earlier Waxahachie Plein Air Painting

May 27, 2013
Waxahachie Silence

Waxahachie Silence

In America, or in any country, greatness in art will not be attained by the possession of canvases in palatial museums, by the purchase and bodily owning of art.  The greatness can only come by the art spirit entering into the very life of the people, not as a thing apart, but as the greatest essential of life to each one.”

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I am posting the completed Waxahachie plein air sketch that I began last Saturday aftenoon, but aborted because of fatigue (the misspelling of the “antiques” sign!).  Today I went back to work on it, before heading south of town and going to work on the trackside shanty.

I love the Henri quote above.  The joy I experience in Waxahachie this time a year comes from the sight of so many kindred spirits about town, set up with their easels, painting architecture, flowerbeds, landscaped lawns, city parks, street life, and many, many other subjects.  I have not seen the count of this year’s ensemble, but in years past, as many as fifty-five painters have converged on this scene to Paint Historic Waxahachie for a week.  I do love the sight.  I love watching others engage their artistic faculties, in visual arts, musical arts, literary, performing–whatever it is that moves them and moves their audience.  And I am proud and humbled to play a role in this arena.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Painting a Trackside Shanty in Waxahachie

May 27, 2013
Shanty Town

Shanty Town

That moment of completion is also, inevitably, a moment of loss–the loss of all the other forms the imagined piece might have taken.

David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

What a day.  I closed out an art festival late last night, getting into bed around 1:00 a.m.  At 7:30, I was up with the alarm, packing my gear to head forty minutes south to Waxahachie, Texas.  Today marked the official start of the week-long event Paint Historic Waxahachie.  I knew before I drove out of my driveway that I was already weary from the schedule of the past two days.  But I could not pass on the opportunity of plein air painting without working around a school schedule.  Memorial Day was a gift to me, and I had to accept it.

I arrived in Waxahachie, and began by completing a painting on the square that I had begun last Saturday afternoon, and was not entirely happy with its look.  After spending an additional thirty minutes on it, the work looked better, and I called it complete.  I then drove south of town, to a railroad shack and oil tanks I have painted twice before.  But I couldn’t get interested in them this third time.  Walking down the tracks a short distance, I came across this shanty and was immediately drawn to the darkness of the woods beyond a cyclone fence.  Having fiddled around with the masquepen, attempting screen door paintings recently, I thought “Why not”?  The weather was overcast, and a real deal-breaker for plein air painters wishing to paint sun-splashed Victorian and Gingerbread homes.  Everything was quite flat throughout the day.  So, I chose to focus on these deep, dark woods, the accents of a cyclone fence, and hoped I could manage the texturing and weathering of this sad building.  I was glad to frame the bottom of the composition with railroad tracks as well, and try my hand at drybrushing the road bed and weeds rising to meet the fence.

I worked very quickly on this, and really got to the point that I was enjoying the process when suddenly, I realized it was near completion.  There have been so many times that I did not want a watercolor session to end.  This was one of them.  When a freight train came between me and the subject matter, I stepped back, waiting for it to pass, and in viewing the painting from a distance, realized I had done about all I could to it.  So I signed it and walked away.  The work is now in the Ellis County Art Association office, awaiting the competition judging Friday, and then the Saturday-Sunday sale at Gezendaner Park.  It is an 8 x 10″ composition, inside a white 11 x 14″ matt.  I have priced it at $125.

Thanks for reading.  I can’t wait for school to end tomorrow so I can return to the Waxahachie scene and attempt another painting.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Early Sunday Morning, Listening to Robert Henri Sermons

May 26, 2013
My "Edward Hopper" attempt during Last Year's Plein Air Event

My “Edward Hopper” attempt during Last Year’s Plein Air Event

“I am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but, I am interested in art as a means of living a life.”

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Today, Sunday, I embrace the respite that has been offered.  After school Friday, I went straight to the Levitt Pavilion to set up for the 3-day festival.  I stayed until we closed Friday night.  Saturday I rose at 7:00, journeyed 40 minutes southward to Waxahachie, and cranked out two plein air watercolors, returning to Arlington in time to re-enter my booth and go into the night festival which ended at 10:30.  I was in bed before midnight, and scheduled to return to Waxahachie early this morning, but rain forecasts throughout the day and overcast skies convinced me to stay home, rest, close out the festival tonight, then rise in the morning to spend the entire day in Waxahachie for plein air activity on Memorial Day.  The Waxahachie event will last clear through next Sunday.  I should be going down after school every day.  I think it prudent to take it easy today.  I’m still not as strong as before my recent illness.

Yesterday, I posted the pair of watercolors I did.  Above, I have posted one of the watercolors from last year’s “Paint Historic Waxahachie” event, since I only plan to read and journal in the Man Cave today.  Robert Henri speaks with the Voice of a Prophet, to me.  Reading him, I feel like I’ve gone to Dephi to consult the Oracle.  I do not make a living off my art; school teaching provides that.  But I live now to make art, to try and live an artful life.  I believe it was Seneca that said “Philosophy is the Art of Life.”  After many years of casting about, I think I have finally come home to a life of contemplation, giving my reading and years of philosophical contemplation a chance to “compost” and grow into something to give voice to my painting attempts.  I never saw this blog event coming!  A writer I met on librarything.com, teaching in an Ohio college, convinced me to try Facebook, then convinced me to begin a blog.  I honestly expected no one to look at my blog, but thought it would be an online “extension” of the handwritten journals I keep every day.  I began to blog, thinking it would only be an online journal.  I’m surprised, and very pleased, to find new friends and colleagues through this network now, to learn from them, and feel encouraged as I continue this trek.

I really like the notion of Henri that art work is only the “footprint”, the “trace” of what an artist experienced.  It is a byproduct.  I read that that was how some critics regarded the Jackson Pollock drip paintings–the residue of his “dance”, of his “encounter” with Art.

“These results, however crude, become clear to the  artist who made them because they are records of states of being which he has enjoyed and which he would regain.  . . . Art is, after all, only a trace–like a footprint which shows that one has walked bravely and in great happiness.”

Even my best-chosen words in the journal and on the blog are unable to convey the exquisite, deep-seated delight that I feel when I am working in watercolor.  I love peering into the veneer of water on the paper surface, watching the colors billow and flow, dragging a pencil through it while still wet, cutting into it with an X-acto knife, all the time experimenting, looking, wondering, and encountering many surprises.  I just cannot seem to learn enough.  When it’s over, I feel a sense of disappointment, not because I think the painting is necessarily bad, but because the moment has passed and I have only the remnant, the residue, the record, which someone might purchase, but if that happens, the purchaser will never know what part of me lived through that process.

This may sound folksy or contrived, but much of what I get from watercoloring happens also in flyfishing, my other passion.  Time spent in a mountain stream changes my breathing, my heart rate.  Time spent working a fly rod, watching the line arc out over the water, watching it bend over the surface, waiting for a riffle to signal a rising trout–these processes excite me.  If I land a trout, great, I am likely to release it back into the stream.  But leaving a trout stream is much the same for me as stopping over a painting.  The moment has passed, and the process brought quality into my life that I cannot put into words.

I’m glad to spend this morning with Robert Henri and The Art Spirit.  After 178 pages, I know there still remains much to be said.  I can hardly wait to hear him further.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

First Morning of “Paint Historic Waxahachie”

May 25, 2013

Ellis County  Courthouse, Waxahachie, Texas

Rising at 7:00, I traveled with a painting buddy to Waxahachie, Texas to begin our first day of “Paint Historic Waxahachie.” I began with the Ellis County Courthouse, enjoying the 71-degree overcast temperatures.  This courthouse has deviled me for years with all its minute detail, but this time I was in the mood to go after it. As soon as I finished, Ibegan another on the northwest corner of the square, but fatigue had already set in, so I dashed it out pretty quickly and hauled my weary body back home.  I opened the Levitt Pavilion Music and Art Festival last night, and have to return to my booth this afternoon.  So, I got in a quick couple of paintings and then turned it around.  This double duty is exhausting, to say the least.

Yes, I misspelled "Antiques"!

Yes, I misspelled “Antiques”!

The fatigue factor got the best of me.  I misspelled “antiques”.  Nevertheless, I’ll mat the painting and see if anyone wants to buy it anyway.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.