Archive for May, 2013

Musing Over Watershed Moments

May 23, 2013
Organizing Inventory for Upcoming Art Festival

Organizing Inventory for Upcoming Art Festival

There is the new movement.  There always has been the new movement and there always will be the new movement.  It is strange that a thing which comes as regularly as clockwork should always be a surprise.

In new movements the pendulum takes a great swing, charlatans crowd in, innocent apes follow, the masters make their successes and they make their mistakes as all pioneers must do.  It is necessary to pierce to the core to get at the value of a movement and not be confused by its sensational exterior.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

As a perpetual idealist, I have known the exhilaration of recording a life filled with new movements, first movements, watershed moments, epiphanies and fresh beginnings.  As an aging student of history, I still feel my blood stirred when I read of pivot points in the history of ideas, art and litetature.  Though my blog posts have fallen off of late, my mind has not.  I am still recovering from a lingering illness, and the daily school routine along with the art business have taken all my prime time for a couple of weeks now.  I have been storing my daily ideas and readings in my handwritten journals, but have struggled to shape them into blog posts, with the daily schedule getting crazier.  I begin a three-day art festival tomorrow (Friday), and then go straight into a week-long plein air painting event, and enter into yet another art competition.  The following week, I close out school for the semester and launch a two-day watercolor workshop.  The week after, I launch a week-long watercolor workshop.  When I return for that, I begin teaching summer school for the duration of the summer.  No rest for the sick.  In the past forty-eight hours, I have framed five new watercolors, matted and sleeved about a dozen more, and have created over thirty new greeting cards with my watercolor images and newly-composed texts.

Despite all the industry, I am stirred up with new thoughts, new aspirations for painting and pursuing new compositions.  This three-day weekend, I will enjoy the art public as I sit in my booth during the festival (The Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, Texas opens its music season Friday night).  And during slack times, I will be recording new thoughts in the journal for what I wish to engage next.  On Monday, I get to pursue my painting passion with abandon (Paint Historic Waxahachie, Texas).  To consolidate my energy, I have been retiring to bed about three hours earlier than normal.  I just cannot seem to get enough rest, and still am not back to full strength.  I certainly don’t want to “cave” when the plein air season hits next week.  I’ll be doing school every day and painting every evening.

Following the spirit of Robert Henri, I am excited about this chance to “pierce to the core” of the movement that is currently carrying me, examining it for its value.  I’m ready to put this school term behind me and enjoy some quiet space in which I can scrutinize this art enterprise, and get a sense of what I am doing.  Below is one of the five new paintings I’ve framed.  I’m looking forward to putting it before the public view at the Levitt Pavilion tomorrow.

Warm, Proustian Screen Door Memories

Warm, Proustian Screen Door Memories

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.

A Surprise, Last-Minute Plein Air Sunday Invitation

May 19, 2013
Rear Patio of a home in Ridglea Hills, Forth Worth, Texas

Rear Patio of a home in Ridglea Hills, Fort Worth, Texas

Back Yard of the same home in Forth Worth, Texas

Back Yard of the same home in Fort Worth, Texas

Though I retired to bed very early last night, worn out from the all-day plein air competition in Glen Rose, Texas, I suprised myself by awaking at 7:40 this morning and getting up.  After showering, dressing and enjoying a slow breakfast, I put on coffee, retired to my Man Cave and sat reading The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell and enjoying his ideas.  Before I had a chance to reach for my journal and record my own musings, my phone rang and I was extended a surprise invitation.  A fellow artist who was scheduled to paint at the Hidden Garden Show hosted by the Fort Worth Historical Society was taken sick and could not appear.  I was asked to show in this artist’s stead.  I almost refused, because I was achy and felt weak from the day before, but I realized that another plein air opportunity was offered on some exclusive property.  So I accepted.

Forty-five minutes later, I was in the Ridglea Hills edition of west Fort Worth, where I painted from noon till 5:00 and sold another watercolor.  The day was hot, climbing to 90 degrees, but 25 mph winds and my standing under shade trees the entire day made the weather tolerable.  As with yesterday, I apologize for offering no profound thoughts, quotes, or poetic spin, but again I am tired to the bone and ready to hit the sack again, early tonight.  A full week of school awaits, and I have a three-day art festival to attend beginning Friday.

I like the second painting much better.  I had always wanted to paint someone’s “landscape” boulder, and enjoyed working on the colors and textures of this monolith.  I added the iron fence at the very end of the painting, hoping it would lend a little more dynamic to the composition.

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.

An All-Day Plein Air Paint-Out in Glen Rose, Texas

May 18, 2013
Barnard Mill, 1860

Barnard Mill, 1860

I apologize in advance for not posting an articulate blog.  I’m still weak from my recent illness and I completed an eight-hour paint-out in a day that reached 91 degrees in Glen Rose, Texas.  I did manage to kick out three watercolors in that span.  That’s not very fast by my standards, but I’m a bit rusty, still a bit tired, and really was in no hurry.  This is the old Barnard Mill.  I was blessed to receive Honorable Mention for this piece, which took me just under two hours to complete.  I am very attached to this structure and cannot wait for my next opportunity to return to Glen Rose and do another study of it.  I really believe I will one day do a large full-size watercolor of this magnificent old structure.

Heritage Park

Heritage Park

I next drove to Heritage Park and looked over all the historical structures that had been moved there.  But it was high noon, and the light wasn’t that great.  The heat was starting to wear me down as well.  After breaking for a quick lunch I set to work on this stone structure, but couldn’t really get what I wanted on the paper, though I enjoyed scrutinizing every detail of this building.  No matter how I worked, I just didn’t seem to be solving this one as well as I had the mill earlier in the morning.

Barnard Mill Door

Barnard Mill Door

After a second refresher break (I must have downed about eight bottles of water today!), I returned to the Barnard Mill with about 90 minutes left until the cut-off time.  I decided to give a shot at one of the doors below the composition that I painted first thing this morning.  I thought it would be somewhat easy, since I’ve painted quite a few abused door in my garage over this past winter.  It wasn’t.  I found myself fighting this one as well.  Again, I chalked it up to heat and fatigue.  When it was done, I was glad to know that I had eked out three paintings in a day.  And then a bonus–this one got purchased!  So I was glad to come home with some money in my pocket in addition to the Honorable Mention ribbon.

Glen Rose is a little over sixy miles from where I live.  The drive down this morning (I rose at 6:00) was very scenic and serene, and by the time I arrived, I was ready to paint.  But by day’s end, I was dried up, had to wait an hour for the judging to run its course, and then the reception and art sale was scheduled for another hour.  So I got home a little after 7:00 this evening, made dinner, and now, with one eye open, am pushing out this blog.

I think I hear my bed calling out to me.  I don’t know when I’ve been more ready to crash for the night.

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.

A Modern Re-Formation of the Parisian Cafe

May 15, 2013

Eight days have passed since my last blog post.  I was struck down by a viral infection, my entire body ached, and headaches prevented me from using my eyes to read or paint.  But I had plenty of time to think (and sleep).  First, I thank all of you readers who found out I was ill, and reached out to me with gracious words.  That gesture of kindness set off a litany of thoughts that I’m still trying to sort out, and hope to set forth in tonight’s post.

I’m thrilled to report that my sickness has apparently passed, and though quite weak, I at least am able to read and write again, and look forward to painting as soon as possible.  I was in the mood to paint this evening, but storm watching took precedence.  Forty-five minutes ago, a tornado passed over my neighborhood, fortunately not touching down, but the local sirens blasted for a good ten minutes until certain that the menace had departed.

Getting back to the well-wishers from the blogosphere, people I have not even met personally–I could never adequately tell you how much I appreciate your good will, and how your kindness has put some things in perspective for me.  For years I have assembled, through my studies, all these fascinating pieces to a puzzle of Parisian café life in the 1920s and 30s.  I was engrossed in the general daily cycle of Picasso’s life, as he painted in the studio all night long, went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, rose and went to the café to socialize with other creative spirits, then returned to the studio in the late afternoon or early evening to begin the cycle anew.  He balanced his creative solitude with his social needs.

I have always regarded the making of art as a solitary enterprise, and that is where I spend long hours in my special Cave, making art, reading, journaling, always thinking and planning anew.  My daily round of public school teaching surrounds me with people, and I do enjoy the bond of exchanging ideas with students, lighting fires and watching them respond with enthusiasm.  But I really do not thrive any longer in the work environment.  I make my living there, do my duties there, and try to have a good time while educating students.  The blogosphere has become my Parisian café, and I never really realized it until this time of illness.  There are scores of blogs that I have to visit daily, and I am always amazed at the ideas, the poetry, the images, the songs that soar through those blogs.  And I occasionally post comments and some of those actually germinate into an ongoing dialogue with that creative spirit/blogger.  And I try to answer every single post on my blog, and there are a number of those creative spirits who continue to “talk” to me.  Always I have found encouragement and gleaned new ideas through these encounters.  But I guess it wasn’t until I became ill, stopped blogging (too sick even to think about writing), that I was shocked to receive words of encouragement from other bloggers who had “missed” my daily posts.  What a surprise, how unspeakably touching that was!  It was then that I realized that I had finally found a “café” where I could commune with other creative spirits.

In the days ahead, I hope I’ll be able to find quality time to integrate all my scattered notes and files from over the years, studies I had done of those café spirits of Paris—Picasso, Hemingway, Stein, Joyce, Anderson, Sartre, and see if I can find a way to consolidate the visual and literary arts the way this generation managed to do.  I feel privileged to sample this synergy of the Parisian café.   My heartfelt thanks goes out to this corner of the blogosphere.  You do make a difference—at least you have for me.  I can’t wait to re-join you in the next conversation.  I cannot wait till the next moment when I stride into the cafe and take my seat among these artistic spirits.  We’ll join in the spirit of Picasso and his literary friends as we exchange our views and encourage one another to continue on in this enterprise.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog, knowing full well that I am not alone.

Today, I Proudly Accept the Liebster Award

May 7, 2013

Not long after the midnight hour, I discovered that I had been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award, and wish to express a heartfelt “Thank You” to Zeebra Designs & Destinations ( http://playamart.wordpress.com/) for this honor.  I have been a follower of this site for awhile now, and marvel at the energy this creative artist exudes in day-to-day designing.

Contingent to accepting this award, I have been asked to submit five random facts about myself:

1. I turned 59 years of age April 20, and though I have a Ph.D., I regard myself as a “gray spirit yearning in desire to follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought” (“Ulysses”).

2. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Art in 1976, but went to work in various professions, from pastoral ministry to law enforcement and ultimately to part-time university and full-time public school teaching.  I returned to art in the late 1980’s and chose to focus on watercolor, the medium I loved the most, but could never seem to master.  My guiding spirits are Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer and J. M. W. Turner.

3. I am an avid fly fisherman, wishing I could live in the Colorado mountains.  My breathing changes the moment I step into a crystal clear mountain stream, and see rainbows and browns lying in the current, watching the bugs go by.  When a trout rises to sip at my dry fly, my pulse flutters.  I don’t know how many times I have read the novella A River Runs Through It, or how many times I have watched that film.  There is nothing like fly fishing in a mountain stream.

4. I perpetually suffer from Wanderlust.  I love going on road trips, have read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road at least once all the way through, and could not begin to count how many times it has been read to me (I have the 10-CD set on audiobook, and I play it on long road trips).  My lifestyle is to take my watercolor supplies on the road and record the places I go, the things I see, in watercolor.  I am an avid plein air painter.

5. I love to read and keep a journal.  As a teacher for twenty-four years in Philosophy, Art History and the Humanities, I have always had a Faust-like obsession to search out everything that is out there, to pick the minds of the best writers and thinkers throughout the centuries.  I love reading Greek and translating the ancients.   I love American literature.  I love poetry.  I love the essay.  My patron saints are Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Carlos Williams, Henry David Thoreau, Friedrich Nietzsche and Paul Tillich.

Five questions to answer:

  1. What 3 words best describe you?  driven, multi-interested, curious
  2. What is your most prized possession?  my Martin D-35 dreadnought acoustic guitar
  3. If you had 10 minutes to evacuate your house what 5 things would you take with you (not including family members or pets)?  My five best framed watercolors (the only possessions that could not be replaced)
  4. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?  When you entered this life, you were dealt five cards.  You played the hand you were dealt the best you could.
  5. What is the one food item you can’t live without?  Sorry.  I just can’t take that question seriously.

My nominations for the Liebster Blog Award are:

http://coreyaber.wordpress.com/

http://lifeofawillow.wordpress.com/

http://lindahalcombfineart.wordpress.com/

http://photographyofnia.com/

http://theeffstop.com/

These are the five bloggers who really keep my work going, in addition to the five nominated already by zeebra designs.

I apologize that I don’t have new artwork to post today.  It was a four-hour state-mandated testing day at school today, followed by two hours of regular classes.  It wiped me out (again).  We’ll do this every day this week.  This afternoon when I got home, all I felt like doing was rearranging and reconfiguring my man cave, getting it ready for the next watercolor composition.  I hope to have that one set up and ready to paint by tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Open Door. Imagination Preceding Technique

May 6, 2013
Completed Watercolor Study of Screen Door

Completed Watercolor Study of Screen Door

There is the heart and the mind, the Puritan idea is that the mind must be the master.  I think the heart should be master and the mind should be the tool and servant of the heart.  As it is, we give too much attention to laws and not enough to principles.  The man who wants to produce art must have the emotional side first, and this must be reinforced by the practical.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I wrote of some of this over the weekend when I discussed “Imagination vs. Technique.”  Henri’s words continue to thrill me as I read further into The Art Spirit.  He really fired up his disciples who became the nucleus for America’s Ash Can School at the turn of the century.  This book just crackles with intensity.

I really believe that I was more technician than artistic passion when growing up and pursuing my art.  From my childhood, I wanted to be good, wanted to excel in making art.  From the first junior high art class I took, on up through my college degree, it seems I tried to seize all knowledge, Faust-like, and translate it into technique to make better and better art.

Not long after the millenium turned, I became deeply dissatisfied with my art.  As I’ve reported in earlier blogs, I was moved profoundly by the offerings of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, feeling a deep-seated connection with their lives and interests, yet feeling that myown work was merely illustrative, merely exercises in technique and craftsmanship, and not truly art that would express my feelings or evoke feelings from observers.

Since the beginning of 2013, I have suddenly shifted to painting still-life compositions filled with objects that have stirred me from childhood.  Odd that I had not attempted a still-life watercolor since tenth grade, and the thought of trying it terrified me.  I started simply with one or two objects, and eventually grew to more complex compositions.  The transformation was slow at first, but now it is starting to make sense to me–I am painting things that truly “matter” to me, objects that stir my imagination, and bring to the surface, in Proust-like fashion, warm primal memories from my childhood, memories worth holding.  Passion is now driving my art, and technique just seems to be the tools in the box, ready and waiting for me to take up and use as needed.  Though I am not a mechanic, I think I feel some of the mechanic’s sense of satisfaction when he reaches for a socket wrench that happens to be the right size to fit the bolt that needs adjusting.  I too, feel a sense of satisfaction, when a particular brush is just what I need to scumble or glaze or detail a particular portion of the composition slowly emerging from the white plane before me.  I have the imagination burning, trying to give birth to an image, and the tools of the trade that have been taught me over the years stand by, ready for service.

Right now, in my endeavors, technique is serving imagination, precision is serving passion, thinking is following feeling.  It seems that this is the first time I have experienced this, in decades of making art.  And I like it.  I’m interested in seeing where this is going to take me.

Today after school, I put the finishing touches on this screen door composition.  I spent a large part of my day at school glancing at it (while students tested for four hours), trying to get a sense of what was still needing to be completed.  All I did was finish out the borders of the screen, texture the wood further, work a little more on the spring stretched across the bottom and re-do some of the area surrounding the door knob.  I’m ready to find another subject to paint now.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Seer, Part 2

May 5, 2013
Re-Touched Watercolor, after Masquing Removal

Re-Touched Watercolor, after Masquing Removal

Art after all is but an extension of language to the expression of sensations too subtle for words.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Most of what we express creatively is prelinguistic.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Too subtle for words.  Prelinguistic.  Indeed.  I fumble for words, trying to blog what I find so appealing in these vintage doors, aside from the fact that they remind me in Proustian fashion of what I saw, visiting grandparents in rural southeast Missouri during my childhood years.  Over the past twelve years, I have acquired a total of nine vintage doors that are now hinged together in twos and threes.  They form the modular walls that shape and re-shape the space in my garage Man Cave.  I love hanging antique signs on them, attaching reading lamps to them, sitting among them reading, and for the past few months decided it was time to start putting them into my watercolor compositions.  I note with bemusement that for the past decade, as I’ve sat among them reading and journaling, I have often looked up from what I was doing, and found myself staring at the details of their abused surfaces, wondering how I could “solve” some of those textures in watercolor and drawing techniques.  I guess one could say I’ve been “composting” these recent watercolor experiments for over a decade now.

So, what is it exactly that I “see” in these compositions?  A potential sale?  A market?  A new style, new genre to pursue?  Not really.  I see character, I see history, I see volumes and volumes of stories.  When I look at the body of an abused, vintage guitar, I see stories.  I see the worn places along the neck, especially on the 3rd, 5th and 7th frets, and muse about the “boxes” this guitarist made use of when he worked on lead riffs.  I look at the cigarette burns near the nut, and realize the guitarist frequently inserted his cigarette up there while playing, a makeshift ashtray.  I have a pre-World War II Gibson archtop that belonged to my late uncle.  There are grooves above the frets, showing that he preferred the C chord, along with the G and D.  The nicks all over a guitar body tell the story of clubs, bars, campouts–all the places the guitar had visited during the player’s life.

When I look at these doors, I can tell which sides were interior and which were exterior.  I can tell which ones had a screen door in front. leaving the sun imprint as a stencil on the door.  I can see the key gouges around the locking plates, the grime on the porcelain door knobs, the dents in the metal ones.  I can see at the bottoms where they have been constantly kicked open, I suppose when one’s arms were laden with groceries or provisions.  So many stories.  So many lives.  Now they stand mute in my garage.  But I take up the brush and record their stories, adding my own as well.   And of course, I lay my memories over the tops of the stories, leaving a virtual palimpsest for readers to translate.

What I see in subjects such as these, and what I think about the art milieu are things that defy words, yet I managed to cover my blog with yet more words.  But what are my alternatives?  I love to paint, love to muse, love to stretch.  And I love to share what’s going on. I appreciate that there are those “out there” who take the time to look at these images, read these words and have something to say in return.  I’m appreciative of that as well.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


 

The Seer

May 5, 2013
Masquing Removed from Screen Door Watercolor

Masquing Removed from Screen Door Watercolor

A genius is one who can see.  The others can often “draw” remarkably well.  Their kind of drawing, however, is not very difficult.  They can change about.  They can make their sight fit the easiest way for their drawing.  As their seeing is not particular it does not matter.  With the seer it is different.  Nothing will do but the most precise statement.  He must not only end technique to his will, but he must invent technique that will especially fit his need.  

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer?

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Art, to me, is seeing.  I think you have got to use your eyes as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn’t work.  That’s my art.

Andrew Wyeth

Before I go to work on redrawing the screen wire mesh over the light areas, and toning down the stark white masqued areas of the screen wire over the dark areas, I decided to go ahead and post the “raw” picture of the watercolor with the masquing stripped off.  There is a ton of work to do now on the screen, and I’m tired already, just thinking about it!  I’m going to have to spend a good deal of time just looking at the composition now, and how much it’s radically changed from the way it looked just a few minutes ago.  I’ve been “tagged” by my reading today, loving this idea of artist as “seer”.  During my graduate school years, I did quite a bit of reading and researching over the Hebrew prophets, the concept of Nabi, and the sense of vision.  I love the way it translates now into art.

More later.  Thanks for reading.

The Dawn

May 5, 2013
Working on a Watercolor of a Screen Door

Working on a Watercolor of a Screen Door

The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.”  Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour.  All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise.  To him whose elastic and vigorous thought, keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.  It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men.  Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.  Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I awoke to a beautiful Sunday morning, before 8:00.  After a quick shower, grooming and breakfast, I entered the Cave with delight and began whittling away on this screen door study which has gotten hold of me.  My companion this morning is this watercolor song sent me several weeks ago.  I cannot get it out of my head, and it has apparently been enriching many bloggers.  I enclose the link below:

http://shygemini.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/watercolor/

Rae Hering has written a song here that really moves me, really helps get the creative juices flowing when I’m alone in my Cave.  I like her notion of “Getting to Know Myself Again.”

I’m hoping for another splendid day like yesterday.  I have a stack of books ready to be opened, a journal open and ready for recording thoughts, and of course, watercolors in progress.

Thanks for reading.  I should be posting later in the day.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Capping a Full Day and Night in the Studio

May 4, 2013
Watercolor of Screen Door

Watercolor of Screen Door

My brains are fried, and my eyes refuse to focus any longer.  Since rising at 8:30 this morning, this entire day and night has been given to the studio, both watercoloring and reading.  The time has been absolutely sublime, just what the doctor ordered.  

I am unable to photograph well at night under my studio lamps.  The masquing fluid is still all over the composition as well, so it’s rather difficult for me to show what’s going on.  I’ll have better images in the morning and will push this one quite a bit further along its path.  But I am loving the activity so far!

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.