Archive for October, 2014

A Soothing, Late-Night Afterglow

October 6, 2014
Awarded "Best in Show" at Trinity Arts Guild

Awarded “Best in Show” at Trinity Arts Guild

We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores, and obligations.  I’m not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that.

Toni Morrison

Wow, Toni, you certainly hit that one between the eyes.  For years I have languished beneath that shadow, blaming my daily job for restricting my output of artwork.  Several years ago I decided to stop using my job as an excuse, and occasionally have cranked out over a hundred watercolors per year (yes, some of them small, some of them sketches, but still over a hundred watercolors worthy of matting and shrinkwrapping).

Two winters ago, I devoted some quality evening and weekend hours to assembling large still lifes in my garage (man cave). I took the dare and painted two 28 x 22″ still lifes in watercolor, then ponied up the money to have them custom framed and matted.  One them just won Best in Show tonight at the fall juried show of the Trinity Arts Guild in Bedford, Texas.  I’m pleased that the painting got the attention of a judge, and received some recognition tonight.  Following is a short story I wrote, inspired by this particular watercolor, and now displayed on the back of a 5 x 7″ greeting card that I package and sell at my art festivals:

He’s No Longer Here

When the neighbors hammered the padlock off the deceased man’s fishing shed, they peered inside the darkened room with sadness at the world of memories their dear friend had left behind.  Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dikes, waiting for catfish that would find their way to the Griswold skillet.  The Canada Dry crate served as the old fisherman’s stool for the nightlong vigils.

Bass fishing featured the Garcia Mitchell open-faced reel and the vintage wooden plugs for the area lakes and ponds.  In his retirement years, fly fishing took over, and the old man delighted in the long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would not be heard from for weeks at a time.. The battered suitcase was his lifelong road companion, as was the dark leather knapsack that he bought from an old leathershop on the dusty streets of Athens during his European excursions. 

The old man had not been heard from for more than a week, and the inquiring neighbors were saddened to enter his home and find him in his final resting place—his favorite recliner in the small front room of his ramshackle house.  His cup was still half-filled with the Dining Car Coffee he relished throughout his years working on the Frisco railroad.  Now, only his possessions remained to tell his life’s story.

Thanks for reading.  This has been a good night.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Sunday Afternoon Leisure

October 5, 2014
Sunday Afternoon in the Quiet Study

Sunday Afternoon in the Quiet Study

All the arts we practice are apprenticeship.  The big art is our life.

M. C. Richards

In the calmness of the Sunday afternoon before returning to work in the morning, I have found delight in having met several major deadlines over this difficult weekend.  And so, this afternoon, as I sat with coffee, wondering what to read, I decided instead to draw the coffee cup and saucer before me with an Ebony pencil.  I have really missed sketching, and the sensation of dragging the soft graphite over the sketchbook paper revived some lost pleasures.  In response to this sacred moment, I then gave another part of my waning weekend to tidying up my studio and reorganizing my watercolor supplies.  This I did in anticipation of a busy life once the leaves begin to turn in Texas and reveal some new colors I have missed over this past year.  In the meantime, some quiet reflection and writing in the journal are now giving me the kind of quiet afternoon I have coveted for several days.  Hopefully, as I look for ways to live a more artful life, my attempts at making new art will get me back to the prolific levels it knew before the fall school schedule became so demanding.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Re-Visiting Watercolor Subjects from Former Days

October 4, 2014

"Poly Theater Blues Revue" (watercolor from 2007)

The small are always dependent on the great; they are “small” precisely because they think they are independent. The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

Martin Heidegger

For nearly six weeks now, I have found myself treading water as I’ve tried to come to grips with great ideas from great creators from our past and present.  I have been dying for time to stop and post something of significance in my blog, but it seems that deadlines continue to pop up before me like those annoying barricades at night that post sentry alongside construction zones.  This weekend has found me swimming in grading, as my six week grading period at the high school comes to an end and my first unit at the university also draws to a close.  Stacks and stacks of papers, numbers, data–all those things I enjoy the least in the educational arena.

I am posting a 2007 watercolor that I have recently re-imaged and produced in an 8 x 10″ print to sell in an 11 x 14″ frame.  I’ve found some success with it, and am encouraged to re-visit some blues guitar themes in my work that I laid aside unintentionally several years ago.  Perhaps in a few days I will be able to lift my head out of this grading thicket and get back to what I enjoy the most.

Martin Heidegger spun quite a web of metaphors with his “Woodpaths” analogies, ideas first published around 1951.  He spoke of how we enter the woods along a number of paths, oftentimes encountering thickets and occasionally that clearing, or cul-de-sac.  I’m not sure I’ve grasped the meaning he’s intended, but I feel that for several weeks I have been hacking my way through the timbers trying to find a clearing in which I may be able once again to do what I enjoy most–create, either in painting, thinking or writing.  But the creativity I am missing now more than ever, and I’m trying my best to get back into that mode.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

In 1951 Martin Heidegger, originally a student in theology, (1889-1976) publishes a collection of essays on “Woodpaths” (Holzwege). In the essays he clarifies the nature of the forest and how we gain knowledge and understanding of the forest by following paths and structures that are determined by the forest itself (and not by planners constructing paths for leisure, walks and a like). Heidegger has a point about the paths in the wood that is quite intriguing in a discussion concerning the meaning of nature in Western culture, science and philosophy. He writes: “Wood” is an old name for forest. In the wood are paths that mostly wind along until they end quite suddenly in an impenetrable thicket. They are called “woodpaths”. Each goes its peculiar way, but in the same forest. Often it seems as though one were identical to another. Yet it only seems so. Woodcutters and foresters are familiar with these paths. They know what it means to be on a “woodpath” (Heidegger 1950/1993:34). In the text Heidegger makes the term “Holz” (wood) synonymous to “Wald” (forest), where the materialistic and specific become equal to the general. We shall return to the hybrid meaning of language and etymology in the intriguing work of Heidegger when it comes to actual dwelling and building.

According to Heidegger the apparent dead-ends and cul-de-sacs (or “Holzwege”) of the forest tell us something about processes and procedures of thought and existence. The woodpath is the way we, in our everyday existence, appropriate events and situations that are out of our immediate control. According to Heidegger this counts as well for processes and procedures of more systemic character like for instance the rehearsal and performance of a symphony orchestra, or the practices of the scientist in the laboratory.  We create meaning in retracing our actions and reflections on the path, and understanding comes through familiarity, practice and process.

Ideas Forming while Gallery Sitting

October 1, 2014


It is often said, “The public does not appreciate art!” Perhaps the public is dull,  but there is just a possibility that we are also dull, and that if there were more motive, wit, human philosophy, or other evidences of interesting personality in our work the call might be stronger.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

On Wednesday evenings I gallery sit as a volunteer for the Trinity Arts Guild in Bedford, Texas. My intention was to grade for my online class, but the Wi-Fi is malfunctioning, so I am left with no options other than perusing their magnificent library and writing in my journal (I cannot seem to get enough of that quality time lately).

I have posted a photo of one of the watercolors I have entered in their upcoming competition. The still life reminds me of the garage/man cave I have been reclaiming now that Texas temperatures are beginning to drop. This painting was one of a group of still lifes that I created two winters ago,  and looking at it tonight has me in the mood to return to this genre once the fall season gets underway. With my recent hiatus in sketching and painting. I have promised myself to get my groove back once the leaves turn by commiting myself to creating a painting a day (afternoons) of fall foliage, even if they are 8 x 10″ sketches. In addition to the plein air watercolor sketches of fall foliage, I have a compulsion to resume still life studies, beginning with the antique objects collected over the past couple of years.

Sitting in my festival booth last weekend, I had long stretches of quality time to reflect over the conversations I had with patrons concerning the kinds of artful images that evoke memories and imagination in the viewer as well as the creator of the art. All I need now is some time to put these new ideas into practice. It appears that my work schedule is going to provide two successive weekends coming up. My plan is to use that time “artfully”.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I  not alone.