Archive for November, 2016

Working Sometimes from the Fact

November 17, 2016

20161116_100144

I can’t work completely out of my imagination. I must put my foot in a bit of truth; and then I can fly free.

Andrew Wyeth

It was 85 degrees in north Texas yesterday, November 16.  I have been impatiently waiting for fall weather and winter to follow.  One of the reasons is that I enjoy so much gazing at winter trees with their core anatomy on view.  Leaves, like clothing, conceal the tree’s essence, and I regret that living in the southwest, I see the bare trees for such a short span of the year.

I have posted the Andrew Wyeth quote because I feel those same sentiments.  Beginning last winter, I drew trees in pencil, rendering them as accurately as I could see them.  I know that Wyeth and Edward Hopper said that in later years they could work out of their imagination, no longer requiring the “fact” in front of their eyes for scrutiny.  I am not there yet; if I try and draw or paint something that I am not looking at, then it comes out looking like a cartoon or cheap illustration.

The tree above, I guess, is a hybrid.  I began drawing it from life Tuesday evening, as I awaited my artitistic friends for our weekly gathering at the cafe.  I didn’t get very far before they arrived.  So, I finished the drawing yesterday, using my imagination rather than a reference photo.  I’m satisfied with the result, and am now ready to move on to the next tree.  Unfortunately I spend my workdays indoors in an interior room without windows.  So I’ll have to wait . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

How Do You Create a Brand for Yourself? — ALWAYS WRITE

November 16, 2016

#NaBloPoMo Day 16 #amblogging #amwriting #am Why Do You Need A Brand? Always Write #1“Do I need a brand? Really?” Amy Amateur asks. “Yep,” Peter Problogger responds. “Why?” “Why are you blogging?” Always Write#2“I don’t know. I just want to write and share what I know.” “To Whom?” “IDK, everyone, I guess. Anyone.” Always Write…

via How Do You Create a Brand for Yourself? — ALWAYS WRITE

I cannot thank this blogger enough for getting my attention with this.  I shall follow this advice, and hope many of you will give it a serious read.

Preparing for the Next Show

November 14, 2016

9-x-12

Six Paintings en route to Fort Worth Community Arts Center’s 9 x 12 Works on Paper Show

My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash–like something you caught out of the corner of your eye, but in the picture you can look at it directly.  It’s a very elusive thing.

Andrew Wyeth

On my first day returning to work following a lovely weekend of painting and reading, I suddenly discovered I was up against yet another deadline, but I met it.  This afternoon I shipped the six watercolors above to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy.  Their annual 9 x 12 Works on Paper Show features unmatted works 9 x 12″ or smaller put on public view.  Everything is priced at $100.  I managed to do some selling last year, despite having only a picked-over portfolio.  This year I am much happier with what I am sending, and hope some, if not all of these paintings find a home.  At this stage of my life, I am producing a large quantity of work that can no longer hang in my home because every wall of every room is filled.

For any of you readers living in the area, I would love to see you at the artists reception on December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.  Last year’s reception witnessed a huge turnout, as there were hundreds of works hung spanning multiple galleries.  At least two other shows were also taking place in the same facility.  Usually I only hang around such receptions for an hour or so, but there were so many artists, friends and patrons to see that I ended up staying for the entire reception.

My website has just been updated and I wanted to share that with you: www.recollections54.com.

Tonight has offered me hours of quiet for reading and reflection.  I don’t seem to get enough of those in my own home lately, and I’m grateful for this gift.  I am halfway through an engaging Leonardo da Vinci biography, and hope to write more about it later.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Afterglow of a Wilderness Retreat

November 13, 2016

rocking-chair

That’s me, in a rocker, in a secluded place three hours from my home

It is Sunday evening, and I have just returned from my country sanctuary.  I spent another precious weekend watercoloring inside a general store where I was privileged to reside as a guest. While working and looking around at the grocery items from decades past, I kept hearing in my mind the following script from the motion picture Pollock starring Ed Harris. The painter had just moved to Springs, Long Island to escape the madness of New York City.  The proprietor of the local grocery had this to say to Pollock the first time he shopped in the store:

You're the fella moved into the old Quinn place.

              Morning.

              You moved out from the city?

              I don't blame you.

              In a world where they can split a tiny atom...

              and blow up hundreds of thousands of people...

              there's no telling where it's all gonna lead.

              Best to find a quiet place...

              do what you have to do.


The morning following our presidential election, I returned to work and was surrounded with teachers and students wanting to discuss the election’s outcome.  This was a conversation I did not wish to engage. I took ill, and in the following days called in sick, and by the weekend decided I needed to retreat to the country.  The healing balm offered by this special place and my special friends has far exceeded my expectations in providing needed rest, quiet, recharged spiritual batteries and recalibrated ideas for my future.  I can return to work tomorrow, grateful for the past few days of peace.

thoreau-window

Reading from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau

After an exhausting three-hour drive, I found myself extremely sleepy early Friday night, so I turned in early.  Waking without an alarm at 6:48, I felt refreshed, rose and made breakfast and coffee, hiked to a neighboring pond to fly fish awhile (caught only one bluegill on a popper, but managed to catch an additional seventeen bass by the time the weekend ran its course), then sat at a bedroom reading desk looking out a pair of French doors across a sun-washed pasture.  Turning to the Journals of Thoreau, I read the following:

I require of any lecturer that he will read me a more or less simple and sincere account of his own life, of what he has done and thought,–not so much what he has read or heard of other men’s lives and actions, but some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land,–and if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me,–describing even his outward circumstances and what adventures he has had, as well as his thoughts and feelings about them.  He who gives us only the results of other men’s lives, though with brilliant temporary success, we may in some measure justly accuse of having defrauded us of our time.  We want him to give us that which was most precious to him,–not his life’s blood but even that for which his life’s blood circulated, what he has got by living.  If anything ever yielded him pure pleasure or instruction, let him communicate it.

I needed to read that.  Having taught for three decades, and in recent years posted to a blog, I have always second-guessed how much quoting of others vs. how much personal stuff I should communicate to anyone willing to listen.  My life has been stirred by what I have read of those who have traveled this life before me.  And daily I seek to record my personal visions.  But when it comes to blending the two, I’m never sure, and I guess I never will be.  At any rate, I appreciated Thoreau’s sentiments, because I’m always fearful of putting out blogs that offer nothing more than navel-gazing.

store-shelf-in-progress

Rising from my reading, I returned to the main store counter and looked among the cans, bottles and packages on the shelf, trying to decide what to paint first.  I chose this section, hoping that the bright red Coca-Cola ad would draw immediate attention to the painting, and then hoping that the coffee tin and bottle adjoining would support enough detail to satisfy the curious eye.

store-shelf

As usual, I spent a good part of the weekend perusing Andrew Wyeth drybrush sketches, and decided to leave this one as a vignette.  It is approximately 9 x 12″ so I’m seriously considering putting it into the Fort Worth CAC 9 x 12 show two days from now.  They allow us to submit up to six unframed original pieces and they price them at $100 each.  This sketch just might be able to find a home there.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy looking at it, grateful for the memories it exudes.

My friends also have a chuckwagon parked in a nearby barn, and have furnished me the keys the section where it is parked.  For a couple of years, I have wanted to attempt sketches of it and finally worked up the nerve Saturday afternoon to visit the barn.

chuckwagon-in-progress

Just as inside the store, I found difficulty narrowing down the pletora of ojects to just a few.  After all, I have to return to work on Monday, and I knew I could not paint the entire scene in one day.

chuckwagon

This one I have not finished, but took plenty of reference photos in hopes that I can complete it in my studio at home.

Late Saturday night, I was too wired to sleep, filled with good feelings about all that had happened during the day–fly fishing, painting, reading, journaling, sitting in a rocking chair and staring across beautiful landscape.  So I returned to the front of the store and began a sketch of one of the old doorknobs and locking mechanisms on the main door connecting the store to the residential section of the building.

doorknob-in-progress

Retiring to bed finally around 1 a.m., I thought I may sleep till noon.  But I awoke at 5:40, feeling rested and energized to make something else happen before loading up and making the three-hour trek back home.  After breakfast, coffee and more quality quiet reading time, I returned to the store and worked further on the painting.  It still isn’t finished, but I took a good close-up reference photo of the details and will certainly finish this one.

doorknob

The weekend in the wilderness has done everything I wished for, and more.  I think I’ll do O.K. returning to work tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Eudaimonia 

November 12, 2016

I cannot describe this happiness, this sense of eudaimonia that  overwhelms me when I spend a weekend alone in a place like this, enveloped in silence and residing in a store filled with remnants from my American past. While attempting to sketch and watercolor, I am baptized in memories of a childhood that was accustomed to the SLAP! of a screen door slamming shut the way this one does in the store. As I paint in silence, I can recall the small talk of patrons dropping in for a loaf of bread or quart of milk. A weekend such as this, hours away from the workplace environment that governs my weeks, recalibrates my values.

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. 

Studio Sanctuary

November 12, 2016

I require of any lecturer that he will read me a more or less simple account of his own life, of what he has done and thought, — not so much what he has read or heard of other men’s lives and actions.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 1843

I could not have dialed up a more beautiful dawn, rising at 6:48, getting in a little fly fishing, cooking breakfast in a country kitchen, reading from Thoreau, then entering the front of the store to resume a watercolor begun yesterday evening. The quiet of this south Texas country is soothing, and echoing Thoreau’s sentiments posted above, I hope this testimony might bring a soothing balm to others who read.

Painting in a Solitary Space

November 11, 2016

  • My phone failed apparently in uploading this photo on my previous post. This remote area makes networking a trial.

Painting in a Solitary Space 

November 11, 2016

Retreating from the daily grind, I drove three hours out of the city to dwell once again in the rear of this old general store owned by dear friends who kindly make it available to me. I couldn’t wait to begin on a composition this evening. The quiet enchantment of the countryside provides a true healing balm at this time.

Thanks for reading.

The Quiet Within

November 9, 2016

Alone with my Books

I force my mind to become self-absorbed and not let outside things distract it.  There can be absolute bedlam without so long as there is no commotion within, so long as fear and desire are not at loggerheads, so long as meanness and extravagance are not at odds and harassing each other. For what is the good of having silence throughout the neighborhood if one’s emotions are in turmoil? 

Seneca, On Noise

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

It’s about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there.

Winifred Gallagher, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

I am nearing the end of a string of delicious hours in the quiet of my study tonight.  My reading has been broad, but probably the best moments were spent in William Powers’s Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.  Thanks to one of his chapters, I’ve returned to reading Seneca, and tonight uncovered a lovely article written by Jennifer Bowen Hicks: “Whispered Wills and Words That Bleed: On Transparency of Thought in the Essay” (http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/craft/craft_hicks38.html).

An evening like this was long overdue.  The value of the lessons from Hamlet’s Blackberry, for me, is impossible to exaggerate.  Time is too precious to spend abundantly on the Internet and social media.  As Powers argues, flitting from link to link eliminates real depth from life, from introspection.  Every four years, I manage to get pulled into election chatter, and in the final months devote what is no doubt hundreds of hours to reading articles on the Internet and listening to news outlets.  Then the election comes and goes and I come away feeling I need a serious bath, a cleansing.  On this, the day after, I have stayed away from social media almost entirely–almost.  And now I am retreating to the wilderness to find that sanctuary I have been missing.  I need to recharge some batteries and reset my compass.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Proverbs 23:7

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Post Festival Decompression

November 6, 2016

genny-wood

My booth display at the Genny Wood Fine Arts Show & Sale in Bullard, Texas

The weekend in Bullard, Texas was fine as far as art shows go, but sadness overwhelmed this small town.  Ten-year-old Kayla Gomez Orozco disappeared from her church Tuesday evening, and over a hundred law enforcement officers including the FBI and over a thousand volunteers combed the region looking for the young girl.  Her remains were found Saturday evening, and the depths of sorrow in her family and town cannot be described.  I spent the day Saturday inside the festival visiting with fellow artists, patrons and townspeople who had only one thing on their minds.  At this hour none of us know what to say.

Thanks for reading.