Archive for April, 2017

Waxahachie Portals

April 29, 2017

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A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Finding time to blog has been difficult of late. Since my last post, I have made several journeys to Waxahachie, forty minutes from where I live, and leaving in the late afternoons after a day in school has often found me fatigued once I arrived. Still, I managed to slog through a couple of compositions, but by the time I arrived home late at night, I was too sleepy to blog, and still had school to prepare for the following day. So it goes.

The weather has been pretty uneven lately, thunderstorms alternating with bright sunshine. Sometimes I wonder if a washed earth emits different colors, as I have been fascinated with the way the Ellis Country courthouse seemed to “light up” before my eyes late in the days. As earlier stated, I seem to arrive on site, too tired to paint, and have spent much time circling the courthouse looking at it from all angles. On this particular afternoon, the sun popped out as I was gazing at the southwest corner of the building. The curvature I found fascinating, and I wanted to find a way to capture the pink marble and red granite surrounding the window.

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Once I stopped with this one, I was satisfied with the compositional arrangement, though I felt that I had “missed” on the color of the stones. A very dear friend and teaching colleague of mine who is also an architect, paid me the ultimate compliment when he looked at this sketch the day after, calling it “a poem.”

Returning a few days later in the week, I found myself tired again, and walked listlessly around this same building, looking for something to try and capture on paper. Again, the sun came out just as I was rounding the southeast corner of the courthouse, and as it had rained earlier, I again found myself smitten at the sight of the colors on the building.

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Determined this time to focus more on the color of the marble and granite, I worked more deliberately on those hues, hoping not to overwork it.

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Time has now expired for the “early bird” plein air painting of Waxahachie. The main portion of Paint Historic Waxahachie will kick off next Saturday, May 6, and will last through the following Sunday. I can use this week off, hoping to regather my strength and stamina for that following week, when painters from all around will descend on that town and crank out a high volume of work. I’m glad I chose to sign and pay up early so I could tune up with five paintings before the starting gun. I’ve definitely been out of plein air practice.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Late Afternoon Plein Air Painting in Waxahachie

April 24, 2017

Structure, I believe, is the giver of light.

Louis I. Kahn

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By the time I finished all my school responsibilities late this afternoon, I was so fatigued that I was trying to talk myself out of the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie to continue work on the Painting Historic Waxahachie project. By the time we reach the submission deadline May 11, I want to have as many paintings as possible to display and sell. But I was sooooo tired!

The weather was 81 degrees and brightly sunny, and when I parked on the courthouse square and saw the magnificence of the Ellis County Courthouse towering above, reflecting the late afternoon sun, I was glad I decided to make the trip. I set up my easel on College Street again, and like last Saturday, a strong, cold wind was blasting up the street. It felt really good on my back, and removed any discomfort that a Texas sun would try to bring.

Drawing this courthouse has always been a chore for me. I lack formal training in architectural rendering, and am always intimidated when I attack a building, one small piece at a time, with pencil on paper. I drew on this a long time, and erased plenty. Finally, when time came to flood the sky with blue hues, I felt that I had a chance at a decent composition.

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The afternoon passed quickly, and again the Waxahachie folks proved themselves to be among the most friendly on the planet. I talked to over a dozen people–artists working on this same project, couples out for a stroll, and a couple of young girls interested in becoming artists who were out with their mother. All the conversations were engaging, and I appreciated every good sentiment.

Once the sun set and the light turned to gray, I knew it was time to stop and take a day or two to evaluate whether this is finished or needs further development. Unfortunately I have meetings tomorrow afternoon and night, so I won’t be able to paint tomorrow. Hopefully by Wednesday I will have made a decsision on this one. At any rate, it turned out to be a great afternoon for painting.

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The College Street Pub has become my favorite “decompression hangout” in Waxahachie when I am in town painting. Dinner was a great experience this evening as temperatures continued to cool and I enjoyed the back patio with its soothing surrounding scenery. I spread out my three Waxahachie paintings and spent some time taking critical notes on them and making decisions on what to do next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Plein Air Wanderings

April 23, 2017

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Louis I. Kahn

Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Edward Hopper

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The former Bailey Print and Typewriter Store, College Street, Waxahachie Texas

I awoke Saturday to a 55-degree windy morning, but was excited to have a clear calendar for plein air painting.  Paint Historic Waxahachie is now in full swing, and will end on May 14. I have been eligible to participate since April 1, but have been mired in too many retirement-and-tax-related tasks to make the forty-minute drive to this quaint town and begin painting. This was my first day to get after it. With a hot cup of coffee and three layers of clothing (shirt, hoodie and denim jacket), I set up my easel just off College Street and resumed a plein air sketch I had begun last week, but was aborted because of a heavy rainstorm. My motivation was high, and the building on my right kept the wind from reaching me. And though I was working in the shadows, pedestrians were still finding me and stopping to look at my work in progress and chat. Waxahachie has always been filled with the friendliest people, and I have enjoyed the pleasantries of their conversations without fail. I have never felt like a stranger in that town.

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I decided to stop and let the painting rest at this point. I can always set up the easel in the same spot and work further on the composition if I choose. But for now, I’m going to move on to other ideas and return to this with a critical eye next time I visit Waxahachie.

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Upper Balcony along College Street

Stepping into the sunlight on College Street, my sight was arrested by the bright morning sun on the light yellow upper balcony of this building, framed against dark rustic brick and trees. I could not stop gazing at it and thought, “Oh, why not?”  Setting up my easel, I drew for quite awhile, trying to get the proportions of the balcony and building right. By the time I began painting, my teeth were chattering as College Street had become a virtual wind tunnel for those freezing blasts of arctic air. The temperature had only risen to 57 degrees and my coffee mug was empty. Nevertheless, I tooled away on this composition for awhile, enjoying the view immensely, though the discomfort of the cold winds continued to intensify.

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Finally, around twelve noon, I had to stop. I was afraid I would make myself sick in the cold winds. This one also I am not satisfied with as a finished composition, so I intend to put it back on the easel when I return to Waxahachie for my next plein air attempts.

The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and original manner.

Goethe

My Saturday seemed to apply Goethe’s theory of writing to painting. While moving about Waxahachie, certain sites I viewed resonated profoundly with certain emotions and memories I have treasured throughout my life. Every time I set up the easel and got out the tools, I felt that I was engaged in a dance with the subjects before me, and I hoped that my responses on the blank page were worthy of the beauty my eye beheld in front of me.

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.

Under the City Lights with Rilke

April 16, 2017

The hour is growing late on a Sunday night. I will have to report to school at 7:35. My classes have been prepared, and I am enjoying the cool breezes in downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. I just read one of Rilke’s letters from 1911, and it has left me shuddering. I share it with you now:

However vast the “outer space” may be, with all its sidereal distances it hardly bears comparison with the dimensions, with the depth dimensions of our inner being, which does not even need the spaciousness of the universe to be within itself almost unfathomable. Thus, if the dead, if those who are to come, need an abode, what refuge could be more agreeable and appointed for them then this imaginary space? To me it seems more and more as though our customary consciousness lives on the tip of a pyramid whose base within us (and in a certain way beneath us) widens out so fully that the farther we find ourselves able to descend into it, the more generally we appear to be merged into these things that, independent of time and space, are given in our earthly, in the widest sense worldly, existence.

I think I will write this on my classroom whiteboard in the morning.

The Promise of the Dawn

April 14, 2017

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Witnessing the Dawn Breaking

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake…by an infinite expectation of the dawn

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Good Friday school holiday is already a blessing to me. After three weeks of a one-man-show bundled with gathering tax data, filing my tax return, gathering retirement information and filing my papers with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, I was finally able to leave the city behind yesterday afternoon and sleep last night in my favorite place, that I refer to as Heidegger’s Hut–a restored country store & residence in a remote area of Texas. I crashed at 9:00 last night, totally exhausted, and rose while it was still dark. When the dawn broke, I went out on the porch to sit and listen as the birds sang in worship to Aurora as he lit up the eastern sky.

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By the time it was light enough to record my thoughts in my journal, the upper-fifty degree temperatures proved a little too cool for me since I didn’t think to bring a jacket, so I moved inside the store to my favorite little corner next to the windows. For the past 48 hours, thoughts have been tumbling about in my mind, and now that I have actually filed my retirement papers, an entire new range of emotions are surging through me, and I’m glad I had this space in my calendar to get out of town and enjoy the quiet respite of the country for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

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The Cool of the Evening

April 10, 2017

After a soothing rain, I could not resist stepping out into the cool evening and sitting beside this beautiful greenbelt in the Arlington Highlands to read from my old journals, and record thoughts into my new one. My heart still overflows with sincere gratitude for three lovely weekends in The Gallery at Redlands. Though my show has officially closed, we have agreed for me to leave behind about two-thirds of my display, and the proprietors will replenish one empty wall with new works they have recently acquired.

I plan to return on Thursday evening and Friday to begin the next venture for our new gallery. We have made some exciting plans!

Thanks for reading.

The Afterglow

April 10, 2017

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All I Needed this Morning was a Puppy to Hug

Just when I concluded that this Monday morning following my show couldn’t get any better, a sweet puppy trotted into the copier room at school. One of my colleagues was preparing to take him to the vet. I have had shih tzus in my past, and certainly miss their affectionate nature. This one was no exception. Having these moments to love him before walking into my first class was the ice cream on the cake. Thanks, Molly, for sharing him!

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Fishing Memories, coming out in limited editions for $100

I am very pleased to find my “Fishing Memories” watercolor now getting attention. This morning I have been approached by two friends asking for a limited edition giclee. This print will be the same size as the largest ones I’ve sold before (“Summer Morning in Sundance Square” and ” Fort Worth Cattle Drive”). Today I will place an order for the first four with the company that designs my limited editions. Thank you, Mark and Kathy, for your interest that got this started. I still believe this is the best watercolor I have done to date. My original is still available in its frame for $1200. These limited editions will be priced at $100.

I am feeling profound withdrawal. I knew I was going to miss the people in Palestine, Texas, but had no idea how profoundly I would miss them this soon. I have opportunity to return to that town for future work and I cannot wait for that to happen.

Again, thank you so much for all of you that took interest in my One-Man-Show, clearly one of the best experiences of my art career.

I paint in order to discover

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Musings on the Last Day of My Show

April 9, 2017

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Three Views of the Lobby of The Redlands Historic Inn

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Photo taken by Z Jary

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Selfie taken early this morning before opening, the last day

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Jean Mollard just added me to the historical brochure of The Redlands!

Waking this Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure how I felt. Closing out this three-week show this evening and heading back home flooded me with a sad feeling. Yet, being invited to take part in Palestine’s future cultural events bathed me with warmth and excitement, knowing I can now begin writing a new chapter to this life narrative. So, before I open The Gallery at Redlands for this day, I pause once more to thank everyone who contributed to the excitement and success of the last three weeks–to my friends who visited, my patrons, my new friends I’ve met in this community, my facebook and blogging friends who continually wrote in your support–so many well-wishers–I thank you from the depths. Above all, I thank Wade and Gail for your vision in opening this gallery space, as well as Jean and Mike for your warm friendship and hospitality in this remarkable Redlands Historic Inn. This 102-year-old Inn is a most remarkable environment for overnight or extended stays, and the Red Fire Grille on the ground floor offers a fine dining experience that still leaves me in awe. So, anyone reading this, check out www.RedlandsHistoricInn.com, look at the photos of their spectacular rooms, pack your bags, and move in!  This historic facility and its owners are first-rate. I had friends come out and book suites the past two weekends, and they are still buzzing about the experience of staying here. I too had the privilege of living here the past three weekends and am going to miss the place sorely when I move out today.

Someone who was bound to know what he was talking about, Albrecht Dürer, did after all make the well-known remark: “For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” “Wrest” here means to draw out the rift and to draw the design with the drawing-pen on the drawing-board. But we at once raise the counterquestion: how can the rift-design be drawn out if it is not brought into the Open by the creative sketch as a rift, which is to say, brought out beforehand as a conflict of measure and unmeasure? True, there lies hidden in nature a rift-design, a measure and a boundary and, tied to it, a capacity for bringing forth–that is, art. But it is equally certain that this art hidden in nature becomes manifest only through the work, because it lies originally in the work.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

Over breakfast this morning, I reread portions of Heidegger’s essay that always intrigues me. Next week I will engage in plein air painting as Paint Historic Waxahachie is already under way for those of us who registered early. These words from Heidegger and Dürer will linger with me as I set up my portable easel, fix my eye on a subject, and begin dragging my pencil across the white rectangular surface of stretched watercolor paper, searching out the rift, the boundary, the divisions. I recall Robert Motherwell saying that drawing was the organization of space. I like that perspective. The compositional issues playing out on the white rectangle of space, the abyss, as I organize graphite lines and colored pigments always thrills me when I am outdoors attempting to capture a slice of the scene playing out before me. I got to do some of that inside this gallery the past two weekends as I painted something I could see out the window.

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Is it still plein-air when you are standing indoors?!

Next week, I will be outside giving this another try.

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.

Unwinding After a Spectacular Weekend

April 8, 2017

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The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

I have hung the painting above, titled “Finding the Seam” in place of the “Fort Worth Cattle Drive” which just went home with its new owner. The fly fishing painting was copied from a photo of me fishing the South Fork of the Rio Grande several years back. I have it listed at $800 framed. I’m happy that it fits the gap just fine that was left by the cattle drive composition.

I am keeping the Gallery at Redlands open till 9:00 p.m., since restaurant patrons are still drifting in and out. But now I finally have some time to read Emerson and reflect over a perfect day. The Emerson quote has come alive for me in the quiet of the evening as the hotel finally grows quiet following a day of high activity. Patrons kept me busy and talking almost the entire day, and sales have kept us all happy. This one-man-show has gone far beyond my highest expectations, and one day remains. A part of me is sad to see it come to a close, but another part of me is bone-tired and could use some rest. For three weekends now, I have felt this pull between the traffic of gallery patrons and the quiet in the recesses of my soul where I contemplate the next painting.

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Elena, Courtney, Morgan and Rachael

One of the highlights of my show featured my teaching colleague, Rachael Peterson, bringing three of my Advanced Placement Art History students all the way out here from Arlington. What a joy to see them outside our everyday school complex. The girls fell in love with Palestine, its businesses and its people. Thank you, girls, for coming out and making this even more fun. You truly are a treasure, and I’m still smiling at every memory of you.

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Photo by Z Jary

Yesterday I was visited by a pair of artistic friends, Elaine and Z Jary. Elaine is a watercolorist and Z a photographer. Z patiently photographed me repeatedly, inside and outside the gallery, and was kind enough to send me a fistful of photos online. I have selected this one to put up. Z Jary, thank you, I am amazed at your photographic eye.

I will definitely sleep tonight. I was in the gallery before eight this morning, and am now closing it thirteen hours later. But the day has been precious and I appreciate every conversation and every encouraging word I encountered today.

Thank you for reading.

 I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Saturday Morning, Playing in the Gallery

April 8, 2017

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To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

The cool of a 58-degree Saturday morning was very welcoming to me as I stepped out of the hotel shortly after six and drove out to the Loop to my favorite breakfast diner. I tried to remain after breakfast to read and relax over coffee, since there were plenty of empty tables still. But alas, someone came in and occupied the booth next to me, and in a voice loud enough for the entire cafe to hear, she chatted to her partner about all the properties she was looking at in Mansfield, Arlington, Bedford, McKinney, Frisco . . . . Oh well, I had to remind myself I was not in a public library, and people come to  diners to talk about whatever they wish.

So, I opened The Gallery at Redlands shortly after 7, and have enjoyed a few hours of quiet, reflective reading and writing, inspired by Heidegger’s essay “What Are Poets For?” I love this essay, along with “The Origin of the Work of Art.” Heidegger urges that the creative person confronts the raw materials of earth with his/her “world” (all that that person has gathered into the self by experience) and that out of that confrontation emerges a work of art. I like that–art work emerges when I bring all that I am to encounter the world as I feel it presenting itself to me.

Looking up from my reading and writing, I liked the quality of the light flooding the gallery through the display window, and picking up my phone, snapped several photographs. About an hour later, my phone chimed, surprising me with this Google Photos program that arranged my photos into two panorama compositions. I have posted them above.

Two of my friends came out from the metroplex yesterday and stayed several hours with me, Z and Elaine Jary. Both are artists–Z a photographer and Elaine a watercolorist. Z took a number of photos yesterday and has promised to send some. In the event that he does, I will certainly blog them with proper credit to him.

Well, the gallery is now open for business and people are starting to fill the lobby.

Thanks for reading.