Archive for November, 2017

The Circle of Creative Eros

November 30, 2017

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Began the Day with Breakfast at Cracker Barrel before a Fire

It was a free society, to be sure, but one without depth: its ceaseless expansion, whether into outer space or on the production line, had created an almost irresistible temptation on the part of everyone to produce in order to produce still more. Tillich exhorted the producers of cultural goods to stop moving in this one dimensional direction–to come to a halt in order to “enter creation and unite with its power,” in short, to add the vertical line of depth to the horizontal line of extension.

Wilhelm & Marion Pauck, Paul Tillich: His Life & Thought

On May 6, 1963, theologian Paul Tillich spoke at the fortieth anniversary party for Time magazine at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. His audience consisted of the 284 celebrities selected for Time cover stories. His historic speech was titled: “The Ambiguity of Perfection”. In this speech, he addressed a crowd of movers and shakers of his day with the jolting words I’ve posted above. Tillich was fond of addressing the tension of the horizontal dimension of production with the vertical one of creative eros.

For the past couple of decades I have mused over this horizontal and vertical dynamic that Tillich expounded, and have known too well the tensions between what I face today (production deadlines) and what I enjoy on other days (feeding on ideas and creating art from the inspiration). For the next four days I will continue what I’ve known all this week–gathering, organizing, packing and loading art furniture and inventory–the horizontal. When the dust clears Monday, I hope to return to the studio and resume the creative task–the vertical.

Tillich’s tension between the horizontal and the vertical, the production energy vs. the intellectual process has held my attention over the years, but as I look at my own life processes, I tend to see them moving in a circle, a circle of creative eros. I hope it is O.K. now to share my circle with you.

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I perceive the foundation of my lifestyle as one laid in my study. I read every chance I can get, and have been scribbling my ideas from my reading in journals since 1985. I love the history of ideas–art, literature, philosophy, religion–and cannot find enough hours in the day to pursue this interest. For three decades, these readings have spawned classroom lectures and discussions, and now in my semi-retirement days, I still have this satisfying outlet in a university classroom.

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My expression from reading and thinking finds a good outlet in the classroom forum, but that is not enough. I also have to create visually, and from the study I generally find my way into the studio. And as I work, the “smart TV” continually plays YouTube documentaries and lectures from the world of ideas–art, literature, philosophy and religion–and I listen with a glad heart while I paint.

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My ideas have a way of dispersing in the classroom as they disappear into the air and hopefully take root in students’ lives. However, the art works on paper have a way of accumulating into boxes and cartons, and need a place to go. Hence the days when I have to load up and deliver them to a gallery, store or art festival.

So, today and for the rest of the week, my circle will be anchored in this third realm. All day today I will be printing, packaging and organizing my inventory. Tonight I will load the Jeep and tomorrow morning at 9:00 arrive at my Dallas destination to set up for the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show. I enjoy all three parts of this circle that has its way of organizing creative eros. And I’m anticipating good things today as I work.

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.

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Coherence Beneath the Scattering

November 29, 2017

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My Garage Experiment in Setting up the Booth for the Weekend

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I’m still making decisions on what paintings to hang in the show

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For the first time in months, I have all my greeting cards in one show

All of his activities were part of an underlying continuity, the diverse elements of which were brought together and reconciled by his own deep understanding of the unity that underlay the complex fabric of images, words, things, and sensations that constituted his world.

Jack Flam, Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonne, 1941-1991, volume 1

When I get caught up in a maelstrom of details such as I’ve endured the past few days, my mind goes either to Andy Warhol and his factory lifestyle of cranking out product or Robert Motherwell as he wandered from his painting studio to his graphics studio to his library. This evening I have felt closer to the Motherwell syndrome as I re-thought the final lecture I delivered this morning to my college classes and then spent the entire afternoon and evening moving between my garage with decisions about booth setup to the studio for printing, matting and sleeving prints and greeting cards. I also set aside some quiet time to sit in my study, read and reflect over the affairs going on lately. The day has indeed pulled me in multiple directions but I’ve loved it all, and I get to spend all of tomorrow doing the same. Showtime begins Friday!

Thanks for reading.

 

Warm Satisfaction

November 29, 2017

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Third-Story Library Carrel, Texas Wesleyan University

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

It took longer than it should have, but I finally reached the time in my life where I found myself happy with where I am. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote of three broad ways of interpreting history, and his “monumentalist” approach was the one I adopted long ago–seeking role models for inspiration in the hopes that excellence could be pursued. Throughout my years of teaching, I was the perpetual student myself, reading all I could on the lives of individuals who inspired me in the arts, literature, and public life. Finally, I’ve reached this special place where I feel I can pursue an artful life and do as I choose without permission or apology.

This present state of “semi-retirement” fits me better than any stage I’ve known before. I love teaching at the university three mornings a week, and though I don’t have to, I choose to rise at five on the mornings I teach (four hours before class time) so I can enjoy quiet reading and writing. This is one of those mornings. After all these years, I still love pursuing academic study and writing. Later today, I’ll enter the art studio and see what I can create visually.

I have designated the third floor library at Texas Wesleyan University as “Luther’s Tower”, because since the year 2000 (when I was teaching at night) I chose to cloister myself in one of the private study carrel rooms so I could look out the window across the city of Fort Worth and the south side neighborhoods and enjoy my study time. My memories of the winter holiday season were always the best because of the cold (yet, Texas this year still has 70-degree November days!), the early nightfall, and the feelings of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the atmosphere. In this carrel, I have relished the study of biblical literature, humanities, philosophy and ethics. I cannot describe the joy I know when there is quality time to read, to think, to compose my thoughts, and then write it all out.

I’m happy this time of year because the art festival season becomes more festive, and I’m anticipating with gladness this weekend’s show at The Sons of Herman Hall in Dallas. When I return home after classes this morning, I’ll go straight to the garage and begin making decisions on how to trim my booth with lighting and holiday attire, and how to stock it with my art inventory. For this show, I have a number of new pieces coming out for public viewing and sale, and I always love seeing the new on display.

The university semester will end next week for me, and I’ll enjoy a month off between semesters, and I’m thankful for that as well. I’m grateful for this gift of life and for quality time to pursue things that matter to me.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Gearing Up for the Final Show of 2017

November 29, 2017

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Trying to finish this Texas State Railroad Locomotive

I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. . . . The imagination must learn to ply her craft by judgment studied.

William Wordsworth, “The Prelude”

I feel that I have somehow packed three days into one, as this Tuesday has been exceedingly long and arduous, yet satisfying. Rising at 6 this morning, I managed to put in some quality reading time, then left the house to pursue business errands until this evening, sat down next to compose tomorrow’s final lecture for my college Ethics class, then finally worked in the garage on my booth presentation for this weekend’s show.

My quotes above came from the morning of reading, and I was most captivated by the contrast in Wordsworth’s pair of statements, namely that art is a balance between an explosion of feeling and editorial restraint. As I work to complete the steam locomotive started several weeks back, I seek to lay down the precision and geometry required by the subject matter. But boy, how I enjoyed all the splashing and splattering of the night sky and and the loose washes of color on the body of the locomotive, before the time came to tighten up and lay in the exacting details.

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I should consider myself fortunate that I could not leave my house this morning until businesses opened, so I had three hours of solitude for reading and writing. The writings of Robert Motherwell fed my soul as they always do. This remarkable Abstract Expressionist artist was the prime example of a life that blended scholarly pursuit with art making in the studio. For decades I have sought a balance between my academic studies and my art pursuits and always look to this man for my inspiration.

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After my study time, I went out to mail 110 postcards I had addressed by hand last night, announcing this weekend’s Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. After the post office visit, I drove the two hours to Palestine, Texas to The Gallery at Redlands to spend some time working on my watercolor. The light in the gallery windows was perfect for the early afternoon studio time.

After painting for awhile, I then packed and loaded the inventory and furniture necessary for setting up my booth Friday in Dallas and then drove the two hours back home. Once there, I sat down and composed tomorrow’s Ethics lecture to be given at Texas Wesleyan University (my only regular job now in my semi-retired lifecycle). Once the lecture was complete, I went into the garage to unload the Jeep and begin planning how I’m going to set up an 8 x 10′ booth space at the weekend show.

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I’m glad to have sufficient garage space to work on this booth for the next two days. I’ll be making decisions on lighting and Christmas decorations as well as the particular art inventory needed for the show.

Thanks for reading. It’s been a lengthy day, but I’m glad to get some important matters accomplished.

Back to Work but Still Drifting in the Stream

November 27, 2017

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But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

It is back to college this Monday morning, as we sprint through the final two weeks of school before dismissing for Christmas break. My heart still overflows with thanksgiving for this past week of catching up on work that had lagged as well as visiting family in St. Louis for a short while and piling up over a thousand miles in Kerouac-style road tripping. I have posted a sunset that I photographed through the windshield of my moving vehicle while driving through Republic, Missouri on Interstate 44, en route to The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

With the museum remaining open till 9:00 that night, I was ecstatic to enter it for a couple of hours, then return the next day and spend most of the day perusing the collection and exploring the walking trails. This museum is a real treasure, and friends had told me about it the past couple of years, but it took until now for me to make the time to journey there.

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Robert Henri, “Jessica Penn in Black with White Plumes”

After years of reading and re-reading Robert Henri’s magnificent book The Art Spirit, I looked upon this painting with a new set of eyes. When I have the time, I need to review his lengthy discussions concerning figure and portraiture, most notably his ideas about how to relate the subject to its background. I was totally mesmerized by his black-on-black composition and how the dress simultaneously emerged and dissolved into the background. Figure and portraiture I have avoided up till now in watercolor, but now I have the interest in examining this.

Having read an additional seventy pages in the Leonardo biography, I have been absorbed with his eighteen years spent in Milan and now have a much deeper appreciation for his Last Supper painting. I am now at the place where he returns to his native Florence to spend a few years at age fifty.

My compulsion to read several books at the same time is flaring up again. I’ve been reading a biography on Paul Cezanne in addition to the Leonardo work. And now I have purchased the new work on J. M. W. Turner. The first chapter was amazing as it assessed the way his final five years spawned a public distortion of his work. So now I have my attention focused on three great artists, and I need to take up my own work as well.

This next weekend I’ll be taking my work to The Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, Texas for the three-day Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show. I have been an admirer of Brodnax’s pottery for nearly three decades and have enjoyed visiting and shopping at this annual event. Now I’m extremely proud to be numbered among his “friends” as the invitation arrived this past summer to participate this Christmas. Here is a link to Randy’s site:

http://www.randybrodnax.com

It is back to work now. Thanks for reading.

 

Holiday Solitude in the Studio

November 20, 2017

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While you are alone you are entirely your own master.

Leonardo da Vinci

Waking up around 5 this morning, I realized with gladness that I don’t have a class to teach for a solid week. I knew that last Friday when our university dismissed for Thanksgiving, but truly felt it this morning. My Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes begin at 9, and always on Monday I awake around 5, thinking about what I’m going to say in four hours. Instead, today I went straight to the drafting table and resumed work on this #300 steam engine from the Texas State Railroad that I abandoned until this past weekend. I’m starting to feel the momentum return, much the way the steam locomotives did when they resumed a journey after a lengthy layover.

I also hope to complete my reading of the Walter Isaacson biography on Leonardo da Vinci. I’m 229 pages into the piece, and have loved every page, as the author chooses to explore this amazing man through his notebooks. This morning is a good time to be alone and think about the work I’m pursuing these days.

The weekend at The Gallery at Redlands was sublime as always, and it was capped by a surprise visit from my dear friends, the Darrs. Yesterday we got to spend several hours visiting in the gallery.

I will not return to the Gallery for the next two weekends. I assume the Thanksgiving weekend would be quiet for business, and I am privileged to take part in the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show in Dallas December 1-3. I’ll return to Palestine the two weekends following and close out my railroad exhibit.

For anyone interested, I have the following originals on display, along with limited editions for $70, 11 x 14″ matted prints for $25, 8 x 10″matted ones for $15, and box sets of 6 cards for $25. I also have a pair of coffee mugs designed featuring my watercolor trains.

Thanks for reading.

610 Schultz large cropped

Night Train Violet

30Large cropped

Night Train Blue

Blue & Red diesel

Chevron Diesel

Orange diesel

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Dreams of Yesterday

grapevine train

durango-silverton

turvey

eureka springs

Return to Painting with a Surge

November 19, 2017

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Leaving the university Friday morning, with a one-week Thanksgiving vacation in front of me put a considerable wind at my back. I arrived at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine (my home away from home) in time to give a two-hour watercolor lesson to an artist with considerable experience and talent already. Watching her work was a real inspiration for me, and as soon as the lesson was accomplished, I was ready to return to painting after a short hiatus. The painting above of one of the Texas State Railroad locomotives I resumed after laying it aside for a few weeks. I worked on it till late Saturday night, while the Gallery was quiet.

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Rising shortly after 5 this morning, I was ready to resume work on the Chamber of Commerce building as seen outside the Gallery window. I began work on it Saturday morning before the Gallery traffic began picking up. Today the morning sun was bright on the side of the building and I managed to get quite a bit accomplished.

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Saturday morning, early, I got a good look at Shelton Hall in Old Town Palestine while enjoying my morning coffee at the newly-opened Cream & Coffee establishment. While sitting outside, I sketched the roof of the old building in my journal with a ballpoint pen and decided once I returned to the gallery to get a start on this one as well.

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It is now Sunday evening and nearly time to close the Gallery and head back to Arlington (a two-hour drive). The painting time has been luxurious, and my reading of Isaacson’s new biography on Leonardo da Vinci over the weekend has also been a delicious change of pace from what I’ve had to do the past few weeks getting ready for this train show.

My Gallery show will continue to run until December 16, and I’m grateful already for the patrons who have drifted in to peruse my work and make purchases.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Finally Ready for Show Time

November 11, 2017

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Around Midnight, ready for the Opening

Finally, the last piece is in place and I should be able to sleep tonight. I will be able to open the gallery at ten in the morning, ready to welcome anyone who crosses the threshold. We are in Room 109 of The Redlands Hotel, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas. Our Gallery at Redlands has been in business since March and we’re all proud to be in this historic space.

The show is titled “The American Railroad Odyssey.” I have new watercolors of historic trains, mostly the ones located in Palestine’s history. For the show I have also brought out ninety signed & numbered prints, as well as open prints in 8 x 10 and 5 x 7″ sizes. I have greeting cards with my railroad watercolor images on the front and a text on the back (blank inside). I sell these at $5 each or $25 for six in a boxed set. Coffee mugs have also been created that sell for $15. This will be the first Christmas season that I have such a full inventory. Hopefully, I can offer something for everyone.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend.

Distractions

November 10, 2017

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Finally, at 9:30 p.m., I’m settling into The Gallery at Redlands for a quiet night of finishing the show details. Even though the show official opens tomorrow, I don’t feel the time pressure, because I’ve completed all the ground work and now just have to complete the unpacking and setting up. The Red Fire Grille across the hall has closed for the night, so there are no longer people coming in and out of the gallery. The conversations have been wonderful, and I’m excited about having met some new friends.

On the way to dinner tonight, I picked up the local paper, The Palestine Herald-Press. I had already read the article they published online last night, but I wanted a hard copy. Reading it over dinner was gratifying. I laugh at stories of Andy Warhol combing the New York papers every single day, looking for some mention of him. It was said that if he wasn’t mentioned, he was depressed for the day!

I really like the feel of this, though. Palestine is a town of 18,000, and its citizens read the newspaper. I was featured in the paper last March when my One-Man-Show opened this gallery, and a number of patrons coming in the day after said that they came to check out the gallery because they had read about it in the papers.

A number of friends in this town have gone the extra mile to broadcast this show. The Vistiors Center reached out to me yesterday asking for details, having received an announcement through social media. They now have a box of my assorted greeting cards in their store, advertising and telling patrons about our show.

Well, I guess I have procrastinated my job long enough–time to finish out this display. Thanks always for reading.

Somewhere Beneath this Pile Exists an Art Gallery

November 10, 2017

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Working Overtime Tonight in The Gallery at Redlands

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Four hours’ worth of sleep won’t generally work for me. Last night I stayed up late due to some issues with my printer and the labels for ninety new limited edition prints as well as the framed paintings recently hung in our gallery. Around midnight, the printer stopped working and I threw in the towel and went to bed. I was awakened at 1 o’clock by the printer suddenly “waking up” and printing again. At 5, a decided to rise and finish the job before going to my 9 and 10 o’clock classes. Following classes, I drove the two hours to The Gallery at Redlands, and with abundant help from Mike, moved a large quantity of framed paintings out of the gallery and into storage several floors upstairs. By then, I was too dumb with sleep deprivation to spell my own name,  so I went to my hotel room upstairs (The Historic Inn at Redlands is indeed the greatest place I’ve ever experienced for overnight stays and even general living!) and crashed into a nap. Now, after 7 o’clock, it’s gotten dark outside, and the gallery still looks as it did when I hauled all the freight in yesterday and today. My “American Railroad Odyssey” show opens in the morning, and I know we will be ready.

I am indeed looking forward to this quiet evening working in The Gallery at Redlands, after I dash out for a quick supper. I have no other commitments, its Friday night, and the only thing I need to do now is affix labels to about one hundred fifty limited edition prints, arrange them in the bin, and then put the labels and placards up with all the new paintings that were hung yesterday. Then I need to carry out boxes and boxes and boxes to my Jeep. I know that from underneath all this debris a gallery will emerge once again and I’ll be sitting in the midst of it, living the dream.

I could never sufficiently thank Wade, Gail, Jean and Mike for all they’ve done to make this gallery a reality. I can’t recall a time in my life when I have felt more fulfilled. This is a beautiful space.

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.