Archive for December, 2017

Warm Sentiments for 2018

December 31, 2017

new year

It stimulated me, roused my long-held desire to be an architect of ideas.

John Sculley, after his meeting with Steve Jobs about becoming President of Apple.

New Year’s Eve finds me enjoying a quiet one at home. For the past couple of days I have fought back against an upper respiratory illness (I’ve been dogged with it for over a week now) an spent most of today in bed. Fortunately, I’ve felt much better since around 6:30 and have been at my desk reading stacks of books, scribbling resolutions in a journal and focusing my mind and heart on 2018 just around the corner.

I hope I feel good enough to resume painting tomorrow as I have several ideas seething that want to come to expression. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to find inspiration from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs. John Sculley left Pepsi to become President of Apple, and the quote above moved me. I myself have wanted to be an architect, or designer of ideas since the 1980s, and have given my life to pursuing that dream, both in classrooms and in the art studio. I am just grateful to move into a new era of 2018 and lay the foundations for new endeavors.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year to all of you.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



Settling into the Cold Nights

December 30, 2017

snow high ridge

“A mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

William Wordsworth

I picked up the quote above from my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. After a hundred pages of reading, I can say I am genuinely hooked on this biography and am grateful that the frigid weather now gripping north Texas waited for my return from a St. Louis Christmas (which featured delightful snow!). Now I’m snuggled in front of my fireplace as temperatures promise to reach lows in the upper teens the next few days.  I’ve posted above a watercolor I did today (8 x 10″) from a photo I took of a Christmas eve snowstorm in St. Louis.

And . . . I seem to lapse into the habit of photographing breakfast in front of the fireplace on those rare occasions that Texas gets cold enough for a fire in the winter.


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.

A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

christmas painting

Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.


New Horizons

December 22, 2017


We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.

Paul Tillich

The Christmas road trip has been one of my life’s many bookmarks since 1977 when I moved from north Missouri to Texas. My parents and siblings still reside in the St. Louis area, so I always know where I am heading when I hit the Interstate in late December. Like every other year, the Route 66 excursion will provide hours of windshield time and memories will roll across my consciousness as the miles roll beneath the tires.

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to post a blog as the New Year dawns. 2017 has brought many treasures into my life, and I’m anticipating new adventures in 2018. But now, the Christmas season is in full swing, and I’m grateful to spend it with family once again.

I wish all of you the best as we enter this Season.


Pondering the Source in Silence

December 21, 2017


Safely Ensconced in a Hotel Far Away . . .

Existence beyond number

Wells up in my heart. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Good day to all of you friends who read my blog. Since my last post I have been knocked down by a sinus infection and encroaching flu symptoms. Thankfully, the flu never fully materialized, though a good number of my dear friends were stricken by it. Nevertheless, I have spent hours of days and nights sleeping, and, during my waking hours, sitting in a fog. For weeks I have run nonstop from engagement to engagement, as the art business and holidays joined forces in a flurry of activities. Once those were finished, much Christmas shopping remained to be completed, plus the mailing of packages, as well as the tying up of loose ends to facilitate holiday travel and visitation. And then the dreaded fatigue and sinus infection. I’ve lost track of the past several days except for occasional errands. But today I feel good enough to read and pull together a few thoughts that have been percolating during this down time.

I regret repeating myself in posts, but some of you don’t really know my past, so I feel the urge to put this out: as a student in public schools, I was not driven academically, but extremely bored except for my art endeavors. I will forever be thankful that my art abilities landed me a scholarship to the university, and in that acid bath of academics, I finally woke to a world of ideas, and could not consume knowledge fast enough. I pushed through the undergraduate and graduate levels till I graduated with my doctorate and then taught in public schools for 28 years. All of this now seems a blur. At age 63, I have not slowed or cooled in my enthusiasm for learning, but have always had to admit that my academic foundation was not very strong once I entered the university, and I have always felt “behind.” Though in addition to my 28 years of high school teaching I’ve tacked on 31 years of college teaching concurrently, I still don’t feel academically “endowed.” I’m a mule. A plodder. Slow and ponderous. But I love thinking. I love reading for the sake of pushing back the boundaries of experience, and in the making of art, I am always questioning what it is exactly I am trying to express in these pursuits.

And so, during my recent illness, I have returned to reading Martin Heidegger. To those who know, that triggers a belly laugh. Heidegger is extremely difficult to penetrate. But I’ve been fascinated with his ideas for years, and have labored many, many hours, poring over his obdurate texts and extracting what I could of value. His translations and discussions of Presocratic texts I think are the best, and I’m always intrigued by his essays, particularly “The Origin of the Work of Art.”

For a number of days now, I have been wrestling with his essay “What are Poets For?” And early this morning, finally feeling well and sitting in a window seat of my hotel room (pictured above–I love the timer on my camera phone that facilitates selfies!), I came across his response to some of the poetic writings of Rilke:

The inner and invisible domain of the heart is not only more inward than the interior that belongs to calculating representation, and therefore more invisible; it also extends further than does the realm of merely producible objects. Only in the invisible innermost of the heart is man inclined toward what there is for him to love: the forefathers, the dead, the children, those who are to come. All this belongs in the widest orbit, which now proves to be the sphere of the presence of the whole integral draft.

Since the days of my university “awakening”, I knew that I was a slower intellect than my peers, but I also have known since those days that I am more of a romantic than a classicist (I am stereotyping those words, I know). To put it another way, I have more passion than precision. And throughout my years of study, I have sought ways to express what I’ve learned–in the pastoral ministry for a decade, in the classroom for three decades, and in my art for the past couple of decades. Throughout this life, I have tried to find connections between my head and heart, my knowledge and passion, my academics and my art.

And now, in this Heidegger essay, I am embarking on a rich discussion of the “heart” the real center of it all. And I’m happy that my head is clearing up from all the medication and my body is responding better to my commands. Christmas arrives in four days, and believe me, this year it definitely overtook me quickly. I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to blog again before that special Day, but at least I had this opportunity today to pause and send all of you the best of what I’m thinking and feeling. I’ll be going on the road soon.

Thanks always for reading, and I wish you love throughout this holiday season and beyond . . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Be Still and Know

December 17, 2017

be still 2

be still

Many of us are willing to embark upon any adventure, except to go into stillness and to wait, to place all the wealth of wisdom in the secrecy of this soil, to sow our own soul for a seed in that tract of land allocated to every life which we call time–and to let the soul grow beyond itself. Faith is the fruit of a seed planted in the depth of a lifetime.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

After a long, cold, rainy night, I rose this morning before dawn to a 37-degree wet morning, but was glad to know that the only task before me was changing out the exhibit in the gallery. About 50% of the paintings have been replaced with others, and I was surprised to have it all done before the gallery officially opened at 10:00.  Even more surprised was I to encounter several patrons and make sales before 10:00. Once 10:00 arrived, the typical quiet Sunday morning set in, and I was able to collapse into a chair and breathe. Allergies have dragged my system down the past couple of days, and I regret that my energy level is low, but not my capacity for contemplation.

Reading from the Heschel text has been satisfying, particularly the piece I posted above. I recall the impatience I felt in the years of my youth, when studying under the guidance of teachers and professors, wishing I knew more, wishing I had more talent, wishing I had some kind of a defined purpose in life.  My mentors usually smiled and said, “It will come. Just be patient.”

In my current senior years, I cannot claim to be wise, but I do understand now that the qualities for which I yearned come over a stretch of time. There is no royal road, no shortcut, no cheat sheet. Hegel said the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk. I’m deeply thankful that I have been granted the gift of living this long. I’m grateful that foolish mistakes from my past did not prevent me from getting to this place. My twin loves of art and scholarship have finally taken root to where I can detect some progress, yet I still know the drive of wanting to know more, wanting to push the boundary into new territory.

I have pursued a train subject in painting since March and am glad that this show has finally ended. I already know what I wish to study next, and will gladly unveil that project in the new year. I have a solo show opening just around the corner, in January. Once that show is up, I plan to chase this new project and share it with you.

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.


A Soothing, Artful Day . . .

December 16, 2017

finished chamber of commerce

View from The Gallery at Redlands

A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The abstract expressionist artist Robert Motherwell referred to James Joyce as “the Shakespeare of modernism”, and said that reading his works put him in the mood to paint. Early this morning, I chose to re-open Joyce’s Portrait which I’ve read already in its entirety, and to which I continually return for inspiration to paint. Today was a day free of appointments, and I’ve been enriched, gazing across the street at the Chamber of Commerce building from the gallery window and working slowly and methodically at it, pausing frequently to read and hit the reset button.

Palestine is quite the railroad town, and though the rail yard landscape continued to change throughout the day, I decided to put a trio of hoppers into the picture, and disregard the constant passage of Union Pacific locomotives, tankers, hoppers and reefers. The rumble of the diesels kept me company throughout the day, nearly lulling me to doze off a time or two. The gallery traffic was also very welcome, as were the sales and conversations. I’ll keep the doors open till 10:00 tonight because of the restaurant patrons across the lobby from me. Then tomorrow I will take down most of my railroad show and replace with a new selection of paintings. Tomorrow will be more labor intensive than today. I’m grateful for the respite of painting and reading today.

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.




Bright Sunwashed Morning for Painting

December 16, 2017



Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet. Over his limbs in sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning knowledge, a morning inspiration.

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Waking to a 36-degree morning in Palestine, Texas, in The Redlands Hotel, was a sublime experience. I lay in the darkness of the pre-dawn, unsure of the time, but thinking good thoughts, hoping for bright sunshine so I could return to The Gallery at Redlands downstairs and resume this watercolor sketch I began last week of the Chamber of Commerce building visible through my gallery window.

I have always loved the quality of winter morning sunlight when the weather is snappy cold, and am so happy for the first day in weeks that I have not had appointments and details to tend. I anticipate a day of painting, reading, and merely enjoying life at its fullest. My “American Railroad Odyssey” show closes at 10 p.m. and tomorrow I will take down the show and reconfigure the gallery display.

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.



Sunday in the Gallery

December 10, 2017

I begin a painting with a series of mistakes . . . 

Robert Motherwell




It is Sunday morning, and I feel well-rested, despite a Saturday filled with events lasting into the night. Palestine had its Main Street Wine Swirl and over 400 people purchased tickets for the event that took them to places all around the business district, including the Redlands Hotel. Knowing the lobby would be filled with people, I took advantage of an opportunity to play guitars and sing with my new friend Drew Minshew that I met while painting on the Waxahachie town square last spring. Drew and I spent the evening filling the gallery with our favorite tunes, and everyone coming in seemed to have a good time.


This morning, I have begun work on a new painting of the Chamber of Commerce building across the intersection from the Gallery. The one I started a few weeks ago sold off the easel unfinished, and I was delighted that the buyer preferred the vignette look of the work in progress. Nevertheless, I have begun another, hoping I could perhaps finish this one. I cannot say I agree with Motherwell’s sentiments of beginning a painting with a series of mistakes, though I know that experience all-too-well. I just don’t prefer it!  Instead, I like Andrew Wyeth’s sentiment that working with watercolor and pencil is much like fencing–you need to thrust the point of  the pencil with precision and confidence, with no second-guessing.

Thanks for reading. Sundays are usually quiet around here, but this morning has been filled with interruptions as more people seem to be getting out on this sunny, cold Sunday morning in Palestine. I opened the gallery at 9:00 and found people all over the hotel lobby already.


Music in the Gallery Today

December 9, 2017

Saturday guitar.jpg

Tuned & Ready

Saturday window

Window Display at The Gallery At Redlands, Palestine, Texas

Saturday train.jpg

My Latest Train Watercolor Delivered Today from the Frame Shop

This weekend at The Gallery at Redlands has been a joyous experience. Plenty of shoppers are pouring into the town for this afternoon’s Main Street Wine Swirl. Part of the event will be held in the lobby of the Redlands Hotel just outside the gallery. I have a guitar picking friend coming to join me at 6:00. We plan to play acoustic guitars and sing our favorite songs into the evening, hoping to please the folks coming through. I’ve posted my most recent painting. The frame shop delivered it this afternoon, and I’m ecstatic over the work they did with the framing. I’ll be ordering limited edition signed & numbered prints of this next week.

Thanks for reading.