Archive for April, 2019

Morning Thoughts from the Gallery

April 30, 2019

20190430_0659556022703052548503730.jpg

Where there is no vision the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

The scholars are the priests of that thought which establishes the foundations of the earth. No matter what is their special work or profession, they stand for the spiritual interest of the world, and it is a common calamity if they neglect their post in a country where the material interest is so predominant as it is in America.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

creel redone

Thinking of the Next Catch

20190430_0729198755016507279063278.jpg

Trophy from the “Spirit is Ageless” Art & Writing Contest

Artscape 2019 at the Dallas Arboretum is in the books, and I am still awash in splendid recollections from the weekend spent there. As of this writing, I am finally rested from the exertion of breaking down the show, driving it home, then rising yesterday morning to drive two hours to Palestine and unload all my festival gear and art work at the Redlands Hotel, then put the Gallery at Redlands all back together again.

Sunday at the festival allowed me some time for reading in the shade, and Emerson’s essay penetrated my soul in a way that escapes words. I often have to close the book, sigh, and gaze into the distance to absorb the beauty of his prose. What a lovely literary sage he is! I have difficulty explaining the “spirituality” of  art, but I told my students over the years that I am happier making art than selling it, or sitting in a festival or gallery showing it off. The act of painting restores my soul, making me feel alive and purposeful on this earth. The material benefit of selling art is appreciated, but the restored spirit I feel while making it far exceeds the rewards of sales or words of praise.

Part of the weekend activities included a reception at CC Young: The Point & Pavilion adjacent to White Rock Lake. I accepted the trophy posted above as they read my written submission accompanying the watercolor:

Though the old fellow spent most of his days drinking coffee and dozing in his shed, he still kept his fly fishing gear piled on the chair across the room in perfect view so he could continue to remember those days when fishing was at its best. He smiled at every memory of Indian Creek with its holes teaming with black bass, and Beaver’s Bend with the long gurgling runs lined with rainbow trout.

The neighbors entered his darkened house after several days of silence, and found him dead, seated in his rocker, his half-cup of cold coffee at his elbow. The fishing gear was still piled in the chair across the room, offering mute tribute to his wholesome days.

This morning’s pleasure included spending time on the air with Kevin Harris and Alan Wade on Smooth Rock 93.5. I miss Marc Mitchell, who recently accepted a position with the Palestine Herald-Press, just down the road from the Redlands Hotel. Alan has provided warm friendship and excellent conversation, and adds another quality presence to the broadcast team.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Advertisements

An Emersonian Weekend

April 28, 2019

I found it difficult trying to be in two places at once, but I spent a little time at CC Young Retirement Center accepting an award for one of my paintings, before returning to Artscape 2019 at the Dallas Arboretum.

We are open for one more day, Sunday from 9 to 5. And I am in Booth 81, enjoying the lovely weather!

Serene Moments at Artscape 2019

April 27, 2019

Booth #81 at the Dallas Arboretum

We could not have dialed up better weather than what we are experiencing at the Dallas Arboretum this weekend. Our hours Saturday and Sunday will run 9 to 5, and the crowds have really swelled as I write this.

I am much happier with my new Booth configuration, compared to the conservative ways I boxed it up in years gone by. I have more than 20 new works hanging that I have not shown in the past.

I would like to post more, but there is plenty of traffic coming through the booth, so I will sign off for now. Thanks always for reading!

The Refuge of Art

April 25, 2019

Art still has truth. Seek refuge there.

Matthew Arnold

20190425_0823541555300381259723268.jpg

Seated this morning in The Gallery at Redlands, I confess that Art is indeed my refugue, my inner calm. I have heard fishermen claim that even if they fish all day without a bite, it was still an excellent day. I disagree. No matter how serene the surroundings, if I fish all day without success, I am soured. But art is a different story; I can paint all day and create junk, but I still have experienced a sublime day. The act of making art floods my being with sentiments that are just as genuine as the satisfaction I know when creating something worth viewing.

Soon I will be packing my art out of here to take to the Dallas Arboretum for Artscape 2019. I set up Friday morning and we have a Members Only Preview Show that evening. The actual show opens Saturday morning at 9:00 and runs till 5:00. Same hours on Sunday.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

20181027_0933343129386179136624586.jpg

Smooth Rock 93.5 is broadcasting at the moment, so I am keeping things quiet at my end of the gallery. After the morning show is over at 10:00, I’ll begin taking down my paintings and loading the Jeep for the show. Meanwhile, it feels good to enjoy the calm of the morning, and spend this quality time reading and scribbling in the journal.

My next blog will feature photos of my new booth appearance at Artscape 2019. I have made a number of profound changes in my display, and after a month of seeing the visions in my head, I look forward to seeing the real edifice raised in the morning. And then, I hope to enjoy a pair of relaxing days seated in the booth, meeting art lovers and feeling the genuine gratitude of being invited to participate in such an event as this. I love the environment of a quality art festival, and this particular one is one of the most successful I have experienced over the past fifteen years.

Throughout my decades of employment, I cannot say that I was always surrounded by creative, optimistic personnel. But art festivals are different–from set up till break down, I always find my neighboring artistic spirits to be filled with a joie de vi·vre that buoys my spirits. And I look forward to seeing many of these artists whom I haven’t seen in a year. Catching up is always a joy. Being a part of this kind of community reminds me of how blessed I am.

This book, Culture Care, that my friend Ben gave me yesterday is providing much food for thought this morning. I hope to have more to say about it in the days ahead. But now, the broadcast team has finished their work of the morning, and it is time for me to load the paintings.

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.

 

 

The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

artscape 2019

The Greeks had a concept of Kairos time, which is not quantitative like our normal conception of time, but qualitative–rich or empty, the meaningful hour or the hurried moment. When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time–slowly, serenely but thickly.

David Brooks, “We need more timelessness, outside the speed of social media”

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Since my last post, I have journeyed to Palestine, Abilene, Lubbock and San Angelo. The whirlwind of activity made it difficult to stop long enough to post a blog. Now I am sequestered in The Redlands Hotel, my home-away-from-home, and I am packing and loading for Artscape 2019 at the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, 9-5, and it is my biggest art show of the year. This will be my second time to participate, and I am still awash in splendid memories of last year’s encounter. I have framed the watercolor pictured below and am looking forward to bringing it out for its first public viewing.

brookfield

I am also bringing out a number of plein air experimental watercolors I have made over the past six months.

20190317_1312363410537535150207311.jpg

cloudcroft

20180818_1454011228999782323517016.jpg

This is an exciting time for me, but I’m glad it is only Wednesday. My Jeep is already loaded with all my booth furniture and the only job left for me is to pack the paintings. It is nice to approach the event without feeling my hair is on fire.

My friend Ben Campbell from the Texas State Railroad dropped by the gallery this afternoon. He was one of the first friends I made when we opened The Gallery at Redlands a little over two years ago. He gave me a gift, the book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura. I am already immersed in this beautiful literary work. I posted above the quote by David Brooks from an article he published introducing the book. Ben was profoundly moved in his reading of it and purchased an extra copy for me. I love reading the works of reflective minds who manage to steer clear of the frenetic pace set by social media and our culture in general. So, thank you, Ben. This is a timely (in the kairos sense) gift that I am already treasuring. The evening is still young. I’m going to go upstairs and read this volume in the quiet comfort of the Redlands Hotel.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Weekend to Hit the Reset Button

April 14, 2019

20190413_10510359208265685807882.jpg

It is a thorny undertaking, and more so than it seems, to follow a movement so wandering as that of our mind, to penetrate the opaque depths of its innermost folds, to pick out and immobilize the innumerable flutterings that agitate it.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

After nearly a week of sweating out business paperwork, I finally escaped to Palestine and the waiting Gallery at Redlands. It was so good to see my art-loving friends again. Looking back now at the restful Friday, Saturday and Sunday that provided a wholesome blend of reading and watercoloring in the gallery, I’ll see if I can put some words on the page describing the delights.

A few weeks ago, I began reading from the Essays of the sixteenth-century thinker Montaigne, the one credited with inventing the genre of essay. I was aware of his literary prowess through my readings of Emerson, but never got around to reading him directly. This recent experience has been quite a revelation, and has inspired me to take my ideas more seriously, and seek a stronger link between my art and philosophical musings.

The two evenings prior to my departure for Palestine were spent seated in a patio area of a recently opened Kroger store a few miles from where I live. This store is planted alongside state highway 287, on an enormous piece of undeveloped property. Noticing the earth-moving equipment on the vacant property west of the store made me realize that this raw land will not be pristine much longer. So I decided to spend two late afternoons on the patio, looking across the vast stretch of land with sketchbook, journal and Montaigne on the table before me. As the sun sank lower in the sky, the most amazing array of colors refleted off the knee-high weeds on the property, and my eye was overwhelmed at the contrast of warm golds and cold greens alternating across the undulating grasses until it stopped at the stand of trees at the far end, almost a silhouette against the sunset sky. What I saw was the quintessential Edward Hopper oil painting of landsapes under low-angle sunlight. I know that such luminosity is possible with oil, but have puzzled frequently over how to get it done in watercolor.

Once I arrived at the gallery, I took out three 8 x 10″  stretched panels of watercolor paper and went to work experimenting on the landscape that remains etched in my mind’s eye. I laid down the initial skies Friday night, then worked on some washes of basic land color on Saturday. Sunday was spent mostly experimenting with dry brush, masquing, misting with a spray bottle, and splattering with a toothbrush. Finally by Sunday afternoon, I felt painter’s fatigue and decided to give my eye a rest until tomorrow. The paintings remain in the gallery downstairs, and I am now cozied up in my favorite Redlands Hotel suite with my copy of Montaigne and an open sketchbook. Here is what I have so far with the three watercolor sketches:

20190414_1611026358160983785249657.jpg

20190414_1610414005885787192618353.jpg

20190414_161031-1635236341698935324.jpg

Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to find fresh energy to continue work (play) on these three pieces.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Afterglow from Yesterday

April 11, 2019

pantego

img_21743749550447329996438.jpg

Plein Air Demo before High School Students

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

Billy Joel, “River of Dreams”

Recently, quality time for blogging has been scarce. Between spending hours behind a windshield in addition to processing hours of business affairs on the computer, I have felt my soul drying up. I love making art, reading, writing and blogging, and it’s been about 48 hours since I have been able to pursue those necessities that nurture my “real” life.

But for now, I need to push away the business paperwork so I can at least respond to a most precious moment I experienced during the first half of yesterday. Cindy Thomas, a public art teacher colleague I have known over twenty years, has also retired and taken up a part time position teaching art in a private school (smaller, more respectful classes and much larger studio space). She invited me to visit three of her classes yesterday and demonstrate watercolor en plein air. Their high school campus had a beautiful outdoor garden area and the weather was sunny and cool–just perfect for such an occasion.

I am anxiously waiting for the video her film classes produced of this event. In three separate sessions, I had the privilege of demonstrating and fielding questions from art and film students, roughly ten students per class, just the right size for direct, intimate conversation. Though I don’t miss full-time high school teaching, it was refreshing beyond words yesterday to see the students’ eyes light up as we discussed the profound joys of making art while surrounded by a natural environment. The questions covered art theory, history, philosophy, journaling, sketching practices, and the necessary steps for getting one’s art out into the public eye. Though twenty-four hours have passed, I am still warmed at every remembrance of this special encounter. Thank you, Cindy, and Pantego Christian Academy.

One of my best remembrances was the scripture passage above the door of the studio from Ephesians 2:10–

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

From my years in graduate study, I recall two notable ideas from this passage. First, the word translated “handiwork” is from the Greek word poiêma. Our word “poem” comes from this, and the word basically refers to a work of art, a creation. The passage sets forth humanity as God’s work of art. The close of the passage speaks of an advanced preparation for humans to do the good work intended. Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Four Causes sets forth the argument that our good works are already present within us, and they will issue forth. I tried to urge it upon the students in our discussion that they already have artistic tendencies in their essence, and this artistry is intended to come forth, whether they do it in visual, literary, musical or political arts; they already have that capability within themselves. Now, in their educational arena, they have that opportunity to cultivate those gifts.

Reluctantly, I have to return now to the business affairs of my art. Hopefully tomorrow I can emerge and get back to what I enjoy the most. Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you the joys of yesterday.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

On the Road at Dawn

April 9, 2019

With the words of Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” filling my consciousness, I drive through the morning darkness and watch with excitement the sun peeking over the west Texas rim. I refer to my hours on the road as windshield time, and appreciate those sacred hours for quiet and reflection, and most especially the opportunity to gaze across the American landscape.

As I drive this morning, I am thinking about this engaging book I started reading recently, titled How to Live or a Life of Montaigne. For most of my adult life, I have kept journals, but reading this book now has me more interested in pursuing the essay. With the help of Montaigne and Leonardo, I could possibly be moving into the realm of SketchBook journal/essays. That would be a completely new endeavor for me, and I plan to spend some time on the road thinking over these matters.

Thanks for reading!

On the Move

April 8, 2019

Monday morning finds me on the move, stopping at a cafe for a quick breakfast, and a little time in the Sketchbook Journal. Reading Leonardo over coffee inspired me to jot down a few ideas and grab a pair of phantom sketches of people seated across the cafe, facing away from me.

Today is grading day for me, so I will have to shift gears and put in some time grading online work that has been submitted over the last couple of days. I hope I can can find a way to return to the blog before the day is over.

Meanwhile, thanks always for reading!

Sunday Evening Soundings

April 7, 2019

20190407_2148337615167426297420401.jpg

Be open to mystery. Not everything needs sharp lines.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

Although we all started life with a Da Vinci-like insatiable curiosity, most of us learned, once we got to school, that answers were more important than questions. In most cases, schooling does not develop curiosity, delight in ambiguity, and question-asking skill. . . . The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach to education may have served to provide society with assembly-line workers and bureaucrats, but it does not do much to prepare us for a new Renaissance.

Michael J. Gelb, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day 

Today has been the finest Sunday I can recall for months, perhaps even years. Cool, breezy temperatures throughout the day set the stage for pleasurable reading and journaling outdoors. This new Michael Gelb book I picked up recently has been great company, sending me alternately to my journal and my sketchbook. In fact, this day in retrospect appears to be comprised of one lengthy, continuous sketchbook/journal. For one day at least, I have broken the dividing line between sketchbook and journal, and have found myself throughout most of the day alternating between writing and drawing on the same pages.

Wordsworth’s sentiment about the child being father to the man has lingered with me throughout the day as I continually alIowed myself the leisure of free, unbridled thought, particularly questions. I have already jumped into the thick of the spring art festival season, participating in plenty of events already, and looking ahead to some big ones just around the corner. Questions which have dogged me for years finally were faced honestly today, and I have a genuine feeling of being re-born because I arrived at some solutions I am willing to try.  Artscape 2019 will arrive at the Dallas Arboretum April 27-28. This is a high-end festival that last year filled my innermost being with memories for which I’ll always remain grateful.20180427_1343502567829112073059263.jpg

20180427_1343202666127133518973979.jpg

(Last Year)–Artscape 2018

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscap

After years of struggling with the specifics of booth presentation, I have finally found great help in consultation with a dear, close friend, and thanks to further research, have come up with some new ideas. The next few weeks, I’ll be working on this project with renewed enthusiasm. I can hardly wait to present my new booth format. I’ll gladly photograph and post it when the time arrives.

It is Sunday night as I sit and write this. Finally, after nearly two years, I have accepted retirement. I will not be rising at six in the morning to scramble and arrive in time to teach a full slate of crowded high school classes beginning at 7:35. I will not come home tired at the end of tomorrow afternoon with enough grading and prepping to keep me busy till bedtime so I can get up and dash to the high school again for another weary round. I will not go to bed every night with the realization that I did not do everything expected from me, though I never taught less than four subjects per semester. Finally, that albatross has been cut loose from around my neck, and every day is mine to chart and navigate as I choose. I wondered how long it would take for this feeling to set in. Nearly two years. Thank God the sentiment has finally settled in on my contented soul. Maybe that is another reason why Sundays are so good now; they no longer serve as preludes to grinding, mostly thankless work weeks. I rise early on Monday mornings now, but not to dash to school. Mornings have finally become sacred.

Reading all this da Vinci material now reminds me of all the ideas that surged in me during my three decades of teaching–the primacy of curiosity, the value of open questioning, the belief that the journey is just as important as the destination. I believed all that then, and believe it now. But I saw little interest in these matters inside those institutional walls, despite the lip service paid to the themes during those annual inservice rituals. One would think that I now would be saying–“if only I realized these values when I was teaching . . .” But the fact is, I did. And I gave my best to facilitate an environment for such inquiry. And sometimes it worked. I’ll try to dwell on those sacred times when it in fact worked, and be watchful not to dwell on the darker, sterile memories when it didn’t.

The bottom line–today was a special, enlightening, Renaissance-type of Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to question.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.