Archive for January, 2020

Altered Horizons

January 30, 2020


Reconfiguring The Gallery at Redlands

No sounds came from the city below. The stillness of the room made life seem suspended for a while. 

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Propped in bed last night, reading, I came across this line in the Ayn Rand novel and paused to notice that below me, downtown Palestine, Texas had completely quieted for the night. After being away for a month and a half, it felt good to enter the Gallery at Redlands again, spend some hours there reconfiguring the space, then retiring to bed upstairs in this wonderful hotel.

I knew I would have that sinking feeling when I entered the gallery to find Smooth Rock 93.5 gone. The radio station was donated to a Christian ministry in Houston, so Kevin and Alan are no longer broadcasting out of the gallery, and the smooth rock format has been replaced. The two years together were not enough, and I am saddened that corporate took the station in the direction it did. When I was in range last night, traveling to Palestine, I dialed up 93.5 on my radio and listened for one minute before deciding I needed to hear nothing further from them. Let’s wish Kevin and Alan the best as they explore new options for broadcasting the kind of music we learned to enjoy the past couple of years.

Tomorrow I will hang my one-man-show at CC Young Senior Living in Dallas. I am taking thirty-three paintings out of the gallery and am delighted to announce that my friend Elaine Jary will be filling my space here for the month of February. As I write this, she is en route with her paintings, and gallery owners Wade and Gail Thomas will arrive as well. The four of us will scurry about, deciding how to reconfigure this space. I promise to post photos as soon as we have the new-look Gallery at Redlands ready for display.


Work in Progress at the Gallery Drafting Table


Early Morning Planning in the Redlands Hotel

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website

Shultz on website

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.








Thoughts about Getting it Right

January 29, 2020


As January nears its end, I pause during a break this morning to revisit my New Year resolutions drafted about a month ago. I suppose the reason I pursue this annual habit of Resolutions is the hope of “Getting It Right” this year. I like the idea of resolving to improve life every time we close an old chapter and open a new one, even if it does seem artificial to do it January 1.

Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered an historic address at a Harvard commencement titled “The American Scholar.”  That speech remains one of my favorite writings of all times, and I continue to read it more than once a year.  In that day, Emerson addressed an American consciousness that was still trying to define itself. There would be those today who say such days are long behind our nation.  I am not so sure.  In fact, I am less sure today of our collective identity as an American people than I was a few years ago.  But this is what Emerson said as he marked that graduation anniversary as a transitional time for the American Scholar between past and present:

Year by year we come up hither to read one more chapter of his biography.  Let us inquire what light new days and events have thrown on his character and his hopes.

I like the childlike wonder that marks the New England Transcendentalists of the nineteenth century. At ages 30, 40, 50 and beyond, they remained curious and optimistic about life’s possibilities.

Let me take you back to a scene from our American heritage last century: It was a stifling hot afternoon in the offices of Hartford Insurance in Connecticut.  The oscillating fans were perpetually whirring, driving documents and memos all across the desktops, across the floors, into wastebaskets.  The adjustor, sweating inside his collar, was hurrying down the corridor when suddenly the Vice President stepped into his path, and said “Brownie, could you step in here for a moment?”  Surprised, Lynn Brown stepped into the spacious office, and stood hesitantly before the V.P. who merely sat on the corner of his desk, staring fixedly into space, saying nothing.  The adjustor just waited, nervously.

“Brownie, do you have any ideas on what ‘imagination’ means?” asked the V.P.

After an uncomfortable silence, Lynne replied, “Not at all.  I have no ideas on that.”


“Well.  Why don’t you give that some thought in the next day or two and we’ll talk further.”

Years later, recalling that day, Lynne Brown told a reporter.  “He never brought it up again, and frankly, I’m glad.”

That Vice President of Hartford Insurance made a good income for his Connecticut family, benefited from his Harvard law degree, and maintained his spacious home and manicured lawn.  He walked two miles to his office every day, and walked home.  And as his mind explored during those walks, he spun the ideas into poems.  That aging Vice President who just wanted to talk to someone about “imagination” was our American poet Wallace Stevens.

Robert Henri, the American artist who founded The Ashcan School, was like an aging prophet as he continued to inspire the seven young newspaper illustrators who gathered in his studio at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia as the twentieth century dawned. Throughout his prolific life, he not only painted, but wrote, taught classes and gave public speeches. His electrifying book, titled The Art Spirit contains these words:

When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature.  He becomes interesting to other people.  He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and he opens ways for a better understanding.  Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.  The world would stagnate without him, and the world would be beautiful with him; for he is interesting to himself and he is interesting to others.

Wallace Stevens and Robert Henri in their later years relayed a message in stark contrast to the one given by our writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible.  I also like that writing and have drawn from it in previous New Years’ meditations.  But the writer of Ecclesiastes has grown quite old and cynical and argues that “there is no new thing under the sun.”  He’s convinced that he’s seen it all.  As he develops his argument about how the world continues to do the same weary routine, he laid out the words “the sun also rises.” Those words were snatched up to become the title of the first novel of a young American writer Ernest Hemingway. But as this young writer fought back depression in his early years in Paris, struggling to find a new voice, he wrote the following, which didn’t get published till years later, after his death:

. . . sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.

Emerson’s argument is that yes, the world, and all that is in it, is millions of years old—there is nothing new under the sun.  But we are the ones ripe for new experience, new adventure, primed for a New Year.  There is much left for us to discover, about life and about ourselves.

I like that sentiment.  And it stirs me each New Year.  And I think New Years resolutions are offered with the sentiment of trying out new things, but also that constant, nagging rejoinder to get it right this time.  And it’s that itch of “getting it right” that carries the tinge of guilt and regret.  I mean—why cannot the New Year be embraced solely as a new tack, the next mile of the journey, a different window through which to peer?  Can it not contain suggestions of a different collection of books to peruse?  Promptings to a change of activity?  A change of scenery, what the painter Henri Matisse called “cleansing the eye.” A new hobby?  A different kind of work?  Or, if you please, less work and more rest?

Do you not notice that the notion of “getting it right” has that all-too-familiar ring of “karma”?  I frequently told my high school students that public school was my karma, because when I was a teenager, I hated public school every day of my life, and couldn’t wait to get out.  Then once I finished all my education and joined the work force, where did I end up—high school.  The Karma complex.  High School was my Karma.  I believed I would remain there till I got it right.  In 2017, I dismissed all that as myth and just retired anyway—let someone else get it right.

How easily we drift to the negativity when we fret about “getting it right.”  It doesn’t have to be that way.  I don’t recall Benjamin Franklin being a dour sort of fellow, all the while he was tweaking his daily self-improvement lists.  I don’t recall Thomas Jefferson being embroiled in negativity throughout his mature life, though he chose to spend every night’s final hour or two in bed reading only texts that would elevate his soul and put him to sleep in a sublime state, so as to lay a proper foundation for the following day.  I see those acts as positive and constructive and forward-looking, at any stage of life.

The New Year is for looking forward.  Emerson once wrote: “why should you keep your head over your shoulder?  Why drag about this corpse of your memory?  . . . live ever in a new day.”  As we explore a new calendar year, it is a good thing, I believe, to recap where we’ve been, evaluate the good and the not-so-good, and look forward to anticipation of a new chapter.  And when we resolve to “get it right” this time, I really believe it can be out of a spirit of wishing to improve an already-good life, to make a good thing better.  Life is a gift.  Exploration of the future is an invitation.  We’ve been given an opportunity to grow another measure, to explore new vistas, and to enjoy the journey.  And what better way to start off this new era than to come to peace with what is now behind us.

Roshi Jakusho Kwong,  in his work “As It Is,” in A Man’s Journey to Simple Abundance, reminds us that every time you use a calculator, you have to clear it.  If you don’t, you’ll have all these old numbers superimposed on your present reading.  So also, when the complications of the past are superimposed on the present, one can only imagine all the distortion, confusion, and suffering that arise. We must find ways to hit the reset button as we move into the new era.  We have to clear the mechanism.  We have to make peace with our demons, as Paul Tillich used to urge.  Accept what is past, embrace what lies before us, and realize that success is the quality of our journey, not just the completion of goals.

I still remember the announcement April 12, 2006, when we lost William Sloane Coffin at the age of 81.  He had been a Presbyterian clergyman and former Yale University chaplain.  He was arrested at least three times as a Freedom Rider, was also prosecuted by the U. S. government for aiding and abetting disobedience to the Selective Service Act.  He later would be a minister at the historic Riverside Church in New York City’s Morningside Heights.  I was saddened by his death.  Just two New Years before his passing I had read his last book CredoIn the book, he recorded these words: “Clearly the trick in life is to die young as late as possible.”

I close this blog with my favorite words from his pen, as he offered perspective on life as something not snatched, but rather given, and he echoed beautifully that enigmatic New Testament passage that says “Whoever loses his life shall find it.”  Quoting him now:

There is in other words a difference between having a friend and being a friend, between having success and being successful, between getting an education and becoming learned.  If we use knowledge, music, art, sports, and eminently others—if we use them just to enrich ourselves, then paradoxically we impoverish ourselves, at least at our very core.  For all things then become as clothes: they cover but they do not touch or develop our inner being, and we become as those who believe they can only become visible when something visible covers the surface.

But if we give ourselves to art, music, sports, knowledge, and eminently to others, then we experience that biblical truth that ‘he who loses his life shall find it,’ shall find life being fulfilled, and find that joy is self-fulfillment, self-fulfillment is joy.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you will check out my website

I makShultz reducede art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Prepping for the One-Man-Show

January 26, 2020


Arrangement of the Selected Paintings


Quiet Winter Morning for Planning

Seated by the fire on this cold winter Sunday morning, I find myself bathed in this spirit of well-being, this eudaimonia. My one-man-show opens February 1 at CC Young assisted living facility in Dallas, Texas, a beautiful campus that features an artist every month, booked a year in advance. As the day draws nearer, my pulse quickens.

I have selected thirty-three framed watercolors to hang in the show. Sitting here with coffee, poring over the images, I feel the same sentiments expressed in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged describing the steel magnate witnessing the first pouring of his new alloy developed over the past ten years:

He did not think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it. But the parts, uncalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills . . . the nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure . . . (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged)

My watercolor show spans the last ten years of my life, and I too have this broad feeling of tranquility which is the sum of ten years’ worth of parts or episodes. Gazing at the images floods me with the same kind of memories one knows when flipping the pages of a photo album or scanning the images on a phone. I love the immediacy one experiences when looking at visual art, compared to the time lapse when observing other media. To experience the full impact of an artist’s expression, the observer has to wait to get to the end of a story, poem, movie or song. But with visual art, the effect is instantaneous, and as I look over the pictures, the memories wash over my consciousness.

Fishing Memories upright resized

“He is No Longer Here”

he is no longer here

This image takes me back seven years. I took the photo February 10, 2013 while working on this still life in my Man Cave (garage) 😊 with a space heater at my feet and hot cup of coffee and thermos at my elbow. As I worked on the piece, a story formed in my mind, and I stopped in the middle of the work to write out what I was thinking:

When the neighbors hammered the padlock off the deceased man’s fishing shed, they peered inside the darkened room with sadness at the world of memories their dear friend had left behind.  Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dikes, waiting for catfish that would find their way to the Griswold skillet.  The Canada Dry crate was the old fisherman’s stool for the nightlong vigils.

Bass fishing featured the Garcia Mitchell open-faced reel and the vintage wooden plugs for the area lakes and ponds.  In his retirement years, fly fishing took over, and the old man delighted in long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would not be heard from for weeks at a time. The battered suitcase was his lifelong road companion, as was the dark leather knapsack purchased from an old leather shop on the dusty streets of Athens during his European excursions. 

The old man had not been heard from for more than a week, and the inquiring neighbors were saddened to enter his home and find him in his final resting place—his favorite recliner in the small front room of the ramshackle house.  His cup was still half-filled with the Dining Car Coffee he relished throughout his years working on the Frisco railroad.  Now, only his possessions remained to tell his life’s story.

Heideggers hut

Memories of my Favorite Hideaway

On October 20, 2016, I retreated to my favorite getaway, the remnants of a country store in rural east Texas. The dear friends who own the property have granted me access for quiet “away” time. On this particular morning, I was working on a painting of the door behind the cash register. Beyond the door are a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. The former store owners lived behind their business and now I am thankful to be allowed to reside here when I need to take some days away from the city.


“Beyond the Door”

Heideggers Hut darkened and muted

“Heidegger’s Hut”

I have named this old store/residence Heidegger’s Hut. German philosopher Martin Heidegger built a cabin in the Black Forest in 1927 because he did not enjoy Berlin though he taught at the university there. He frequently retreated to this cabin, a rustic facility with no electricity, and in this enclave away from the city noise he wrote all his famous books and essays. This special country store is my favorite retreat from the bustle of suburban and city life. To this day, I believe some of my best work was done in the quiet of this environment, away from the public school and university where I divided my work time until 2017.

In 2015, I was honored to inaugurate the Artist-in-Residence program for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. This island university built a field station on the Texas Laguna Madre and transported me there by boat to live for a week, observe the surroundings, keep a blog, and create a body of watercolors. My memories this morning include nights spent in my studio prepping for this residency, and then the special moment when I discovered a new technique for painting grasses while on the island.



Planning my Residency

text on Durer grasses

Experiments in a New Technique

Like the character in the novel, I have enjoyed this morning of quiet, thinking over some of the highlights of the last decade of my life that have made possible the show coming up in a week. This show has been titled “Memories from a Small Town” and will be presented in eight sections–small town, country store, filling station, church & institution, railroad, stately residence, abandoned property and the great outdoors. I have been asked to present a public talk and powerpoint presentation February 13 during the Meet the Artist event. The show will hang for the duration of February, and I hope any of you within driving distance will come and view it.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.






Progress on the Train

January 22, 2020

I find it difficult, blogging with this smart phone, but I wanted to show my readers the Big Boy as it stands today. I may be working on it later this evening, I am not sure at this point. But hopefully, I’ll find more to say tomorrow, with more developed pictures of its progress.

Thanks for reading!

The Morning Watch

January 22, 2020


Preparing for the Visitation

We never come to thoughts. They come to us.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”


And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind . . Romans 12:2 (King James Version)

This morning, I am opening a vein on this blog. Allow me to be frank: I am turned off when I read blogs telling me what I should be doing if I plan on being successful in my endeavors. But on the other hand, I feel drawn in when I feel the blogger is pouring out his/her heart in the written piece. I assure you that the only reason I am posting the following remarks is because I feel compelled to do so; I want to share this most intimate part of my life, but don’t wish for anyone to think I am prescribing or selling.

Though cold and rainy and dark outside, this interior room is glowing as is my own spirit. Forty-eight years ago, I came across a practice that I have not given up though much has changed throughout my life’s odyssey. This practice I call a “morning watch.” My best days begin with this practice, and I am going to try and share it with my readers, hoping to do it justice. I have a watercolor beside me, waiting for today’s work, but I just haven’t gotten to it yet, because the morning has been too good to rush into the practical work. I hope to blog the watercolor later today . . .

Forty-eight years ago, as a freshman in college, five hours from the home where I had been nurtured, and with no car, I was planted in a dormitory from where I walked daily to classes and to a Baptist Student Union as scheduling permitted. From my new friends at the Union I learned this practice they called “Quiet Time.” Since those days I have entered and exited the university, the seminary, the church, the police department and finally the public school. Now retired, the only thing that has changed has been this—I don’t have to be somewhere at 7:15 to report for duty. I don’t leave this quiet to find myself in a noisy room filled with empty words. My days are planned as it suits me, and the sweetness of the start no longer has to end after ten minutes or an hour. A friend once told me upon my retirement that “every day is Saturday when you’re retired.” He’s right. And I am so delighted with this chapter of my life.

How does the day begin? With French-pressed coffee. This is a ritual for me that I enjoy, and it will take about ten minutes to complete. As four cups of water are waiting to boil, I am turning the crank on an antique coffee grinder, having learned that the coarse grind from this instrument is just right for French press. Turning this crank, my thumb is anchored in the depression in the wood of someone’s thumb grip from the ancient past, and I muse about the stories that person could tell. Was s/he standing in a farmhouse kitchen, looking out a window across pastureland? Was the person dwelling in a city, listening to white noise while turning the crank in the morning? My imagination always goes down that road during the minute or so that I grind. By the time the grounds are poured into the boiling water, my mind already is moving. In the earlier days of the stove top percolator, I loved the metaphor of my mind percolating about the same time the coffee did.

Next, I have to select my special cup for the day. I have never counted them, but I know I have far more than thirty, because I used to crate them to take to school on special days when I made coffee for my philosophy and art history classes. I probably have over fifty coffee mugs, all of them packed with their own location memories. This morning I am drinking from the Bodes mug I purchased at a rustic store established in 1919 in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Once the coffee is poured, the best part begins. This morning watch, forty-eight years ago, began with prayer, and I guess that is still happening. But my prayers are no longer the ones uttered in those ministerial days. Rather they are similar to the ones mentioned in Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. Professor Max Gottlieb was suspected by his pious students to be an atheist. But in the midst of an argument, one of them stressed that the professor’s late nights in the laboratory were a form of prayer. And that is the nature of my own morning prayers—the journal is opened and I begin sketching, collaging, drafting and designing the first page. Then I pour out my thoughts in the journal. This could be a single paragraph or as many as ten pages. But once I feel I have exhausted my own thoughts I then turn to something of quality to read.

I always have a half dozen books with bookmarks in them as my reading is always divided among several works at the same time. If I don’t open one of these, then I turn to a library of over 2,000 volumes and pull something that strikes my fancy. And I begin to read. I am looking for an oracle, a direction, a guide. In the early days of ministry, I opened the Bible, believing that God would speak to me if I read prayerfully and listened. I now am convinced that revelation can come from many sources, and when something finally seizes my imagination, then I feel held, embraced; I feel I have been grasped by Something greater than I. And then I resume my writing in the journal, and many times the ideas that come to me are carried to the blog. That is how I start my days. The mornings are the freshest and best, holding out possibilities.

So, what did I read this morning? Romans 12:2. But when I read, I dialogue with the text and shape it to help me in my search for meaning. To borrow the words of Harold Bloom, I begin to overhear myself as I think over the text. Not wishing to sound like a pompous snob, I stress that when I turn to the New Testament, I read the Greek text. That is one of the few things of worth my seminary training provided. I spend hours poring over this text, though there is no longer a pulpit waiting or a class. Why do I do it? For the same reason I read daily—I am seeking a Word, an oracle, some kind of governing dynamic for the day’s journey. And on rare occasions, I will place these thoughts in a blog entry.

What I found this morning: Paul urged his readers not to be shaped, modeled by this world. The Greek word “world” is better translated “age” and this particular word in the Greek New Testament is pejorative. The first century Christians regarded this world as ruled by demonic powers, and a new age was desired. Few readers of the English text notice the multiplicity of references to “this world” in the New Testament, and the sentiment is similar to that of today’s racist when referring to “these people.”

I have felt that sentiment much longer than the past forty-eight years. In “this world” I have never truly felt at home. My childhood was spent living in an isolated house without a neighborhood. I didn’t play with others, and my brother, four years younger, didn’t fulfil the companionship need. Once at school, I didn’t know how to connect and didn’t have my own “crowd” till I was a senior in high school. Then it was off to university, five hours away, where the Baptist Student Union embraced me, and I finally felt I had found a home. That lasted a semester. Then, by an unusual twist of circumstances, I was called to “serve.” I began pastoring a church of mostly retired farmers fifteen miles away. There was no one in that congregation my age with whom I could bond, and I lost my connection to the Baptist Student Union because I needed to be on the church field, working, instead of “fellowshipping” in the Union during the evenings. I’m starting to ramble . . . just trying to say, “this world” didn’t really provide me with a community. And since that day in 1972, I went to university, seminary, then to work, and finally to a public school, and though I was surrounded by multitudes, I never really felt I belonged.

But there is something more pressing to me as I look at Paul’s use of “this age.” A good word, I believe, to describe the Christian perspective of that first-century darkened world, is Zeitgeist—the Spirit of the Age or Spirit of the Times. And in 2020, I certainly do not feel a part of the spirit of our times. And I refuse to be shaped and modeled by those forces. In my reading, I find more nourishment from the New Testament, or Emerson, or Nietzsche, or Tillich, or Goethe, than I find in social media or news media. So, to address the negative, I choose NOT to be conformed to this age.

Resuming Paul’s text—“but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformed is the Greek word where we get “metamorphosis” and it was the same word used of Jesus when he became radiant before his inner three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration. That glow is what I feel this morning as I write this, and I feel on many mornings when the “watch” has gone well. And finally, that word “renewing”–I like the word Renaissance. So I translate the passage in this manner:

. . . and don’t be shaped by the current Zeitgeist. Instead, be reconstructed by the Renaissance of the mind . . .

Thanks for reading, and please know this is not intended to be a prescription, just sharing what’s on my heart this morning. And now, I am ready to paint . . .

Shultz on website

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


One Bite at a Time

January 22, 2020

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time. 


Working into the Night

Early this morning, when I approached my in-progress work on this Union Pacific “Big Boy”, I decided it was time to add some weight to this behemoth. For a couple of days I was experimenting with colors on the body of the locomotive, and it seemed the more I layered washes of pastel colors, the more weightless and ethereal the iron horse apppeared.


Experimental Pastel Colors on the Locomotive

I realized quite early in this work that I had to figure out a way to paint this enormous battleship-gray locomotive and not end up with a boring painting. Granted, the complexity of all the moving parts along with the shadows and highlights could provide plenty of contrast and interest for the viewer, I nevertheless feared that an overall flat gray would kill the painting.

I had been postponing the detailing of this subject, clearly intimidated by the complex congeries of planes and lines. Finally I recalled that line about eating an elephant and decided it was time to approach the subject, one bite at a time. Quite quickly the old feeling came back. The devil is in the details, and I really enjoy immersing myself in the variety. I really don’t know how many hours I worked at this one today, taking plenty of breaks for making coffee, reading, writing in the journal and taking exercise walks. But I continued to return to the painting and found myself working even into the evening.


Finally, Some Weight and Depth Occurring

I don’t know how exactly my live encounter with this locomotive translates into my painting, but I honestly believe it has the potential of becoming one of my better works. Though I am working from a photograph taken when this train pulled into Palestine, Texas last November, I was there in person to feel the concussion of this 604-ton dinosaur smoking, steaming and blasting its whistle in my presence as it glowed in the morning sun. And I believe that live encounter will prevent this from becoming a generic, saccharine picture.

I have ridden behind the steam locomotives of the Texas State Railroad between Palestine and Rusk, along with the Durango-Silverton Railroad and the Cumbres-Toltec. But those engines were tiny compared to this monster that made me shudder when it rounded the bend in the distance and chugged up to where we all stood in awe. I stayed that afternoon for about half an hour, but returned at sunrise the next morning and lingered for two hours studying it before it finally pulled away. All the while the smoke and steam never ceased billowing out of this enormous steel hulk.

There remains plenty of work to do on this project, and I am happy to know that. I can’t wait to rise in the morning and stand over it again for the day. Hopefully, I’ll have more pictures to post then.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website:

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Gathering Loose Ends

January 19, 2020

Sunday finds me up to my eyeballs with this Big Boy. Recently I’ve tried to introduce colors on the locomotive so as not to end up with a massive congeries of dead gray shapes. I have also made some decisions on how to render the foreground gravel textures. The steam billowing out the side is proving challenging as I try to figure out how to introduce blues into the gray.

I hope to write more later-typing this on my smartphone is tedious. 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Drawing or Painting or Both?

January 17, 2020


At Work on the Union Pacific “Big Boy”


The “Big Boy”–18 x 24″ watercolor

Drawing is the probity of art. 

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Painting can overcome one with its sensuousness, like the soft warm skin of a woman, in a way that drawing cannot.

Robert Motherwell

January has provided plenty of time and relaxation to pursue a pair of commissions–steam locomotives. These are subjects I have always loved to paint, But only when I had weeks of leisure between calendar appointments. Now, with west Texas temperatures plummeting below freezing, it is nice not to have to get out and drive anywhere. I love the dim winter light in the windows, the sounds of the howling winds outside and the crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

Part of this morning was given to reading from The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell. While painting, I listened to some of his interviews on Youtube and decided I wanted to read more from him. In 1970 he published an essay, “Thoughts on Drawing”. This I have read a number of times over past years and am glad I gave it another look this morning.

I did not know until college that I was more of a draughtsman than a painter. My painting professor called my oils “colored drawings” and my student teaching advisor told me I needed to be more “painterly”. My art history professor, looking at my series of oils, remarked “nice drawings.” This may be why I eventually turned to watercolor, because in that media, one can get away with drawing with color.

In re-reading the Motherwell essay, I came up with this remarkable observation from the poet Baudelaire, whom Motherwell never tired of quoting:

Pure draughtsmen are philosophers and dialecticians. Colorists are epic poets. 

Throughout my life, I have held the deepest regard for philosophers as well as poets, feeling I lacked the gifts to be either, while always trying to be both. I always thought the philosopher anchored the left brain with reasoning and discpline, while poetry resided in the right with emotion and exploration. The Greek dramatists perceived Apollo as patron saint of reason while Dionysus advocated risk.

Personally, I feel most “in my element” in watercolor when I am feeding both sides. That is happening with this locomotive–I am exacting in the details of the machine while at the same time full of swish when dealing with the steam, smoke and general atmosphere. The entire time I have worked on this, I continually moved back and forth between the two regions, never feeling boredom or tedium. The day has been splendid while working on this piece. I am very pleased knowing I am a long way from finishing; I feel I am going to regret seeing this one come to a conclusion, so fulfilling has been the experience of pursuing it.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website at

Shultz on websiteI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



January 16, 2020


Kevin and Alan in the Morning–New Horizons

All we are is dust in the wind.


Waking on this frigid, dark and rainy winter morning, I made coffee and went to my desk to begin searching for ways to push back against an encroaching despondency. It isn’t the weather. The video announcement was released yesterday afternoon online from Smooth Rock 93.5 FM: the station has been donated to a non-profit, church ministry in Houston, so my gallery roommates will not be broadcasting when I return to Palestine. Kevin and Alan in the Morning made their final broadcast yesterday, not signing off because they had not yet been notified that the plug had been pulled.  I streamed the station all morning today, because the app is still running on my phone. But their voices and early morning humor won’t happen today. They posted their farewell video yesterday afternoon, and this morning their picture (above) has appeared on Facebook advising us to stay tuned. They have some ideas in the hopper about what to do next, but listeners remain in the dark to find out when or if we will hear from them again.


Kevin Harris


Alan Wade


Victoria Minton-Beam


Marc Mitchell

I will not forget the summer of 2018 when I was told of the arrival of Smooth Rock to Palestine. And I will not forget the feelings of entering the gallery on weekday mornings to hear the duo broadcasting live, often calling me over to the microphone to join in on their discussions. They have been good friends and patrons of the musical, visual and performing arts in east Texas, and their megaphone is going to be sorely missed. I wonder how long it will take for me to enter The Gallery at Redlands and be comfortable with the broadcast studio no longer in the room with me. The presence was a welcome one, and it will take some effort getting used to the radio silence.

The Presocratics began writing 2500 years ago that it is necessary for anything that has a beginning to have an end. We all know this. But knowing that doesn’t make these realities any easier. And so, Kevin, Alan, Victoria, Marc—I hope our paths continue to intersect in one way or another. I am not ready to let go of you.

I am forced now to turn my attention to some imminent deadlines. My one-man-show, “Memories from a Small Town”, will open February 1 at the Point and Pavilion building at CC Young Senior Living Center, 4847 West Lawther Drive, Dallas. At the time of this writing I am compiling the list of works that will hang in the show. I have been asked to make a presentation at the Meet the Artist reception February 13 from 3:30 to 4:30. So, I am also putting together a Powerpoint presentation with accompanying remarks.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will check out my website at

Shultz on websiteI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



Juggling More than One Interest

January 15, 2020


Nearing Completion on the KATY train

To achieve their goal, masterpieces must charm but also penetrate the soul and make a deep impression on the mind that is similar to reality. . . . Therefore the artist must have studied all the motives of mankind and he must know nature thoroughly. In short he must be a philosopher.

Jacques Louis David


Early Stages of the UP Big Boy

Recently, my blog activity has been sharply curtailed. Scheduled events are approaching quickly: a one-man-show, a speaking engagement and a watercolor workshop. In the midst of planning and corresponding with other parties involved, I have been submerged in a pair of watercolor commissions of locomotives and, as always, much reading.

I naively thought that since I would not be teaching this semester my study hours would significantly diminish. Instead, with no assigned subject matter, I find myself spending more time in book stores and public libraries, and looking over taller stacks of books at home. Soon, I may be responding to what I’ve been reading from Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence along with Alain de Botton’s ideas on art, philosophy and life.

But today, I have found myself ricocheting among the ideas of several notable painters: Jacques Louis David, Eugene Delacroix, Robert Motherwell and Andy Warhol. Returning to my favorite hobby horses, I find myself musing over ways to balance academic study with making art. On most days of my life, I find myself holding the reins of these two horses as they pull my cart on this slippery, rutty path. I have told my friends that when I am painting, I’m thinking about what I want to read and write, and while reading and writing, I’m thinking about what I want to paint. Both activities tug at me perennially.

I opened this blog with the quote from Jacques Louis David as I have been reading of the lives of the NeoClassical artists steeped in philosophy and academic pursuits along with their painting. I followed that up with my resumed reading from the journals of Eugene Delacroix, and read this morning his criticisms of one of his most intimate colleagues, Paul-Marc-Joseph Chenavard. Whereas Delacroix, the quintessential Romantic, drew much inspiration from music, and spent quality time in the company of Chopin, Chenavard, steeped in German philosophy, believed intellect to be the main driver of the artist. Delacroix, in one of his journal entries, made reference to “the learned and unfortunately too cold Chenavard. He puts literature in the first rank, painting comes next, and music is only last.”

In a flurry of text messages with one of my artist friends this morning, we discussed the plethora of avenues of inspiration available to the artist, and agreed that we shouldn’t denigrate anyone for pursuing different stimuli from our own. Anyone engaged in the creative task should feel free to open up to the richness of sources available to us.

Long ago, when I was employed in the Protestant ministry, I struggled to balance private academic study with public expression. Frequently, I was asked by parishioners and fellow pastors what I wished to be, a scholar or a preacher. I never understood that false dichotomy, and marveled every time I encountered the sentiment that the pulpit was no place for an academician. Later when I turned to education, I no longer had to face that dichotomy; a teacher was expected to be academically driven.

But once I became active as an artist, I found the wedge once again driven between academic pursuits and artistic expression. Frequently I found myself floundering in discussions with fellow artists who wished to discuss only techniques, materials and subject matter for painting, but not theory. As I studied and taught art history, I found my kindred spirits in that world, Robert Motherwell especially. This man started out as an academician, and when he turned to painting, he brought that world with him. Throughout his lengthy career, he found a way to write, publish and lecture as well as paint and exhibit. In that balance, he has become a personal hero of mine. Every time I feel that there is a conflict between the disciplines, I return to his collected writings, fully understanding his frustrations an he spoke of the difficulty (and rewards) of striking the balance.

I have posted photos of the two paintings I’ve been working on recently. One of them might be finished; I’ve laid it aside for a few days and will look at it later with fresh eyes to determine whether I should push it further. Meanwhile I am actively working on the much larger Union Pacific “Big Boy.” The KATY is a 9 x 12″; the Big Boy an 18 x 24″. In both works, I am entering a fascinating world as I experiment with smoke, steam and atmospheric effects. I suppose the reason for such stimulation is because I do not yet have an established algorithm or series of steps to follow. I feel like a chef in the kitchen experimenting with a little of this and a little of that as I use a spritz bottle, toothbrush and variety of brushes and X-acto knife along with sprinkles of salt and stale bread crumbs to push the pigments around on the dampened paper. And I’m frequently adding new warm and cool colors to my gray mixtures that I’ve never used before, and I’m coming up with several surprises, none of them unpleasant yet. It’s fun to paint with this sense of exploration and adventure.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.