Archive for September, 2020

A Second Plein Air Sketch

September 9, 2020

With temperatures rising to 37 degrees, I decided to step outside and attempt a second watercolor sketch of this wonderful snow-covered Mountain right outside this Campground. It proved to be a wonderful Zen moment, with snow melting and constantly falling off the porch roof and splattering across my painting as I worked. I focused on the second Canon of Xie He’s principles, focusing on the bone method of brush work.

Snowbound September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020
View from the Cabin Porch, South Fork, CO

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . .

            The world’s darkening never reaches

            to the light of Being.

            We are too late for the gods and too

                        early for Being. Being’s poem,

                        just begun, is man.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

We decided we had had too much of the Texas triple-digit daily temperatures, so we put together a plan for a one-week Odyssey to Colorado and Utah. Two days before departure, we saw the winter storm warnings for Colorado, but decided to soldier on. Spending the first night in Amarillo, we noticed temperatures dropping to 59 degrees. By the time we cleared Walsenburg, Colorado, snow began dumping on us and the temperatures dropped to 32 degrees. South Fork greeted us one hour later with no snow and a surprising 57 degree afternoon, but that changed at nightfall. At 7 p.m., the electricity for the city failed, and did not resume till 1:30 a.m. Fortunately the cabin was well-insulated and sleeping was never a problem. Morning greeted us with a foot of snow, and it continues to fall, expecting to continue till noon Thursday. Today is Wednesday. The first thing I did when rising this morning was read “Snowbound” by John Greenleaf Whittier. After that, I read the Heidegger poem, then went outside to photograph the breath-taking mountain vista shrouded in mist above.

28 degrees isn’t so bad if you’re sufficiently bundled. So I set up my plein air easel on the front porch and gazed at that lovely mountain scene, deciding to give it a try in my watercolor sketchbook diary.

View from Inside the Cabin
Sandi captured this photo of me working on the sketch

This is only my second watercolor sketch in the diary. I purchased it last week, deciding to bite the bullet and see if I could do some decent watercolor experiments and keep them in a bound book. In the past I’ve attempted many sketches that ended up worthy of framing, so I feared that I would merely tear up a sketchbook. Now I’ve decided that I will work freely in this book, and if something is suitable for framing, tough luck; I will keep the sketchbook intact and enjoy flipping through its pages.

Even when my watercolor attempts don’t pan out, I have a luxurious time painting, loving every moment. This mountain view really sent me to another world, watching the mist descend over the crown of the mountain, all the time trying to capture the colors and textures I saw evolving. Thanks to a small spray mist bottle, I was able to continue dissolving the paint at the top of the mountain while continuing my work down the slope. This is only a 5 x 7″ attempt, but I’m happy with how it came out and will gladly keep it in the book. I’m still amazed that I was able to paint en plein air outdoors in 28-degree weather.

Thanks for reading. Our first full day here in Colorado is proving an eventful odyssey, and we’re happy and safe.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Odyssey Driven

September 5, 2020
Returning to Work on Homer’s Odyssey

Tell me, Muse of the man of many devices, driven far astray . .

Saturday in the Studio Eidolons finds me chasing multiple interests. We’ve decided to put together another road odyssey with the change in weather approaching. Sometimes I think we have that inborn compulsion of geese taking flight when weather warnings are in the air. After laying it aside for quite a few months, I’ve re-opened the Greek text of Homer’s Odyssey and am once again immersed in his epic.

Putting a Few Finishing Touches to the Bomber Lure

After only two days, I seem to be nearing completion of the Bomber lure. The background took much more time than rendering the actual subject itself.

I completed a quick watercolor sketch for the first time in a watercolor diary I purchased last week. I plan on taking this sketchbook on my journey soon to see how many pages I can fill as we travel.

5 x 7″ watercolor sketch

The Arlington Gallery that carries my work (Show Me the Monet) has decided to sponsor Watercolor Wednesday, offering 3-hour watercolor classes 2-5:00 every Wednesday. I am scheduled to teach on alternating weeks. I have posted my next two classes, September 16 and 30 on my professional Facebook page. Cost is $55 and classes are limited to six participants. If you are interested in signing up, phone (817) 468-5263. September 16 will focus on painting a railroad boxcar similar to the one above, and on the 30th we’ll paint a wooden trestle located here in Arlington, Texas.

September 16 subject
September 30 subject

The morning is nearly over and I have promised myself more quality time in Studio Eidolons. 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.

Digging up Bones in Studio Eidolons

September 4, 2020

At such times there is a song going on within us, a song to which we listen. It fills us with surprise. We marvel at it. We would continue to hear it. But few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their own song. Intellectuality steps in and as the song within us is of the utmost sensitiveness, it retires in the presence of the cold, material intellect. It is aristocratic and will not associate itself with the commonplace–and we fall back and become our ordinary selves. Yet we live in the memory of these songs which in moments of intellectual inadvertence have been possible to us. They are the pinnacles of our experience and it is the desire to express these intimate sensations, this song from within, which motivates the masters of all art.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I awoke this Friday morning with that song of Robert Henri vibrating within me. As soon as the morning coffee was finished, I entered Studio Eidolons and resumed work on a pair of sketches begun yesterday and the day before–a Bomber lure on 8 x 10″ paper and an old boxcar in my recently purchased 5.5 x 8″ watercolor sketchbook (For years I have sworn I would keep a watercolor sketchbook and FINALLY begin my first practice piece). After all these decades, maybe I will keep a sketchbook faithfully. I have yet to do so.

While going back and forth between the two drafting tables, suddenly the “canyon fever” returned to me. Digging through my lateral file drawers, I finally came across nine canyon watercolor sketches, nearly all of them executed en plein air but none of them completed. I have now decided to put fresh eyes on these bones just now dug up to see if I can bring any of them to their conclusions. In the store room, I still have nine unfinished pieces from Sedona, over a year old now. Possibilities right now seem endless, and it’s an exciting time to paint once again.

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.

Rainy Morning Cogitations from Studio Eidolons

September 3, 2020
Reading and Sketching while it Rains

Rubens is a remarkable example of the abuse of details. His painting, in which imagination dominates, is everywhere superabundant; his accessories are too much worked out; his picture is like an assembly where everybody speaks at once.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal, October 10, 1853

Texas apparently received the memo that September arrived. Temps yesterday and this morning have been in the low 70’s with plenty of scattered rain. What a relief, after all those triple-digit temperature days. I failed to blog yesterday, because the entire day was consumed with appointments. Today offers a clear calendar and the morning has been sublime. “Jazz for a Rainy Day” has been playing on my Youtube channel the entire morning, and I am certainly in the mood to create something.

The quote from Delacroix’s journal has once again seized my attention. My entire life has been consumed by details in drawing and painting, and critics have frequently commented on my paintings that lack a center of focus. I am reminded of early days playing guitar in bands where every member crowded everything s/he could into each song, thus creating a great wall of sound with no room for a soloist or even a lead guitar riff. I am planning a series of sketches today in my small watercolor sketchbook, each one with a center of focus with the rest of the composition fading out.

This morning, as I engage in art activity, I am concious of this unbroken chain of artists, a warm fraternity I’ve been invited to join. For several decades, it has been my pleasure to teach art history, not for the sake of accumulated knowledge, but for the rich sentiment of camaraderie that I feel among the great divines of history. I recall the line from Walt Whitman “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” I am honored and humbled to engage in the daily kinds of activities that drove the imaginations of the Leonardos, the Raphaels, and the Courbets.

I absolutely love reading biographies, but how much more my blood is stirred by the words of those artists who could actually write, and cared enough to leave their own printed words behind for us to read, to hear as we read them aloud.

I have read in their entirety volumes contributed by Robert Henri, Paul Gauguin, Eugene Delacroix, Barnett Newman and Robert Motherwell. All those men had remarkable scholarly intellects, but also hearts that beat with passion, and their words continue to stir me. As I work in the studio, I feel their approval and am warmed at the thought that I am welcome to pursue the same activities they did.

Time to get back to it. 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.

Three Fly Patterns Completed and Packaged

September 1, 2020
Working in Studio Eidolons
Elk Hair Caddis
Royal Wulff
Parachute Adams

I have happily drawn this commission project to a close–three fly patterns, all of them 8 x 10″. For over ten years, I have had the desire to attempt these subjects in watercolor, but was always too timid to try. Once this commission “made” me take the plunge, I found out how enjoyable such an endeavor can be. The nature of the hackles forced me to develop more sensitivity with brushstrokes. In the midst of the project I returned to the Six Canons of Painting by the Sixth-Century Chinese painter Xie He. I really needed this reminder about the “bone method” in the second principle which calls attention to the integrity of the individual brushstrokes. I believe I’m going to take the next step and see if I can market such images in the future. Already I’m thinking about creating greeting cards with these images on the front and boxing them in sets to sell.

More jobs await. 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.