Archive for February, 2021

Meet Artist Stacy Campbell, One of The Twelve

February 28, 2021
Howl Acrylic on Canvas $375

Artist Statement

Black acrylic on canvas.  Sounds simple, however my paintings have an instant impact on the viewer mainly because the subject matter is often familiar.   I create large scale paintings of people, many of whom are iconic.  Pop art meets fun energy – I want the viewer to have instant joy, a comforting feeling, as well as complexity of thought toward the subject matter.  The viewer sees something alive in the familiar faces and feels a fondness toward them, perhaps evoking memories of concerts, movies, or people they love.  It is especially important to me to honor my subject matter, whether it is a commission of a famous person, a grandmother, a child, or a beloved pet. I strive to find the depth of spirit, heart and soul in every painting.   

I grew up immersed in art.  Most days I awoke to the unmistakable aroma of fresh canvases, oil and acrylic paints, and coffee.  My mother, who was an incredibly talented abstract artist painted constantly.  She passed away in 1999 when I was thirty-three. Last year, I happened upon some of her paint and found life in a couple of the tubes.   I put a tiny bit of her paint in every single painting I produce.  This helps me feel connected to her, and I love sending a part of her out into the world.  Look for a hidden heart tucked into every painting.  Finally, when I paint, I listen to music that reflects my subject matter, either what music they created, loved, or what I think they may listen to.    

I am a teacher, a poet, an artist and a very average guitar player.  I am most happy when I am creating. Painting is like a rescue dog… it found me; therefore, I must lovingly nurture it because it is part of me.  I am especially thankful for David Tripp and his belief in my work.  He has guided me, taught me, and he and Sandi literally helped me set up for my very first art show.  I am honored to be a member of The Twelve at The Gallery at Redlands.  This is a dream come true, and I know my mother would be proud. 

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Stacy will be joining The Twelve when the Galley at Redlands holds its Meet the Artist reception Saturday night, March 20 from 7-9:00. We would love to see you there.

Lighting Up The Gallery at Redlands

February 27, 2021
Artist Stacy Campbell on Display

Never in the history of mankind, in any age in any place, have there been so many works of art, of the imagination, speaking feeling, communicating feeling, as you may here endure. The quality is various, but consider only the quantity of it.

Paul Goodman, The Empire City

Enthusiasm continues to build around The Gallery at Redlands. Sandi and I had the time and space to spend the weekend in the historic Redlands Hotel and set to work inside the gallery, hauling in furniture, arranging the works of art and setting up lights for the displays. During our weekend we had wonderful visits with Stacy Campbell and Elaine Jary as we acquired their work to transport down here, Deanna Pickett Frye as she brought in more work to install, and Cecilia Bramhall as she also brought in new work (and managed to sell one today, her second piece to go out the door since our re-organization!). Warm conversations with Lorraine McFarland and Wayne White took place over the phone, and Mark Hyde sent photos of his sculpture to accompany his bio that we’ll post next week. It was as though these artists were already working inside this space with Sandi and me! We are dying for the day when we get to see everybody, March 20 from 7-9 p.m. We earnestly hope you can come out to meet The Twelve.

Enter The Twelve

We are The Twelve.

Ruminating, fashioning, presenting,

Offering creations, gifts to our brothers and sisters.

Pondering our world, we re-shape,  we re-cut, we re-color,

Inviting prismatic light to reach diverse eyes.

We are The Twelve.

In quiet studios we dream, we feel, we cry.

We say Yes! to the invitation to create.

Our creator fashioned us in His image,

The Imago Dei, the faculty to create.

We are The Twelve.

Our paintings, pottery, photographs and sculpture weave a tapestry

Of collective lives, tightly woven fellowship of belief.

We are The Twelve.

Converging on The Gallery at Redlands, we join in chorus

To celebrate lives immersed in the arts,

Adhering to words of our patron Saint Matthew:

Art still has truth.

Take refuge there.

We are The Twelve.

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.

Meet Lorraine McFarland, member of The Twelve

February 26, 2021
Peaceful Path Pastel 12 x 9″ Framed $350

Statement from Lorraine

I am beyond happy to be invited by my friend and mentor, David Tripp, to be one of “The Twelve” of the new Gallery at Redlands and show my pastel paintings there.

When it comes to my art, I am a late bloomer. The path has been a long and crooked one. I was raised in St. Louis, where I took every art course offered by my high school. Then I went to University of Missouri – Columbia with a declared major in art and hopes of a related career.

Alas, my path swayed, and I had various occupations, eventually becoming a Wildlife Biologist. I loved the freedom of being outdoors, getting paid mostly to watch birds. It was a dream job, and my camera went with me wherever I went. I became a nature girl and a believer in our responsibility to take care of our Mother Earth.

It was my love of nature and my environmentalist leanings that influenced me to attend my first plein air painting competition in 2007. These events, some juried and some open, draw some of the best plein air artists in the world to compete for coveted awards and recognition. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I cried every day for three days, out of sheer frustration.

The practice of painting en plein air, a French term meaning in the open air, became popular with the invention of paint tubes and French easels – paint boxes with telescoping legs and storage compartments for paints and brushes. These boxes (still used today by many artists) and paint tubes allowed 19th-century artists to move their practice from their studios into the great outdoors.

When I was young, I was attracted mostly to the works of the Impressionists and the Hudson River School painters and to this day they are among my most important influences. They embraced plein air painting as it gained popularity. When I heard Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine speak at the annual Door County plein air event, he said the present-day plein air movement is the largest movement in the history of art. When he said that, I looked around at my fellow artists in awe and I had chills. Wow, we are all making art history!

Now I spend a good deal of time traveling the country, painting outdoors. Plein air is not for sissies. I face, on any given day, wind, rain, heat, cold and even snow and sleet, insects, poison ivy, sunburn, spectators (some kind and some not so much), traffic, pastel-eating horses, unfriendly dogs; did I mention insects? I have AAA auto club on speed dial. There are unique challenges, not the least of which are the three P’s of plein air painting: “Where’re ya gonna paint?” “Where’re ya gonna park?”” “Where’re ya gonna pee?”  I love it! It satisfies my need to stay connected to nature and invokes a bit of an ache in my competitive bone (but in a good way), which, until I began going to plein air events, I did not know I had! You must paint fast, not overthink your subject matter, forget about detail, capture the fleeting light before it changes and edit, edit, edit! The challenges nearly defeated me in the beginning, but the ache kept me going. I am proud and humbled by what I have learned from these experiences and from the (mostly) friendly competition with my fellow plein air competitors. My work has improved faster and more furiously than it ever could have in the studio. I consider myself, first and foremost, a plein air painter and, having spent many years as a field biologist, I have a leg up on dealing with all the challenges. I have no problem with peeing behind a bush if the nearest public restroom is 20 minutes away! I’ve become very resourceful about making sure I eat and hydrate properly. I’ve converted my Toyota Sienna into a rolling studio that could double as a place to sleep if absolutely necessary.

So how did I get to this stage in my art journey?

When I was 47, I made the scary decision to quit my job to take care of my mother-in-law, Bertha, who had Alzheimer’s dementia, in our home. I had some time on my hands and I began thinking about art again.

My father, who was a gifted artist, passed away in 1993 and I inherited all of his art supplies. Although our relationship was strained at best, I do remember feeling close to him when I sat by his side, watching him paint a mural on the wall of our living room. I asked him endless questions and got insightful answers that stuck in my mind. He taught me to draw and how to use a grid. Those were my first art lessons. I think I was about nine. He always told me you don’t have to have inborn talent to become a good artist. He said I could learn everything I needed to know by reading, practicing, and watching master artists paint whenever I could. Back then, I thought that was crazy talk.

When I quit my job to care for my mother-in-law, my life reached a real turning point. With some time on my hands, and freedom to do what I wanted in my spare time, I finally took my Dad’s advice to heart and started reading a great deal about art history and technique. In 1997, I pulled out the supplies he left me from their hiding place in the basement and began drawing and experimenting. I took some drawing classes and a watercolor class. The Internet was a rich resource for information and free lessons. I realize those years observing nature and learning composition through the camera lens proved to be excellent training for this artist’s eye! Slowly, my drawing skills improved, and I began having “eureka” moments of seeing like an artist.

Maybe Dad was right?

In addition to my Dad, I owe a lot to Bertha. The eight years I spent taking care of her were a huge blessing for me in many ways, not the least of which was my reconnection to my artistic side. My self-study paid off.  When Bertha passed away, my husband, Norm, encouraged me not to get a job, but to continue working on my painting skills. I owe a lot to Norm, too!  I took my first real art workshop in 2009 with Maggie Price, the founder of Pastel Journal magazine, and that was when my right brain really lit up. I began identifying as an artist, a pastel artist.  I was off and running!

Robert Genn said, “True mastery involves a kind of driven skill-building”. This quote guides my art practice. Honestly, I don’t want to achieve mastery in my art because then I would have to stop pursuing it – and that would be, well – boring! I have no plans to stop in my driven skill-building, so I continue to take workshops with master artists whenever I can, and I try to give back now by teaching others – I always learn something when I do. Now I know my Dad was not crazy. He was absolutely right. You don’t need inborn talent. You only need desire. This is why I am now so passionate about teaching others how to paint!

You can find more info about me and see more of my art on my website www.lorrainemcfarlandart.com/ but I hope you will come to the opening of the Gallery at Redlands on March 20 so I can show you my work in person and tell you some of the stories behind the paintings and about some of my crazy plein air experiences. I look forward to meeting you!

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We are excited to welcome Lorraine to our fold. Our Meet the Artist reception will be 7-9 p.m. Saturday March 20. We hope to see you there!

Continuation of Painting and Gallery Preparations

February 25, 2021
Fort Worth Tower 55 in the Mist 16 x 20″ framed $500

Artists and writers who choose to live in a city are always living in two cities at once. Even as they are walking the streets of this particular place, they are also moving through a city of the imagination. And they may be so exhilarated by the overlap of these two cities, but the sense that the imagination is fortified by the facts, that they are hard put to disentangle the two.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

Working in Studio Eidolons this morning, I am loving the vibe I feel from The Twelve as we draw closer to our Opening Reception at The Gallery at Redlands, March 20 at 7 p.m. Each of us works out of our own particular city: Rolla and Bonne Terre in Missouri, along with the Texas cities: Amarillo, Arlington, Bedford and Fort Worth. each in our own special studio, our own atelier of visions and dreams. But all of us anticipate with enthusiasm the day we finally gather in Palestine, Texas, an historic railroad town with a beautifully restored Redlands Hotel established in 1915. The Dogwood Festival will kick off its three-week event on the day we gather, Saturday March 20. Booths will fill the streets downtown and people will be everywhere throughout the day and night.

I finally finished and framed my second railroad painting of Fort Worth’s Tower 55, this time in a misty environment. I got the idea while reading New Art City: “With Hofmann, each angle, each splatter, each color was a spark tossed off by life’s wild unpredictability.” In my mind’s eye, I envisioned the angles of Fort Worth’s rails at the interlockers adjacent to Tower 55. I decided I wanted to spatter ink and watercolor around the masqued rails, then add salt and stale bread crumbs to see how the colors would break up. Stripping away the masquing, I then refined the globs with a ruler, using sharpened graphite pencils, colored pencils, and a Micron tech pen. I also wanted to create a misty environment and worked carefully to dilute the pigments, occasionally using QTips to scrub away colors that were too dark or too intense.

I have decided to include this new watercolor with three other of my pieces when our show opens. The Gallery will look different to me, with only four paintings among the collection, but I’m thrilled now to show diversity in our space. Hopefully now there will be something for everyone when patrons enter The Gallery at Redlands to shop.

Painted looking out the Window of The Gallery at Redlands when we opened March 2017

I have decided that as soon as possible I will create another watercolor looking out the window of our Gallery at the Chamber of Commerce building and the Union Pacific railyards on the other side of Spring Street. This watercolor sold quickly. I followed with another and it sold as well. I hope soon to have another one on hand in the Gallery.

We are thrilled at the prospects of the Dogwood Festival and our Artists Reception in March. We hope you will come help us celebrate the event.

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.

Meet Artist Deanna E. Pickett Frye, member of The Twelve

February 24, 2021
Daisies 48×48″ oil on canvas $1700

The Gallery at Redlands is proud to welcome Deanna Pickett Frye, an artist and professor at Trinity Valley Community College. Deanna has been teaching art since 2001 and loves to share her passion for art with those around her. She received her BFA in Painting and Art Education from the University of North Texas and earned her Masters degree from the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Artist Statement

I make art because I like the creating process and ultimately the fulfillment of completion. I’ve always been drawn to environments that are enticing and bold, often relating to mid-century design and or forms found in nature. I often bounce back and forth from painting intuitive abstracted compositions to realism.

This specific series of large flowers on canvas focuses on beauty found at our feet. Throughout the pandemic, I found myself spending more time in my garden and enjoying the simplicity of nature. Therefore, I decided to concentrate on the elegance of botanicals. These works are intended to envelop the viewer with excitement through bold color and scale.

My art often focuses on patterns and repetition as related to paths followed through life, which mimics repetitions and cycles found in the blooms of a flower. I hope to paint works whose shapes, colors, and textures attract from afar then drawing the viewer near for a richer experience with intricate details.

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Deanna’s work will be featured at the Gallery at Redlands when we open our new show Saturday, March 20 at 7 p.m. We hope you will come meet her when we hold our Meet the Artists event.

Working on a Second Tower 55 Watercolor

February 23, 2021
12 x 16 watercolor in progress

With some luck, I should be finishing this watercolor before the day is through. I wanted to have it in time to share as part of my “Hank” series in Palestine when the Dogwood Festival opens. Below is the story I’ve been working on to give it a narrative.

Squealing brakes accompanied by the thundering slam of freight car couplings in the Union Pacific railyard in Fort Worth, Texas hindered Hank from sleeping soundly in the small hotel on the south side of downtown. Wiping sleep from his travel-weary eyes, he sat on the edge of his bed and looked out the second-story window of his room. February. A layer of fresh snow blanketed the parking lot, and as he gazed across the cool blue shadows from his bed, Hank once again felt that old familiar Odysseus-fueled sentiment to wander. Pulling his tattered copy of Kerouac’s On the Road from the backpack, Hank looked up the passage where Sal awoke in the Chicago railroad flophouse, wondering for the moment who he was. Smiling as he stuffed the book back into his bag, Hank reaffirmed that he knew perfectly well who he was—Hank, the wandering mendicant, exploring the world and learning its secrets.

Dawn was just breaking, and in the dim light outside, Hank was confident he could prowl undetected through the busy railyard in search of a slow-moving freight to hop near the interlocker of Tower 55. Just south of the three-story Tower, a long freight of boxcars was crawling slowly southward. Mesmerized by the slow parade, he recalled one of his favorite passages from Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl”.

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

A closer scrutiny revealed no open boxcar doors as the train slowly gathered momentum. As Hank continued to watch, he came to the realization that rail travel was not for him. Though he enjoyed the romantic stories from On the Road, hopping a freight seemed too dangerous. Leaving the railyards, he spied the lighted sign of a Rexall Drugs and decided to go inside to look for a road atlas of Texas. Finding a Rand McNally, he paid the cashier and walked out.

Further down the street was a diner, more accurately a greasy spoon. Seeking warmth inside, Hank soon found himself sipping hot coffee from a heavy stained and cracked diner mug. Unfolding his map, he spread it across the table and squinted at it while enjoying the aromas wafting from the kitchen—fried eggs, hashbrowns, sausages, bacon, the steam of coffee. Hank wanted to head south across the state, having already visited the west. But none of the towns along the sprawling highway routes captured his fancy. Turning his attention to railroad routes, he traced southward from Fort Worth’s Tower 55. Palestine appeared to feature a large railyard. It was settled. Hank would set his sights on Palestine. Leaving the diner, Hank ventured in a southeasterly direction, seeking out Highway 287. Surely a motorist would soon pick up a hitchhiker who had just exited a hotel, showered, groomed, and dressed cleanly.

Hours later, Hank emerged from a 4-door Plymouth filled with a happy family with three chatty children. The Palestine railyards lay just south of Spring Street, and Hank looked up and down the tracks, glad he had decided against hopping a freight. To the north, he saw a five-story vintage hotel and decided to walk in that direction. The Redlands Hotel, established in 1915, was a stately structure, anchoring the west end of the city adjacent to the majestic Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Entering the hotel from the west portal, Hank was impressed to see a restored lobby reminiscent of the glory days of railroad commerce. To his left was a lovely restaurant with linen tablecloths glowing in the dimly lit interior. On his right was a small art gallery and AM radio station with a live broadcast.

Pushing on ahead through the lobby, Hank found the office at the far end and decided to inquire about a vacancy. Jeanene, the red-haired proprietor of the hotel, greeted him warmly and told him the hotel featured twenty suites, each in their original apartment layout featuring kitchen, bedroom, living area and bathroom. Smiling, Hank decided to rent for a week. Room 207 was clean and well-lighted, the kitchenette featuring a small round table next to windows looking down upon the handsome Carnegie Library across the street north of the hotel. Breathing deeply, Hank wondered what it could be like to live here for a spell.

Descending the stairs into the main lobby, Hank spotted the radio disc jockey seated in a wingback chair outside the restaurant, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette. He had just completed his morning show. Carl Harris had been working at KXOK radio since the early 60’s playing top 40 tunes and inserting the occasional news and weather updates.

“So, you look like a well-traveled man. What brings you to Palestine?

“Just a whim. I was in Fort Worth yesterday looking to hop a freight but decided not to risk it.  Assuming Palestine to be a railroad town, I decided to hitchhike down here to see what you have.”

“Can’t say much for the town. It’s alright, I guess. But if it weren’t for the job, I’m not sure I’d stay.”

“How long have you been in radio?”

“Twelve years. By now I’d hoped to be in a bigger city, like Houston or Dallas. Always wanted to travel instead of staying in my hometown. But it’s a good gig. I love music, play guitar, write songs. The job supports my habit. Frankly, I don’t know how much time we still have here. Our rival station KMOX in the next county represents the new wave. I come from the old school of radio rockers, not this new breed of radio talkers. But I guess that is another story. So. What do you do, besides travel?”

“Can’t say for sure. A couple of years ago, I decided I didn’t want to stay in my hometown any longer. So I’ve been on the road, meeting people, seeing different places. Still trying to figure out what to do with my life.”

“You need a job? This art gallery is brand new and they can’t seem to find anyone willing to work for minimum wage. The main artist is from out of town and isn’t here enough to keep it going as it should.”

“I could be interested. Who do I see about the job?”

“Jeanene, in the office. She’ll set you up, I’m sure.”

Now the sun was going down, and the studio was filling with shadows, imparting a feeling of overpowering melancholy to the end of the day. When the light filtered away like this after a bout of fruitless labour it felt as if the sun had disappeared for ever and taken with it all the life and gaiety and harmony of colours.

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Hank closed the book with a bottomless sigh and turned out the lights. The day had been long and uneventful, like most recent days, and reading the novel from Zola left him feeling as lost and empty as Cezanne must have been when he struggled to find his way in the painting enterprise. Emptying his glass with the last swallow of sangria, Hank laid back on his bed, closed his eyes and waited for sleep.

Morning. With eyes remaining closed, Hank listened. Mockingbirds conversed outside his open window of the Redlands Hotel. Somewhere nearby a radio was playing. He recognized the voice of Carl on KXOK, his energized voice of the morning show using every trick to capture attention from listeners driving to work. Hank opened his eyes slowly and focused. The alarm clock showed 7:15. Stickiness from the sangria of last night lay foul on his tongue. Stale cigar smoke lingered. The only element offering good will this morning was the clear light of a winter sunrise filtering through the light curtains, exposing myriads of floating dust particles drifting above the foot of his narrow bed.

Hank had slept with his clothes on, again. Rising and shuffling into the small kitchenette, he opened the squeaking cabinet above the sink, pulled down the Eight O’Clock Bean Coffee bag, measured coffee into the basket and poured water into the percolator. Soon the kitchen was filled with his favorite morning aroma. Looking out the window as the coffee percolated, his eyes rested again on the magnificent structure of the Carnegie Library. He needed to pay the place a visit. All he had read for the past six months was the same old books he had brought along in his backpack.

Stepping onto the second-story balcony of the hotel with his mug of coffee, Hank settled into one of the chairs and gazed across Spring Street into the railyard. He had been working downstairs in the art gallery for a little over two weeks now and was beginning to feel settled into this town. He was also beginning to wonder if he could make art worthy of the gallery he sat in each day. If he was to submit his art, it would have to be very soon. February was drawing near its close, and the city’s annual Dogwood Festival would begin in just a few weeks. Artists from around the county would be setting up tents in the street and displaying their work for sale. Hank hoped by then that he would be able to exhibit out of the gallery. Drawing his coat more tightly around his neck, he savored the warmth of the coffee and allowed his mind to drift back to his ninth-grade artistic beginnings.

High School had been a new and daunting world for Hank. He found himself in a different building, four miles from his Turvey’s Corner home. His first class on that first day was Art I. Having won first-place art honors at his junior high awards assembly the year before, he thought he was going to step into a classroom, bearing an aura of respect and admiration. What he found instead was a room filled with juniors and seniors. At the end of his table sat varsity tackle Joe Bennett with his 240 pounds, full red beard, and letter jacket. Senior girls already looking like suburban women with eye shadow and lip gloss chatted nervously in his orbit. Hippies with T-shirts and shoulder-length hair, American flags sewed to the backs of their denim jackets, sulked in their chairs, dark and glum, their clothes reeking of stale cigarette smoke. Hank felt diminutive. Mr. Scucchi entered the room, looking dapper in his tweed sport jacket with patched elbows, his shirt open at the collar. Addressing the class, he spoke in a vocabulary Hank recognized as charged with art speak, little of which he understood. Hank felt himself shrinking with every word.

On the third week of school something happened. Apparently, Mr. Scucchi had been looking at Hank’s daily work. Now, looking over Hank’s shoulder this Wednesday morning while he sketched the still life arrangement in the center of the classroom, the teacher asked, “Didn’t you win the art award at North Jefferson last year?” Hank looked up from his work and only nodded, too intimidated to speak up, and embarrassed, sensing the entire class suddenly looking up and focusing on him with interested curiosity. The teacher, saying nothing, moved on to the next student. “And what exactly are you trying to do with this?”

The following day Hank continued, bent over his work, unaware that Mr. Scucchi had walked up silently behind him again. Reaching over him, the teacher laid a coffee-table sized book on top of Hank’s drawing. In giant letters, the title read ANDREW WYETH. “I think you should look at this.”

Opening the enormous volume gingerly as though it were a museum archive piece, Hank’s eyes widened at what he saw. Page after page revealed drybrush watercolors in sepia tones of ramshackle farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings, all of them looking like his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. Hank’s artistic vision, already keen at this tender age, still lacked the vocabulary to give it definition. He already had vision but lacked articulation. School had never interested him. He had read very little and listened to his teachers even less. His parents had grown up as children of tenant farmers with little schooling in one-room schoolhouses. Thus, they read little and spoke less.  Hank could not voice what it was exactly that he saw that could be called “beautiful.” What was beautiful about decrepit buildings? Where was the artistic aura in poverty? Why was Andrew Wyeth famous for painting such drab subjects? And why could Hank not stop gazing at and admiring these paintings? The artwork rang with authenticity, triggering the deep-seated emotions Hank always felt when visiting his grandparents’ farm.

As high school unfolded in the following years, Hank continued to take art, the only subject where he could thrive, relying on his talent, his eye, but taking almost no interest in theory. During his sophomore year, he visited his grandparents’ farm repeatedly, making copious drawings in his sketchbook of his grandpa’s shack. His second and third-year art teacher, Mr. Hoeh, took an interest in the drawings and encouraged him to study the shack drawings more closely. Mr. Hoeh believed they could yield quality watercolors.

Hank’s second great awakening occurred during his senior year while competing at an art show in a St. Louis shopping center. The competition categories were for student and professional. Hank by this time had grown accustomed to winning awards in student categories, and this show would be no different. What was different was the sight of a high school senior, two spaces down from Hank, competing in the professional category. And winning.

This high school senior, known only as Brad, worked in the J. C. Penney department store in the shopping center. He was not even with his display when the Best of Show ribbon was awarded him; he had to go work inside the store. With his absence, Hank lingered a long time and looked at his work—Andrew Wyeth-inspired dry brush paintings of those same subjects—farmhouses and barns and busted-down fencing. Nearly devoid of color—sepias, umbers, ochres, and warm grays. Plenty of spattering and wet-on-wet bleeding. The peripheries of each composition were left undefined, fading into the white halo of paper. To Hank’s eyes, each watercolor was exquisite, the touch of a master. But Hank still wondered, how on earth could one describe such decrepit subject matter as “beautiful”?

As he continued to drift slowly through the professional displays, Hank found an elderly gentleman in bowtie and beret seated on a stool, bent over a watercolor in progress. His body of work was also remarkable, taking second place. All watercolors. Classic landscapes charged with vibrant color. The old man Hank found to be quite approachable, so he laid aside his shyness, and asked the big questions.

“I never saw watercolor in tubes before, only in paint pans. I thought only oils and acrylics came in tubes. What brand is that?”

“Winsor & Newton, the best in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”

“And what kind of tablet is that? It looks like a sketchbook, but the paper is sealed all the way around.”

“Again, the best paper in the world—D’Arches. This is called a watercolor block. They’re costly, but worth every penny. They keep the paper from buckling while wet.”

“But your paper is wet now. And buckled.”

“While wet, yes. But as it dries, it shrinks, and when totally dry it will be flat as a board again. There is no worse presentation than a warpy watercolor, buckled within a mat and frame.”

Back at his own display, Hank spent the rest of the day thinking over what the old man had told him, and of the remarkable watercolor work of young Brad. When the festival ended and Hank had nearly packed all his gear, he looked up to see the old watercolorist standing before him with extended hand. Eagerly, Hank shook the old friend’s hand, thanking him for patiently answering all his questions. Smiling, the man said, “Just call me Herb. I hope to see you again soon, at another festival. Until then . . .” In his other hand was a leather wallet folded over three times with a thong tied around it. He was handing it to Hank. “Open it,” he said. Frank untied the thong and unfolded the wallet. A used set of watercolor pans was tucked inside. “Winsor & Newton,” Herb smiled. “Best in the world. Practice every day. You’ll get there.” Smiling, he turned and walked away.

Breakfast finished, Hank descended the hotel stairs to the ground floor and entered The Gallery at Redlands. Looking out the window at the Union Pacific railyards across Spring Street, he recalled the early morning in Fort Worth as he stood in the fog watching the trains emerge from the gloom, roaring and expelling exhaust that mingled with the fog. It brought to mind his sojourn in Utah a month ago when he stood gazing at the herd of bison on the ranch. The bison also moved in and out of a mist from the mountains, a mist that mingled with the dust they kicked up from the dirt, and the exhalation of hot breath into the cold atmosphere. Bison and mist.  Diesels and mist. New images were beginning to form in his mind.

Walking to his desk, Hank sat and quickly sketched on his watercolor pad a gathering of bison as he recalled the way they looked on that particular day.

Leaning back from his work, Hank liked what he saw. Now it was time to turn his attention back to what he saw early one morning in Fort Worth as he contemplated journeying to Palestine.

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More later. 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.

Meet Tommy Thompson, One of The Twelve

February 22, 2021
San & Friends, 22 x 28″ print on canvas framed. 1/500 $300

Statement from Tommy G. Thompson, Artist

July of 2021 will mark fifty wonderful years of my pursuing the creative life as a full time professional artist.  I was born in mid 20th-century Texas. Passion for the arts has been a part of my life from my earliest memories. Formal studies reached into college, followed by work as a graphic artist. At age twenty-two I joined the French Quarter art colony in New Orleans. Very soon I was discovered by Ron Zappe, of Zapp’s Potato Chips, which led me to a successful affiliation with Liberty Gallery on Royal Street for over thirty years. Since then I have enjoyed freelance adventures from my Texas studio.

Over those years my subjects have been ones which excite my imagination with beauty and stories that provide the natural vitality and motivation to explore and grow with ever more evocative paintings and drawings. In youth, museum masterworks opened my eyes to a deeper consciousness that art, in its many forms, can encourage awareness between mind, spirit and my world. This portal of creative vision has been a guiding spirit during my life and continues to bring joy to my work. May viewers find a bit of that magic and celebration of life through these creations.

I have used various mediums including oil paint, acrylics on canvas, board and watercolor paper, and pen & ink. My signature medium has been a hybrid watercolor using fine detailed ink-line with acrylic color wash. This allows a high development of detail and rich color pallet.

The prime purpose in my art is to seek and share the joy and beauty in this life. You may find it in the varied images of New Orleans or the Southwest. Colorful characters and vintage buildings, steamboats, pirates and saloon rogues. Spring time even inspired some fine wildflower studies.

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The Gallery at Redlands will begin introducing you to the new artists to be featured March 20 when we have our grand re-opening. We know you are going to enjoy viewing Tommy’s collection. Stay tuned for more . . .

Hans Hofmann Speaks to The Twelve

February 21, 2021
cover of New Art City
Studio Eidolons. New Work Beginning

. . . he spoke of a yearning for freedom and intensity of expression, of an individualism that transcends humdrum events and aims for the experiences that are most intense, most essential.

Jed Perl, writing of Hans Hofmann in New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

As Sandi and I prepare for the opening of The Twelve at Gallery at Redlands March 20, I am personally drawing much inspiration from Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who was quite the art teacher as well as gallery artist while mid-town Manhattan was preparing to become the new art capital of the world in the 1940s-1950s. For years I have studied the contributions of Motherwell, Pollock, Rothko and DeKooning, but only regarded Hofmann as a footnote, till now. The Abstract Expressionists, also dubbed The New York School, were a highly diverse collection of artitsts who took New York City by storm.

We, The Twelve, are for the most part middle-aged-to senior in our years, and therefore more sober-minded about the effects our art will have on Palestine and East Texas. That is not the reason we are coming here. Our dream is to open a gallery space of diversity, to offer a broad selection of art to appeal to a broader range of people than my watercolors have sought to do in the past. Yes, there will still be watercolors, but we’re adding oil and acrylic on canvas work, along with pastel art, photography, pottery and sculpture. We anticipate that on the night of March 20, we will open our doors to a reception much broader than offered before.

Pictorial life is not imitated life; it is, on the contrary, a created ability based on the inherent life within every medium of expression. We have only to awaken it..

Hans Hofmann

We, The Twelve, have at least one thing in common–we are Awake. Art has been our nurturing force for years, but more recently during this Covid crisis, we have been confined to our studio spaces with more time to reflect on what we wish to do once the public is again within reach. Solitude in the studio has given all of us sacred, quality time for reflection and experimentation in our respective artistic media.

The life of an artist awakened within the dimensions of the sheet of paper was all mixed up with the awakening of mid-century New York. And Hofmann’s genius had everything to do with pushing artists to go into the studio and find, there, the world outside.

Jed Perl, New Art City

And so we, The Twelve, as we awaken to new life within our spaces, hope to awaken a slumbering world to greater possibilities. May we all emerge to find a world even better than the one we were separated from before.

New watercolor of Fort Worth Tower 55 underway . . .

Work in Studio Eidolons is still progressing, though co-mingled with new gallery business and preparations. Soon I hope to share biographical sketches of the rest of the Twelve between now and when we hold our Meet the Artists reception March 20.

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.

Weaving Disparate Strands

February 20, 2021

You know, there is a philosopher who says, As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos and random events, nonrelated events smashing into each other and causing this situation, and then this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like: What in the world is going on? And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely-crafted novel. . . But at the time, it don’t!

Joe Walsh, History of the Eagles

I awoke this sunny, snow-covered wintry morning, my mind jarred by a collision of stories, images and ideas for writing, painting, journaling, blogging, and while I made coffee, I wondered what in the devil I was going to do once I sat down at my desk in Studio Eidolons. The words of Joe Walsh of The Eagles came back to me, so I recorded them, then made the decision to weave the disparate threads of memory that woke me a little while ago.

Life imitates art. Art imitates life. For decades I have chipped away at a project combining my personal memoir with a fiction narrative titled Turvey’s Corner 63050. Pieces of this narrative have been dropped into my blog for over a year now. Today, as I work on piecing together a pair of stories from the Hank cycle, merging bison with diesel locomotives, I am sharing portions of my personal journal along with the newly-crafted stories. Hank is my alter-ego, inspired by friend Wayne White from second grade who will join me along with The Twelve artists re-opening The Gallery at Redlands next month. Wayne is currently a photographer residing in Missouri not far from where we grew up. Most of the stories of Hank are my own, co-mingled with made-up episodes. In this blog, I’ll share the fact along with the fiction.

Last September, Sandi and I traveled to Kanab, Utah to visit Zion National Park. On September 12, returning to our hotel from Zion, we encountered a herd of bison on a ranch near a stock tank. We had seen the herd that morning, but twenty-or-so tourists lined the perimeter fence and we decided not to stop. On the return, no one was at the fence, so we pulled over and I strolled down to the fence line and stayed about twenty minutes, observing the movements of the herd and taking numerous photos with my phone. I did not write about the enounter till September 17, back home in Arlington, Texas. The encounter had composted in my memory for nearly a week.

From my journal, September 17, 9:54 p.m.

So what happened with the bison? I was moved by the idyllic setting. The dust cloud raised. The density of the herd. The cow & calf stepping toward me, then moving into the tank to drink. The amber evening sunset on their coats, highlighting them in golds & oranges, while purple ruled the shadows. I felt a connection, a closeness . . .

The next day, I sat down in Studio Eidolons to attempt my first watercolor sketch of a single bison, using photos from my phone as a reference:

Two days later I decided to attempt a second sketch, this time of the herd, again looking at photos on my phone. I had just laid down Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, which I had been reading since our return home a few days before. I chose to write of myself in the third person.

From my journal September 19, 2020, 1:57 p.m., Motherwell station:

The mad scientist Heideggerian is probing the mists of Being as he bends over the drafting table, spritzes the watercolor sketchbook with a mist of water, then drops in a mixture of Daniel Smith Shadow Violet with Winsor & Newton Cerulean Blue. Then a ribbon of Cerulean below to establish a horizon. Spaced below the horizon, a horizontal line of pale Green-Gold. Below that a hoirzontal line of Transparent Yello & Winsor Violet.

Then, he touched Shadow Violet D.S. in the mists above to begin the shadowy forms of bison emerging from the mist . . .

Returning now @ 2:24 p.m.

Time to draw out the forms, looking at my mist configurations.

Now, I’m sketching out a Hank narrative to illustrate this moment in my life.

Hank gazed across the ranchland at the distant bison herd gathered beside a stock tank, its derelict windmill towering above. He felt a shudder as he watched the sun rippling across the backs of the behemoths. Slowly they grazed among the tall grasses, some of them ambling down into the waters to drink. Adjusting his easel and quickly sketching the profile of the nearest one, he splashed water across the broad body. Then quickly dipping his brush into the Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow, he touched with the tip of his brush the newly mixed mixture of warm brown, and as the pigment quickly billowed into the water on the paper, Hank tilted the easel just a bit to encourage more movement and watched the color quickly fill the contours of the beast.

As the bison slowly emerged on the wet surface of the paper, Hank recalled the words of Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell in a recent interview. The artist had driven his car across France toward Spain, arriving at Alta Mira around sundown just as the guard was closing the gate to the cave with the famous prehistoric paintings inside. Motherwell offered the guard a fistful of paper currency, and with a nod, the employee swung the gate back open and let him inside the cave. Finding the ceiling to be low, Motherwell had to lie on his back on an upraised plateau to gaze up at the wounded bison, lit by a single electric bulb. Finding the viewing unsatisfactory, the artist was suddenly handed a lighted candle by the guard who then turned out the electric light. In the flicker of the candle, Motherwell suddenly noticed the impression of the bison moving, shuddering, and he was filled with an emotion never created by the viewing of the photographs in art history books.

Recalling this, Hank looked up at the herd of bison and down at his sketch with renewed fascination. The single watercolor sketch would do for the time being. But one day he would focus on a composition of a bison herd emerging from a dim, misty landscape.

My next watercolor will be a repeat of the Fort Worth Tower 55 I painted a few days ago, but this time with considerably more atmospheric traces of fog and diesel exhaust. As Hank looks at the scene in the early dawn, he will recall the sight of the bison and draw parallels between the diesels and bison stirring up the atmosphere.

In closing, I’m posting a pair of watercolors I attempted of the bison. Neither have yet been framed or put on public display.

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.

Inspiration Surging during a Sun-splashed Morning

February 19, 2021
Brightly-lit snowy neighborhood through the windows of Studio Eidolons

Hofmann would hold up before his students a sheet of plain-as-plain-can-be paper and announce that “within its confines is the complete creative message.”

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

My recent readings during mornings-over-coffee have come from New Art City. This morning I was aroused as I read of Hans Hofmann’s influence around Greenwich Village and in Provincetown while the Abstract Expressionists were taking hold of New York City in the 1940s-50s. The above quote, for me, was reminiscent of several other divines. So much has been expressed about the process of creativity. Aristotle, for one, argued that the oak tree was already inside the acorn, and simply had to emerge. Robert Motherwell defined the process of drawing as the “dividing of a plane surface.” In the book I’m reading, Jed Perl points out that “what Hofmann was saying was than when you drew a line on a piece of paper, you were creating a world.” Statements like that keep me going. I have frequently written and taught that the artist, created in God’s image, possesses the inborn desire to create. The two-dimensional artist approaches a rectangle, and immediately begins dividing up the interior until a world emerges.

Beginning a new one

While painting the Fort Worth Tower 55 composition on 8 x 10″ paper, I frequently felt the desire to try this again on a slightly larger scale. Since the painting sold so quickly, I’ve decided to push on ahead with a 12 x 16″ surface of 90# cold-pressed D’Arches paper stretched on canvas stretchers. The Hank story that corresponds to this picture has stretched my imagination further and I want to explore more aggressively the possibilities of a foggy atmosphere in watercolor. A part of me thinks of the inspiration of Claude Monet to paint impressionistically the Gare Saint-Lazare railway station in Paris. Another part of me wishes to connect a pair of Hank stories linking the bison herd he saw in the mists of Utah with the collection of diesel locomotives snorting in the dawn mist of the Fort Worth railyards.

Hank gazed across the ranchland at the distant bison herd gathered beside a stock tank with derelict windmill. He felt a shudder as he watched the sun rippling across the backs of the behemoths. Slowly they grazed among the tall grasses, some of them ambling down into the waters to drink. Adjusting his easel and quickly sketching the forms of a cow and calf standing closest to him, he splashed the water across the sketched body of the cow. Quickly dipping his brush into the Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow, he touched with the tip of his brush the new mixture of warm brown, and as the pigment quickly billowed into the water on the paper, Hank tilted the easel just a bit to encourage more movement and watched the color quickly fill the contours of the mother beast.

He recalled the words of Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell in a recent interview. The artist had driven his car across France toward Spain, arriving at Alta Mira around sundown just as the guard was closing the gate to the cave with the famous prehistoric paintings inside. Motherwell offered the guard a fistful of paper currency, and with a nod, the employee swung the gate back open and let him inside the cave. Finding the ceiling to be low, Motherwell had to lie on his back on an upraised plateau to gaze up at the wounded bison, lit by a single electric bulb. Finding the viewing unsatisfactory, the artist was suddenly handed a lighted candle by the guard who then turned out the electric light. In the flicker of the candle, Motherwell suddenly noticed the impression of the bison moving, shuddering, and he was filled with an emotion never created by the viewing of the photographs in art history books.

Recalling this, Hank looked at the herd of bison and his sketch with renewed fascination. The single watercolor sketch of the cow would do for the time being. But one day he would focus on a composition of a bison herd emerging from a dim, misty landscape.

Once again this morning, I have been visited by so many new ideas and images to paint. I am not sure if I am expressing this clearly, but much of my recent creative eros could be attributed to being snow-bound all week, along with the enthusiasm I am feeling from The Twelve who will join me next month when we hold our new reception at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine. In my daily imaginings, I “see” the other artists in their studios, thinking out and creating new works for the public soon to see. I can’t wait for this weather to break so I can begin visiting with some of these surging artistic spirits.

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.