Archive for January, 2022

Saturday Night Closure

January 29, 2022
Longmire Visits Hank 11. x 14″ framed watercolor $150
Walker under the Stars 11 x 14″ framed watercolor $200
Settling into some evening reading

Happily, I’ve framed my two recent cowboy watercolors and have them hanging in The Gallery at Redlands. Now with the restaurant and bar filling up on a Saturday night in The Redlands Hotel, I’m settling comfortably in some more Heidegger reading.

Thanks for looking at my work . . .

Riding the Waves

January 29, 2022
Quality Time for Reflextion

Nevertheless, such “going forward,” thought in Greek fashion, is no kind of attack: it lets what is already coming to presence arrive.

Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche

Waking this morning, my first thoughts were recollections of snippets of conversation gleaned from last night’s “Artist Cafe” at Pint and Barrel Drafthouse here in Palestine. A good night’s sleep allowed those ideas to “compost” and thus lay the groundwork for a wonderful working morning in the gallery. The noon hour has arrived and I feel that I have accomplished three days’ worth of work already. Our next Artist Cafe will be at the same location next Friday night at 9:00. Anyone is welcome to join us. I’ll be posting this announcement again as the day draws closer.

Since last fall, I have mined genuine gold from reading Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche. My reading of this material was prompted by something that happened in my Ethics course at the university, and I’m grateful to teach the same subject this semester, giving me further impetus to continue reading Heidegger. I love the quote above because it caps a discussion Heidegger conducts about this process of making art, in which the artist approaches the endeavor with all the knowledge s/he has gleaned, and in that experience witnesses a work of art emerging. Many times while making art I have been deeply moved by the conviction that a work of art comes forth and greets me as I work.

Today I’m going to try and finish a pair of 8 x 10″ watercolor experiments and frame them for the gallery. The entire morning has been given to gallery paperwork, inventory, and other matters associated with my current classes at the university. A few visits have also added genuine sunlight to my day. Now with things getting quiet, my gallery and university tasks completed, I’m ready to go back to the drafting table and see if art will come forth the greet me as I work and anticipate.

I hope to finish and frame these today.
The Gallery at Redlands in the Morning

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.

New Work in Progress at The Gallery at Redlands

January 28, 2022

Aesthetics is to me what ornithology is to birds.

Barnett Newman

Sitting in The Gallery at Redlands, I took a little time to re-open Martin Heidegger’s 4-volume work on Nietzsche. I am fascinated with his theory of the ancient Greeks and their approach to the arts. He argued that the Archaic period was their freshest, most illuminating era (Paul Tillich agreed). By the time they reached the Classical era (most people’s favorite), Plato and Aristotle had hammered out their theories of aesthetics:

[The Greeks] had such an originally mature and luminous knowledge, such a passion for knowledge, that in their luminous state of knowing they had no need of “aesthetics.” Aesthetics begins with the Greeks only at that moment when their great art and also the great philosophy that flourished along with it comes to an end.

The poet Billy Collins had a humorous take on literary criticism:

“all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.”

The more I study aesthetics, the more I encounter those humorous moments when I believe we are suffocating our art by trying to analyze what makes it attractive. Nevertheless I will continue reading Kant, Schiller, Nietzsche, Heidegger and anyone else whose opinions I respect to see if I can find some kind of angle or perspective in assessing art.

For days I’ve had to neglect my “Walker” painting with his guitar under the stars. There have been too many educational and business details to tend. Tonight in the gallery I’m going to try and finish that painting. I already have a mat and frame ready for it. As for the second one, it consists of two separate demos for two separate watercolor classes. As I was packing my gear to close out the second session, an artist friend looked at the pair of figures on the single plane of stretched paper and said “Hey! Maybe you can make them into one painting!” Hmmmm. I’m thinking about Longmire appearing as an apparition to Hank as he pours his coffee next to the fire. We’ll see how that turns out. If it doesn’t, I’ll just cut them apart and present them as two separate pieces.

Thanks for reading. I’ll try to find time to write more over the weekend.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Tormented Genius?

January 24, 2022

The jazz saxophonist Jackie McLean said that–back in Greenwich Village in the 1950s–he watched dozens of aspiring young musicians take up heroin in order to imitate their hero, Charlie Parker. . . . maybe it’s easier to do heroin . . . than it is to commit yourself wholeheartedly to your craft.

Elilzabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

The mythology surrounding the tortured artist continues to hold my interest. During my morning reading over coffee, I came across Liz Gilbert’s remark above and feel constrained to address it. I’ve heard the stories of Vincent van Gogh’s insanity and Dr. Gachet not wishing to medicate his illness for fear he would calm the artist down and destroy his creative output. Ian Roberts, in his engaging book Creative Authenticity, titled one of his chapters “The van Gogh Syndrdome” and in comparable spirit to Liz above, steers his readers away from this mythological attraction and toward the realities of making art.

In my experience, the artists I’ve met who I respect most in terms of focus and expression of vision are practical and generous people. The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi, who has focused his research on creativity, writes. “After years of intensive listening and reading, I have come to the conclusion that the stereotype of the tortured genius is to a large extent a myth created by the Romantic ideology and supported by evidence from isolated and–one hopes–atypical historical periods”.

Many years back, I was concerned that my artistic vision wasn’t authentic because I regarded myself as a quiet, boring human being. Taking art history seriously, I read the dark tales surrounding the likes of van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Picasso, Dali et al, and I often wondered if being an artistic genius required some measure of insanity, or to use Thoreau’s words, marching to the beat of a different drummer. And I knew years of financial difficulty and struggles to find some kind of profession where I could settle into a work routine, and wondered then if such suffering would make me a better artist. It didn’t. But then in later years, I read of lives such as Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, N. C. Wyeth, Robert Motherwell et al, and realized that many famous artists lived responsible lives and in some cases were quite low-key in personality.

I’m much happier now, being of the age that I no longer have to be consumed over whether or not I am an authentic artistic genius. I accept that I am an artist and that I find delight in making the work. Period. I still participate in art festivals, but much less frequently than in my younger years. Owning a gallery makes it satisfying to know I have a place to hang my better work, and social media provides all of us with the avenue of marketing what we make. I have no reason to mire in depression or make my self sick with self-doubt or ruthless second-guessing.

I’m sorry for any artist that suffers depression or self-doubt. I know that depression is crippling when it comes to producing art, at least that is true for me. I cannot thrive on torrid times. They are not a stimulus for art, not for me anyway.

So what do I consider a “perfect” day for making art? What are the ingredients? I want to share what “works” for me . . .

First, a decent night’s sleep. Waking without an alarm because I have slept long enough. Second, French-pressing coffee and either returning to bed, or now in the cold winter months, building a fire in the fireplace and nesting in the living room. Third, books. Reading, scribbling ideas in my journal, and sketching in my sketchbook turns the wheels of my mind and imagination. This practice is an extension of the formal religious life I lived in previous decades of my life. All of the above requires one-to-two hours. Then, I am ready. Showering and dressing, I enter Studio Eidolons (in my home) to make art, engage in writing, or prepare for art classes at Show Me the Monet or university classes at Texas Wesleyan. But this is the scope of my perfect day when residing in Arlington. In Palestine Thursday through Saturday, things are different, but not the sleeping, coffee-making or books-in-the-morning. Those to me are just as essential as eating.

I have yet to touch “Walker” today, but my plan is to finish and frame him before the evening.

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.

Trying to Complete the Singing Cowboy

January 23, 2022
Almost there

Sunday has been given completely to college preparations. I was given a second course on the first day of school–online Humanities. This is my favorite subject in the Texas Wesleyan curriculum and I’m excited to enter this forum yet again.

Tomorrow I hope to complete my watercolor sketch of Walker from the TV series Yellowstone. I need to finish out the bottom of the composition so I can fit it neatly into an 11 x 14″ frame. There is still more guitar work to complete along with his hands. I think everything else is pushed far enough.

Thanks for reading.

Working on the Cowboy Guitarist

January 22, 2022

The Redlands Hotel has a 50th Wedding Anniversary party going on at the Queen Street Grille across the lobby from the Gallery at Redlands and the crowd is already sounding boisterous at 6:00 (must be the open bar?). At any rate, I’m plugging ahead on this singin’ cowboy while listening to James Taylor singing “Sweet Baby James”. This is proving to be a great way to spend a Saturday night. We’ll keep the Gallery open till 9:00.

Thanks for reading.

The Next Chapter

January 22, 2022

When 2022 dawned, I decided I wanted to begin several smaller sized watercolors of new subjects. Guitar players is on my list. I have recently enjoyed watching The Walker character on the Yellowstone television series picking his guitar, and decided I would begin with him.

It is Saturday morning in The Gallery at Redlands, and we will keep the gallery open until 9 pm. Hopefully I will get more work done on this one as the day unfolds.

Thanks for reading.

3:30 a.m. Really?

January 21, 2022
Redlands Hotel in the early a.m.

We will all return to the Bateau-Lavoir. We were never truly happy except there.

Pablo Picasso to Andre Salmon, 1945

In the depths of a 27-degree winter, we both awoke in the darkness around 3:30 and began talking. Finally we decided to get up, turn on the lights, dress, and go downstairs into the Gallery for coffee and books to bring back up to our suite. I guess that is one more of a hundred blessings of living the retired life–no timetable or schedule. Why not read at the kitchen table, continue conversing, write out the best stuff in the journal and cultivate good thoughts and prepare for another adventurous day? And it’s only Friday, not yet the weekend even.

The Dogwood Arts Council met in The Gallery at Redlands downstairs last night, and the camaraderie was lively and at its very best. We’re elated about the Dogwood Art and Music Festival coming up in late March and I’m even more enthused about tonight’s Gallery Talk that Deanna Pickett Frye will lead at 7:00. Palestine is emerging as a lively center for engagement in the arts. And I’m so grateful to be included in it.

Day before yesterday, I finished Miles J. Unger’s Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World. This is one of those books that is now worth going back over to re-read and respond to the many, many passages that I underscored during my first reading. Above, I’ve recorded Picasso’s quote at the beginning of this book. Forty years after his Bohemian, starving artist lifestyle, he rhapsodized over his studio years in the Bateau-Lavoir as a Golden Age. I find myself unable to do that. My own Bateau Lavoir occurred in 1987. I have memories of that era that I do not revisit wistfully. Life then was at its lowest ebb for me. I had completed my Ph.D., lived in a garage apartment, held down two part-time jobs and relied on the Fort Worth city bus service for transportation. I felt that nobody knew or cared whether or not I even existed. I lived as a phantom. Arcadia it was not. When the Arlington Independent School District hired me in 1988, my life was pulled out of the quicksand and I have never wished to return.

Maybe some day I will be able to say something more positive about my Baeau Lavoir. But not now. I feel I have been handed the most lovely gifts at this late stage of my life: retirement, a relationship, a home of my own, a gallery, time to pursue my art, part-time work teaching in a university–everything I ever wished for has been handed to me, and I love life more now than ever before. I wish this for everyone.

Thanks for reading and I hope you rise to a wonderful day today.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Back in the Gallery for the Weekend

January 20, 2022
Gallery at Redlands, view from the Desk

For most of human history, then, the vast majority of people have made their art in stolen moments, using scraps of borrowed time–and often using pilfered or discarded materials, to boot.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Good afternoon, we are back in The Gallery at Redlands for the rest of the week. What a day yesterday turned out to be–first day of college at Texas Wesleyan University. The school has gone virtual for at least two weeks, so there was no face-to-face class time, and at the end of the day I was offered a second class–Humanities. My Ethics class hopes to go face-to-face if the virus ever diminishes, but the Humanities is an online course I’ve taught many times, so I’m looking forward to making a run at it as well.

Our gallery is looking forward to the Gallery Talk Friday night 7-8:00, hosted by our featured Artist-of-the-Month Deanna Pickett Frye. As for the present, I’m hoping for some “scaps of borrowed time” to make art. Yesterday’s watercolor class was a real blast and has me in the mood to pursue some new ideas in painting. Stay tuned . . .

Thanks for reading.

Longmire Watercolor on the Fly

January 19, 2022

I feel badly posting quick blogs on the fly, but the day has been a whirlwind. College began today and I’ve been assigned a second class in Humanities. I’ll have more to write on that later.

After a 4-month hiatus, I’ve returned to teaching Watercolor Wednesdays at Show Me the Monet Gallery in Arlington. Today our subject was Longmire and boy, did these students hit it out of the park! One of them had never tried watercolor before. I had a splendid time watching them wrestle with the medium and succeed with work suitable for framing.

I’m typing this with my smart phone as we run errands this evening–we leave first thing in the morning to work in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine.

Thanks for reading.