Archive for February, 2022

Too Many Durned Interruptions Today

February 27, 2022

That’s what I could hear Sam Elliot muttering in my ear every time I picked up the brush, only to lay it back down and answer another task . . . Tomorrow, maybe?

Quality Morning with O’Keeffe Musings

February 26, 2022
Executive Time

. . . the directness of transcription from feeling to symbol gives the best of these canvases a special and distinguished place of their own to which few contemporaries, however, talented, have access. These pictures are not derivations, they are sources.

Lewis Mumford, The New Yorker, review of O’Keeffe’s 1934 show at New York’s American Place.

The morning coffee and “executive time” over books and journal proved a rewarding start to my Saturday. I’ve returned to the Georgia O’Keeffe biography started while I was at Ghost Ranch a few years ago (and didn’t finish–I tend to be a “finisher” with respect to quality biographies). The book, authored by Roxana Robinson, has always been engaging, and I am now at the point where Georgia struggled to get her footing back following her Radio City Music Hall mural failure, her hospitalization due to a breakdown, her chronic frustrations with “Tornado” Stieglitz, and recently a torrid erotic encounter with Jean Toomer. Now alone, she has managed to regain her balance and establish a sure direction for her life and her art. It is early 1934, her retrospective has launched to a good review (posted above), and Ghost Ranch is only a few months away.

Why do I so love reading the stories of the personal struggles of artists, writers and musicians–the creatives? Because I read to remind myself that I am not alone (words from C. S. Lewis in the film Shadowlands). My personal struggles at the moment are nowhere as torrential as those of Georgia and others, but I have gone through those as well and am thankful that they are past. My current struggle is the perennial one dealing with what to do next in making art. I love the critic’s line (posted above) that Georgia’s paintings in the show were “not derivations” but “sources.” This is what I always hope to happen when I create a new body of work, that the work will be a source, not a derivative of some other artist or fad or trend.

The aging Frank Lloyd-Wright boasted that he could still shake buildings out of his shirtsleeves. That is how I feel about making art–I’m making it faster now and more efficiently than I have in years past. Yet, I feel all of it–none of my work is superficial to me, though I sometimes wonder if the subject matter is superficial or trendy in the eyes of viewers. Oh well. Too much analysis, I suppose. What I need to do is make art! Just throw the damn ball! But . . . I still have some college grading in front of me, so it’s time to close this blog, grade the rest of the essays in my queue, and then get back to Studio Eidolons to continue painting. I’m glad there is still plenty of Saturday still out in front of me.

Saturday morning painting in Studio Eidolons
Morning Watch, reading and writing as creative spirits from the past visit and affirm . . .

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.

Progress on the Covered Wagon Camp

February 25, 2022

“The purity of the thing you do makes me so very conscious of the fact that I live in the marketplace – and I feel the marketplace marks me quite sorely.”

Georgia O’Keeffe letter to her sister Catherine’s painting.

Reading a Georgia O’Keeffe biography early this morning touched on a topic I am always discussing with my other artist friends–whether or not we make art to please ourselves or to feed the market. We all seem to agree on the same basic idea–we make art to please ourselves, but also hope to sell . . .

Around 1990 was when I decided I wanted to see if there was a market for my art work. Deciding upon a genre was easy–I wanted to paint nostalgic America, beginning in the Midwest where my roots remain, and making my way to the Southwest where I’ve resided since the 1970’s. I have for the most part stayed within that subject. When considering “Southwest Art”, I always balked, feeling the market was saturated and that the subject was not really intrinsic to my own upbringing.

Several factors have led me to change my mind. Spending time with Sandi, who is an equestrian, has given me plenty of time to spend around horses, and I’ve immensely enjoyed sketching them and occasionally painting them. And yes, the subject sells well. In addition to this, I’ve spent considerable time over the past decade in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The wide-open horizon of the plains, the colorful canyons, and the towering mountains have certainly held my attention, and I have devoted hours and days to painting them en plein air. Last and certainly not least, television–Longmire, Yelllowstone, and 1883, along with Ken Burns’s documentary The West has flooded my imagination with images, so I’ve recently decided to respond to this stimululs to see what transpires. I’m enjoying the journey. Before I know it, Colorado will be in my sights. I just paid for the cabin rental of my favorite place in South Fork where I can fish that branch of the Rio Grande and continue to watercolor those magnificent mountains and evergreens.

This is my first attempt to paint covered wagons under a night sky and I thought I would put a couple of fellows out front next to a smoky fire with their coffee. The subject is one of my favorites and I hope I can pull this one off. We’ll see . . .

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.

Covered Wagon Series Begins

February 24, 2022

I don’t know whether you know how important these days are for me or not but I feel it is so. They seem to be like the loud ring of a hammer striking something hard.

Georgia O’Keeffee

With the outdoors replete with ice and temperatures in the mid-20’s, I feel liberated being confined to quarters inside Studio Eidolons. I began this watercolor late last night and could hardly sleep as I anticipated a day of painting. The 1883 television series has stimulated my interest in covered wagons, the Oregon Trail, etc. I’ve decided to put a couple of fellows with coffee before a campfire and well-lit covered wagons behind them beneath the stars. We’ll see how it all comes together.

Thanks for reading.

Frigid Night in Studio Eidolons

February 23, 2022
Resting in the Shadows of Antiquity

On the contrary, we grasp Being with blunt instruments, clumsily, scarcely at all: and few of those who approach the appearances in question catch a glimpse of the original source, i.e.,the essential origin, of what offers itself in fleeting appearances

Plato, Phaedrus 250b

The day has been busy, despite temperatures plummeting into the mid-20s and ice falling out of the skies. I still taught a morning class at the university, and then skated home!

I am happy to be painting again in the studio tonight, and choose not to show just yet what I’ve started–it is a branch off the 1883 television series I have been enjoying so much lately.

Thanks for reading.

Completed the Chuck Wagon Watercolor

February 22, 2022

The day has been packed with out-of-the-studio details, so all I can do is post the framed painting. I’m offering this 16 x 20″ piece for $400

Thanks for reading.

Finishing up the Chuck Wagon

February 21, 2022

I have to go teach class, but this morning I placed the frame over the painting to see how it is looking, and I like what I see. Later today when I return home I will sign it, mount it in the frame, and put it up for sale.

Art Rhapsody on a Sunday

February 20, 2022
Early Start in Studio Eidolons

Before we do any actual translating, he says, we must translate ourselves to what a fragment says, what it is thinking; we must first arrive on its foreign shores and, like Hermes on Ogygia, stop to contemplate before we can return with some fitting memento of it to the land of our own language.

David Farrell Krell, speaking of Martin Heidegger, in “The Anaximander Fragment”

I have tried for years to explain to anyone interested that most of my inspiration for making art comes from literature or philosophy; writers inspire me to paint just as much as other artists. Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell confessed that James Joyce, “the Shakespeare of modernism” (Motherwell’s words) inspired him to paint above most other influences. This morning’s reading from Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche inspired me to write in my journal and now to pass on these new ideas to you . . .

Breakfast at the Woodshed Smokehouse

The morning’s reading set the table for what I wanted to do in the studio today, but I first decided I needed a good breakfast. So . . . I journeyed to Fort Worth’s Woodshed Smokehouse and found a seat overlooking the Trinity River with the smoke of a wood fire blowing directly into my face (it was still cold and windy outside, so the smell and warmth of the fire was delicious). Waiting for breakfast also afforded me quality time to continue hammering out in my journal these ideas from Heidegger that were still incubating . . .

My opening quote above points out Heidegger’s views on the art of translation. This has stirred me for years, because I regard making art as translation–we are translating our sensations of the world enveloping us and trying to capture these sensations on a blank picture plane before us.

Years ago, I made friends with a couple who owned an old general store that they had transported to their ranch. They graciously gave me a key to the store (which has a residence attached to it) to use as a special hideaway anytime I needed to get away from the city and school teaching job that I had at the time. On their property was this covered chuck wagon stowed away in a barn. I took a number of pictures of the wagon and even painted a small plein air sketch of it during one of my stays at the old store.

Still on the Easel
Completed Sketch

I still remember how much I enjoyed the time spent staring at the congeries of cooking utenstils and food containers on the wagon and the attempt to capture them on paper. But I balked at the thought of translating this entire subject into a larger watercolor; I had never really experienced a chuck wagon meal or campsite. My friend Wayne White is a master “cowboy cook” and has used these kinds of utensils to cook for me while we’ve been out camping and fishing. But the actual chuck wagon experience has never been mine, and I felt inadequate to “translate” such a subject into a painting.

Watching 1883 on TV for the past couple of months has changed my perspective. Thanks to that film experience, I’ve found myself poring over old photographs published in books and on the Internet until finally I went back into my own archives and pulled out the dozen photos I took of this chuck wagon out on the ranch from years ago. And I decided: Now is the time. Just do it.

Nearing Completion of the Chuck Wagon Watercolor

This is my first real attempt. I’m certain others will follow. If viewers could experience even half the depth of joy and fulfilment I’ve known while staring at this subject and chipping away at its details, then I’ll say the experience has been worth the effort.

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.

Sunny Saturday for Mardi Gras Weekend

February 19, 2022
Morning Sunlight out the window of our suite at The Redlands Hotel
Sacred Heart Church across street from The Gallery at Redlands

For the Greeks, phusis is the first and the essential name for beings themselves and as a whole. For them the being is what flourishes on its own, in no way compelled, what rises and comes forward, and what goes back into itself and passes away.

Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche

The church bells at Sacred Heart across the street tolled nine times this morning to let me know it was 7:00 a.m. I still laugh at that every morning while residing here in The Redlands Hotel, wondering if anyone has told those in charge that the morning toll is always wrong. The bells don’t ring throughout the night, allowing city folk to sleep in the quiet. But the first tolling occurs at seven, and it is nine bells. After that, the count is correct.

Looking out at the lovely Carnegie Library building, I felt enraptured to see the dynamics of the sun all over the facade of the structure. I felt the same way looking out the southeast window toward Sacred Heart. The bright sun is deceiving as it is 27 degrees outdoors. Mardi Gras is being celebrated today in the city of Palestine, and already folks are buzzing out about town.

“Executive Time” in The Gallery at Redlands

Descending the stairs to the first floor and entering The Gallery at Redlands, I felt warmed by the sun despite the frigid temperatures outdoors.

At my Desk in the Gallery

The Heidegger reading has me buzzed already. I love the idea of meshing with the natural world as it ebbs and flows, and trying to adjust to the flow of its rhythms. I’m ready to return to the Chuck Wagon watercolor and intend to have it finished and framed before closing the gallery tonight at 9:00.

Time to return to work on the Chuck Wagon Study

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to disover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Next Chapter

February 18, 2022
Early Morning Planning Meeting with Publisher Gloria Hood

“News,” Gail Wynand told his staff, “is that which will create the greatest excitement among the greatest number. The thing that will knock them silly. The sillier the better, provided there’s enough of them.

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

I am glad we are still one month away from our Dogwood Art and Music Festival here in Palestine. The vibe is heating up despite the frigid winter temperatures of late. Sandi and I are making serious plans for our first anniversary Gallery at Redlands reception when the festival closes the night of March 19th. This weekend we have been working with Gloria Hood, publisher of The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine. The City of Palestine and local artists have responded enthusiastically, filling up several pages with ads for the next issue, and we cannot wait to see the publication. There will be 10,000 copies distributed across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, along with the surrounding communities, and we’re proud that Palestine is leading the way as the magazine expands into East Texas. For months, community organizers and artists have gathered in The Gallery at Redlands to discuss how we can raise the profile of this community and demonstrate our fine arts prowess. I truly believe we are finally moving in the right direction. Gloria has been a genuine enrichment to us over the past several days, meeting and sharing with us the ins and outs of magazine publication. We are so fortunate to find several news outlets now within reach so we can get our work out before the public.

Gloria and Sandi in The Galllery at Redlands
Watch for Palestine Art in the Next Issue!

My heart is always stirred by stories surrounding the success of bluesman Muddy Waters. Deciding to move on from life as a tractor driver for Stovall Farms in Mississippi, Muddy took the train to Chicago and worked in a box factory by day and played in juke joints by night until he managed to record for Chess Records. The distribution of his records is the amazing story: with Chicago being the hub for rail traffic across the U.S., negro porters would purchase boxes of Muddy’s records and take them on the trains to distribute to barber shops and taverns with juke boxes across the U.S. As we gathered with artists and businesspersons the past few days, we discussed all the networks we already have in play and how we could set up a creative distribution of this magazine once the next issue comes out. We really believe we can do this. Stay tuned.

Tonight I’m looking forward to teaming up with Kevin Harris for our monthly Gallery Talk at 7:00. We’re going to discuss the challenges of remaining prolific in our creations despite the constant demands of daily schedules and responsibilities. Kevin is a musician and song writer who manages to crank out new music on good days as well as bad. He knows full well what it means to push out new creations even when feeling that inspiration is running low. I can’t wait for us to start this discussion.

Musician Kevin Harris and Artist David Tripp

Thanks always for reading. We hope to have good news to report as Palestine prepares to celebrate Mardis Gras this weekend.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.