Archive for June, 2022

Leaning Forward to the Next Adventure

June 30, 2022

Signed, Sealed & Delivered
Downtown Crockett, Texas. Goliad & 5th.

There was heat in us, a core and a drive that was gathering headway upon the theme of a rediscovery of a primary impetus, the elementary principle of all art, in the local conditions.

The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams

Return to the Gallery

The evening finds me back inside The Gallery at Redlands, thinking fondly over the events of this past week. My friends Wade and Gail Thomas, who opened this gallery in 2017, invited me to paint a life-size Davy Crockett image to welcome tourists to the town of Crockett, thirty minutes from here. Designing the figure and scaling him from a sheet of paper to a life-size format proved quite the challenge, but the good news was that the sun would not find me till noontime. Tuesday-through-Thursday proved sufficient time in the mornings to get this one done. My friends are still musing over possibilities for a background; thoughts now include a foggy bank of east Texas pine trees along an old road fading into the distance. Perhaps an old sign announcing the number of miles to San Antonio. Legend has it that Davy Crockett, en route to the Alamo, stayed the night in a pine forest here in Crockett.

As I painted this week, my mind frequently drifted toward the darkness of our frontier hero’s final week in the Alamo. In those horrible closing nights, he could not have possibly envisioned a city one day taking his name, citizens requesting an iconic image of him welcoming visitors. People wishing to stand before him and be photographed with him. I’m deeply thankful for being invited to be a part of this.

Heidegger’s Hut

Among the rich rewards of making art in Crockett was the accommodations. Since 2016, I have relished my stays at an old store in east Texas. The dirt road, the absence of cell phone service, the abundance of deer–a perfect environment where one could sit for hours and just watch the thoughts drift by. I call this place Heidegger’s Hut because of Martin Heidegger’s cabin in the Black Forest where he would retreat to escape the frenzy of city university life in Freiburg. He wrote all of his great published works from that cabin, drinking deeply from the solitude. I have found such a respite at this old country store, where I have done some of my best work, writing and painting, in this tranquil environment.

The idyllic country store
A visiting dog is always a comfortable companion
. . . and the occasional curious fawn

I’ve managed to read over 200 pages of WCW’s Autobiography. The text posted above resonated with me deeply. I have known time and again that “heat” and that “core” that has driven me to discover new paths of expression. The more I read the recorded memories of William Carlos Williams, the more I am stirred by his passion and invited to jump back into that refreshing stream to see where I can be carried next. As I expressed in the title, I lean forward with enthusiasm to what lies just around the next bend.

This Saturday is Palestine’s monthly Art Walk. This time I will be making art inside the Gallery at Redlands rather than in one of our downtown businesses. I prefer this actually, though I’ve always wanted to be a presence anywhere the organization found the city short-handed. My thanks continues to go out to all the local businesses that requested my being on the premises to demonstrate. This time, I’m glad to be “home” during this important event.

Thanks for reading. If you’re in the vicinity, stop by and say “Hello” on Saturday. We’ll have the gallery open from 9 till 9.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Town and Country

June 29, 2022
Proud to join the company of Deanna Pickett Frye’s Crockett mural
Nearing completion
Deer spotting on the way back to the residence

I have had a most restful week in the quiet country of East Texas. Every morning I have driven into town to work on a Davy Crockett mural for my friends Wade and Gail. The afternoons and evenings have been idyllic, sharing space with many deer in the vicinity.

The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams has kept me good company in reading. And I have had quality time and silence for reflection.

I plan to return to The Gallery at Redlands on Thursday so we can have it open on Thursday Friday and Saturday this week. Next week we leave for Colorado, with further rest and relaxation. I am grateful that it was granted me to live long enough to enjoy retired living.

Crockett Mural Underway

June 28, 2022

The noonday Texas sun has managed to chase me back into the cool recesses of the countryside. I’m back at the old store with a soothing glass of ice water. I’m glad we finally got this project underway and barring complications, it should be complete by Thursday.

Return to Heidegger’s Hut

June 27, 2022

I spent some time this evening sitting in the same chair where I posed for my own selfie a number of years ago. I will always cherish this special place and the importance it placed in my life as I transitioned from teaching into retirement.

Tomorrow I began work on a new mural, and I’m excited to get the new project underway.

Country Retreat

June 27, 2022

I required an extra day to work out some kinks in the mural layout. As it turns out, it was time very well spent. I enjoyed a quiet morning reading and enjoying company with my friends’ dog.

Reading from the William Carlos Williams Autobiography continues to be stimulating to the creative imagination. I have been gathering new notes and ideas for some future work. And of course, I always enjoy spending time at this old store that I have christened Heidegger’s Hut.

And now with the arrival of the late afternoon, I am very pleased that the last of my mural preparation problems has been resolved. I’m looking forward to beginning work on the actual wall in downtown Crockett tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading.

Return to Heidegger’s Hut

June 26, 2022

After several years, I have finally found my way back to the old store where I used to enjoy getting away.

In the morning, I will journey to Crockett, Texas to begin work on a public mural I have been asked to paint. Most of today I have spent inside this old store laying out the subject for tomorrow’s painting.

Now that the design work is finished, I am grateful to have some quiet hours to read further into the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams.

Thanks for reading.

Fly Fishing Retreat

June 25, 2022
Largemouth Bass Prior to Release

Rising at 5:30 was worth the effort as I prepared to journey north for forty-four minutes to join my new fishing buddy and Queen Street Grille’s chef extraordinaire, Joe Massa. We began rigging up our flyrods around 7:00, and had our lines in the water shortly after. Joe was immediately pulling up all manner of bream, many of them frying pan size. The temperature was 79 degrees and we knew we had only a couple of hours before the Texas heat would drive us away. I only managed to land one of the three bass that hit my assortment of woolly buggers and San Juan worms; one of them got loose as I half-heartedly set the hook, the other broke me off despite my giving him a good thirty seconds to tire out. He was a strong one, and I hope one day to get a closer look at him. The excitement of watching him zig-zag through the waters before breaking free still stirs me hours later.

Tomorrow begins a new adventure. I’ve been invited to participate in a mural project in downtown Crockett, Texas, and I’ve been chomping at the bits for the day to arrive. I’ll have more to share as the task unfolds. Most of all, I’m excited to see that part of the Texas countryside that I’ve been away from far too long.

The Gallery at Redlands is quiet at this point of Saturday evening, and that is a good thing for me; I’m still trying to iron out final details for the Crockett project, and the quiet is soothing.

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.

Clawing my Way Back

June 24, 2022
Surprised to find this on Facebook! My gratitude to artist Dale Diane Hedgecough

What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.

Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

My sincere gratitude to those who’ve reached out to me in past days/weeks to find out if I am OK. I am. I haven’t been active on social media. There is a simple reason: I’ve been flat. Not depressed or unhappy, just not creative. Instead, I’ve been drifting/slogging through my days. I’ve been absent from The Gallery at Redlands for almost two weeks. This afternoon I returned and found myself so exhausted that I went upstairs in The Hotel Redlands to take a nap; I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone. I’m glad I took that step. As soon as I re-opened the gallery at 5:00, everything and everyone began to happen at the same time, and I’m so delighted that I am awake and grateful for all of it. In short, I’m glad to be back and am ready to face new creative challenges.

For starters: I was stunned to scan Facebook and find the drawing above! The artist, Dale Diane Hedgecough, is a key player in an artists circle in Arkansas that I had the pleasure of meeting years ago during workshop and plein air activity, and I’m fortunate in getting to meet up with some of those artists in Mountain Home, Arkansas later this fall for a plein air adventure.

I’m always touched when I find myself the subject of someone else’s artwork, but even more so when the artist selects me while in my “element.” The setting for the picture above is an old general store in east Texas where I often resided when I needed a weekend getaway from my teaching job. I spent long weekends there during my final year of teaching high school before the owners opened this Gallery at Redlands in 2017. I haven’t stayed there for a couple of years or more, and am pleased that I may get that opportunity in just a few days. Hence, the timing of the pencil drawing stunned me.

Heidi (playing guitar) accompanying her student at piano

The activity in The Redlands Hotel is heating up. Heidi Mays, a music teacher, opened a studio upstairs next door to us. Tonight her students are holding their first recital. The music is filling the hotel lobby and the audience is loving it! I need to get some pictures . . .

What a terrific event! I got to hear a young fellow who plans to take sketching lessons from me in the near future. Since he is here on Thursdays for music lessons, we’ve worked out a schedule where he can take some art lessons on the same day while his siblings are taking their own music lessons.

I’ll keep the gallery open till 9:00 tonight. Then, at 7:00 a.m., I’m going to join up with our chef, Joe Massa, for some fly-fishing in Athens, Texas. Joe is not only an outstanding chef; he is a genuine man with an abundance of interests, including fly fishing. I was excited when he invited me for tomorrow morning’s adventure. I’ll have plenty more to say about that tomorrow. And then . . . I’m going to have to wait to tell you what’s coming down the pike Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! My adrenalin is already surging. More later . . .

Thanks for reading. It feels good to come back.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Embarrassing Trout Tale

June 16, 2022

Journals are nets for organizing wonder.

author unknown

All week long, I have been neck deep in my old journals, dating all the way back to 1985. I am pulling this one out for my readers, acknowledging in advance that during this episode, I prayed that no one was on the banks of the South Fork of the Rio Grande in 2017 watching me . . .

I was tired and ready to stop after six small trout caught and a monster I couldn’t land. Then a twelve-inch rainbow hit my tiny bead head pheasant tail nymph trailing behind a dry fly. After playing him a bit, I unfastened my net and tried to lead him into it. I did, but then the net somehow slipped from my hand and drifted swiftly downstream. The trout darted out. Twice I managed to steer him back into the floating net, hoping I could drag both toward me, but the water was swift and twice more he got free. Eventually I reeled him in close enough to get him in my hand and hold tight. Then my dry fly that I was using as a strike indicator caught in my shirt. Pulling the nymph from the trout’s lip, I then waded to the bank and laid down my rod, and with my free hand tore the dry mayfly from my shirt. Then, lurching downstream over slippery, treacherous rocks, I chased the floating net for one hundred feet or more before finally overtaking it. Feeling stupid, I placed the trout in the net and again waded ashore. Then I discovered that the stringer had become entangled inside my wader’s bib. Working it free, I then attached the trout, tied the stringer to a tree and lowered the fish back into the stream. Then I retraced my steps to retrieve my flyrod. Then it was back downstream again to find the stringer and bring my dinner up to the cabin. All the while I climbed the hill, I scanned the porch decks of the other cabins, hoping not to see people seated in lawn chairs clapping and jeering at the moron in the stream with the flyrod.

Hope you enjoyed this. My face is red as I type it.

Thanks for reading.

Starting a Blues Theme in Watercolor

June 11, 2022

The weekend has passed so quickly. I managed a 5 x 7″ watercolor of a Royal Wulff fly pattern that I posted earlier today, and now have decided to lay aside the beginning to a Blues theme that I’ve had on my mind for several weeks now. There is a decaying building in Palestine along the Union Pacific mainline that once belonged to Hyman Pearlstone over a century ago. It was a wholesale grocery with loading docks for the freight trains moving through. I’ve been wanting to create a large composition but have decided to begin with an 8 x 10″ to see if I can solve all the complications I anticipate with this one. After tinkering with the small piece for several hours, drawing, erasing, re-drawing, and then laying down the initial washes, I’m growing weary of the work and have decided to close out this night by reading and scribbling in my journal, something I haven’t been able to do much lately.

I’m looking forward to the drive home after I close the gallery tonight at 9:00. I’ve been away too long.

Thanks for reading.