Archive for the ‘abandoned’ Category

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

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Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

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Painting into the Quiet Night

March 25, 2018

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A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

This most exquisite, quiet evening in the basement of the Redlands Hotel has been divided between working on this small 8 x 10″ watercolor of an abandoned church in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas and taking breaks to read the soothing words of James Joyce. I cannot get out of my mind’s eye the image of this church I photographed while the sun was setting in west Texas. Waking this morning and recalling these words I had recorded earlier from my reading of Joyce made me determined to get this painting started.

Thanks for reading.

El Despoblado

March 18, 2018

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Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

Today I wait for a plane to take me back to the suburbs where I will thrive only if able to sustain a life of the mind. I return from a week spent in the open country. I believe that El Despoblado could be translated “open country.” That is one of the descriptive titles of Big Bend National Park, a site that I have just visited for the first time in my life. Throughout the past week, canyons have overpowered me, embraced me, enfolded me, deeply delighted me. I was privileged to visit Caprock, Palo Duro and Big Bend over the past seven days. I believe that this is the best Spring Break I have ever known in all my decades of school employment.

Thanks to technology, by use of my phone I have been able to send a few snapshots of what I encountered this past week. Once back in the suburbs, I will perhaps have these myriad sensations sorted out and be able to post something commensurate to what I feel right now. Meanwhile, I sit and mentally, emotionally compost these rich experiences.

Thanks always for reading.

Back in the Hunt

February 13, 2018

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The Oxbow General Store, Palestine, Texas

 

The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes—no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests.  He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad.  Like any hunter he hits or misses.  He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it.  It’s found anywhere, everywhere.  Those who are not hunters do not see these things.  The hunter is learning to see and to understand—to enjoy.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

A couple of weeks ago, I began this watercolor of one of my favorite store facades in Palestine, Texas. The watercolor began after a series of rough sketches and fumbled attempts. After I blocked in some of the major parts of the composition and added details, I got hung up on what direction I wanted to take compositionally, so I set it aside for about ten days. Today I resumed it and worked off and on throughout the afternoon and evening. I’ve decided it’s time to lay it aside awhile once again, and re-think how I want to finish it out. I am very attached to this subject, always loving the sights and memories associated with “mom & pop stores” of the 1950s that I frequented as a child. Every detail, every nook and cranny of this facade excites me, and I fear that if I paint everything rather than select an area of focus, that the entire work will be a monotonous congeries of details.

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The greats in all the arts have been primarily romanticists and realists (the two cannot be separated). They interpreted life as they saw it, but, “through every line’s being” soaked in the consciousness of an object, one is bound to feel, beside life as it is, the life that ought to be, and it is that that captivates us! All great painting is something that enriches and enhances life, something that makes it higher, wider, and deeper.

N. C. Wyeth, letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Plein Air Painting in Palestine

February 2, 2018

Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall, Palestine, Texas

It felt good to be able to get out of the house without feeling weak or tired today. The sun was bright and the air cold with snappy winds from the north. I made the one-hour drive south to Hillsboro to check out my show hanging in the library gallery and to schedule the artist’s reception (March 8). The library invited me to extend my show until April 1 which thrilled me, since I’ve been under the weather for such a long time and unable to promote the event (I hung the show the first week in January).  I’ll have more to post about it as we get closer to the reception.

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Solo Show, Hillsboro Public Library

After completing the Hillsboro business, I pointed my vehicle east for another long drive, this one lasting two hours. Arriving in Palestine (my home-away-from-home) I unloaded my gear into the gallery as quickly as possible, then set out for Old Town Palestine to see if I could capture this old gin on paper, now known as Shelton Hall. The coffee shop across the street was kind enough to allow me to set up my easel under their patio roof, away from the winds, yet still in place to capture the sunlight. I worked as quickly as I could, until the cold finally convinced me I had been out long enough. Back in the gallery, I applied some finishing touches and signed off on it.

Thanks for reading. I hope to post tomorrow–exiting things have been happening and I’m looking forward to reporting them.

 

Recovery in Silence

February 1, 2018

All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.

Herman Melville

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Attendant Not on Duty, Watercolor on exhibit Feb. 15-Mar. 1 at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Proustian Memories of the Open Door

Proustian Memories of the Open Door, Watercolor on exhibit Feb. 15-Mar. 1 at Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

In earlier blogs, I’ve explained that a lingering sinus and upper respiratory infection has sharply diminished my energy, and I’ve hardly been able to meet my obligations and appointments the past several weeks. Once I’m home, I seem to head for bed to sleep off additional hours. It’s taking a long time for this junk to clear up. I’m just grateful that it never degenerated into fever, flu, or other debilitating issues.

Today I pronounced for a district Spelling Bee, an event that began at 8:00 and ended at about 3:00 (with a two-hour break in the middle). Coming home, I crashed into bed and didn’t rise till 8:30 p.m. Now, at 2:46 a.m., sleep still eludes me, but I have no appointments tomorrow, and have been wallowing happily in these late-night hours of silence.

So much has transpired this past month that I am still very eager to report. One of the exciting events was being contacted by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts to submit two of my watercolors for their 14th biennial Art Auction. My two paintings posted above will be on display in the museum from Feb. 15-Mar. 1, and then will be auctioned. I’m providing the link for anyone interested: http://mmfa.org/support/art-auction/

Driving to Alabama proved to be a relaxing and satisfying road trip of ten-and-a-half hours, and in a future blog I’ll gladly report the pleasures I enjoyed during the return trip through Mississippi.

Again, I am grateful for all the kind responses I’ve gotten from readers and well-wishers during this lingering illness. When I’ve felt well enough to read, I’ve enjoyed thoroughly the quiet hours of thought. I finally finished Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci biography, and have less than one hundred pages left to finish his engaging work on Steve Jobs. The quote I posted above from Herman Melville was lifted from a fascinating piece I read just posted on my Facebook by a friend I’ve always admired. The piece is titled “Science Says Silence is Much More Important to our Brains than we Think”, written by Rebecca Beris. I’m sharing the link to this as well: http://www.lifehack.org/377243/science-says-silence-much-more-important-our-brains-than-thought

Again, thanks to all of you who care enough to read my thoughts and reports of things happening in my corner of the world.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Bright Sunwashed Morning for Painting

December 16, 2017

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Finis

Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet. Over his limbs in sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning knowledge, a morning inspiration.

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Waking to a 36-degree morning in Palestine, Texas, in The Redlands Hotel, was a sublime experience. I lay in the darkness of the pre-dawn, unsure of the time, but thinking good thoughts, hoping for bright sunshine so I could return to The Gallery at Redlands downstairs and resume this watercolor sketch I began last week of the Chamber of Commerce building visible through my gallery window.

I have always loved the quality of winter morning sunlight when the weather is snappy cold, and am so happy for the first day in weeks that I have not had appointments and details to tend. I anticipate a day of painting, reading, and merely enjoying life at its fullest. My “American Railroad Odyssey” show closes at 10 p.m. and tomorrow I will take down the show and reconfigure the gallery display.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Opening Day of Art on the Greene

May 26, 2017

Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories–Now available in limited edition

In the artist, there are two men, the poet and the worker.  One is born a poet, one becomes a worker.

–Emile Zola, letter to Paul Cecanne

An artist is developed, not born.

–Robie Scucchi, art teacher, note written to me in my ninth-grade research paper

At 3:00 this afternoon, Arlington’s Art on the Greene art festival opens for the weekend, closing Sunday night.  I am bringing out for the first time a new set of signed-and-numbered giclee prints of Fishing Memories, the original painting now hanging in a competition at the Desoto Art League.  This print is full-size and priced at $100.  The first edition has already sold (in fact, the sale is the reason the prints are actually a reality today).

I have begun reading an engaging biography, Cezanne: A Life, by Alex Danchev.  The quote from Emile Zola came from this reading.  I’m grateful that my high school art teacher wrote to me what he did when I was so young–I never forgot that statement.  In my opinion, talent is only a small part of being artistic, and one has the capability of improving and maturing over time.

After such a spastic schedule over the past several weeks, I had a dear friend help me with the setting up of my art booth last night (thanks so much, Kelly!), so I was afforded a delicious evening of rest and retirement to bed early in anticipation of a festival weekend.  Being rested now, I am festival-ready, and enthused about how my booth is shaping up.  I’ll send pictures probably later today.

waxahachie final

If any of you readers are in my area, I will be in Booth #30, in the heart of the park, and adjacent to the major walkway going through the midst. I have a prime location (thank you Steve and Janis!).  We will be open till 8:00 tonight.  I would love to see you.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Plein Air Wanderings

April 23, 2017

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Louis I. Kahn

Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Edward Hopper

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The former Bailey Print and Typewriter Store, College Street, Waxahachie Texas

I awoke Saturday to a 55-degree windy morning, but was excited to have a clear calendar for plein air painting.  Paint Historic Waxahachie is now in full swing, and will end on May 14. I have been eligible to participate since April 1, but have been mired in too many retirement-and-tax-related tasks to make the forty-minute drive to this quaint town and begin painting. This was my first day to get after it. With a hot cup of coffee and three layers of clothing (shirt, hoodie and denim jacket), I set up my easel just off College Street and resumed a plein air sketch I had begun last week, but was aborted because of a heavy rainstorm. My motivation was high, and the building on my right kept the wind from reaching me. And though I was working in the shadows, pedestrians were still finding me and stopping to look at my work in progress and chat. Waxahachie has always been filled with the friendliest people, and I have enjoyed the pleasantries of their conversations without fail. I have never felt like a stranger in that town.

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I decided to stop and let the painting rest at this point. I can always set up the easel in the same spot and work further on the composition if I choose. But for now, I’m going to move on to other ideas and return to this with a critical eye next time I visit Waxahachie.

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Upper Balcony along College Street

Stepping into the sunlight on College Street, my sight was arrested by the bright morning sun on the light yellow upper balcony of this building, framed against dark rustic brick and trees. I could not stop gazing at it and thought, “Oh, why not?”  Setting up my easel, I drew for quite awhile, trying to get the proportions of the balcony and building right. By the time I began painting, my teeth were chattering as College Street had become a virtual wind tunnel for those freezing blasts of arctic air. The temperature had only risen to 57 degrees and my coffee mug was empty. Nevertheless, I tooled away on this composition for awhile, enjoying the view immensely, though the discomfort of the cold winds continued to intensify.

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Finally, around twelve noon, I had to stop. I was afraid I would make myself sick in the cold winds. This one also I am not satisfied with as a finished composition, so I intend to put it back on the easel when I return to Waxahachie for my next plein air attempts.

The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and original manner.

Goethe

My Saturday seemed to apply Goethe’s theory of writing to painting. While moving about Waxahachie, certain sites I viewed resonated profoundly with certain emotions and memories I have treasured throughout my life. Every time I set up the easel and got out the tools, I felt that I was engaged in a dance with the subjects before me, and I hoped that my responses on the blank page were worthy of the beauty my eye beheld in front of me.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Promise of the Dawn

April 14, 2017

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Witnessing the Dawn Breaking

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake…by an infinite expectation of the dawn

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Good Friday school holiday is already a blessing to me. After three weeks of a one-man-show bundled with gathering tax data, filing my tax return, gathering retirement information and filing my papers with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, I was finally able to leave the city behind yesterday afternoon and sleep last night in my favorite place, that I refer to as Heidegger’s Hut–a restored country store & residence in a remote area of Texas. I crashed at 9:00 last night, totally exhausted, and rose while it was still dark. When the dawn broke, I went out on the porch to sit and listen as the birds sang in worship to Aurora as he lit up the eastern sky.

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By the time it was light enough to record my thoughts in my journal, the upper-fifty degree temperatures proved a little too cool for me since I didn’t think to bring a jacket, so I moved inside the store to my favorite little corner next to the windows. For the past 48 hours, thoughts have been tumbling about in my mind, and now that I have actually filed my retirement papers, an entire new range of emotions are surging through me, and I’m glad I had this space in my calendar to get out of town and enjoy the quiet respite of the country for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

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