Archive for the ‘Arkansas’ Category

Sunday Morning Musings from Studio Eidolons

April 11, 2021
Glad to be back in the Studio for some Quiet Restoration

. . . finding you were able to make something up; to create truly enough so that it made you happy to read it; and to do this every day you worked was something that gave a greater pleasure than any I had ever known.

Ernest Hemingway

Today is restoration day. Sandi and I received our second COVID vaccine shots yesterday and are happy to experience no unpleasant symptoms. We’ve just been on the go for several days and are glad now to stop for awhile.

I’ve resumed reading Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. I love the quote above, and that general sentiment of the artist–creating something out of the void. My life has been enriched in recent years by a mix of painting and writing. Last weekend while in The Gallery at Redlands, I met an author who invited me to join their writers’ group that meets once a month. The next one won’t be until May, but I am already leaning forward with enthusiasm to gathering with these writers and finding ways to sharpen my own vision of what to do with my own practice.

My latest watercolor has laid dormant on my drafting table for twenty-four hours, and I intend today to give it my next push. I’ve gotten bogged down with the bricks and ghost signage, so I may decide to return to work on the trees awhile. We’ll see.

Planning today to return to the Ghost Sign watercolor

I look forward to participating in Artscape 2021 at the Dallas Aroboretum April 23-25. Last year was canceled due to COVID, but I understand that there will be 80+ artists participating this year. This festival has been one of the highlights of my annual art schedule before last year’s cancellations. I am excited to bring out quite a stack of framed watercolors that have not yet been seen by the public. I guess that’s one positive to address concerning the lost year during COVID.

A new Greeting Card for my Inventory

Hank Under Oklahoma Stars

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky.

The back of the Greeting Card (blank inside)

I have allowed my greeting card inventory to dwindle over the past couple of years. In The Gallery at Redlands, as well as my festival tent, I sell 5 x 7″ cards (blank inside) with my artwork on front and a descriptive text on back. They sell for $5 each, five for $20, and come with the proper envelope. A protective plastic envelope encases the assembly. Above is an example of one of my newest ones printed last week. Materials just arrived to print 250 new cards, so I’m excited to create new editions as well as replenish the ones sold out. Above is an example of one of my newest cards; below is a photo of another spread out.

(Cards are blank inside)

I’m ready to paint again. 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.

Thoughts in the Night While Painting in The Gallery at Redlands

April 8, 2021
After a four-day hiatus, it’s good to be working on this painting again

The celebrated biographies give us the sufferings and hardships of the great. But the sufferings and hardships of the unknown are often more eloquent. The tribulations of fate weave a mantle of unsuspected heroism about these lesser figures. To win through by sheer force of genius is one thing; to survive and continue to create when every last door is slammed in one’s face is another. Nobody acquires genius: it is God-given. But one can acquire patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding. Perhaps the gretest gift the little men have to offer us is this ability to accept the conditions which life imposes, accept one’s own limitations, in other words. Or, to put it another way–to love what one does whether it causes a stir or not. Of the highest men Vivekananda once said: “They make no stir in the world. They are calm, silent, unknown.”

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

As the hour approaches 9 p.m., The Gallery at Redlands is quieter. My eyes are tired from working on the watercolor at the drafting table (bless you, Tim and Patty for that wonderful gift!). Sitting now at the desk I’ve taken up my continued reading of this beautiful volume from Henry Miller (bless you, Stacy and Leigh for that gift–I still cry when I think of opening the wrapping paper that night!)

I want to dedicate this blog entry to the Unknown Artist, the One who continues to work faithfully on his/her craft day after day, even when no one seems to notice. I salute the artist who realizes the world doesn’t need his/her creative effort; if the artist quits, the world will continue on its way. I still shudder at the memories, the Angst I knew in the 80’s and 90’s. I still remember those nights of sadness when I couldn’t sleep because I was mired in all that self-doubt that arose because of a general lack of recognition or appreciation for my artistic efforts.

The art world has changed profoundly for me since those days. Not that I consider myself successful or widely-known in the art world. I think what it boils down to is the reality that I worked a job for twenty-eight years, earned a pension and retired. Once my job supported my lifestyle around the turn of the millenium, I suddenly realized that I did not need the income for art sales, and I no longer expected to become famous. That turned out to be liberating. As I recall, somewhere around the year 2000, I found myself happy in the act of creating instead of fretting over marketing details or standards of success.

But our world remains filled with artistic, creative, driven souls who suffer, either because they cannot make a living and/or they create without any measure of success or recognition. I don’t know which is worse. All I know is that when an artist is unhappy, I feel guilty because my life has turned in such a way that I have the ability to make art, and love the work, and don’t have to depend on selling it.

I am still surprised to own a gallery now. It has been over two months since we turned that corner, and it is still quite new and quite surprising for me. As for The Twelve in The Gallery at Redlands, I just want them to be successful, and I want them to be happy in their creative work. I want them to know the bliss and fulfillment of having the strength and wellness to pursue their bliss.

I am turned off by art blogs that tell us how to become millionaires, how to market our work, especially the ones who solicit money from us for their packaged programs that guarantee financial fortune. I despise the unwritten sentiment that if we are not financially successful then we are just mediocre or lazy artists. From my perspective, this gathering of The Twelve in our gallery has shown me more love and compassion than I believe I’ve ever seen in social gatherings from my past. There is a wonderful vibe among this community. Something is in the air. And I truly believe that Palestine and east Texas are on the verge of artistic enrichment. I truly believe that The Twelve are committed to improving our community by celebrating art, by delighting in the act of creation. And I am proud to be numbered among them.

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.

Early Sunday Morning

April 4, 2021
Working slowly on my ghost sign composition from Hot Springs, Arkansas

Usually the artist has two life-long companions, neither of his own choosing. I mean–poverty and loneliness. To have a friend who understands and appreciates your work, one who never lets you down but who becomes more devoted, more reverent, as the years go by, that is a rare experience. It takes only one friend, if he is a man of faith, to work miracles. How distressing it is to hear young painters talking about dealers, shows, newspaper reviews, rich patrons, and so on. All that comes with time–or will never come. But first one must make friends, create them through one’s work. What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

Saturday was a slow day in the gallery–dark, rainy and overcast outdoors with very few people coming in. The result was an excellent day for painting, reading, scribbling in the journal, and finding my center again. When patrons did come to the gallery, I found myself much more open to visiting and exchanging good words. And then of course, many of my new friends came in and the night glowed with companionship.

The words from Henry Miller rolled across the page at just the right moment this morning as I was reflecting over the watercolor that has kept me company the past couple of days. I am probably going to include the word “palimpsest” in the title of my new work, because of how the layers of billboard on the side of the building correspond to the layers of my personal memories that keep blistering to the surface of my consciousness.

As I read Henry’s words of the struggling artist and look at my painting, the past comes pouring through my soul. The year 1988 was utterly bleak. I now look out the window of our gallery down the street, across a vacant parking lot to the distant railyards. And I recall those Sunday mornings walking along West Berry Street in Fort Worth toward Texas Christian University. I worked as a dispatcher for Campus Police, unsure of what kind of future employment I would land, but committed to a life as an artist. The squalor of Berry Street alongside with the beauty of the morning sun on the old business facades reminded me of Edward Hopper’s honest urban works, and I wondered then if I could ever land in an environment where I could practice my art of rendering such scenes and somehow live comfortably as well.

In those days my friends were very few, and none of them shared my artistic vision or interest. Sandi would not come into my life for another decade, but I held on to the belief that friendship would eventually arrive, and perhaps a stability to life as an artist. Now, more than thirty years later, the artful life has arrived, and my heart swells in gratitude for love, for friendship, and for a caring environment. I knew the life of the struggling artist, and am glad now that the struggle only involves attempts to improve my craft and my business associations. But I am so grateful for a circle of artistic friends. The Twelve have enriched me in ways I could never adequately put into words. And to everyone still struggling to establish his/her artistic lifestyle I just urge you not to give up. Believe. Trust your vision. Never apologize for your authenticity. Keep practicing your art. And never cut yourself off from other visionaries seeking companionship and conversation. Your vision and talents are the genuine life blood that could heal our society. There is not enough beauty in this world. We need your inspiration.

Early Sunday Morning Peek into the Gallery at Redlands from the Lobby of Redlands Hotel
Lovely Work from Deanna Pickett Frye and Elaine Cash Jary in our Front Window
From where I sit . . .

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Pre-Dawn Musings from The Gallery at Redlands

April 3, 2021

What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar.

Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson, presiding over a Senate debate

Waking at 3:15 this Saturday morning was not part of my plan, but here I sit in a darkened kitchen on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel, with an abundance of good feelings over the past couple of days’ events in The Gallery at Redlands. Closing out the final weekend of Palestine’s Dogwood Festival afforded us warm conversations with some of our gallery artists along with members of the Dogwood Arts Council. We also got to visit with dear friends whose workplaces are in this hotel along with a host of visiting patrons. And we have even made some new friends who live above their business just a block away. The vibe of Palestine continues to warm up in many ways similar to what I’ve been reading about the 1950’s surge of art in New York City.

And, speaking of New York City, I can no longer hold back on the thrill that greeted The Twelve as we were launching the opening of this gallery March 20. On that day, while some of us were under the tent for Art Alley (one of the Dogwood Festival’s events), I received a comment on this blog from a sculptor in Manhattan:

Congratulations, in advance, for what looks like a groundbreaking opening! Even here, from Manhattan, I can see art is an important part of this community, and a community that reveres art is a community alive!!! Do well and I look forward to more photos!

As some of our gallery artists and members of the Arts Council gathered round, I read the comment aloud from my smart phone, and they broke out in spontaneous applause! Two days later, when I posted a new blog, updating our art events here in Palestine and the success of our gallery reception honoring The Twelve, another post came up from our Manhattan friend:

Thank you for the moment-by-moment description of your show, the gallery and all the artists who make up your Twelve. It is true, I live in NYC. I have been to a lot of art exhibits, and have a BFA in sculpture, from back when no women were in the Sculpture Department. But I am still more interested in the artists than the hype. You gave me the artists, in such a way that I can imagine myself there. Now that I know the history of the gallery and some of the artists, I can follow along. Thanks again. And, when you are on the river in OK, and if you happen to see an osprey fishing (returning from their migration), that’s probably me, sending you a “hello” message.

Two days later, my artist friend Wayne journeyed with me to Oklahoma to fly-fish the Lower Mountain Fork River. As we fished those gently flowings waters, we watched for the osprey and re-lived the thrill of the Manhattan posts of good will.

The Gallery has been busy the past couple of days, but still I found some stillness and quiet and space to continue work on my latest watercolor (thank you again, Tim and Patty, for giving me the drafting table so I can work on art inside the gallery). Below is the reference photo I’m using for the painting, taken early one morning in Hot Springs, Arkansas when Wayne and I were returning him to his home in Missouri.

O’Bryan Building, erected in 1891. Hot Springs, Arkansas

While working on this watercolor, I’ve been exporing the building’s history online, and intend in future posts, as this watercolor develops, to share what I’ve learned about the layers of advertising making up the “ghost sign.”

The 10-cent Cigar portion brought to memory the famous wit of our Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson. As he presided over the Senate, he was known for his patience. But on one particular day, as Senator after Senator pontificated endlessly about what was needed to heal our nation’s ills, the Vice-President leaned over to the Secretary of the Senate and uttered those immortal words in the hearing of several nearby.

What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar.

Currently, I see our country as very ill. But I have hope. Members of The Twelve told me repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the March 20 reception at The Gallery of Redlands that they were surprised and warmed by the good will flowing in all directions on social media: members of The Twelve who had not yet met were sending warm, enthusiastic thoughts to one another, admiring one another’s work online and looking forward to the day we would be together. Artists from the metroplex, from Amarillo, from Palestine and from Missouri earnestly looking forward to meeting face-to-face, some of them sharing a four-bedroom suite on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel. For four days, we went to meals together, sat and chatted in the gallery together, congregated in the hotel lobby, set up displays under the tent for Art Alley together, and finally, spent hours together the night of our reception. The temperature continued to rise, and lasting friendships were formed. Wayne and Paula were reluctant to leave and return to Missouri so soon. Metroplex artists reluctantly said Goodbye and returned to their neighborhoods. And Sandi and I could not wait for the next weekend to get back to Palestine and see the local artists again. What we all shared was this: social media, as we had experienced before, had been a venue of poisonous rhetoric, vitriolic attacks on people’s character, and a megaphone for discontent. But what we have experienced for over a month now is a genuine outpouring of goodwill to others not yet seen in person. And now that The Twelve have returned to their homes, the positive messages continue. And we wonder, what is wrong with the mainstream that seeks satisfaction in poisonous rhetoric on social media? Honestly, what is their return on this activity? Satisfaction? Pleasure? Happiness? Why can’t people seek healing for this culture? What is to be gained by all this negativity?

There are a number of things happening in The Gallery at Redlands that fill me with pride in this space. Sandi had the idea of bringing in more comfy chairs and intalling a Keurig coffee maker along with bowls of snacks put out. What we have noticed is more people entering our space and lingering longer, perhaps because they don’t feel assaulted by hungry sales people. They sit. They drink. They snack. And they visit. Recently I have enjoyed the company of an eighth-generation descendant of Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Quanah Parker. I have also enjoyed an extensive conversation with a retired history teacher from Mississippi, and listened with awe to the experiences of a woman whose aunt managed the Carlin Art Gallery in Fort Worth and represented the works of Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth. Visiting with art lovers who look closely at our work and remain for meaningful conversations is just as satisfying as selling art, though we are very happy that sales have been steady since we’ve opened.

What our country needs, is more good will, more positive discourse. And we are warmed to find more of that going on in this community. May it continue. We are expecting that five-cent cigar.

The light is coming up outside, and I have a watercolor downstairs waiting for me. Like Henry Miller, I’m looking forward to taking a peek at it in the morning light that pours in through our gallery windows.

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.

Ready to Paint Again

March 27, 2021

I remember well the transformation which took place in me when first I began to view the world with the eyes of a painter. The most familiar things, objects which I had gazed at all my life, now became an unending source of wonder, and with the wonder, of course, affection. A tea pot, an old hammer, a chipped cup, whatever came to hand I looked upon as if I had never seen it before. I hadn’t, of course. Do not most of us go through life blind, deaf, insensitive? Now as I studied the object’s physiognomy, its texture, its way of speaking, I entered into its life, its history, its purpose, its association with other objects, all of which only endeared it the more.

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

Henry Miller has left artists a precious gift with this book. My friends Stacy and Leigh surprised me with it a week ago, and it has traveled with me across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas these past four days. Now I’m relaxing in The Gallery at Redlands with more time to pore over these pages.

The drafting table that Tim and Patty Smith gave me a few years ago has been moved back into the gallery and I am delighted to begin work on the ghost sign advertisements that grabbed my attention in Hot Springs, Arkansas Wednesday morning. Encountering the building and signage was a remarkable accident. I was depending on GPS to find a pancake house, and I failed to make my U-turn when commanded. I drove another block before the next one came up, and as I completed my turn, I saw out of the corner of my eye the ghost signs. I couldn’t stare because I was driving in tight traffic. But throughout breakfast, I could only think of what I had seen out of the corner of my eye. Artist Andrew Wyeth frequently spoke of subjects that became his famous paintings because he glimpsed them out of the corner of his eye and later had to return to look at them because he could not erase the memory of the encounter.

Sure enough, when I walked to the location after breakfast, I was wearing a short-sleeved Tshirt in 40-degree weather and was very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, once I found the building I had to stand there and gaze at it, taking several photographs. Someone once said that beauty was what suspended the desire to be somewhere else; we are held in place and cannot walk away from what we’re viewing. I knew that I had to paint this subject.

I am going to title the painting “Palimpsest” because during my seminary days I was always fascinated with ancient manuscripts which were re-used, a new text written over the old. As centuries wore on, the original text had a way of reemerging and co-mingling with the later text. Gazing at the layers of advertising all over the side of the building, I felt myself drawn into the history of the building, musing about the products advertised, the people walking or driving buy who connected with the message, and the changes that that part of Hot Springs endured over the years. Staring at the signage, I realized that we ourselves have layers of history stacked one on top the other. Our memories may fade somewhat, but still they push their way to the front of our consciousness and once again seize our imagination.

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.

Always a New Beginning

August 30, 2020
1903 house in Flippin, Arkansas. 18 x 24″ framed $400

Yet for better or for worse we love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.

Jun’ichero Tanizaki

Sunday mornings usually draw me back to the Bible to read for creative as well as living inspiration. Again this morning, I read the creation narratives in Genesis, pondering about the world as a chaotic void until God organized it through a series of spoken words. As an artist, I am more amazed at my current age than ever before at the profound dynamics that go into any kind of creative activity.

My continued reading of Emile Zola’s The Masterpiece feeds my daily creative eros. Recently, I have returned to drawing and watercolor sketching in a diary to break out of the routine of working on commission pieces (I have two more to complete before all orders are finally filled). What I read this morning certainly set off a string of musings. The words come from an older, seasoned artist in his studio:

“It may suprise you,” he said, for he had been successful from an early age and his place in French painting was now firmly established, “but there are days when I question my ability to draw a simple thing like a nose. . . . Every picture I paint, I’m as excited as the rawest novice; my heart thumps like mad, my mouth goes dry out of sheer emotion. “

Some years back, when my watercolors began selling more successfully and I took blogging and marketing more seriously, I developed this fear of “whipping out Tripps to feed the market.” Not only did I worry about being locked into a particular style to keep up with demand; I still wondered exactly what my “style” was. I have posted a painting above from my earlier years when I focused on aged, decaying subjects. I still work on those kinds of images, but not exclusively. Rather, I have tried to broaden my subject matter to pick up some themes I’ve always wished to pursue but never took the time to do so (Hence, my recent trout fly patterns).

I believe all of us hope to live out our lives free of regrets. However, recently, I do look back on my college years with regret–I was an art major, but relied on my talent and listened very little to what my instructors tried to teach me. I had excellent instructors, and wish to this day I had been more mature and open to what they had to offer. Now at my present age, I am attempting to learn things I should have learned long ago as I experiment daily in the studio, and truly try to be “open” to experimenting. As the days proceed, I will most likely post the drawings and watercolor sketches I’m attempting, along with the commissioned work in progress.

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.

Gearing Up for the Final Show of 2017

November 29, 2017

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Trying to finish this Texas State Railroad Locomotive

I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. . . . The imagination must learn to ply her craft by judgment studied.

William Wordsworth, “The Prelude”

I feel that I have somehow packed three days into one, as this Tuesday has been exceedingly long and arduous, yet satisfying. Rising at 6 this morning, I managed to put in some quality reading time, then left the house to pursue business errands until this evening, sat down next to compose tomorrow’s final lecture for my college Ethics class, then finally worked in the garage on my booth presentation for this weekend’s show.

My quotes above came from the morning of reading, and I was most captivated by the contrast in Wordsworth’s pair of statements, namely that art is a balance between an explosion of feeling and editorial restraint. As I work to complete the steam locomotive started several weeks back, I seek to lay down the precision and geometry required by the subject matter. But boy, how I enjoyed all the splashing and splattering of the night sky and and the loose washes of color on the body of the locomotive, before the time came to tighten up and lay in the exacting details.

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I should consider myself fortunate that I could not leave my house this morning until businesses opened, so I had three hours of solitude for reading and writing. The writings of Robert Motherwell fed my soul as they always do. This remarkable Abstract Expressionist artist was the prime example of a life that blended scholarly pursuit with art making in the studio. For decades I have sought a balance between my academic studies and my art pursuits and always look to this man for my inspiration.

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After my study time, I went out to mail 110 postcards I had addressed by hand last night, announcing this weekend’s Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. After the post office visit, I drove the two hours to Palestine, Texas to The Gallery at Redlands to spend some time working on my watercolor. The light in the gallery windows was perfect for the early afternoon studio time.

After painting for awhile, I then packed and loaded the inventory and furniture necessary for setting up my booth Friday in Dallas and then drove the two hours back home. Once there, I sat down and composed tomorrow’s Ethics lecture to be given at Texas Wesleyan University (my only regular job now in my semi-retired lifecycle). Once the lecture was complete, I went into the garage to unload the Jeep and begin planning how I’m going to set up an 8 x 10′ booth space at the weekend show.

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I’m glad to have sufficient garage space to work on this booth for the next two days. I’ll be making decisions on lighting and Christmas decorations as well as the particular art inventory needed for the show.

Thanks for reading. It’s been a lengthy day, but I’m glad to get some important matters accomplished.

Back to Work but Still Drifting in the Stream

November 27, 2017

kerouac

But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

It is back to college this Monday morning, as we sprint through the final two weeks of school before dismissing for Christmas break. My heart still overflows with thanksgiving for this past week of catching up on work that had lagged as well as visiting family in St. Louis for a short while and piling up over a thousand miles in Kerouac-style road tripping. I have posted a sunset that I photographed through the windshield of my moving vehicle while driving through Republic, Missouri on Interstate 44, en route to The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

kerouac2

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

With the museum remaining open till 9:00 that night, I was ecstatic to enter it for a couple of hours, then return the next day and spend most of the day perusing the collection and exploring the walking trails. This museum is a real treasure, and friends had told me about it the past couple of years, but it took until now for me to make the time to journey there.

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Robert Henri, “Jessica Penn in Black with White Plumes”

After years of reading and re-reading Robert Henri’s magnificent book The Art Spirit, I looked upon this painting with a new set of eyes. When I have the time, I need to review his lengthy discussions concerning figure and portraiture, most notably his ideas about how to relate the subject to its background. I was totally mesmerized by his black-on-black composition and how the dress simultaneously emerged and dissolved into the background. Figure and portraiture I have avoided up till now in watercolor, but now I have the interest in examining this.

Having read an additional seventy pages in the Leonardo biography, I have been absorbed with his eighteen years spent in Milan and now have a much deeper appreciation for his Last Supper painting. I am now at the place where he returns to his native Florence to spend a few years at age fifty.

My compulsion to read several books at the same time is flaring up again. I’ve been reading a biography on Paul Cezanne in addition to the Leonardo work. And now I have purchased the new work on J. M. W. Turner. The first chapter was amazing as it assessed the way his final five years spawned a public distortion of his work. So now I have my attention focused on three great artists, and I need to take up my own work as well.

This next weekend I’ll be taking my work to The Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, Texas for the three-day Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show. I have been an admirer of Brodnax’s pottery for nearly three decades and have enjoyed visiting and shopping at this annual event. Now I’m extremely proud to be numbered among his “friends” as the invitation arrived this past summer to participate this Christmas. Here is a link to Randy’s site:

http://www.randybrodnax.com

It is back to work now. Thanks for reading.

 

Living out of a Suitcase

July 23, 2017
suitcase 6
Fishing Louisiana Waters
You don’t choose a life Dad. You live one.
Daniel (from the film The Way)
A friend shared this film with me while I was traveling, and the central message continues to percolate in my mind.  When confronted with the choice, I believe I have lived my life more than chosen it, especially with all my changes over the past couple of decades.  The film is anchored in the plot of one’s personal odyssey, and I’ve viewed my own life since the 1970’s as an odyssey rather than a career choice. And I have lived a life with few regrets.
Since my retirement began June 3, I’ve embarked on an odyssey.  Although not planned, I have now lived out of a suitcase for thirty-one days, beginning with my trip home to St. Louis to visit my parents and siblings. Returning to Texas to find my A/C not functioning and my living temperatures hovering around 92 degrees, I began staying in hotel rooms and with friends. After a week of that, finding out that an A/C technician was not coming anytime soon, I then set out for a trip to my Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas and living quarters in the old store where the owners (precious friends) let me live when I need a place to crash.
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The Gallery at Redlands
crockett
A Store in the Wilderness
I love The Gallery at Redlands, now housing the biggest collection of my personal work. And evenings living in the old store out in the wilderness are too exquisite to describe. The quiet is intoxicating for one who tires of city and suburban noise. I’m always deeply grateful for time spent in this part of the state.
With still no word on an A/C appointment, I accepted the offer of a friend, and next journeyed over into Louisiana for the first time in my life to spend a week fishing the waters of southern Louisiana and spending some time exploring New Orleans. The fishing was filled with excitement, especially when a seven-foot gator visited me during two of my excursions.
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I was live-bait fishing from a dock, and twice over the two days, this enormous reptile drifted across the waters and hovered about twenty feet in front of where I fished, eyeing my bobber in presumed amusement. At one point, when the bobber began bouncing, he grabbed it in his jaws and submerged. I felt like I had a Buick on the end of my line, and reached for a knife to cut it loose, but then the bobber drifted back to the surface as well as the gator, who then hovered a while longer and watched before drifting away. This is the first time in my life I’ve seen a gator outside a zoo.
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I could never successfully describe the sensations that overwhelmed me once I entered the French Quarter of New Orleans. The sounds of live blues and zydeco music pulled me from steamy, sultry Bourbon Street and into the air conditioned dark interiors of some of the most exciting clubs I’ve ever experienced. My sketchbook was with me, and I still struggle to capture the human figure on paper, especially when the subjects are not posing. Bobbing and weaving musicians are a challenge, but I felt very much in my element as I struggled to capture their essences. And the music cleansed my soul in ways I’ll never adequately describe. Musicians are usually flattered to see someone drawing them and always gracious in their assessment of the quality of the sketches. In fact, the day after, my cell phone rang (I always give out my business cards), and it was one of the guitarists wishing to purchase my sketch. We made a business deal over the phone while I sat in the cemetery sketching and he was on the road to his next gig out of town.
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Cemetery off Canal Street
I have seen pictures of New Orleans cemeteries, but wasn’t prepared for the deep feelings that seized me when I looked at acres and acres of land strewn with thousands of above-ground monuments to the deceased.  John Donne’s Meditation 17 was in my ears:
The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. 
cemetery
I made a number of sketches in the hot sun that morning, and felt a profound connection with the ones honored with these monuments as well as the loved ones who had them erected.
At the time of this writing I am back on the road.  My A/C will not be looked at until next Tuesday, but thankfully the gallery in Palestine and store out in the country are available for me to “roost” while I await repairs.  Meanwhile, I intend to continue enjoying the journey.
Thanks for reading.
I create art in order to remember.
I journal when I fee alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.
 
 
 

Creating Worlds

September 10, 2016

eureka-springs-rr

The blank canvas is the blank page. You start with nothing. It’s hugely provocative. It’s frightening because you may have too much to put on it. Or not enough of yourself.

Wim Wenders

This cool, dark, overcast, rainy Saturday morning put me in the mood to continue a watercolor I worked on last evening. I’m getting close to finishing it. While painting, I like to listen to some kind of creative stimulus, often spinning LPs on my turntable, or using the laptop to dial up a YouTube presentation. Choosing the latter, I was shocked to discover a nearly hour-long documentary on Edward Hopper titled “Edward Hopper and the Blank Canvas.” What jolted me after all these years was to discover how much film footage remains of Hopper’s television interview with Brian O’Doherty. The presentation is very engaging, and filled with plenty of interviews with film maker Wim Wenders (who was deeply influenced by Hopper’s scenes and collaborated with his photographer to re-create many settings reminiscent of these paintings). The above quote from Wenders is still working on me as I pour myself into this most recent painting.

Eureka Springs is the setting, and their historic railroad depot provides a lengthy section of abandoned trackage where derelict rolling stock has been parked. Every time I visit the town, I love to stroll the length of these tracks, taking pictures and making sketches of the rail cars. As I painted this afternoon, watching my blank paper slowly develop into a painting, I felt the sweet memories of last summer’s excursion flowing through me. Of course, I’m never sure if my feelings come out in the paintings (and Edward Hopper never knew, or perhaps didn’t even care, whether his thoughts were recognized by viewers of his work). I think what engages me the most, thinking of the Wim Wender quote, is when I should declare a painting finished, whether or not I have pushed my feelings far enough into the process. Of course, that is something I’ll never know. But I still think about it as I work.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

dark-studio