Archive for the ‘art festival’ Category

Layered Mornings with Einstein

October 25, 2019

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Morning Watch with Einstein Reading

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Albert Einstein, letter to his son, February 5, 1930 (thank you Walter Isaacson!)

Twelve years ago. Summer 2007. Heavy rainstorms pounded Leadville, Colorado. Safe inside the Mountain Laundry, I inserted coins into the washing machines to clean two weeks’ worth of clothing during my trek across Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. The storms chased me off the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. While the laundry churned and I plotted the remainder of my trip across Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, I opened a volume I had just purchased: Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe. Not only did the book convert the coin laundry into a sanctuary that dark stormy morning; it kept me company the rest of the trip. But by the time I reached home, I put it back on the shelf, having read only the first 108 pages. So I reopened it this morning (Wednesday) and decided to begin from page one and finish the work. Every biography from Isaacson is a true gift; I have read in their entirety his works on Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci. The Benjamin Franklin tome met the same fate as Einstein, but I intend to go back and finish that one too.

The quote above about riding the bicycle resonates with me at this moment in life. The past couple of weeks have been frenetic as I have moved from demonstrations to workshops to art festivals to private art lessons. A few days of rest intervened, and I feel much renewed from that dormant period. But now it is time to kick it up once again; I have the Hot Pepper Festival this weekend in Palestine, followed by a workshop, followed by a plein air event. Finding the balance to continue on this bicycle has not come automatically for me, but I am focused on the effort.

Einstein horizontal

Reproduction of my 1990 pen & ink drawing/collage

5 x 7″ in white 8 x 10″ mat–$20

In my earliest years of teaching high school art, I created a pair of pen & ink drawings of Einstein partial portraits and then completed the works as collages. I gave them away as gifts, but photocopied them before letting them go. In the decades since, I have digitized them and sold them as greeting cards for $5 each or placed them in a good framable size mat to sell for $20. After all these years I am still proud of the pair of works, and now that I am immersed once again in this biography, I intend to begin a new series on Einstein.

Today is Friday. I am settled into The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine for the weekend’s Hot Pepper Festival. My friend Patty, a marketing specialist who has an office in this hotel, told me that her husband Tim had a drafting table he was willing to pass on to me if I had use for it. Enthusiastically, I received it and now have it next to my gallery desk near the window so I can work on art here in the gallery without converting this nice desk into a work table. Thank you Patty and Tim!  I hope to begin some new Einstein-related art in addition to my watercolors in progress throughout this weekend’s festivities in Palestine.

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View of the Gallery through the Lobby Window

Einstein long face

Reproduction of my 1990 pen & ink drawing/collage

5 x 7″ in white 8 x 10″ mat–$20

My renewed reading in the Einstein biography has flooded me with new ideas that I am transferring to my world of art from his world of physics and music:

Music continued to beguile Einstein. It was not so much an escape as it was a connection: to the harmony underlying the universe, to the  craetive genius of the great composers, and to other people who felt comfortable bonding with more than just words. He was awed, both in music and in physics, by the beauty of harmonies.

I was always a poor student of science, but reading this biography allows me to transfer some of Einstein’s ideas to my own creative world. Because of this reading, I am renewing my studies in aesthetics, seeking to understand better the laws of composition lying at the foundation of good art.  As I look over these composite drawings of Einstein from 1990, I intend to begin a new series in the Gallery today. Waves of enthusiasm are sweeping over me as I prepare these new materials.

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Kevin Harris doing the Morning Show

I always enjoy mornings with Kevin while he does his radio show on Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. He invited me into the studio this morning to pitch this weekend’s activities with the Hot Pepper Festival that runs through Saturday. I will work in the Gallery as before, and take a few trips out into the streets to meet the vendors, always in the hunt for local artists to promote. Festivals always excite me, and I of course am glad to have a permanent headquarters inside this gallery. I won’t have to travel and set up a temporary festival booth until December, I am happy to say.

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“Thinking of Jack Kerouac”

30 x 24″ framed watercolor–$400

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1902 Cabin from Cotter, Arkansas

24 x 30″ framed watercolor–$300

I have put out two new large framed watercolors in The Gallery at Redlands. In addition to these, I have a number of works in progress that I intend to resume today, covering subjects ranging from historic landmark homes to landscapes. In addition to the composite Einstein pieces and some new railroad themes, I should be pretty busy with the creative process throughout the weekend.

Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel, always introduces me to her guests as the “artist in residence.” I have always relished the sound of this introduction, since I first heard it in 2015 when Texas A&M University Corpus Christi named me their artist-in-residence for that week-long Laguna Madre excursion. Prior to that, I was stirred by the sound of the title during my university years when the institution brought in an artist for a short series. But here at The Redlands, it is so much more. The community has embraced me, making me feel a genuine part of these surroundings. I cannot express in words the absolute beauty and class of this hotel and I am humbled to dwell in it.

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The New Queen St Grille Bar now Open for Business

The Queen St Grille, across the lobby from The Gallery at Redlands, had to wait for a liquor license before opening the bar. The process was completed last week, and now this beautiful space is open. The bar area is small and intimate, with access to the Queen St Grille to the left and an additional room conducive to meetings to the right.

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To the left, the bar has direct access to the restaurant

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To the right, a meeting room is being prepared as well

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My Attempt at a Panorama

Activity is beginning to heat up at The Redlands Hotel. It is now Friday nearing noon and the sounds of people are beginning to fill the lobby. Time for me to get back to work. Following Einstein’s dictum, I need to keep this bicycle moving if I hope to sustain any kind of balance.

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.

A Weed by the Wall

October 16, 2019

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Saturday at Edom Art Festival

To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world: but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature; I am a weed by the wall.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

This morning, while reading Harold Bloom’s The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime, I came across one of my favorite Emerson musings from his engaging essay “Circles.” Not long after his 1836 catapult into the spotlight of American fame, he began writing about these rhythms, the ebb and flow that creative spirits know so well. We cannot be in that creative flow all the time; there is always the balancing rhythm of repose, stagnation, or stasis. I know that experience in creative rhythms as well as emotional highs followed by exhaustion.

Looking back over my blogs, I realize that I last posted on Friday, while waiting out a rainstorm so I could set up my booth for the Edom Art Festival. Now, four days have passed, and it seems like only a matter of hours. Yet, I feel that I packed a month’s worth of experiences in those few days.

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Two Views of my Booth

I cannot say enough about the loveliness of the festival and the gorgeous weather both days–bright sun and cool temperatures. What pleased me the most was that my booth was packed most of Saturday during business hours. Generally, during a festival, there are those down times when no one is dropping by to shop. But Saturday, the booth was occupied nearly the entire day with anywhere from two-to-eight shoppers, and my heart overflowed with good feelings, knowing there was some kind of meaningful connection between the viewers and my paintings.

Since the festival, I have already been back to Palestine, home to Arlington, over to Fort Worth to teach my Tuesday morning Humanities class, and now I’m back in the gallery in Palestine. There is much to do, but it feels good this morning not to be chasing a deadline. The only major chore before me is putting the gallery back together as I have unloaded my festival gear and paintings. It is time to make the gallery look like a gallery again instead of a storeroom in need of tidying.

The text from Emerson is very timely this day. In recent weeks I have vacillated between creative explosions and hiatus. Right now, I feel that I am at rest (and gratefully so) but at the same time feel this surge of ideas waiting for new expression. There are a number of watercolor and drawing ideas in me that I would like to get out, and hope to, as soon as I put this gallery back together. I always loved the Frank Lloyd Wright remark, boasting that he could merely shake buildings out of his sleeve. There are times when I feel that about paintings, and it’s a sublime feeling. Yet, at my age, I also am very aware of those dormant periods, and they no longer trouble me. I know that the body needs rest as well as exercise, sleep as well as travel. Likewise, the creative bursts will naturally be balanced with times of repose.

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I usually enjoy a good book while sitting through seven-hour days at art festivals. On Saturday, the booth was filled with patrons all day, so reading was out of the question. But on Sunday, during church hours, the festival grounds were quite empty, so I opened my backpack to discover that I had not packed any books! No art supplies either. So . . . with a ballpoint pen I entertained myself the first few hours by scribbling out tree sketches in my journal while posting random thoughts. It reminded me of a recent pledge to try and push myself in the Leonardo da Vinci direction of keeping sketchbook/journals. Maybe I’ll get there. I like the way my mind wanders back and forth between ideas and images, and hope that I’ll develop a habit of moving back and forth between drawing and writing. At any rate, it was a wonderful way to pass the time for a couple of hours Sunday morning.

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Queen St. Grille, Adjacent to The Gallery at Redlands

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New Installations at Queen St Grille

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I am honored that The Redlands Hotel has invited me to extend my gallery work into the restaurant across the lobby. Jean and Mike have been gracious in allowing me to store my excess paintings on the fifth floor of the hotel. Now they will have better exposure hanging in this lovely dining area. The Gallery at Redlands is also getting a facelift as some water damage was sustained on one of our walls due to an air conditioner malfunction. Today will be divided between repairs and reinstallation in the gallery and the new possibilities excite me.

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Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waiting out the Rain at Edom Art Festival

October 11, 2019

The Shed Cafe

Watercolor of my “Second Office”

Outisde it is 45 degrees and raining. Fortunately for me, The Shed Cafe is adjacent to the festival grounds, so I have a warm, dry place to wait for the rain to subside before I set up the tent for this weekend’s Edom Art Festival. Forecast calls for 0% precipitation tomorrow, so my heart is gladdened. Today’s rain is expected to stop in the next hour or so and I can get back to work. Meanwhile I am enjoying this coffee on a cold morning.

I am adding an artist’s chapter to my cycle of paintings and stories for this new series Turvey’s Corner 63050. Following is my true story to accompany the painting above:

At sixty, the artist came to realize that life comes heavier and wearier. The Edom Art Festival offered to him his first crack at a juried, high-end art venue. Setting up his booth on a chilly October Friday, he thought over all the ways he could trim expenses for the weekend. By nightfall, he decided to postpone hotel rental until the final night, thus guaranteeing a good night’s rest before breaking down at festival’s end. So, tonight he would sleep in the back of his Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the perimeter of the festival grounds, at the edge of the deep forest. The Jeep did not offer the most comfortable sleeping accommodations, and most of the night was given to tossing and turning before the sleep of exhaustion finally conquered his constitution.

Waking at dawn, he stumbled out of his vehicle and trudged up the hill through the darkened festival grounds. The morning was chilly and foggy as he walked past row after row of shuttered booths. Rounding the privacy fence at the end of the pasture, he entered the parking lot of the Shed Café and his heart leapt with joy at the sight of the eatery silhouetted against the dawn sky, smoke billowing from the chimney, and the crisp October winds bringing to him the aroma of coffee and frying bacon. What a splendid morning to encounter! With breakfast finished, he found a comfortable seat on the Shed porch, opened his journal and poured out his gratitude on the pages while watching the sun rise over the distant tree line. The festival was going to be a sublime experience.

photo of early morning Shed

The Shed, Photographed years ago when I Rounded the Privacy Fence

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Lunch at The Shed today, waiting out the Rain

All my years spent at the Edom Art Festival and The Shed are warm memories indeed, and I am grateful to be invited back this year for another round. The rain outside appears to have stopped, so I have a house to build!

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.

 

Festival Season has Arrived

October 10, 2019

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Reconnected with Christy Town, my Former Student

Go into Nature raw and simple and just sit quietly doing nothing other than allowing Nature to become accustomed to your presence.  Soon enough, often just beyond what you had taken to be the threshold of your patience and perception, Nature steps forward and begins to reveal its features to you. Rush it and you will never see it. Grab for it and it will give you nothing of its real self, only what you set out to grab.  But wait a while longer, and the place begins to breathe audibly, to creep and flutter, beat, to speak in a thousand ways.  You listen.  That is today’s conversation.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature

Today (Thursday) is a genuine gift to my exhausted life. For days I have been driving long distances on the road, keeping several engagements as promised, and now am happy to have an entire day to relax and enjoy the environment in The Gallery at Redlands before loading up for tomorrow’s festival.

After teaching my class Tuesday at Texas Wesleyan University, I loaded the Jeep and headed for Palestine so I could pack up all my supplies for the following day–an all-day plein air presentation and demo at the Central Texas Watercolor Society in Waco. Rising at 6:00 the following morning, I made the two-hour journey and was deeply moved to see  Christy Town, a former art history student of mine from the Martin High School days of 2005. She went on to become a teacher and artist and I found it so humbling that she chose to spend a day with me in this session. She has posted a lovely account of the day on her blog: https://theartlabtx.com/2019/10/09/plein-air-painting-day/

As if meeting Christy wasn’t enough of a shock, I then was greeted by Trish Poupard, a fabulous west-coast watercolorist now living in Texas. She attended my presentation recently in Fort Worth at the Society of Watercolor Artists meeting, and decided to make a two-hour drive here to see me again. You can view her remarkable body of work at https://trish-poupard.format.com/#4

In the morning, I shall leave for the Edom Art Festival, now in its 46th year. The event will be held 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday, and the art work in the booths is high end. This is one of my two top festivals of the year, and I am looking forward to the lovely weather and crowds of art lovers with high expectations. You can learn more about this event by checking out their website: http://visitedom.com/edom-art-festival/

This festival will witness the first showing of my newest series, Turvey’s Corner 63050. I have four new watercolors for this series, in 16 x 20″ frames and ready to sell:

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church hotel watercolor

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The lovely Redlands Hotel has been my welcoming home this week as I’ve juggled my tasks between Waco and Edom. My morning walk today provided a lovely 72-degree temperature with cool breezes and bright sunshine. The hotel was magnificent in that light.

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The Redlands Hotel, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas

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So Many New Businesses Added the Past Year!

Approaching the side entrance to the hotel, I stopped to marvel at all the new occupants I’ve come to appreciate over this past year of growth. What once was a quiet hotel has now turned into a humming beehive of activity even on weekday mornings. I keep the gallery door propped open, enjoying all the ambient sounds emanating from the lobby traffic. And of course, I love chatting up the patrons who drift into the gallery for a look.

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The New Queen St. Grille, Lovelier than Ever

Jean and Mike have now taken the ownership of the restaurant formerly known as Red Fire Grille. The chef and staff have remained on board, so the food and service are still the epitome of fine dining, and many more patrons are now finding their way to this location to enjoy the best food. The rib-eye I chose last night capped the end of a perfect day.

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The Finest 12 oz. Ribeye

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Kevin and Alan in the Morning

Kevin and Alan were at the top of their game this morning with Smooth Rock 93.5. I’m proud to know I may be in America’s only art gallery that includes a radio station broadcasting live. These fellows are the most pleasant roommates I could ever hope for in the mornings. When you get the chance, stream them live on your phone, computer or tablet. They broadcast live from 7-10 weekday mornings. The station continues to play smooth rock 24-7 after the morning show ends.

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Kevin Harris Top of the Morning

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Alan at the Top of his Tech Mastery

I regret to close out this morning’s blog, but I have a ton of packing and loading to do before heading out in the morning for the Edom Art Festival.

Thanks for reading, and if you are in the area, I would love to see you in Edom.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Thoughts from the Gallery

April 30, 2019

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Where there is no vision the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

The scholars are the priests of that thought which establishes the foundations of the earth. No matter what is their special work or profession, they stand for the spiritual interest of the world, and it is a common calamity if they neglect their post in a country where the material interest is so predominant as it is in America.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

creel redone

Thinking of the Next Catch

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Trophy from the “Spirit is Ageless” Art & Writing Contest

Artscape 2019 at the Dallas Arboretum is in the books, and I am still awash in splendid recollections from the weekend spent there. As of this writing, I am finally rested from the exertion of breaking down the show, driving it home, then rising yesterday morning to drive two hours to Palestine and unload all my festival gear and art work at the Redlands Hotel, then put the Gallery at Redlands all back together again.

Sunday at the festival allowed me some time for reading in the shade, and Emerson’s essay penetrated my soul in a way that escapes words. I often have to close the book, sigh, and gaze into the distance to absorb the beauty of his prose. What a lovely literary sage he is! I have difficulty explaining the “spirituality” of  art, but I told my students over the years that I am happier making art than selling it, or sitting in a festival or gallery showing it off. The act of painting restores my soul, making me feel alive and purposeful on this earth. The material benefit of selling art is appreciated, but the restored spirit I feel while making it far exceeds the rewards of sales or words of praise.

Part of the weekend activities included a reception at CC Young: The Point & Pavilion adjacent to White Rock Lake. I accepted the trophy posted above as they read my written submission accompanying the watercolor:

Though the old fellow spent most of his days drinking coffee and dozing in his shed, he still kept his fly fishing gear piled on the chair across the room in perfect view so he could continue to remember those days when fishing was at its best. He smiled at every memory of Indian Creek with its holes teaming with black bass, and Beaver’s Bend with the long gurgling runs lined with rainbow trout.

The neighbors entered his darkened house after several days of silence, and found him dead, seated in his rocker, his half-cup of cold coffee at his elbow. The fishing gear was still piled in the chair across the room, offering mute tribute to his wholesome days.

This morning’s pleasure included spending time on the air with Kevin Harris and Alan Wade on Smooth Rock 93.5. I miss Marc Mitchell, who recently accepted a position with the Palestine Herald-Press, just down the road from the Redlands Hotel. Alan has provided warm friendship and excellent conversation, and adds another quality presence to the broadcast team.

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.

 

 

The Refuge of Art

April 25, 2019

Art still has truth. Seek refuge there.

Matthew Arnold

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Seated this morning in The Gallery at Redlands, I confess that Art is indeed my refugue, my inner calm. I have heard fishermen claim that even if they fish all day without a bite, it was still an excellent day. I disagree. No matter how serene the surroundings, if I fish all day without success, I am soured. But art is a different story; I can paint all day and create junk, but I still have experienced a sublime day. The act of making art floods my being with sentiments that are just as genuine as the satisfaction I know when creating something worth viewing.

Soon I will be packing my art out of here to take to the Dallas Arboretum for Artscape 2019. I set up Friday morning and we have a Members Only Preview Show that evening. The actual show opens Saturday morning at 9:00 and runs till 5:00. Same hours on Sunday.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

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Smooth Rock 93.5 is broadcasting at the moment, so I am keeping things quiet at my end of the gallery. After the morning show is over at 10:00, I’ll begin taking down my paintings and loading the Jeep for the show. Meanwhile, it feels good to enjoy the calm of the morning, and spend this quality time reading and scribbling in the journal.

My next blog will feature photos of my new booth appearance at Artscape 2019. I have made a number of profound changes in my display, and after a month of seeing the visions in my head, I look forward to seeing the real edifice raised in the morning. And then, I hope to enjoy a pair of relaxing days seated in the booth, meeting art lovers and feeling the genuine gratitude of being invited to participate in such an event as this. I love the environment of a quality art festival, and this particular one is one of the most successful I have experienced over the past fifteen years.

Throughout my decades of employment, I cannot say that I was always surrounded by creative, optimistic personnel. But art festivals are different–from set up till break down, I always find my neighboring artistic spirits to be filled with a joie de vi·vre that buoys my spirits. And I look forward to seeing many of these artists whom I haven’t seen in a year. Catching up is always a joy. Being a part of this kind of community reminds me of how blessed I am.

This book, Culture Care, that my friend Ben gave me yesterday is providing much food for thought this morning. I hope to have more to say about it in the days ahead. But now, the broadcast team has finished their work of the morning, and it is time for me to load the paintings.

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.

 

 

The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

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The Greeks had a concept of Kairos time, which is not quantitative like our normal conception of time, but qualitative–rich or empty, the meaningful hour or the hurried moment. When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time–slowly, serenely but thickly.

David Brooks, “We need more timelessness, outside the speed of social media”

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Since my last post, I have journeyed to Palestine, Abilene, Lubbock and San Angelo. The whirlwind of activity made it difficult to stop long enough to post a blog. Now I am sequestered in The Redlands Hotel, my home-away-from-home, and I am packing and loading for Artscape 2019 at the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, 9-5, and it is my biggest art show of the year. This will be my second time to participate, and I am still awash in splendid memories of last year’s encounter. I have framed the watercolor pictured below and am looking forward to bringing it out for its first public viewing.

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I am also bringing out a number of plein air experimental watercolors I have made over the past six months.

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cloudcroft

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This is an exciting time for me, but I’m glad it is only Wednesday. My Jeep is already loaded with all my booth furniture and the only job left for me is to pack the paintings. It is nice to approach the event without feeling my hair is on fire.

My friend Ben Campbell from the Texas State Railroad dropped by the gallery this afternoon. He was one of the first friends I made when we opened The Gallery at Redlands a little over two years ago. He gave me a gift, the book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura. I am already immersed in this beautiful literary work. I posted above the quote by David Brooks from an article he published introducing the book. Ben was profoundly moved in his reading of it and purchased an extra copy for me. I love reading the works of reflective minds who manage to steer clear of the frenetic pace set by social media and our culture in general. So, thank you, Ben. This is a timely (in the kairos sense) gift that I am already treasuring. The evening is still young. I’m going to go upstairs and read this volume in the quiet comfort of the Redlands Hotel.

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.

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in white 11 x 14″ mat–$75

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those quiet lovely days spent mostly in The Gallery at Redlands. I managed to squeeze out a new painting (above) during those luxurious hours. The historic Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street in downtown Palestine, Texas is the most lovely place I have ever been privileged to “nest.” Emerson, in his small book Nature, wrote: “in the woods, too, a man casts off his years as the snake his slough and at what period soever of life is always a child”. This is what I experience when I have those moments of walking about in the wild, but I also feel it every time I enter the first floor of the Redlands Hotel. We celebrated the hotel’s 104th birthday on Friday, March 15:

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Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

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First Floor of The Redlands

Every time I descend the stairs of The Redlands, I feel that I am supposed to be smoking a large cigar, my clothing including a vest, watch chain and spats. The space is a veritable museum with a pulse. We anticipate a steady flow of traffic next weekend when the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival commences.

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Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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Marc Mitchell (foreground) from “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” Show

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

It is now Monday morning, and the hotel is everything but silent. The “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” show, as always, keeps me great company while broadcasting out of this gallery. This morning they featured local artist/writer Kirk Davis who has just come out with a book sharing letters from World War II between his father and mother. His father, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has left behind a romantic legacy embracing the love of his life as well as his drama in the Pacific theater. Kirk will be under the tent with a number of artists this coming Friday night’s V.I.P. event as well as Saturday 9-4:00, signing copies of his new book and displaying his father’s war memorabilia (including the Medal of Honor) along with his own artistic creations.

When I close this blog, I’ll be preparing for our big events next weekend. In addition to the Friday night V.I.P. party and the Saturday Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I will be giving my first ever gallery talk on the subject of “Art in the Small Town.” Using a flat screen TV in the Redlands Hotel lobby, I will be showing images of my “Recollections 54” paintings over the past twenty years that feature small town nostalgic scenes. I have a talk prepared that will feature those who have inspired my own work, notably Edward Hopper’s narrative paintings, along with references from selected American writers who have contributed to our collective memories of the communities that have nurtured us. I am enthusiastic about this event, and thank Jean Mollard for her vision of sponsoring a series of gallery talks for the east Texas community.

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.

The Search for an Anchor

March 13, 2019

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A Second Snow Scene in Progress

            He kept trying to find among his peers the degree of emotional intensity he had achieved with Howard Pile. “It is the search for living co-workers and the everlasting failure to find one that can measure up to one’s active standard that is the constant source of my depression,” he wrote.

. . .

            Yet he continually wished Chapin would hold him to higher standards. He wanted to be challenged, not only aesthetically but morally, spiritually. Wyeth’s search for an omnipotent male figure had an Eastern quality; he felt that the ideal master should be something of a mystic.

. . .

            “I’m not crazy,” he insisted to Stimson, though as N. C. began his thirties, his search for a spiritual guru often left him feeling unreal. “I’m not holding a living or dead man up as an example of what I should be; I go beyond that—I want to be myself, and better, to be myself without the whole damn world knowing anything about it!”

            But he was holding up a dead man as his model. Taking Walden as his guide, he contended that Thoreau “is my springhead for almost every move I can make” . . .

            He liked to think that if Thoreau were alive, if they could talk an hour every evening, Thoreau would understand him. With Walden in hand, N. C. could “feel his approval surging within me now, and I lay my hand on his precious book . . . with the deepest reverence I am capable of.”

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

These quiet winter mornings have recently been a genuine salve for my soul. As I sit over a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee, the aroma filling this dark room and Bach playing softly in the background, I am preparing to launch into yet another small watercolor, allowing the one posted above to sit quietly awhile, waiting to see what next to do with it. Five watercolors are scattered about the room, a couple of them probably finished, the other three sitting there saying, “Well?! . . .” My spirit soars when I sense that my creative blood is stirring once again. When I’m on hiatus, I don’t really want to say I am “blocked”, rather I am reading, journaling, thinking, and musing over what to pursue next.

Having ventured over 200 pages into this N. C. Wyeth biography, I feel a primal connection with much that he expressed in his letters and diaries. Currently, I am reading of his constant quest for a spiritual partner or mentor to complete his personhood. As I reflect over my past, I recognize that he and I both circulated between the living and the dead for role models. And we weren’t really looking for someone to imitate, but rather assimilate, absorb and re-apply to the things we were attempting to do in our own lives. N. C. Wyeth did not want to paint like Howard Pyle; he was trying to find his own style and character in his paintings and illustrations. Pyle was a genuine inspiration and guide for him in his early career, and a sounding board when Wyeth wished to road test his new techniques and compositions.

While writing my own memoir, I am constantly sifting through all the men and women who have been my spiritual guides and sounding boards, and like N. C., I often felt that shock of recognition when reading the works of those who had passed in the centuries before me. Much of what N. C. admired in Thoreau’s writings have also smitten me in the past three decades. And frequently, I think of what it would be like to sit in intimate conversation with a Thoreau, an Emerson or a Tillich. So many times when I read them I feel they are writing directly to me, addressing my current condition. And I revel in these encounters. And then, when I am permitted an intimate conversation with a living being in my present, I count that among the richest gifts in life. Such conversations are rare.

I am just a few days from a monster pair of beginning watercolor workshops. More than thirty have already registered for my Saturday event to be held in the Redlands Hotel lobby in Palestine, Texas. I am trying to limit the 10:00 session to twenty participants. It will last three hours (including lunch) and the fee is $30. Then I will hold a second 1:00 session for two hours (no lunch this time) for $20. I already have four committed to the afternoon session. Twenty-eight are trying to crowd into the 10:00 group, but perhaps some of them would prefer to move to the 1:00. We’ll see. The bottom line is that I am pumped to do this! I absolutely love exploring the wonders of watercolor with willing participants. I anticipate a great time together.

Well, let’s see if we can kick some life into this new fledgling painting . . .

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.

Finishing a Small Snowscape

March 12, 2019

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Recent View of Fresh-fallen Snow in High Ridge, Missouri

Wyeth had of course pleased everyone but himself. His apprenticeship now appeared to him shallow and degrading. the Pyle School had been nothing more than a factory where successful pictorial journalists had been–his word–manufactured. He and the others had been “whipped into line,” taught artificial shortcuts, trained to think as the audience thinks, not for themselves as artists.

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

After more than 200 pages of reading, I am finding it very difficult to put down this volume on N. C. Wyeth. His son Andrew has been my patron saint since high school, but in the past year I have been studying more about N. C., and love his fixation on the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Now, reading of his training as an illustrator, and his subsequent struggle to navigate his way between the identities of illustrator and painter, I am finding so much to think about as I find my own way as an artist.

This morning I finished the painting I started of the view across my sister’s backyard. The snow was falling heavily that day a couple of weeks ago, and I used a toothbrush to spatter masquing fluid all over the page before commencing the actual painting. The ony part I found most difficult (and rewarding) was the attempt to draw the houses and rooftops peeking through the winter trees. It has been awhile since I studied and sketched winter tree anatomy, and I have missed the experience. I have a second snow scene nearly finished as well, and hope to be  posting that one soon.

Between reading, painting, and preparing materials for my pair of workshops this coming Saturday, there has been little down time. Still, I love the life I’m able to pursue, balancing my reading with my studio art endeavors. I hope I can continue to find room and space for both in my daily life.

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.