Archive for the ‘art gallery’ Category

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.

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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.

 

Adjusting the Sails to Catch the Wind

September 22, 2019

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Early Sunday Morning in the Gallery at Redlands

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes . . . 

The Gospel According to John 3:8

Thirty-two years have passed since I pastored a church, nine years since I stood behind any pulpit. Nevertheless I still read with fulfilment from my Greek New Testament, grateful that a seminary drilled the fluency of that language into me. And on many Sunday mornings (and other mornings as well), I open those pages and pore over the texts, always finding passages that impact my life, though the orientation has profoundly altered.

A week ago, I stood before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and was warmly received as I tried (I never feel that I have hit the mark) to address this inspiration aspect of making art.  After months of pressure, I felt sudden release when that public event was over, but knew that I would not be able to lay to rest this curiosity about the nature of inspiration. And now this morning, waking at 6:00 though the alarm was set for 7:00, these thoughts about the creative impulse continue to visit me and will not rest. The clock now says 8:45, so I have now surged for nearly three hours with these notions, have scribbled unceasingly in my journal, and will now see if I can make any sense as I pour this windstorm into the blog.

From childhood I have been visited by a restless surge to create. Drawing was the only skill I possessed (rather, it possessed me), and I held on and rode this mustang all the way through my Bachelor’s degree. But then my life took a different tack, the Protestant pastoral ministry, and I rode that one all the way through completion of the Ph.D., ten more years. Soon after, I returned to the visual arts, but had to make a living. Twenty-eight years later, retiring with a pension, I at long last have found luxurious leisure to slow the pace and gaze more fixedly at this phenomenon.

Prior to the pastoral ministry, I used the word “inspiration” to describe one’s impetus to create. In church circles, I found that word to be charged with an unfortunate flavor that restricted it to writers of the biblical texts. So I had to lay it aside. Preachers weren’t inspired; to say such while in the “fellowship” would be heresy. So, I had to find other words to describe the compulsion to preach, to testify, to witness, etc.

Now that I am back in the artistic community, it is OK to say artists are “inspired.” The word for “spirit” in the New Testament writings can also be translated as “wind” or “breath”, and the verbs describing its action are “move”, “blow”, etc. I love the richness of these metaphors, and quoted one of them at the opening of this entry. A reference in 2 Peter 1:21 addressed those who were “moved” by the spirit. As an artist and a student of art history, I am always stirred when I read journals left behind by the likes of Delacroix, Gauguin, Henri and others who spoke of this stirring that they could not flee; they had to make art. I know how that feels. I understand that restlessness. I don’t know when the winds will blow, but I know I want to adjust my sails to catch the forces once they stir.

In ministerial circles before, and artistic circles now, I have heard, and continue to hear those who address their work merely as a task. For the task they have been trained. For the task, they have been equipped. And for the task, they simply do what is expected of them. And I am bemused every time I hear someone speak of that task as though it were merely work, drudgery, a means of earning a wage. I simply cannot identify with that. I have known employment in the past when I felt indifferent and sometimes abhorrent of what was demanded of me. I simply cannot feel that way about making art. There is a force, a wind, that drives me to create, and when I cannot fulfill that drive (either because I have other things that demand my attention, or when  actually making art I am clumsy in my technique), I feel genuine, deep-seated frustration and failure.

I have a circle of precious artistic spirits that I meet with periodically for the purpose of discussing our art and encouraging one another. And I will never be able to describe the profound joy I feel when in their presence. Aside from that small circle, I find the artistic enterprise a solitary one, and since I am for the most part an introvert, I don’t find that a lonely existence at all. However, I hope one day I can find the key to speaking publicly about this inspiration that blows through the artist, compelling him/her to create, whether it’s visual, literary, musical, performance or oratorical. I overwhelmingly love the notion of that creative wind that blows through personalities and makes creation possible. And as I once hoped to be a worthy vessel in the ministry, so I now wish to be worthy when making art or called upon to inspire other artists as they engage in this precious endeavor.

The abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock is laid to rest in a cemetery on Long Island. At that location is an inscription that reads:

Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity. By themselves they can do little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving.

The time now is 9:40. Perhaps I can now return to making art. 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.

 

Painting Nostalgia

September 21, 2019

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Latest Addition to Turvey’s Corner 63050

Saturday has been a splendid day for painting and visiting with friends here in Palestine. The gallery has provided a wonderful space for creating and I’m thankful for all those who have made this possible. Tomorrow I plan to take this painting into the Queen St Grille during brunch (11-2) and see if I can complete it. I have another pair of paintings in progress that I might choose to rotate in and out of the circle as I make painting decisions.

If you have a moment, check out the Queen St Grille on the recently updated website for the Redlands Hotel–http://redlandshistoricinn.com/dine.html

It’s been a nice, relaxing evening here in Palestine. 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.

New Addition to Turvey’s Corner Series

September 21, 2019

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Every now and then one spies Turner’s vulnerability to depression, or pressure, and his need to escape.

Franny Moyle, Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

I wanted to take a moment and share with my readers a new watercolor begun last evening while working in The Gallery at Redlands. When I came downstairs this morning, I disliked the work I started last night–the pigments appeared heavy to my eye. Throughout this morning I have tried to work more in lighter, transparent washes, and focus on some details. I believe it is starting to shape up now. I may possibly finish this during tomorrow’s brunch in the Queen St Grille across the lobby. I’ll be painting there from 11-2.

I’ll post again later today (unless this painting takes an ugly turn!). It is a quiet Saturday in Palestine and my combination of reading and painting has been soothing to the soul. I’ve enjoyed the quiet space to read in this biography of J. M. W. Turner. The times of withdrawal I know with great familiarity as they have punctuated my years in the best ways possible. I brought my Greek New Testament to Palestine with me over the weekend and have been translating the passages from the Gospels that describe the withdrawals of Jesus from his public ministry. Though I myself left the pastoral ministry long ago, I have nevertheless maintained a rhythm of public and private activity throughout my teaching career, and now retired, find it much easier to find space for solitude. These quiet times are invaluable in the way they recharge my battery and impel me to move forward again. Last Monday, after giving a public presentation for which I had prepared for a number of months, I lapsed into this delicious quiet, enjoying a week of only two appointments, and then retreating once again to Palestine. I could not have ordered up a more perfect day than this.

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.

Creative Weekend in the Gallery at Redlands

September 21, 2019

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If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Albert Einstein

The Einstein quote arrived at a perfect moment this morning, as I was beginning to feel concern over the pile of tools cluttering my gallery desk top.  I felt serene, entering the sacred space early this morning after a good night’s rest. I had worked the night before until quite late, beginning a new watercolor to add to my series “Turvey’s Corner 63050”.

The throbbing of Union Pacific diesels two blocks away can be felt this morning through the floor of the Redlands Hotel as a slow-moving freight lumbers past the railyard. Palestine slumbers beneath overcast skies, while gray covers this old downtown section like a comfortable old quilt. Music wafts into the gallery from the lobby area, and I have enjoyed the past few hours, moving back and forth between this new painting and reading a biography I acquired recently on Joseph Mallord William Turner.

The weekend is a lovely gift as I find myself with no pressing deadlines or appointments. Sunday I will be painting in the new Queen St Grille again during brunch hours (11-2). I was invited to do that last Sunday and the restaurant had its largest Sunday crowd to date. I’ve been invited again, and gratefully accept. I love the Redlands Hotel and its soothing atmosphere. Friday morning, I enjoyed the radio guys again, Kevin and Alan in the Morning at Smooth Rock 93.5 broadcasting out of this Gallery at Redlands. I miss the fellows over the weekend, but appreciate the quiet studio space. I am managing to pursue creative eros with this new painting in progress. Hopefully there will be enough of it to show on the next blog . . .

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.

 

Palestine Texas is Humming this Morning

September 13, 2019

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Luxurious Friday Morning in the Gallery

. . . they remind you of Saturday mornings when you were six and knew the day was young and blue just by looking over the fence through pale smokes of whoever it is is always burning something on Saturday morning (and hammering on nails in the afternoon).

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Waking early this morning in the Redlands Hotel, I listened while the city slowly awakened in the dawn. As I lay still, these words from Kerouac read at bedtime last night returned, and I continued to listen to the city sounds of traffic, the Union Pacific railyard two blocks away, and the occasional shout from a pedestrian. Across the street, Sacred Heart Catholic Church tolled the hour and I could feel the vibrations of the sound. Memories washed over me. As a boy, I lived in the neighborhood of a small town, and now recall those early mornings awakened by the sounds of lawn mowers, hammering, the occasional passing car, dogs barking and choruses of birds in the yard.

I decided to return to The Gallery at Redlands for the weekend, having sorely missed this environment for a number of weeks. The gallery provides a wonderful ambience for study and reflection, and I am working to put the finishing touches on my Monday night presentation before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth. I have been invited to work on my watercolors in the Queen St Grillle Sunday from 11-2:00. The Redlands Hotel has made some fabulous changes to the menu and hours. Several of my paintings now hang in the restaurant, and The Gallery at Redlands is adjacent to the establishment. I look forward to meeting new friends during Sunday brunch, and of course, I always look forward to watercoloring in the midst of company.

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Queen St Grille–a Gorgeous Dining Environment

A long time has passed since I connected with Kevin and Alan in the Morning on Smooth Rock 93.5. I always enjoy their morning radio time, and was invited on the show this morning to put in a plug for the Sunday brunch painting event arriving in a couple of days. The past two years have brought many changes to the Redlands Hotel, and for me the highlights have been the radio station in the gallery and the restaurant across the lobby. Every time I come here to work, I feel that I am living in the midst of a thriving, affirming community in downtown Palestine. My warm thanks to all of my new friends here.

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Kevin Harris Managing the Morning Show

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Alan Wade in Good Spirits Always

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Victoria Minton-Beam, also with Smooth Rock 93.5

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Constantly Experimenting

Returning to my journals from August 2018, I am re-reading the scribbled notes from my last Colorado sojourn and the morning I worked to solve the problem of painting evergreens in the sweet mountain air. I took notes on a five-step process, and have been working the past few weeks to refine this approach. Currently, I have six sketches in process, and this weekend thought I would start four additional ones. I always think that if I have several going at the same time, I will be less afraid of screwing up a painting. Last month, I began fifteen compositions of a scene in Sedona, Arizona, and they are still in a box with only one further attempt to push them along. Out of the fifteen, I have one finished piece that I don’t find very satisfying. The rest are still sitting there, waiting. I thought I was taking them to the Monday demonstration in Fort Worth, but have recently decided to try my luck with the evergreens. No pressure, right?

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.

Creative Eros

September 11, 2019

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The Romantic Part of the Morning

I am in a high fever of working, and so absorbed, so tired at day’s end, I don’t have the strength to write . . . I know it’s bad, but work above all. I am overjoyed to be back at it.

Claude Monet, quoted at the Kimbell Art Museum exhibit

Smooth jazz plays in the background, and the softness of the morning buoys my spirits while I continue thinking over a presentation for Monday evening before the Society of Watercolor Artists. I have been scheduled for this event for about a year now, so it has not crept up on me. Back in March, I began compiling materials for the demonstration and have now spent recent weeks editing them into a formal presentation.

My plan is to open with a brief talk concerning the source that drives artistic expression. Following that, I will demonstrate some techniques I discovered two summers ago while painting en plein air in Colorado. And finally, I will introduce the major series I have worked on the past couple of decades, titled “Turvey’s Corner 63050.” This final segment has taken the lion’s share of my time in recent weeks. I cannot share all the paintings and stories that comprise the series, and am trying now to figure just which ones to present. I’ll use Powerpoint to project the paintings before the audience, and will need to decide which stories to share. Naturally, I’m concerned about cramming too much into the time period.

Most of my recent days have been divided between studio time, experimenting with my recent watercolor techniques, and desk time, writing and revising the cycles of stories that have emerged from the paintings I wish to share in this series. This is nothing new to me; for as long as I can remember, my quality time has been divided between painting, reading, journaling and composing stories. To some, this sounds like multi-tasking at its best, or attention-deficit-disorder at its worst. There are days when I feel I lack focus; yet other times when I am delighted by the variety embracing my creative eros.

Surprisingly, I have not felt the anxieties that used to torment me when preparing for a public event. I am not sure if this is due to aging, maturing, or the mere repetition of public speaking. Having retired from full time teaching over two years now, I speak much less frequently in public, and actually enjoy it much more now–there seems to be much more time to prepare for each event, and the general eudaimonia I sense from the audiences has melted away my former performance anxieties. Maybe it’s because I am no longer posturing for some kind of career advancement. At any rate, I welcome with open arms this sense of calm. Reading Hemingway’s testimony concerning his early writing has also given me a sense of equilibrium.

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You  have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”  So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. Up in that room I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I certainly know about the cutting away of “scrollwork or ornament” that Hemingway mentioned. Countless times in recent weeks I have deleted content from my powerpoint presentation or lecture manuscript, pruning my tree to a stump, then returned to my fundamental base, and began the rebuilding of the presentation. After all, this is my own artwork I have been asked to share, and I need not embellish it by artificial ornamentation.

After months away, I anticipate with gratitude a return to Palestine, Texas this weekend. I have missed the Gallery at Redlands, Smooth Rock 93.5, and the hospitable atmosphere of the historic Redlands Hotel. Since I have been away, the Red Fire Grille has changed hands, now known as the Queen St Grille. Jean and Mike have asked me to work on my watercolors in the restaurant Sunday from 11:00-2:00. They have already selected some of my paintings from the gallery to display in the restaurant, invoking a railroad theme. This will be my first time to provide an artist’s “prensence” in a restaurant environment, and I look forward to the new experience. You can check out their link here:  https://www.facebook.com/RedFireGrille/

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I have missed my radio friends during this long absence, but still enjoy Kevin and Alan in the Morning, streaming Smooth Rock 93.5 on my laptop while working at my desk during mornings such as this. Their music format remains my favorite.

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Kevin and Alan outside the Station and Gallery

There is still plenty to do on this presentation, so I guess I’ll return to it.

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.

Layers

July 27, 2019

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“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” –that is all

            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

I am still trembling at the memories of Friday morning. Having finally returned home after a lengthy vacation of travel out West, I rose at my normal hour and went directly to my writing desk to resume a comfortable practice over the years–drinking coffee, writing in my journal and reading for pure pleasure. Only this time, something felt “off”–I just could not pull up any thoughts that were inspiring and could not stir up interest to pursue anything meaningful. This is rare for me. I was in a rut. Not even knowing what book to retrieve, I finally settled on Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Opening to my bookmark halfway through the volume, I hadn’t read far before she brought up her practice of the Morning Pages. I realized, “Oh yeah. I haven’t practiced those for months.”

The Morning Pages are a perfect way to unblock any artist. One simply writes three pages of junk, long hand, as quickly as possible, and then throws them away. It is OK to grouse, grumble and spew; all poison needs to be extracted and then thrown in the trash. By the time the three pages are spent, good positive thoughts are flowing once more. Emerson once used the analogy of the old water pump when addressing this dilemma. He wrote that the pump had to bring up the dirty water before the clear emerged. And so it is often with thinking and writing, for me anyway–the debris has to be cleared away before enlightenment can dawn.

By the time I was on page 2 of my Morning Pages, I looked up at my beautiful coffee mug recently acquired while vacationing in Albuquerque. Immediately I was taken back, way back into my life, peeling back layers of memories. The Southwestern color scheme of teal and bronze recalled for me the day I unlocked the secrets of glaze chemistry while teaching clay at Lamar High School in the early nineties. And then, in the next moment, I was back to 1974, taking a course in clay at Northeast Missouri State University. Professor MacEndorfer was instructing us on the potters wheel. I recalled with a grin that behind his back we referred to him as Menopausal MacEndorfer, because we never knew when his temper was going to explode. It seemed we were always walking on eggshells when he was in the studio.

And then as I continued to gaze at the glossy fired stoneware surface of the coffee mug, my mind went to John Keats and his “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” I pulled his volume from the shelf, read the poem slowly, tasting every precious word, and felt my eyes moisten in gratitude for his gift left to us. The Morning Pages had their way with me, taking me back through layers of memory, filling my heart with warm gratitude for what life has given over the years.

Today is Saturday and I am back at The Gallery at Redlands. It has been weeks since I visited this place, and it fills me with good sentiments to sit at this desk again and resume my art. I have begun a 16 x 20″ watercolor of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and am excited over the possibilities. We’ll see what emerges.

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.

 

Workshop Afterglow

June 10, 2019

workshop

Summer Rapture, 8 x 10, in 11 x 14″ white mat, $100

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Summer Rapture II, 8 x 10, in 11 x 14″ white mat, $100

. . . even the brightest and most creative aren’t immune to this nagging sense of dread–a feeling that, eventually, someone will pull back the curtain and reveal just how untalented and unworthy they truly are. Maya Angelou once confessed, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”

Rich Karlgaard, Late Bloomers

Quality sleep eluded me last night. I retired to bed around 1 a.m., and then REM activity aroused me at 4:50. Wishing to hold on to these details, I turned on the light, retrieved my journal, and recorded the dream for over thirty minutes. The time was well-spent, I believe. Turning the light out, I tried to return to sleep, but realized thirty minutes later that it wasn’t going to happen. So . . .

My morning in the Gallery at Redlands has been quiet and very satisfying. I have nearly finished reading Late Bloomers, and am so enriched by it. I used the quote above for a portion of my “talking points” that opened the weekend’s watercolor workshop in Flint, Texas. I shared with the group my embarrassment when introduced with glowing words such as my host had just used. After all these years of painting and workshops, I still feel that Toto from the Wizard of Oz is going to pull back the curtain, and the workshop participants will see that the “artist” is just a bent old man pulling levers, not accomplishing anything of value.

The format for this workshop was a first for me. I pre-planned every step of the painting process, and thought through how I could present this one-day session without making the participants think they were merely taking a “Painting with a Twist” class. The image sent me was taken from an Italian setting:

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I received the image via email, and as I painted it ahead of time, I recorded in my journal the steps I took from start to finish. I emailed the line drawing, encouraging the participants to trace it onto their watercolor paper before coming to the workshop.

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Next, I determined that I wished to render the top portion with Winsor & Newton Transparent Yellow, the bottom with Winsor Violet and a touch of Transparent Yellow, and the center with an even blend of the two colors.

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From this point forward, I would take the students from the top of the composition to the bottom, demonstrating various techniques for rendering details.

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I took my finished painting to the workshop for them to see as a reference painting, then began a second one from the initial line drawing, and demonstrated the stages in the same order as I had done just a few days earlier. I was astounded at the quality of all the paintings that emerged, and the enthusiasm of the participants still has me feeling warm inside.

All of this is just to say–this is not the way I paint. I have always disdained a formulaic approach to making art, and so have struggled with the pedagogical aspects of the artistic enterprise. Reading Late Bloomers has brought many of my feelings to the surface and I am attempting to get them out in the open. Because I didn’t learn the way I was expected to from my youth, I always harbored self-doubt about my abilities. And as a public school teacher, I always loathed the formulaic approaches handed me–lesson plans, teaching students the “steps” to the process, data analysis, grade distribution, ad infinausea. I still believe curiosity is the student’s greatest resource, and if s/he has the drive and courage to explore the frontiers of knowledge, this student should not be confined to “steps” of a process.

So. For the first time, I took my students through “steps” to a painting, but tried all along to convince them that following the steps wasn’t what made them an artist–each one had her own vision, and that vision is sacred. I didn’t expect identical paintings from them, and I didn’t get them. What I did get was an amazing array of paintings of an Italian scene. And each student seemed satisfied that she had created a quality piece of art and not a cookie-cutter reproduction of the teacher’s work.

I believe that all legitimate art is a synthesis of Apollo and Dionysus, the two competing gods behind Greek drama. Apollo represents the steps, the discipline, the rules of the craft. Dionysus represents the spontaneity, the passion, the individual’s creative eros. Last weekend, I brought Apollo to the session, but the students allowed their own Dionysus to enter the arena of creativity. And I still smile at the memories of that day.

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.