Archive for the ‘art gallery’ Category

Closing out an Intriguing Odyssey

June 17, 2017

last morning

Reading Annie Dillard at the Store

But if I can bear the nights, the days are a pleasure.  I walk out; I see something, some event I’d otherwise have  utterly missed and  lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

This is the first time I’ve been able to lodge at my favorite place, “The Store”, for more than a weekend.  Waking at 6:11 on my fourth and final morning, I took the leisure to enjoy a cup of coffee and read Annie Dillard as the sun pinked the eastern skies over rural Texas.  During the past two morning watches, I certainly felt some sort of affirming power brushing me “with its clean wing,” and I went to work in the gallery with a renewed sense of purpose.

last gallery

The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas

We don’t know what’s going on here.  If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite?  We don’t know.  Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Reading Annie was a soul-stirring event again this morning.  I drove the fifty minutes to the gallery, and by the time I arrived, I knew that I wanted to begin a fourth watercolor on this fourth day.  Something inside drives me to create, to express, and now that I am retired from a full-time job, I am enthused about responding to this compulsion.

Thanks for reading.

I make art because it’s in me.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Almost Finished with Old #610

June 16, 2017

610 near complete

I am proud of how this locomotive is progressing and wanted to post it tonight before shutting down. I have already signed it, but have little doubt that I’ll find several things tomorrow that I want to do with it.  I’ll be working in The Gallery at Redlands until about 9:00 tonight, so I still have nearly three hours to do whatever I feel like doing, probably resuming work on the abandoned mailbox I started this morning. Tomorrow, with fresh eyes, I’ll look at the locomotive again and perhaps do some final tweaking on it.

Thanks for reading.

Mornings with Emerson

June 16, 2017

emerson

(I’m going to try and paint this!)

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

This morning’s introduction to the New Day lies far beyond adequate description, but I shall try, nevertheless.  Waking around 6:30 without an alarm (thanks to retiring to bed much earlier than my custom), I rose to a beautiful eastern sun, and after making coffee, settled onto the porch of this old store where I reside while in the country.

thoughtful coffee

I decided to spend a few moments in Heidegger’s poem, “The Thinker as Poet”, and came across these words:

The world’s darkening never reaches
       to the light of Being.
We are too late for the gods and too
       early for Being. Being’s poem,
       just begun, is man. 
To head toward a star—this only.
To think is to confine yourself to a
      single thought that one day stands
      still like a star in the world’s sky.

When I lingered on those final lines, holding my thought to one steady idea, the large tree in front of me suddenly stirred with life as the morning breezes whispered through the leaves, and I felt my face caressed by gentle winds.  My thoughts immediately recalled Emerson’s lines from Nature that open today’s blog, and I felt a rush of eudaimonia, embraced by a beautiful morning.  All thoughts of driving to the city evaporated, and I sat in that rocker for I don’t know how long, savoring the gift of that sublime moment too deep for words.

From my early years of studying the Greek New Testament, I have always been fascinated with the idea of logos, and have enjoyed reading Heidegger’s rendering of that word as “gathering together” or “gathering process.”  Recently I have pondered my endeavors in making art as attempts to bring together all that I have encountered in my life’s experience and express it in watercolor compositions that have something meaningful to say.  My attempts at making art have been an engagement with the logos, an encounter that involves assembling my key ideas into some kind of creative expression. This morning was timely for me, as I knew I had a significant opportunity before me in the gallery to make art that matters to me.

As I drove through the country, I suddenly stopped, turned my Jeep around, and returned to an abandoned open mailbox shaded in the trees and engulfed in flowers. I took several photos, including the one posted above, and have plans to work on this composition as well.

Once at the gallery, I resumed work on the old Texas and Pacific #610 that remains here in Palestine.  This locomotive was built in 1927 by Lima Locomotive Works, and only seventy of this model were made.  This is the only known one still to exist today, and in 1977 it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

610 friday

If my strength holds up, I’ll continue working in The Gallery at Redlands till 9 p.m. The Red Fire Grille across the lobby brings in a sizeable dinner crowd on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t mind patrons drifting into the gallery as I paint.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement Odyssey

June 15, 2017

crockett

My first Retirement Retreat off the Grid

Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

1:21 a.m., Thursday morning (barely)
June 15, 2017

Sitting in this dark country kitchen tonight, I feel that I am drifting in the current of a moonless midnight river without oars, and without compass. With the banks on both sides concealed in the night gloom, and unable to discern what lies immediately before me, I find retirement very scintillating and intriguing. The senses feel sharp, and the anticipation positive. In midweek, I decided to make the two-and-a-half-hour road trip to Palestine, Texas, and resettle The Gallery at Redlands for a few days. This new gallery opened in March with my one-man-show, and the relationship I have enjoyed with the proprietors since that day has been deeply satisfying to my soul. When I retired last week from twenty-eight years of teaching school, I was happy to know that a new chapter was waiting to be written.

After yesterday’s road trip following a mostly sleepless night, I found myself extremely exhausted by five in the afternoon. I had already put in six hours at the gallery and another hour at a Rotary Club meeting where I made a number of new acquaintances. I managed to frame a couple of my recent watercolors, began work on a new painting and resumed work on a painting abandoned last year. Ten more works were added to the display I already had in place, and the interior of the gallery felt like home once again to me. I could feel myself smiling internally.

After closing shop, I made the fifty-minute drive out into the country to tuck myself in to my favorite hideaway—an old store that friends allow me to make my home-away-from home, off the grid beside a gravel road. Settling on the porch with a fresh cup of coffee, the cool winds concealed the reality of a 95-degree late Texas afternoon, and I gazed across acres of sun-washed pastureland, letting my thoughts drift. Finally at 7:30, I could no longer keep my eyes open, so I retired to bed, knowing that was probably a mistake. Sure enough, at 11:50 I awakened, and have been unable to sleep since. My mind is too awake, too interested, too consumed with possibilities of the new Thursday that has yet to dawn. I sit now at the large kitchen table of this old store, composing this “blind blog” (no Wi-Fi in this remote location), waiting for drowsiness to lead me back to bed.

Palestine is a city of trains, and the Texas Railroad Authority has granted me access to some of their historic locomotives, including old #610. This behemoth pulled the Texas Freedom Train all over the state during our nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Following that year, the locomotive served time in Atlanta, Georgia until it completely tired out, and was returned to Texas. For nearly three months, I have waited for the opportunity to paint this enormous machine, poring over a number of photos taken from a recent visit to the shed where it’s been parked. I have a number of experimental ideas in mind as I try for the first time to render this loco’s portrait in watercolor and pencil.

While I’m working in the gallery over the next few days, I also hope to complete a larger watercolor of a passenger rail car I found in Eureka Springs, Arkansas during a visit last year. I’ve always been dissatisfied with the muted colors on the side of the car, and think I can try a few tricks to enrich them. The foliage also needs more work.

(Next day) After falling asleep around 2:30 this morning and sleeping till nearly 7:00, I rose to a more promising dawn, and the moonless night river yielded to a sunny morning drive, my Jeep cutting across the countryside, and my heart filled with a renewed sense of adventure. By mid-afternoon things were hopping in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, as I met several new friends, and managed to frame two more watercolors, finish my Eureka Springs passenger rail car, and break ground on the old #610. This is a retired Texas and Pacific 2-10-4 steam locomotive, the largest I’ve seen in over ten years. Seventy of these 600-series locomotives were manufactured, and this is the only one that still exists.  Right now, I’m waiting for the background of the painting to dry so I can begin work on the actual locomotive.

610 beginning

Old #610 Texas and Pacific in Progress

The draftsman must aggress; only by persistent assault will the live image capitulate and give up its secret to an unrelenting line.

Rico Lebrun

I anticipate a struggle and plenty to learn as I attempt to render the details on this complex locomotive.

eureka springs beginning

Eureka Springs Rail Odyssey, 16 x 12″ unframed, $250

Finally I finished the Eureka Springs passenger car I started long ago and resumed work on yesterday afternoon.  A number of new paintings have been brought out to The Gallery at Redlands for display and sale as well:

old store

Remnants from an Old Store, 11 x 14″ framed, $250

This subject was taken from the store where I gladly live when I retreat to the Texas wilderness.  Before retiring to bed last night, I walked into the store room and looked at this section of shelving behind the cash register, grateful for the memories of painting it last year.

indian corn

Indian Corn, 14 x 18″ framed, $225

I worked on this piece last winter while visiting with my parents in St. Louis, and finally got around to framing it.

palestine

Palestine Memory, 14 x 18″ framed, $200

I painted this scene from the Gallery window during my one-man-show last March, and finally got it framed and presented in the Gallery.

I plan to spend the next three days and evenings in The Gallery at Redlands, making as many watercolors as I can during this period, and continuing to make friends in the city of Palestine.  So far, the experience has been fulfilling.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I  feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

Reflections Over another Good Day of Painting

May 14, 2017

waxahachie final

One Last Waxahachie Plein Air Watercolor

Here’s a quote that I think will interest you–“Great painting like Bach’s music, in texture closely woven, subdued like the early Gobelin tapestries, no emphasis, no climaxes, no beginnings or endings, merely resumptions and transitions, a design so sustained that there is no effort in starting and every casual statement is equally great.”

But of course such depth presupposes another mode of feeling. One has to be Bach before one can paint in his power and richness. Depth of style can only spring from a deepening of our emotional life. 

Letter from NC Wyeth to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

Today grew into a hot 91-degree afternoon in Waxahachie. Returning to the spot that I occupied yesterday, I was delighted to find “Spider”, my new musician friend, there again, playing his guitar and harmonica, and keeping me company and inspired as the temperatures climbed.

waxahachie final2

Though I continued to withdraw further and further into the shade, there was no wind where we were positioned, so I continued to feel hotter and fainter as the day wore on. But still, I could not stop hearing those words from NC Wyeth that I’ve posted above–words I read before setting up my easel and making a second start on this ground-level series of arches and portals of the Ellis County courthouse. Like the allusion to a Bach composition, I had no particular starting or ending point or even a focal point as I worked all over this composition before me, sometimes drawing, sometimes measuring, sometimes splashing, sometimes washing, sometimes drybrushing, sometimes scraping–everything I did to this painting felt right, and I loved the intimate connection I felt with the gigantic architectural wonder rising high over my head across the street. I thought of another NC Wyeth quote:

A great truth is like a mountain that one walks around, and the changes of its contour as one moves his position only emphasize and revivify its majesty.

After about three hours of working this composition, with a lunch break in the midst. I decided to sign it and call it finished.

courthouse finished

Romanesque Redivivus

When 5:00 arrived, signalling the end of Paint Historic Waxahachie, I returned to the Art on the Square gallery to gather up my paintings on display, and then learned that despite a slow day of traffic (only about thirty patrons came into the gallery today), the painting above, “Romanesque Redivivus” was purchased this afternoon. That brought me great joy. Three paintings sold and one honorable mention made this show a good experience for me. Now I can perhaps find some rest over the next two weeks before I set up for the three-day Art on the Greene art festival in Arlington.

Thanks for reading. It’s been another excellent day.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Loving the Work Itself

May 13, 2017

The week has been, to me, a singular mixture of ineffable sadness and inspiration–two moods that often happen together. But there is a persistent melancholy which I seem unable to shake off.

To circumvent these feelings I have devoted most of my spare time to reading, especially at night when sleep eludes me.–Thoreau, Goethe, Emerson, Tolstoy–all have struck me, as always, with incisive vitality and freshness. My ruminations have again been vividly stirred.

These great men forever radiate a sharp sense of that profound requirement of the artist, to fully understand that consequences of what he creates are unimportant. “Let the motive for action be in the action itself and not in the event.”

I know from my own experience that when I create with any degree of strength and beauty I have had no thought of consequences. Anyone who creates for effect—to score a hit–does not know what he is missing!

N. C. Wyeth letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944, a year before his death

sata

My entire day in Waxahachie was spent in this rapturous spot

The 40-minute drive through the country on this 63-degree morning was drenched with scintillating sunlight and excellent vibes. Artists were requested to paint on the courthouse square from 9:00-to-noon, then sell their work from their easels from 1-to-3:00. As it turned out, not many artists showed up for this event, but I was in place by 8:30, parking adjacent to the spot I had selected where I knew the sun’s angle on the courthouse would be favorable for me throughout the day.

With thirty minutes to spare before beginning, I sat in the shade on a stone bench and opened my book The Wyeths, which contains the complete correspondence of N. C. Wyeth. For years I have been enthralled with N. C.’s breadth of reading and thought throughout his years, and was excited when I found out his correspondence was available to read. When I read this morning his closing letters to his son, I was stirred to find that he read the same men that I read with profound pleasure. And I loved his manifesto which matches mine–making art has reward in itself, even if no one comes to look at it or purchase it. I was thrilled to know that this entire day was a gift, and I could do with it whatever I wished.

The courthouse clock struck 9:00, and I approached my easel with a plan–to knock out three watercolor sketches of the same subject in three hours’ time. I selected a 5 x 7″ picture plane, knowing I had three mats and picture frames in the Jeep that would accommodate them if they were worth framing.

satb

Candid Photo taken by my friend Pamela Brocato.  Thanks, Pam!

satc

In progress watercolor sketches

I drew the first courthouse cupola, then laid in the wet sky. I then turned to number 2 and repeated the process, then again with number 3.  Returning to the first one, I then painted the top part of the cupola, then moved to the other two. Returning to number 1, I fleshed out the bottom part of my building composition, then repeated with the other two. At 11:15, I despaired of finishing by noon, and set out to work fast and furiously and spontaneously on the tree cover, moving quickly from one to the next to the next. Finally, I put in whatever remaining details on the three buildings I had time to do.  At 11:55 I stopped, took the pieces into Art on the Square, the gallery at 113 W. Franklin St., inserted them into their 8 x 10″ frames and hung them with the rest of my work.

satd

123

I have priced the three paintings at $65 each framed in the 8 x 10″ frame, or $50 with only the mat. They will hang in the Art on the Square gallery until tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Making art is a solitary activity, and I don’t believe I have every complained about that. Solitude contains its own rewards, and when I feel that I have entered the “zone”, there is no such sentiment as “loneliness” in my soul. But today, I was definitely not alone. My phone jangled all day with well-wishers, online observers and all kinds of good words. Then companions began to drift in and out of my area the entire day, and it was sublime!

spider

Drew Minshew, alias “Spider”

A fellow about my age took his seat on the bench in the courtyard behind me and commenced playing his acoustic guitar, harmonica and singing. I seldom hear such talented musicians playing out in public like this, purely for their own enjoyment. This man was professional, and he sang and played the songs that resonate with me from my past–“Dust in the Wind,” “Turn the Page,” “Tears in Heaven,” and many, many more. He stayed until noon, as I did, playing till his fingers got sore. We exchanged business cards, and I intend to hear him perform. He stays busy with gigs. I think I enjoyed him the most, because he gets the same thrill from making music that I do from making art–the joy is in the process.

spider & skeeter

Spider and Skeeter

Skeeter Murley, a long-time friend and watercolor enthusiast of mine, surprised me by dropping by. He had work to do in nearby Midlothian, and decided to swing by Waxahachie, knowing this Paint Historic Waxahachie was in progress. Skeeter has a job that takes him on the road too much for him to paint as much as he wishes. Hopefully, he’ll find a way around that soon.  His skill is phenomenal, and I’m proud to belong to the same Society of Watercolor Artists as he.

Cheryl Rose

Cheryl Rose and Me

I have known Cheryl Rose for decades, as we both worked in the Arlington Independent School District. She has retired, and I look forward to joining her ranks in a few weeks. She surprised me with a text that she was coming to town. Cheryl lives in Arlington, and made the 40-minute trek alone, finding no one available to make the trip with her. She came to town to peruse our gallery as well as the antique stores around the square. Cheryl has been a wonderful patron, picking up my limited editions, but today she decided to purchase an orginal.  Thank you, Cheryl!

caboose (2)

“Odysseus on the Rail,” now in the Cheryl Rose collection

cheryl rose photo

Cheryl Rose took this photo

cheryl rose photo 2

. . . and this one as well!  Thanks!

pam and annabelle

Pamela Brocato and “Annabelle”

Pamela Brocato is one of the beautiful artistic spirits I gather with on Tuesday evenings for our “artists cafe” in north Arlington. She is a graphics design artist and pastelist, who also works long hours, travels extensively for her job, and struggles to find quality time to make art. But she is a delight in art-related conversations, and when she is in town, she joins our cafe and inspires us. She surprised me with a visit as well, and her adorable Pomeranian is as soft as a cat and just as quiet! The dog never made a sound the entire time Pam visited together at my easel. Pam also surprised me with some fabulous pics and I have to post those as well (she took the photo I posted near the top of this blog as well).

pam brocato photo of me

As the afternoon grew hot and I began to feel my energy fading, I decided I might try one more shot at the courthouse, this time at the ground level.

saturday portal

Ground Level Portal of Ellis County Courthouse

I worked fast on this one, as I was growing tired and the sun finally found me where I had earlier enjoyed the shade. It was time to call it a day and head back to the house.

This day has been fulfilling on so many levels. I’m happy that I ground out four watercolors, and happier that I met a new friend, and familiar friends cared enough to make the journey to spend time with me.  Thanks to all my friends, and thanks to all of you who follow me on this blog.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Prepping for the Final Weekend in Waxahachie

May 12, 2017

court1

Honorable Mention at Paint Historic Waxahachie judging

wax7

Sold on opening night of Paint Historic Waxahachie reception

It was a good night.  The courthouse window posted above received an Honorable Mention and a gift certificate of $100 for Jack Richeson & Co. art supplies.  And before the evening was over, my first attempt at the courthouse sold. I drove home happy, thinking about tomorrow’s endeavor.

I will participate in the town square paint-out tomorrow from 9-12:00, followed by the sidewalk art sale from 1-3:00. My plan is to paint at least three 5 x 7″ watercolor vignettes of the courthouse cupola to insert into 8 x 10″ mats and simple frames. We’ll see if they can sell. Meanwhile, I have six additional paintings hanging inside Art on the Square, 113 W. Franklin St. (on the square!) still looking for a home.

If I still have the stamina after 3:00, I plan to retreat to the scenic areas surrounding the town of Waxahachie and focus on some landscape painting. Artists who have registered for Paint Historic Waxahachie can still create new work to sell until 5:00 Sunday. I have blocked off this weekend, hoping to have enough energy to continue painting till it’s over.

Thanks for reading.

The French Impressionist Legacy in Waxahachie

May 9, 2017

blog2.jpg

. . . to transfer the atmosphere of the artist’s studio to the boulevard.

Sue Roe, the private lives of the impressionists

Despite the physical fatigue factor from daily 40-minute afternoon drives and setting up to paint, I cannot describe how invigorating and inspiring the Waxahachie environment has become during this week of plein air activity.  The enthusiasm of the artists coming and going out of Art on the Square at 113 W. Franklin St. is beyond description. And the residents of this town are so friendly, eager to approach our easels to see what we’re working on, and to offer kind words and express appreciation for us coming to town to paint daily.

The skies turned dark over Waxahachie, threatening rain. I chose to set up my easel under the awning of the businesses on the west side of the town square. Measuring out a 9 x 12″ surface, I began carefully drawing out the details of the Ellis County Courthouse’s complex cupola. I worked slowly, taking several breaks, and got to renew friendships with other plein air artists I haven’t seen for over two years. I’ve missed the recent seasons of Paint Historic Waxahachie, and cannot wait to reconnect with other artitsts I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in this area.

And speaking of reconnecting–I have been unable recently to meet my friends at our weekly “artists cafe” gathering on Tuesday nights.  So . . . this afternoon Kelly Noonan and Elaine Jary brought the cafe to me! They made the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie and we had an evening meal, drinks and rewarding conversation at the College Street Pub on 210 N. College Street. This has become my favorite place to decompress after a long afternoon of painting, and what could be better than chatting with kindred spirits. Thanks, Kelly and Elaine for bringing the Cafe Gerbois back to life in this century!

And thanks to all of you who are following this activity. Thank you for keeping me inspired.

I paint in order to discover. 

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Grinding Out the Plein Air Enterprise

May 7, 2017

today3

It is necessary to work very continuously and valiantly, and never apologetically. In fact, to be ever on the job so that we may find ourselves there, brush in hand, when the great moment does arrive.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The words of Henri are timely for me in that I’m finding painting outdoors to be a grind lately. I travel forty minutes to Waxahachie to take part in this Paint Historic Waxahachie event, and after the Friday night carnival activity at my school, I awoke yesterday morning late, and still tired.  Nevertheless, I made the trip and managed to grind out the paintings until nearly dark. I found it necessary to sleep in again today, and thanks to a long sleep, I managed to make the long trip and paint until after 7:00 p.m. again. But I’m feeling it now. Nevertheless, I know for certain that inspiration is not going to strike if I’m sitting at home or at school merely thinking about painting–I have to get out and do it, grind at it, cranking out painting after painting, hoping that something of quality will emerge.  I only hope I keep up the confidence to the point that I can continue to travel to Waxahachie every day after school and keep pushing out paintings.

Approximately fifty artists have already put out a great body of work since the “early bird” special opened April 1.

todaytoday2

The Art on the Square Gallery at 113 West Franklin St. in Waxahachie is already filling up to capacity and we still have a week to go. We anticipate a great showing this year, and I am proud to be a part of this team.

Thanks for reading. Time to get some sleep!

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

The Afterglow

April 10, 2017

puppy

All I Needed this Morning was a Puppy to Hug

Just when I concluded that this Monday morning following my show couldn’t get any better, a sweet puppy trotted into the copier room at school. One of my colleagues was preparing to take him to the vet. I have had shih tzus in my past, and certainly miss their affectionate nature. This one was no exception. Having these moments to love him before walking into my first class was the ice cream on the cake. Thanks, Molly, for sharing him!

Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories, coming out in limited editions for $100

I am very pleased to find my “Fishing Memories” watercolor now getting attention. This morning I have been approached by two friends asking for a limited edition giclee. This print will be the same size as the largest ones I’ve sold before (“Summer Morning in Sundance Square” and ” Fort Worth Cattle Drive”). Today I will place an order for the first four with the company that designs my limited editions. Thank you, Mark and Kathy, for your interest that got this started. I still believe this is the best watercolor I have done to date. My original is still available in its frame for $1200. These limited editions will be priced at $100.

I am feeling profound withdrawal. I knew I was going to miss the people in Palestine, Texas, but had no idea how profoundly I would miss them this soon. I have opportunity to return to that town for future work and I cannot wait for that to happen.

Again, thank you so much for all of you that took interest in my One-Man-Show, clearly one of the best experiences of my art career.

I paint in order to discover

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.