Archive for the ‘art studio’ Category

Still Working on the Geometry

March 28, 2023

Hard at work in Studio Eidolons

I see in painters prose writers and poets. Rhyme, measure, the turning of verses which is indispensable and which gives them so much vigor, are analogous to the hidden symmetry, to the equilibrium at once wise and inspired, which governs the meeting or separation of lines and spaces, the echoes of color, etc.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal, September 19, 1847

This has been an unusually delicious day for me, given mostly to reading and painting in Studio Eidolons. I seldom come away from reading the Delacroix journals without some rich gem that he scribbled for safe keeping. Today has been tedious beyond description as I’ve constantly re-measured, re-drawn, erased and re-drawn yet again. The geometry and tight angles of the Sacred Heart Church are challenging, and I’m feeling the fatigue.

I’m excited to announce my re-newed participation in an Arlington gallery near where I live–Show Me the Monet, located inside Gracie Lane boutique at 4720 S. Cooper Street. Tomorrow I will hang six framed pieces of mine, a combination of watercolors and academic collages. I have also consented to offering monthly watercolor classes there, the next one being held April 12 from 1-4:00. We will render a solitary fly-fisherman in this lesson.

I’m also gearing up for Artscape 2023 to be held at the Dallas Arboretum April 28-30. I’ll share more information about that event as the time nears.

Thanks for reading.


A Sacred Geometry

March 28, 2023

We can now live, not just amphibiously in divided and distinguished worlds, but pluralistically in many worlds and cultures simultaneously. We are no more committed to one culture–to a single ratio among the human senses–any more than to one book or to one language or to one technology.

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy

While sitting in the Service Department, waiting for my vehicle, I’m revisiting a pair of McLuhan books that piqued my curiosity recently.

The quote lifted above takes me back to my drafting table where I labored awhile yesterday, engrossed in the geometrical and colorful intricacies of one of the stained glass windows of the church across the street from our Gallery at Redlands.

Revisiting this image transported me back through many layers, chapters, and episodes of my life’s education, ministry, and vocations. This is just one of the many deep-seated pleasures I glean while making art. As lines and colors converge to suggest images, my personal history drifts to the surface of my consciousness, and I enjoy drifting along in the stream of thoughts and sensations. This is why I’m unaware of how much time passes while I’m working in the studio.

Incidentally, this is how I survive waiting rooms. Thanks to books, journal, and imagination, I can endure long stretches of waiting.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday morning thoughts while sketching

March 26, 2023

We are preparing for yet another day trip today, having returned home late last night from the symphony in Tyler, Texas.

Finding the weather outdoors gorgeous beyond description, I decided to pull up a chair in the garage and see if I could capture some of our neighborhood sites in a SketchBook.

While sketching, my mind does not stop. So when I paused in the midst of the sketch I decided to write the following:

What does drawing do for me? It slows my breathing. Relaxes me. And, at the same time, it focuses me. Drawing allows me to concentrate my gaze, my attention, my love and devotion, to the Subject which has rendered me an object. I have given myself to a Subject, and worshipfully move to translate the experience onto a white, two-dimensional rectangle.

Thanks for reading.

After the Festival. The Conversation Begins . . .

March 24, 2023
The Gallery at Redlands

In 1951 [Thomas B.] Hess wrote that the painters’ conversations “in cafeterias, bars, lofts and museum lobbies” had “a cheerful optimism as far as the future is concerned, a self-reliant re-examination of the past, and an assertive enjoyment of the present.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

One week after the Dogwood Art & Music Festival closed, I am finally sitting down to this blog. I took no pictures, because I dropped my phone and broke it. Thanks to local photographers Dave Shultz and Justin Bryant, I snagged a pair of quality photos of our event and reposted them for my readers.

Now, a week later, I’m capturing a quiet moment in a Barnes & Noble Cafe before attending an opening solo show for Amanda Hukill, one of our celebrated gallery artists. She opens in a couple of hours at the Hinds Fine Art Gallery in Tyler, Texas. Today has been an extremely busy day in The Gallery at Redlands, and I’m thankful that Sandi has taken over for the evening so I can support this opening in one of our sister cities.

The festival was an overwhelming success despite frigid temperatures. Thirty-two artists arrived and set up efficiently on Friday morning and by that evening the tent was packed to capacity with enthusiastic patrons. I’m delighted that the load-in and load-out both were carried out with efficiency and everyone in good spirits. Our event was successful thanks to a myriad of volunteers working tirelessly and scores of local businesses sponsoring our efforts. We extend our deepest thanks to all of you.

This New Byzantium movement seems to be gaining momentum as artists under the tent last weekend began exploring the idea of forming an artists’ guild spreading across East Texas. We want to begin with gatherings in local public places for the purpose of sharing our ideas for art and exploring ways to launch new exhibitions. Each month we plan to meet in a different city, as we are finding ourselves stretched far apart, from Palestine to Tyler to Arlington to Waco and beyond. The net keeps expanding. Please respond to us and let us know if you’d like to meet with us.

My blood has always stirred when reading art history and the movements that grew out of local cafes and bars. The French Impressionists had their Cafe Gerbois. Picasso was inspired by his creative companions at La Rotonde. Robert Henri ignited The Eight at his studio apartment at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The New York School held court at the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village. Now, we’re gathering creatives from towns all over East Texas. Making art is a solitary enterprise with monklike devotion, and we are starved for quality companionship.

The 85th Annual Dogwood Art & Music Festival. Photo by Dave Shultz

The V.I.P Friday Night event. Photo by Justin K. Bryant

Several of my new watercolors nearing completion

Sorry if this blog appears disjointed; I’ve been writing it since early Friday morning with countless interruptions, and from three different locations.

Thanks for reading.

Kicking off a Busy Art Week

March 13, 2023

Quality “Executive Time” this morning

Hello art friends. The weekend was end-to-end action in Palestine, Texas, so I found no time to stop and blog. We have the 85th annual Dogwood Art & Music Festival arriving this Friday and Saturday, March 17-18. In a couple of days, an enormous tent will be erected by two crews that will cover the entire parking lot across the street from The Redland Hotel. Friday morning, thirty-two artists will arrive to set up for the VIP event that will run from 5-9:00. Tickets for the Friday night VIP event are $20 that provide the patron access to heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar hosted by Stella Artois and Roundhouse Liquor. There will also be live acoustic music, and patrons will have the first opportunity to purchase art from the artists who were carefully juried into this show, a host of paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, glass-making, fibers, and graphic design. Tickets may be purchased at the tent’s entrance. We’re expecting a blockbuster night with nearly twice the number of artists featured than last year.

Saturday’s festival will run 9-4:00. A parade will open the morning’s festivities, and the entire Palestine downtown will witness thousands filling the streets lined with merchandise booths, food vendors, live music, children’s entertainment, and of course, the Art Tent which will have free admission, as well as adding several booths of work created by local high school students.

This will be the fifth year of the massive Art Tent addition to this long-running festival. Local artist William E. Young, son of the famous Ancel E. Nunn, will be in our celebrity booth under the tent, offering for sale signed and numbered editions of his fifth and final installment of art commemorating this festival. Every year, William has created acrylic paintings of whimsical animal musicians busking in the streets in front of historic Palestine landmarks. I can’t wait to show you his latest contribution; it will be unveiled Thursday at a special event and must be kept under wraps until then. But below you can see the artist from last year under the tent, standing among his previous four editions:

Artist William E. Young

This year I have chosen not to occupy a booth under the Big Tent, but let my work remain in our Gallery at Redlands across the street, and instead be on hand to assist the artists with the loading in, registration and setting up. During the times I’ll be helping under the Tent, we have been fortunate to enlist the help of several of our gallery artists in keeping the Gallery at Redlands open and operational. They will be bringing in new work of their own to add to the already existing work in our gallery exhibit, and offering their pieces for sale. These artists include Steve Miller, Kathy Lamb and Amanda Hukill. You will truly enjoy visiting with them in the Gallery as well as meeting the VIP artists under the tent. Three other gallery artists from our group will have their work under the tent: Deanna Pickett-Frye, Cecilia Bramhall and Orlando Guillen. Sandi and I are proud that The Gallery at Redlands will be well-represented in this Festival.

The hour is getting late, the laundry is nearly done, and we have a multitude of chores bearing down on us before we return to Palestine. As chairperson of Hospitality, Sandi has been working overtime for several weeks now, and there appears to be no letting up in the remaining days before the celebration. I will be doing a demonstration and leading a watercolor workshop in Granbury Tuesday before heading to Palestine, anticipating that Sandi will get there ahead of me.

Maybe tomorrow I can share some of my current ideas about journaling. I’ve chosen to snap a few pictures of recent journal doodlings from my “executive time” bliss. When I go back to read old journals, I’ve found it easier to flip to the start of each day by having some kind of collage assembly embellish the page before I scribble out the stuff that’s on my mind.

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.

Back to Work

March 3, 2023

16 x 20″ watercolor underway

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

There are memories of days of this sort, of wonderful driftings in and out of the crowd, of seeing and thinking. Where are the sketches that were made? Some of them are in dusty piles, some turned out to be so good they got frames, some became motives for big pictures, which were either better or worse than the sketches, but they, or rather the states of being and understandings we had at the time of doing them all, are sifting through and leaving their impress on our whole work and life.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I open this blog, after a lengthy hiatus, with this soulful selection from Robert Henri, one of my heroes of art history. The man was truly a prophet, a visionary, capable of inspiring a circle of illustrators to become great artists, including one of my favorites, Edward Hopper. Throughout my life I have sought out role models, and what Henri has provided me as a template for life is this: the artist has value as teacher as well as creator. Throughout my decades of teaching in public schools and universities I often fretted that I lacked quality time for making art because of the teaching responsibilities. Now retired, I am discovering that teaching remains as important to life’s enrichment as creating. Now that Sandi and I own The Gallery at Redlands, I am surprised at the demand for art classes here in the gallery, and am loving every minute of these opportunities. I just finished a class yesterday in perspective drawing, and have a watercolor class filling up for tomorrow afternoon.

On top of all of this, I am still finding time to fulfill my dream as Henri’s “sketch hunter”–I have five new watercolors now in progress that have been cooking in my visual consciousness for weeks now as I’ve traveled about and spotted locations I wished to capture in sketchbooks and watercolor pads. Several completed watercolors are in storage, awaiting frames. Less successful ones are also in storage for future evaluation. Limited editions have also been processed, including my recent Clydesdale piece:

I’m proud that the first edition went out the door before I had a chance to make labels. These are now available in The Gallery at Redlands, measuring 11″(h) x 15″(w) and priced at $100 unframed.

The only reason for my recent blog hiatus has been demands in other areas preventing my sitting down to the computer. Our 85th annual Dogwood Art and Music Festival will descend upon Palestine March 17-18. Sandi has done ten times the amount of work I have in preparing for this. So have other members of the Dogwood Arts Council. We have reason to believe this will be our best festival yet, as we have a large tent covering the parking lot across the street from The Redlands Hotel that will feature 32 artists in their booths. This will be the first time I’ve opted out of being under the tent, keeping my art work in The Gallery at Redlands which will remain open for business throughout the festival. Thanks to artists and volunteers, I will be able to move back and forth from gallery to festival throughout the weekend and enjoy the company of all the artists coming into town.

Gallery at Redlands. My work area is always untidy

The watercolor started above will feature the Sacred Heart Church across the street. As I’ve blogged several times before, I enjoy waking up in our apartment upstairs to the sound of the 7:00 church bells, tolling nine times. I’ll never stop chuckling at that. I’m posting one of my earlier paintings of the church below. We’ll be painting this composition in tomorrow’s watercolor class.

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.

Planning #3 of the Palestine Series

February 17, 2023
First vision. June 11, 2022
Palestine Blues. 1st of series
Nearing completion of 2nd in the series

“It is very well to copy what one sees. It’s much better to draw what one has retained in one’s memory. It is a transformation in which imagination collaborates with memory. One reproduces only that which is striking, that is to say, the necessary. This one’s recollections and invention are liberated from the tyranny which nature exerts.”

Edgar Degas

“It’s hard to define how they come about,” Hopper said of his pictures, “but it’s a long process of gestation in the mind and a rising emotion.”

Brian O’Doherty, “Edward Hopper’s Voice” in American Masters: The Voice and the Myth

The three-week hiatus has been restful for me. As we approached the second anniversary of owning The Gallery at Redlands, Sandi & I decided we needed to take a couple of weekends off before the annual Dogwood Art & Music Festival gets underway. In three weeks we’ve enjoyed our fireplace during the Texas freeze, traveled Oklahoma, Missouri & Arkansas, and rested here at home.

Above all, I’ve bathed in the warm, soothing waters of imagination through sketching, reading, journaling and composting ideas for new art work. Edward Hopper has been my guiding spirit lately as I’ve pondered ways to continue my Palestine blues series of watercolors.

This series began on June 11, 2022 while walking across town one morning as I’m accustomed to doing during our weekend stays there. Looking across Spring Street (actually Highway 287 through Palestine), I was arrested at the beauty of the contrasting warm sun and cool shadows around what once was the Pearlstone Grocery.

On August 22, after a lengthy gestation, I finally began my first attempt at painting this, adding the ghost of Lightnin’ Hopkins walking along the tracks. This bluesman used to perform thirty minutes away at a juke joint in the town of Crockett.

I began my second painting on January 2, adding a harp player to Lightnin’. The harp player is actually a guy I watched play one Sunday morning in Dallas at the Sons of Hermann Hall some years back. We were beginning the final day of our Randy Brodnax Christmas Art Show. I took pictures of him with my phone and used them for this composition.

On January 18, something happened that gave me fresh inspiration for the 3rd of this series. I began work on it yesterday, though I’m still finishing the second one. The quotes above I posted because of the severe editing of this third in the series; there are a host of items removed from the scene as well as new objects added and others repositioned. I’ve already changed my mind a dozen times and chuckle at the thought of my characters and sign posts getting up, walking about and repositioning themselves somewhere else in the scene. I keep saying “Stop that!” but they won’t listen.

More later. . .

Studio Eidolons Saturday Morning

February 11, 2023

Enjoying Cowboy Coffee on a Saturday Morning in the Studio

An artist must never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of success.

Henri Matisse

This is my first morning back in the studio after a short vacation home to St. Louis to visit my parents, siblings and friends. I’m getting ready to make some new and fresh art after a lengthy and restful hiatus and wanted to share some of my most recent moments and memories with my readers. I’ve been enjoying this new book Last Light that I have mentioned before, and am nearing the end of the Matisse chapter. The quote above arrested me, as I had been entertaining second thoughts about pursuing some art that lies outside my normal practice. The swift kick in the pants reminded me that a real artist is free to pursue whatever holds his/her attention. And I shall respond to these new stimuli.

I’m enjoying Cowboy Coffee made on our stovetop and thought I’d share the picture of the pot I brewed when our power was out. Much has been written of late about the political ramifications of Texas and its perennial boast of being a major energy capital of the world, yet cannot seem to keep electricity flowing when the state hits a winter deep freeze. We were fortunate that we only lost power for a few hours; many in this state have gone for days without it.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the photo taken above. It was during that winter that I converted our garage into a Man Cave and created probably my best still life while working in that space.

I now have this watercolor hanging in our Gallery at Redlands in Palestine. I used a full sheet of watercolor paper, so once the matting and framing were added, it turned out to be an enormous piece to display.

I have been more faithful recently to my pledge to sketch more, and have enjoyed the sensation of a pencil dragging across a page and leaving its tracks. I recall artist Paul Klee describing drawing as simply a line going for a walk. The act of sketching has ways of relaxing me that other activities cannot seem to accomplish.

After our St. Louis sojourn, Sandi and I headed south to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. After my recent watercolor experiments in rendering trees, I was held spellbound while viewing the paintings of George Inness, Asher Durand and William Trost Richards. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of watercolor landscape painting now. And I have little doubt that the works of these kindred spirits will improve my future endeavors.

George Inness, An Old Roadway

Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits

William Trost Richards, Landscape

We closed Gallery at Redlands for two successive weekends so we could enjoy some relaxing vacation time. The Texas winter storm occupied the first week and the Missouri/Arkansas travels filled the second. We plan to return to Palestine a week from today to resume our normal gallery hours.

Thanks for reading.

Friday in The Redlands Hotel

January 27, 2023

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

Vincent Van Gogh

This Friday morning has been pure stream-of-consciousness. Alarm woke me at 7:00. I lay awake in the darkness, waiting. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church across the street from The Redlands Hotel has a bell that tolls three minutes after my smart phone clock. Sure enough, at 7:03 my time, the bell tolled nine times. I have posted this frequently in my blog, but it still makes me laugh. The rest of the day the church tower will toll the correct number before it goes silent during the night time sleeping hours. Then, next morning, at 7:00, it will begin with nine tolls.

After showering and dressing, I enjoyed some “Executive Time” reading at the dining room table, sipping my morning coffee, and scribbling new thoughts in my journal. My attention was arrested by a poem from Adrienne Su, “The Days.” In this piece, she wrestles with the value of keeping a journal and recording one’s own thoughts. I have never second-guessed this value since I began in 1985. Two hundred volumes later, I acknowledge that I’ll never catalogue all those entries, nor do I need to. After I die, I don’t care what happens to them. They could be burned or trashed. But I won’t be discarding them. I take great joy in going back to them and reliving the memories much like one who flips through pictures on the smart phone. And I enjoy reviewing ideas I’ve visited in the past, and revising them.

But that is not why I practice journaling. The poem I just mentioned contrasted journaling with living “in the moment.” For me, journaling is living in the moment. When I journal, I am peeling back the layers of my current experience, savoring it, dwelling on it. As I wrote these words, I heard the clatter of men outside, beneath my fire escape, emptying the restaurant dumpsters into the waiting truck. It was 27 degrees outside. My mind was immediately transported to the 1980s when I worked jobs outdoors during the winter, and dreamt of a better future. Next thing I knew, pages of the journal were filling with memories of those days, contrasted gratefully with realities of these days. For me, the life of the mind is a luxury; I relish any morning that I am allowed just to sit, ponder, and feel gratitude for life and the gifts offered.

After journaling, I went back into the bedroom, retrieved my guitar, and went to work re-learning a song I had stopped playing more than ten years ago–“South City Midnight Lady.” I have always loved those guitar riffs! The death of David Crosby last weekend has gotten my mind back on alternative tunings, and I had to re-tune my guitar to play this song. I just loved the sounds coming out of those strange chords! Next thing I knew, I was playing variations on that theme, enjoying the moment. I stopped playing in bands long ago, but am considering a return to the open mike. There are so many venues opening up these days, and I just might step back into that pool one day.

Once I opened the gallery downstairs at 10:00, I got out my art supplies and went to work sketching a younger version of Neil Young. I had tried to draw him last night when I was tired, and the weariness showed. Today’s sketch turned out better. I’m trying to talk myself into drawing more consistently. Making it a daily practice would be a good thing.

One of our local artists dropped by the gallery for a visit this morning, Mike Harris from Malakoff, forty minutes away. Mike has been a participant in Palestine’s monthly Art Walk for quite some time now. We plan to re-open Art Walk in April, since January through March brings unpleasant weather for getting out. Mike enjoys using a magnifying glass to burn images into birch wood, then coloring them with acrylic pigments and wood stains.

I use the word “emerging artist” carefully. Mike Harris indeed fits this category as he’s decided to test the market. His inventory is sufficient enough to show in festivals and he’s ordered a booth tent and now seeks venues to show. We had an energetic discussion about online presence, application guidelines and ways to send one’s work up the flagpole for others to see. Mike has gotten plenty of attention from the Palestine Art Walks and private commissions. Now he’s ready to get out more into the public. I trust you’ll be hearing plenty about his work soon, and I’m proud to play a part in introducing him.

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.

Monday Morning in Studio Eidolons

January 16, 2023

Back to work on my Watercolor

Goya was not a systematic thinker, much less someone given to producing treatises or manifestos. He was an artist, a man who expressed himself in images.

Richard Lacayo, Last Light: How Six Great Artists Made Old Age a Time of Triumph

Waking at 5:39 this morning was not the plan, but it’s worked wonderfully for me. Our last four days in The Gallery at Redlands were packed beyond description with tasks that were rewarding, yet rendered me a mindless boob by the time we got home last evening. Retiring to bed around 10:00-ish, I set an alarm for 8:00, and found myself rising from sleep at 5:39. Coffee and executive time, sitting up in bed, yielded restful bliss in reading and journaling. By 8:00 I found myself at my drafting table in Studio Eidolons, Paddington seated nearby, and good sentiments bathing my being.

Paddington, my Studio Companion

I won’t discuss all the darkness I read regarding Goya this morning. Suffice it to say that I also am not a systematic thinker, and hope I can tell my story through images as well. But I choose images filled with light, rather than darkness. My second attempt at a watercolor illustrating “Palestine Blues” is coming along slowly, but satisfyingly, for me. I did manage to get in quite a bit of work while in Palestine the past four days, but now am happy to have some peace and quiet here in our home as I continue to chip away at this large piece.

Thanks for reading.