Archive for the ‘art studio’ Category

A Weekend to Hit the Reset Button

April 14, 2019

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It is a thorny undertaking, and more so than it seems, to follow a movement so wandering as that of our mind, to penetrate the opaque depths of its innermost folds, to pick out and immobilize the innumerable flutterings that agitate it.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

After nearly a week of sweating out business paperwork, I finally escaped to Palestine and the waiting Gallery at Redlands. It was so good to see my art-loving friends again. Looking back now at the restful Friday, Saturday and Sunday that provided a wholesome blend of reading and watercoloring in the gallery, I’ll see if I can put some words on the page describing the delights.

A few weeks ago, I began reading from the Essays of the sixteenth-century thinker Montaigne, the one credited with inventing the genre of essay. I was aware of his literary prowess through my readings of Emerson, but never got around to reading him directly. This recent experience has been quite a revelation, and has inspired me to take my ideas more seriously, and seek a stronger link between my art and philosophical musings.

The two evenings prior to my departure for Palestine were spent seated in a patio area of a recently opened Kroger store a few miles from where I live. This store is planted alongside state highway 287, on an enormous piece of undeveloped property. Noticing the earth-moving equipment on the vacant property west of the store made me realize that this raw land will not be pristine much longer. So I decided to spend two late afternoons on the patio, looking across the vast stretch of land with sketchbook, journal and Montaigne on the table before me. As the sun sank lower in the sky, the most amazing array of colors refleted off the knee-high weeds on the property, and my eye was overwhelmed at the contrast of warm golds and cold greens alternating across the undulating grasses until it stopped at the stand of trees at the far end, almost a silhouette against the sunset sky. What I saw was the quintessential Edward Hopper oil painting of landsapes under low-angle sunlight. I know that such luminosity is possible with oil, but have puzzled frequently over how to get it done in watercolor.

Once I arrived at the gallery, I took out three 8 x 10″  stretched panels of watercolor paper and went to work experimenting on the landscape that remains etched in my mind’s eye. I laid down the initial skies Friday night, then worked on some washes of basic land color on Saturday. Sunday was spent mostly experimenting with dry brush, masquing, misting with a spray bottle, and splattering with a toothbrush. Finally by Sunday afternoon, I felt painter’s fatigue and decided to give my eye a rest until tomorrow. The paintings remain in the gallery downstairs, and I am now cozied up in my favorite Redlands Hotel suite with my copy of Montaigne and an open sketchbook. Here is what I have so far with the three watercolor sketches:

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Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to find fresh energy to continue work (play) on these three pieces.

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.

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Sunday Evening Soundings

April 7, 2019

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Be open to mystery. Not everything needs sharp lines.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

Although we all started life with a Da Vinci-like insatiable curiosity, most of us learned, once we got to school, that answers were more important than questions. In most cases, schooling does not develop curiosity, delight in ambiguity, and question-asking skill. . . . The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach to education may have served to provide society with assembly-line workers and bureaucrats, but it does not do much to prepare us for a new Renaissance.

Michael J. Gelb, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day 

Today has been the finest Sunday I can recall for months, perhaps even years. Cool, breezy temperatures throughout the day set the stage for pleasurable reading and journaling outdoors. This new Michael Gelb book I picked up recently has been great company, sending me alternately to my journal and my sketchbook. In fact, this day in retrospect appears to be comprised of one lengthy, continuous sketchbook/journal. For one day at least, I have broken the dividing line between sketchbook and journal, and have found myself throughout most of the day alternating between writing and drawing on the same pages.

Wordsworth’s sentiment about the child being father to the man has lingered with me throughout the day as I continually alIowed myself the leisure of free, unbridled thought, particularly questions. I have already jumped into the thick of the spring art festival season, participating in plenty of events already, and looking ahead to some big ones just around the corner. Questions which have dogged me for years finally were faced honestly today, and I have a genuine feeling of being re-born because I arrived at some solutions I am willing to try.  Artscape 2019 will arrive at the Dallas Arboretum April 27-28. This is a high-end festival that last year filled my innermost being with memories for which I’ll always remain grateful.20180427_1343502567829112073059263.jpg

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(Last Year)–Artscape 2018

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

After years of struggling with the specifics of booth presentation, I have finally found great help in consultation with a dear, close friend, and thanks to further research, have come up with some new ideas. The next few weeks, I’ll be working on this project with renewed enthusiasm. I can hardly wait to present my new booth format. I’ll gladly photograph and post it when the time arrives.

It is Sunday night as I sit and write this. Finally, after nearly two years, I have accepted retirement. I will not be rising at six in the morning to scramble and arrive in time to teach a full slate of crowded high school classes beginning at 7:35. I will not come home tired at the end of tomorrow afternoon with enough grading and prepping to keep me busy till bedtime so I can get up and dash to the high school again for another weary round. I will not go to bed every night with the realization that I did not do everything expected from me, though I never taught less than four subjects per semester. Finally, that albatross has been cut loose from around my neck, and every day is mine to chart and navigate as I choose. I wondered how long it would take for this feeling to set in. Nearly two years. Thank God the sentiment has finally settled in on my contented soul. Maybe that is another reason why Sundays are so good now; they no longer serve as preludes to grinding, mostly thankless work weeks. I rise early on Monday mornings now, but not to dash to school. Mornings have finally become sacred.

Reading all this da Vinci material now reminds me of all the ideas that surged in me during my three decades of teaching–the primacy of curiosity, the value of open questioning, the belief that the journey is just as important as the destination. I believed all that then, and believe it now. But I saw little interest in these matters inside those institutional walls, despite the lip service paid to the themes during those annual inservice rituals. One would think that I now would be saying–“if only I realized these values when I was teaching . . .” But the fact is, I did. And I gave my best to facilitate an environment for such inquiry. And sometimes it worked. I’ll try to dwell on those sacred times when it in fact worked, and be watchful not to dwell on the darker, sterile memories when it didn’t.

The bottom line–today was a special, enlightening, Renaissance-type of Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to question.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Saturday Morning Musings over Coffee

April 6, 2019

creel redone

“Thinking About the Next Catch”

Watercolor

I think continually of those who were truly great.

Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history

Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,

Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition

Was that their lips, still touched with fire,

Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.

And who hoarded from the Spring branches

The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

 

What is precious, is never to forget

The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs

Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.

Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light

Nor its grave evening demand for love.

Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother

With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

 

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,

See how these names are fêted by the waving grass

And by the streamers of white cloud

And whispers of wind in the listening sky.

The names of those who in their lives fought for life,

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.

Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun

And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Sir Stephen Spender, “The Truly Great”

Day-before-yesterday, while poking around in an eclectic bookstore, I happened across a copy of Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.  My curiosity aroused, I pulled up a chair, opened the book, began reading from the Preface, and was immediately charmed. This was published in 1998. How on earth did it fly under my radar for twenty-one years? I have never heard of the author, a motivational speaker featured by a host of corporations at various events. As I continued reading, I found the volume to be similar in its attraction to a TED talk. Hardback. $7.50. Why not?

The book has been a warm companion since its purchase, and with this being a Saturday morning, I decided to remain in bed with a cup of coffee, my laptop, smartphone, journal, sketchbook, and of course, this book. Reading about Leonardo is never a wasted activity for me. I have collected at least a half dozen biographies of him, culminating in my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s celebrated work.  Wishing that I had brought the Isaacson biography on my current trip, I stopped yesterday at a Barnes & Noble store to pull one from the shelf and take the following notes from the closing pages: twenty life lessons from Leonardo da Vinci:

Take notes, on paper. Five hundred years later, Leonardo’s notebooks are around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start writing them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.

I began my journals back in the 1980’s and am still at it, scribbling almost daily. But again, reading of Leonardo’s lifestyle, I still fall short of the sketchbook/journal synthesis; I rarely draw in my journals, maintaining separate sketchbooks for that purpose. I still wish to cultivate the habit of cross-sectioning my drawing with my writing; I would love to know the synthesis of the two as Leonardo practiced.

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While musing over Leonardo, journaling, sketching, and the general incubation of ideas, I was suddenly seized with the impulse to indulge in some “psychic automatism” sketching as the surrealists artists practiced and later extolled by Robert Motherwell. After several thumbnail abstract sketches, I then pursued some free writing and found the exercise rewarding. In fact, that is what prompted me to set aside my playthings and see if I could push out another blog.

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By the way, this is Hazel, a new “friend” I’ve met who has a fascination with lighted screens–TV, cell phone, laptop. She’s a Jack Russell Terrier/Corgi mix, and she habitually perches on the sofa at my shoulder to stare intently into whatever I am engaging at the moment. She will remain there as long as I am engaged–sometimes for hours. Now that I have moved to the kitchen table, she has decided to join me in this effort. We have been here for nearly half an hour now, and she is still staring . . .

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assistant editor

Earlier, while still in bed, I received the delightful email notifcation from CC Young Senior Living that I have been awarded first place in the watercolor category for their annual Artists & Writers competition. I posted the winning entry at the top of this blog: “Thinking About the Next Catch”, a watercolor still life I created in my garage man cave a few winters back. I look forward to attending the reception in Dallas on April 27.

This morning has been positively delicious–reading, journaling, sketching, thinking, blogging, and smiling down at Hazel in all her inquisitive glory.

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 (this morning I have Hazel).

 

Decompress, then Jump into the Next . . .

March 27, 2019

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Sunday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

To be an artist is to live suspended above the abyss between recognition and artistic value, never quite knowing whether your art will land on either bank, or straddle both, or be swallowed by the fathomless pit of obscurity. We never know how our work stirs another mind or touches another heart, how it tenons into the mortise of the world.

Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, March 24, 2019

One of the greatest salves for my weary soul is reading “Brain Pickings” which come out on Wednesdays and Sundays. Maria Popova has poured out her life into beautifully written observations that nourish the artist continually. I am posting her link below. I appreciate this quote because I have known for years the suspension between the poles of recognition and authenticity, always wondering if I was accomplishing either, both or neither. I don’t worry about it as much as I did in the past; I love the work (play) of making art and can think of few other things that bring me this kind of pleasure.

brainpickings.org newsletter

The weekend was a bruiser, but successful. The Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival kicked off in Palestine with a V.I.P. “meet the artist and presale” event under the big tent Friday night, and the place remained pack throughout the event, with patrons enjoying wine, cheese and finger foods while perusing the work of artists selected for the opening. The next day, I dashed back and forth from my booth to the Redlands Hotel. I gave my first ever public gallery talk on “Art in the Small Town,” and was very happy with the reception. I have been asked to do it again, and look forward to that.

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My First Gallery Talk

Nostalgia is a personal experience I hallow as another might a religion.

N. C. Wyeth

Everything above was written Sunday morning after the festival, but I didn’t post the blog because I had to hit the road and make some other appointments. I have been invited to return to the coast to put a pair of paintings into a show focusing on sand dunes at South Padre. I have only been to the coast once since my artist-in-residency in 2015 and I have missed all of my friends there. The subsequent visit was complements of someone with real estate holdings who offered me a weekend in a condominium on South Padre so I could do some plein air painting of the coast. I dashed off a watercolor and promptly sold it when I returned to Arlington. Fortunately, I had taken a number of photos during my painting session, so I searched my archives till I found them, and this week have worked on a new pair that are nearly finished. I’m posting them below:

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First Sand Dune Attempt–16 x 20″ frame

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Second Sand Dune Attempt–11 x 14″ frame

After they are complete, I plan to re-post them. I’m still looking them over, making decisions on how to finish them. This has been an interesting endeavor. I wondered how to render the broad expanse of sandy wasteland, big sky, and strip of the Gulf on a small rectangle. I finally decided to create some kind of moving “action line” of dry brush of the vegetation, and leave large expanses blank save for subtle washes of color. This is new to me, so it’s probably going to take awhile to make a decision on how to wrap it up.

I love the N. C. Wyeth quote. “Nostalgia” is actually from a Greek word used in Homer’s Odyssey to describe Odysseus’s ache to return to his home. Nostaglia pervades the art I try to make, and this week I have known the pangs of longing as I worked on the  sand dune paintings, remembering my earlier times spent among the dunes reading, painting and thinking. It has been four years since my excursions on the island in the Laguna Madre during my residency, and three years since I taught a workshop on the site. I cannot wait to see the area again when I submit this work for the upcoming show.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

When the Muse stirs . . .

March 20, 2019

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My Study in the Pre-Dawn Hours

The compensation of growing old was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained—at last!—the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence,-the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Rising at 4:40 this morning was not my plan. But when the muse stirs, we have no choice but to respond. Several weeks ago, we decided to launch our first gallery talk in Palestine, Texas, as a part of kicking off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival. I have chosen the topic “Art in the Small Town.” I will use the art I have created over the past twenty years, along with selections from American artists who featured the small town genre. American writers will also be woven into the narrative as they spun their novels, short stories and poetry around this nostalgic subject. These ideas have been coursing through my veins the past several weeks, and pages of notes and drafts have been stacking on my desk, stuffing my briefcase and swelling my journal. Finally, this morning in the pre-dawn, the tumblers began to fall into place and I sprang out of bed to power up the laptop and record the sensations as quickly as I could. I am only taking a break from the writing to let my readers know what is going on. For anyone who follows me on Facebook, I launched the event page describing the event a few hours ago. Already I am getting a response, and that is gratifying. For years I have ached to take part in this kind of forum.

My reading from the biography of N. C. Wyeth is stirring my soul like seldom before. The young Wyeth realized in art school that he needed an education to grow his character, not just hone his artistic skills.  In retrospect, I feel that sentiment profoundly. Throughout my younger school days, I was immature, a dreamer, intellectually lazy. I had skills as an artist and worked hard at them. But when I entered the university, I came to rely only on my talent in the art studio, while at the same time growing an intellectual appetite in the general university studies. I failed to put the two together. As I proceeded next through my seminary years, I turned to religion, philosophy and literature. Many years later, after taking a job in the public schools, did I return to my art, and then discovered a depth I never had before. Ideas and deep sentiments had been grafted on to my mechanical skills. I had a feeling for expression and composition.

Since about 1990, I began pursuing this idea of creating a body of work nostalgic in nature. I learned from my seminary Greek studies that “nostalgia” is a Greek word found in the Homeric epics, describing the feelings of Odysseus as he longs to return to his home. My home town of High Ridge, Missouri, along with small towns where I pastored churches in my earlier years, managed to plant images, stories and sentiments that I have longed to express in drawing and watercolor. In 1999, I decided to launch a series called “My Town”, inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. As he created his Grover’s Corners, so I also created Turvey’s Corner, and created this painting:

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Along with a phony zip code: 63050 (High Ridge is 63049, and the next town four miles away, House Springs, is 63051), I began creating paintings and writing cycles of short stories to flesh out this fictitious town of my imagination, spawned by my memories. I lanched my show in Hillsboro, Texas at the newly-opened Stairwell Fine Arts Gallery, and the painting above sold at the opening reception. So did two others. A few weeks later, a Florida collector passed through the gallery and purchased the remainder of the portfolio. And then, my story just stopped . . .

About a month ago, while reading Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond, all my feelings from 1999 came tumbling back in on my consciousness. That, along with the writing of my memoir, thanks to Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, convinced me to pick up this old project, dust off the cobwebs, and renew the vision. So . . . I have been working on a new series of paintings and writings, and this Saturday look forward to sharing this vision in the gallery talk.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

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

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

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

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

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Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

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First Floor of The Redlands

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

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Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

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

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

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Smitten by Archer City, Texas (Larry McMurtry’s home town)

March 13, 2019

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Enjoying a Night in the Studio

For over a month I’ve been reading the works of Larry McMurtry with great delight. I began with The Last Picture Show, moved on next to Lonesome Dove and then read Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. That final work really stirred me, as the author laments the loss of story telling in our American culture. I decided to travel to Archer City, a town I have loved for nearly twenty years now.  After enjoying McMurtry’s bookstore (Booked Up Inc.), I strolled around the historic downtown, picking out all the iconic settings for The Last Picture Show and Texasville. Before leaving town, I stood in the street and took a photo of the four-way stop intersection (the only real intersection in town), and finally got around to painting it.

About a month ago, I decided my next watercolor series would involve small town scenes and the stories they engender. On Saturday, March 23 at 1:00, I will deliver my first gallery talk in the lobby of the historic Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. This event will be part of the celebration of Palestine’s 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival that kicks off that same day. I have enjoyed spending the past several weeks putting together the presentation, and am leaning forward toward that event.

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Beginning of a Small Watercolor of Archer City, Texas

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

The Search for an Anchor

March 13, 2019

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A Second Snow Scene in Progress

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

. . .

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

. . .

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

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

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

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Finishing a Small Snowscape

March 12, 2019

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

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

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Chaotic Dreams

March 11, 2019

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View of Palo Duro Canyon

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Beginning of a Plein-Air Watercolor Sketch

You know, there’s a philosopher who says: as you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on? And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. but at the time, it don’t.

Joe Walsh, History of the Eagles, 2013 documentary

Blame it on the one-hour time change? Who knows? All I can think of this morning is the night’s attempted sleep just completed: an entire night blistered by an annoying, chaotic, sustained dream. I was put in charge of a community event: a reading of Molière’s play “Tartuffe”. The event was staged in a bowling alley/roller rink, and all of us tried our best to look composed on roller skates as we tried to figure out how to configure the seating: a circle? Rows? Groups? I was put in charge of the reading. Others entered the fray to take charge of casting, costuming, stage props. No matter how hard we tried to organize the event, something always intruded to disrupt whatever flow was initiated. And someone continued to shout from offstage: “Donnie, you’re out of your element!” When I finally awoke, it was still dark (time change) and I just lay there in the pre-dawn, taking the dream seriously. It rang true. We move through life, attempting to organize the chaos enveloping us. We schedule, we keep appointments, we tend to our biological necessities, and continue to move through the 24-hour cycle, handling whatever approaches us. As I write this, I fear my tone will read as one of panic. It isn’t. In fact, when I was a full-time employee, I never really collapsed under this kind of a schedule; I just accepted it as life. Now, being semi-retired, I do indeed feel that I am living a much fuller, more satisfied life, and wish I could have about 500 more years of it. Life is a gift, and I’m grateful for its abundance, even when the abundance comes as an avalanche of chaos.

The weeks ahead will indeed be stuffed with activity. My plan for teaching a 3-hour beginning watercolor workshop next Saturday in Palestine has morphed into back-to-back workshops, since the twenty we restricted the enrollment for has now grown to thirty (and still counting, perhaps?). I’m delighted and shocked to find such an interest. We will hold the event in the lobby of the Redlands Hotel, just down the hall from our gallery. The first session will be at 10:00, the second at 1:00. The first session has filled, but there is still room in the afternoon session. If you are interested, just contact me (you can text me at 817-821-8702) or respond to this blog. We are expecting an exciting day of activity.

The following week will be even busier as we kick off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival in downtown Palestine. Artists will be featured under a large tent on the parking lot across the street from the Redlands Hotel. Friday night from 7-9, a V.I.P. pre-sale event will feature a meeting with the artists. Tickets are $10 as wine & cheese will be served, and a classical guitarist will provide music. Already we have a good number pre-registered to attend.

The next day from 9-4:00 will be the actual festival, the crowds will be enormous, and the artists are hoping for an excellent day of sales. At 1:00, I will hold my first scheduled Gallery Talk in the lobby of The Redlands Hotel. The topic will be “Art in a Small Town” and my presentation will feature nostalgic portrayals of small-town America in art and literature. The lobby has a large flat-screen TV on which I’ll be able to project visuals during the talk. I have been excited over this opportunity for weeks and have enjoyed immensely the experience of putting the presentation together. This will be my first public presentation on art since retiring from all those years teaching art history in the schools. How nice, finally to present something that is not curriculum-driven (restricted)!

I am posting the beginning of a plein air watercolor sketch I started a couple of evenings ago while visiting Amarillo’s Palo Duro Canyon. The afternoon had been spent in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. For years I had wanted to visit that institution, knowing that Georgia O’Keeffe had taught at West Texas State Normal College and that this museum had at least one of her early paintings in its collection. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing holdings the museum has, not only in Texas panhandle history (this is Texas’s largest history museum), but in paintings. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing amazing landscape paintings from Inness, Moran and N. C. Wyeth. And then spent a long time lingering in a gallery filled with the amazing work of Frank Reaugh. Upon leaving the museum, it was only fitting to travel to the canyon and spend some time sketching the horizon as the sun dropped low in the sky.

My past weeks have been devoted mostly to traveling, reading and journaling. I finished Virginia Woolf’s engaging Mrs. Dalloway and am now nearly 200 pages into N. C. Wyeth: A Biography by David Michaelis. I also have four small watercolors in progress that I hope to post on the blog soon.

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Completed Watercolor Sketch

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.