Archive for the ‘art studio’ Category

Workshop Afterglow

June 10, 2019

workshop

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

20190610_070918890456256188767267.jpg

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

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

Rich Karlgaard, Late Bloomers

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

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

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

img_40814654574395702270960.jpg

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

20190603_1045516162129133799909841.jpg

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

20190603_1107284328919940965556391.jpg

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

20190603_165614135896490846151805.jpg

20190603_1734503082571066802875743.jpg

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Advertisements

Quiet Day to Work in the Gallery at Redlands

June 6, 2019

workshop

Finished Watercolor Sketch for Workshop Activity

Creativity is not the sole province of the young. Some of us simply need more time, experience, and experimentation to develop a path and realize our talents. Life is often defined by snags and setbacks, by detours and disappointments. Purpose and wisdom, strengths of the late bloomer, come from a portfolio of these experiences, making late bloomers more reflective, more considerate, and more patient.

Rich Karlgaard, Late Bloomers

Today has been a rich day for me. The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas has been nice and quiet, offering me plenty of time for reflection and painting. I finally finished the preliminary sketch I will use as a sample during Saturday’s watercolor workshop in east Texas.

20190606_1337268013100466757652707.jpg

View from the Gallery Desk

I have several more watercolors in progress that are waiting for my attention, so . . . 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.

Perusing Old Journals and Creating New Paintings

May 12, 2019

20190512_0943345203833341243714013.jpg

Mother’s Day Morning in the Gallery at Redlands

The daemon knows how it is done.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (journal entry)

There are large modulations of tone throughout fifty-seven years of musing in the journals, yet Emerson seems perpetually in quest to hear his daemon speak to him.

Harold Bloom, The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime

Waking early on Mother’s Day in the Redlands Hotel, my first thoughts surrounded the question over whether or not I would have a second prolific day of painting. Yesterday, I completed four watercolors that had been started en plein air while I was traveling in El Paso and the surrounding areas. Often when I spend an entire day of painting, I feel somewhat emptied and wasted on the following day and resort to reading and journaling. I don’t expect every day to yield fertile thoughts and visions. Our great American poet Wallace Stevens stated it eloquently:

It is not every day that the world arranges itself into a poem.

Wallace Stevens

Harold Bloom, citing examples from Walt Whitman’s experiences while trying to push out the great body of poetry titled under the umbrella Leaves of Grass nailed the phenomena with these words:

No man, no woman, can live in a continuous secular ephiphany.

Throughout my creative years, I have learned the lesson that there are bursts of creative energy, often followed by moments of quiet restoration. Looking back over the decades, I find a measure of satisfaction that a large body of work has been created, and I am more aware of the prolific periods than I am of the fallow ones. I spent some time this morning reading from my old journals, and came across extensive notes I recorded four years ago from reading the published works of the painter Robert Motherwell, and came across this:

An artist has to be a long-distance runner, and the thing I’m most proud of is my most recent work is as fresh as the first.

As the morning hours passed in the quiet Gallery at Redlands, I felt my urge to create beginning to build, thanks to Harold Bloom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wallace Stevens and Robert Motherwell. Suddenly, I knew what I was going to approach next.

As always, the studio was the space of revelation.

Bernard Jacobson, Robert Motherwell: the Making of an American Giant

20190512_1509084609956795841823673.jpg

20190512_1508086001710387293163701.jpg

20190512_1510057784031651492586493.jpg

Several weeks ago, I was surprised by the colors falling across some vacant undeveloped land adjacent to a new Kroger store built near the neighborhood where I live in Arlington. On this particular late afternoon, with the weather being pleasantly temperate, I chose to drive to the Kroger store and take a seat in the patio area on the southwest corner of the complex. No one else was seated out there, and I anticipated some quality reading and journaling time with coffee. But as I looked up, I was astonished at the quality of colors the late afternoon sun cast down over the field with the dark horizon of trees in back. I took several reference photos, and next time I was at The Gallery at Redlands, I began three 8 x 10″ studies of this composition. I found none of the three satisfying, and abandoned them.

When I traveled to west Texas and New Mexico last week, I brought the three watercolor sketches with me, and took them out once during the trip to take a closer look. I still felt nothing as I looked at them. Yesterday, I spent the day in the Gallery working on the four mountain sketches I had begun during my travels. This morning, I went out to the Jeep and retrieved the three “Kroger” paintings, and after about an hour of reading my old journals along with some new reading from Bloom, Emerson, Stevens and Motherwell, I suddenly had an idea for the three discarded paintings. They are wildly experimental, but I have posted them above and believe I will go ahead and put mats and plastic sleeves on them, and maybe even frame one of them, it’s still too soon for me to decide.

At any rate, I’ve had a great Mother’s Day in the gallery/studio and feel like quality time has been enjoyed.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

artscape 2019

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

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

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

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

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

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

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

brookfield

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

20190317_1312363410537535150207311.jpg

cloudcroft

20180818_1454011228999782323517016.jpg

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

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

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Weekend to Hit the Reset Button

April 14, 2019

20190413_10510359208265685807882.jpg

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:

20190414_1611026358160983785249657.jpg

20190414_1610414005885787192618353.jpg

20190414_161031-1635236341698935324.jpg

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.

Sunday Evening Soundings

April 7, 2019

20190407_2148337615167426297420401.jpg

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

20180427_1343202666127133518973979.jpg

(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.

20190215_090632-13738051419756238783.jpg

20190215_090316-14822850231695057185.jpg

20190215_090334 - copy1310033892376644772..jpg

20190215_090418-23694543715312258401.jpg

20190215_085548-14673897633675214598.jpg

20190215_085600-12761561181034059330.jpg

20190215_090226-24208121635081692630.jpg

20190406_0939533417344133559954056.jpg

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.

20190406_1114028206747710360387138.jpg

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 . . .

20190406_111959715620035589551630.jpg

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

20190324_1212244593944452096907113.jpg

20190324_122621130281454210420640.jpg

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.

gallery talk

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:

20190327_0933246177744923000899945.jpg

First Sand Dune Attempt–16 x 20″ frame

20190327_1306136644097535575550171.jpg

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

20190320_0630298100028421928167096.jpg

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:

20190204_0939313454915399355711484.jpg

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

20190318_0902263371532842886606641.jpg

20190318_0901273424295657495473659.jpg

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:

20190315_1316572183011628871552992.jpg

Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

20190318_0946244851037770589998751.jpg

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.

20190318_094950-13528919100682591488.jpg

Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

20190318_094954-15456136688030113464.jpg

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.