Archive for the ‘art studio’ Category

Winter Time

December 5, 2017

tuesday

It is the sense of the sublime that we have to regard as the root of man’s creative activities in art, thought and noble living. Just as no flora has ever fully displayed the hidden vitality of the earth, so has no work of art ever brought to expression the depth of the unutterable, in the sight of which the souls of saints, poets and philosophers live. The attempt to convey what we see and cannot say is the everlasting theme of mankind’s unfinished symphony, a venture in which adequacy is never achieved. Only those who live on borrowed words believe in their gift of expression. A sensitive person knows that the intrinsic, the most essential, is never expressed.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

In 1978, while a seminary student, I was introduced to Heschel’s classic book, The Prophets, authored in 1962. I was taken with this scholar’s approach to the study of Hebrew prophecy, and never heard his name again until I was reading some book associated with art (don’t recall what!) and read his name associated with this book Man is Not Alone. On a lark, I purchased the work through Amazon, and have been amazed at its contents. I took the book with me to the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show last weekend, and continued reading it during slow moments between sales.

20171201_161129

My booth at the Randy Brodnax Show

Reading the book made me ache for a return to the studio, as I always do when I’m stuck in a booth for several days. I am never able to express what I feel when I am working on a piece of art, and am glad to read such words as those above. “Ineffable” is the best word for the experience of creating art. Currently I am working on this Christmas railroad theme and about to finish another steam locomotive under a snowy night sky, as snow flurries are already beginning outside my window as I write this.

Winter time is a season I always anticipate with gladness, not only because of Thanksgiving and Christmas but also because of the transitions. Friday I’ll give my last final exam at the college and enjoy a month hiatus from teaching. My American Railroad Odyssey show at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine will close December 16, and I will be in the gallery Fri-Saturday the next two weekends. Currently I’m doing business with Art for Goodness Sake, a gallery in Lubbock, Texas that began carrying my work two months ago. Once I’m finished at the college this week, I’ll transition into this “winter time” season where I’ll be able to focus exclusively on making art and re-stocking my inventory in the galleries and shops that carry my work. There is a possibility of a show in January, and if that comes to fruition, I’ll announce it immediately.

I love this time of year! 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

The Circle of Creative Eros

November 30, 2017

Thursday1

Began the Day with Breakfast at Cracker Barrel before a Fire

It was a free society, to be sure, but one without depth: its ceaseless expansion, whether into outer space or on the production line, had created an almost irresistible temptation on the part of everyone to produce in order to produce still more. Tillich exhorted the producers of cultural goods to stop moving in this one dimensional direction–to come to a halt in order to “enter creation and unite with its power,” in short, to add the vertical line of depth to the horizontal line of extension.

Wilhelm & Marion Pauck, Paul Tillich: His Life & Thought

On May 6, 1963, theologian Paul Tillich spoke at the fortieth anniversary party for Time magazine at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. His audience consisted of the 284 celebrities selected for Time cover stories. His historic speech was titled: “The Ambiguity of Perfection”. In this speech, he addressed a crowd of movers and shakers of his day with the jolting words I’ve posted above. Tillich was fond of addressing the tension of the horizontal dimension of production with the vertical one of creative eros.

For the past couple of decades I have mused over this horizontal and vertical dynamic that Tillich expounded, and have known too well the tensions between what I face today (production deadlines) and what I enjoy on other days (feeding on ideas and creating art from the inspiration). For the next four days I will continue what I’ve known all this week–gathering, organizing, packing and loading art furniture and inventory–the horizontal. When the dust clears Monday, I hope to return to the studio and resume the creative task–the vertical.

Tillich’s tension between the horizontal and the vertical, the production energy vs. the intellectual process has held my attention over the years, but as I look at my own life processes, I tend to see them moving in a circle, a circle of creative eros. I hope it is O.K. now to share my circle with you.

Thursday3.jpg

I perceive the foundation of my lifestyle as one laid in my study. I read every chance I can get, and have been scribbling my ideas from my reading in journals since 1985. I love the history of ideas–art, literature, philosophy, religion–and cannot find enough hours in the day to pursue this interest. For three decades, these readings have spawned classroom lectures and discussions, and now in my semi-retirement days, I still have this satisfying outlet in a university classroom.

Thursday2

My expression from reading and thinking finds a good outlet in the classroom forum, but that is not enough. I also have to create visually, and from the study I generally find my way into the studio. And as I work, the “smart TV” continually plays YouTube documentaries and lectures from the world of ideas–art, literature, philosophy and religion–and I listen with a glad heart while I paint.

Thursday4

My ideas have a way of dispersing in the classroom as they disappear into the air and hopefully take root in students’ lives. However, the art works on paper have a way of accumulating into boxes and cartons, and need a place to go. Hence the days when I have to load up and deliver them to a gallery, store or art festival.

So, today and for the rest of the week, my circle will be anchored in this third realm. All day today I will be printing, packaging and organizing my inventory. Tonight I will load the Jeep and tomorrow morning at 9:00 arrive at my Dallas destination to set up for the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show. I enjoy all three parts of this circle that has its way of organizing creative eros. And I’m anticipating good things today as I work.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Coherence Beneath the Scattering

November 29, 2017

garage3

My Garage Experiment in Setting up the Booth for the Weekend

garage2

I’m still making decisions on what paintings to hang in the show

garage 1

For the first time in months, I have all my greeting cards in one show

All of his activities were part of an underlying continuity, the diverse elements of which were brought together and reconciled by his own deep understanding of the unity that underlay the complex fabric of images, words, things, and sensations that constituted his world.

Jack Flam, Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonne, 1941-1991, volume 1

When I get caught up in a maelstrom of details such as I’ve endured the past few days, my mind goes either to Andy Warhol and his factory lifestyle of cranking out product or Robert Motherwell as he wandered from his painting studio to his graphics studio to his library. This evening I have felt closer to the Motherwell syndrome as I re-thought the final lecture I delivered this morning to my college classes and then spent the entire afternoon and evening moving between my garage with decisions about booth setup to the studio for printing, matting and sleeving prints and greeting cards. I also set aside some quiet time to sit in my study, read and reflect over the affairs going on lately. The day has indeed pulled me in multiple directions but I’ve loved it all, and I get to spend all of tomorrow doing the same. Showtime begins Friday!

Thanks for reading.

 

Gearing Up for the Final Show of 2017

November 29, 2017

Tue3.jpg

Trying to finish this Texas State Railroad Locomotive

I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. . . . The imagination must learn to ply her craft by judgment studied.

William Wordsworth, “The Prelude”

I feel that I have somehow packed three days into one, as this Tuesday has been exceedingly long and arduous, yet satisfying. Rising at 6 this morning, I managed to put in some quality reading time, then left the house to pursue business errands until this evening, sat down next to compose tomorrow’s final lecture for my college Ethics class, then finally worked in the garage on my booth presentation for this weekend’s show.

My quotes above came from the morning of reading, and I was most captivated by the contrast in Wordsworth’s pair of statements, namely that art is a balance between an explosion of feeling and editorial restraint. As I work to complete the steam locomotive started several weeks back, I seek to lay down the precision and geometry required by the subject matter. But boy, how I enjoyed all the splashing and splattering of the night sky and and the loose washes of color on the body of the locomotive, before the time came to tighten up and lay in the exacting details.

Tue1

Tue2

I should consider myself fortunate that I could not leave my house this morning until businesses opened, so I had three hours of solitude for reading and writing. The writings of Robert Motherwell fed my soul as they always do. This remarkable Abstract Expressionist artist was the prime example of a life that blended scholarly pursuit with art making in the studio. For decades I have sought a balance between my academic studies and my art pursuits and always look to this man for my inspiration.

Tue4.jpg

After my study time, I went out to mail 110 postcards I had addressed by hand last night, announcing this weekend’s Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. After the post office visit, I drove the two hours to Palestine, Texas to The Gallery at Redlands to spend some time working on my watercolor. The light in the gallery windows was perfect for the early afternoon studio time.

After painting for awhile, I then packed and loaded the inventory and furniture necessary for setting up my booth Friday in Dallas and then drove the two hours back home. Once there, I sat down and composed tomorrow’s Ethics lecture to be given at Texas Wesleyan University (my only regular job now in my semi-retired lifecycle). Once the lecture was complete, I went into the garage to unload the Jeep and begin planning how I’m going to set up an 8 x 10′ booth space at the weekend show.

Tue5

I’m glad to have sufficient garage space to work on this booth for the next two days. I’ll be making decisions on lighting and Christmas decorations as well as the particular art inventory needed for the show.

Thanks for reading. It’s been a lengthy day, but I’m glad to get some important matters accomplished.

Holiday Solitude in the Studio

November 20, 2017

red monday

While you are alone you are entirely your own master.

Leonardo da Vinci

Waking up around 5 this morning, I realized with gladness that I don’t have a class to teach for a solid week. I knew that last Friday when our university dismissed for Thanksgiving, but truly felt it this morning. My Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes begin at 9, and always on Monday I awake around 5, thinking about what I’m going to say in four hours. Instead, today I went straight to the drafting table and resumed work on this #300 steam engine from the Texas State Railroad that I abandoned until this past weekend. I’m starting to feel the momentum return, much the way the steam locomotives did when they resumed a journey after a lengthy layover.

I also hope to complete my reading of the Walter Isaacson biography on Leonardo da Vinci. I’m 229 pages into the piece, and have loved every page, as the author chooses to explore this amazing man through his notebooks. This morning is a good time to be alone and think about the work I’m pursuing these days.

The weekend at The Gallery at Redlands was sublime as always, and it was capped by a surprise visit from my dear friends, the Darrs. Yesterday we got to spend several hours visiting in the gallery.

I will not return to the Gallery for the next two weekends. I assume the Thanksgiving weekend would be quiet for business, and I am privileged to take part in the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show in Dallas December 1-3. I’ll return to Palestine the two weekends following and close out my railroad exhibit.

For anyone interested, I have the following originals on display, along with limited editions for $70, 11 x 14″ matted prints for $25, 8 x 10″matted ones for $15, and box sets of 6 cards for $25. I also have a pair of coffee mugs designed featuring my watercolor trains.

Thanks for reading.

610 Schultz large cropped

Night Train Violet

30Large cropped

Night Train Blue

Blue & Red diesel

Chevron Diesel

Orange diesel

Blog Wed 2

Dreams of Yesterday

grapevine train

durango-silverton

turvey

eureka springs

A Grinding Day, Yet Rewarding

November 7, 2017

610 Schultz large cropped

“I work. I slave. I drive myself like a locomotive.”

Vincent Van Gogh (from Akira Kurosawa’s film Dreams)

Throughout this day, the words above have surged through my consciousness. I breathed a sigh of relief yesterday afternoon when I realized that I had no appointments between then and tonight when I meet with my circle of artist friends. Rising at 6:00 this morning, I thought I would enjoy a day of relative leisure, tweaking details for Saturday’s show. Instead I spent every hour either at the computer or at the workbench packaging my inventory–greeting cards, limited edition prints, postcards, details, details, details . . .

The call came from my printer friends that the limited editions were all ready for signing–all ninety of them.  This is the first time I have signed and numbered so many editions.

art frame factory

At least I am not behind the curve this week; the show will go on as scheduled, and I don’t anticipate feelings of being harried the day before. I could not have asked for better cooperation from all the friends and agencies that have worked together with me in this endeavor.

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.

Six Days till Show Time

November 6, 2017

yes!

orange

The great artist has cast a glow of romance over the cafe and Bohemia. It is not that he has spent much time there. He was always too busy with his work for that. It is because when he did go for relaxation he put his wit, his humor, his vitality and all himself into it. He made things hum, turned the sordid into romance, then disappeared back to his work leaving a memory in Bohemia.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I had to laugh when I read the passage posted above. After spending the entire afternoon and evening preparing inventory for my one-man-show opening Saturday, I finally slumped into a rocking chair to read and enjoy some down-time. I had considered going to a cafe to sit and write in my journal and “be” the artist persona. But frankly, I don’t have time for that with a show coming up that I’ve been working on since March.  I’ll be glad when opening day arrives, hoping I can slip my machine into neutral and just idle for a few days.

The framed paintings have arrived in The Gallery at Redlands and are ready to hang on the wall. I plan to meet with the gallery proprietors Thursday to do that, then spend Friday tweaking the presentation. On Thursday, the editor of the local newspaper has an appointment to meet so we can publish some of the news in the Friday edition. My second order of coffee mugs will arrive tomorrow and the limited edition signed & numbered prints will be ready for my signature Thursday or Friday. Everything is going like clockwork and I appreciate not feeling the anxieties that accompany getting started too late on a project. Fortunately for all of us, the show was discussed and decided on as soon as my March show closed.

The Gallery at Redlands is located at 400 N. Queen St. in Palestine, on the first floor of the Redlands Historic Inn. The space has been like a home to me since it opened in March and I am so thankful for the friendships of Jean and Mike at the hotel and Wade and Gail who had the vision to open the Gallery. Dave Shultz the photographer has moved into the hotel for the next several months, and his tireless work on photographing and formatting my newest paintings for prints and greeting cards has certainly put my presentation over the top. I would never have been able to experience a show such as this were it not for these gracious friends.

blog leaving

redlands fri

inn

I also want to send a special shout-out to my “Bohemian” art friends that meet every Tuesday night in a cafe to encourage one another and share ideas. Tomorrow night they will be my tower of strength, calming me down about the upcoming show. Thank you Elaine, Kelly and Pam.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thoughts of Andy Warhol’s Factory

November 2, 2017

card front

card back

20171019_104852

I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of ‘work’, because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don’t always want to do. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.

Andy Warhol

For me, the “machinery” has been grinding for several days. I have the Genny Wood Art Show and Sale in Bullard, Texas this Saturday, and the opening of my new show “The American Railroad Odyssey” at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas the following Saturday. The shows seem to be running into each other, as I find myself daily (and nightly) packaging and categorizing all the inventory to pack and load. On top of all this, I’m still writing lectures for my college course that runs three mornings a week. I’m starting to feel the burn.

I’m delighted that some of this inventory is already moving before show time. The greeting cards at the top feature my latest railroad watercolor images on the front, and appropriate texts I’ve composed for the back (they are blank inside). The cards measure 5 1/2 by 8 1/4″ and come with an envelope, enclosed in a plastic sleeve. I sell them at $5 each or 5 for $20. A special shout-out goes to Dave Shultz, professional photographer, for formatting the cards for me.

The mugs are going for $15. Already, they have been selling quite well, and I’m enthusiastic at the response.

I am recalling all the wild stories of Andy Warhol’s Factory as he got closer to show time, the only difference being that I’m alone rather than surrounded by party goers, drugs and rock and roll. I often wonder how he and his employees managed to get everything packed and organized with such chaos roaring around them. At least I can enjoy a quiet home for my studio.

I hope I’ll have some down time for quality blogging this weekend, after the Genny Wood show closes, as I spend Sunday in the Gallery organizing for the show next weekend. At the top of my priority list will be arranging the newly-framed watercolors of Palestine trains, a collection I began working on last March. I’m delighted that the date for opening is drawing near.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Weekend of Leisure

October 30, 2017

300 in progress

Taking my Time on this New One

It seemed to him that the hand was not able to attain to the perfection of art in carrying out the things which he imagined.

Vasari’s account of Leonardo da Vinci

A weekend of rest was so welcome to my weary soul. Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci, after eighty-some pages, is a veritable literary feast. I have always been fascinated with the curiosity and endless journaling of this Renaissance Mind, and after reading several biographies already, am so thrilled at Isaacson’s way of bringing in new material on Leonardo’s life that I had not encountered before.

I posted the quote above because it fits what I’m wrestling with as I work on my latest watercolor. I had this notion of what I wanted to accomplish, and so far it is not happening. I’m not giving up, but rather, slowing down and spending more time looking at it, puzzling over it, than actually working on it. My November 11 show already has around twenty or so framed original watercolors of trains and doesn’t need this one to be completed. And, as a good friend said recently, it wouldn’t hurt for me to have this “in progress” painting in the gallery during show time. At any rate, I’m not under a deadline to complete it. I like that feeling: letting a painting emerge under its own time.

As to the Leonardo quote above, I’m reminded of a story I read several years ago about a guitar student frustrated while doing his lesson. When the guitar master asked him what was wrong, the student replied that he could always hear the music much better than he was able to play it. To this the master replied: “And why do you think that is  ever going to change?” That quote remains at the heart of my art work. I never complete a painting with the “look” that I was striving to achieve. Nevertheless, I love the process, and try not to let the end result frustrate me. Art is a gift. Art is life. And the thrill and leisure of making it successfully marks the time in my life as quality time.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Predawn Portals of Possibility

October 25, 2017

leonardo

. . . Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken . . . 
John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”
For a month, I’ve waited for Walter Isaacson’s biography on Leonardo da Vinci to come out. I have been enriched by two of his earlier works on Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Finally, yesterday, I purchased this latest work and pored over its pages until I could stay awake no longer in the night. Retiring to bed early, I set an alarm and rose at 5 this morning so I could return to it. Throughout my life, I have known the exhilaration of Keats when he happened upon Chapman’s translation of Homer. Indeed, I feel the thrill of the astronomer discovering a new planet. A new portal opens before me, welcoming me to a broader, more enchanting world.
Isaacson has chosen to focus on Leonardo’s notebooks, and I’m finding that to be a refreshing point of departure. I have had the pleasure of reading a number of Leonardo biographies, and I’m fascinated with Isaacson’s emphasis on the curiosity of this Renaissance Man. I myself have journaled since 1985, and now have over 130 volumes on my shelf. Some of the pages are worth re-reading, many are not. Nevertheless, my mind has stayed fresh because of this habit of scribbling constantly the ideas fleeting across the screen of my consciousness. I believe that journaling has contributed to the energy necessary for writing and making art, and above all, believing. Journals, to me, are nets for organizing wonder.
I could never exhaust the list of creative spirits who have inspired me throughout my years, either through their scholarship, their creative writing or their visual art. The ones I find myself continually rethinking and re-examining include Paul Tillich, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Carlos Williams, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Robert Motherwell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger . . . and the list continues to grow.
My interests, I admit, appear scattered. I make art. I read. I journal. I watch documentaries. I blog. I play my guitar. I get in my Jeep and drive. And I understand Leonardo’s attention deficit disorder that frequently left projects unfinished. But I take solace in Isaacson’s words: “Vision without execution is hallucination. . . . Skill without imagination is barren.”
The contemplative life has saved me repeatedly throughout the years. If finances go bad, relationships sour, employment stales, artistic momentum fades . . . I can always depend on this constellation of geniuses to inject new blood into my system. I am aware of the conventional wisdom urging us to maintain a broad network of friendships, and I believe my friendship network is rich. At the same time, I acknowledge that I am an introvert and many times find the need to draw my inspiration from the “dead heroes” who to me are not dead–they still reach out to me through the creative tracks they left behind.
Thanks for reading.
I make art in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.