Archive for the ‘Automobile’ Category

Christmas at the Diner on U. S. Route 66, Missouri

February 3, 2011

Christmas at the Diner on U. S. Route 66, Missouri

Tomorrow will mark our fourth consecutive day of school closures.  I’m still tinkering with this late into the night, reminiscing about late-night diners, coffee and conversations that remain with me.  Hopefully I can keep my momentum going right into tomorrow and the weekend.  This painting is growing on me.

Thank you for reading.

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer’s Grill

February 3, 2011

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer's Grill

This one is going to be fun!  Spencer’s Grill, along historic route 66 in Kirkwood, Missouri, was a visual landmark for me, even before I was old enough to read.  This 1947 diner, with its 1948 sign, was featured on a billboard in Fenton, Missouri, adjacent to the Meramec River bridge on Highway 30.  As a small child, I admired the maroon-and-gold signage complete with vintage clock.  Once I was old enough to enter the diner on my own, I discovered a scene reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s painting “Night Hawks,” complete with stainless steel kitchen and the aromas of old-fashioned cooking.  Every summer and Christmas, when I re-visit St. Louis, I stop into the Spencer’s Grill, usually for breakfast which includes scrapple, of all things!

I began this work last month, then stalled as I continued work on a couple of other large watercolor compositions, and of course, the constant juggling of high school and college teaching schedules.  Yesterday I discovered water damage in the midst of the painting (sloppy me–always leaving a damp towel on my work).  I have just about restored all the “bleeding” areas that weren’t supposed to be there, and I pledge to be more careful now as this thing slowly takes shape.  I still have plenty of pencil work to do, as I’ve decided now to extend the composition to the bottom and to the right.  And of course, there is still plenty of signage to detail, traffic to block in, and shadows to lay down.  But I am finding real joy in this.

Texas has canceled school three days in a row, an extremely rare feat–in fact I don’t recall three consecutive cancellation days in my near-25 years of teaching.  At any rate, it has allowed me to focus more on my painting, and for that I am grateful.

Thank you for reading.  I’ll try to be more faithful with daily blogging . . .  Wish me luck on this one!

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood, Missouri–January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011

Spencers Grill, Kirwood, Missouri.

I am pouring my heart into this composition, which overall measures about 19 1/2 by 22″.

Spencer’s Grill was established in 1947, and this sign dates from 1948.  It is located in Kirkwood (St. Louis), Missouri along historic Route 66 (now 223 S. Kirkwood Road).  You can read its background from this website:  http://www.route66university.com/busdir/spencers.php

My reason’s for painting this defy words, but I’ll give it my best effort.  I saw this sign daily on a billboard during my pre-literate days.  I was travelling in the car on old Highway 30 from Fenton to St. Louis.  A billboard advertising this diner was alongside the bridge over the Meramec River.  Though I couldn’t read it, I was taken with its color scheme, and always looked for it on the drive.  During my teenage years, when I learned to drive, I was surprised to see this diner (and its sign!) on Kirkwood Road.  My dad worked at a dealership north of this location, and thus I saw it many more times when I would drive to see Dad at his workplace.  I guess I’m trying to say that there is something “Proustian” about this sign–it takes me back to images and remembrances of my childhood, which are warm and inviting.

I have lived in Texas since 1977, and travel to St. Louis only to visit family.  In the 1990’s, with a 35mm camera, I drove to this location and took a number of photos, then went inside for the first time, to eat.  I couldn’t believe I waited thirty years to enter the establishment (and now have waited over fifty to paint it!).  Once inside, I felt that I had entered Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. This cafe began just five years after Hopper painted that work.  Sadly I note that these diners are getting harder and harder to find.  I settle for Starbuck’s, but wish for Spencer’s Grill.

I guess as artists, we always call ourselves “visual persons.”  But I cannot stop staring at signs and logos that I saw before I was able to read them, and was captivated by their designs–Chevrolet, Ford, Texaco, Sinclair, Maxwell House, and of course, Spencer’s Grill.  There remain (for me) certain color schemes and selections of fonts that I cannot stop staring at, and probably will continue to do so till the end.

So, to any of you who have warm memories of old-style diners from your “pre-literate” youth, I hope you will enjoy this one.  I’m feeling a great sense of reward and fulfilment as I work on it.

Thanks for reading.  My website is http://recollections54.com

Kerouac’s Dream, December 18, 2010

December 18, 2010

Kerouac's Dream

I have already painted this vintage car several times, but thought it was time to put some fall foliage around it.  It is a 1950 Chevy Sedan Special Delivery, parked in a field north of Hillsboro, Texas, along Highway 77.  The owner has graciously permitted me to come onto his property and do watercolor sketches en plein air of his collection of vintage cars.  Hillsboro is a one-hour drive from where I live, across beautiful sprawling Texas country.  I have Jack Kerouac’s On the Road that I listen to on CD as I drive and let my mind drift across the American landscape.  With my company’s name, Recollections 54, I still look for ways to translate the memories of the American fifties into watercolor compositions and vignettes.  Even if I never reach the standard of quality that I target, I can already say that this journey has been a profoundly rewarding one.  Soon I will journey to my hometown St. Louis for Christmas, and look forward to finding new vistas to record.

Thanks for reading.

Kerouac Country, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

Kerouac Country

I have posted similar information in another entry today, so I will try not to duplicate (much).  I began this painting Saturday morning during the first of a 2-day art festival, where very few patrons were coming around the booth.  Too much time on my hands, so I figured I needed to do something constructive rather than stand around.

I have painted this site before.  I wish I took better notes on my travels.  All I know is that this structure is in New Mexico and I spent plenty of time on historic Route 66 on the day that I photographed this site.  I just don’t know for sure if it was on Route 66, or on a connecting highway.  I believe it is northwest of Santa Rosa.  If any of you readers recognize it, perhaps you could help me.

The weekend art festival was a one-hour drive for me, and I listened to CDs of Kerouac’s On the Road as I drove through the country.  Thus I was prompted to paint some of those “open-country” themes.

I miss the independent cafes and diners that were such an important part of our road trips in the fifties.  I was saddened years ago to find that the “Owl Shanty” along Route 61 in southeast Missouri was only a concrete slab barely visible among the weeds.  Most of our American roadside past is buried beneath the weeds and concrete.

This particular diner looks like the kind I enjoyed in the days of my youth.  When I drove past it on that particular day, and saw the gathering thunder clouds in the distance, I felt a Proust-like “recollection” of childhood moments that were profoundly important to me then, and still are.

Thank you for reading.

Visions of Kerouac, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

Visions of Kerouac

After a long weekend of delivering my art to three separate events (competition, gallery opening, and 2-day festival), I feel rather “wasted” this Monday morning.  But school still beckons, I’m a teacher, and therefore I answer the bell.

While at the festival, I worked on a painting each day.  The one posted is what I began yesterday (Sunday) morning, and tinkered with throughout the day (patrons were very few and even further between).  This is a 1950 Chevy Sedan Delivery that I have visited several times, thanks to the gracious owner of the property that allows me to “trespass.”  It is parked in a field north of Highway 77 just east of Interstate 35W, north of Hillsboro, Texas.

Making the one-hour drive to and from the festival each day gave me plenty of time to muse as I listened to CDs of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, narrated by Matt Dillon.  Kerouac’s work always leaves me in a contented state of mind, especially when I’m staring through the windshield of my Jeep and driving through wide-open country.  I decided on that second day of the festival that I would return to this subject of the Chevy.

I feel “drawn in,” Proust-like, when I see a vintage car rusting in an open field somewhere (and they are getting harder to find these days).  Cars from the fifties remind me of long road trips with my parents.  Seated in the backseat, I could not read (carsickness), so I had to stare out the window at the American countryside scrolling across my window as it were a TV screen.  I had hoped when I was younger that I would grow up to be a man with the ability to capture these American scenes either through story-telling or artist illustration.  I still feel that compulsion.

I’m experimenting more and more with the Masquepen when I work with tree foliage, weeds, and automobile texturing.  And I’m also finding salt to be more and more fun with all the surprises it leaves behind during the drying stages of the wet-on-wet washes.

Thank you for reading.

Return to the Silver Dollar Tavern, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

Silver Dollar Tavern

With a gallery opening this coming weekend, and another art festival running at the same time, I’m in a pinch to finish some paintings.  This one I abandoned a few months back.  Earlier photos of it have already been posted on the blog.  I am the guitar player–a friend photographed me playing at an art festival several years back.  The GMC pickup is from an abandoned site somewhere in New Mexico (I remember the summer but not the town).  The abandoned tavern is in Old Appleton, Missouri, alongside old Highway 61, north of Cape Girardeau.  My father frequented this joint when he was a young adult.  He recalls that the bar was on the ground floor, and the dance floor on the second story.  I haven’t visited the site since about the year 2000, and it was in bad shape.  I fear that I will return one day to find it gone, like so many other derelict character-laden structures I have painted over the years.

Thanks for reading.

Clawing My Way Back to the Studio!

October 26, 2010

Special Delivery

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted.  I have violated my oath taken last New Year to do my dead-level best to post daily.  October has been a more-than-usually-busy month, with my teaching load at high school and university combined with four consecutive weekend art festivals.  Fortunately, my next festival is three weekends away.   Between now and then, I am committed to returning to the studio, tidying it and resuming my art production.

I did finish this painting last week.  It was begun over the summer (and the early stages of it were posted to the blog).  It began as a “poured” piece, and finally I got around to finishing up the dry brush foreground, detailing the car and refining the fence line.

This car is parked in a field alongside Highway 77 north of Hillsboro, Texas, just east of Interstate 35W.  The owner of the property has graciously allowed me to access his land and do multiple studies of this car and a 1954 Ford sedan.  I’m still not finished with these subjects, but am glad to have this composition completed.  Most of my watercolors are around 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 in size.  This one measures 20 x 25″–quite large by my usual standards.

Thanks for reading.

Finding My Way Back, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

Route 66 Road House

It’s been along time since I’ve posted.  I have managed to do some painting, but mostly I’ve been teaching on two campuses and participating in art festivals.  The one posted above was done during the Jazz by the Boulevard festival in Fort Worth the weekend of September 11.  The sales were a little slow, and the crowd thin at times (and the heat and humidity absolutely despicable!).  So I worked on this throughout the Saturday portion of the event, and finished it early Sunday morning just after the gates re-opened for day two of the festival.  For anyone looking at my website (www.recollections54.com), you will notice that I’ve tried this composition before, only the website version has railroad tracks cutting off the bottom of the composition.  That was due to cold feet–I couldn’t make up my mind how to lay in the foreground highway.  The website version sold, and I decided I would give this composition another shot, only this time put in the highway as it appears in the photograph I took several years ago while cruising about in New Mexico.  I think this one is much improved.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll try to post more frequently, as I have other works now in progress.  However, I do have four festivals approaching over the next four consecutive weekends.

Finished Route 66 Relic, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

Villa Ridge, Missouri abandoned Zephyr gas station bill board

This watercolor was begun on site several weeks back.  It is part of what remains of the old Cooksy Station on historic Route  66 southwest of St. Louis.  This billboard adjoins the property of an abandoned Zephyr gas station on Route AT at Villa Ridge, near Interstate 44.  I found it with considerable difficulty (a state trooper pulled me over for an illegal turn in St. Clair, and I explained what I was seeking–he gave me a warning, and directions!).   I took several pictures of this billboard, and then painted the remains of the gas station as the early evening light was fading.  Later, I arose at sunrise (staying with my parents in High Ridge, 40 minutes away) and drove to this site and painted it in the morning light, until a heavy thunderstorm darkened the skies and chased me off the site.  Thanks to photographs, I was able to return to the composition on numerous occasions.

Yesterday, in Lubbock, Texas, I was finishing up a number of watercolors begun during my St. Louis travels of a few weeks ago, and a more recent Colorado vacation.  With this particular composition, I needed to deepen the dark shadows above, behind, and within the foliage covering the billboard.  The weedy bottom portions also needed some additional tweaking.  I’ve decided now that it is finished.

Thanks for reading.