Archive for the ‘Blues’ Category

Planning #3 of the Palestine Series

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

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

Edgar Degas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later. . .


Monday Morning in Studio Eidolons

January 16, 2023

Back to work on my Watercolor

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

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

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

Paddington, my Studio Companion

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

Thanks for reading.

Good Morning from The Gallery at Redlands

January 7, 2023

For then I saw

That fires, not I,

Burn down and die;

That flare of gold

Turns old, turns cold.

Not I. I grow.

May Sarton, from “On a Winter Night”

I managed to go downstairs into the gallery by 8:00 this morning. Eschewing my custom of going to the desk to read, I went directly to the drafting table, picked up my brush and pencils, and completely rendered the harp player that was only a line drawing last evening.

Now I’m enjoying coffee and reading from a magnificent book acquired recently, Richard Lacayo’s Last Light: How Six Great Artists Made Old Age a Time of Triumph. This is not a self-help book. I didn’t purchase it because of a diminished art output or interest lately; I was just curious to read about the “winter years” of artists including Hopper, Goya, Titian and Matisse.

German art historian A. E. Brinckmann identified elements he referred to as altersstil (old-age style), and I was struck by his observation of “a reduction of forms to their essences and a preference for unfinished surfaces.” I have been moving in that direction, not because I read of it from another artist, but because of my fascination with Xie-He’s “Six Canons of Painting.” I have wanted to go to the “spirit essence” or “vital force” of subjects I paint, and spend less time with the peripheral elements of the scene. I’ve been happier to leave blank spaces for the viewer’s imagination to fill with whatever s/he perceives in the narrative I’m illustrating. Throughout the years, looking back at photos I’ve taken of works in progress, I nearly always like my paintings better when they are about 60% complete. My framed, finished works (to me) often appear over-worked.

The May Sarton poem at the top of this blog opens this book that I’m now reading. The words stirred me profoundly. I’m grateful that life and art have not diminished for me in these retirement years. It was always my hope that I could harvest something sublime from these years after all that time spent working a job to please others.

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.

Working Friday Night in The Gallery at Redlands

January 6, 2023

. . . and the philosophical light around my window is now, my joy; may I be able to keep on as I have thus far!

Friedrich Hölderlin, letter written December 2, 1802

My sentiments match Hölderlin’s as I work on this watercolor tonight in The Gallery at Redlands. We stay open till 9:00, so I still have another hour, and have decided to let this painting rest till the morning and settle into some comfortable reading before I shut down and go upstairs for the night.

Though January usually brings a considerable drop in business, the gallery has been busier than normal throughout this day and evening. Still I managed to squeeze out some quality time to study and continue work on this painting. In my previous work (pictured below), I featured the ghost of Lightnin’ Hopkins walking the rails with his guitar. This bluesman actually played in a juke joint in Crockett, Texas, thirty minutes down the road. A life-size bronze of him playing guitar graces the park across the street from the establishment where he played the blues.

The watercolor I am working on now features a seated guitarist. I’m using David Honeyboy Edwards as my model for this fellow. Beside him, playing harp is Don Gallia. I met him a few years ago while participating in the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. Part of that festival’s tradition was “Church in the Bar.” An hour before opening, artists gathered for worship on Sunday morning in the barroom of the Hall. Don played harp masterfully as he accompanied guitarists leading the music part of the services. I decided to insert him into this composition.

It is nearly time to close the gallery for the night. I’ll return to open around 8 tomorrow morning and remain open till 9 p.m. I’m looking forward now to going upstairs to cozy up to a good book and read myself to sleep.

Thanks for reading.

Paddington Under the Writing Desk

January 3, 2023

January 3, 2023 still brings contentment inside Studio Eidolons. The early part of my morning I savored at my desk while Paddington napped underneath. Then I returned to work on my latest Palestine blues watercolor. Signage and foliage are slowing me way, way down, but there is no deadline for this; I’m working at my own leisurely pace and enjoying every stroke of the brush and pencil.

My reading this morning mined genuine gold from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I found it timely because I find myself again scratching my head in the midst of a large, complex watercolor, unsure of what to try next:

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

Agnes de Mille

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

December 30, 2022

To think is to confine yourself to a

single thought that one day stands

still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Greetings from The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. We will be closing our doors for a two-week vacation in January, but I am in the gallery from now till New Year’s Eve.

Palestine is quiet, dark and rainy on this Friday morning. Yesterday I began Part Two of my Palestine Blues Series. So far all I have done is draw and masque as I lay the foundations for this large watercolor. My hope is to add color before this day is through. Masquing, for me, is a very slow and tedious endeavor as I use it to highlight heavy tree foliage, block utility poles so they will be light against the dark background, and string out a myriad of power lines in and out of the tree branches. Slow work indeed. Once the masquing and drawing are complete, I plan to pour several layers of watercolor across the paper before I actually get down to the detail work of the painting.

I hope to blog some more today and tomorrow as I work in the gallery. Before I close, I want to wish all my readers optimism as you lean forward into this new year dawning.

I managed to create a new greeting card from my most recent painting of the Clydesdales. These measure 5 x 7″, are blank on the inside with my text on the back. Complete with envelope and enclosed in a plastic sleeve, these are priced at $5 each or five for $20.

Thanks for reading.

New Limited Edition Print Coming to Gallery at Redlands

November 17, 2022

Signing the new limited edition giclee prints

Palestine Blues, now available in limited editions. $100 unframed

Good morning. I’m proud to announce that I have signed my first seven copies of a limited edition series of Palestine Blues. The original hangs framed behind my desk in The Gallery at Redlands, but has already sold. The limited editions are a little smaller, but look great in color and sharpness. I’ll be placing them in the gallery later today (Thursday) after we arrive for another weekend of activity.

Thanks for reading.

Making Headway on the Palestine Blues Watercolor

October 22, 2022

The ghost of Lightnin’ Hopkins moving through Palestine

People have learned how to strum a guitar, but they don’t have the soul. They don’t feel it from the heart. It hurts me. I’m killin’ myself to tell them how it is.

Lightnin’ Hopkins

The Hot Pepper Festival has drawn to a close. Vendors are packing up their tents and merchandise. The streets are clearing. And I’m getting weary of painting, having bent over the drafting table and picked at this watercolor for the most part of nine hours. I’m happy with the amount of work that got accomplished today, and believe I’ll now spend the rest of the evening reading. The Gallery at Redlands will stay open another three hours.

Dear friends of mine who looked at the painting in progress this afternoon noticed the transparency of my blues man walking along the tracks. I inserted him after I had drafted the store behind him, and the lines of masonry are still visible through his clothing. Lisa liked the idea of the ghost sign being in the same frame as the ghost blues man. I had not thought of that! Lightnin’ Hopkins played in a juke joint in Crockett, Texas, thirty miles down the highway from here. A life-size bronze statue has been installed in the park across the street from the Camp Street Care & Store that used to be the joint. So I’m naming this solitary traveling musician Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Thanks for reading.

Hot Pepper Festival in Palestine Today

October 22, 2022
Resuming a Recent Watercolor

I have found it difficult to stop and blog today. My day began at 7:00, and as I walked the streets of Palestine, I felt that I was making my way through a Medieval village. Vendors were everywhere, setting up booths for the day. The annual Hot Pepper Festival is in full swing. The parade has already passed through, and people are everywhere. I’m enjoying the Gallery traffic. Talking to patrons and visitors is always enjoyable, especially if I’m up to my elbows in a watercolor

While passing through the booths during my morning walk, I enjoyed the scattered chatterings I overheard, reminding me of my days of setting up for an outdoor art festival. A good memory. In fact, I experienced this three weeks ago in Edom, Texas. I used to do about ten of these a year. Now I’ve cut back to two or three. I’m glad to be settled into the gallery, and plan to work on watercolors till we close tonight at 9:00

A close up of the details I’m tending on the Palestine watercolor

While working on a large piece, I enjoy moving all over the composition, sometimes detailing, sometimes laying down large washes of color, sometimes drawing and adjusting something that doesn’t seem quite right. Currently I’m working on small perimeter leaves and branches separating the bulk of the tree crowns from the sky. I call these little touches “salt and peppering” as I feel I am seasoning the work instead of basting or cooking.

I need to get back to painting. Thanks for reading.

Eudaimonia in the Studio

September 25, 2022
Tedious work on details at the moment, but I’m loving it

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

The quiet Sunday offers a respite from the sustained pace we have had to keep up the last few days. Yesterday we had to leave Palestine by 2:00 in order to make the reception for the Fall Show sponsored by the Lake Granbury Art Association.


I was thrilled to receive an Award of Excellence and a handsome check for my Palimpsest entry. I don’t compete nearly as often as I used to, and frankly, seldom win when I do compete. In fact, I have not even been juried into competitions recently when I have entered. So, last night was sweet and I’m very thankful for all the good will poured out by the crowd in attendance.

When the reception ended, I walked to the town square and entered the Baron’s Creek Wine Room to see the new show that has been installed, sponsored by The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery.

He is No Longer Here

I was pleased with the overall quality of the show, and appreciate where my full-sized watercolor is hanging. I’m looking forward to the opening of this show as well.

Today is it is back to work in the studio. The large panoramic watercolor I’m working on with the view of Spring Street in downtown Palestine is proving to be long hours of work, but I’m enjoying every brushstroke, and glad to have the time to pursue it.

Thanks for reading.