Archive for the ‘Chevrolet’ Category

A Route 66 Christmas Odyssey Requires a 1940’s Diner

March 5, 2011

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood Missouri, est. 1947

The good news today was that the aunts are going to be just fine.  After only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night, I decided I needed to nap this afternoon if I had any hopes of finishing this painting today.  I’m glad I did.  Sleeping from 2:00 until 4:00, I rose and resumed work on this in the garage (my Man-Cave!) with a beautiful afternoon Texas sun shining in the open door.  The light was exquisite for working on this painting.  Once it got dark, the winter temperatures plummeted, and I was forced to lower the door and continue work under house lights (I hate that!).   But . . . I did not want to tinker with this another day.  So . . . here it is . . . signed and out of my hands!

Tomorrow I plan to take it to the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I already have my next watercolor composition lined up, and I just may get after it tonight–I’m in the mood.

I’m grateful for the companionship I felt from the Voices and Visions video documentaries of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams.  What fabulous poets!  What vision!  I felt a particular connection to them as they painted the American scene in penetrating words, as I hope to do some day with watercolor.  Both men were driven by wanderlust as they traversed the American landscape, both urban and rural.  And though I don’t look at the TV while painting, I could certainly see these poets’ images in my mind’s eye as I continually sought to refine my own.  I still hear Williams’ voice in my conscience: “No ideas but in things!”

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy this one.

On the Road Today

March 5, 2011

On the Road

I guess its only fitting that this painting goes On the Road with me today.  Late last night, my wife received the phone call that her elderly aunt had become ill, and that her roommate (recovering from a recent car accident and hospital convalescence) had to be rushed by ambulance back to the hospital with breathing issues.  We made the one-hour journey to the Emergency Room, and waited for her to stabilize and be admitted to a room.  I then took Sandi to spend the night with her sick aunt and I returned home by 2:30 a.m.  Back up at 7:15 this morning, fed the dogs, getting ready to take them to the groomer, packed fresh clothes for Sandi, and am preparing to return to the hospital, one hour north.  I’m taking this painting along with me, as I need still to draw the line of newspaper vending machines along the wall of Spencer’s Grill–the only cloud of white, undeveloped area remaining on this piece.  I expect I’ll finish the drawing sometime on the trip, and then paint it all in when I return (whenever that is).  I’m glad the two women are going to be fine with some rest and a couple of us tending their needs this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Route 66–Odyssey of the American Mind

March 4, 2011

Spencer's Grill on Route 66

At last, the weekend!  Immediately after school, I had a nice visit with my gallery director, Bill Ryan, at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I dropped off my large Eureka Springs cafe painting for framing.  Then, I dashed over to Texas Wesleyan University (my night job!) to retrieve some materials from the library.  In my garage studio, I’ve enjoyed immensely the Voices and Visions series of video documentaries on American poets.  Over the past week, I’ve listened to T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and today am listening to Walt Whitman.  I also picked up the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, two volumes of his poetry, and the Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have before me a weekend of books and painting!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will see that I have sketched in the pavement along the bottom of the composition, using a series of washes along with plenty of salt and water-soluble graphite pencil work.  I’m now waiting for all of that to dry so I can get back to work on the cars and the newspaper vending machines along the front side of this diner.  I fully intend to finish this piece over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll get back to you soon.

Christmas Cheer and Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri

March 1, 2011

Christmas at Spencers Grill

Though it’s been two months since I left St. Louis, my heart still stirs at the memory of a bright winter morning at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri along historic Route 66.  My wife and I had just ducked inside this historic cafe from the late 1940’s for breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and coffee.  This historic sign at Spencer’s Grill I had seen since my pre-literate childhood, and will always remember, Proust-like, as a monument from my remote past.

Recently I’ve been reading plenty of Ezra Pound, and studying his tragic life.  From his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” I found these lines:

All things are aflowing,

Sage Heracleitus says;

But a tawdry cheapness

Shall outlast our days.

For over a decade, I’ve been fascinated with the Presocratic fragments, particularly the pieces from Heraclitus.   I mused over this phenomena of traffic perennially rushing north-south on Kirkwood Road, while the ageless, changeless Spencer’s Grill remains.  With my company Recollections 54 (www.recollections54.com) I try to capture in watercolor the images of an America from the 1950’s that remains in spite of the changes that nearly sweep the ground out from under us as we live out our fast-paced, deadline-driven lives.

Thanks for reading.

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!

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.

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.

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.