Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Believe

October 9, 2017

believe

In progress work on the T&P #610

polar express

Reference photo taken Sept. 23 when the #610 was towed out for public viewing

Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.

Polar Express

Currently, I am awash in an enchanted evening. I ordered the movie “Polar Express” from Amazon and watched it for the first time (mostly listened) while working on the watercolor above in my studio. My friends who lease The Gallery at Redlands planted the idea with me last March to do something to coincide with this Christmas season’s “Polar Express” excursion train that runs between Palestine and Rusk, Texas. Our Gallery at Redlands is in Palestine, and we’ve decided to host a Christmas Railroad exhibit, hoping to encourage Polar Express patrons to visit our gallery and a host of watercolors I’ve been creating since March.

I’m enjoying the challenge of painting the historic #610. The photo I took when it was towed outdoors was taken in the bright morning sun, so I could see the details well, and yet I’m trying to place it in a composition under a night wintry sky, hoping I can pull this off to look natural enough. We’ll see how it develops. Either way, I’m enjoying the work.

Today I received my shipment of 1500 postcards with the image below:

30 finished

I’m preparing to order additional shipments with other images completed recently. Today I also visited the business that produces my limited edition giclee prints. By November, at least six of my recent Palestine locomotive paintings will be available in these limited editions. Tomorrow I’m visiting a frame shop to deliver a stack of paintings to be framed and available for the show. The season is already heating up and I’m beginning to feel the fatigue as well as the exhilaration.

It feels good to be painting again. The college season is getting busier, but not too busy to keep me from making art, one of my chief joys in life.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Another Limited Edition for the Weekend Show

March 30, 2017

Christmas at Spencer's Grill horizontal

Christmas at Spencer’s Grill

And finally, I’m bringing this limited edition back out for the weekend show at The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas.  It is priced at $80.

Spencer’s Grill is located on Kirkwood Road (old Route 66) in St. Louis, Missouri. The business has been there since 1947, and the colorful billboard that advertised the place caught my eye since the days I was too young yet to read. Nearly every time I visit my family in St. Louis, I go to this establishment for an old-fashioned breakfast, seated at a counter stool, feeling that I have entered Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. I guess I will always be a painter of memories.

Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Christmas Surprise

December 25, 2015

imageMy biggest Christmas surprise was this gift from my brother. I’ve never owned a Fender Strat, and now look forward to getting used to one.  I’ve played acoustic throughout my life, and have always been clumsy on the electric.  Now, I’m more interested than ever before to see what I can do with one.

Thanks, Rick!

Nearing Completion on a Long-Range Watercolor Project

April 18, 2014
Nearly Finished With This Watercolor of Hermann, Missouri

Nearly Finished With This Watercolor of Hermann, Missouri

The book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear, brown, twilight atmosphere in which it was written; if opened in the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank pages.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales

Retiring to bed at 2:00 this morning, I was surprised to wake without an alarm shortly after 8:00.  There is no school today, but the routine 6:00 alarm apparently has me waking earlier in the mornings these days, even when no such alarm is set.  I came into the studio eagerly, ready to take the next step on this watercolor, but instead just sat and looked over it, in no hurry to stitch up the final details.  So instead, I have been sitting in a comfortable chair with coffee, books and journal, and have set the painting on an easel ten feet in front of me in the morning light, and occasionally I look up at it, much as Andrew Wyeth did with his near-completed compositions.  Wyeth would put them in a prominent place in his living room, so he could catch glimpses of them (“from the corner of my eye”, he said) as he walked throughout the house in the course of a day.  Eventually he reached a decision of whether or not the painting needed further work.  I suppose that is what I am doing now.  Two days ago, a student whose opinion I respect highly saw the painting and thought it looked finished already.  Many times I have pushed a watercolor past its completion point and felt disappointed that it had been overworked, overdone.  So, I am letting this one breathe for awhile.

This latest watercolor contrasts starkly with the one I have generally used as a measuring-stick against all subsequent work:

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

Completed several summers ago, I found great satisfaction in the hot sun-filled composition of this piece.  I was at my boldest in the use of color and sharp contrasts not only in value but in the complementary colors.

Last Christmas season, when I trekked through that quaint German town Hermann, Missouri, I felt an exhilaration I cannnot describe as I took picture after picture, all the time hoping, wondering if I could possibly render a watercolor to capture the cold winter light that diffused across that cityscape, and the sense of mist that crept up from the Missouri River far down below.  I knew that a muted, misty painting could possibly come across as boring when juxtaposed with a sharp, summer composition such as this one in Sundance Square.

As the Texas summer approaches, I will no doubt return to plenty of these hot compositions.  But right now, I am really loving the look of my muted, atmospheric piece, and believe I’ll continue to look at it “from the corner of my eye” and make a decision of whether to leave it as is, or look for ways to put some spice into it.  Right now, I just don’t know.

I have some abandoned watercolors littered about my studio, so I believe I’ll find one of them to focus on for the time being.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

Lining Up the Vehicles and Rendering the Streets

April 18, 2014
Working Late on a Thursday Night

Working Late on a Thursday Night

The hour has reached nearly 2:00 a.m.  There is no school for me on Good Friday.  I’m feeling kind of mellow as I sit up late and work on the details of a line of parked vehicles and all the shadow changes on the pavement to the right.  I’m not rushing this and can say that I’m feeling satisfied so far with how it is finishing.  Hopefully I’ll have it complete before I return to school next week.

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.

Getting Lost in the Shadows of Watercolor

April 14, 2014
Working the Shadows and Parked Vehicles

Working the Shadows and Parked Vehicles

Drawing is a way of organizing space.

Robert Motherwell (I think!)

The paper is the atmosphere in which the watercolor breathes.

(author unknown!)

I open tonight’s blog with two questionable quotes.  The first I am relatively certain came from Robert Motherwell, my idol of Abstract Expressionist thought and erudition.  But tonight I have been unsuccessful in tracing it to him.  The second quote came from an artists’ magazine I read back in the 1980’s, before I actually made watercolor a serious pursuit.  I have never been able to forget it.

Both of these quotes are swimming in my consciousness as I work on this piece tonight.  Temperatures outside are dropping to the point that I decided to don a heavy sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.  I am sitting adjacent to an entire wall of northern windows, and I feel the freeze warning that has been forecast throughout the day.  The chill is reminding me of the cold December morning that I walked the streets of Hermann, Missouri and took the photograph for this composition.  There was such a clarity of light that morning that I knew would be conducive for watercolor–I love the clear, sharp, cold light of a winter’s day and have worked hard to get that atmosphere into this painting.  I love what watercolor paper lends to the atmosphere of a landscape painting.

As for the drawing/organizing space principle, I have been handcuffed, trying to render the shadowed facades of this row of storefronts adjacent to a line of parked vehicles.  The Motherwell quote surfaced, and I decided to break the shadows into rhythms of geometric configurations, alternating warm and cool colors as I filled in the spaces.  I feel the way I did in high school when we painted large nonrepresentational acrylic-on-canvas compositions.  We were challenged to experiment with the combinations of warm and cool colors and seek some kind of pleasing balance.  That is what I am attempting to do here.  I have no serious aspirations to copy the myriad of representational images in my small photograph.  We’ll see how it turns out.  If it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.  At any rate, I am enjoying this evening in the studio.

This is probably all the painting I’ll be able to post this evening.  I still have work to do on a Nietzsche lecture for tomorrow morning’s Philosophy class.  I cannot seem to create a lifestyle with a singular focus–there is always another task to perform.  I love reading, writing and talking about Nietzsche.  But I also love watercolor.  With tonight’s limited time, I need to find a way to address both.

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.

A Cold, Rainy Afternoon in the Studio

April 14, 2014
Quiet Retreat to the Watercolor Studio

Quiet Retreat to the Watercolor Studio

At such times there is a song going on within us, a song to which we listen.  It fills us with surprise.  We marvel at it.  We would continue to hear it.  But few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their own song.  Intellectuality steps in and as the song within us is of the utmost sensitiveness, it retires in the presence of the cold, material intellect.  It is aristocratic and will not associate itself with the commonplace–and we fall back and become our ordinary selves.  Yet we live in the memory of these songs which in moments of intellectual inadvertence have been possible to us.  They are the pinnacles of our experience and it is the desire to express these intimate sensations, this song from within, which motivates the masters of all art.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The day has been physically and intellectually dreary.  Forty-four degrees, dark and rainy outside.  Indoors we have studied A. P. Art History, focusing on the German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement fueled by World War I.  George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and Ernst Barlach all served in the German army during that Great War.  They entered as enthusiastic patriotic idealists, exited as horrified, burned-out and disillusioned artists.  As we looked upon their paintings and reflected on the writings of Nietzsche that transformed the world views of the young soldier Otto Dix, as well as the chaplain Paul Tillich, I felt the cold of the outside gripping my own artistic sensitivity.  The longer we looked at these works and talked of the war’s atrocities, the more I wished to retreat to my studio and revive the song that has stirred my heart recently, encouraging me to paint and explore beauty.

The first thing I did when I got home to my studio was put on a fresh pot of coffee to help stave off the cold and wet climate that settled into my bones and offset the dark gray world peeking through the miniblinds of my studio windows.  Then I tilted the surface of my drafting table and settled into drawing, erasing and re-drawing the details in the shadows of the buildings lining the winter streets of Hermann, Missouri.  Slowly, the depressing themes of the morning studies melted away and I was once again looking upon a beautiful watercolor world, unscarred by war and destruction.  The winter atmosphere in this painting is cold and hazy, but within my soul, I feel a clarity and sense of color and warmth.  I still need to add more layers of shadow to the areas on the lower left of this composition, then along the facades of the stores facing the street.  This is going to take awhile, it appears.  But I have time, and renewed energy.  Making art today has lifted me from the despairing subjects of the morning classes.  Once again, I am grateful for that gift.

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.

 

 

 

Late Night in the Studio

April 13, 2014

Hermann close upWorking Late Sunday Night on this Hermann, Missouri Cityscape

The ideal modern artist must become this unobserved but “passionate observer” who watches the world yet remains hidden.  He is a flaneur (a stroller), a tourist in his own land, whose scenery of choice is the crowd, “a prince who always preserves his incognito.”  He delights in “the rippling, moving, fleeting, infinite” multitude.  Here is the artist as voyeur, seeing but unseen, “a mirror as immense as that crowd; a kaleidoscope endowed with consciousness.”

Beth Archer Brombert, recording the ideas of Baudelaire concerning the contemporary artist

The Entire Composition in Progress

The Entire Composition in Progress

Though I’m confined to the studio, working from photographs, the Texas weather is inching toward plein air capability, and I am happy to see a couple of events on the horizon where I am invited to engage in it.  The Baudelaire sentiments remind me of Emerson’s comments in Nature when he describes the observer as a “transparent eyeball”–he is nothing, he sees all.  Andrew Wyeth enjoyed such a feeling when he sat in the Olsen household in Maine, creating watercolor and tempera works inside the dim interior of their house as they went about their daily chores.  He oftentimes felt that he wasn’t visibly present because of the ease in which they worked as though incognizant of his company.

I felt the same transparency when I walked the streets of Hermann last Christmas holidays.  I know no one in that town, and no one was out walking in the frigid weather that morning.  I was delighted to take photos, knowing I would try my hardest to convert some of these into decent watercolors once I got back to my warm studio.

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.

 

Returning to the Muse

April 13, 2014
Taking a Fresh Look at the Hermann, Missouri Watercolor

Taking a Fresh Look at the Hermann, Missouri Watercolor

Michelangelo, El Greco, Rembrandt imitated; Raphael imitated, and Poussin, Velásquez and Goya; Delacroix, Manet and Cézanne . . . whenever documents allow us to go back to the origin of a painter’s works, or a sculptor’s, or any artist’s, we encounter . . . the dreams, the anguish, or the serenity of another artist.  For artists do not emerge full-grown from a formless world, but from their struggle against the forms imposed by others.

André Malraux

Henri Matisse and Eugene Delacroix often spoke of “cleansing the eye” after a long hiatus from painting.  It has been weeks since I’ve been able to look at this painting.  Now that the intrusions from common life’s tasks have been addressed, I’m glad to linger over this watercolor tonight and resume work that I reluctantly abandoned long ago.  Kick-starting this has not been easy.  I find myself poring over the reference photo, taking in details, and constantly asking questions like: “How would Hopper have addressed this?” or “How would Wyeth render this?” or “Would Homer have included this detail?”  Thus I’ve inserted for my own good the quote above that all artists work in dialogue with their predecessors and ultimately (hopefully) find their own way in the end.  I’m still searching for my voice among these multitudes, my signature, my contribution.  Yet in the midst of all this, I’m just happy to be painting again.

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.

Painting My Way into 2014

December 31, 2013
Historical District of Hermann, Missouri

Historical District of Hermann, Missouri

Thus, the lived experience of the length of a year changes radically throughout our life.  A year that to a five-year-old constitutes a full fifth of his existence must seem much longer than when it will constitute a mere twentieth or thirtieth of his time on earth.  We all know how the years revolve quicker and quicker as we get older, until, with the approach of old age, they slow down again because we begin to measure them against the psychologically and somatically anticipated date of our departure.

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

Well . . . all I can say in response to Hannah Arendt is that 2013 is a blur to me.  I wish I could believe that that is a sign that I have  of many more years to live.  To me, the calendar year has not slowed down since my twenties.  Perhaps I will feel anxiety in the event that my years begin slowing down!  Oh well, I choose not to dwell on that today.

I wish I had something more profound to offer my readers this New Year’s Eve, as I have read so many extraordinary blog posts today capping the old year and opening the new.  I have given this day to reading, journaling, cooking and house-tidying.  And I have begun another 8 x 10″ watercolor of the historic district in Hermann, Missouri.  I have wanted to visit this German town ever since I read William Least Heat-Moon’s River-Horse.  Throughout the recent years, patrons have visited my booth during art festivals and asked me if I had any paintings from Hermann, Missouri.  The answer was always No, because I had never visited the place.  This Christmas, I included Hermann in my Missouri visitations.  The winter day was extremely cold, but the sun was bright, the 10:00 a.m. hour was perfect for shadows and light, and I took over forty photos.  This watercolor sketch is my first attempt, and so far I like what is emerging.  Hence, I am fulfilling my #1 Resolution for 2014 to paint my way into the new year.

I cannot express to readers visiting and commenting on my site how grateful I am for all the encouragement you have provided.   Makng art is a solitary enterprise, but blogging has definitely taken away any semblance of loneliness from this venture.  Thank you for that.  I wish you a fabulous 2014.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll begin sharing Resolutions.

Thanks always for reading.  I wish you a fulfilling night of anticipation.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.