Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Clydesdales Completed

December 26, 2022

Christmas 2022 was altered sharply, but all has come out well. My mother was hospitalized with COVID and pneumonia, but now is back home and feeling much better. We have decided to travel to St. Louis for Christmas in January, once Mom and Dad have had time to regather their strength post-COVID. I had not experienced Christmas Day in my own home in well over a decade and I really enjoyed this one. We picked up half a cord of wood before the foul weather descended and have now spent several days in front of a fire place with coffee and TV and I got in some quality time in Studio Eidolons. The Clydesdales have been completed and I’m thrilled with the way the snow effect turned out.

From my childhood, seated in front of a black-and-white TV, I was spellbound when our local station identification featured the Clydesdales bursting out of the Grant’s Farm gates. My fascination with them has never subsided. Years ago in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, I was seated in the Barnes & Noble Cafe, which was sunken below street level. Engaged in reading over coffee (still one of my favorite past times), my eye detected unusual movement on the street outside my window. Looking up I was astonished to see the Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon, coming towards me! I could never describe the emotions and sense of awe that overwhelmed me as I saw that great sight approaching. I knew then that one day I would settle in to render them in watercolor.

From the beginning of this watercolor endeavor, I was flummoxed. I knew I wanted to begin with cold winter trees in the background. Unsure of my colors, I relied mostly on Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine, But how would I capture the network and general “movement” of the trees? I kept thinking of Xie-He and his Canons–the “spirit essence” of the cold, dense forest. Using the Richeson Medium Liquid Masque, I spattered the background with a toothbrush. Then I took out an assortment of double-end clay shapers and tried some Jackson Pollock scribbles all over the background. Once the pigments were settled and dried, I scraped off the masquing and left it alone. Then I used the toothbrush to spatter liquid masque all over the horses, hoping that once the painting was finished and masquing scraped that it would simulate blowing snow. It worked!

The most difficult part was untangling the congeries of heads, bodies, legs, and rigging of the horses. I felt like I was assembling a jigsaw puzzle, an endless tangle of shapes and colors. I tried not to think of the overall design of the horses and riggings, but rather concentrated on each fragment of shaped color, all the time hoping that once the masquing came off that it would look like a gaggle of behemoth horses high-stepping through the snow. I think my largest fear was fogging out the legs of the rear horses once I defined a few of the leaders’ legs. I finally laid the brush down and decided enough was enough; I have killed many watercolors by overworking and overdetailing them. Hopefully I stopped at the right time here.

What’s next? I’ll certainly have this custom framed and determine a price for it. The image alone measures 12 x 15.5″. I’ve decided to have signed & numbered giclee prints made of it as well. They will be the same size as the original and will be priced at $100 each.

I have also ordered signed & numbered giclee prints of my “Palestine Blues” watercolor. A number of these have already sold and are priced at $100. I’m glad for the reproductions because the original was sold even before it was completed.

Today is December 26, but it still feels like Christmas and I am glad. We put up the tree in my studio and I plan to keep it lighted for quite awhile.

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.


Back at it . . . Holiday Musings

December 6, 2022

Studio Eidolons Waiting for Me

Cowboy Coffee & Journal at the Ready

Gertrude Stein: “You never had any feeling about any words, words annoy you more than they do anything else so how can you write?”

Picasso: “You yourself always said I was an extraordinary person.”

Gertrude Stein: “You are extraordinary within your limits but your limits are extraordinarily there.”

recorded by John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Minotaur Years 1933-1943

Reading this over coffee this morning triggered a spontaneous chuckle. I’ve enjoyed reading about artists who wanted to write and writers who wanted to make art. This cross-fertilization has always enriched me, and I’ve always hoped I could spread the enrichment to others whether it be through painting, writing, or teaching. The flow of ideas has been my constant throughout life, and I’m more aware now than previously that this has remained the greatest gift to me.

I’ve been away from the blog for quite awhile now. Life has been crammed too full with appointments, and now that things have settled for a few days I’m trying to rediscover that rhythm I’ve been accustomed to, beginning with “executive time” in the mornings. This morning I brewed Cowboy Coffee. Texas weather has been climbing to the mid-seventies every afternoon, so the fireplace has died for the time being, and I have opened the windows to Studio Eidolons to let the breezes fill this sunlit room.

I have begun the fourth and final volume of John Richardson’s A Life of Picasso. I seem to recall that he projected five volumes when the first one came out, and I was enthusiastic to read every word. I’m saddened that he didn’t live long enough to complete this great work, dying at age ninety-five. At any rate, I intend to keep my promise, and so I press on this morning to complete the 175 pages of text remaining to be explored.

Beginning Watercolor of the Budweiser Clydesdales

My thoughts turn pensive with the holidays, especially the “Proustian” notion of recalling sensations from my childhood. This Christmas as I wondered what kind of theme to pursue in watercolor, I was visited with the memories of sitting in front of a black-and-white television as a child, and seeing commercials of the Budweiser Clydesdales pulling the beer wagon out of the gates at Grants Farm. Growing up near St. Louis, we were inundated with TV commercials, magazine ads and billboards of these magnificent behemoths, complete with a pair of drivers and a Dalmatian seated beside. I’ve decided that the time has come, so I’ll be posting this painting as it emerges.

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.

I Can Do This

December 20, 2021
Morning Routine

The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instants are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

My habit of reading multiple books at a time, constantly shuffling them, is much like taking part in a conversation among several friends in a circle. The voices frequently harmonize around a general topic, and I feel I could sit and visit for hours. That occurred this mornng during my quiet hotel time as I read and wrote. I spent some time in Unger’s Picasso and the Painting that Shocked the World as well as Goethe’s Faust and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. A conversation evolved, and I was taking part by writing my two-cents’ worth in my journal. Of course, I cannot reproduce it on this blog, but trust me, it was a real rush and it managed to smooth out my morning. I had awakened with nagging anxieties of commission Christmas deadlines. Instead of rushing downstairs to the gallery drafting table, I followed my ritual of putting on music and quietly reading and writing till the calm emerged and I could hear my inner voice saying, “I can do this.” Having heard that, I rose from the cafe table, nodded my good-byes to Picasso, Goethe and Liz, and made my way to The Gallery at Redlands to get back to work.

Liz Gilbert has provided for me such stunning conversation. I don’t know how many of her interviews I have listened to on Youtube, and now finally I am reading a book by her. And recalling the line from the film Shadowlands (we read to know we’re not alone), I read words like the ones posted above that make me want to talk with other kindred spirits about this creative life. Lifetime artists know the arduous interim stretches between peaks of inspiration. The artist life is hard work just like any other life. But it contains those pulse-quickening visitations, those spikes of inspiration that are not like just any other life. And, like Liz, I’ve learned to embrace them all. Sometimes while laboring over a watercolor, I picture myself as a shade-tree mechanic adjusting a carburetor; othertimes I’m the conductor waving his baton in front of the orchestra as they play a symphony–the painting just seems to be painting itself while I watch and wave.

My comment on the last blog is getting traction, and it appears that we will start up an “artists’ cafe” after the first of the year here in Palestine. Cecilia Bramhall, one of our Gallery at Redlands artists, is on board. We’ll probably meet at the Pint and Barrel for art conversation and inspiration. Any of you wishing to join us, tune in, let me know, and I’ll tell you where and when.

Nearing completion on this 23 x 30″ watercolor

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.

Sunday Morning Visitations

December 19, 2021
Working in the Gallery at Redlands on Christmas Commission

“And as imagination bodies forth

The Forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name”

William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Imagination is the outreaching of mind. It is the individual’s capacity to accept the bombardment of the conscious mind with ideas, impulses, images, and every other sort of psychic phenomena welling up from the preconscious.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

The bright sun outside the windows of The Gallery at Redlands conceals the 36-degree temperatures and cutting, slicing winds out of the north. I do welcome the infusion of warm light contrasting with yesterday’s darkness and driving rains. The lighting in the Gallery is lovely this morning, and I’m rested and ready to return to work on the painting above. Yesterday was a long day, but one filled with rewards–plenty of work accomplished and many, many excited Polar Express riders filled with stories and excitement over the Christmas train experience.

I’ve managed to sell a good quantity of my 5 x 7″ reproductions of trains in the 8 x 10″ frames. Discounted to $45 for the remainder of the year, these pieces have been picked up by Polar Express patrons. One of them yesterday requested that I add something “special” to the train he purchased. So, taking it out of the frame, I inserted Baby Yoda to his delight.

We still have a good quanity of these framed pieces in the gallery. The 5 x 7″ images are priced at $45 and the 8 x 10’s (in 11 x 14″ frames) are $60.

5 x 7″ in 8 x 10″ frames–$45
8 x 10″ in 11 x 14′ frames–$60
View from the Redlands Hotel Lobby
The Best Part of Every Morning

Setting the alarm for 7:00 was a good idea. By the time I got downstairs into the gallery by 8:00, the sun was strong, the space filled with warm light and the quiet of the morning was so inviting. I’m loving this book given to me by Jennifer, a precious student of mine from the mid-1990’s. Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World is such an engaging story. I had never read anything by Miles J. Unger before, but I’m dying now to lay hands on anything else he’s published. The creative eros that took Piasso by storm in his early Parisian days is always exciting to study, but Unger has such a powerful grasp of words and images in his interpretations, that I found myself revisiting Rollo May’s The Courage to Create. I just wish right now that I could sit down with a handful of eager artists over coffee and talk about this stuff. We artists need to form some kind of tertulia of our own! Anyone wish to join me? I should have plenty more time and space around me with the coming of the New Year. Arlington? Fort Worth? Palestine? I’m close enough to all these areas, and coffee shops abound!

Before I close this and return to work, I want to share an all-around look at our Christmas Gallery, and thank you for reading and looking.

Post-Thanksgiving Saturday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

November 27, 2021
Preparing Monday College Lecture

Remember that it is only this present, a moment of time, that a man lives: all the rest either has been lived or may never be.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Life is busy now at The Gallery at Redlands. Polar Express Season is warming up on these cold wintry mornings. The gallery windows show a dark and rainy Saturday morning over Palestine. In my early years, such views depressed me, especially over the holidays, but not any longer. Emerson wrote that nature wears the colors of the spirit, and with that in mind, I now look out on a cold, dark rainy morning and say: “Perfect for coffee and books inside.”

Thanksgiving was truly a gift to me this season, and I offer up genuine thanks from the heart. I’m reading Picasso and the Painting That Schocked the World, a lovely gift from my student Jennifer who visited us last weekend. Picasso’s reminiscence of his Blue Period at the Bateau Lavoir was much more affirming than my own personal blue period of the holidays in 1987. All I can say is that I am overwhelmingly grateful for the love and cheer that embrace me now, replacing the total lack of it I felt in 1987. I wish everyone could know genuine cheer and love during the holiday seasons.

Cecilia Bramhall Collection

The Gallery at Redlands continues to brighten these days. Cecilia Bramhall has brought in several Christmas composition paintings, Paula Cadle’s pottery collection has been replenished, and Sandi is continuing to add garland and poinsettias. I have introduced Palestine’s Polar Express locomotives, selling the prints in 8 x 10″ frames and we are offering gift bags now to the holiday hotel guests.

Next Friday night, December 3 at 7:00, I will team up with radio personality Kevin Harris to lead in a Gallery Talk here at the Redlands. We will be discussing the “creative life” and what we have experienced personally over the years. The next day, December 4, from 10-3:00 will be our monthly Art Walk. Cecilia has already beefed up her Christmas painting offerings for her day spent in The Co-ed Shop, and I will stay in the Gallery at Redlands for the day, offering my own work at a 10% discount.

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.

Artful Morning in the City

November 12, 2021
Carnegie Library at Dawn, View from our Second-Floor Suite at The Redlands Hotel

My firm belief is that one paints, as one writes, not out of a theory but out of the vividness of an experience.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Rollo May’s writings have been a gift to me, again and again, not only from the book quoted above, but also his masterwork Paulus, about the theologian Paul Tillich as a teacher, along with The Courage to Create, a marvelous companion to Tillich’s The Courage to Be. Though a psychologist by profession, Rollo May was also a practicing artist and (to me) one of the most able writers describing the dynamics of the creative process. I have read The Courage to Create countless times, and yet still return to it to glean more from its pages.

More recently, I have been digging trenches through the first of Martin Heidegger’s four volumes titled Nietzsche. Now, after more than a hundred pages, I find myself dizzy and short of breath as though having climbed to the summit of one of Colorado’s Fourteeners. In the winter term 1936-37, Heidegger taught a course on Nietzsche, based on the unedited manuscripts of his Will to Power (unfortunately, Nietzsche’s sister mangled them to create the monster work that stamped the ghastly postscript onto his brilliant life’s work). Out of the semester’s teachings, Heidegger published an essay “The Origin of the Work of Art”. This essay I read while on the island in the Laguna Madre back in the summer of 2015 when I was serving an Artist-in-Residency for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. That essay inspired the watercolor study I did of the cord grasses one afternoon on the island:

2015 Watercolor “Cord Grasses” from my Stay on the Laguna Madre

Now, six years later, I have made the decision to dig under the foundations of Heidegger’s essay, which involves the four volumes of lectures from his 1936-37 winter term. The part I am reading now pertains to Nietzsche’s theory of Art as a configuration of will to power. The readings have continually rendered me breathless, and at the same time, resentful of being sandbagged by so many appointments and responsibilities of late. Hopefully the smog will soon clear and I will be able to report further on these amazing insights I’m having the pleasure of gleaning from these magnificent pages.

Sandi and I have returned to Palestine and The Gallery at Redlands for the weekend. Since the Hotel is already wonderfully decked out in Christmas Holiday attire, we are beginning now to trim our Gallery with some of the same. I also have plans to resume my recent experiments in winter evergreens. I managed to knock out a pair of them last Saturday during Art Walk, and spent some of this past week going through my archives and pulling out reproductions of past work to use as models for new work. Hopefully today and tomorrow I’ll be given time to pick up the brush and see what I can pursue next.

Snowy Evergreens (Sold, but working on another)
Snowy Evergreens (still available at $80)
Snowy Evergreens (Sold, but working on another)

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.

Post-Christmas Musings from Studio Eidolons

December 29, 2020
View from my Writing Desk

Then came the sound of a musical instrument, from behind it seemed, very sweet and very short, as if it were one plucking of a string or one note of a bell, and after it a full clear voice–and it sounded so high and strange that he thought it was very far away, further than a star. The voice said, Come.

C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrims’ Regress

The interim between Christmas and New Year’s Eve proves a pensive one for me. I may sound off about 2020 in future blogs, but not tonight. Tonight I feel the pull, the invitation, to breathe in the beauty of life and attempt to create something in response.

I chose tonight to re-open a C. S. Lewis book I read in the late 1970’s that continues to whisper to me from the shadows. Though my worldview has changed profoundly from what I thought in my early thirties, the allegory remains poignant for me. Life for me has always been an odyssey. From childhood I have wondered where my journey would take me, and there is no way I could have anticipated what unfolded in the decades following. Now, in these quiet times of retirement and reflection, I still am haunted by the faint sound of a sweet musical strain.

With a calendar containing very few appointments, I have adjusted to the sweetness of leisure, and just the mere act of thinking is better than I have ever known before. It appears that the only strife I endure is finding ways to describe in writing and conversation the nature of this Quality, this I have always pursued.

While majoring in art in my early university days, I was drawn more deeply into a university Christian fellowship and found myself taking steps toward the pastoral ministry. This resulted in an internal conflict between religion and art as I thought I understood them then. One day in a studio drawing class the instructor, making opening remarks to inspire us to begin our assignment, commented that he could not find a line separating art from religion. Unaware of the smallness of my own perspectives, I vigorously shook my head. The instructor acknowledged my protest with only a wry smile.

Today I look back on that college moment with embarrassment. If the instructor were still alive, I would wish to apologize for my immaturity on that day, and acknowledge now that I can no longer separate art from religion, if indeed they are different. Twenty years ago, my art was only a tool for me, while religion was something I could not sufficiently explain to others or to myself. Today, art and religion may be different words for the same phenomena. For me anyway, they far surpass my ability to encapsulate in words.

For a week now, I have found myself reading, reflecting and journaling, but producing no art. After months of commissions I finally have the freedom and space to create whatever I wish, and frankly I wish to pursue so many subjects in watercolor as well as drawing that I find myself clogged up. Finally yesterday I sat down with a sketchbook and did a quick study of a Bighorn Sheep that I could not stop thinking about since he surprised me on the slopes of Zion National Park several months back. Maybe now the cork is out of the bottle and art work can once again flow from the tip of my pencil or brush. We’ll see. I’m packing my art supplies for both studio and plein air activity for when we reach our destination.

Bighorn Sheep Sketch
Winter 2017 in the St. Louis Region
Quick watercolor sketch, using the photograph above

I’m glad that now in the age of smart phones we carry our photo albums with us always. In looking through my photos from the past few Christmases, I came across this pair. I had done an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of a winter riverside scene I liked very much. My plan was to use this sketch to create a larger, more studied painting. But within a week, the sketch sold, and I soon forgot my plans. Oh well. Maybe this winter I’ll consider re-doing this project.

Sandi is finally recovering from an illness that dogged her for the better (or worse) part of a week. We are preparing to hit the road for another adventure, and I intend to blog along the way.

Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you a beautiful holiday season.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Studio Eidolons

Quiet Before Christmas

December 22, 2020
View from the Window at Studio Eidolons

Qoheleth: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Apocalypse: “Behold I am making all things new.”

Finally, I am rested after the St. Louis excursion. Nestled in our home, I find myself gazing at Christmas decorations throughout the house while enjoying coffee and good books. Looking ahead already at the approaching New Year, I am thinking about juxtaposing a couple of biblical texts: on one side the aged Preacher (Qoheleth) in Ecclesiastes with his jaded look at the world as no longer offering anything new for him to appreciate, and on the other side the Apocalypticist in Revelation hearing an oracle from the Triumphant Christ.

I don’t know if it is because my age has passed the mid-sixties or if it is because retirement after three years is settling into my daily perspective, or if it is a combination of both–I just find myself musing about the span of life, and glorying in this stretch I experience now. Several years ago, I really believed that turning sixty and retiring would leave me morose. Though I was weary of holding down a job, I feared that retirement would fall below my expectations of quality. I was dead wrong on both counts; the past three years have been far and above the best years of my entire life. I am not trying to say that I have been unhappy and unfulfilled for sixty years. Rather I am just saying that I love and appreciate what I experience at this stage of living far more than I have ever felt.

So Good to be Home Again

My three days in the St. Louis area were filled with loving company of family and friends, and I relished every encounter. Returning home, I got re-aquainted with Sandi and the pups, and loved sitting before a fireplace once again.

Gallery at Redlands

Yesterday, I returned to Palestine to rotate the merchandise in The Gallery at Redlands. About 40% of the paintings have been changed so any patrons dropping in won’t see the same thing they’ve seen in recent months. Many of the Palestine train paintings have been re-hung for the Polar Express season now in progress.

Redlands Hotel Lobby

The gorgeous Redlands Hotel lobby is now tricked out in lovely holiday attire. The restaurant and bar, recently damaged by fire, have been remodeled and re-opened and business has now returned to the hotel. In 2021 I will return more frequently and put in extended hours in The Gallery at Redlands. We are anticipating good things next year.

Our family is laying plans to hit the road for some holiday adventures and I intend to send news and pictures of our activities. Meanwhile, let me wish all my readers the loveliest of Christmas and New Year Holidays.

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.

Goethe’s Final Words: “More Light.”

December 25, 2019

On Christmas morning, I was handed a smart phone with the YouTube video from Northern Exposure featuring the local radio DJ making a stunning statement before the town before plugging in a spectacular Christmas light display. Last night, just as it was getting dark, I drove through the High Ridge suburbs to find and photograph the lawn scene that makes me laugh every year–the lighted figures are literally shoulder-to-shoulder, covering every square foot of the residence’s front yard.


High Ridge, Missouri version of the Griswold Family Christmas

I love the Northern Exposure recitation because the DJ opens with Goethe’s final words, “More Light”. And during this Christmas season, I wish for the darkness of our nation to find light. I am reminded of the passage from the prophet Isaiah: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

Last night I went to church with my brother. The small Methodist church was packed to capacity, the service was lovely, and we closed by taking candles out into the night and standing in a large cluster, lighting up the darkness of House Springs, Missouri. The experience was a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Eve.

Back home with my parents, siblings, and our grown children, we had the best of possible evenings–abundant food and conversation, gift exchanges, and later a raucous time around the large table playing a ridiculous card game, Pounce. I surreptitiously recorded some of the rounds with my smart phone, and we laughed hard and long, listening to the replays. I will not post them on this site.

Last week I worked on four 8 x 10″ watercolors and installed them in 16 x 20″ frames for my immediate family members. I posted Dad’s then, but now post all four of them below along with what I wrote and included inside the Christmas cards accompanying them:


Sister’s Gift

Grand Canyon Storm

The summer of 2019 invited the aged painter to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Perched high atop the gorge, he painted quickly as the dark clouds advanced, and took his chances when the first jagged branch of lightning carved its way toward the rocks below. The storm was twenty miles away and would not arrive for another hour. The only thing an artist needed to do was savor the colors and interpret the developing story approaching him.


Brother’s Gift

Blues Jam

A pair of aging blues troubadours played deep into the night at the empty pool hall. Slouched in his chair, Donnie blew mournfully into his harp, swaying to the blues progressions dancing off the strings of Rick’s Fender Strat. No words were sung this time. The blues tune told the story to anyone listening this night.


Mom’s Gift

No One Swings Today

No one will sit on the porch swing this summer day. Along with the house, it has received its fresh coat of paint and now hangs quietly in the afternoon porch shadows while it waits for the McNeely clan’s arrival tomorrow for the 4th of July. Meanwhile, in the quiet of the day, the flowers stretch toward the sunlight, bursting with new color to greet the family.


Dad’s Gift

Fishing Rhapsody

The solitary figure of a fisherman stands beside the river in his overalls and wading boots, cap pulled low, white beard glowing in the morning sunlight. Canopies of verdant trees engulf him as he lingers on the sloping bank, rod held low before him. Golden sun-dappled waters flow past him and the bright sky reflects a winding path down the center of the channel. Layers of pebbles, flat rocks and bubbles shimmer below the surface of the babbling waters as schools of fish lounge in the shadows beneath. The fisherman continues to stand and survey the waters while the murmurs of the river speak its language from the foundation of time.

Now, as I sit at the hotel room desk and write these things, it is Christmas morning and I hope with all my heart that today will bring Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Thanks always for reading, and I hope your Christmas is the Best.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



Sacred Holiday Solitude

December 20, 2019


Working on Christmas Plans early in the Morning

When a summer breeze blows through an open window as we sit reading in a rare half-hour of quiet, we might recall one of the hundreds of annunciations painters have given us, reminding us that it is the habit of angels to visit in moments of silent reading.

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

The week has passed so quickly. Daily I have entered the studio before daylight and worked till dinnertime. I set out a goal to create four Christmas gift watercolors in four days, and thankfully the goal was met. My father doesn’t access the Internet, so I’m confident he won’t see this painting I did for him. The others I will keep concealed till after they’re given at Christmas. I have titled this one “Fishing Rhapsody” and wrote something about it to enclose in a Christmas card:


“Fishing Rhapsody”

The solitary figure of a fisherman stood beside the river in his overalls and wading boots, cap pulled low, white beard showing in the morning sunlight. Canopies of verdant trees engulfed him as he waited on the pebbled sloping bank, rod held low before him. The golden sun-dappled waters of the river flowed before him as the bright sky reflected a winding path down the center of the channel. Layers of pebbles, flat rocks and bubbles shimmered below the surface of the babbling waters as schools of fish lingered in the shadows. The fisherman continued to stand and survey the waters while the murmurs of the river continued speaking its language from the foundation of time.

The other gifts also have written tributes and I believe I’ll post them on this blog after Christmas.

Though remaining relatively silent on the blog, the week has not been without its sublime moments. Every day I have worked long hours, planning, composing and painting in the studio, but I  have also taken out large blocks of time for reading, reflection and writing. Without those intermittent activities, painting, for me, becomes a mechanical chore and loses its joy. I posted the Thomas Moore quote at the top of this blog, echoing his sentiment about the loveliness of being visited by warm thoughts when reading something worthy and preparing the heart to do something creative.

I came across a passage extolling the values of film, television programs and popular music for stimulating creative eros, and would quickly add that reading quality literature could also be added to the mix:

All that is required to read them spiritually are the practices of hospitality and reverence, the ability to approach them as a religious person might enter a cathedral or temple–open to grace and mystery.

This comment mirrors what I knew long ago while serving in the pastoral ministry. I made it a practice to study the Bible daily, shutting myself off from the public and seeking ways to meditate, to ruminate over the written texts, expecting to receive a divine word. That practice has remained with me despite leaving the ministry in the mid-1980’s, only now I read widely and still meditate over what I encounter when reading texts in a spirit of reverence and expectation. The Greek word logos that we translate “word”, according to Martin Heidegger could be rendered “the gathering together.” For years I have mused over this notion of logos, or logic. I think of order, structure, arrangement, cohesion–the sentiment that life has a way of organizing itself, of coming together, of working out–this notion gives me hope and confidence from one day to the next. And this week has been so affirming to my soul as I have read, written and painted. A number of details in life that are important to me seem to be working out, and for that I am grateful. This has been a satisfying week.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will check out my blog

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.