Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Sunday Morning Splendor

March 4, 2018

Hopper church

11×14″ framed Sacred Heart Catholic Church. $200

Waking at 4:18 this morning was not part of the plan, but nevertheless I got up, feeling rested. Enjoying the dark and quiet of the basement studio of The Redlands Hotel, I managed to finish all my grading, so I can now return the writing portfolios to my Humanities classes tomorrow afternoon. I did not anticipate the elevated mood that grading these works would generate. The subjects ranged from art in the Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods, along with poetry from Wordsworth and Whitman. Many of the students indeed poured out their hearts onto the typed pages, and the more I read and graded, the happier I grew. By the time I was finished at 6:30, I was ready to go out and try to do something creative.

The painting posted above I managed to frame and hang yesterday in The Gallery at Redlands. Last night, I completed work on a piece I had begun en plein air during a Mississippi stay over in February when I drove to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama to deliver two watercolors (the auction was March 1 and I’m still waiting to find out what happened).  The Mississippi piece I matted and put up in the gallery last night as well.

Mississippi snow

Snowfall in Clarksdale, Mississippi, 11×14″ matted. $100

Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall, 11×14″ matted.  $100

I finally completed work on a plein air attempt of Shelton Hall, located in Old Town Palestine, several blocks from the gallery.

small church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church. 8×10″ framed.  $50

Once the grading was completed this morning, I left the dark basement and emerged into the early light, finding the environment overcast and ready to rain. I sketched out the Sacred Heart Catholic Church while seated on a bench outside the Carnegie Library building. Once I began painting, the cold winds began to stir and knocked over my container of water. The brushes were also blowing off the bench, so I decided to take a reference photo and descend once again into the basement where I have set up one of my drafting tables. I worked quickly on this 5×7″ composition, then inserted it into an 8×10″ frame and installed it into the gallery as well.

Chamber of Commerce

Currently I am working on the Chamber of Commerce building, for the fourth time, somewhat disappointed that there is no sunlight on it today. But it is still refreshing to look out the gallery window and see it directly, instead of relying on photos of it.

The day is shaping up to be another productive one, and it feels good. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



March 2, 2018


I must say something certainly got into me today, a surge of energy to paint. I awoke around 6 this morning, feeling confident and ready to face a new day, which turned out to be sunny for the first time in a couple of weeks, and very pleasant and cool outdoors.


After working on my large Catholic church painting for awhile, I decided to take a book outside and read in the cool shade. Finding a bench beneath a tree in front of what used to be a Carnegie Library next to this Redlands Hotel, I sat and enjoyed about thirty minutes of thoughtful reading from Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind. I became aware of her work through my studies in Heidegger, but had never read her directly. I am finding this book to be very thought-provoking, after the first seventy pages.

Walking back to the gallery, I looked up at the top of the church as the bells tolled the twelve o’clock hour. I was attracted to the strong sun and shadow, and dashed into the gallery for a sketchbook. I am the world’s worst when it comes to keeping a sketchbook; I believe in it, but don’t practice it, and always feel shamed by this fact. Today was a rare moment–I sat on a bench and rapidly blocked out this sketch, then went inside and began on a 9 x 12″ watercolor block. Later this evening, I finished it.


Before completing the small watercolor, I returned to the larger one I’ve worked on for a few days and finished it.


My body is tired, but I need to complete my grading of this stack of writing portfolios for my Humanities class so I can return them Monday. I’m deeply satisfied with the day’s output. I began another painting of the Chamber of Commerce building, visible through the window of this gallery. I’ve already painted the subject three times, and sold all three quite quickly. Still, I cannot stop gazing at the sun lighting up the side of the ancient brick structure which used to be the headquarters for the railroad here in Palestine. I plan to post the progress of that painting tomorrow. Currently there is not much to see.

Thanks always for reading and for sharing this day.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.





Quality Time and Space

March 2, 2018


Early Morning Sanctuary

. . . the loss of common sense is neither the vice nor the virtue of Kant’s “professional thinkers”; it happens to everybody who ever reflects on something; it only happens more often to professional thinkers. These we call philosophers, and their way of life will always be “the life of a stranger” (bios senikos), As Aristotle called it in his PoliticsAnd the reason that strangeness and absent-mindedness are not more dangerous, that all “thinkers,” professionals and laymen alike, survive so easily the loss of the feeling of realness, is just that the thinking ego asserts itself only temporarily: every thinker no matter how eminent remains “a man like you and me” (Plato), an appearance among appearances equipped with common sense and knowing enough common-sense reasoning to survive.

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

The last time I knew this level of serenity and heartfelt satisfaction was when I awoke mornings on the island at the Laguna Madre during my stays in 2015 and 2016. As artist-in-residence for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, I was given two six-day stays alone at their field station on the spoil island. The quiet that enveloped me throughout each day as I divided my time between painting, reading and writing was much like what I know in the basement of the Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. During these quiet mornings, punctuated by the hourly tolling bells of Sacred Heart Catholic Church above me, and directly across the street, I feel my soul slowly waking after a good night’s sleep, and reading Hannah Arendt over a cup of coffee is deeply satisfying. Time to read, reflect and write at this study table has been luxurious, and I feel a genuine surge of energy rising to meet the tasks of the day. Later in the morning, I’ll walk across the studio to the drafting table and contemplate the next steps on this new watercolor. Then, around 10 o’clock, I plan to open the gallery upstairs.


I cannot say enough about the value of space and quiet for serious thinking. Throughout my years of full-time teaching, it was a struggle to escape the rat race of daily routines, so much valuable time was wasted on tasks required by the job, yet so useless and devoid of quality when it came to the main task of educating young minds. How refreshing now to meet classes only twice a week and have an abundance of quality time to research and write new presentations. Last week I had the privilege of presenting Impressionist art in a way I never could before, because there was so much more time to focus on the subject and develop new angles of approach. As Hannah Arendt wrote above, we don’t expect to spend entire days contemplating our navels; we just wish for some space to pull back from the agenda and think seriously over things that matter.

Likewise with my painting–at this point in my life I’m enraptured at the increased opportunities to study theory and art history. In addition, I have more time to spend with other artists in dialogue, and hence gain new insights into this enterprise of making art that matters. Without time set aside for serious consideration about the kind of art I’m trying to make, I could easily find my brush drifting into automatic pilot and merely cranking out a product that has been swept clean of inspiration.  I have always wanted my paintings to matter, to myself as well as to the viewers.

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.


A Cloistered Life by Choice

March 1, 2018

cath dark

Withdrawal from the “beastliness of the multitude” into the company of the “very few” but also into the absolute solitude of the One has been the most outstanding feature of the philosopher’s life ever since Parmenides and Plato discovered that for those “very few,” the sophoi, the “life of thinking” that knows neither joy nor grief is the most divine of all, and nous, thought itself, is “the king of heaven and earth.”

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

This morning, while making the two-hour drive across country to Palestine, I was filled with anticipation of four days to paint, read, reflect, write, catch up on grading, and enjoy the quiet. I love the basement apartment of the Redlands Hotel where I can hear the hourly tolling of the church bells across the street while I try to paint the facade of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. I enjoy opening the blinds and looking up through the basement windows at that enormous church towering above me. Today I divided my time between the apartment and the Gallery at Redlands upstairs, and am happy to see the church watercolor progressing. If all goes well, I should be finishing this by the weekend.


Sacred Heart Catholic Church

I cannot conceive of a better schedule than I know at this time. My college classes are Monday and Wednesday, and when the urge strikes, I can light out for the countryside and enjoy life in a smaller town than the one where I live. The friends I’ve made in Palestine have enriched me beyond description, and I actually feel a part of this community. The gallery space is beautiful and well-lighted, and the downstairs studio is spacious with that special “monastic” feel. Having read the first fifty pages of Hannah Arendt’s Live of the Mind, I’m feeling a connection with another writer that I seldom feel. My art seems to take on added life when I am able to withdraw from the mainstream of activity and carve out a quiet space for creative pursuits.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Monastic Thoughts

February 25, 2018

church study

Early Morning Hours in the Basement of Redlands Hotel

. . . each individual life, its growth and decline, is a developmental process in which an entity unfolds itself in an upward movement until all its properties are fully exposed; this phase is followed by a period of standstill–its bloom or epiphany, as it were–which in turn is succeeded by the downward movement of disintegration that is terminated by complete disappearance.

Hannah Arrendt, The Life of the Mind

Having just undergone a medical procedure that had me preoccupied over past weeks, I’m happy now to be back at work, doing things that interest me. Part of my weekend was swallowed up by the hospital visit, but I managed to travel to Palestine later, and woke this Sunday morning beneath the hotel gallery, and enjoyed some quiet moments in this “monastic space” that I have come to enjoy so much. The sub-street level windows in the background look up to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church across the street. Recently I photographed the church from the gallery during a looming storm, and today decided I would try to paint it.

catholic straight

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

church painting

Beginning of a 16 x 20″ watercolor

Drawing this structure has taken a ton of my time–so much geometry and precision to consider! I’m taking my time with it, hoping to turn out something worth viewing.

I’m pleased that the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama has posted details of its Art Auction 18. They have selected two of my watercolors to put up for sale after displaying them since February 15. The bidding has now opened and the link is below:

I’m choosing to spend Sunday night in the hotel since my Monday class at the university doesn’t begin till noon. I’ll see how the two-hour drive time plays out in the morning.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Firming Up Details for a One-Man Show

March 8, 2017


Serene Catholic Contemplation

I am re-posting this image of a watercolor I completed on a full-size sheet of paper a few years back. It has just been delivered to my local frame shop. The new gallery in Palestine, Texas is getting ready to run an ad in the local paper.  Though I’ve ceased the daily blogging, I’m thinking seriously about daily posts from now until showtime.

My website has been updated with the relevant information (

And the new gallery, opening with my show on March 24, has opened a facebook page:


To my delight, I’ve been told that accomodations have been made at the hotel for me to be at the gallery all three weekends of the show, March 24-April 9.  I had always hoped I could have a “presence” during the show’s weekend hours.  The proprietors of this new adventure are wonderful friends and working tirelessly to make  the gallery show a success.

Thanks for reading.

Framing Frenzy for the Upcoming Show

March 2, 2017


I just posted this evening that my next One-Man-Show will open March 24 at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. In anticipation of the opening, I went on a framing frenzy, delivering three originals to my favorite local frame shop today —

The Fort Worth Cattle Drive is on a full sheet of 300 lb. watercolor paper and will probably anchor the new show, as we’re pulling out all the stops in the framing and presentation of this piece.  Also being framed is the historic St. Ignatius Academy in downtown Fort Worth. This painting was also created on a full sheet of 300 lb. paper.


And finally, my first “selfie” titled “Heidegger’s Hut”. This one is also being made into a series of limited edition signed-and-numbered giclée prints.


Three weeks seems such a short time to get ready, but I have already forty framed paintings on hand for the opening.  The main thing now is for us to get the word out, so I’m beginning by reaching out to all of you, my friends.  I hope if you’re in the area that you can come to the show.  I would love to see you.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


My Recent Visit posted in Archer County News

February 11, 2016

My recent weekend retreat to Archer City served me so well on many different fronts. The quiet, the space, the weather, the perfect environment for painting, reading, journaling–all of it was so delicious. But one of my genuine highlights featured an afternoon chatting with Sarah Junek, the one who secured my reservation at the Spur Hotel and also writes for the local newspaper. Her work in promoting the arts in that county is exemplary–theater arts, literary arts, visual arts, the works! We discovered that afternoon that we shared many common interests, and neither of us got in the other’s way, she was on assignment and I was working on watercolors.

Sarah expressed an interest in writing about my work, and I just received the link to the article she published in the Archer County News. Thanks Sarah, you are the very best! I’m sharing the link:

And thanks to all of you for reading.

The Next Venture

February 7, 2016


But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

As I close out this weekend, I express a special Thank You to those of you who reached out the past 48 hours with comments on my blog and facebook. Your communion was deeply felt, while at the same time I imbibed a richness from the stretch of solitude and quiet.

I am safe at home once again, and just completed all the work I needed to do in preparation for tomorrow’s classes. Before returning to the studio, I took another look at the photos I took while on this excursion, and wanted to post this one of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Windthorst, Texas (population 440). I took this photo during this morning’s return, and when I took a good look at this grotto, I realized to my regret that I never once thought about driving out here at night, to see if candles were lit. How glorious a sight that would have been. Windthorst is only eleven miles from Archer City, and though it was frigid cold last night, I would have gladly sat in the midst of this had I found that worshipers had visited and lit candles on a Saturday night.

I do not come from a Catholic background, but I was a minister long ago, and studied theology for over a decade in graduate school. I deeply enjoy Jack Kerouac’s religious vocabulary (he was Catholic) where most readers seem to be more conscious of his vulgarity. His frequent references to saints, to holy matters, and his biblical allusions are abundant enough in On the Road to get my attention.  And like Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey, I know what it is to be stirred in the presence of a church structure, and how difficult it is to articulate what one feels. I am resolved to visit this site in Windhorst at night the next time I journey to Archer City for a weekend getaway.

Thank you for reading.

Catholic Contemplation

February 6, 2016

windhorst watercolor

Yesterday, while on the road, I had to pull over and photograph this magnificent St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Windthorst, eleven miles from Archer City. I had admired the structure for over ten years, but never found it in such beautiful light as the western sun on this day.

With the temperatures outside at 38 degrees and overcast, I thought it best to work in the Spur Hotel lobby (I’m the only resident in the hotel this weekend), relying on the photo from yesterday. Here is my quick sketch, and I’ll probably enrich the colors and details after I get it back home to the studio. There are many more trees to fill out on the sides of the church.

I don’t know how to record my feelings yesterday as I stood beneath this church which stands on the highest point of Windthorst. It was bathed in the winter sunlight and some kind of emotion came over me as I viewed it. I cannot say Wordsworthian, because I was looking at architecture rather than nature, and I cannot say Tintern Abbey, because this is not an abandoned wreck of a church, but a viable facility that serves Catholic needs across Archer County. I was not brought up in the Catholic faith, but I have studied theology and church history for most of my life, and I just felt like many streams of thoughts were coming together in the warmest way possible. I felt affirmed. And today I feel even more so, as I look at this composition and attempt to render it in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.