Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

plaque

Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

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Painting into the Quiet Night

March 25, 2018

terlingua

A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

This most exquisite, quiet evening in the basement of the Redlands Hotel has been divided between working on this small 8 x 10″ watercolor of an abandoned church in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas and taking breaks to read the soothing words of James Joyce. I cannot get out of my mind’s eye the image of this church I photographed while the sun was setting in west Texas. Waking this morning and recalling these words I had recorded earlier from my reading of Joyce made me determined to get this painting started.

Thanks for reading.

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.

Driven

March 2, 2018

Fri2

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.

Fri

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.

Fri4

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

Fri3

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

basement

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.

draft

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.

cath

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:

http://mmfaauction.com/

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

saint-ignatius-academy-card

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 (www.recollections54.com).

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

https://www.facebook.com/thegalleryatredlands/photos/a.1817965165135990.1073741827.1817960541803119/1817963798469460/?type=1&theater

wp-1488508880732.jpg

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

cattle-drive-adjusted

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 —http://www.artframefactory.com/

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.

saint-ignatius-academy-card

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.

finished

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:

http://www.archercountynews.com/news/watercolorist-returns-to-favorite-painting-spot/article_e2547a5a-d0d7-11e5-ab27-a78d1d9ef8ce.html

And thanks to all of you for reading.