Archive for the ‘church’ Category

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.

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The Next Venture

February 7, 2016

image

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.

Scattered to the Winds

March 25, 2014
Saint Ignatius Academy Fort Worth, Texas

Saint Ignatius Academy
Fort Worth, Texas

In a traditional school setting, intensity is diluted by short and widely-separated class meetings, continuity is lost as everyone scatters to the winds at the end of each class period, and ideas dissipate before they ever develop.

Ted Orland, View from the Studio Door

Since graduate school days, I have been regretfully aware of a lifestyle too hurried for ideas to settle and compost.  Having been a teacher now for twenty-five years, things have not changed.  Ideas sprout, but time is not allowed to water and cultivate them.  The bell rings, another class begins and the subject changes.  Even as a teacher, I face that issue–something comes up in class that gets my attention, but I cannot walk away and sit in silence, record it, modify it, work on it.  Soon the bell rings, they leave, others file in, the bell rings, and we begin another cycle (with me, often another subject from period to period).  One advantage that I do have as a teacher, though, is that I don’t have to dash out the door at the bell, and while students leave and others enter, I often scribble down the abbreviated notes of ideas that have seized me in the moment, and (sometimes) return to them later in the day when things have quieted.  But still, I often turn back to old journal pages to find these notes abandoned as well.  But thanks to the journal, they have at least been snared in the net, and I can disentangle them and re-work them.

Today in Advanced Placement Art History, we looked at the English Romantic painters, and I had to pause when we viewed Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Tintern Abbey.

Tintern Abbey by J. M. W. Turner

Tintern Abbey
by J. M. W. Turner

This medieval wreck had stirred the imagination of William Wordsworth to the extent that he revisited the memory five years later and composed the poem “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tinern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798”.  The poem then inspired J. M. W. Turner to create this marvelous pencil and watercolor rendering.  My painting above is of Saint Ignatius Academy, located at 1206 Throckmorton Street in Fort Worth, Texas.  A few years ago, I had traveled to the city with the intention of painting Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, only to find the building in too good condition for a rustic painting.  I turned in surprise to see this neighboring structure, from 1889, erected in the French Second Empire style.  The facility was no longer in use, and as I strolled the grounds, looking in windows, sitting on steps, observing closely the weathered portals and window frames, I felt the same sense of loss and presence that floods the minds of romantics when they look upon ruins that once thrived.  And I had to paint it.

Memories and significant ideas are always visiting us, and if we don’t find a way to hold them, mold them and preserve them, they scatter to the winds.

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.

 

 

Watercolor of Historic Church in Leadville, Colorado

September 7, 2012

Leadville, Colorado Church

Here is another 8 x 10″ watercolor I completed last summer, and now have slipped into an 11 x 14″ matte and shinkwrap bag.  This is one of my better, smaller pieces.  I think I’ll price it at $150 for next week’s festival and see if it can find a home.  I photographed this historic church in Leadville, Colorado during one of my many trips to that splendid mountain city.  Recently, while Texas temperatures have hovered menacingly above the triple digits, I have looked with remorse on the Weather Channel to see temperatures in Leadville in the upper 40’s.  It must be a splendid sight, waking every morning in a town like Leadville, and looking out at a Rocky Mountain range bathed in color and atmosphere that challenges the plein air painter like nothing else.

Thanks for reading.  I still have more paintings to blog.

Finished the Historic Church 8 x 10″ Watercolor Sketch

August 8, 2012

Historic Church

I’m calling this one “finished” and have already moved on to a nice home with an Edward Hopper-style composition.  I’m rather excited about the new one I have undertaken (also an 8 x 10″ sketch).  At the present, I’m kicking out small, quick sketches, in order to get my chops back; I feel rather flat and stale, not having attempted a watercolor in at least three weeks.  It feels good to be chipping away at this again.  I have ideas for a couple of large-scale watercolor paintings on full sheets (about 22 x 28″), and hope to get after them soon.  For the time being, I’ll keep working at the small sketches, and will try to continue reading for inspiration.  With only two weeks before entering full-time school teaching, I would like to accomplish a few creative tasks.

Thanks for reading.  Perhaps I’ll have more to report tonight.

Picking up the Brush Again

August 7, 2012

Historic Church

It has been more than three weeks since I last posted, since I last took up the watercolor brush.  Much has happened around me that has impeded my work and desire to pursue watercolor.  I’m trying to find my way back.

I’m glad that summer school has ended, and I have a little under two weeks before reporting back to school for the fall term.  During this interim, I did allow myself a short vacation, read a great deal of great literature, and scribbled many pages in my personal journal.

I look forward to getting back into plein air activity, but with Texas offering triple-digit temperatures daily, it appears that that is going to have to wait awhile longer.  Going through my archives, I have selected some historic church sites that I have photographed in my travels over the years, and thought I would give this one a try.  This church sits in the historic district of Leadville, Colorado, and I have photographed it on two different occasions while visiting that mountain town.  I am using my laptop to view the image as closely as I can, and truly regret that I am not on the actual premises (it would probably be just as cool outside there as it is inside my air-conditioned home here!).  But, we work with what we have.

As I resume this blog, I am having serious thoughts about sharing what I’ve been reading the past few weeks from Henry David Thoreau, as I read from his Journal and from his Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.  After all, it is Thoreau and his writings that have given me this impetus to pick up the brush again.  And for that, I am grateful to this beautiful man.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll be back tomorrow with progress on this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch.  Today is my first day back in the studio, and I’m glad for this moment.

An Andy Warhol Twist to my Catholic Architectural Watercolor

May 23, 2012

Saint Ignatius Academy (red)

I just received my limited edition giclee prints of my recent watercolor of Saint Ignatius.  The printer, a Photoshop veteran, decided to have some fun with variations on my print, and this is what resulted.  I love the variations Andy Warhol did with his reproductions, and I find it amusing to know that he faithfully attended Catholic mass, (and I seem to recall that he visited his local parish frequently to pray in silence).  At any rate, I wish to post these images.  I will be bringing them into the public view during this holiday weekend at Arlington, Texas’s Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts.  They are holding their first ever art festival, in conjunction with Friday through Sunday night concerts featuring Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wiley Hubbard and Asleep at the Wheel.  The event is 5:30-10:30 nightly, and is free to the public.  I would love to see any of you there who can make it.  I have been guaranteed a prime booth location.

Saint Ignatius Academy (yellow)

Here is the “Yellow Warhol” variation on my theme.

Saint Ignatius Academy (sepia)

. . . and the “Sepia” look gives it a nice antique, vintage appearance (perhaps my personal favorite).

Saint Ignatius Academy (orange)

. . . and finally my orange version.

Thanks for reading.

Commission for a Gorilla Drawing

May 17, 2012

Gorilla drawing

O.K.  This is not what I do.  But for money, I’ll do anything.  I had a commission to draw a gorilla and this is what happened.  No comments necessary.  I just always wish to post a picture with my blog.  So, now with that out of the way, I can write about what’s on my mind today.

With the weekend approaching, my time will be divided between preparing my inventory for next weekend’s art festival at the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, and beginning a new watercolor.  I wish I could focus on the latter, since I still have not made up my mind what to paint next.

First Methodist Church Fort Worth

I am giving serious consideration to a watercolor of First Methodist Church of Fort Worth.  For years, I have wanted to paint a French Gothic cathedral, but having never journeyed to France, I keep considering an American clone of one.  I have eyed this church for over a decade, and am closer to a decision.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Catholic Church I completed last week, and have mused over the possibility of leaping into another one immediately.  In fact, I photographed this church on the same day as I did the one just painted.

I cannot say that there is a church structure to strike me the way the medieval ruins of the Tintern Abbey church moved the likes of William Wordsworth and Joseph Mallord William Turner.  I only attended this church twice in my lifetime, but spent a most rewarding afternoon in conversation with a former pastor of this congregation, the Reverend Barry Bailey.  He studied under Paul Tillich at Union Theological Seminary–the only human I know personally who had this experience.  I will never forget the observations that Rev. Bailey shared with me, and the sensitive way that he entertained my endless questions that afternoon.  I have always found it difficult to find a minister so willing and interested in discussing theology and the directions it took during the twentieth century.

So, perhaps I’ll turn my attention to this edifice this weekend, and thus begin my new adventure in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

 

Finished the Saint Ignatius Watercolor

May 9, 2012

Saint Ignatius Academy, Fort Worth, Texas

I’m pleased finally to fix my signature on this composition that has developed for a little while now.  I determined this evening while working in my garage studio that I wanted to finish this before retiring to bed.  I have a feeling that this is not my final look at Saint Ignatius Academy, truly I have enjoyed laboring over this and have strong feelings about giving it a few more tries from different perspectives.  The character of this late nineteenth-century building holds me in ways I cannot put into words, reminding me of William Wordsworth and J. M. W. Turner coming under the spell of Tintern Abbey.

Thank you for reading.