Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

A Narrative Emerges

August 10, 2022
The Beginning of a New Day

The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. . . . He must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.

Francis Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World

This morning, August 10, 2022, was different as I awoke. Like a lazy river, a narrative was gliding through my consciousness, and I felt the need to respond in my journal:

Rising to the strains of internal music, the artist stretched as he sat at the foot of the bed. The dim gray light of the summer morning oozing through the shaded window signaled the deep thunderstorms that lulled him to a comfortable slumber in the night.

Rising, he slipped on last night’s T-shirt and plodded up the hall and into his Studio Eidolons. Looking out the windows across his suburban corner, he admired the softness of the dim morning light and watched the young lady from next door walking her pair of border collies up the rain-drenched street. Fall was in the air and he was ready.

Entering the kitchen, he opened the cabinet and reached for the unopened bag of Durango Joes Red Mountain coffee beans. Measuring four cups of water into the saucepan, he put it on the burner and cranked up the heat full-tilt to bring the water to a boil. Measuring a half-cup of the fresh moist beans, he poured them gently into the antique coffee grinder, snapped the brass lid shut, and turned the crank for a minute or so, till the grinding came to a silence. By now, the boiling water was ready to remove from the burner to sit for a couple of minutes.

The artists’ mind wandered back over the preceding weeks prior to his illness, to a morning spent in the heart of his Colorado Odyssey. In his imagination, he could still steadily see the San Juan valley stretched out below his cabin deck, the morning sunlight splashing the sides of deer picking their way gingerly through the meadows on the opposite bank of the South Fork of the Rio Grande. The chorus of birds filled the frigid morning as the sun rose over the peaks of the South San Juan Mountains rounding out the bottom of the Continental Divide. What a luminiferous Colorado world, contrasting with this morning’s Texas limp light.

Time to pour the water into the French press, sprinkle the ground coffee on top, then poke the island of fresh coffee to sink just below the surface of the hot water, using a spatula, then cover the press for five minutes of steeping.

Walking back into Studio Eidolons, the aged artist looked with dissatisfaction at his recent start of a large watercolor depicting his view from the Colorado cabin. He still had not figured out how to enable the light to emerge from the paper through the transparent washes of color recently laid down. Always believing the paper to be the atmosphere through which the watercolor breathes, he felt that the painting was off to a lethargic, wheezing start. After the morning coffee he would pull the volumes from his shelves that needed re-study. It had been more than a decade since he had read the text of Roland Roycraft about poured watercolor techniques and achieving luminosity. The Colorado composition was going to require pouring, he decided.

Sniffing the air, he suddenly realized the five minutes were up; time to press the coffee, as the aroma had wafted from the kitchen to the studio. There would be plenty of time today to re-study the craft of watercolor pouring and see if he could rescue the Colorado composition.

That’s all for now . . . I’m excited about the start of this day. 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.

The Early Colorado Light

July 13, 2022
6:00 a.m. view from the Brookie Cabin deck

When the early morning light quietly grows above the mountains . . . .

The word’s darkening never reaches to the light of Being.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

I rose at 6 a.m. to a 46-degree Colorado morning, and stepped outside to drink in the magnificent morning mountain light. Heidegger’s words whispered to me in the silent air, and I once again offered thanks to be alive, to be granted the gift of drinking in this vista. Mornings like this are what I’ve reached for since my years as a college student. Whether we call it Quiet Time, Executive Time, or anything else, I am grateful for mornings with quiet and space where I can just breathe, reflect, read, write–do all the things I love to do in the Quiet. Every morning of this six-day mountain stay has given me this gift, and I’m thankful that another six days still await.

In recent years, I have read of Heidegger’s cabin built in the Black Forest in 1922 where he enjoyed his own quiet, and wrote all of his significant works. And I understand fully his preference for the mountains in the small village of Todtnauberg than the university in the city of Freiburg. I myself have enjoyed the relative quiet of places like the east Texas store where I’m granted a stay whenever I can get away, and of course, my annual journey to southern Colorado to enjoy the Rio Grande National Forest. And though Palestine, Texas is considered a city with a population of 18,000, I find the Redlands Hotel and our ground-floor gallery much quieter and soothing than the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Above all, I am thankful for this full retirement at last.

This is my first Colorado vacation where I no longer have a syllabus pending or an inservice waiting. For the first time, I am not sitting here with that gnawing annoyance of a school schedule lurking on the calendar. Before retiring from high school teaching, I was concerned that my lifestyle of scholarship would end. It didn’t, but I wondered if that was because I was still teaching part-time at the college. Now, I know that my scholarship is not grounded in a teaching schedule. During this Colorado vacation, I have found time to study in Latin, and for the first time in my life, I’ve actually been writing sentences in Greek in my journal scribblings. My companions have been William Carlos Williams, Annie Dillard, Norman Maclean, and of course Martin Heidegger over these past six days. So apparently, my lifestyle of study has not diminished, and for that I am grateful as well; I actually have MORE quality time for these pursuits.

Having finished my morning coffee, I am ready now to resume my watercolor experiment with aspen trees as my subject. And Paddington has suddenly decided that I need help with this blog. I’m not finding it easy tapping these laptop keys with him in my lap.

Paddington, always making everything his business. He needs a job.

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.

Progress on the Covered Wagon Camp

February 25, 2022

“The purity of the thing you do makes me so very conscious of the fact that I live in the marketplace – and I feel the marketplace marks me quite sorely.”

Georgia O’Keeffe letter to her sister Catherine’s painting.

Reading a Georgia O’Keeffe biography early this morning touched on a topic I am always discussing with my other artist friends–whether or not we make art to please ourselves or to feed the market. We all seem to agree on the same basic idea–we make art to please ourselves, but also hope to sell . . .

Around 1990 was when I decided I wanted to see if there was a market for my art work. Deciding upon a genre was easy–I wanted to paint nostalgic America, beginning in the Midwest where my roots remain, and making my way to the Southwest where I’ve resided since the 1970’s. I have for the most part stayed within that subject. When considering “Southwest Art”, I always balked, feeling the market was saturated and that the subject was not really intrinsic to my own upbringing.

Several factors have led me to change my mind. Spending time with Sandi, who is an equestrian, has given me plenty of time to spend around horses, and I’ve immensely enjoyed sketching them and occasionally painting them. And yes, the subject sells well. In addition to this, I’ve spent considerable time over the past decade in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The wide-open horizon of the plains, the colorful canyons, and the towering mountains have certainly held my attention, and I have devoted hours and days to painting them en plein air. Last and certainly not least, television–Longmire, Yelllowstone, and 1883, along with Ken Burns’s documentary The West has flooded my imagination with images, so I’ve recently decided to respond to this stimululs to see what transpires. I’m enjoying the journey. Before I know it, Colorado will be in my sights. I just paid for the cabin rental of my favorite place in South Fork where I can fish that branch of the Rio Grande and continue to watercolor those magnificent mountains and evergreens.

This is my first attempt to paint covered wagons under a night sky and I thought I would put a couple of fellows out front next to a smoky fire with their coffee. The subject is one of my favorites and I hope I can pull this one off. We’ll see . . .

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.

Art Rhapsody on a Sunday

February 20, 2022
Early Start in Studio Eidolons

Before we do any actual translating, he says, we must translate ourselves to what a fragment says, what it is thinking; we must first arrive on its foreign shores and, like Hermes on Ogygia, stop to contemplate before we can return with some fitting memento of it to the land of our own language.

David Farrell Krell, speaking of Martin Heidegger, in “The Anaximander Fragment”

I have tried for years to explain to anyone interested that most of my inspiration for making art comes from literature or philosophy; writers inspire me to paint just as much as other artists. Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell confessed that James Joyce, “the Shakespeare of modernism” (Motherwell’s words) inspired him to paint above most other influences. This morning’s reading from Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche inspired me to write in my journal and now to pass on these new ideas to you . . .

Breakfast at the Woodshed Smokehouse

The morning’s reading set the table for what I wanted to do in the studio today, but I first decided I needed a good breakfast. So . . . I journeyed to Fort Worth’s Woodshed Smokehouse and found a seat overlooking the Trinity River with the smoke of a wood fire blowing directly into my face (it was still cold and windy outside, so the smell and warmth of the fire was delicious). Waiting for breakfast also afforded me quality time to continue hammering out in my journal these ideas from Heidegger that were still incubating . . .

My opening quote above points out Heidegger’s views on the art of translation. This has stirred me for years, because I regard making art as translation–we are translating our sensations of the world enveloping us and trying to capture these sensations on a blank picture plane before us.

Years ago, I made friends with a couple who owned an old general store that they had transported to their ranch. They graciously gave me a key to the store (which has a residence attached to it) to use as a special hideaway anytime I needed to get away from the city and school teaching job that I had at the time. On their property was this covered chuck wagon stowed away in a barn. I took a number of pictures of the wagon and even painted a small plein air sketch of it during one of my stays at the old store.

Still on the Easel
Completed Sketch

I still remember how much I enjoyed the time spent staring at the congeries of cooking utenstils and food containers on the wagon and the attempt to capture them on paper. But I balked at the thought of translating this entire subject into a larger watercolor; I had never really experienced a chuck wagon meal or campsite. My friend Wayne White is a master “cowboy cook” and has used these kinds of utensils to cook for me while we’ve been out camping and fishing. But the actual chuck wagon experience has never been mine, and I felt inadequate to “translate” such a subject into a painting.

Watching 1883 on TV for the past couple of months has changed my perspective. Thanks to that film experience, I’ve found myself poring over old photographs published in books and on the Internet until finally I went back into my own archives and pulled out the dozen photos I took of this chuck wagon out on the ranch from years ago. And I decided: Now is the time. Just do it.

Nearing Completion of the Chuck Wagon Watercolor

This is my first real attempt. I’m certain others will follow. If viewers could experience even half the depth of joy and fulfilment I’ve known while staring at this subject and chipping away at its details, then I’ll say the experience has been worth the effort.

More later. 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.

Caprock Enchantment

April 10, 2020

Good morning, friends. West Texas temperatures are dropping, and it appears that we will experience some winter weather over Easter. This morning I finished a first draft of my continuing Hank saga and wanted to post it before starting my next painting to illustrate it. I anticipate some changes to the story while painting, but decided to let you in on a sneak preview. Thanks always for reading.

Hank felt rested tonight. After packing his gear to depart Dallas this morning, he made a last-minute decision to invest some of his money in a bus ticket. Hopping a Greyhound at the downtown terminal, he rolled westward for hours, dozing in his seat most of the way. Getting out in Abilene, he then thumbed a pair of rides further west on Interstate 20, getting out where state highway 84 branched northward into the caprock escarpment. Once the territory began taking on the look of western movies, Hank decided to get out where there were no towns, trek off the highway several miles, following an arroyo back between a pair of plateaus. Dropping his backpack, taking off his hat and gazing across the afternoon terrain, Hank welcomed the caress of the cooling west winds in his face. He was glad he decided to leave his suitcase with Uncle Leo. The backpack carried all he needed for travel, and Dallas, for the meantime, could be his homing site. Leo seemed lonely, and Hank felt a need to check in with him from time to time.

October was cool in west Texas, but not yet cold. Hank decided this narrow place nested between two cliffs would make a nice bedroom for the night. Time to make a fire. Gathering clumps of dried grasses, he fashioned a small bowl and lined the bottom with cotton balls soaked in Vaseline that he kept stored in 35mm film cannisters in one of his backpack pouches. Then we walked about, gathering small sticks and dried branches and a larger chunk of wood that may have once been a fence post. Hank was glad he had packed a hatchet left behind by old Philosopher Bob back home. He made quick work, chopping the fence post down to several chunks.

While Hank was wandering and gathering, his mind continued to recall snatches of conversation from yesterday’s time with Reverend Elton. Conversion. Hank was startled that the minister regarded him as thoughtful, perhaps philosophical. As a parting gift of goodwill, Elton handed Hank a small volume of Emerson’s essays and encouraged him to read them thoughtfully while on the road. Before falling asleep on the bus, Hank read the following from Emerson’s Nature:

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.

The fact is this: Hank has always been alone. But reading the Emerson passage made him realize for the first time that solitude was not a scourge when he was on the road or under the stars; it was a scourge in Turvey’s Corner, where he felt that he had never fit, not at school, not at the gas station, not at church, not even at gatherings among friends. Hank was solitary, and now it was alright.

Laying his gatherings down in a pile beside the nest, Hank opened one of the pouches of his backpack and drew out a magnesium rod. Bending over the nest and striking the rod with his Bowie knife, he watched sparks shower into the nest until the cotton balls combusted. Blowing on the small flame while sheltering it with his hat from the west Texas evening winds, he kept feeding dried grasses, then the small twigs, and then carefully stacked the chunks of fence post.

The minister’s voice again was in Hank’s ears: “Hank, I really believe that you are about to embark on a life-changing odyssey. I don’t know if you’ve read or taken an interest in Homer’s Odyssey. It might mean more to you when you’re thirty than twenty-one. At any rate, Odysseus, after being away from home ten years because of that bloody war, spent the next ten years of his life on an odyssey, a journey if you please, trying to find his way back home, to Ithaca. High school students don’t generally find the work very relevant, but the older we get, the more we realize that our life is a journey seeking our genuine home, the center of the self. It is a journey of self-discovery. I believe all humans have that restlessness in their souls, but few act on it. It seems to me that you are now acting on it; you are setting out on a journey away from your temporal home into a land of dizzying freedom, with no one to talk to but yourself, and whatever great minds from the past you care to visit through their writings. Away from the clatter of meaningless gossip you hear among your daily peers, you now can enter the great Silence of the West, gaze into the stars at night, and with no appointments or deadlines, determine just exactly who you are and what you want from life. My advice to you is, don’t come back till you reach Ithaca.”

Once the fire was well underway, Hank pulled out his canteen and coffee pot, poured in the water along with the ground coffee, placed the pot on a flat stone in the fire and waited for the mixture to come to a rolling boil. He also fished out a can of Beanie Weenies picked up at a small grocery in Abilene, poured the contents into a camping pan, and set it in the ashes to warm. After ten minutes, he then poured a little canteen water down the spout and around the inner edges of the coffeepot to settle the grounds to the bottom.

Under the chandelier of stars in the west Texas sky, Hank tasted the best coffee he had ever brewed, and sat back in the darkness, listening to coyotes yipping in the distance. Though several miles from highway 84, he could still barely hear the noise of an occasional truck droning along. Solitude. Supper was finally ready.

In the embrace of the caprock night, Hank continued pondering the ideas brought forward by Pastor Elton.

_____________________________________________________________

I’m feeling a genuine renewal, working daily on this Hank story and finding new ideas to paint. Today I plan to begin the 8 x 10″ watercolor illustrating the draft of the story posted today. I hope you are enjoying the story, and look forward to sharing the painting as it takes shape.

When you get the chance, please check out my website at http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Pursuing the Muse

February 21, 2020

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Watercolor in 8 x 10″ wooden frame–$100

Artistic inspiration has to be carried over a long distance to reach expression, and it may easily shrivel, or even perish on the way from the eye to the paper.

Abraham Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

The day’s proposed schedule has been fractured beyond recognition. I awoke a little after five, my head stirring with ideas for painting, and actually hit the studio running. But a number of distractions entered, and though I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, I feel a good sense of accomplishment as I prepare to enter the weekend.

I decided to frame the coffee cup I sketched in watercolor yesterday, and am happy with the results. I also completed my application for Palestine’s Dogwood Festival coming up late in March–a number of artists will be displaying under a large tent for the VIP party in advance of the actual festival and I slipped in my application just under deadline.

I also have been notified that a book is coming out in June featuring my artwork on its cover. The publisher and I have been in correspondence over this matter for nearly a year and I am excited to learn I will have a copy of this book in hand soon.

JEWFISH-RESIZED300x210

I have a few more paintings in progress now in the hopper and hope to be posting images of them soon.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

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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Moving Through the Darkness

February 21, 2020

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For this is the truth about our soul, he thought. Our self, who fish-like inhabits deep seas and plies among obscurities threading her way between the boles of giant weeds, over sun-flickered spaces and on and on into gloom, cold, deep, inscrutable; suddenly she shoots to the surface and sports on the wind-wrinkled waves; that it, has a positive need to brush, scrape, kindle herself, gossiping.

Virginian Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

In my pre-dawn reading, I shuddered over this passage from Virginia Woolf. The exquisite beauty in her arrangement of words as she shapes ideas continually arrests me. I simply close the book, stare into the distance and wonder how on earth she managed to weave such beauty in language during deep and utter sadness throughout much of her life.

I recall the words from the C. S. Lewis film Shadowlands: “We read to know that we are not alone.” As I read this passage comparing the soul to a fish navigating its solitary odyssey below the surface of the waves, I thought of this past week spent away from public events. Preparations for my solo show and then speaking at the event sapped most of my energy, and so this quiet restoration has been soothing. Though spending hours alone, I don’t fee lonely; these gentle minds of lovely souls from the past continue to connect with me through their creations.

The Woolf quote explores the fish meandering about in dark obscurity and occasionally popping to the surface to rub against the school and engage in gossip. In context, Woolf described a solitary man forced into a social gathering around drinks. In my own life, I know that rhythm of solitude and society dynamics, and I still enjoy its richness. But I found another idea while my reading of Woolf was taking place alongside that of Heidegger.

In the midst of being as a whole an open place occurs. . . . Only this clearing grants and guarantees to us humans a passage to those beings that we ourselves are not, and access to the being that we ourselves are. (“On the Origin of the Work of Art”)

I am stirred by the imagery from Woolf of the fish gliding among the weeds, occasionally entering “sun-flickered spaces”. In Heidegger’s writings, I recall the image of a wanderer picking his way through thick woods and occasionally coming to a clearing. Heidegger’s word for clearing is the German Lichtung and is sometimes translated “lighting.” So, my thoughts this morning move along two different trains: the soul gliding silently in the darkness of solitude while occasionally stepping into the light of a social encounter, and then the soul moving silently among the darkness of thought, waiting for the moment of clarity when light enters, giving shape and clarity to an idea.

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All this just to say . . . during my quiet week I have been groping about in the darkness, searching for an idea for new art, new work, new play. Finally some things are beginning to take shape and now I am happy to add drawing and painting to my reading and journaling.

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While French-pressing coffee this morning, I found myself staring at this lovely mug I purchased last December from Randy Brodnax. While admiring its organic form and earth-tone colors, the idea formed to experiment with a composition juxtaposing the mug with a precision drawing such as found on a drafting table. By the time the coffee was ready, I had decided “Why not?” and found myself tinkering with this combination watercolor and drawing. Now I am interested in re-visiting coffee-related themes in my art. Going back over my file, I excavated this watercolor sketch done in my garage several winters ago.

Maxwell House raw photo

While working on the coffee themes, I also pulled a stack of my attempted sketches from last summer’s visits to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. Stretching a fresh 9 x 12″ sheet of 90-lb cold press watercolor paper, I played with this Grand Canyon composition.

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I feel that I am finally swimming out of the darkness and enjoying some time playing in the light.

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 Life Measured with Coffee Spoons

September 9, 2019

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The Place Becomes the Book

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
The entire weekend has been a blissful one that I kept intending to blog, and now Monday morning finds me still contentedly submerged in projects as deadlines near. The T. S. Eliot line occurred to me as I was reading Jack Kerouac this morning (my God, Visions of Cody, to me, is On the Road on steroids, or more likely benzadrine). I have come to love the stream-of-consciousness style of writing I find in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, but WOW! Reading Visions of Cody leaves me short of breath. I try to imagine the author reading this before an audience, unable to pour out even one-tenth of a sentence in one long breath. The interior narrative just surges on and on with unabated intensity, filling the reader’s inner eye with city images that just won’t stop. I find myself pouring cup after cup of coffee as I continue to read and imagine with amazement.

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Happily Buried in my Upcoming Presentation

Life for me has been measured out the past seventy-two hours in coffee spoons as I have divided time between reading for my own enrichment, scribbling in my journal, drawing in its margins, working on a public presentation coming up in a week, and experimenting further in watercolor.

On Monday evening, September 16, I will make a two-hour presentation before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth at the University of Texas Health Science Center. My friend Cindy Thomas has plans to film the event for a project we began several months ago, and the days now find me buried in the editing of computer images and a manuscript I have been working on since last March. My project will be in three parts–comments on the creative process, followed by a watercolor demonstration and finally the unveiling of a watercolor series that has consumed me for decades (I really hope this will become a book of images and stories one day).

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Experimenting

My demonstration Monday night will center on some techniques I discovered and developed while trying to paint evergreens in colorful South Fork, Colorado two summers ago. I am still refreshed with the memories of the spectacular morning scene presented to me, along with the birds and critters that visited me as I painted. My artist friends started calling me Saint Francis.

bird on painting

Feeding chipmunk4

I am looking forward to a good time when I share my experiences and ideas with the Society.

Another warm memory from my weekend was the renewal of friendship with a student of mine from my earliest years of high school teaching. She now is a teacher, has a lovely family and has invited me to give art lessons to her daughter who is consumed with drawing and experimenting with visual expression. We had our first session yesterday and her drawings were stunning with imagination and enthusiasm. And, to add further seasoning to the recipe, her dog visited me and later chose to nap at my feet while we worked.

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Thank you, Joanna, for a heart-warming day!

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It’s time to get back to the task. 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.

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen

February 3, 2019

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Breakfast at the Dairy Queen in Palestine, Texas

Enjoying my weekend in Palestine and The Redlands Hotel, I was tipped off yesterday by Jean (owner of the hotel) to try out the local Dairy Queen for breakfast. This morning when I arrived and ordered the “country breakfast,” the counter girl asked me how I wanted my eggs. “Over easy?” I hesitatingly offered. And what to drink? “Coffee.” She handed me a real mug! And, a short while later, this was brought to me, on a real plate with real silverware.

I do not take meals at the Dairy Queen, but I still recall that the one outside Archer City, Texas serves breakfast this way, as a real American diner would. When I returned to The Gallery at Redlands, I decided that I need to acquire a copy of Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. I understand that this collection of essays, autobiographical in nature, contain the author’s lament at the demise of story telling in American culture, and ways in which small American towns have been drained of their local charm. Though I live in Arlington, I have found far more of a fascinating world and culture in Palestine, Texas. I am truly blessed, granted time to spend in The Gallery at Redlands and reside in The Redlands Hotel and enjoy the music and camaraderie of Kevin and Marc at Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. As I write this, I am finishing a watercolor commission for a local author (I know of two authors that live in this vicinity), and the community is awash in musicians. Many of us have the same thing in common–growing up in small towns, working and raising families in large cities, then returning to these small towns to enjoy life at a lovelier pace.

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I Should Finish this One Today

After I finish this painting, I intend to read Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Storyteller.” And who knows–I may just pick up a copy of McMurtry’s collection and see what I can glean from the reading.

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. 

Morning Coffee with Dave and Walt Whitman

November 2, 2018
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In The Gallery at Redlands, Working on Whitman Collages & Greeting Cards

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 
Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”
Yesterday, after class, I set off for Palestine to work in my gallery and make preparations for the weekend Genny Wood Art Show & Sale. After the two-hour drive through the country, enjoying the bright sun and 60-degree weather, and filled with the ecstasies of Kerouac’s odyssey, I decided upon reaching Palestine to spend some time outdoors. I had spent too much time the past few weeks chasing deadlines. Finding a park bench beneath an enormous shade tree, I sat in the cool, took a cleansing breath, and opened my volume of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  Reading Kerouac’s On the Road yesterday prompted me to look up Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” today. He published this poem the year after his Leaves of Grass took flight, and the adrenaline was apparently still surging through his creative consciousness. My heart floods with good sentiments every time I read verses such as this from Whitman’s hand.
After five years of reading rave reviews of his Leaves of Grass (some of which he published anonymously himself!), he felt the time had come to publish a second edition of this collection of poems. There was only one problem–he had reached ebb tide and his creative surge had faltered. Perhaps he was still too young (first edition came out when he was thirty-seven) to realize that creative output is cyclical. At any rate, he was feeling morose and second-guessing whether or not he had genuine talent or was just over-sold with that first edition.
While walking pensively one evening along the seashore, he composed a poem that reflected his sagging sentiments of the time: “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”–
O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth, 
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, 
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am, 
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d, 
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, 
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, 
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
Whitman’s second edition of Leaves of Grass contains a number of troubled verses replete with his second-guessing. As we all know, he got over it eventually. The surge returned, and the collection of twelve poems grew to over five hundred, as he remained prolific throughout his life.
This is why I read so much biography–I want to learn all I can from these creative heroes about the dynamics of creative eros, including those barren times when the winds of inspiration have stilled, and how they addressed the problem.  At this very moment I am tired, exhausted. But not depressed, not panicky. I am confident that quality time for creating will offer itself up to me again, and that I will be ready to answer the bell. But for now, the appointments are joined end-to-end, it is the high season for art festivals and shows, the semester at the university is entering its final stretch run, and there is much demanded from me. I thank God that I am (semi) retired, have my health, and at least don’t have to answer to a Monday-Friday, 40-hour a week job. Life is much better now, and at least I can find the time to sit beneath a shade tree, read, reflect, and think about where I am going next. I have never been happier, even when tired.
Today I am packing up the Gallery to take to the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale at the Bullard First United Methodist Church Family Life Center. Today I will enjoy seeing my artist friends again as we set up, and the show will run all day Saturday. Below are a pair of photos of my booth from last year. I am hoping to make a much better display this year. Among my offerings will be collages of my creative heroes, including Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.
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Last Year’s Display at the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale

Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is humming along in fine fashion as I write this. I cannot describe how much I enjoy my new “roommates” as they broadcast out of this gallery, looking out their “Window to the World.” The Redlands Hotel is decorating for Christmas and yesterday began bringing decorations into the gallery and studio. The “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show broadcasts live from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. You can stream it on your computer, and even get the app for your android or I-phone.

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“Kevin & Marc in the Morning”–Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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.