Archive for the ‘drawing’ Category

A Page from the Sketchbook

May 4, 2023

What does drawing do for me? It slows down my breathing. Relaxes me. And at the same time it focuses me. It allows me to concentrate my gaze, my attention, my love & devotion, to the Subject which has rendered me an object. I have given myself to a Subject, and worshipfully move to translate the experience to a white, two-dimensional rectangle.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday morning thoughts while sketching

March 26, 2023

We are preparing for yet another day trip today, having returned home late last night from the symphony in Tyler, Texas.

Finding the weather outdoors gorgeous beyond description, I decided to pull up a chair in the garage and see if I could capture some of our neighborhood sites in a SketchBook.

While sketching, my mind does not stop. So when I paused in the midst of the sketch I decided to write the following:

What does drawing do for me? It slows my breathing. Relaxes me. And, at the same time, it focuses me. Drawing allows me to concentrate my gaze, my attention, my love and devotion, to the Subject which has rendered me an object. I have given myself to a Subject, and worshipfully move to translate the experience onto a white, two-dimensional rectangle.

Thanks for reading.

An Artist’s Life

September 20, 2022
Drafting notes for today’s presentation

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.

Paul Klee

I leave in an hour to talk with high school art students about the practice of drawing and journaling. My friend and colleague Cindy Thomas, also retired, teaches part time at Pantego Christian Academy. Cindy is not only a painter and installation artist; she has blossomed in recent years as a film maker, and I’m still delighted to play her seven-minute film of me (in my studio as well as the trout stream) on our flat screen TV in the lobby window of The Gallery at Redlands.

Cindy has invited me “to come by and share your journey with journaling and sketchbooks and how they inspire your art.” Frankly, I could choose no better subject to share with a willing audience. I’m ecstatic that this opportunity has been presented, and sincerely hope that what I have to share “takes” with at least one student.

I packed and loaded my vehicle last night. Now, with coffee, I feel an impulse to share with readers my ideas about “an artist’s life”. To be honest, I have no idea what exactly will happen when I enter the classroom. I have a script in my mind, and perhaps that is what I will share. Or something else may pop up, and if that happens, I’ll ride that train instead. One thing about a life of public speaking, classroom lecturing, and dialogue sessions that has paid dividends is the reality that opportunities like today no longer scare me; in fact I got over the fear of addressing audiences before I finished college.

So, exactly what do I want to share with you this morning? My lifestyle as an artist with this luxury of retirement. I no longer rise in the morning to go to a job. I’m retired. But I’m up, generally no later than 7:00 (there are those weird times that I awaken between 4 and 5:00 a.m. and rise to meet the new opportunities.

The first order of the day is making coffee, French Press or Cowboy Coffee. I then bring it to bed where I enjoy at least an hour of “executive time”. Sandi also reads over coffee, and our pair of dogs continue to stretch and slumber as we read in silence. Executive Time is an extension of what I called Quiet Time long ago when I was in the pastoral ministry and made it a practice to start each morning with time studying my Bible.

During this Executive Time, I open my journal to write out the ideas already percolating in my mind. Once the ideas have all been captured as best I can, I open a sketchbook and force myself to make one small drawing. This sketchbook practice I should have been doing the past thirty years or so, but I actually resumed it a few weeks ago, and I’m getting better with the daily consistency. I have always believed that quality art grows out of disciplined drawing, but unfortunately I have not practiced what I believe. Until now.

After I’m satisfied with journaling and sketching, I open a book. My reading is broad, really. Since graduate school, I have loved reading; I am starved for new ideas. I read novels (Larry McMurtry currently), philosophy, art history, poetry, essays. I seek quality writing, hoping that reading the best writing will improve my own writing as well as verbal communications. I still translate Greek–Homer, the Presocratics, the Septuagint, the New Testament, the Church Fathers. I’m trying to teach myself Latin, but that is coming along at a snail’s pace; if I’m not actually taking classes in Latin, I won’t be picking it up any time soon. But I still love the language and poke at it. I have a copy of the Latin Vulgate as well as several volumes of classical. I just love to read, take notes, and weave my own ideas into what I’m reading. That is why I keep a journal and have well over 200 volumes going back to 1985. Some of my reading includes re-reading old journals I’ve kept.

Once I’ve finished my third cup of coffee while doing the above, I walk down the hall to my Studio Eidolons Sunday through Wednesday, downstairs to our Gallery at Redlands (in the Redlands Hotel) Thursday through Saturday. In these spaces, the real magic begins. The morning Executive Time has laid the groundwork for studio creativity.

It’s time to get dressed and leave for this morning’s engagement. 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.

4:30 a.m. Start . . .

September 19, 2022
4:30 a.m. sketch

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.

Paul Klee

I woke this morning around 4:30 with the Paul Klee quote in my head. Unable to return to sleep, the urge to draw a horse whispered to me in the darkness. So, without question I rose, plodded silently down the hall to my Studio Eidolons, and drew the horse head posted above. I like it enough to finish out the body contours with accent lines, then put it into a 4 x 6″ mat and install it into a 10 x 12″ frame and put it in the Gallery at Redlands for sale. If nobody purchases it, the drawing will at least keep me good company. The Palomino was at the Stone Creek Ranch where I just completed a watercolor workshop and packed home years’ worth of memories.

Thanks for reading.

Solitude Eludes Words

August 31, 2022
Morning Sketch in Studio Eidolons

This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

I felt Annie’s presence this morning, as I sat at the window sketching, the cool gray morning light filling the studio. I also felt an intimate connection to all creatives who know the sweet solitude that comes with writing a song, a literary composition, or creating a piece of visual art. Creative eros is a sweet presence that prevents solitude from descending into loneliness. No doubt we creatives thrive on attention, but we also draw deep sustenance from the act of creating while alone.

For years I’ve floundered, seeking words to reveal the feelings one knows when s/he taps a perfect putt across a green, or lays out a perfect cast with the fly rod, or scrapes the sharpened pencil across the surface of the paper, or plucks the acoustic guitar string in such a way that the note lingers in the air and resonates in the room. And then, I come across a quote by Anais Nin that tells it like it is:

I have never been able to talk as I think, to anyone. With most people you can only talk about ideas, not the channel through which these ideas pass, the atmosphere in which they bathe, the subtle essence which escapes as one clothes them. Most of the time, I don’t feel like talking about ideas anyway. I am more interested in sensations.

Anais Nin (French author/diarist)

The morning is off to a sweet beginning. 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.

Turn the Page, and Draw

January 1, 2022
Studio Eidolons, morning of January 1, 2022

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance

On the morning of December 15, I awoke and lay in bed quietly for nearly an hour. It was still dark. I didn’t care what time it was, but knew I was close to dawn. And yet the mental dawn had already occurred. A series of visions had visited me in my half-sleep and by the time I was fully awake, I knew what I was going to do as soon as I finished the college semester, the watercolor commissions, the trip to St. Louis, Christmas, and the return to The Gallery at Redlands to set up the January show for Deanna Pickett Frye.

Now it is the first day of 2022, more than two weeks after the pre-dawn visitation, and I am finally taking up the project that knocked on my visual door. Last night before the New Year dawned, I commenced sketching and journaling.

New Years Eve Musings
First sketch of Jan 1, 2022

Rising this morning, I decided I wanted to follow up on what I reviewed last night in my Studio Eidolons regarding the sixth-century Canons of Chinese painter Xie He. I am absorbed with this idea of qi that is translated as “breath, vapor, spirit” and was believed by the Daoists to be the vital force animating life and art. This is discussed in the First Canon. The Second one discusses the “bone method” and focuses on the strokes of the pencil or brush that enable the composition to breathe.

2nd Sketch of Jan. 1, 2022

I have posted a few of the sketches that grew out of this discovery, and I have finally begun watercolor sketching to see if I can transfer this “bone method” to the point of my brush. This first day of the New Year is proving to be fascinating to me.

More later. Thanks for reading.

Sunday Morning in the Redlands Hotel

November 7, 2021

Admiring and Sketching the Carnegie Library, and Reading . . .

But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.

Quote from the film American Beauty

To pick up the scent of what would nearly finish us off if it were to confront us in the flesh, as danger, problem, temptation–this determines even our aesthetic “yes.” (“That is beautiful” is an affirmation. . . . The firm, mighty, solid, the life that rests squarely and sovereignly and conceals its strength–that is what “pleases“, i.e. corresponds to what one takes oneself to be.

Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted in Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche.

What a lovely Sunday morning! 46 degrees and sunny in downtown Palestine. Early this morning, Paula Cadle and I donned warm layers and stomped all over downtown, marveling at the low-angle sun carving out the facades of historic buildings lining the streets. The coffee took the chill out of the air as we walked and talked. Now, after breakfast, I hear the soft conversations of Sandi and Paula in the dining room of suite 207 as I sit in the bedroom and admire the lovely views of Sacred Heart out one window and the Carnegie Library out the other. The beautiful sunlight and the cold shadows of these historic architectural monuments just knocks the wind out of me, and I sketched a clumsy version of the Carnegie in my journal before settling into my Heidegger volume on Nietzsche. Aesthetics has always choked my own limited vocabulary, but what I’ve been reading from Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schiller and Kant recently makes me wish I could just lay aside the university and gallery responsibilities for a few weeks and months and try to put down in my own words just what exactly it is that art does to my soul.

Yesterday’s Art Walk is in the books, and we will hold our next one December 4. November 19 kicks off our Polar Express season at the Texas State Railroad here in Palestine. The Palestine-to-Rusk excursion train will turn into the Polar Express sensation. Sixty room reservations have already been made here at The Redlands Hotel and I’m preparing to bring out my own Christmas offerings for the new season approaching.

So far, I have framed five of my 5×7″ prints of watercolor Palestine trains in 8×10″ frames I sell at $50 each. We’ll be bringing out more work in the weeks ahead. As for Paula Cadle, she sold a ton of pottery the past couple of days, but is leaving behind a substantial display ripe for the picking! The Gallery has never been brighter in color than it is right now.

Sundays are quiet in downtown Palestine, and the respite is good for us. Later today we’ll had back to our Arlington homes, but for now we’re going to enjoy the quiet.

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.

Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring

August 7, 2021
Leonard Cohen, Pencil Drawing Created this Morning

There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

The church bells from Sacred Heart across the street from the gallery woke me this morning, as they always do. But this Saturday morning was different. As I listened, I heard in my mind’s ear Leonard Cohen singing “Anthem”–“Ring the bells that still can ring . . . ” Tears came to my eyes. Really. I found myself wishing I had packed his book The Flame for my weeklong stay here in Palestine. The Flame is a collection of Cohen’s final writings and fragments he had attempted to publish before his death. Fortunately for us, his son gathered up all the work, edited it and wrote a precious Introduction. Now I wish I had it in hand to read today.

I feel thoroughly refreshed by Cohen’s rich collection of ideas this morning. For a number of days I’ve felt flat; ideas were not coming, and I expect them. When I stop experiencing such visitations, my world loses its color and flavor. I’m going to try now to explain what I mean by all this . . .

The Neo-Orthodox theologian Karl Barth discussed how the word of God becomes The Word through the act of proclamation. When I first read this, too much Fundamentalist ideology inherited from my youth was still clinging to me. I thought the Word of God was the King James Version of the Bible. Fortunately I grew beyond that in the ensuing years. I believe now that the Word, the Oracle, is potential at any moment of any day, through any avenue. Teaching for three decades, I always hoped that the words I put out would occasionally become a Word for that particular student who was lost, floundering. Every time I found out that something I said or wrote touched someone profoundly, I felt like sinking to my knees in prayer of genuine gratitude. I want everyone to know that sublime feeling of being touched by the reception of a Word.

This morning, Leonard did that to me by way of the church bells tolling. The visitation still leaves me trembling inside. I showered and breakfasted with only one thing in mind–getting downstairs to the Gallery and digging out supplies so I could render Leonard’s portrait in pencil. I did it. I framed it. I’m offering it through the Gallery now for $50. If no one purchases it, then I will continually enjoy its company as often as I look up to see it.

$50 Framed 8 x 10″ Pencil Drawing in The Gallery at Redlands

Sacred Heart Church seen from inside The Gallery at Redlands

To all my readers, I wish the best of Saturdays. As for myself I’m delighted that I’ll be staying here in Palestine till the middle of next week. Come by for a visit if you are in the area. And I hope that in the midst of today, a special Word will come your way. When it does, embrace it.

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.

Playtime in The Gallery at Redlands

July 23, 2021
Loosening up with some Pen & Ink Sketches

Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

Friday morning in The Gallery at Redlands finds me at play. I finally sat down to gaze upon the cover of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Charlie Mackesy, to me, is the gold standard for pen & ink as witnessed by his exquisite sketches of the characters in this lovely children’s book. I purchased a Pentel Arts Pocket Brush medium brush pen and sat down at the drafting table to see if I could possibly discard a lifetime’s practice of uptight, anal drawing. Yesterday, I sat down for my first attempt, copying Mackesy’s horse as quickly as I could with a rigger brush and bottle of India Ink. It didn’t go down very well.

First Attempt, using Rigger Brush & India Ink

Today’s attempt with the Pentel Brush Pen showed some improvement with the calligraphic style lines of varying width, but I still found myself very sloppy with the attempted hairline whips of arc-shaped lines. I think what I need to do is use the pen brush for heavier, calligraphic variety sweeps, then refine my fine lines using a tech pen. I’ll try that next.

The Momaday reading inspired me this morning, reminding me of my recent attempt to break the restraints of my former color palette. Having done more plein air work recently in canyon and mountain settings, I’ve decided to loosen up and try some of the quinacridone gold and red hues I’ve been purchasing from the Daniel Smith brand. The result has been some bison sketches of which I’ve sold several already at $100 apiece for 5 x 7″ watercolors mounted in 8 x 10″ frames.

Lone Bison, 8 x 10″ frame, $100
Friday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

Downtown Palestine has been relatively quiet this morning, aside from drop-in visits from friends in the community whom I dearly love. Conversations with them are always warm, positive and enlightening. It looks like it could be a lovely day for experimental art work and creative eros.

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.

Announcing the Next Watercolor Class in One Week

July 24, 2020

After this long corona virus induced hiatus, I returned happily yesterday to teach my first watercolor class this year. Time spent with eager watercolorists was so invigorating, that I’m really looking forward to another one next Thursday July 30 from 2-5:00. We will meet at the Show Me the Monet Gallery inside Gracie Lane’s in Arlington at 4720 S Cooper Street. Cost for the three-hour session is $55. Seating is limited, so it is highly recommended to phone (817) 468-5263 and secure a seat in advance.

We are going to pull out all the stops and experiment as we paint a wildflower composition. I’ll be sharing a number of techniques I discovered while painting as Artist-in-Residence on the Laguna Madre a number of years ago. After retrieving my journals recorded from those days and re-reading the joy of discovering new methods for painting wild settings, I knew this was the kind of session I wanted to do with willing participants.

If you live in the area, I hope you will join us. If registration overflows, I guarantee we will repeat this lesson as soon as possible. I anticipate that we will uncover some of the magic that inspired such greats as Andrew Wyeth and Albrecht Dürer as they experimented in dry brush, drawing, scraping, masquing and spattering techniques in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.