Archive for the ‘eatery’ Category

My Favorite Memory from the Art Festival Circuit

March 24, 2014
The Shed cafe, Edom, Texas

The Shed Cafe, Edom, Texas

. . . your desire to make art–beautiful or meaningful or emotive art–is integral to your sense of who you are.  Life and Art, once entwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Sravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting.

David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

I love that point raised by Bayles and Orland.  If I could be fortunate enough to live to see ninety, I would hope that I still have the eye and the steady hand to continue making art.  I still feel like a student, am still filled with surprises at every turn, and love the discovery of new ideas and techniques.  I make art because it is in me; I am not complete when I’m not making something new.  This morning, I am exhausted from finishing a three-day art festival that featured frigid temperatures and high winds.  Nevertheless, sales were O.K., and the conversations with patrons were very warming to my soul.  I am grateful for all the positives that came out of this one.  I have two weeks before the next festival, and plenty of time to rest up and recuperate.  All things considered, the festival was a good experience, but it meant three days without making art, so I am itching to get back into the studio.

I promised in an earlier post to share my favorite memory from the art festival circuit.  Every October, I participate in the Edom Festival of the Arts in remote east Texas.  The setting is rolling pastureland with several barns and sheds scattered around the property and enormous shade trees.  The booths are not lined up in a grid, but arranged organically around the property, inserted between trees, outbuildings, etc.  A tall privacy fence hides the festival grounds from the highway nearby.  There is no electricity on the grounds, so we don’t have to fuss with track lighting, laptops or credit card terminals.  Patrons know that the event is a cash-and-carry affair, with an ATM in the town, and the two-day festival is filled with art shoppers.  Sales and conversations at the Edom Festival of the Arts are first rate, and I can’t wait to go every fall when the weather begins to cool.

Two years back, to save money and time, I decided not to book a hotel (about a thirty-minute drive to the nearest city).  I had this romantic and ludicrous notion that I would sleep in the back of my Jeep Grand Cherokee, disregarding my age and lack of general fitness (also disregarding the soreness and achiness that always comes from loading the Jeep, driving two hours, setting up the tent, furniture, and hanging all the art).  When darkness descended, I crawled into the back of my Jeep that was parked near the forest with all the other artists’ vehicles and trailers (a number of them have camping trailers for accommodations).  The night grew chilly, and I never got comfortable in the back of my vehicle.  I chafed at my lack of judgment and slept very little as the night wore on.

Finally, just before dawn, I decided I had to get back on my feet.  I had slept in my clothes, so I did not have to undergo acrobatic contortions, dressing in the back of the vehicle.  Emerging from the Jeep, I trudged with heavy feet up the hill and through the festival grounds.  The grass was wet with dew, temperatures were in the upper forties (the sweatshirt and jacket were doing their job just fine), and as I walked among the gleaming white tents in silence, I felt an exhilaration I cannot explain.  The morning was crisp, cold and delicious.  I loved the scent of the October pasture.  The artist “village” was so attractive to me, though all the tents were shuttered and no art work was visible at this hour.  But I loved the morning walk through the darkness, and as I wended my way toward The Shed Cafe (not visible because of the privacy fence), I could only hope that it opened according to “traditional country cafe hours”.  It was 6:05 and still dark.  Rounding the corner of the privacy fence, I saw what is posted at the top of this blog (this photo was taken later, nearer Christmas time, hence the holiday lights).  Warm light poured out of every window, smoke was billowing out of the chimney, and I instantly smelled eggs frying, bacon, ham, biscuits, gravy, coffee–the works!  I cannot describe the rush of good will that filled me at that moment.  All the achiness and sleepiness from the goofy night sleeping in the Jeep disappeared, and all that mattered was the warm, affirming feeling of a hot country breakfast.  The food at The Shed is among the finest I’ve ever had, and regardless of the success in sales at the Edom Festival, breakfast at The Shed is the highlight of the weekend.

The Shed Cafe Edom, Texas

The Shed Cafe
Edom, Texas

Last winter, I painted this 8 x 10″ watercolor of my favorite east Texas eatery.

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.

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Art and Fear?

February 11, 2014
A Little Space in the Afternoon Studio

A Little Space in the Afternoon Studio

God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

Yes, I read this excellent book, Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland.  I felt that a pair of artists were in the room with me, engaged in legitimate, heart-to-heart discussion.  And they addressed the inherent fears and required courage of art making rather than the blocked-artist syndrome.  I am not a blocked artist.  I am a public school teacher, teaching multiple subjects.  I will frequently face weekday afternoons and evenings where preparations leave little-to-no time for quality studio work.  But that is not blockage, not creative paralysis–it is just  an overloaded schedule.  This afternoon I managed to eke out some time for the studio, so here I am, with a little hesitation.  So what is this “fear” factor?  I will be the first to testify that making art is a courageous act.

Art requires more courage from me than other acts that might stir up fear in others.  For instance, I am not afraid to walk into a high school classroom, stand in front, and begin talking directly to the body of students.  I have never been afraid to stand in a public auditorium and address a congregation of adults.  I don’t know fear in those instances.  But what is this “fear factor” in art?  Am I afraid of rejection by the public?  Not really.  Do I fear ruining a $20 sheet of quality watercolor paper?  I don’t think so.  Am I afraid I am wasting my time?  Hardly.  I have invested years in this, and don’t begrudge additional hours, days, months or years.  In fact, I wish I had 500 years left to invest–I’ll never reach the level I want to reach in my own lifetime.

So, what is it?  Am I afraid of making a bad painting?  Perhaps that is it.  But I don’t understand that.  When I make a bad painting, I just don’t show it.  I seldom throw bad painting attempts away.  I suppose that if I keep them in a drawer that I’ll take them out another day, study them, and learn from the mistakes.  But I don’t generally do that either.  I just don’t look at them.  So what is it that frightens me?  What is the source of the anxiety?  I wish I knew.

Somehow, I am intimidated, approaching subjects where I have little-to-no experience.  And that is what is happening now with the rendering of human figures in watercolor, small human figures.  I don’t know why I have this phobia about screwing up.  So what if I screw up?  This is laughable.  I don’t live financially off my art sales.  My job keeps me fed and housed.  Maybe at the root of all these art endeavors is the fear of failure.  But how could that be?  How can one fail, if allowed to re-do, re-try, if allowed to learn, grow, accomplish?  Silly, isn’t it.  Perhaps I need to re-read Rollo May’s The Courage to Create.

At any rate, I am in the studio for a short while this afternoon, nibbling away at this small watercolor sketch.  And writing this blog is therapeutic it seems.  Right now, I am not afraid.  In fact, I’m enjoying the process, regardless of the outcome.  And when I finish this one, I will turn to the next.  One cannot help but improve with practice, and practice on the human figure is something I have yet to accomplish.

Thanks for reading.  Thanks for putting up with my navel gazing (smiling).  I had some things to work out.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Oracular Moments with Emerson

February 9, 2014

Small Watercolor Sketch of Yesterday's Lunch Outside the Art Museum

Small Watercolor Sketch of Yesterday’s Lunch Outside the Art Museum

Reference Photo

Reference Photo

We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight.  But the Genius which according to the old belief stands at the door by which we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. . . . We are like millers on the lower levels of a stream, when the factories above them have exhausted the water.  We too fancy that the upper people must have raised their dams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

I awoke this morning, feeling rather dull and sluggish.  There was no real reason for that–I didn’t exactly overdo it yesterday, and thought I had gotten plenty of sleep.  I rose from bed anyway, chalking it up to “aging” and tried to smile about it.  I made coffee and sunk into a comfortable chair to cozy up with words from Emerson.  It was Sunday, and I needed a Good Word.  He didn’t disappoint.  The selection I posted above came from an Emerson who felt his creative spirit sagging after years of explosive thinking and writing.  And with genuine wisdom, he addressed that sobering feeling of creativity leveling off.

For years I have been conscious of the ebb and flow of a creative life, and have tried not to let the barren stretches bring me down.  There are many ways to re-tool, to refresh, to trim one’s sails to catch the breezes once they blow again. And so, when I read the above passage, I laughed out loud, shook off my doldrums, and set about the task of getting tomorrow’s classes ready for school so I could pick up the brush again.

I have been so timid about rendering people in watercolor.  Figure drawing has always been difficult for me, and trying to render humans in watercolor even more intimidating.  But as I viewed the Edward Hopper collection over the past couple of months, I realize that some of his small renderings of people in watercolor and charcoal were not all that splendid.  So, I’ve decided I’m going to go after this subject and see if I can pull it off.  If I cannot do it with this one, I’ll do it with the next, or the next.  I’ll get it.  I’m starting with a small, modest-sized watercolor sketch, to see how I do with people.  And I’m intrigued by this new direction, not tired (wink).

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.

Watercoloring the Hot Summer Town of Hico, Texas en Plein Air

June 29, 2011

A Hot Summer Afternoon in Hico, Texas

After the morning plein air excursion into Granbury, I next turned my Jeep further south, and arrived in Hico, Texas as the sun waxed hotter.  What a fabulous town for painting!  Ghost signs were everywhere to be found on the sides of buildings of brick and rusticated stone.  I turned down a major street, and was delighted to find it divided, with a tree-shaded island featuring park benches and gazebos.  I found plenty of space to set up my easel on the island, without blocking sidewalk traffic (not that there was much, in that small town!).  As I painted, I found the residents of Hico to be exceedingly friendly.  A number of men and women approached me, looked at my work, said affirming things, and chatted with me about life in the small town, and also asked how things were in my large city, and I found it pleasing to cover a number of conversational subjects with them, all of the talk pleasant.  I even had the pleasure of meeting an acrylic studio painter who owned a business on the street where I painted.  A lady in a passing car rolled down her window, took a look at my work, and expressed admiration for my attempt at architecture.  She was a painter of animals and thought it would be difficult to paint buildings.  I guess I should have mentioned to her that I find it difficult, painting animals!

I loved this street intersection vista.  The light rusticated stone building contrasted nicely with the darker buildings across the street on the left, and I was fascinated with the tree on the right invading the compositional space.  I took a reference photo of this site and am seriously considering taking another shot at this in the studio.

The day was hot, the travel exhausting, but I’m glad I got out and did this.   Last night I looked at the website of the Weiler House Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#events) and saw that my Solo Show for this fall has been posted.  My first reaction was that it was time to “find another gear” in producing art work.  Showtime is in two months.

Thanks for reading.

Lazy Afternoon at Zula’s Coffee House. Last Day of Waxahachie Plein Air Competition

June 2, 2011

Lazy Afternoon at Zula's Coffee House, Waxahachie, Texas

Today marks the end of the plein air competition in Waxahachie (for me).  The deadline for entering work is tomorrow (Friday) at 2:00, and I will be stuck in school for the entire day.  The last week of public school is a total waste of time and resources, if I may offer my frank opinion.  Prime time every day this week has been spent in a high school where everyone–student and teacher alike–has already mailed it in.   I’m happy that I managed to crank out seven paintings since last Friday–six of them between Friday and Monday, and then the past three days on this one (again, prime time spent in school, and left-over, late-afternoon time, painting).

Zula’s Coffee House is my favorite place to land when I’m in Waxahachie, Texas.  Terra, the proprietor, has this way of making any patron comfortable and grateful for setting up in this coffee haven, any time day or night.  It has become a popular venue for folk singing, book discussions and various other small group activities.  Wi-Fi makes it a great place to work on the laptop when deadlines are pressing.  The coffee house is located on Business Highway 287, on the north side of downtown Waxahachie (Main Street).  It is far enough away from the town square to escape the traffic noises of midday, and has a life of its own (which the town square lacks after 5:00 p.m.).  The open meadow across the street provides plenty of space for anyone with an active eye and a dreamy imagination.  During the fall of last year, I painted the meadow in all the bright colors that the late afternoon sun yielded.  Again, this is a sweet spot to land for anyone who is a lover of art, books, music and of course, coffee!

Thanks Terra for a very rewarding three days.  I’m glad I finally got around to painting this splendid venue.

Thanks for reading.

Three Watercolors for the Home

April 16, 2011

Three framed watercolors in the Home

I grew up listening to the adage that physicians’ children were the sickest, teachers’ children the dumbest, preachers’ children the meanest, mechanics’ cars the worst maintained, etc.  For year after year, I could not afford to custom frame my own watercolors, then once I could afford it, I started selling them more than hanging them.  Finally I have been able to fill my own home with custom-framed work of mine, and am glad to be able to look at them.

With my first one man show approaching this September, I need to frame sooner rather than later, so I don’t find myself scrambling for “presentation pieces” when show time arrives.  These three I just picked up from the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas–the gallery that will host my September show.  I have already posted the images as I completed them in the studio recently, but wanted to show the presentation in my entry way as it now appears.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to begin my first plein air watercolor study in over a week.  I have errands to run at the moment, but hopefully I will return to the work later this afternoon and post this evening.

Thank you for reading.

4:30 A.M. in the Painter’s Studio

March 29, 2011

Eureka Springs, Arkansas Flat-Iron Building

This morning, I entered the garage studio at 4:30 and worked on this for one hour.  Now, I sit in my darkened classroom–ambient perimeter lamps providing the only light, and pause to write in my journal, reflect, and perhaps put out one more blog on this piece.  The last piece contained somewhat of a rant–I was tired and ready for bed, yet I choose not to erase it.  I’m not pleased with my school district, or with our state legislature that has made decisions leading to the demise of public education funding in Texas.  But I’ve written all I intend to on that subject.  This day began with art, so it promises to be a good day.

No signature yet, but this painting is nearly finished.  As I pause and look over it, I realize that tinkering with details and “finish” work tend to suck the freshness and spontaneity out of a watercolor.  So it is likely that I will just add a signature and let it go.  I’m very happy with the last two 8 x 10″ pieces of the historic Eureka Springs business district.  My brief sojourn there during Spring Break was a cold and overcast one, nevertheless I managed to take a few photos, and am very pleased that I recorded the experience, and, I believe, these two paintings do indeed reflect an overcast, winter light.  In a more perfect world, I would have a painter’s studio on the top corner floor of this flat-iron.  Monet gushed that he didn’t have to leave his backyard at Giverny to find compositions to paint during his final decades.  I believe that if I could look out from this top floor, over the scintillating Eureka Springs town, that I could very well say the same.

Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous, artful day.

Lunch at a Romantic Mountain Town Getaway

March 23, 2011

Romantic Musings

Pausing for a romantic luncheon in the historic business district of Eureka Springs, Arkansas last weekend, my wife and I could not stop gazing down at Spring Street  below us.  The more I looked, the more I thought of Edward Hopper’s birds-eye views of New York City that he painted so enchantingly.  I realized that I had never tried this, so it was time.  I have posted a link to the Basin Park Hotel, where we enjoyed lunch, and this fabulous balcony view.  The link shows the flat-iron building across the street that anchors this composition.  http://www.eurekavacation.com/basin/

I am so pleased to get in-and-out of a small painting so quickly (this one is 8 x 10″ and will be available for $300 unframed).  I never thought it possible (for myself) to get so much minute detail crammed into such a small working space, and to be nearly finished this quickly.  I began on Sunday afternoon (the day after the luncheon), and have posted the picture as it appeared Tuesday.  I have yet to finish the handrails in the foreground, and still have some decisions to make on the overall composition (perhaps some broad darker tones in the background landscape, or the row of brick buildings–I don’t know yet).

My wife has suggested a diptych, again, something I have never tried in watercolor groupings.  I like the idea, so now I have the second one underway of the flat iron building, viewed from the end–an extreme low-angle view (worms-eye?).  The wet and sloppy sky is still drying, hence I pause to blog for a bit.  This second one is also 8 x 10″ and will be extremely, minutely detailed (I hope).

My poetic muse companions the past three days have been Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams.  I’m filled with a sense of wonder as I contemplate their theories of Imagism (Williams: “No ideas but in things”) and for the moment am attempting paintings of subjects that have no long-term personal history with me (The first time I visited Eureka Springs was last summer) but nevertheless arrest me with their grace and beauty.  In the cities I have always been fascinated with the co-existence of cosmetically beautiful objects and utilitarian ugly ones.  Ezra Pound noted in one of his literary essays that James Joyce juxtaposed the beautiful and the ugly in his stories.  Pound referred to these as the “bass and treble” of his arrangements.  Thus, in this painting (and the next) I am trying to present the  objects in which the tourist’s eye takes delight, as well as those which are either abhorred, or not even noticed at all.

One final thing I wish to point out–on that particular day in Eureka Springs, it was cold, windy, overcast, and there was absolutely no light or shadow to pick up on the objects.  I photographed it all anyway, and have chosen to paint it anyway.  Though the afternoon was a romantic one, it was nevertheless the last day of winter, and winter weather was in the air.  I tried to capture that gray, overcast, chilly atmosphere in the painting.

Thanks for reading.

An Edward Hopper Perspective of Eureka Springs, Arkansas

March 22, 2011

Second-Story View of Historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas

My pulse is pounding to paint, and it’s been so hard to find the quality time.  The last days of winter were spent last week in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I’m doing this small (12 x 14″) watercolor composition from a photo I took from the balcony of a cool hotel in the historic district of this town.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity of trying out an “Edward Hopper” perspective, as I recall that he composed some of his New York City watercolors and oils from this high-angle view.  I seem to recall the French Impressionist Camille Pissaro doing the same with his “modern” Paris and its expanding boulevards.

So much is surging through me these recent days.  I’ve been indulging in Imagist poetry from Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Willliams, and now am re-reading James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I’ll have more to say of all that later, hopefully today.  I just walked away from the painting to allow it sufficient time to dry.  I’m itching to get back and work some more.  This particular scene definitely has my attention.

Thanks for reading.

Ghosts of Eureka Springs Past

March 13, 2011

Ghosts of Eureka Springs PastI just got my painting framed at the Weiler House Gallery (http://weilerhousefineart.com) and will soon deliver it to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for their first faculty art show.  I haven’t seen the town since I left it last June, when I was privileged to teach a one-week plein air watercolor class to an outstanding group of painters.

I’m glad the painting is finally framed, and that I am at the beginning of a one-week Spring Break from school.  Already I’m in the garage planing out my next composition, and hopefully will have it posted soon.

Thank you for reading.