Archive for the ‘eatery’ Category

A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website http://www.recollections54.com).

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisas-Market-Street-Grille/274360247861

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

 

A Route 66 Christmas Odyssey Requires a 1940’s Diner

March 5, 2011

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood Missouri, est. 1947

The good news today was that the aunts are going to be just fine.  After only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night, I decided I needed to nap this afternoon if I had any hopes of finishing this painting today.  I’m glad I did.  Sleeping from 2:00 until 4:00, I rose and resumed work on this in the garage (my Man-Cave!) with a beautiful afternoon Texas sun shining in the open door.  The light was exquisite for working on this painting.  Once it got dark, the winter temperatures plummeted, and I was forced to lower the door and continue work under house lights (I hate that!).   But . . . I did not want to tinker with this another day.  So . . . here it is . . . signed and out of my hands!

Tomorrow I plan to take it to the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I already have my next watercolor composition lined up, and I just may get after it tonight–I’m in the mood.

I’m grateful for the companionship I felt from the Voices and Visions video documentaries of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams.  What fabulous poets!  What vision!  I felt a particular connection to them as they painted the American scene in penetrating words, as I hope to do some day with watercolor.  Both men were driven by wanderlust as they traversed the American landscape, both urban and rural.  And though I don’t look at the TV while painting, I could certainly see these poets’ images in my mind’s eye as I continually sought to refine my own.  I still hear Williams’ voice in my conscience: “No ideas but in things!”

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy this one.

On the Road Today

March 5, 2011

On the Road

I guess its only fitting that this painting goes On the Road with me today.  Late last night, my wife received the phone call that her elderly aunt had become ill, and that her roommate (recovering from a recent car accident and hospital convalescence) had to be rushed by ambulance back to the hospital with breathing issues.  We made the one-hour journey to the Emergency Room, and waited for her to stabilize and be admitted to a room.  I then took Sandi to spend the night with her sick aunt and I returned home by 2:30 a.m.  Back up at 7:15 this morning, fed the dogs, getting ready to take them to the groomer, packed fresh clothes for Sandi, and am preparing to return to the hospital, one hour north.  I’m taking this painting along with me, as I need still to draw the line of newspaper vending machines along the wall of Spencer’s Grill–the only cloud of white, undeveloped area remaining on this piece.  I expect I’ll finish the drawing sometime on the trip, and then paint it all in when I return (whenever that is).  I’m glad the two women are going to be fine with some rest and a couple of us tending their needs this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Route 66–Odyssey of the American Mind

March 4, 2011

Spencer's Grill on Route 66

At last, the weekend!  Immediately after school, I had a nice visit with my gallery director, Bill Ryan, at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I dropped off my large Eureka Springs cafe painting for framing.  Then, I dashed over to Texas Wesleyan University (my night job!) to retrieve some materials from the library.  In my garage studio, I’ve enjoyed immensely the Voices and Visions series of video documentaries on American poets.  Over the past week, I’ve listened to T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and today am listening to Walt Whitman.  I also picked up the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, two volumes of his poetry, and the Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have before me a weekend of books and painting!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will see that I have sketched in the pavement along the bottom of the composition, using a series of washes along with plenty of salt and water-soluble graphite pencil work.  I’m now waiting for all of that to dry so I can get back to work on the cars and the newspaper vending machines along the front side of this diner.  I fully intend to finish this piece over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll get back to you soon.

Route 66 Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill

March 3, 2011

Despite my earlier post today, I resolved to find a way to get into my garage studio and paint this afternoon.  It wasn’t easy, as I had a college class to teach tonight.  Nevertheless, I did get into the watercolor a bit more, and began the building on the right across the street, and continued tinkering with the horizon colors and shapes.  I think it’s realistic that I could finish this one up by the weekend.  I apologize for the poor photo, as the lights in my garage are not very good, and I didn’t have the foresight to photograph the work this afternoon when the daylight was nice and strong.  But nevertheless it gives the viewer another voyeuristic “snapshot” of a work in progress in my garage.

Thanks for reading.

Christmas Cheer and Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri

March 1, 2011

Christmas at Spencers Grill

Though it’s been two months since I left St. Louis, my heart still stirs at the memory of a bright winter morning at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri along historic Route 66.  My wife and I had just ducked inside this historic cafe from the late 1940’s for breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and coffee.  This historic sign at Spencer’s Grill I had seen since my pre-literate childhood, and will always remember, Proust-like, as a monument from my remote past.

Recently I’ve been reading plenty of Ezra Pound, and studying his tragic life.  From his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” I found these lines:

All things are aflowing,

Sage Heracleitus says;

But a tawdry cheapness

Shall outlast our days.

For over a decade, I’ve been fascinated with the Presocratic fragments, particularly the pieces from Heraclitus.   I mused over this phenomena of traffic perennially rushing north-south on Kirkwood Road, while the ageless, changeless Spencer’s Grill remains.  With my company Recollections 54 (www.recollections54.com) I try to capture in watercolor the images of an America from the 1950’s that remains in spite of the changes that nearly sweep the ground out from under us as we live out our fast-paced, deadline-driven lives.

Thanks for reading.

Eureka Springs Sidewalk Cafe Finished!

February 27, 2011

Downtown Eureka Springs

What a thrill finally to finish this big one!  Just before the thunderstorms arrived, I laid in the final washes on the sidewalks and streets and declared it finished.  It’s been quite a weekend.  A long fly fishing excursion, a painting on location, time well-spent in conversation with a friend (and watching him attack and successfully complete his first watercolor) and finally, finishing this composition.

The Crescent Hotel is featured on the ghost sign high above the gathered lunch crowd.  “Ghost sign” is appropriate, as the Crescent Hotel is famous for its resident ghosts.  I did not know until my second night there last summer that I was staying in a haunted room.  That provided plenty of imagination at night when the lights were out and I heard creaking noises in the corridor just outside my door!  At any rate, I survived, and would love to stay there again.  I’ve been invited to participate in a faculty show at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, and feel strongly that I should enter this piece, once I get it framed properly.  I can’t wait to show it to my gallery director.  I think this could be a good piece for my One Man Show this coming fall.

Thanks for reading, and for following the progress on this one.  Glad it’s done.  Time to move on to the next!

Ezra Pound and Eureka Springs Cafe in my Man Cave

February 25, 2011

Eureka Springs Cafe DowntownToday I was greeted with more lousy news from my school district.  I left the campus angrily and shut myself into my man cave/garage studio, and soon the bitterness subsided and the sublimity of painting flooded my being–a good trade.  I won’t go into the school crap–it’s not worth discussing.

While gazing at this sidewalk cafe setting (wishing I could enter the picture!), I listened to Voices and Visions documentaries on my TV/VCR and my soul was overwhelmed as I listened to the Ezra Pound saga–my word!  How did the man survive so many years of incarceration and continue to pour out his Cantos?  As I continued to listen, I was abruptly surprised to see that this painting is nearing . . . completion!  Wow, how did that happen?  30 x 22″ of watercolor nearly complete, and I thought I had a couple of weeks at least remaining before I could think of stopping.  I think the only areas that need more attention are the lower half of the cafe patrons, the foreground pavement textures, and . . . those umbrellas still don’t look right to me–perhaps more intense color?  I’ll linger on that one.

Tomorrow promises to be fabulous–a pretty day with temperatures rising.  I’ve decided to return to the Brazos River to fly fish for trout (about a two-hour drive west).  I’m taking my French easel and watercolor supplies along as well.  If all goes according to my wishes, by tomorrow night I’ll be posting a plein air watercolor of the Brazos River and the Highway 16 bridge near Possum Kingdom dam.  Hopefully there will be rainbow trout on the stringer and a painting in the box!

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you tomorrow.

A Close Second to a Parisian Sidewalk Cafe

February 24, 2011

Sidewalk Cafe Life at Eureka Springs

Texas temperatures are getting better–80 degrees and sunny today.  My garage has turned into an art studio/man cave for me, with a portable TV/VCR playing an assortment of tapes for my listening pleasure while I paint–lectures on Friedrich Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams to name just a few.  I feel myself entering this composition that I’ve tinkered with for several months now.  I can almost hear the voices around the table discussing poetry, philosophy, theology, books–all the artistic elements that keep us alive and alert.

This setting is in downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where it was my profound privilege to teach a week of plein air watercolor classes for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  It was my first time, and I have an application pending there now, hoping with all I have that there will be a class again this year.  My two favorite towns so far are Waxahachie, Texas and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for on-site watercoloring.  Both towns boast streets lined with Victorian architecture, flower beds, cute shops around the downtown district, and compositions for painting in any direction one looks.

This particular painting is huge by my standards–30 x 22″–and it involves elements that are outside my comfort zone–people and a myriad of details.  I have avoided genre painting for a number of years, realizing that there are countless artists “out there” who do it so exceedingly well.  But I recently read something from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau that convinced me to go for this: “There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject, as there is room for more light on the brightest day, and more rays will not interfere with the first.”  All I had to do was substitute “painting” for “book,” and I got his point.  My contribution to this genre of painting will in no way diminish what has been done by others, and yes, there is room in this world of art for me to contribute as well.  So . . . with that in mind, I was liberated to go after this composition.

Today was quite a full day–high school classes by day, a trip to the veterinarian this afternoon, and a college class tonight.  But there is still time to engage in the arts, and I so love returning to my studio, even when the day has been filled with “work.”  Thoreau said (I believe in Walden) “To effect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.”  That I must remember.  Though packed to the rim, today has nevertheless been “artful.”

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you again tomorrow . . .

Ghosts of Summers Past–Eureka Springs Watercolor Delight

February 22, 2011

Ghosts of Summers Past--Eureka Springs

I’m glad to return to the garage studio.  For any of you following my blog, I haven’t posted since the passing of Zeb Cash-Lane, simply because I haven’t painted since then.  I needed a little time after his passing to sort some things out.  Then my school district dropped its bomb.  I have been in training for over a year to begin teaching in the International Baccalaureate Diploma program.  You may have noted my watercolor blog posts from Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles while I was studying and attending classes in IB.  Last week the district canceled the program.  Texas public schools face a funding crisis, which has been the general law since 2005 (earlier than that, actually).  The decision left me in a state of rage, that I’ve had trouble laying aside.

Finally, I decided to pick up the brush again, and push the public school finance and politics behind me.  The more I painted yesterday and today, the further school receded from my thoughts.  The way I figure it, I only need another day or two to paint like nothing else happened.

This composition has burned in my retina since I spent a week in Eureka Springs, Arkansas last June.  I sincerely hope to return again this year.  The Victorian town is absolutely breathtaking in the summer sun, and I took dozens of photos similar to this.  I have a real compulsion now to work on some downtown scenes, particularly ones I can find with turn-of-the-century commercial buildings and their fading ghost signs towering above, muted against brightly-colored umbrella tables and modern signage below.  I still struggle with my rendering of people in watercolor, but I’ll never “get it” until I do it more.  So . . . there will be people in this one.  Right now I’m working on a ceramic chef standing outside the restaurant.  Hopefully I can get him to look right.  Then I’ll turn to the patrons at the bottom of the composition.

It’s good to be back in the garage studio.  The weather yesterday and today was heavenly, with bright sunshine and cool breezes blowing.  I was in the mood to push this painting for another hour or two, but heavy cloud cover has turned my outside world dark and gray.   I really hate to work with studio lights indoors, but I just may have to this evening.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see if I can make enough progress to blog further tomorrow.  I’m getting excited about the possibilities of this painting, possibly the largest I’ve attempted so far–about 30 x 22″.