Archive for the ‘fly fishing’ Category

Retreat

November 8, 2018

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Deep sigh . . . I have arrived.

I am not complaining about the level of industry I’ve sustained over the past months–truly, I love what I do, and am glad to be semi-retired so I have time to do it. But I have only so much physical energy, and know what it means to need a rest. And I need a rest. The Darrs, whom I love deeply, included me in their plans for this escape months ago, and the timing could not be better. I drove three-and-a-half hours today to get to this location, and it has been four years since my last stay here, but I believe it will be more than worth the wait.

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Four Years Ago

Tomorrow, I’ll find out if the fishing is still as good as it was then.  In that day, my fly rod got a workout as I fished a beautiful stretch of trout waters beneath a towering bluff. And today, while making the journey here,  I was ecstatic to see the fall colors peaking in this territory. In fact, I was so excited at the fall foliage that I dialed up Hobby Lobby on GPS and discovered there was one three miles ahead, just off the Interstate. I dashed in and scored a couple of full sheets of watercolor paper and a handful of stretchers. So I’m all set for plein air.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Morning Coffee Before the Escape

November 8, 2018

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Preparing more Collage Materials

. . . the might-have-been is but boggy ground to build on.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd

“The things we could have done together.”

Steve Jobs speaking to John Sculley near the close of the film Steve Jobs

Days have rolled by since my last post. I just finished a whirlwind of activity between my college classes, art gallery and art festivals. In addition, there was plenty of travel for business purposes. And I have had some meaningful visits and conversations with friends. The fall season is always busy for art. And, I experienced a profound loss as well during this space in time. Hence, the quotes above.

At the time of this writing, I am preparing to meet my last college class of the week, and then will leave for the wilderness for awhile. The vacation was planned long ago, and it includes my closest and steadiest friends over the past thirty years. In fact, they were the ones that made the cabin arrangements and invited me to join. I am glad the day has finally arrived. I need the rest. This could prove to be the fullness of time.

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My Favorite Trout Stream within Driving Distance

Years ago, on a chilly November morning, I pulled four 20-inch rainbow trout out of this stream. It was the best fishing I had known in years, and I haven’t returned, until today. I hope the re-visit will fill me with the same calm that I knew back then. Few things stir me more deeply than the sounds of a flowing trout stream beneath towering bluffs. Times like this call to memory a text I read long ago:

Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. 

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

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My Attempt to Paint that Scene

I have packed my supplies for watercolor as the fall colors are peaking at this location (hopefully I can do some plein air painting, though forecasts call for temperatures to dip into the thirties). I also have a number of collage ideas surging in my head, mostly of Jack Kerouac themes. Happily, I sold my recent Kerouac collage to genuine friends I have happily known for a number of years. And of course, a stack of books have been packed along as well, mostly Kerouac, Thoreau, Annie Dillard, and a few others. I intend to devote days to meaningful conversations with my close friends, reading, writing, painting, journaling and thinking. I don’t yet know if I will have Wi-fii access where I am. So, if I go quiet a few days, the readers will know I am off the grid, which is also good.

At this time, I also wish to offer my sincere “Congratulations” to the Historic Redlands Hotel for being awarded Best Renovation/Rehab/Restoration by the Texas Downtown Association! I still cannot believe I have been offered the most beautiful gallery space in this special building!  And now, I have been joined by the best roommates I could ever imagine: Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. I miss the “boys” already. “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” from 7-10:00 provides great company for me at my desk every weekday morning.

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 Redlands Hotel, Palestine, Texas

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Joined by the “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” Personalities

So, until next time . . . thanks for reading.

I make art, hoping to discover.

I journal, being mostly alone.

I blog to remind myself sometimes I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

Morning River Mystique

July 26, 2018

 

When the early morning light quietly grows above the mountains . . . We are too late for the gods and too early for Being. Being’s poem, just begun, is man.

To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

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View from Brookie Cabin

July 26, 2018

The fifty-two degree Colorado morning was a chilly one with all the cabin windows open and the mountain breezes coming through. I rose at 6:56, showered, made French press coffee (pinon blend tastes so delicious in the mountain air), and prepared a three-egg omelet with asparagus, red pepper, onion, bacon jerky and shredded mozzarella. At 7:56, with breakfast over, I stepped out onto the cabin deck to view the meadows separating my cabin from the stream. My eye was filled with delight, seeing that the grasses were artistically woven with contrasting strips of amber sunlight and teal green shadows.  Beyond them, the stream laughed gently. I pulled on waders, boots, gravel guards and belt, then joined together my four-piece fly rod, attached the reel, and threaded my line through the guides.

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Tying on a Parachute Adams dry fly and attaching 18” of tippet with a Micro Mayfly nymph, I picked up my net and shoulder bag and hiked my way to the stream below.

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I felt the serenity I know all-too-well from reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River, Part II.” I could just as well have been Nick, happily hiking along the stream, surveying the flow and listening to the birds that filled the trees and bushes along the trail. Carefully stepping among the slick rocks in the stream bed, I slowly made my way out to where the water was flowing along a narrow channel between boulders and a fallen tree. Stripping the line from my reel, I flicked the dry fly and trailing nymph out into the current and watched it glide by as I mended my line and took out the slack. There seems to be a calming Zen rhythm to fly casting, and it didn’t take long for me to feel that I had meshed with the flow of the stream.

After a dozen casts, the dry fly suddenly disappeared beneath the surface and I hauled back sharply on the rod. The heavy throb at the end of the line indicated that a trout was on. He fled to the tree, and I managed to pull him away. Next he darted downstream, and I turned him back. As he rocketed out of the water, the sun reflected off the golden sides of a 12” brown trout, a nice sturdy one. Several somersaults later, he finally drew close enough for me to slip the net under him. I wet my hands, removed the barbless hook from his jaw, photographed him lying next to my flyrod, then gently placed him back into the water and watched him dart into the depths and disappear.

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The story would repeat about fifteen more times, with some of the trout escaping after a brief flourish, and one heavy one breaking my line as I tried unsuccessfully to keep him out of the fallen tree that was damming up the stream. Unfortunately, I never got to see him, as he stayed deep and pulled violently on my line. No matter. All of today’s trout were released and I took only memories from the stream.

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Three hours later, I decided the morning was spent. Selecting a large boulder, I sat down and drew out of my small shoulder bag a slim volume of Pre-Socratic fragments that I love translating from their original language. Selecting perhaps the oldest fragment of Western thinking, I translated a line from Anaximander, a sixth-century BCE thinker from the island of Samos:

From where things have their origin, they must also pass away, according to necessity. for they pay penalty for their injustices, according to the ordinance of time.

There will be plenty to unpack from this ancient oracle, but this morning, one particular idea stood out—the necessity that whatever comes into being will pass into oblivion. At age sixty-four, I think of this much more now than I did twenty years ago. I am grateful that I have been given the gift of appearing on the world’s stage to do my performance and then exit, hoping that what I leave behind will be more good than bad.

Every time I am given this precious gift of standing in a mountain stream on a chilly, sun-splashed morning at an altitude surpassing 8,000 feet, my mind returns to the reading of A River Runs Through It. One of my favorite passages involves the Reverend Maclean seated in the woods after fly fishing, and translating from his Greek New Testament the Prologue to the Gospel of John. I did this last week while seated in a lovely library at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  For anyone not familiar with the New Testament text, I encourage you to meditate on it, particularly the first five verses. In A River Runs Through It, Reverend Maclean discusses with his elder son Norman the significance of the passage and how it can be related to the flowing mountain river and the eternal rocks beneath the surface. Every time I pause beside a mountain stream to read, or wade the channels in search of trout, I am struck by this thought of rocks from the basement of time lying quietly beneath the flowing, restless waters of the stream.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Thanks for reading. My time in Colorado surpasses words to describe.

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Drawing the Next Circle

July 24, 2017

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In the Gallery at Redlands, Palestine, Texas

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn, that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

Awakened at 5:30 this morning by a heavy rainstorm (love the sound of rain on a tin roof!), I rose refreshed, and by the time I finished showering, making breakfast and loading the Jeep for the 50-minute drive to the gallery, I was surprised to be at the desk by 8:00. My pump is primed, and I am ready to begin the next painting.

Emerson’s meditation on “Circles” has possessed me since 1992 when I was first introduced to it while at Oregon State University. The words resonate with me, because I seldom feel that I’ve been mired in a rut; there is always a new adventure to pursue, a new experience to savor.  When Jack Kerouac wrote that beyond the hills in the distance something wonderful is going to happen, I believe it was Ken Kesey who retorted, “It turns out there are just more hills.” I have met many with Kesey’s sentiment, but I am not one of them. In a short time I’ll be departing for my next road trip, and I’m excited beyond measure. Meanwhile, I have a commission to complete, so I’m getting down to the business of it. It’s a beautiful morning in Palestine, Texas for working on a painting.

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Last evening, between soggy rainstorms, I did manage to get in a little fly fishing in a private pond near the store where I reside in the country. I managed to land two largemouth bass and a pair of fat panfish. I returned them all, just enjoying the sport of fishing. I couldn’t imagine a better way to finish an evening. Last week in Louisiana, some of my best evenings were capped by fishing area lakes, and I’m still thinking fondly of those experiences.

Time to get to work . . . thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Call of the River

July 7, 2017

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Fly Fishing Big River Earlier this Week

At 2:51 this morning, I decided to rise from my bed with a bruising headache, take some Ibuprofen, and sit up to wait for the pain to subside.  Headaches for me are an extremely rare occurrence, but when they do arrive, there seems to be no dispatching them without medication and a period of time sitting upright.  As I wait, I suppose I’ll attempt this blog.

I have posted above a photo my friend Wayne White took of me during our first attempt at kayaking Big River–a comedy of errors involving my capsizing my own kayak more than once, and Wayne having some difficulty transporting supplies on a separate vessel. At this point, we decided to beach the yaks on a sandbar and spend some time fishing this beautiful stream of water.

The river still calls out to us, and I am supposed to rise at 6:30, in just a few short hours, to join Wayne again for another boating expedition.   Despite my current pain, I am eagerly looking forward to this event, as Wayne is going to take me to a bluff that I tried to render in a watercolor sketch last year from a photo he took and sent to me.  I look forward finally to seeing the bluff with my own eyes.

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Watercolor Sketch of Big River Bluff

Earlier today, I managed to work further on the Palestine Texas and Pacific #610 that I began a few days ago.  I am getting bogged down in the details of the locomotive and choose not to rush the process, as I still have a number of unanswered questions concerning the actual tones of this complex subject.

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Night Train

Fortunately, my headache has ceased. Time now to return to bed and hopefully get some quality sleep before rising to meet the river again.

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.

The Afterglow

April 10, 2017

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All I Needed this Morning was a Puppy to Hug

Just when I concluded that this Monday morning following my show couldn’t get any better, a sweet puppy trotted into the copier room at school. One of my colleagues was preparing to take him to the vet. I have had shih tzus in my past, and certainly miss their affectionate nature. This one was no exception. Having these moments to love him before walking into my first class was the ice cream on the cake. Thanks, Molly, for sharing him!

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Fishing Memories, coming out in limited editions for $100

I am very pleased to find my “Fishing Memories” watercolor now getting attention. This morning I have been approached by two friends asking for a limited edition giclee. This print will be the same size as the largest ones I’ve sold before (“Summer Morning in Sundance Square” and ” Fort Worth Cattle Drive”). Today I will place an order for the first four with the company that designs my limited editions. Thank you, Mark and Kathy, for your interest that got this started. I still believe this is the best watercolor I have done to date. My original is still available in its frame for $1200. These limited editions will be priced at $100.

I am feeling profound withdrawal. I knew I was going to miss the people in Palestine, Texas, but had no idea how profoundly I would miss them this soon. I have opportunity to return to that town for future work and I cannot wait for that to happen.

Again, thank you so much for all of you that took interest in my One-Man-Show, clearly one of the best experiences of my art career.

I paint in order to discover

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Musings on the Last Day of My Show

April 9, 2017

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Three Views of the Lobby of The Redlands Historic Inn

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Photo taken by Z Jary

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Selfie taken early this morning before opening, the last day

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Jean Mollard just added me to the historical brochure of The Redlands!

Waking this Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure how I felt. Closing out this three-week show this evening and heading back home flooded me with a sad feeling. Yet, being invited to take part in Palestine’s future cultural events bathed me with warmth and excitement, knowing I can now begin writing a new chapter to this life narrative. So, before I open The Gallery at Redlands for this day, I pause once more to thank everyone who contributed to the excitement and success of the last three weeks–to my friends who visited, my patrons, my new friends I’ve met in this community, my facebook and blogging friends who continually wrote in your support–so many well-wishers–I thank you from the depths. Above all, I thank Wade and Gail for your vision in opening this gallery space, as well as Jean and Mike for your warm friendship and hospitality in this remarkable Redlands Historic Inn. This 102-year-old Inn is a most remarkable environment for overnight or extended stays, and the Red Fire Grille on the ground floor offers a fine dining experience that still leaves me in awe. So, anyone reading this, check out www.RedlandsHistoricInn.com, look at the photos of their spectacular rooms, pack your bags, and move in!  This historic facility and its owners are first-rate. I had friends come out and book suites the past two weekends, and they are still buzzing about the experience of staying here. I too had the privilege of living here the past three weekends and am going to miss the place sorely when I move out today.

Someone who was bound to know what he was talking about, Albrecht Dürer, did after all make the well-known remark: “For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” “Wrest” here means to draw out the rift and to draw the design with the drawing-pen on the drawing-board. But we at once raise the counterquestion: how can the rift-design be drawn out if it is not brought into the Open by the creative sketch as a rift, which is to say, brought out beforehand as a conflict of measure and unmeasure? True, there lies hidden in nature a rift-design, a measure and a boundary and, tied to it, a capacity for bringing forth–that is, art. But it is equally certain that this art hidden in nature becomes manifest only through the work, because it lies originally in the work.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

Over breakfast this morning, I reread portions of Heidegger’s essay that always intrigues me. Next week I will engage in plein air painting as Paint Historic Waxahachie is already under way for those of us who registered early. These words from Heidegger and Dürer will linger with me as I set up my portable easel, fix my eye on a subject, and begin dragging my pencil across the white rectangular surface of stretched watercolor paper, searching out the rift, the boundary, the divisions. I recall Robert Motherwell saying that drawing was the organization of space. I like that perspective. The compositional issues playing out on the white rectangle of space, the abyss, as I organize graphite lines and colored pigments always thrills me when I am outdoors attempting to capture a slice of the scene playing out before me. I got to do some of that inside this gallery the past two weekends as I painted something I could see out the window.

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Is it still plein-air when you are standing indoors?!

Next week, I will be outside giving this another try.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Unwinding After a Spectacular Weekend

April 8, 2017

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The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

I have hung the painting above, titled “Finding the Seam” in place of the “Fort Worth Cattle Drive” which just went home with its new owner. The fly fishing painting was copied from a photo of me fishing the South Fork of the Rio Grande several years back. I have it listed at $800 framed. I’m happy that it fits the gap just fine that was left by the cattle drive composition.

I am keeping the Gallery at Redlands open till 9:00 p.m., since restaurant patrons are still drifting in and out. But now I finally have some time to read Emerson and reflect over a perfect day. The Emerson quote has come alive for me in the quiet of the evening as the hotel finally grows quiet following a day of high activity. Patrons kept me busy and talking almost the entire day, and sales have kept us all happy. This one-man-show has gone far beyond my highest expectations, and one day remains. A part of me is sad to see it come to a close, but another part of me is bone-tired and could use some rest. For three weekends now, I have felt this pull between the traffic of gallery patrons and the quiet in the recesses of my soul where I contemplate the next painting.

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Elena, Courtney, Morgan and Rachael

One of the highlights of my show featured my teaching colleague, Rachael Peterson, bringing three of my Advanced Placement Art History students all the way out here from Arlington. What a joy to see them outside our everyday school complex. The girls fell in love with Palestine, its businesses and its people. Thank you, girls, for coming out and making this even more fun. You truly are a treasure, and I’m still smiling at every memory of you.

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Photo by Z Jary

Yesterday I was visited by a pair of artistic friends, Elaine and Z Jary. Elaine is a watercolorist and Z a photographer. Z patiently photographed me repeatedly, inside and outside the gallery, and was kind enough to send me a fistful of photos online. I have selected this one to put up. Z Jary, thank you, I am amazed at your photographic eye.

I will definitely sleep tonight. I was in the gallery before eight this morning, and am now closing it thirteen hours later. But the day has been precious and I appreciate every conversation and every encouraging word I encountered today.

Thank you for reading.

 I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thoughts Gathering in the Late Night

April 4, 2017

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Fishing Memories–$1200 framed

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To speak of these things and to try to understand their nature and, having understood it, to try slowly and humbly and constantly to express, to press out again, from the gross earth or what it brings forth, from sound and shape and colour which are the prison gates of our soul, an image of the beauty we have come to understand–that is art.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I would be lying if I were to call this an inspiring day–after a full day in school, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening gathering data, crunching numbers and doing all those things related to the business side of art.  I would always rather squint into the surface of a watercolor composition than between the lines of a spreadsheet.

Now that the hour has drawn late and I still haven’t found sleep, I thought I would reward myself by returning to some James Joyce texts. I’m more than halfway through Ulysses, and reading that has been an uneven experience.  Tonight’s reading was rather opaque, so finally I put the volume down and picked up his Portrait to re-read some of the portions I’ve highlighted from earlier readings. The one I quoted above is one of my favorites as the protragonist of the story thoughtfully articulates his theory of the art making enterprise. I find a close similarity between Joyce, Emerson and Heidegger as they describe the origin of art as springing from a struggle between the person and the natural world. In the days ahead, I hope I can spend more time working on the ideas of these three intriguing writers and see if I can explore further what they sought to expound.

But I believe I should retire to bed so that I may have some kind of a pulse when I face my classes yet again tomorrow.

The image I’ve posted above is one of my favorite watercolors that I worked on during winter months two or three years ago. It is my largest painting still in my collection and offered up for sale in the show at The Gallery at Redlands which closes Sunday.

Thanks for reading . . .

Silence

March 11, 2017

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Elected Silence, sing to me

And beat upon my whorlèd ear,

Pipe me to pastures still and be 

The music that I care to hear.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Habit of Perfection”

One of my precious friends, Dian Dar, a retired English teacher, recently shared with me poetry from Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the timing was sublime. Spring Break has arrived, and I slept in soundly this Saturday morning, waking to a dark and rainy day.  The watercolor above I have just delivered to the Texas Friends and Neighbors Regional Art Exhibit to open in Irving, Texas April 29.  About half of the remaining 75 pieces had already been submitted and I was able to peruse the gallery and see them up close.  The show is a very strong one, and I am honored and humbled to be included. This evening I plan to attend the gallery talk given by the juror and view the slide show that has been assembled of all the works. I’m sorry to wait a month and a half for the exhibit to open.

Spring Break has arrived and I certainly need the rest.  Today has been burned up by delivering art work and catching up on all my college grading that was a week old.  I still have week-old high school stuff to grade as well, but I guess it can wait another day or two. Strangely, I’m not in the mood to paint today though my heart is filled with artistic aspiration, strange as that may sound.  I have been more inclined to read, and especially to spend time lingering over poetry.  Hopkins certainly has not disappointed me on this gray day.  He and Paul Tillich have filled my weary soul with ideas that are uplifting and satisfying.

I devoted some considerable time to staring at this painting before delivering it, because I won’t have it around for viewing for quite a long time.  That is the downside of exhibits–it’s nice to know others are looking at my work, but I do miss some of the images when they are no longer on my living room wall.  I still remember the hours spent in the garage (man cave) studio when I worked on this one.  And I recall the thrill of finding the creel in a Missouri antique store, of my good friends and fly fishing buddies lending me the antique fly box to open and include in the show, of the bamboo fly rod given me by an equine instructor in Colorado whose father had it custom made for him when he was a teeanger.  The hat has spent years on my head, and I took delight in baptizing it in the Atlantic, Pacific, Aegean and Adriatic waters.  The chair I found in a Missouri antique store. This picture just overflows in personal memories, and I was attached to it ever since I saw it taking shape beneath my brush.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.