Archive for the ‘Fort Worth’ Category

Thoughts in the Morning over Sketching

March 22, 2022

When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back. How do we fill the well?

We feed it images. Art is an artist-brain pursuit. The artist brain is our image brain, home and haven to our best creative impulses.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

This morning over coffee marked my second consecutive day of practicing Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. The clearing out of debris proved fruitful. It seems that for me, every morning requires an exorcism, a casting out of negative sentiments. I hate waking up with them. I hate the feeling of dread. I hate the feeling of inadequacy. So every morning I’m proactive in getting rid of the trash in my mind. Coffee, reading, thinking, journaling, and now Morning Pages–all these work together in convincing me that I can face this day and transcend anything negative that shows its ugly countenance. I truly have a ritual I follow every morning, and feel it is a healthy one.

I loved reading this morning the passage about refilling the reservoir with images for the artist. A couple of weeks ago, while traveling with our Dogwood Arts Council President Greg Gunnels to a radio interview, we stopped in Jacksonville because I saw this magnificent old wagon at a business. I photographed it from every angle, and began sketching it yesterday morning, then continued some more this morning. I’m interested in doing a watercolor study of this one to add to the family of covered wagon paintings begun recently.

With Spring Break ending, the college schedule is now pounding away at me, and, like the students, I am already anticipating the end of the semester so we can all resume our normal daily practices. A couple of April events that excite me include a Spring Exhibit and Artscape 2022.

The Spring Exhibit is sponsored by The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Upstairs Gallery, located at Barons Creek Wine Room, 115 E. Bridge St., Granbury, Texas 76048. Five of my watercolors will hang in the exhibit that will open with a reception Saturday, April 9 from 4-7 p.m. I’m looking forward to the reception and hope to meet you there.

Artscape 2022 will be held at the Dallas Arboretum April 30 and May 1. I am happy to be in a corner booth once again, and look forward to that festival which will run 10-5:00 both days. Large crowds attend this event, and I will be showcasing my latest work, including the watercolor of the Fort Worth Scatt Jazz Lounge selected for the cover of the next issue of The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Magazine.

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.

Continuation of Painting and Gallery Preparations

February 25, 2021
Fort Worth Tower 55 in the Mist 16 x 20″ framed $500

Artists and writers who choose to live in a city are always living in two cities at once. Even as they are walking the streets of this particular place, they are also moving through a city of the imagination. And they may be so exhilarated by the overlap of these two cities, but the sense that the imagination is fortified by the facts, that they are hard put to disentangle the two.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

Working in Studio Eidolons this morning, I am loving the vibe I feel from The Twelve as we draw closer to our Opening Reception at The Gallery at Redlands, March 20 at 7 p.m. Each of us works out of our own particular city: Rolla and Bonne Terre in Missouri, along with the Texas cities: Amarillo, Arlington, Bedford and Fort Worth. each in our own special studio, our own atelier of visions and dreams. But all of us anticipate with enthusiasm the day we finally gather in Palestine, Texas, an historic railroad town with a beautifully restored Redlands Hotel established in 1915. The Dogwood Festival will kick off its three-week event on the day we gather, Saturday March 20. Booths will fill the streets downtown and people will be everywhere throughout the day and night.

I finally finished and framed my second railroad painting of Fort Worth’s Tower 55, this time in a misty environment. I got the idea while reading New Art City: “With Hofmann, each angle, each splatter, each color was a spark tossed off by life’s wild unpredictability.” In my mind’s eye, I envisioned the angles of Fort Worth’s rails at the interlockers adjacent to Tower 55. I decided I wanted to spatter ink and watercolor around the masqued rails, then add salt and stale bread crumbs to see how the colors would break up. Stripping away the masquing, I then refined the globs with a ruler, using sharpened graphite pencils, colored pencils, and a Micron tech pen. I also wanted to create a misty environment and worked carefully to dilute the pigments, occasionally using QTips to scrub away colors that were too dark or too intense.

I have decided to include this new watercolor with three other of my pieces when our show opens. The Gallery will look different to me, with only four paintings among the collection, but I’m thrilled now to show diversity in our space. Hopefully now there will be something for everyone when patrons enter The Gallery at Redlands to shop.

Painted looking out the Window of The Gallery at Redlands when we opened March 2017

I have decided that as soon as possible I will create another watercolor looking out the window of our Gallery at the Chamber of Commerce building and the Union Pacific railyards on the other side of Spring Street. This watercolor sold quickly. I followed with another and it sold as well. I hope soon to have another one on hand in the Gallery.

We are thrilled at the prospects of the Dogwood Festival and our Artists Reception in March. We hope you will come help us celebrate the event.

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.

Hans Hofmann Speaks to The Twelve

February 21, 2021
cover of New Art City
Studio Eidolons. New Work Beginning

. . . he spoke of a yearning for freedom and intensity of expression, of an individualism that transcends humdrum events and aims for the experiences that are most intense, most essential.

Jed Perl, writing of Hans Hofmann in New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

As Sandi and I prepare for the opening of The Twelve at Gallery at Redlands March 20, I am personally drawing much inspiration from Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who was quite the art teacher as well as gallery artist while mid-town Manhattan was preparing to become the new art capital of the world in the 1940s-1950s. For years I have studied the contributions of Motherwell, Pollock, Rothko and DeKooning, but only regarded Hofmann as a footnote, till now. The Abstract Expressionists, also dubbed The New York School, were a highly diverse collection of artitsts who took New York City by storm.

We, The Twelve, are for the most part middle-aged-to senior in our years, and therefore more sober-minded about the effects our art will have on Palestine and East Texas. That is not the reason we are coming here. Our dream is to open a gallery space of diversity, to offer a broad selection of art to appeal to a broader range of people than my watercolors have sought to do in the past. Yes, there will still be watercolors, but we’re adding oil and acrylic on canvas work, along with pastel art, photography, pottery and sculpture. We anticipate that on the night of March 20, we will open our doors to a reception much broader than offered before.

Pictorial life is not imitated life; it is, on the contrary, a created ability based on the inherent life within every medium of expression. We have only to awaken it..

Hans Hofmann

We, The Twelve, have at least one thing in common–we are Awake. Art has been our nurturing force for years, but more recently during this Covid crisis, we have been confined to our studio spaces with more time to reflect on what we wish to do once the public is again within reach. Solitude in the studio has given all of us sacred, quality time for reflection and experimentation in our respective artistic media.

The life of an artist awakened within the dimensions of the sheet of paper was all mixed up with the awakening of mid-century New York. And Hofmann’s genius had everything to do with pushing artists to go into the studio and find, there, the world outside.

Jed Perl, New Art City

And so we, The Twelve, as we awaken to new life within our spaces, hope to awaken a slumbering world to greater possibilities. May we all emerge to find a world even better than the one we were separated from before.

New watercolor of Fort Worth Tower 55 underway . . .

Work in Studio Eidolons is still progressing, though co-mingled with new gallery business and preparations. Soon I hope to share biographical sketches of the rest of the Twelve between now and when we hold our Meet the Artists reception March 20.

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.

Fort Worth Flatiron Painting Completed

November 5, 2020

I will have more to say about this painting in a future blog. I completed it last week but have been busy with a number of work-related errands.

Thanks for looking!

Serene Thoughts in the Morning

October 29, 2020
Morning Bliss–Coffee, a good book and positive thoughts

My morning ritual sets the tone for the day. I seldom go into the studio until I’ve had an hour or more over coffee, books and journal in our living room reading space. This morning I’m savoring Cowboy Coffee and re-reading portions of a biography I read and relished last year, David Michaelis’s N. C. Wyeth: A Biography. I have always been inspired by the details of his life fulfilling the wishes of publishing houses, magazines and advertising agencies. His drive continues to inspire me. He was also a lover of fine literature and his frequent references to Thoreau resonate with me. The year 2020 has been absolutely horrific on many levels. Yet in the comfortable isolation of my home and studio I have been fortunate to complete nine commission paintings and have a tenth waiting in the wings. As Thanksgiving approaches, I will be offering up my heart-felt sentiments for the gifts I’ve received during this dark era.

I also have a volume of the complete letters of N. C. I’m not sure if I will ever finish this one, as it is even thicker than the biography. We have lost the art of letter writing, I fear, with the advent of email and text messaging. I’m quoting from a letter he wrote to son Andrew near the end of his life:

The week has been, to me, a singular mixture of ineffable sadness and inspiration–two moods that often happen together. But there is a persistent melancholy which I seem unable to shake off.

To circumvent these feelings I have devoted most of my spare time to reading, especially at night when sleep eludes me.–Thoreau, Goethe, Emerson, Tolstoy–all have struck me, as always, with incisive vitality and freshness. My ruminations have again been vividly stirred.

These great men forever radiate a sharp sense of that profound requirement of the artist, to fully understand that consequences of what he creates are unimportant. “Let the motive for action be in the action itself and not in the event.”

I know from my own experience that when I create with any degree of strength and beauty I have had no thought of consequences. Anyone who creates for effect–to score a hit–does not know what he is missing!

N. C.’s letters are worthy of publication, he was such a master of the word and style. I feel the fervent beating of his heart when I read the words he penned to his family members throughout his life. And it bothers me, realizing that I write such few letters to my own friends and loved ones.

Maybe I’ll finish this one today?

I’m just about ready to enter the studio, a sacred space for me. When coffee, book and writing time are completed, I rise from this reading space with a glad heart and stroll across the living room to enter what used to be a master bedroom, now my cherished creative space that I’ve christened Studio Eidolons. Opening the blinds to the morning light is about to get much better–we’re replacing these 40-year old foggy windows with new ones. Once that occurs, I have pledged to stare out those windows and devote quality time to painting the beautiful trees in our front yard along with the view down the street of our quiet neighborhood.

I just may be able to wrap up this painting today. All I have left are details on the flatiron itself. I cannot believe how many bas-relief sculptures and decorative details cover its exterior. My friends who grew up in Fort Worth tell me of their days strolling past this building on their way to the public library. For years I have enjoyed hearing their memories of this city from long ago. I’m drinking my coffee this morning from the commemorative centennial mug of Leonard’s Department Store (1918-2018) where my friends used to go when they were children.

Outside remains cold and dark, but inside I feel the warmth of friendship and good memories. I’m ready to pick up the brush and resume work on the flatiron.

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.

Nearing Completion of the Fort Worth Flatiron

October 28, 2020

Blogging. That is so 2002!

Facebook post from Lubbock, Texas, October 28, 2020

A Facebook post was shown me this morning that still has me laughing. Lubbock is covered in snow and ice, the overpasses have been closed by the police, yet bloggers have flocked to the opening of a new H-E-B store. A friend of Sandi’s recorded the note above in response to those who hazarded their morning drive so they could blog about the new grocery store.

Blogging was around many years before I took the plunge, and I will never regret going this route. I enjoy throwing portions of my diary out into the blogosphere on days when I am so inclined.

Arlington, Texas has been dark and rainy all day with temperatures hovering around the upper thirties, a perfect day for coffee, books and watercoloring. I took advantage of the quiet and as a result nearly have this watercolor finished. I am posting it for viewers to enjoy, and always, I enjoy the posted responses.

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.

Looking for the Parking Lot

October 25, 2020
In bed, Looking for the Parking Lot

You can’t cut yourself off from the mystical or you’ll be-you’ll remain-completely lost. You have to see these things as expressions of God’s will. You don’t have to like it, of course. . . . things aren’t so bad. Look at the parking lot, Larry. Just look at that parking lot.

“A Serious Man”

I awoke this Sunday morning recalling the hilarious lines from the Coen brothers’ movie “A Serious Man.” The film’s protagonist went to a junior rabbi to pour out the details of his life in shambles. In thoughtful response, the young rabbi discussed the importance of hashem, a term popular in Judaism that refers to the ineffability of God’s personal name. As the rabbi became more animated, discussing the thrill of experiencing the divine, he pointed out the window to the parking lot as an example of finding God in the mundane.

Since early childhood my life has been consumed by that romantic notion of the divine in daily experience. I have loved literary references to it, from Emerson’s “transcendent eyeball” to Kerouac’s “It.” And so, waking this morning tired from yesterday’s eight-hour session bent over the drafting table working on the large watercolor of the Fort Worth flatiron building, I stayed in bed with coffee for a long stretch, reading for inspiration. I needed some kind of a jolt before returning to the studio because frankly, I was still fatigued from yesterday and not really in the mood to continue work with such concentrated intensity. Poring over a stack of books in bed, I continued to read, looking for the parking lot.

I found the parking lot while reading A Writer’s Eye: Field Notes and Watercolors by Paul Horgan. As I read, I thought of the work of Eugene Delacroix, Paul Gauguin, Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman–artists who found a creative way to blend their disciplines of writing and making art. I entered the studio, determined to mix painting and writing throughout the day. Hence, another blog post.

Studio Eidolons
Focus on the Details

I have reached a stage with the painting that I have to lay the brush down and pick up pencil, ruler and templates to resume drawing. The flatiron building is covered in bas-relief sculpture and decorative embellishments. My eyes glaze over at the abundance of details, and I have to block out ninety percent of the building’s surface to work on one tiny section at a time. Yesterday’s eight-hour session yielded very little change in surface area and I marveled at how long I could work on something, and a viewer entering the room would not be able to see the difference between where the painting stood today versus yesterday.

Baby Paddington (2 months old), Napping beneath my Drafting Table

Yesterday, Paddington slept for hours under my table as I worked. I was so grateful to be in the company of such a low-maintenance living being!

At one point of the day, while waiting for an applied wash of watercolor to dry, I walked away from the drafting table, and my eye lighted on the cover of my high school yearbook, sophomore year, fifty years ago. Opening the book out of curiosity, I wondered if there were pictures of me besides class photo. Surprisingly I found two art room photos I had completely forgotten about over the decades. So there I was, focused on a detailed subject with patience, even in adolescent days! Fifty years. Wow.

Here I am, fifty years ago
1970 Yearbook, my sophomore year in high school

So, here is the work as it stands now. I’ve spent the entire Sunday morning working on the north end of the building, drawing in the sculptures and decorative elements as well as framing in more portals. The work is proceeding very slowly, but deliberately. At this rate, I intend to finish this in about a week to reach the deadline.

At this Stage, Much more Tedious Drawing than Painting

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.

Shifting Gears

October 20, 2020

Life belongs not to those who know, but those who discover.

Le Corbusier

Sleeping only from 3 a.m. till 8 dictated a change in today’s routine. Sandi lovingly brought coffee to me while I propped up in bed to read and enjoy the snuggling pups.

Letting the Sleeping Dogs Lie

Reaching for my volume of Robert Motherwell’s Collected Writings next to the bed, I found real gold in the following interview:

The subject does not pre-exist. It emerges out of the interaction between the artist and the medium. That is why, and only how a picture can be creative, and why its conclusions cannot be predetermined.

Since Motherwell painted non-objective canvases, I could see the relevance of this remark to his paintings. However, I came to the conclusion that the same is true with my own work. For instance, I had pre-conceived ideas of how this Fort Worth flatiron was going to be presented in this picture, yet already I have made three major changes based on the way the painting was emerging. It was as though the painting had a mind of its own. I know that writers often talk about how their plots and characters change from the original plans drafted, as though the story was taking on a life of its own.

I need to return to the Martin Heidegger essay The Origin of the Work of Art. Motherwell’s statement above reminds me of Heidegger speaking of the artistic endeavor being a clash between world and earth, “world” being the artist’s visions and “earth” being the subject approached for the project. Out of the clash between the two, a work of art emerges that contains elements from both sides.

After several cups of coffee and excellent reading from Motherwell, I felt enough energy gathering to enter Studio Eidolons and figure out what to do next on this painting. Since I have spent many days tediously working on the exacting details of the architecture, I decided today would be nice to break out and try to paint surrounding trees with a flourish. The change of pace is certainly welcome, although I admit that my brush is not on automatic pilot when I work on foliage; I have to study the phenomen of trees just as carefully as the nuances of architecture. The network of light and shadow and the shift from positive to negative space in the clusters of leaves, along with the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors is taking me to an entirely different approach to watercolor. I welcome the change from what I’ve known for days, but still find myself very tentative as I seek to discover the “essence” of these trees framing the composition. Foliage brings an entirely different set of disciplines than the geometry of buildings.

Though I’m more tired now than usual, the day is turning out to be lovely all the same. For that I am grateful; another splendid day in the studio.

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.

Sunday Morning Eudaimonia in Studio Eidolons

October 18, 2020

. . . the artist like a true creator is delving into chaos. It is precisely this that makes him an artist, for the Creator in creating the world began with the same material–for the artist tried to wrest truth from the void.

Barnett Newman, “The Plasmic Image”

Working in Studio Eidolons

The loveliness of the Sunday Morning Solitude began early as I continued reading from the collected writings of Abstract Expressionist artist Barnett Newman. The quote above seized me as do all allusions to the Creator God making humanity in his own image (I believe the imago Dei is that creative eros that stirs in the souls of all people).

Thinking of Newman’s words as I resumed work on the Fort Worth flatiron, I realized that there will be some who admire my watercolors and say affirming things about my ability as an artist. I always appreciate that, but honestly, as I gaze upon the majesty of this 1907 building, I marvel more at the spirit of the architect who first envisoned this form, translated it onto the surface of paper, and eventually a team constructed this marvel. Out of the void, this magnificent building emerged. And now, over a century later, I humbly seek to record a two-dimensional impression of it back onto paper once again.

Emerson’s rhapsody from “The American Scholar” is worth repeating here:

The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him life; it went out from him truth. It came to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal thoughts. It came to him business; it went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires.  Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Sleeping Pups at my Feet

The quiet company of our dogs has been a comfort this morning as well. Coffee in the living room usually draws them beneath the table to slumber while I continue to enjoy the musings of Newman.

I have embedded the word “eudaimonia” in the title of this blog. The Greek word, I believe, is best translated “spirit of well-being.” The prefix “eu” is “good” and the root “daimonia” is “demon”. Before the New Testament shaded the sense of the demonic, the word referred to that artistic spirit or creative eros that fills a human with the finest ideas and the compulsion to express them. I have come to embrace that word in my daily life, hoping to carve out an artful life while sojourning on this planet.

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.