Archive for the ‘Fort Worth’ Category

Morning Coffee with Dave & Martin

August 29, 2018

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To be old means: to stop in time at

          that place where the unique

          thought of a thought train has

          swung into its joint.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

My morning watch was filled with the warmth of Heidegger’s poem “The Thinker as Poet.” Over the past two years, I have taken that piece with me to the Colorado mountains and read it again and again, letting the words wash over my soul. I love having the quality time for thinking that has been provided me in this life of semi-retirement. I spent the best part of today with “Z”, a Czech friend I have only known a few years, and don’t seem to spend enough time with in conversation. Today, over coffee, we had a genuine heart-to-heart about this deep-seated joy we know when ideas come in our quiet, reflective hours. Z shared with me some of his own writings of late, and I hope to God he finds a way to publish his work. The world needs more good meditations to read and ponder.

In our conversations today, we mused about how we find ourselves during our senior years organizing our ideas into clusters, and how satisfying it is when a particular idea finds its place in our scheme, when the idea finally joins the train and swings “into its joint.” This metaphor from Heidegger has been a card I’ve enjoyed playing of late.

I believe I have finally finished the commission that I began earlier this summer. I was hoping to have it complete by the beginning of school. It just took a little longer.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint because it helps me to think.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog knowing that I am not alone.

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Morning Coffee with Dave and Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 28, 2018

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Reading Emerson’s “Experience” Essay this Morning

Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars, is a musical perfection, the Ideal journeying always with us, the heaven without rent or seam. Do but observe the mode of our illumination. When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. By persisting to read or to think, this region gives further sign of itself, as it were in flashes of light, in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose, as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals, and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains, with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base, whereon flocks graze, and shepherds pipe and dance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Years ago, while in the pastoral ministry, I set aside time in the mornings, when the mind is freshest, and lingered for as long as my schedule would allow, studying the Bible, pondering its message, hoping to draw insight for the day and for life in general. When I learned the languages in later years, I spent countless hours translating the scriptures and seeking application for daily living. When the pastoral ministry ended, and a teaching career commenced, the practice continued, but the reading was broader. Now, semi-retired, the custom is still with me, and I rejoice that I am not having to write a sermon or a lecture, but can merely scribble notations in my daily journal and seek some guiding thought for the day.

Emerson’s description of such meditation is far more eloquent than I have ever been able to put into words. I share that faith of his, that beneath jumble of life’s details are harmonizing forces that sustain the world. And I love his description of drawing close to that source of wisdom, how the message dawns slowly as though clouds were withdrawing from the source of light. What I love about reading is that shared communion, the reader drawing close to the writer and feeling that warmth of wisdom as well as experiencing a glow of illumination. Emerson has been one of my many guiding forces since I entered the teaching realm in the mid-1980’s.

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Working to Finish this Commission

Today is a special day also because I found some space in my day to pick up the brush and resume work on this piece that I began in the heat of the summer. I’m moving more slowly now as I decide what to do in adding further detail, as well as deciding what to leave alone.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Joseph

August 17, 2018

jmw turner

Turner had already learnt that part of the job of the artist is to improve on the actual view as it is reimagined on paper.

Franny Moyle, Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

Reading the Joseph Mallord William Turner biography this morning over coffee yielded several of those Ah-Ha! moments for me, especially the quote posted above. I have to face the reality as a musician as well as an artist that I am often bound tightly by my subject matter. As a guitarist, I am often “page-bound”, unwilling to allow spontaneous flourishes into my music because I am focused on the notations in the book before me. I can also be “recording-bound” if I am trying too hard to copy a particular guitarist’s riffs on the song I am playing instead of trusting my own inner voice. I must learn to let the music flow within me and respond to what I hear internally.

The same goes for painting. Whether I am working en plein air or from a reference photo, I often find myself sticking strictly with the subject before me instead of trusting my “inner eye” to edit a composition on the paper before me and create a quality painting rather than a strict copy of the subject I am viewing. I needed this word from the Turner reading to remind me that this is my composition, and as the artist, the prerogative is mine to put in what I wish and leave out what I choose.

And so, returning to a commission that has held my attention for several weeks, I made the conscious decision today to excise certain details and furnishings in the original photo that I believe bring unnecessary clutter to the composition before me. I am happy that this painting is taking on a “clean” look rather than the typical urban look with its assortment of trash cans, signs, gutters and lamp posts. I learned long ago that I have the ability to render these extraneous objects. But are they necessary in this particular painting? I have decided they are not.

Santa Fe depot

Should be completed in a matter of days . . .

Another Ah-Ha! moment from the Turner reading this morning came from remarks delivered by Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy of which the young Turner was a member. In one of  the president’s discourses, he urged that “invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory.” This reminded me of Emerson’s line from “Experience”–

The history of literature . . . is a sum of very few ideas, and of very few original tales,–all the rest being variation of these.

Years ago, I gave up trying to be original and innovative. I have come to embrace the reality that “I am a part of all that I have met” (I lifted this from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”). Being an artist involves sifting and sorting among all the tricks and gimmicks we have collected over the years with hopes of finding a decent recipe for combining those elements. Yesterday, while listening to the Ken Burns documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright, a commentator, in discussing Wright’s early work at the drafting table, said that he was “developing his grammar.” I like the sound of that! In my senior years as an artist, I suppose I am still trying to develop my grammar.

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Reading Turner made me feel that I’d returned to graduate school

And finally, the Turner biography discussed Edmund Burke’s notion of the “sublime” which played a role in the changing aesthetics within the Royal Academy by the time Turner studied there. In his pivotal work A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Burke attacked the classical notion of his day that assumed the most important part of a work of art was its clarity and clean definition.  I turned to The Encyclopedia of Philosophy for further discussion of  Burke’s ideas:

What is greatest and noblest is the infinite, and that the infinite, having no bounds, cannot be clean and distinct. He argued that the imagination, moreover, is most strongly affected by what is suggested or hinted at and not by what is plainly stated.

Reading those words reminded me of the advice given by the late Andrew Wyeth–the strength of a composition lays not in what you put into the picture, but what you leave out. A judge at one of my competitions years ago told me that she had a particular eye on the drawings and paintings that left “space” in the picture plane that invited the viewer in to complete the narrative. I’ll never forget that piece of advice. And so, in future watercolor endeavors, I will be exploring this idea of leaving certain areas of the composition undeveloped while choosing to detail other parts. I’m interested in seeing where this is going to lead.

This morning has been an enriching one. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

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Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

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“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.

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Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Open House at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater Sunday Afternoon

July 18, 2015
Fort Worth Cattle Drive

Fort Worth Cattle Drive

A man’s life should be as fresh as a river. It should be the same channel, but a new water every instant. Some men have no inclination; they have no rapids nor cascades, but marshes, and alligators, and miasma instead.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, March 25, 1842

The more I read from this young man’s journals, dating prior to his stay at Walden Pond, the more astonished I am at his profound wisdom. He was only twenty-five when he wrote these words. For years, I have thought of bodies of water as metaphors for lifestyle characteristics. I love the statement above, because it attaches nicely to Thoreau’s Walden discussion of how he bathed every morning in Walden Pond, regarding it as a religious ritual as he followed the dictum of Confucius, to renew himself every day.

Today, I awoke with the feeling that I may not get to enter the studio at all. I have a show tomorrow afternoon at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater, an Open House from 2:00-4:00. Today will be spent pulling together my inventory and preparing the necessary images, labels, signage, etc. that goes with my display, as well as packing and loading all the freight into the Jeep before I pull away in the morning. It tends to be an arduous, time-consuming affair. Still, there are worse fates. Thinking again of Thoreau’s line, I’m just happy to know I am not awaking today to doldrums, boredom, listlessness or frustration. I have a task to perform, it is art-related, and therefore I feel refreshed.

Here is a link to tomorrow’s Open House: http://stagewest.org/made-music-arts-drinks-eats

The image above I just picked up from the printers yesterday as a limited edition, signed and numbered giclee print. I have the first four available to take to the show. They measure 18 x 24″ and sell unframed for $100. They are shrinkwrapped and mounted on a foam core backing.

I am also bringing out this “Summer Morning on Sundance Square” for the second time, same size, same price:

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

This limited edition of the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd. has just been renewed. I have four of these I’ll be bringing to the show. Same size and price:

Ridglea Theater

Ridglea Theater

Since this is a Fort Worth venue, and it’s only open for two hours, I may as well pull out all my Fort Worth images. I’ll also have this one available, for $75 unframed, shrinkwrapped and mounted on foam core. It is the restored Sinclair station on McCart Ave.

McCart Sinclair

McCart Sinclair

I have the historic Flatiron building from downtown ready to go as well. 18 x 24″ and $100 unframed:

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

St. Ignatius Academy, just south of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, downtown Fort Worth will also be there in a limited edition:

Saint Ignatius Academy

Saint Ignatius Academy

And finally, the Poly theater on Vaughn Blvd (two separate editions):

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Vaughn Blvd Relic

Vaughn Blvd Relic

There is still much to do. As much as I hate to leave the studio, I’m glad to be participating in an art event.

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.

 

Soothing Rains for the Fatigue

November 22, 2014
Posing with Godiva at Christmas in the Village

Posing with Godiva at Christmas in the Village

This Saturday has been a day filled with wonder.  I was invited to attend “Christmas in the Village” at Breckenridge Village in Tyler, Texas.  My artist-friend Bubba Norris, a resident of the Village, displays his art there, and this year I got to sit with him in his booth and watch him make original art.  Sometimes I get more of a thrill watching someone else labor over his/her creation than I do my own.  This day was no exception.  The unexpected bonus was learning that Bubba played in a handbell choir and I got to attend their afternoon recital.  This was my second year to attend “Christmas in the Village” and I was saddened to learn that Clyde, the camel that I posed with for pictures, died since last year.  He was 28.  He was replaced by Godiva, and I found her to be just as cuddly.

Watercolor Sketch of the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth--$100

Watercolor Sketch of the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth–$100

Following the event-filled day at Breckenridge, I found myself exhausted by evening but was delighted to sit quietly with friends.  Three of us experimented with watercolor sketching, and I found the company very affirming.  I did this quick sketch of the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth, about 8 x 10″ overall. I would seel this one, matted, for $100.  I’m quite proud of how it finished out.  I have painted the structure several times, but decided it was time to work on a small, quick one.  Once I laid down the brush, I decided it was time to retire for the night–I don’t bounce back from full days the way I used to do.

Thanks always for caring enough to read me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

Images that Evoke Memories

July 28, 2014
Scat Jazz Lounge, Fort Worth, Texas

Scat Jazz Lounge, Fort Worth, Texas

Every true artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture.

Piet Mondrian

A few years ago, I paused one night in a Fort Worth alley and photographed the lighted sign of this sub street-level jazz club.  Finally I am getting around to painting it, because the brightness of the lights and color against the smoky brick walls attracted my attention, and took my imagination back to my pre-literate childhood.  

My father worked at a Chevrolet dealership on Kingshighway in St. Louis when I was a small child. I cannot shake those memories of the lit-up signs downtown that I was not yet old enough to read. And I still recall those smoke-stained brick walls everywhere, colored by the downtown smog. The eyes of my memory still can see the signs, hear the traffic, and smell the stench of burn barrels on virtually every corner of that working-class district.  

The first time I saw Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie, I knew I wanted to attempt to paint neon signs and light bulb signs in watercolor.  The clash of the primay colors was always scintillating to my visual perceptions.

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.

Working on the Fort Worth Scat Jazz Lounge Sign

July 26, 2014
Saturday Work on the Jazz Watercolor

Saturday Work on the Jazz Watercolor

Wallace Stevens is America’s great poet of the endles cycles of desire and despair.

PBS, Voices and Visions, “Wallace Stevens: Man Made Out of Words”

I could never have planned a better Saturday.  The light is bright coming through my studio windows, and I’m finding it a pleasant challenge distnguishing cool yellow light bulbs from the warm yellow sign from which they protrude.  This is calling for quite a bit of experimenting and study in color theory, but I love the exploration.  When I’m learning something new, I am inspired as an artist.

On days like today, I find it difficult, deciding between painting and reading.  Wallace Stevens and his poetry have been burning on my mind since the awakening hour this morning.  Fortunately, PBS has posted their Voices and Visions series on the Internet, and I have been thrilled listening to the readings of Stevens’s poetry during this sixty-minute documentary.  I played it through completely, twice, as I bent over this watercolor and made decisions.

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 Coleridge Syndrome

July 25, 2014
Slow Excavation on this Large Watercolor

Slow Excavation on this Large Watercolor

I must forge ahead, and stop only to finish the Velasquez.  The human mind is strangely made!  I would have consented, I believe, to work at it perched on a belfry; now I can think of the finishing of it only as the greatest bore.  All this, simply because I have been away from it for so long.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal

I read somewhere that Samuel Taylor Coleridge was criticized on two fronts: 1) that he was a dreamy child given to long spells of contemplation, making him an easy target for accusations of indolence, and 2) as a writing adult, his room was perpetually littered with unfinished literary projects.  Today, as I let out a sigh, looking at a number of my unfinished watercolors, I was bemused to come across this quote from Delacroix as I was reading in his journals.  How hard it is to breathe life back into a work of art that has lost its initial spirit due to neglect.  I enjoyed lunch with a good friend and colleague earlier today, and we shared a laugh about our A.D.D. tendencies (he also has more interests than time to devote to all of them fairly).  Both of us admitted that we wish we were better “finishers” in all our endeavors, but we do enjoy our lives and all these avenues that seem to present themselves to us simultaneously.  Thank God for these three-day summer weekends.

There is a thick crust that must be broken before I can take heart in anything; a rebellious piece of ground that resists the ploughshare and the hoe.  But with a little tenacity, its unfriendliness suddenly vanishes.  It is prodigal with flowers and with fruit.

Delacroix, Journal

I know very well this “thick crust” of which Delacroix wrote.  After a few days, I finally feel that a sense of momentum is returning on this large Fort Worth Jazz piece I began a few months ago. Returning to it has required some strong talk and even stronger coffee, but I’m glad I stayed with it. The detailing on the sign is coming along very slowly, with plenty of stops and walks across the studio to view it from a distance and see if what I am doing is O.K.  Not having a deadline is a good thing for me right now, and I’m glad to take my time and watch this develop slowly and naturally.

I wish that I could write interesting things about the Logic course I’m developing, as it’s taking large chunks out of my day.  I am loving the study of it, but cannot find a way to rhapsodize about the subject in my writing.  So I’ll just let that one simmer in the background.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Musings on the Storm-Free Area and the Chambered Nautilus

July 24, 2014
Large Watercolor in Progress of Fort Worth's Scat Jazz Lounge

Large Watercolor in Progress of Fort Worth’s Scat Jazz Lounge

There is a great virtue in such an isolation.  It permits a fair interval for thought.  That is, what I call thinking, which is mainly scribbling.  It has always been during the act of scribbling that I have gotten most of my satisfactions.

William Carlos Williams, Autobiography

Kerouac escapes this encircling loss in the act of writing.

Howard Cunnell, “Fast This Time: Jack Kerouac and the Writing of On the Road

The past few days, because of my understanding that Jack Kerouac was fascinated with Melville’s writing, I turned to a copy of the original scroll of On the Road and have been reading introductory articles on the manuscript, and re-reading portions of the Tom Clark biography of Kerouac.  Many agree that his longing for the American road was a response to his sense of loss due to the breakup of his family life (death of brother and father along with his own early divorce). Thoreau himself intimated that his move to Walden Pond was a search for something lost.

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtledove, and am still on their trail.  Many are the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to.  I have met one or two who had heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

For most of my life, I have been enthralled with the sense of the personal odyssey, and have myself benefited from many American road excursions.  But honestly, at this juncture in my life, I don’t really need the road; I have memories, photos and journals that pull up the past as often as I choose.  But I am pursuing the odyssey of the mind inside my newly reorganized home, and enjoying what feels like limitless space and extensive free time.  I think what I have been seeking recently is what the German scholars of the nineteenth century called a Sturmfreies Gebiet, storm-free area.  This was sought by Descartes, Hume, Emerson, Thoreau, Tillich, Kerouac, and a host of our revered luminaries, a storm-free area where one is safe to come to some sort of self-understanding.  William Carlos Williams found great satisfaction scribbling thoughts and poetic fragments on his prescription pads while on the road to make house calls, or pounding the typewriter in his office when patients weren’t lined up and waiting.

While pondering these matters over the past couple of days, I happened across “The Chambered Nautilus,” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Though I’ve read this piece several times throughout my life, I never really “got it” until this evening, when it washed over my soul with fresh revelatory power.  Having grown up in the shadow of the Prostestant pulpit, I came under the conviction quite early in life that there is a power in that word, that oracle that comes when the hearer is ready, when the teachable moment has arrived.  When the student is ready, the master will appear.  I guess I was ready this evening.  I had decided to go to a local Starbuck’s with an armload of books and my journal, and sit in the outside cafe with some iced coffee and a sense of anticipation that something could happen.  It did.

“The Chambered Nautilus” is Holmes’s meditation of a mollusk that has died and can no longer expand its chambers.  They now lie open to him, and he gets a sense of its developing natural history by examining the chambers in the house it’s left behind.  As I pored over these words, my soul poured out nine handwritten pages in my journal.  What a rush!  It led me to Emerson’s essay “Circles” and to Whitman’s poem “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life.”  I felt my entire being stirred from within as I felt the cooling carresses and kisses of the evening winds sweeping across the nearby prairie and across my cafe seating area.  It was truly a delicious night.

Now, back at home, I feel my heart stirred with gratitude at this gift received this evening, and in the spirit of the chambered nautilus, I wish to continue expanding new chambers in my existence as I continually read new things, think new thoughts, and try to figure out this wondrous gift called Life.

Oh yeah, the painting!  Posted above is what I worked on after summer school and before the oracle stirred me at Starbuck’s.  I finally got some texturing accomplished on the right side with the bricks, and tried to scratch in some grooves to show the lines of the bricks.  I then turned my attention to the sign, carefully painting in the red fluorescent tubing within the letters, along with the shadows cast and the brackets securing them.  This of course took a great deal of time, but I am in no hurry with it.

And now, I still have to continue working on material for this new online Logic course I’ll teach this fall at a nearby university.  The things I’m learning in that area are also opening up a new chamber of thought within me, and I’m grateful for that as well.  I’m delighted that this mollusk hasn’t yet perished.

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.