Archive for the ‘horse’ Category

Back to Work

March 3, 2023

16 x 20″ watercolor underway

The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes–no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests. He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad. Like any hunter he hits or misses. He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it. It’s found anywhere, everywhere. Those who are not hunters do not see these things. The hunter is leaning to see and to understand–to enjoy.

There are memories of days of this sort, of wonderful driftings in and out of the crowd, of seeing and thinking. Where are the sketches that were made? Some of them are in dusty piles, some turned out to be so good they got frames, some became motives for big pictures, which were either better or worse than the sketches, but they, or rather the states of being and understandings we had at the time of doing them all, are sifting through and leaving their impress on our whole work and life.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I open this blog, after a lengthy hiatus, with this soulful selection from Robert Henri, one of my heroes of art history. The man was truly a prophet, a visionary, capable of inspiring a circle of illustrators to become great artists, including one of my favorites, Edward Hopper. Throughout my life I have sought out role models, and what Henri has provided me as a template for life is this: the artist has value as teacher as well as creator. Throughout my decades of teaching in public schools and universities I often fretted that I lacked quality time for making art because of the teaching responsibilities. Now retired, I am discovering that teaching remains as important to life’s enrichment as creating. Now that Sandi and I own The Gallery at Redlands, I am surprised at the demand for art classes here in the gallery, and am loving every minute of these opportunities. I just finished a class yesterday in perspective drawing, and have a watercolor class filling up for tomorrow afternoon.

On top of all of this, I am still finding time to fulfill my dream as Henri’s “sketch hunter”–I have five new watercolors now in progress that have been cooking in my visual consciousness for weeks now as I’ve traveled about and spotted locations I wished to capture in sketchbooks and watercolor pads. Several completed watercolors are in storage, awaiting frames. Less successful ones are also in storage for future evaluation. Limited editions have also been processed, including my recent Clydesdale piece:

I’m proud that the first edition went out the door before I had a chance to make labels. These are now available in The Gallery at Redlands, measuring 11″(h) x 15″(w) and priced at $100 unframed.

The only reason for my recent blog hiatus has been demands in other areas preventing my sitting down to the computer. Our 85th annual Dogwood Art and Music Festival will descend upon Palestine March 17-18. Sandi has done ten times the amount of work I have in preparing for this. So have other members of the Dogwood Arts Council. We have reason to believe this will be our best festival yet, as we have a large tent covering the parking lot across the street from The Redlands Hotel that will feature 32 artists in their booths. This will be the first time I’ve opted out of being under the tent, keeping my art work in The Gallery at Redlands which will remain open for business throughout the festival. Thanks to artists and volunteers, I will be able to move back and forth from gallery to festival throughout the weekend and enjoy the company of all the artists coming into town.

Gallery at Redlands. My work area is always untidy

The watercolor started above will feature the Sacred Heart Church across the street. As I’ve blogged several times before, I enjoy waking up in our apartment upstairs to the sound of the 7:00 church bells, tolling nine times. I’ll never stop chuckling at that. I’m posting one of my earlier paintings of the church below. We’ll be painting this composition in tomorrow’s watercolor class.

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.


Clydesdales Completed

December 26, 2022

Christmas 2022 was altered sharply, but all has come out well. My mother was hospitalized with COVID and pneumonia, but now is back home and feeling much better. We have decided to travel to St. Louis for Christmas in January, once Mom and Dad have had time to regather their strength post-COVID. I had not experienced Christmas Day in my own home in well over a decade and I really enjoyed this one. We picked up half a cord of wood before the foul weather descended and have now spent several days in front of a fire place with coffee and TV and I got in some quality time in Studio Eidolons. The Clydesdales have been completed and I’m thrilled with the way the snow effect turned out.

From my childhood, seated in front of a black-and-white TV, I was spellbound when our local station identification featured the Clydesdales bursting out of the Grant’s Farm gates. My fascination with them has never subsided. Years ago in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, I was seated in the Barnes & Noble Cafe, which was sunken below street level. Engaged in reading over coffee (still one of my favorite past times), my eye detected unusual movement on the street outside my window. Looking up I was astonished to see the Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon, coming towards me! I could never describe the emotions and sense of awe that overwhelmed me as I saw that great sight approaching. I knew then that one day I would settle in to render them in watercolor.

From the beginning of this watercolor endeavor, I was flummoxed. I knew I wanted to begin with cold winter trees in the background. Unsure of my colors, I relied mostly on Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine, But how would I capture the network and general “movement” of the trees? I kept thinking of Xie-He and his Canons–the “spirit essence” of the cold, dense forest. Using the Richeson Medium Liquid Masque, I spattered the background with a toothbrush. Then I took out an assortment of double-end clay shapers and tried some Jackson Pollock scribbles all over the background. Once the pigments were settled and dried, I scraped off the masquing and left it alone. Then I used the toothbrush to spatter liquid masque all over the horses, hoping that once the painting was finished and masquing scraped that it would simulate blowing snow. It worked!

The most difficult part was untangling the congeries of heads, bodies, legs, and rigging of the horses. I felt like I was assembling a jigsaw puzzle, an endless tangle of shapes and colors. I tried not to think of the overall design of the horses and riggings, but rather concentrated on each fragment of shaped color, all the time hoping that once the masquing came off that it would look like a gaggle of behemoth horses high-stepping through the snow. I think my largest fear was fogging out the legs of the rear horses once I defined a few of the leaders’ legs. I finally laid the brush down and decided enough was enough; I have killed many watercolors by overworking and overdetailing them. Hopefully I stopped at the right time here.

What’s next? I’ll certainly have this custom framed and determine a price for it. The image alone measures 12 x 15.5″. I’ve decided to have signed & numbered giclee prints made of it as well. They will be the same size as the original and will be priced at $100 each.

I have also ordered signed & numbered giclee prints of my “Palestine Blues” watercolor. A number of these have already sold and are priced at $100. I’m glad for the reproductions because the original was sold even before it was completed.

Today is December 26, but it still feels like Christmas and I am glad. We put up the tree in my studio and I plan to keep it lighted for quite awhile.

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.

Happy Holiday Adjustments

December 22, 2022

Finally settled into Studio Eidolons

I have been away from the blog for the longest time. The Gallery at Redlands is extremely busy during Polar Express season and we’ve been working hard at home, making preparations for our Christmas visit in St. Louis, my home town.

Everything changed abruptly. We were loading the car yesterday to depart for St. Louis when the news arrived. My parents both have COVID. Dad is 94 and Mom is 88. St. Louis is bracing for abhorrent winter storms. We reluctantly decided to cancel. Hours later, my Mom collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Pneumonia and COVID. The night was long. But this morning I was informed that she was OK to talk on the phone, and I got to visit with her awhile. She has improved, but is expected to stay several more days. At least our worst fears are suspended.

With the knowledge that Mom and Dad are somewhat OK in spite of the circumstances, I’m finally settling into the shock of a completely altered Christmas holiday. I have relaxed most of the day in Studio Eidolons, chipping away at a watercolor that has lay dormant for over a week. I’ve always wanted to attempt a painting of the Budweiser Clydesdales coming out of the gate at Grant’s Farm near where I grew up as a boy.

Back to work on the Budweiser Clydesdales

Enjoying the frigid night in the studio

While painting, I’m enjoying watching DVDs of Paper Chase, my favorite TV show during my graduate school years. I feel spoiled having everything I need here in the studio–my art supplies, TV, books and journal. With temperatures outside now hovering at 13 degrees, we have a nice fire in the fireplace, and I’ve resumed my reading of Marshall McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy. Perhaps I’ll have more to say about his writing 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.

Preparation for Palestine’s Art in the Alley

December 10, 2022

Still chipping away at my Clydesdales

We’re approaching the evening in Palestine, and Art in the Alley is about to begin. There will be more than 500 people coming through the city for Wine & Whiskey-Swirl. Deanna Pickett Frye, one of our Gallery artists, will be joining me in The Gallery at Redlands. I’m looking forward to sharing studio space with another artist. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to enjoy such camaraderie.

Deanna Frye’s work place

Deanna has arrived and we’re ready to go to work. Thanks for reading.

Saturday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

December 10, 2022

This morning I discovered that 5 a.m. in The Gallery at Redlands on a Saturday is a good time to work on a watercolor. Untangling a gaggle of Clydesdales in the blowing snow is proving a slow, arduous task, at least to the eyes. I’m now pouring my second cup of coffee and settling into a little reading and journaling while waiting for the paint to dry.

Approaching Yuletide 5×7″ Watercolor Print in 8 x 10″ frame. $40

I’ve taken several breaks from painting this morning to frame a trio of prints. I have a pair in the gallery in 8 x 10″ frames for $40. I also have the same print (8 x 10″) in an 11 x 14″ frame for $60. The Polar Express season is at high tide in Palestine and our gallery is bringing out all my original watercolors of trains, many of them available in framed prints as well.

As I work through the final volume 4 of Richardson’s A Life of Picasso, I’m surprised to learn that he stopped painting for a year in 1936. His life was complicated as he worked through a divorce from his wife Olga and at the same time took up writing poetry to pour out his emotions. I’ve known that kind of suffering through a Christmas season long, long ago, but cannot imagine giving up painting for such a long period. Going several days without touching the Clydesdales seems like ages to me; how could one endure a year without art?

Tonight during “wine-swirl” I look forward to making art alongside our friend Deanna Pickett Frye. Her work is included in our gallery and she will painting at an easel here while patrons enjoy the wine-swirl event. I will also work on watercolor at the drafting table.

Deanna has a number of large canvases hanging in our gallery, but has also exploded on the mural scene in Palestine and surrounding towns in east Texas. How she manages easel painting, mural composing and college teaching astounds me. As a former teacher I managed to juggle a few balls in the air, but never worked simultaneously on tasks the way she has managed lately. If you are in the area, you will love the opportunity of meeting her while she works here tonight.

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.

Back at it . . . Holiday Musings

December 6, 2022

Studio Eidolons Waiting for Me

Cowboy Coffee & Journal at the Ready

Gertrude Stein: “You never had any feeling about any words, words annoy you more than they do anything else so how can you write?”

Picasso: “You yourself always said I was an extraordinary person.”

Gertrude Stein: “You are extraordinary within your limits but your limits are extraordinarily there.”

recorded by John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Minotaur Years 1933-1943

Reading this over coffee this morning triggered a spontaneous chuckle. I’ve enjoyed reading about artists who wanted to write and writers who wanted to make art. This cross-fertilization has always enriched me, and I’ve always hoped I could spread the enrichment to others whether it be through painting, writing, or teaching. The flow of ideas has been my constant throughout life, and I’m more aware now than previously that this has remained the greatest gift to me.

I’ve been away from the blog for quite awhile now. Life has been crammed too full with appointments, and now that things have settled for a few days I’m trying to rediscover that rhythm I’ve been accustomed to, beginning with “executive time” in the mornings. This morning I brewed Cowboy Coffee. Texas weather has been climbing to the mid-seventies every afternoon, so the fireplace has died for the time being, and I have opened the windows to Studio Eidolons to let the breezes fill this sunlit room.

I have begun the fourth and final volume of John Richardson’s A Life of Picasso. I seem to recall that he projected five volumes when the first one came out, and I was enthusiastic to read every word. I’m saddened that he didn’t live long enough to complete this great work, dying at age ninety-five. At any rate, I intend to keep my promise, and so I press on this morning to complete the 175 pages of text remaining to be explored.

Beginning Watercolor of the Budweiser Clydesdales

My thoughts turn pensive with the holidays, especially the “Proustian” notion of recalling sensations from my childhood. This Christmas as I wondered what kind of theme to pursue in watercolor, I was visited with the memories of sitting in front of a black-and-white television as a child, and seeing commercials of the Budweiser Clydesdales pulling the beer wagon out of the gates at Grants Farm. Growing up near St. Louis, we were inundated with TV commercials, magazine ads and billboards of these magnificent behemoths, complete with a pair of drivers and a Dalmatian seated beside. I’ve decided that the time has come, so I’ll be posting this painting as it emerges.

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.

4:30 a.m. Start . . .

September 19, 2022
4:30 a.m. sketch

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.

Paul Klee

I woke this morning around 4:30 with the Paul Klee quote in my head. Unable to return to sleep, the urge to draw a horse whispered to me in the darkness. So, without question I rose, plodded silently down the hall to my Studio Eidolons, and drew the horse head posted above. I like it enough to finish out the body contours with accent lines, then put it into a 4 x 6″ mat and install it into a 10 x 12″ frame and put it in the Gallery at Redlands for sale. If nobody purchases it, the drawing will at least keep me good company. The Palomino was at the Stone Creek Ranch where I just completed a watercolor workshop and packed home years’ worth of memories.

Thanks for reading.

New Greeting Cards made from Recent Watercolors

August 30, 2021

Monday has been dedicated to my Ethics lecture class and Humanities online class, so it doesn’t appear that I’ll get around to art work till tomorrow. However, early this morning I did create two new 5 x 7″ greeting cards from some of my recent paintings, and these I’ll install in The Gallery at Redlands later this week. I sell the cards at $5 each or 5 for $20.

Hat Creek Revisited (we still don’t rent pigs)

Captains Woodrow Call and  Augustus McRae, finally retired from the Texas Rangers, ride out daily to work their Hat Creek Cattle Company. “All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” (T. K. Whipple, Study Out the Land). Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove continues to enrich our lives and feed our imaginative visitations.

Night Vaquero

Black care sits behind the horseman

Horace, Ode, iii.1.4o

Peering out from beneath the shadow of his brim, the vaquero turned his head and listened. He had just heard something in the stillness of the Arizona night. Twenty miles of riding had sent him into a dozing mode, but now he was alert and stiffened to listen further.

The horse seemed unbothered and continued to plod slowly along. The rider decided that they had pushed far enough along on the day’s ride, and a week of riding still stretched out before them. Searching the horizon line of silhouetted buttes, his eye enjoyed the cool ranges of violets and indigos. Somewhere along the strand, he and the horse would find a place to nest for the night.

I am truly enjoying the lifestyle change with the university coming back into my life. The Ethics lecture class I am grateful to lead, and the student responses, both written and oral, have been most engaging. Hopefully I can find a way to navigate the scholarship and the art as I’ve been called on to do before.

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.

Finished Lonesome Dove Sketch

August 29, 2021
Hat Creek Cattle Company (and we still don’t rent pigs), Watercolor 11 x 14″ framed. $350

His plan had been to observe and sketch a cattle roundup for Scribner’s. But as soon as Wyeth was mounted and facing a herd, he became a cowpuncher. Outfitted from hat to stirrup, he hired on at the Gill Ranch and set out with thirty-five cowboys to “hunt and to bring together thousands of cattle scattered over a large part of the country known as the free range.”

N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

Reading the N. C. Wyeth biography along with Larry McMurtry’s four novels unfolding the Call and McCrae saga has motivated me recently to put out a group of watercolor studies of cowboys, horses, longhorns, bison, etc. This is the last one completed and now displayed in our lobby window of The Gallery at Redlands. My next adventure is to paint mules against some magnificent scenery sent to me by a teaching friend, thank you Peggy Kirkland!

And I thank the rest of you for reading.

Finishing a Quick Study

August 28, 2021

Why do we seek climates warmed by another sun? Who is the man that by fleeing from his country, can also flee from himself?

Horace, Ode, ii. 16. 18

One telling Socrates, that such a one was nothing improved by his travels: “I very well believe it,” said he, “for he took himself along with him.”

Montaigne, “Of Solitude”

Reading Montaigne on this early Saturday morning has proved to be a great beginning to a day in the gallery/studio. I am happy to find myself in good company when in solitude, but I also confess that the company will improve greatly once Sandi enters the gallery!

My plan is to finish this 8 x 10″ watercolor today and frame it for the Gallery. We will head back home tonight, but I’m delighted to have begun & completed a painting in the short time we were here.

Back to work! 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.