Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

Late Afternoon Plein Air Painting in Waxahachie

April 24, 2017

Structure, I believe, is the giver of light.

Louis I. Kahn

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By the time I finished all my school responsibilities late this afternoon, I was so fatigued that I was trying to talk myself out of the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie to continue work on the Painting Historic Waxahachie project. By the time we reach the submission deadline May 11, I want to have as many paintings as possible to display and sell. But I was sooooo tired!

The weather was 81 degrees and brightly sunny, and when I parked on the courthouse square and saw the magnificence of the Ellis County Courthouse towering above, reflecting the late afternoon sun, I was glad I decided to make the trip. I set up my easel on College Street again, and like last Saturday, a strong, cold wind was blasting up the street. It felt really good on my back, and removed any discomfort that a Texas sun would try to bring.

Drawing this courthouse has always been a chore for me. I lack formal training in architectural rendering, and am always intimidated when I attack a building, one small piece at a time, with pencil on paper. I drew on this a long time, and erased plenty. Finally, when time came to flood the sky with blue hues, I felt that I had a chance at a decent composition.

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The afternoon passed quickly, and again the Waxahachie folks proved themselves to be among the most friendly on the planet. I talked to over a dozen people–artists working on this same project, couples out for a stroll, and a couple of young girls interested in becoming artists who were out with their mother. All the conversations were engaging, and I appreciated every good sentiment.

Once the sun set and the light turned to gray, I knew it was time to stop and take a day or two to evaluate whether this is finished or needs further development. Unfortunately I have meetings tomorrow afternoon and night, so I won’t be able to paint tomorrow. Hopefully by Wednesday I will have made a decsision on this one. At any rate, it turned out to be a great afternoon for painting.

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The College Street Pub has become my favorite “decompression hangout” in Waxahachie when I am in town painting. Dinner was a great experience this evening as temperatures continued to cool and I enjoyed the back patio with its soothing surrounding scenery. I spread out my three Waxahachie paintings and spent some time taking critical notes on them and making decisions on what to do next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Plein Air Wanderings

April 23, 2017

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Louis I. Kahn

Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Edward Hopper

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The former Bailey Print and Typewriter Store, College Street, Waxahachie Texas

I awoke Saturday to a 55-degree windy morning, but was excited to have a clear calendar for plein air painting.  Paint Historic Waxahachie is now in full swing, and will end on May 14. I have been eligible to participate since April 1, but have been mired in too many retirement-and-tax-related tasks to make the forty-minute drive to this quaint town and begin painting. This was my first day to get after it. With a hot cup of coffee and three layers of clothing (shirt, hoodie and denim jacket), I set up my easel just off College Street and resumed a plein air sketch I had begun last week, but was aborted because of a heavy rainstorm. My motivation was high, and the building on my right kept the wind from reaching me. And though I was working in the shadows, pedestrians were still finding me and stopping to look at my work in progress and chat. Waxahachie has always been filled with the friendliest people, and I have enjoyed the pleasantries of their conversations without fail. I have never felt like a stranger in that town.

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I decided to stop and let the painting rest at this point. I can always set up the easel in the same spot and work further on the composition if I choose. But for now, I’m going to move on to other ideas and return to this with a critical eye next time I visit Waxahachie.

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Upper Balcony along College Street

Stepping into the sunlight on College Street, my sight was arrested by the bright morning sun on the light yellow upper balcony of this building, framed against dark rustic brick and trees. I could not stop gazing at it and thought, “Oh, why not?”  Setting up my easel, I drew for quite awhile, trying to get the proportions of the balcony and building right. By the time I began painting, my teeth were chattering as College Street had become a virtual wind tunnel for those freezing blasts of arctic air. The temperature had only risen to 57 degrees and my coffee mug was empty. Nevertheless, I tooled away on this composition for awhile, enjoying the view immensely, though the discomfort of the cold winds continued to intensify.

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Finally, around twelve noon, I had to stop. I was afraid I would make myself sick in the cold winds. This one also I am not satisfied with as a finished composition, so I intend to put it back on the easel when I return to Waxahachie for my next plein air attempts.

The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and original manner.

Goethe

My Saturday seemed to apply Goethe’s theory of writing to painting. While moving about Waxahachie, certain sites I viewed resonated profoundly with certain emotions and memories I have treasured throughout my life. Every time I set up the easel and got out the tools, I felt that I was engaged in a dance with the subjects before me, and I hoped that my responses on the blank page were worthy of the beauty my eye beheld in front of me.

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.

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 . . .

Anticipating the Final Stretch

April 3, 2017

Durango SilvertonEureka Springs Iron Horse

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Ridglea Theater

Haltom Jewelers

My soul overflows with feelings of good will tonight as I rest and think over all the splendor of this past weekend at the Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas.  It was the second weekend of my One-Man-Show, and we will close out the show this coming Sunday, April 9 at 5:00.  Immediately afterward, I’m anticipating a great time as I gather with some of the artists of Anderson County Arts Council for dinner and planning of future art endeavors.

I regret that I did not blog from Saturday onward, but I was covered up with patrons and friends who had journeyed a long distance to spend the weekend with me. And I’m excited at the news that other friends have expressed a desire to come out this final weekend. Palestine is a couple hours out of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, but plenty of my loving friends have made the trip and kept me in great company.

I have posted images above of the limited edition prints that all found a home this past weekend. We’re very happy with the sales and success of the show to date. When I have more concrete information, I will gladly pass it on to my readers, but some conversations have transpired over the past 72 hours that have my spirits soaring–Palestine is an historic railroad town, and I’ve been asked to take part in some very exciting art endeavors associated with their railroad history and popular local events. I can’t wait to burrow further into these possibilities in the weeks and months ahead. So stay tuned . . .

 Thanks for reading.

I make art to satisfy my curiosity.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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View from the Gallery Window

April 1, 2017

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Completed watercolor of downtown Palestine, Texas

. . . and the philosophical light around my window is now my joy; may I be able to keep on as I have thus far!

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, letter to friend Boehlendorf dated December 2, 1802

Saturday morning began for me on a second-story balcony with coffee and Heidegger’s essay “What Are Poets For?” I was so enriched by the ideas from the essay that I descended the stairs and opened the gallery at 9:00 rather than 10:00 so I could enjoy some time writing at the desk, and then resume work on the watercolor I have been playing with since I started it over a week ago. I finally decided to sign off on it and offer it as a watercolor sketch, unframed, measuring 11 x 11″ for $100.

The day shortly after became busy beyond description with a steady stream of patrons in the gallery, some sales, and wall-to-wall meaningful conversation. I feel that I have made a number of new friends for life. The Palestine experience has been deeply fulfilling. I can’t wait to open again in the morning.

Thanks for reading.

Unveiling a New Addition to the Show this Weekend

March 29, 2017

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“Angel’s Nest” Weatherford, Texas

This striving after imitative expression, which one meets every where, is significant of the aim of nature, but is mere stenography.  There are higher degrees, and nature has more splendid endowments for those whom she elects to a superior office; for the class of scholars or writers, who see connection where the multitude see fragments, and who are impelled to exhibit the facts in order, and so to supply the axis on which the frame of things turns.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Goethe; or, the Writer”

Returning to a day job after an exciting weekend of art-related activities could be compared to diving into a warm pond after a sauna.  It is only Wednesday, but the week has been comparatively tepid. The watercolor posted above is on a full-sized sheet of 300# D’Arches paper. The original frame was damaged, so I’ve decided to re-frame it and bring it to hang in my show this weekend. It has been out of the public eye for about three years now, and the time is long past due to make repairs and bring it back out.

I have returned to reading Goethe during this week, and decided to pick up Emeson’s essay on that marvelous sage, probably the Shakespeare of Gemany. On Monday evening, feeling a bit hungover from the weekend show, I drove out to a beautiful green belt on the east side of Arlington, found a park bench, and read this essay until dark.  I cannot describe the feelings that washed over me, but the passage I’ve cited above gripped me the most.  With Emerson and Hemingway, I have frequently translated the theories of writing to the visual arts, and here is another example.  Emerson contrasts the stenographer with the poetic writer, and I always feel the conflict between the illustrator and the fine artist when I attempt to paint.  When I decided to tackle this magnificent Victorian house in Weatherford, Texas (where I stayed during my 60th birthday), I knew that I wanted to go beyond mere description of that intriguing structure, to transcend the architect’s rendering of the subject. That is the main reason I kept the subject small on the paper and devoted the greatest expanse to the sprawling lawn in the foreground. I am wishing to paint this subject again, because I’m not satisfied with every aspect of it and would love to have another run at it. I have always loved Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” and have always wished to render a house atop a hill with that expansive sense of space surrounding it.

Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to return the The Gallery at Redlands for the weekend.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Satisfying Late Afternoon Thoughts

March 26, 2017

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Resuming Work on the Watercolor while the Light is Good

What deep in our breast was thus inspired,

What shy lips babbled in a quiet hour,

Clumsy perhaps, and rarely as desired,

Is swallowed by a savage moment’s power.

And years may pass before it has acquired

Its perfect form and opens like a flower.

Glitter is coined to meet the moment’s rage;

The genuine lives on from age to age.

Goethe, Faust

Sunday in The Gallery at Redlands has been quieter than the previous two days, though I’m pleased that there were still sales.  The streets of Palestine are quiet, but patrons have still come to purchase and converse.  The day has been lovely, and my spirits are soothed as closing time draws near.

Awhile back, while spending a restful weekend in the old country store that I love, I managed to read Faust for the first time. During this weekend of the gallery show, I’ve had the chance to return to this amazing text. The passage above prompts me to think of my efforts over the years to express my feelings artfully, efforts often characterized as “clumsy” and “savage.”  And I think of how many years it takes for a quality piece of work to open “like a flower.” Repeatedly this weekend I’ve been asked: “How long have you been doing watercolor?” It’s difficult to answer that question adequately.  The oldest piece in this show was created in 1999. My first “decent” watercolor was created in 1988.  My degree was completed in 1976.  The year I decided I wanted to master watercolor was 1971. So, how long have I worked on this craft?  To be precise, I have only addressed the medium of watercolor, rather than the broader aspect of making “art.”  In thinking over the latter, I realize that my training goes far beyond training in the artist’s craft. My ideas have grown from literature, art, philosophy, history, travel and personal experience. So I guess my truthful answer is that I have been training nearly sixty-three years to do a decent watercolor. And it has been a wonderful sixty-three years.

Right now, as the late afternoon sun slants through these gallery windows and onto my easel, I am filled with deep appreciation that I have been allowed to live long enough to enjoy the things I do now. This has been a rewarding weekend, and I look forward now to the next two. A special thanks to all my loving friends who made the long trek to come out here this weekend and make a good life even better.  The conversations were so affirming and I cannot express the depths of my appreciation.

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In the Still of the Night (framed watercolor) $900

This remains my favorite “doorknob” painting to date.  I began it late at night in the “store” where I love to retreat on free weekends.  I put a spotlight on the knob, positioned a desk lamp over my easel, turned out the house lights, and worked late into the night on it.  I had to come back a few more times before I actually finished it.  Funny thing–the “selfie” I painted that I title “Heidegger’s Hut” was painted from a photo I took, using the ten-second timer. Across my lap is the painting of this doorknob in progress.

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Heidegger’s Hut (framed watercolor) $900.  Limited editions available for $100

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Trinidad, Colorado (framed watercolor) $1100

This summer I will journey to Colorado again for fly fishing and plein air painting.  I always pass through Trinidad on my way to my vacation site.  A few years back, I stopped and photographed this Savoy Hotel and Cafe with its ghost sign, and completed a large watercolor that won Best of Show at an annual show in Desoto, Texas. I am happy with the painting because I think I could title it Anywhere, U.S.A.

Time to wind this up and send it out.  Thanks always for reading, and for your gracious comments of encouragement.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am not alone.

New Gallery Opening in Palestine, Texas

March 24, 2017

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Beginning of a Painting of the View across the Street from Inside the Gallery

The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas opened like a whirlwind this morning, and remained strong till the rainstorms arrived. Now I have a quiet space in which I can attempt to blog.  I set up my plein air easel inside the gallery and began drafting the building across the street. By the time I finished drawing and was ready to flood the page with water and pigment, the sky darkened and the rain began to pour.  I don’t feel like painting a dull scene, so I am taking my chances on a sunwashed scene tomorrow. Meanwhile I have a stack of books to read and a blog to resume . . .

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Today’s Newspaper and Supplement

Andy Warhol checked the New York Times and New York Daily News, reportedly every day, and when his name wasn’t mentioned somewhere, he sunk into depression. This morning, we were too busy to think about such, but when the newspaper and supplement arrived, we were happily stunned to see we made the front page and center page adjacent to the Dogwood Trails Celebration map. We could not have asked for better publicity!

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A Sublime Start to the Day

I set the alarm to wake at first light, so I could take my coffee out to the balcony and watch the town come to life. The time spent sketching and journaling was soothing to my soul, as I retired to bed a tad uptight about how the first day would unfold.  Anticipation for this show had been building for quite some time.

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“Catholic Contemplation”

This show marks the first time that this painting has gone on public view.  I completed if a few years back, and it’s on a full sheet of 300# D’Arches watercolor paper.  I just had it framed a few days ago, and we installed it in the gallery yesterday afternoon.  I have it priced at $1150.

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 “First Night in Waterford”

This is a watercolor I completed some years ago as a commission for the cover of a fiction novel. The book was published and the author purchased the first edition giclee print, but I have retained the original which I had framed and has stayed in my home.  I have put it in this show and priced it at $550.

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“No Longer Home”

This is a watercolor of my grandparents’ farm home in rural Jackson, Missouri, where I spent my summers as a child.  The top bedroom window marks the area where I slept on those summer nights. This one has been priced at $500.

Despite the storms chasing away potential patrons, plenty of people have strolled in and some sales were made, so we can say it’s been a good first day. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

All the Pieces in Place

March 23, 2017

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When I rolled into Palestine late this Friday afternoon, I was ecstatic to see the new signs in place and couldn’t wait to go inside and continue setting up the show we started hanging last weekend. I am extremely short on sleep and have set my alarm to rise early in the morning, so regretfully, I’m not going to write any further, but just post pictures taken throughout the installation process this afternoon and late this evening.  Thanks for reading. I’m excited to open this show tomorrow at 10 a.m., and even more ecstatic to learn that I have a number of friends trying to break loose and make the long trek out here to this east Texas venue.

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All of your courage has been my tower of strength, thank you for all the kind words you readers have posted in the past weeks.