Archive for the ‘Oklahoma’ Category

Leaving

November 12, 2018

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Hickory Hill Cabin, Beaver’s Bend Resort–a Comfortable 4-Day Respite

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. . . but now I’m a big seacaptain again, lookout–that is, faroff eyes in the gray morning . . . 

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Wrapped in a 36-degree gray rainy Monday morning, I’m fortunate to be in this warm, cozy cabin with my friends. Check out isn’t until 11:00, and we’re all agreed that when the cabin is paid for, and the weather outside is uncomfortable, we may as well postpone the 3 1/2 hour drive home till we are forced to leave. What I enjoy most about my friends is their love of quiet space and time with books and leisure. As I write this, we are scattered about the cabin with our thoughts and pleasant sentiments. I am enjoying Kerouac’s Visions of Cody, a book he worked on while creating On the Road, but Wow! what a different kind of book! On the Road has been described as a horizontal narrative of life on the road, with the narrator (Kerouac) recording his bemused observations of his hero Neal Cassady. Visions of Cody is described as a more vertical, metaphysical exploration of the same heroic character Neal Cassady. I am enjoying this second book much more, because of its stream-of-consciousness presentation, much of it reminding me of the writings of Joyce or Proust.

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Patio Fireplace

Yesterday, we decided we needed to burn up all the firewood that was delivered for our four-day stay at the cabin. There was still a considerable stack remaining. So, beginning around 11:00, we started the fire and it burned all day as we continued to add logs, finally leaving it for good around 5:00. Throughout the day, we enjoyed its warmth as the winds poked around the perimeter of the patio, and temperatures hovered around 31 degrees. The coffee seemed to taste better, the books tended to read with more intimacy, and when I finally felt ready to doze in my chair from all the reading, I decided instead to work on a second Jack Kerouac collage on the picnic table.

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Kerouac Collage at Patio Fireside

Since I was outdoors, I felt freer to spatter colored inks with a toothbrush and experiment with torn papers. That, along with sketching, made the experience enjoyable. On my second night in the cabin I worked on a different Kerouac collage. While reading Visions of Cody on this trip, I have felt the tug to experiment more with this medium.

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Kerouac Collage on the Second Night

I was notified on my smart phone that Amazon has delivered my package–a volume on Homeric Greek. I had purchased the grammar twenty years ago, and it somehow got away from me. So, I finally ordered a replacement. I always liked using this book when probing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Homeric Greek doesn’t come easy for me, but thanks to my learning Koinē Greek, I can manage it with a little work. As we prepare to leave this wonderful retreat and transition into the holidays, I feel a sense of leaning forward into an epic adventure. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and already anticipate good things on the road ahead.

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Thoughts in the Winter Night

November 11, 2018

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The symmetry of form attainable in pure fiction cannot so readily be achieved in a narration essentially having less to do with fable than with fact. Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd

Oklahoma temperatures are dipping near the freezing point as I sit up and write this. My friends have retired to bed, and the cabin is still. The outdoor patio fireplace is providing more than enough warmth as the fire continues to burn brightly. While the hours extended into the cold night, I finished reading Billy Budd, and our conversation drifted to reasons why we all love to read when we can find the leisure (and all of us being retired are now very grateful for those more frequent moments that we can spend poring over the printed word).

In the heat of our conversation I tried to express something that I have probably tried to express at least once in the history of my blog entries. And I don’t feel that I successfully nailed what I was trying to say. Now that I am alone and still not yet sleepy, I thought I would power up the laptop and see if I could find a more accurate way to express what is on my mind.

Since the age of eighteen, while in college, I have been in quest of the Oracle. I have always sought a Word of guidance, some kind of navigational aid, a pole star if you will. In my college days, I was poring over the Bible daily, a practice that would land me eventually in the Protestant pastoral ministry. Believing that the Bible was the Word of God, divinely inspired, I approached it daily, prayerfully, seeking a divine Word to direct my path. I was very seldom disappointed. If I stayed with it long enough, patiently, some Word would come, and I would write fervently, seeking to clarify what it was I needed to do in my life.

About twelve years later, I left the ministry, but did not leave the conviction that a Word was always available for anyone who sought it. The only thing that changed was the medium; I came to believe that revelation was everywhere, in great literature, in philosophical treatises, in comic strips, in conversation, in walks through the woods, in modes of semi-sleep. I believe passionately that a Word is always available to anyone who seeks to hear and understand.

In my days of theological study, I was always captivated by the idea uttered by Swiss theologian Karl Barth. He argued that through the act of preaching, the Bible had the potential to become the Word of God. When I was a pastor, I worked in conservative circles, and my colleagues continually raged against those words, arguing that the Bible is the Word of God. I felt then that they were not really listening to what this theologian was saying. What I came to believe Barth was proclaiming is this: the words of the Bible become the Word when the listener genuinely connects with the message. There are so many interpretations  concerning how exactly this phenomenon occurs. The moving of God’s spirit on the listener, the openness of the listener, the spiritual preparation of the preacher, etc. The point that interested me was this: the event of words becoming a Word for the listener is an occasional one. A reader can read thousands of words and nothing significant happens. A listener can listen to an hour of preaching and nothing happens. Words fill the space, but no defining Word occurs.

In my senior years, my views on this have not changed. I am aware that I can read pages and pages of text with no significant encounter. I can write pages in my journal and find no significant truth flowing out of my pen. I can listen to hours of discourse on the television or on YouTube and not feel strangely moved. But it is accurate to say that seldom if ever does a complete day unfold without my being touched by a jolting Word that stops me in my tracks, holds my attention, and convinces me that I have been quickened by a higher truth. Revelation has occurred. Enlightenment has dawned. I consider this a gift; I cannot make it happen. I cannot create the encounter that I so richly seek. I can only trim my sails in an effort to catch the wind once it blows.

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.

Quiet

November 10, 2018

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And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to our Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward. you.

Gospel of Matthew 6: 5-6

You think Gottlieb isn’t religious, Hinkley. Why, his just being in a lab is a prayer.

Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith

Beaver’s Bend State Park is overrun this weekend with a Folk Festival. Fortunately, we reserved a cabin months ago outside the park, so we’re surrounded with space and quiet. I’ve been reading almost daily from the Sermon on the Mount, and this morning was struck by the passage posted above. My conception of prayerfulness is not the one I held in my earlier church attendance days. Rather, I feel it is a state of mind that I know when I am alone reading or making art. When I read the statement above about hypocrisy and praying in public, I felt like I had been called out for my blogging preferences. I spend mornings in quiet devotion, reading books, making art, writing in a journal, and then post pictures of my morning, and now wonder if I am praying on street corners. I am just trying to let others in on my practices that mean a great deal to me. And I am trying to encourage anyone who is going through a low moment in life to consider retreating into solitude with good books, good thoughts and good views.

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It is 38 degrees outside and I continually bundle up to spend some moments at the easel–then dash back inside to coffee and  books and journal and warm conversations with friends.

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The painting isn’t turning out the way I intended. But as I’ve said before, I am absolutely thrilled to the core while painting, even if I don’t like the result. Making art takes me to another world and contributes to what I feel is a prayerful life. I enjoyed reading Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, especially when the young medical student held up Professor Gottlieb as an example of a pious man, though religiously unaffiliated. The professor’s activity in the lab seemed an act of religious devotion. This is how I feel when I engage in the arts.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Holiday Solitude in the Studio

November 20, 2017

red monday

While you are alone you are entirely your own master.

Leonardo da Vinci

Waking up around 5 this morning, I realized with gladness that I don’t have a class to teach for a solid week. I knew that last Friday when our university dismissed for Thanksgiving, but truly felt it this morning. My Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes begin at 9, and always on Monday I awake around 5, thinking about what I’m going to say in four hours. Instead, today I went straight to the drafting table and resumed work on this #300 steam engine from the Texas State Railroad that I abandoned until this past weekend. I’m starting to feel the momentum return, much the way the steam locomotives did when they resumed a journey after a lengthy layover.

I also hope to complete my reading of the Walter Isaacson biography on Leonardo da Vinci. I’m 229 pages into the piece, and have loved every page, as the author chooses to explore this amazing man through his notebooks. This morning is a good time to be alone and think about the work I’m pursuing these days.

The weekend at The Gallery at Redlands was sublime as always, and it was capped by a surprise visit from my dear friends, the Darrs. Yesterday we got to spend several hours visiting in the gallery.

I will not return to the Gallery for the next two weekends. I assume the Thanksgiving weekend would be quiet for business, and I am privileged to take part in the Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Show in Dallas December 1-3. I’ll return to Palestine the two weekends following and close out my railroad exhibit.

For anyone interested, I have the following originals on display, along with limited editions for $70, 11 x 14″ matted prints for $25, 8 x 10″matted ones for $15, and box sets of 6 cards for $25. I also have a pair of coffee mugs designed featuring my watercolor trains.

Thanks for reading.

610 Schultz large cropped

Night Train Violet

30Large cropped

Night Train Blue

Blue & Red diesel

Chevron Diesel

Orange diesel

Blog Wed 2

Dreams of Yesterday

grapevine train

durango-silverton

turvey

eureka springs

Eidolons

October 26, 2016

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Watercolor of Abandoned Oklahoma Tire Shop

Ever the dim beginning;

Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle;

Ever the summit, and the merge at last (to surely start again) Eidólons! Eidólons!

Ever the mutable!

Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering;

Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,

Issuing Eidólons!

Walt Whiman, “Eidólons” in Leaves of Grass

Today, as my mind drifts across the empty spaces of our American landscape, I chose to post a watercolor I did last year about this time of an abandoned tire shop I passed in Oklahoma while en route to St. Louis for Thanksgiving holidays.  I am working my way back into the watercolor studio, selecting subjects to paint, and already have a splendid list of subjects to tackle this coming weekend.  I call my business Recollections 54 (www.recollections54.com) because 1954 is my birth year, and the subjects I enjoy painting the most are those from the 1950’s American landscape that I knew as a child–businesses and homes no longer inhabited, but which thrived in the days of my growing up.

Every time I cross paths with a site such as the one posted above (needless to say, I turned my vehicle around in the highway several miles down the road so I could return for a closer look and a series of photographs), I am filled with the dual feelings of loss and presence. Loss because the site is devoid of life.  Only the husk remains of the building that once teemed with industry.  Presence because the shell of the building is still charged with memories and stories worth telling.  When I stand in a place like this, I can still smell the rubber of the tires and hear the sharp hiss of the compressor.  I hear the mallets clanging on the iron, commingled with voices of laughter and profanity.  If I were a poet, I would transform these memories into verse.  If I were a musician, I would sing out my tribute.  But as an artist, I try to capture the essence of this environment with an image that I hope conveys the feelings that flood my soul in times such as these.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Thanksgiving Musings

November 26, 2015

imageBefore I sign off for this Thanksgiving Day, I thought I would post to the blog once more, about the question of beauty.

I knew while I was taking art classes in high school that I was attracted to abandoned buildings, and wondered how one could call such a subject matter for art “beautiful.”  The Andrew Wyeth drybrush studies drew me in, because he was always painting ruined architectural structures in Pennsylvania and Maine.  Every time I looked at his paintings, I thought of the outbuildings on my grandparents’ farms in all their ramshackle appearance.  I liked the look, and still do.  I think that stories ooze from the details of such buildings.

This tire shop I came across in Atoka County Oklahoma arrested my attention to the point that I turned my vehicle around several miles down the highway and went back to see it and photograph it.  Now, leading up to this Thanksgiving Day, I have watercolor sketched the site three times, and feel that I am just now “getting into” the subject.  I think it deserves some short stories, some poems, some word sketches to depict it.  And it is highly possible that I will be doing something further with the subject before I return to work next Monday.  In the meantime, I am looking over these three watercolor attempts and pondering my next move.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015

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Life is being wasted.  The human family is not having half the fun that is its due, not making the beautiful things it would make, and each one is not as good news to the other as he might be, just because we are educated off our natural track.  We need another form of education.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone out there reading this.  I don’t think I could have planned a better one for myself.  Waking in the darkness before dawn, enjoying the warmth of covers, and thinking good thoughts, I decided the first thing I wanted to do once I got up was go back to the third watercolor I started over the past three days, and see if I could finish it.  I did.  I took some chances in color that I’m not used to taking, and am glad I did.  I also tried out some new techniques in drybrush with the foreground–a combination of masquing, staining with a drybrush, and pencil rendering/scribbling–which was also enjoyable.

Returning to a book I’ve read once all the way through and am nearly finished with my second reading, I’m amazed at the insight and clarity with which Robert Henri wrote.  The man was truly a prophet, a seer, a visionary, and I’m grateful that he recorded his thoughts for posterity.  He has been a real gift to me personally.  I love the quote posted above.  And I’m glad, in retrospect, that I returned to my artistic roots.  I laid down the pencil and brush to pursue graduate studies in academic subjects, and followed a career in education.  But one day I woke up and decided to return to what gives me the most deep-seated pleasure in life–making art.  My job is still a good experience for me, but I live to pursue my passion when not on the job, and the activity never lets me down.  The holidays have been meaningful this year because I’ve had uninterrupted time to pursue painting and thinking, and it’s all been very, very good.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

 

 

A Third Watercolor for the Holidays

November 25, 2015

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The object of painting a picture is not to make a picture–however unreasonable this may sound. The picture, if a picture results, is a by-product and may be useful, valuable, interesting as a sign of what has past.  The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

With a heart of gladness, I spent my third day in a row working at watercolor. The subject is the same Atoka County, Oklahoma tire shop that I photographed on one of my road trips to Missouri.  This one I did not finish, as there were too many interruptions. I’m hoping that I’ll wrap it up tomorrow, despite Thanksgiving and the welcome distractions it might offer.  My heart is filled with Thanksgiving over many things, but one of them is this space, improved health and a general spirit of eudaimonia that makes it possible to paint.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

A Second Watercolor over the Holiday

November 24, 2015

tire shop

After all, the goal is not making art.  It is living a life.  Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art.  Art is a result.  It is the trace of those who have led their lives.  It is interesting to us because we read of the struggle and the degree of success the man made in his struggle to live.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Thanksgiving break could not have come at a better time for me–time to rest up, get stronger from this lingering sinus infection, and devote some quality time to reading and watercoloring.  Going back over my computer files, I’m glad I dug up this photo of an abandoned tire shop somewhere in Atoka County, Oklahoma.  Whoever owns this wretched piece of real estate has no idea that someone drove by, turned his head, continued to think about what he saw in passing, and turned his vehicle around on the highway to return to the spot, get out and photograph it from multiple angles while nearby a pair of deer hunters dressed in camouflage smoked cigarettes and stretched their legs, walking around their parked vehicle.  I have now completed two small watercolors of the site in two days.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll tack on a third.  Every square foot of this structure seems to narrate a story to me.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Painting into the Holiday

November 23, 2015

imageI am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but I am interested in art as a means of living a life.  It is the most important of all studies, and all studies are tributary to it.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

After nearly two weaks of a nasty sinus infection and demanding school schedule, I am delighted to emerge intact, and most grateful for this opportunity to pick up the brush again!  When I feel sick to the point that I cannot use my eyes, life is so bleak, and the past two weeks without art and reading were dismal.

On a recent road trip, I experienced a moment described about our famous painter Edward Hopper–it was often said that he would pass by a subject worthy of painting, and, a few miles later, would turn his car around and go back to the location, so powerful was the lingering mental image of the subject. This happened to me.  An abandoned tire shop alongside a quiet highway arrested my attention, and I drove a good five miles before turning around to get back to it and take some pictures–I felt that the structure just bristled with stories. Photographing it from a multiple of angles, and so grateful for the bright sunlight, strong shadows, and cold bracing weather, I determined that I would begin studies of this as soon as I felt sound in mind and body again.

The holidays are approaching, and I decided not to wait until Thanksgiving to get out the watercolor supplies.  This is a small study–approximately 8 x 10″ in size, but I kicked it out in half a day today and am itching to begin another.  It feels splendid to be sketching again.  I have worked exclusively in Texas coastal subjects since my artist-in-residency last summer.  I’m glad to return to this nostalgic strain once again–it’s been awhile.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.