Archive for the ‘plein air’ Category

Waiting for the Train

November 9, 2019

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Newest Greeting Card of my Sedona Series

Ten new greeting cards have just been processed, and while waiting for the Union Pacific Big Boy to arrive in Palestine, Texas today, I thought I would start rolling them out on my blog. I began a series of twenty 8 x 10″ watercolors of these red rocks in Sedona, Arizona and formatted six of them yesterday for my 5 x 7″ greeting cards. I print these on Hallmark card stock and insert them with their envelopes in nice Clearbags. The cards are blank inside and have my written thoughts on the back:

Sedona Splendor

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

John Muir

Words defy my deepest feelings when I stand on the bare ground of this magnificent land and gaze with awe at the towering peaks of the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Standing at my easel, I breathe prayers of gratitude as my eyes move all over this silent sculptural portrait gazing back at me with seeming encouragement and approval.

David M. Tripp               (817) 821-8702

http://davidtrippart.com

(blog) https://davidtripp.wordpress.com

Today promises to be an exciting one. The Union Pacific Big Boy 4-8-8-4 is scheduled to arrive in the Palestine train yards at 2 this afternoon and stay till 8 tomorrow morning. All my life, I have envisioned this iron horse shaking the ground with its tonnage and belching steam into its surroundings as it pulls into a town. Soon, I will get to see it with my own eyes. I’ll be set up with my plein air easel, hoping to capture a decent image of it in watercolor and pencil.

Stay tuned.

Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4014 Arrives Tomorrow

November 8, 2019

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Union Pacific Big Boy Restored

Friday night has arrived and I am tucked in for the night in Palestine, Texas. Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., the restored Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 will arrive two blocks from the Gallery where I am privileged to hang my hat. When the big moment arrives, I will have my plein air easel set up to see what kind of work I can accomplish, sketching this big behemoth in watercolor with steam blowing everywhere. The locomotive will stay until 8 a.m. Sunday.

Out of the eight Big Boy locomotives that exist today, only this one is in operation, having been just restored after nearly six decades of retirement. Before service ended, the locomotive had traveled over one million miles. I have seen two of these models, in the transportation museums of Frisco, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri. This 4-8-8-4 engine is over 85 feet long, and has an axle weight of  nearly 68,000 pounds. The driving wheels are 68 inches in diameter.

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My Father standing next to a Big Boy in St. Louis

Tomorrow promises to be a special day, and I hope to have good things to report. Also, I invite you to check out my new website www.davidtrippart.com, launched just last week.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind muyself I am not alone.

Reaping the Whirlwind

September 23, 2019

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This Watercolor Just Found a Home

Go into Nature raw and simple and just sit quietly doing nothing other than allowing Nature to become accustomed to your presence. Soon enough, often just beyond what you had taken to be the threshold of your patience and perception, Nature steps forward and begins to reveal its features to you.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature

Two summers ago, I had a one-day plein air experience that now seems to have altered my watercolor trajectory in a profound way. I was sitting for hours on a cabin deck in South Fork, Colorado, staring at the beautiful evergreens lit by the sunrise. Musing over how exactly I could capture the evanescence of these lovely trees in transparent watercolor, I thought over what I had learned about sixth-century Xie He’s “canons” of painting. Briefly stated, he pointed out that the artist’s aim was to capture the spirit or movement of the subject.

I immediately began experimenting with numerous panels of stretched watercolor, combining masquing, pouring, splattering and dripping of the pigments. As I worked, I was joined by some cute critters.

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Feeding chipmunk4

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A New Attempt at Evergreens

Today I decided to go after the evergreen subjects with some new ideas for experimenting. All day, my mind has been in a whirlwind as I’ve thought up new techinques and approaches, filling several pages of my journal. It feels good when the mind and imagination begin percolating new ideas and approaches.

I wanted to take a moment and share the paintings I worked on yesterday at the Queen St Grille. It was a great experience, and I am grateful for Jean Mollard’s invitation to paint there again.

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I’m painting well into the night tonight, which is unusual for me. I hope I’ll have more to share tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the rush.

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Finding my Way to the Core

July 21, 2019

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The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

What is that abridgment and selection we observe in all spiritual activity, but itself the creative impulse?  . . . all the weary miles and tons of space and bulk left out, and the spirit or moral of it contracted into a musical word, or the most cunning stroke of the pencil?

. . .

The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety.

. . .

The power to detach, and to magnify by detaching, is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet. . . . The power depends on the depth of the artist’s insight of that object he contemplates.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Art”

A quiet, tranquil Sunday afternoon now yields quality space for reflection over a recent vacation across New Mexico and Arizona. Our journey included adventures into the natural wonders of the Sandia Mountains, The Grand Canyon North Rim, the Red Rocks of Sedona, the Petrified Forest and Painted Canyon, along with Route 66 visits to memorable landmarks in Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As Hemingway testified that he could not write about Michigan until he was in Paris, and could not write about Paris until he returned to the United States, so I acknowledge that I still haven’t figured out how to record in writing or paint my responses to this first visit to the Grand Canyon. While standing and looking out across the North Rim, I felt a visitation that cannot be described, and at the same time realized that I would not be able to complete a comprehensive watercolor of my initial sweeping views. I spent the entire first day walking and looking, sitting and looking, standing and looking, all the while scribbling and sketching in my journal in a state of perpetual wonder . . . and decided to wait until the following morning to rise and walk to the rim and sketch in watercolor my first small study of what lay sprawling below.

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Early Morning Sketch of the North Rim

Rising early, I walked one hundred feet from my cabin to the North Rim, found a comfortable seating position, and made my first watercolor sketch as the sun rose and bathed the canyon below. After about forty-five minutes, I returned to the cabin to spend some time writing and drawing in my journal. During this quiet time, new ideas finally began to emerge and I had a clearer perspective on what I wanted to do.

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Quiet Morning at the Grand Canyon Cabin Writing Desk

Later in the day, while a storm gathered over the South Rim twenty miles away, I hiked down the Bright Angel Trail and found another comfortable spot to sit beneath a tree and out of the sun. As the storm moved slowly toward me, I worked on a second quick watercolor sketch of the vista, stopping just as the rain began on the North Rim.

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Approaching Storm from the South

On my third day, I took a seat outside the Grand Canyon Lodge and tried my hand at capturing the calligraphic white lines all over the side of one of the cliffs below where I sat.

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Rock Striations and Unusual Textures Among the Rocks

Not long afterward, I attempted a fourth watercolor sketch, but it is so ugly I choose not to post it. I felt that I had learned a great deal from my first attempts, and later while visiting the Red Rocks of Sedona, I began an additional nineteen watercolor sketches. At the time of this writing, I am still developing them and trying several new approaches that I look forward to sharing with my readers.

Throughout this journey, Emerson’s essays have provided a never-ending source of enrichment for my thirsty soul, and I inserted quotes above from his work titled “Art”. I knew from the start that I could not create comprehensive watercolor paintings while on the move with a few plein air sketches. But I did use the sessions for “information gathering”, and rediscovered the joy of drawing with pencil and pen & ink. I also worked on some new compositional configurations. In good time I will be bringing these out to share with you. Once I get back into my home studio, I plan to work on some larger, more comprehensive paintings of that magnificent North Rim of the Grand Canyou.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Perusing Old Journals and Creating New Paintings

May 12, 2019

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Mother’s Day Morning in the Gallery at Redlands

The daemon knows how it is done.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (journal entry)

There are large modulations of tone throughout fifty-seven years of musing in the journals, yet Emerson seems perpetually in quest to hear his daemon speak to him.

Harold Bloom, The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime

Waking early on Mother’s Day in the Redlands Hotel, my first thoughts surrounded the question over whether or not I would have a second prolific day of painting. Yesterday, I completed four watercolors that had been started en plein air while I was traveling in El Paso and the surrounding areas. Often when I spend an entire day of painting, I feel somewhat emptied and wasted on the following day and resort to reading and journaling. I don’t expect every day to yield fertile thoughts and visions. Our great American poet Wallace Stevens stated it eloquently:

It is not every day that the world arranges itself into a poem.

Wallace Stevens

Harold Bloom, citing examples from Walt Whitman’s experiences while trying to push out the great body of poetry titled under the umbrella Leaves of Grass nailed the phenomena with these words:

No man, no woman, can live in a continuous secular ephiphany.

Throughout my creative years, I have learned the lesson that there are bursts of creative energy, often followed by moments of quiet restoration. Looking back over the decades, I find a measure of satisfaction that a large body of work has been created, and I am more aware of the prolific periods than I am of the fallow ones. I spent some time this morning reading from my old journals, and came across extensive notes I recorded four years ago from reading the published works of the painter Robert Motherwell, and came across this:

An artist has to be a long-distance runner, and the thing I’m most proud of is my most recent work is as fresh as the first.

As the morning hours passed in the quiet Gallery at Redlands, I felt my urge to create beginning to build, thanks to Harold Bloom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wallace Stevens and Robert Motherwell. Suddenly, I knew what I was going to approach next.

As always, the studio was the space of revelation.

Bernard Jacobson, Robert Motherwell: the Making of an American Giant

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Several weeks ago, I was surprised by the colors falling across some vacant undeveloped land adjacent to a new Kroger store built near the neighborhood where I live in Arlington. On this particular late afternoon, with the weather being pleasantly temperate, I chose to drive to the Kroger store and take a seat in the patio area on the southwest corner of the complex. No one else was seated out there, and I anticipated some quality reading and journaling time with coffee. But as I looked up, I was astonished at the quality of colors the late afternoon sun cast down over the field with the dark horizon of trees in back. I took several reference photos, and next time I was at The Gallery at Redlands, I began three 8 x 10″ studies of this composition. I found none of the three satisfying, and abandoned them.

When I traveled to west Texas and New Mexico last week, I brought the three watercolor sketches with me, and took them out once during the trip to take a closer look. I still felt nothing as I looked at them. Yesterday, I spent the day in the Gallery working on the four mountain sketches I had begun during my travels. This morning, I went out to the Jeep and retrieved the three “Kroger” paintings, and after about an hour of reading my old journals along with some new reading from Bloom, Emerson, Stevens and Motherwell, I suddenly had an idea for the three discarded paintings. They are wildly experimental, but I have posted them above and believe I will go ahead and put mats and plastic sleeves on them, and maybe even frame one of them, it’s still too soon for me to decide.

At any rate, I’ve had a great Mother’s Day in the gallery/studio and feel like quality time has been enjoyed.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Rainy Saturday in the Gallery at Redlands

May 11, 2019

Follow your genius closely enough and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect at every hour.

Henry David Thoreau

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Signal Peak, Guadalupe Mountains

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Franklin Mountains, El Paso

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Franklin Mountains, El Paso

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Valley of Fires, Carrizozo, New Mexico

I have chosen to ensconce myself in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas for Mother’s Day weekend. A recent trip through Cloudcroft, Corrizzozo and El Paso still floods my imagination, and I wanted to have some quiet time in the gallery to complete some plein air watercolor sketches I attempted this past week. It has been pouring down rain most of the day today, so foot traffic through the Redlands Hotel has been quite sparse, allowing me hours of uninterrupted time working at the watercolors. In my hometown neighborhood, an art festival is in progress, and I made the decision after nine straight years not to participate this time. I think I made a good call, considering the heavy rains and soaked parks in this part of Texas.

The Thoreau quote posted above I have engraved on a wooden desktop ornament that my friends the Darrs surprised me with last summer in Crested Butte, Colorado. I chose this weekend to pack it in my bag to keep on the gallery desk for inspiration. Looking up at it throughout the day, I mused over this motto that has shaped a large part of my adult life. I always hesitate to use the word “genius” because people today often equate the word with I.Q. and think of Einstein-type personalities. The word had different connotations with Emerson, Thoreau and their fellow New England Transcendentalists. They regarded genius as that independent, inner voice that introverts know all-too-well, that compulsion that Thoreau described as “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”

In the quiet of the gallery, I have delighted in this opportunity to gaze at reference photos I took of the locations I visited to paint. I have so much to learn when it comes to painting mountains in watercolor, and I am enthusiastic to pursue this for awhile. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I will keep the gallery open throughout the day. But if the weather is anything like it was today, then I may find myself dashing out several more watercolor sketches. I am grateful for quality times such as these.

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.

Cold Winds Over West Texas

May 9, 2019

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Signal Peak, Guadalupe Mountains

The power depends on the depth of the artist’s insight of that object he contemplates.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Art”

Forty-seven degree temperatures and a stiff wind greeted me as I stepped out this morning. I found a cafe with available Wi-fii and coffee. Pulling up photos I took of Signal Peak (8751 ft.), the highest summit in Texas, as I drove past the Guadalupe range recently, I decided I would later today attempt some sketches of this magnificent site, using my photos as a reference.

I regret resorting to reference photos when I watercolor; I have had this reticence since discovering the dynamic of painting en plein air. For several years now, I have endured a seething compulsion to paint mountains, but alas they are nowhere near my residence. Two or three times a year, I manage to visit mountain ranges, yet standing in their eternal presence, I always feel like a mere bird flitting past their exterior, then quickly returning home. This morning, Emerson’s quote above has my full attention; I believe that an artist needs to spend time in the presence of his/her subject, allowing the subject matter to compost in the consciousness in order to paint it authentically.

Emerson’s magnificent meditation from “The American Scholar” I have read and recited to students for decades. I post it below, now rendering in bold print the same sentiment from his statement in “Art” that I posted at the top:

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

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My sketchbook journals are replete with pencil studies of trees that are improving because I have paid my dues, sitting in the presence of them, working diligently to render their unique figures and portraits as I gaze upon them. Trees are everywhere I live and work. But mountains–how I wish I could sit in their company with the ease that I find in trees. Perhaps one day I could move to an environment where I could gaze upon them and know more fully what Emerson professes, that depth of artistic expression comes with time and familiarity.

The theologian Paul Tillich, when addressing an audience celebrating an anniversary of Time magazine, mused that the American public of his day was driven by a horizontal force to produce quantities in faster time, and that the results were a shallow product. He observed that it takes time to develop a vertical dimension, one of depth and profundity. I am going to take that to heart, and see if I cannot produce better renderings of mountain ranges in watercolor as I continue to study them. This summer I have made some serious plans to vacation among mountains and canyons. But in the meantime, I will continue to study my plein air sketches and photographs, and continue my practice of painting these subjects.

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.

 

 

 

 

Southwest Wanderings

May 8, 2019

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Standing Atop Upper Sunset Trail, Franklin Mountains State Park

One must strain off what was personal and accidental in all these impressions and so reach the pure fluid, the essential oil of truth.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

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My View from the Upper Sunset Trail

The past several days seem a blur as I attempt to record punctuations from a road trip that included Cloudcroft, Carrizozo and White Oak, New Mexico, along with El Paso, Texas. My literary companions of Emerson, Woolf, Mann and Hesse also fed me with stories and immortal words. Woolf’s quest for “the essential oil of truth” has touched a deep chord within me, and during these excursions I found immeasurable solace in the vast expanses of nature as well as the printed word. On the other hand, my few forays online to sound the depths (or lack of) from podcasts and blogs were not so fruitful. In fact, Woolf’s words better describe those encounters:

Some of these books were, on the face of it, frivolous and facetious; but many, on the other hand, were serious and  prophetic, moral and hortatory. Merely to read the titles suggested innumerable schoolmasters, innumerable clergymen mounting their platforms and pulpits and holding forth with a loquacity which far exceeded the hour usually allotted to such discourse on this one subject.

My deeply-held sentiments are similar to those of Emerson and Thoreau. When Emerson boasted that Harvard taught all the branches of learning, Thoreau retorted: “Yes, but none of the roots.” I will always be grateful for my education. Yet, the decades devoted to thousands of hours poring over texts, I believe, have driven me ever more closely toward the primary source that fed the great cloud of geniuses: Nature. My belief holds that nature offers that “essential oil of truth.” These past few days have offered me a boundless quality of space and time to explore this intriguing world in its manifold beauty and grandeur. I could feel Whitman’s words from “Song of the Open Road” stirring from within my being:

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d

of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master, total

and absolute,

Listening to others, and considering well

what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving,

contemplating,

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting

myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space,

The east and the west are mine, and the 

north and the south are mine.

I seem to recall that I posted these quick sketches from my phone on the morning that I was making preparations for the road. The image I copied made me think of my friend Wayne White (https://ramblingsofafarrier.com/double-d-acres-llc/), a genuine cowboy and outdoorsman who has been my friend since second grade. No one to this day has made better coffee for me, using an old urn over an open campfire. By the way, Happy Birthday, Wayne!

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A Pair of Pages from the Journal

For several decades I have felt like a hypocrite in one major area of artistic endeavor: the sketchbook. Since high school I have believed that the “real” artist devotedly keeps a sketchbook. As an art teacher in the publc schools, I preached that doctrine. And throughout the decades, I have purchased and accumulated stacks of sketcbbooks. But I have never consistently maintained one. Every time I tried a “sketch”, I kept at it till it developed into a finished drawing, tore it out of the book, matted, framed and sold it. I have no lasting sketchbooks of any value for retrospective study and reflection. And throughout my years of teaching humanities and art history, I lifted up Leonardo da Vinci as the quintessential “Sketchbook/Journal-Artist/Thinker”. Personally, I have maintained a journal since 1985, with well over a hundred volumes on my bookshelves. These pages comprise approximately 99.5% words, with the very occasional sketch appearing.

On this excursion, I forced myself to alternate between sketching and writing, hoping, believing that I just might turn the corner and turn into a “Sketchbook/Journal-Artist/Thinker”. We’ll see. At any rate, I posted above a couple of my attempts.

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Looking East from the Valley of Fire to the Lincoln National Forest

After a lovely day spent in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, where I took a number of reference photos but never painted, I stopped at the Valley of Fire where I surveyed in wonder acres of black volcanic rock, and looking out toward the Lincoln National Forest, decided to work up a quick sketch of the Sierra Blanca. This was my first time in awhile to look at a distant mountain and attempt a plein air watercolor sketch.

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Franklin Mountains State Park

Ultimately settling in El Paso, I decided I wanted to paint mountain ranges en plein air. Going online, I discovered  a local plein air group that goes out every Tuesday morning to paint. On their website was an entry for anyone wishing to connect with the group. Twice I entered my name, email, phone number and message, expressing my interest. No response. When Tuesday arrived, I decided to set out alone, and came across the Franklin Mountains State Park. Driving to the end of the road, I parked and hiked up a hill to set up and paint the vista. Halfway through my first painting, my phone rang. I continued to paint, letting it pick up the voice message. As it turned out, the plein air group was finally returning my messages and announcing that they were not going out to paint today. Better that I just left the call unanswered; I found what I was seeking.

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First Attempt

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Second Attempt

I marveled at the subject rising high before me, its colors and textures continually shifting as the sun emerged and withdrew among the clouds. I recall the testimony of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet daring anyone to tell him nature never changes when he witnessed the continual changes with his own eye. I attempted two watercolor sketches because I saw at least half a dozen shifts in the mountain’s colors, textures and shadows. The encounter was invigorating and I chide myself for not engaging in plein air activity more than I do.

Today I find myself fatigued from all the travel, sketching and painting, and have given myself to reading and reflection. But I wanted to take these moments and send a blog up the flagpole in case anyone out there is interested in looking at what I’ve experienced.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

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The Greeks had a concept of Kairos time, which is not quantitative like our normal conception of time, but qualitative–rich or empty, the meaningful hour or the hurried moment. When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time–slowly, serenely but thickly.

David Brooks, “We need more timelessness, outside the speed of social media”

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Since my last post, I have journeyed to Palestine, Abilene, Lubbock and San Angelo. The whirlwind of activity made it difficult to stop long enough to post a blog. Now I am sequestered in The Redlands Hotel, my home-away-from-home, and I am packing and loading for Artscape 2019 at the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, 9-5, and it is my biggest art show of the year. This will be my second time to participate, and I am still awash in splendid memories of last year’s encounter. I have framed the watercolor pictured below and am looking forward to bringing it out for its first public viewing.

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I am also bringing out a number of plein air experimental watercolors I have made over the past six months.

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cloudcroft

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This is an exciting time for me, but I’m glad it is only Wednesday. My Jeep is already loaded with all my booth furniture and the only job left for me is to pack the paintings. It is nice to approach the event without feeling my hair is on fire.

My friend Ben Campbell from the Texas State Railroad dropped by the gallery this afternoon. He was one of the first friends I made when we opened The Gallery at Redlands a little over two years ago. He gave me a gift, the book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura. I am already immersed in this beautiful literary work. I posted above the quote by David Brooks from an article he published introducing the book. Ben was profoundly moved in his reading of it and purchased an extra copy for me. I love reading the works of reflective minds who manage to steer clear of the frenetic pace set by social media and our culture in general. So, thank you, Ben. This is a timely (in the kairos sense) gift that I am already treasuring. The evening is still young. I’m going to go upstairs and read this volume in the quiet comfort of the Redlands Hotel.

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.

Afterglow from Yesterday

April 11, 2019

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Plein Air Demo before High School Students

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

Billy Joel, “River of Dreams”

Recently, quality time for blogging has been scarce. Between spending hours behind a windshield in addition to processing hours of business affairs on the computer, I have felt my soul drying up. I love making art, reading, writing and blogging, and it’s been about 48 hours since I have been able to pursue those necessities that nurture my “real” life.

But for now, I need to push away the business paperwork so I can at least respond to a most precious moment I experienced during the first half of yesterday. Cindy Thomas, a public art teacher colleague I have known over twenty years, has also retired and taken up a part time position teaching art in a private school (smaller, more respectful classes and much larger studio space). She invited me to visit three of her classes yesterday and demonstrate watercolor en plein air. Their high school campus had a beautiful outdoor garden area and the weather was sunny and cool–just perfect for such an occasion.

I am anxiously waiting for the video her film classes produced of this event. In three separate sessions, I had the privilege of demonstrating and fielding questions from art and film students, roughly ten students per class, just the right size for direct, intimate conversation. Though I don’t miss full-time high school teaching, it was refreshing beyond words yesterday to see the students’ eyes light up as we discussed the profound joys of making art while surrounded by a natural environment. The questions covered art theory, history, philosophy, journaling, sketching practices, and the necessary steps for getting one’s art out into the public eye. Though twenty-four hours have passed, I am still warmed at every remembrance of this special encounter. Thank you, Cindy, and Pantego Christian Academy.

One of my best remembrances was the scripture passage above the door of the studio from Ephesians 2:10–

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

From my years in graduate study, I recall two notable ideas from this passage. First, the word translated “handiwork” is from the Greek word poiêma. Our word “poem” comes from this, and the word basically refers to a work of art, a creation. The passage sets forth humanity as God’s work of art. The close of the passage speaks of an advanced preparation for humans to do the good work intended. Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Four Causes sets forth the argument that our good works are already present within us, and they will issue forth. I tried to urge it upon the students in our discussion that they already have artistic tendencies in their essence, and this artistry is intended to come forth, whether they do it in visual, literary, musical or political arts; they already have that capability within themselves. Now, in their educational arena, they have that opportunity to cultivate those gifts.

Reluctantly, I have to return now to the business affairs of my art. Hopefully tomorrow I can emerge and get back to what I enjoy the most. Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you the joys of yesterday.

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.