Archive for the ‘snow’ Category

Settling into the Cold Nights

December 30, 2017

snow high ridge

“A mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

William Wordsworth

I picked up the quote above from my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. After a hundred pages of reading, I can say I am genuinely hooked on this biography and am grateful that the frigid weather now gripping north Texas waited for my return from a St. Louis Christmas (which featured delightful snow!). Now I’m snuggled in front of my fireplace as temperatures promise to reach lows in the upper teens the next few days.  I’ve posted above a watercolor I did today (8 x 10″) from a photo I took of a Christmas eve snowstorm in St. Louis.

And . . . I seem to lapse into the habit of photographing breakfast in front of the fireplace on those rare occasions that Texas gets cold enough for a fire in the winter.


Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

christmas painting

Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.

Remembering Robert Frost’s Snowy Evening

December 3, 2014
The Property Behind my Parents' Home in High Ridge, Missouri

The Property Behind my Parents’ Home in High Ridge, Missouri

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
I know–I have posted Robert Frost’s immortal words on previous blogs.  But this poem surged through me as evening arrived and I stood at the backside of my parents’ property during the Thanksgiving break and gazed upon this tree laden with snow and the broken down fence beneath it.   All I could think of was the lament of Robert Frost–his wish to visit the snowy woods, but obligations preventing him, so he could only imagine the possibilities.  It was Thanksgiving.  I was out of school.  I was seven hundred miles from home.  Nothing prevented me from standing in this winter wonderland and exploring the surroundings.  This is my third and final plein air watercolor sketch of my holiday season, and I did it with gladness in my heart.
This 5 x 7″ watercolor is matted in white and installed in a wooden 8 x 10″ frame with glass.  I am offering it for $50, grateful to Robert Frost for giving me the inspiration to sketch this composition.
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.

Rising Toward a Poetic, Divine Life

December 3, 2014
Second Plein Air Attempt at Snowscape at my Parents' Home

Second Plein Air Attempt at Snowscape at my Parents’ Home

The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life.  To be awake is to be alive.  I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.  How could I have looked him in the face?

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Today my Philosophy class discussed this passage among others from Thoreau’s Walden, and tried to describe what is meant by a “poetic or divine life.”  As the discussion ensued, my mind kept drifting back to this second plein air watercolor sketch I attempted as it snowed in High Ridge, Missouri over the Thanksgiving holiday.  As I walked about the property on the second day of the snowfall, my attention was arrested by this solitary tree bathed in winter sunlight with snow still clinging to some of its branches, and the expansive thaw on the ground surrounding the tree. I knew that sketching the tree’s structure would prove difficult enough, but my attention actually was on the contrast between the dead, ochre-colored earth beneath the tree and the surrounding drifts of snow.  The longer I looked at these, the more excited I grew, and I knew I was going to have to attempt to render it.  Most of my life I have looked at those beautiful Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings of thawing snow on the Pennsylvania farmlands, and have always wanted to see this with my own eyes.  This is one of many reasons I regard this particular Thanksgiving season as a genuine gift to me.  I arrived in High Ridge in the fullness of time.

I have matted this 5 x 7″ watercolor in a white mat and enclosed it in a wooden 8 x 10″ frame with glass.  I’m offering it for $50.  This is truly a turning point for me in drybrush studies.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Heart Filled with Thanksgiving and Meditations on James Joyce

December 3, 2014
Property Adjacent to my Parents' Home in High Ridge, Missouri

Property Adjacent to my Parents’ Home in High Ridge, Missouri

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

While enjoying the holiday rest at my parents’ home outside St. Louis, Missouri, I re-opened James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and was so enriched by what I read, having forgotten most of what touched me when I first read this fine work back in the late 1980’s.  Snow fell on High Ridge, Missouri, and I found myself walking about in it late in the afternoon, no doubt feeling much of the wonder that Andrew Wyeth knew when he strolled about the property of Kuerner’s Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. I just did not want the darkness to descend, the late afternoon was so enchanting.  We just don’t get snow to speak of in Texas.

I am always daunted when I look out at the landscape and contemplate a plein air experiment.  What do I select? What do I omit?  How do I match up the colors that I find in nature, particularly when the winter light keeps changing in the late afternoon?  As I continued to trudge through the snow, I suddenly remembered the text from Joyce that I posted above, and how well it connects with one of my favorite Emerson passages posted below:

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.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

The artist has the privilege of selecting his/her subject for recreating, and furthermore, has the privilege of omitting anything that interferes with the objective.  The editing process, even in a simple watercolor sketch such as the one posted above, fills me with delight, and working on this small 5 x 7″ study was a genuine highlight of my holiday.

I have placed this in a white mat and installed it in a wooden 8 x 10″ frame with glass.  I’m offering it for $50.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying its presence in my home.

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.

Snowscape at Wayne White’s Ranch

January 3, 2012

Winter at Wayne's

Last winter in St. Louis, snow was everywhere.  I stayed as a guest at my friend Wayne White’s ranch west of St. Louis and was delighted at this view off his back deck.  I completed one watercolor sketch of the woods and fields, and then started this second one, but quit because it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.   After a one-year hiatus, I got the idea this morning to add a row of mailboxes, deepen some shadows in the woods, complete some more snow shadows and then call it a painting.  I’m ready to look at a new project now.

I look at this and think of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

I return to school tomorrow for a work day.  Students will show up the day after.  The winter break is nearly over.  And I’ll probably recite that Robert Frost poem as a mantra in the months ahead.  I do resolve this time not to let school completely crowd out my discipline of completing new paintings.  I look ahead to the prospect of discovering new things as I continue to explore watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Wyeth Winter Snowscape

January 3, 2012

Wyeth winter finished

I’m ready to move on to the next watercolor sketch.  A few finishing touches were added to this copy of an Andrew Wyeth drybrush of a snowscape at Kuerner’s Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  I spent most of this evening reading reflectively, writing in my journal, and just now, around midnight, found the notion to pick up the brush again.  I regret that my camera abilities are severely limited with the kind of lighting I have in my studio–I do much better photographing these pieces in the daylight outside.  Nevertheless, this one is finished and I choose now to move on.

Thanks for reading.

A Second Cup of Coffee and a Second Attempt at Andrew Wyeth Drybrush

January 2, 2012

Wyeth Winter

I’m surprising myself with today’s output, on only the second day of the New Year.  School will not resume for three days yet, and already I’m wondering in my head how many watercolor sketches I might kick out between now and then.

This is my second attempt at copying the essence of an Andrew Wyeth drybrush of a winter landscape at Kuerner’s Farm in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania.  I’m still pondering the Six Canons of Xie He, and am fascinated with the idea of distilling the essence of what you see.  As previously recorded, I had a good experience at an Oklahoma camp a few days ago, staring into the depths of a forest and trying to capture the essence of the masses of winter trees to record on paper.  I have always had a primal visual connection with Andrew Wyeth’s renderings of snowy scenes  in graphite, watercolor and gouache.  I missed my White Christmas in St. Louis this year, but decided nonetheless to pursue some winter scenic paintings.

The coffee has been delicious all day (my niece works at Soulard Coffee Garden & Cafe in south St. Louis, and gave me a wonderful Christmas gift of Soulard Coffee).  The reading has been delicious as well.  I’ve felt a rich communion with Marcus Aurelius and Paul Tillich as these great men left behind wonderfully introspective writings about life, always a good read at the beginning of a New Era.  I owe them a genuine, heartfelt thanks.  The readings and my own musings have produced about a dozen handwritten pages in my journal, and I regret to say that my journaling had dried up considerably in recent months.  It is great to be back at it again.  And this blog also gives my personal journals a shot in the arm, so thanks to you readers as well.


Ready to Deliver Christmas Watercolor Gift

December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas, Uncle Paul

The painting has been picked up from the frame shop.  I’m ready to pull out at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow, en route to St. Louis to deliver Uncle Paul’s Christmas gift, and spend Christmas with Mom, Dad and the siblings.  Still have plenty of packing to do, so I cannot linger here, though I wish I could.

Merry Christmas to all of you who keep my blog alive.  I cannot thank you enough for your visits and kind sentiments.  You truly are my inspiration to continue painting.  Have a fabulous and safe holiday season!

And thanks always for reading.

Colorado Dizziness! Durango-Silverton Railroad Watercolor Finished!

July 4, 2011

Durango Silverton RxR finished

This 4th of July finds me somewhere between Vincent Van Gogh’s steam locomotive and Andy Warhol’s factory.  I’m possessed with an energy to kick out some art work on an assembly line.  I frequently allow a number of watercolor partial attempts to accumulate in my studio–some that I regarded as “finished enough” en plein air and others that just started out badly and I abandoned them but did not throw them away–just threw them aside.

Now and then a day comes along like this one, where I choose to line up the unfinished pieces and resolve to bring them to their conclusions, sign them, blog them and move on.

This painting began during the Art in the Park festival in Kennedale, Texas.  During a slow moment in sales and traffic I sat on my stool and began this work, using a small reference photo (3 x 5″).  I never thought anything significant would come of it–just passing time (festivals can become rather long when the sales taper off).  In the months following (this began in April), I took the sketch out now and then and “diddled” with it.  I thought it was finished last week, but then saw some more things in it that bothered me.  Now I’m satisfied.

I long for the next time I get to board the Durango-Silverton.  My wife and I are thinking seriously about a trip to Colorado when the Aspens start to turn.  We’ll see.

Oh well, I have another railroad composition awaiting-one that started badly.  We’ll see if anything positive can come out of that.

Thanks for reading, and happy 4th of July.