Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside shacks in Waxahachie, Texas

May 30, 2011

Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside in Waxahachie, Texas

The winds got up again this afternoon, making it difficult to paint and hold supplies in place.  But it also kept the heat from rising.  I found a tree that offered plenty of shade, and went to work on this trackside structure, stopping occasionally to allow passing freight trains to obstruct my view (one Kansas City Southern, one Union Pacific).  I painted this shack at last year’s Waxhachie Paint-Out, but this time decided to paint it larger (11 x 14 instead of 8 x 10) and incorporate more of the surrounding trees.  I did not time myself, but estimate that I had this one finished in less than 90 minutes.  Two paintings in one day has exhausted me.  School resumes tomorrow (one more week of it) and I will return to Waxahachie for a new plein air adventure as soon as that final bell rings!

Thanks for reading.

Contemplating a 1920’s Bridge Amidst a Gathering Storm

May 30, 2011

Vintage Waxahachie Bridge Beneath a Gathering Storm

What a splendid morning to engage in plein air painting.  Temperatures were in the seventies this morning (a welcome relief from the triple digits we’ve experienced the past three days).  Waxahachie has some beautiful parks and walking trails.  One of the trails winds its way under this 1920’s bridge.  When I looked up at the gathering storm clouds, I knew this was going to be my first painting attempt of the day.  As it turned out, I got the best of both worlds: I laid in the sky first, which was overcast and filled with billowing storm clouds.  Then the sun popped out, the sky turned bright blue, and shadows returned to the bridge, along with highlights in the foliage enveloping this structure.  So, I got to put in the dark turbulent sky, and then got to follow up with nice shadows and highlights.   I call that a perfect world for painting!

Thanks for reading.  I went on to do another quick painting, so I’ll prepare that one to post next.

A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website http://www.recollections54.com).

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisas-Market-Street-Grille/274360247861

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

 

Kerouac Jazz Moods for Late Night

March 8, 2011

jazz at the bistro

Trying to unwind and get to sleep.  Earlier today I posted the Red Goose Shoes sign from a low angle, reflected in a store front window, and just now recalled this low-angle Jazz sign I painted last year with a reflection off the window.  This marks the first time I ever tried to paint a window reflection.

This original watercolor, unfortunately, was either lost or stolen last summer.  The organization that had possession of it made good and paid me the listed price of the painting, and fortunately I had images of it to make limited edition giclee prints.  But it always sickens me to have an original piece come up missing like this.

It’s very likely that I could finish the Red Goose Shoes painting tomorrow.  I’m ready to move on to another composition.  Red Goose gave me headaches, with all the detail called forth.  I’m ready for something looser and more atmospheric.  We’ll see what transpires.

Thanks for reading.

So Much Depends Upon a Red Goose–Tribute to William Carlos Williams

March 8, 2011

Trautwein's Red Goose Shoes, St. Louis

I’m working in my garage/studio after school on a Tuesday afternoon.  Texas storms are brewing, but right now, the light is good and the breezes are pleasant.  My Voices and Visions documentary video of William Carlos Williams is playing as I post this, and has been playing over the past hour as I’ve painted on this piece.  Williams was a pediatrician, and his son was a podiatrist.  Hence I got this notion to paint this Red Goose Shoes sign, reminiscing with a grin about a WCW poem that I suppose will never erase from my consciousness:

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

Every time I see something that is strikingly red and fading in time, this poem comes to the surface of my consciousness.  Hence the Red Goose Shoes sign.  There is one languishing in downtown Fort Worth near where I live.  Soon I’ll probably go and try to paint that one as well.

This is the defunct Trautwein’s Shoes at 5227 Gravois in Southwest St. Louis.  Last Christmas, as my wife and I poked around historic route 66 that threaded through St. Louis (I recently finished the Spencer’s Grill painting and posted it on this blog), I was struck by this vintage sign, shining brightly in the winter sun, and took a number of photos from several angles.  I have found some sensitive blogged comments about this store and would like to post the link for you if you’re interested in learning the background of this sad store:  http://www.beltstl.com/2005/07/independent-shoes/

So, as I listen to the lifestyle of William Carlos Williams, who always gathered ideas for visual poems as he traveled about his small town, I too wish to make a contribution remembering the sights I encounter as I make my daily rounds.

Thanks for reading.

Red Goose Shoes and Memories of Neighborhoods Past

March 6, 2011

Red Goose Shoes at Trautwein's

This winter evening in my garage/studio is beyond belief.  I’m bent over this painting I’ve begun of an abandoned shoe store in southwest St. Louis, near where I grew up.  I photographed the store and derelict sign during the Christmas holidays on a cold snowy afternoon while I was cruising historic Route 66 and Gravois Road.  There is plenty of information on this Trautwein’s store’s history on the Internet, and in subsequent postings, I will recover the blogs I read a couple of months ago, prompting me to attempt this painting.

What I’ve found enchanting this evening, is listening to a documentary on William Carlos Williams while I paint.  WCW was a poet and pediatrician in Rutherford, New Jersey, who made his rounds about the small town in the early decades of the twentieth century.  He was a pioneer of Imagism, as his active eye recorded the events of his daily odysseys and he actively scribbled rough drafts of poems of these on his prescription pads.  Coming home late at night, he would push these scraps of paper around on the table top, and revise them into the poems we now love.

As I’ve worked late this afternoon and into the darkening evening, my ear has filled with the sounds of this WCW documentary, mingled with the live sounds of my suburban neighborhood–stock car races roaring in neighboring Kennedale, children on bicycles up and down the street beside my house, suburbanites walking their dogs and chatting with acquaintances,  a table saw shrieking in someone else’s garage (man-cave) nearby.  The sight must be peculiar if anyone looks up in my direction–an open garage and a guy sitting at a drafting table working on a watercolor, watching a portable TV and blogging on a laptop.  No power tools to be seen in this cave!  I have absolutely soaked every sensation of this day from my garage, Proust-like, enjoying today and remembering yesterday.

I hate that I have to return to school early in the morning, and see it through all the way to Open House tomorrow night.  This painting, after tonight, will probably lay dormant for about 48 hours.  But hopefully, the image will compost in my mind’s eye, and develop in a way that I’ll know what to do when I finally return to it.  I’m glad Spring Break is only a week away.  Perhaps I’ll get more “real” work done then.  I had hoped that this weekend could feature 2 1/2 days in the studio, but that was not to be.  A family emergency, plus too-many-errands, managed to cut up my quality painting time into very small segments.  Though I painted three times today, none of those “sessions” lasted longer than 45 minutes before something else “came up” that had to be tended.  But, that’s how we live.  I have no complaints, really.

Thanks for reading.  I hope your day has been as good as mine.

A Route 66 Christmas Odyssey Requires a 1940’s Diner

March 5, 2011

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood Missouri, est. 1947

The good news today was that the aunts are going to be just fine.  After only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night, I decided I needed to nap this afternoon if I had any hopes of finishing this painting today.  I’m glad I did.  Sleeping from 2:00 until 4:00, I rose and resumed work on this in the garage (my Man-Cave!) with a beautiful afternoon Texas sun shining in the open door.  The light was exquisite for working on this painting.  Once it got dark, the winter temperatures plummeted, and I was forced to lower the door and continue work under house lights (I hate that!).   But . . . I did not want to tinker with this another day.  So . . . here it is . . . signed and out of my hands!

Tomorrow I plan to take it to the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I already have my next watercolor composition lined up, and I just may get after it tonight–I’m in the mood.

I’m grateful for the companionship I felt from the Voices and Visions video documentaries of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams.  What fabulous poets!  What vision!  I felt a particular connection to them as they painted the American scene in penetrating words, as I hope to do some day with watercolor.  Both men were driven by wanderlust as they traversed the American landscape, both urban and rural.  And though I don’t look at the TV while painting, I could certainly see these poets’ images in my mind’s eye as I continually sought to refine my own.  I still hear Williams’ voice in my conscience: “No ideas but in things!”

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy this one.

On the Road Today

March 5, 2011

On the Road

I guess its only fitting that this painting goes On the Road with me today.  Late last night, my wife received the phone call that her elderly aunt had become ill, and that her roommate (recovering from a recent car accident and hospital convalescence) had to be rushed by ambulance back to the hospital with breathing issues.  We made the one-hour journey to the Emergency Room, and waited for her to stabilize and be admitted to a room.  I then took Sandi to spend the night with her sick aunt and I returned home by 2:30 a.m.  Back up at 7:15 this morning, fed the dogs, getting ready to take them to the groomer, packed fresh clothes for Sandi, and am preparing to return to the hospital, one hour north.  I’m taking this painting along with me, as I need still to draw the line of newspaper vending machines along the wall of Spencer’s Grill–the only cloud of white, undeveloped area remaining on this piece.  I expect I’ll finish the drawing sometime on the trip, and then paint it all in when I return (whenever that is).  I’m glad the two women are going to be fine with some rest and a couple of us tending their needs this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Route 66–Odyssey of the American Mind

March 4, 2011

Spencer's Grill on Route 66

At last, the weekend!  Immediately after school, I had a nice visit with my gallery director, Bill Ryan, at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I dropped off my large Eureka Springs cafe painting for framing.  Then, I dashed over to Texas Wesleyan University (my night job!) to retrieve some materials from the library.  In my garage studio, I’ve enjoyed immensely the Voices and Visions series of video documentaries on American poets.  Over the past week, I’ve listened to T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and today am listening to Walt Whitman.  I also picked up the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, two volumes of his poetry, and the Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have before me a weekend of books and painting!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will see that I have sketched in the pavement along the bottom of the composition, using a series of washes along with plenty of salt and water-soluble graphite pencil work.  I’m now waiting for all of that to dry so I can get back to work on the cars and the newspaper vending machines along the front side of this diner.  I fully intend to finish this piece over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll get back to you soon.

Route 66 Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill

March 3, 2011

Despite my earlier post today, I resolved to find a way to get into my garage studio and paint this afternoon.  It wasn’t easy, as I had a college class to teach tonight.  Nevertheless, I did get into the watercolor a bit more, and began the building on the right across the street, and continued tinkering with the horizon colors and shapes.  I think it’s realistic that I could finish this one up by the weekend.  I apologize for the poor photo, as the lights in my garage are not very good, and I didn’t have the foresight to photograph the work this afternoon when the daylight was nice and strong.  But nevertheless it gives the viewer another voyeuristic “snapshot” of a work in progress in my garage.

Thanks for reading.