Archive for the ‘trains’ Category

Thoughts Between the Rivers

June 27, 2017

camp

There are two things in painting: the eye and the brain, and they have to help each other; you have to work on their mutual development, but painter-fashion; the eye, for the vision of nature; the brain, for the logic of organized sensations which give the means of expression.
Paul Cezanne

I thought on this day I would be on Day Three of our planned river excursion.  However, a few difficulties ensued, and we decided to abort and begin a modified plan on Thursday. Wayne had some difficulties with the supply boat and its stability in the swifter currents, and I–I had difficulties keeping my kayak upright. We did manage to get in some quality fishing time, however.  But as nightfall drew nearer and the currents more difficult, we decided it safer (for me) and more expedient (for the packing supplies) to call off the odyssey and plan a new one.  On Thursday, we should be joined by Mark, and I’ll trade my kayak for the canoe I rode last summer.  Most likely, we will paddle and fish throughout the day, set up camp for the night, then decide on Day Two if we’ve had enough fun.

wayne fishing

Wayne Fishing Big River

Today I join Wayne and his grandson for some lake fishing (and I’ll stay on the shore this time) and I anticipate a scenario resembling more of a fishing team than Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday, after drying out my sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and going to a coin laundry to wash all my river-soaked clothes, I settled back into a watercolor I started two days ago.

train

I have a large project before me involving trains, and should be posting many more watercolor renderings in the weeks ahead. While working on this one, I kept Cezanne’s ideas in my head, constantly adjusting my eye to my brain. I’m working from a quality photograph, so I should be able to put the necessary details in place.  However, the picture composition leaves much to be desired, and I hope I’ll be able to factor in some quality composition decisions.

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.

 

Mornings with Emerson

June 16, 2017

emerson

(I’m going to try and paint this!)

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

This morning’s introduction to the New Day lies far beyond adequate description, but I shall try, nevertheless.  Waking around 6:30 without an alarm (thanks to retiring to bed much earlier than my custom), I rose to a beautiful eastern sun, and after making coffee, settled onto the porch of this old store where I reside while in the country.

thoughtful coffee

I decided to spend a few moments in Heidegger’s poem, “The Thinker as Poet”, and came across these words:

The world’s darkening never reaches
       to the light of Being.
We are too late for the gods and too
       early for Being. Being’s poem,
       just begun, is man. 
To head toward a star—this only.
To think is to confine yourself to a
      single thought that one day stands
      still like a star in the world’s sky.

When I lingered on those final lines, holding my thought to one steady idea, the large tree in front of me suddenly stirred with life as the morning breezes whispered through the leaves, and I felt my face caressed by gentle winds.  My thoughts immediately recalled Emerson’s lines from Nature that open today’s blog, and I felt a rush of eudaimonia, embraced by a beautiful morning.  All thoughts of driving to the city evaporated, and I sat in that rocker for I don’t know how long, savoring the gift of that sublime moment too deep for words.

From my early years of studying the Greek New Testament, I have always been fascinated with the idea of logos, and have enjoyed reading Heidegger’s rendering of that word as “gathering together” or “gathering process.”  Recently I have pondered my endeavors in making art as attempts to bring together all that I have encountered in my life’s experience and express it in watercolor compositions that have something meaningful to say.  My attempts at making art have been an engagement with the logos, an encounter that involves assembling my key ideas into some kind of creative expression. This morning was timely for me, as I knew I had a significant opportunity before me in the gallery to make art that matters to me.

As I drove through the country, I suddenly stopped, turned my Jeep around, and returned to an abandoned open mailbox shaded in the trees and engulfed in flowers. I took several photos, including the one posted above, and have plans to work on this composition as well.

Once at the gallery, I resumed work on the old Texas and Pacific #610 that remains here in Palestine.  This locomotive was built in 1927 by Lima Locomotive Works, and only seventy of this model were made.  This is the only known one still to exist today, and in 1977 it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

610 friday

If my strength holds up, I’ll continue working in The Gallery at Redlands till 9 p.m. The Red Fire Grille across the lobby brings in a sizeable dinner crowd on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t mind patrons drifting into the gallery as I paint.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement Odyssey

June 15, 2017

crockett

My first Retirement Retreat off the Grid

Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

1:21 a.m., Thursday morning (barely)
June 15, 2017

Sitting in this dark country kitchen tonight, I feel that I am drifting in the current of a moonless midnight river without oars, and without compass. With the banks on both sides concealed in the night gloom, and unable to discern what lies immediately before me, I find retirement very scintillating and intriguing. The senses feel sharp, and the anticipation positive. In midweek, I decided to make the two-and-a-half-hour road trip to Palestine, Texas, and resettle The Gallery at Redlands for a few days. This new gallery opened in March with my one-man-show, and the relationship I have enjoyed with the proprietors since that day has been deeply satisfying to my soul. When I retired last week from twenty-eight years of teaching school, I was happy to know that a new chapter was waiting to be written.

After yesterday’s road trip following a mostly sleepless night, I found myself extremely exhausted by five in the afternoon. I had already put in six hours at the gallery and another hour at a Rotary Club meeting where I made a number of new acquaintances. I managed to frame a couple of my recent watercolors, began work on a new painting and resumed work on a painting abandoned last year. Ten more works were added to the display I already had in place, and the interior of the gallery felt like home once again to me. I could feel myself smiling internally.

After closing shop, I made the fifty-minute drive out into the country to tuck myself in to my favorite hideaway—an old store that friends allow me to make my home-away-from home, off the grid beside a gravel road. Settling on the porch with a fresh cup of coffee, the cool winds concealed the reality of a 95-degree late Texas afternoon, and I gazed across acres of sun-washed pastureland, letting my thoughts drift. Finally at 7:30, I could no longer keep my eyes open, so I retired to bed, knowing that was probably a mistake. Sure enough, at 11:50 I awakened, and have been unable to sleep since. My mind is too awake, too interested, too consumed with possibilities of the new Thursday that has yet to dawn. I sit now at the large kitchen table of this old store, composing this “blind blog” (no Wi-Fi in this remote location), waiting for drowsiness to lead me back to bed.

Palestine is a city of trains, and the Texas Railroad Authority has granted me access to some of their historic locomotives, including old #610. This behemoth pulled the Texas Freedom Train all over the state during our nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Following that year, the locomotive served time in Atlanta, Georgia until it completely tired out, and was returned to Texas. For nearly three months, I have waited for the opportunity to paint this enormous machine, poring over a number of photos taken from a recent visit to the shed where it’s been parked. I have a number of experimental ideas in mind as I try for the first time to render this loco’s portrait in watercolor and pencil.

While I’m working in the gallery over the next few days, I also hope to complete a larger watercolor of a passenger rail car I found in Eureka Springs, Arkansas during a visit last year. I’ve always been dissatisfied with the muted colors on the side of the car, and think I can try a few tricks to enrich them. The foliage also needs more work.

(Next day) After falling asleep around 2:30 this morning and sleeping till nearly 7:00, I rose to a more promising dawn, and the moonless night river yielded to a sunny morning drive, my Jeep cutting across the countryside, and my heart filled with a renewed sense of adventure. By mid-afternoon things were hopping in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, as I met several new friends, and managed to frame two more watercolors, finish my Eureka Springs passenger rail car, and break ground on the old #610. This is a retired Texas and Pacific 2-10-4 steam locomotive, the largest I’ve seen in over ten years. Seventy of these 600-series locomotives were manufactured, and this is the only one that still exists.  Right now, I’m waiting for the background of the painting to dry so I can begin work on the actual locomotive.

610 beginning

Old #610 Texas and Pacific in Progress

The draftsman must aggress; only by persistent assault will the live image capitulate and give up its secret to an unrelenting line.

Rico Lebrun

I anticipate a struggle and plenty to learn as I attempt to render the details on this complex locomotive.

eureka springs beginning

Eureka Springs Rail Odyssey, 16 x 12″ unframed, $250

Finally I finished the Eureka Springs passenger car I started long ago and resumed work on yesterday afternoon.  A number of new paintings have been brought out to The Gallery at Redlands for display and sale as well:

old store

Remnants from an Old Store, 11 x 14″ framed, $250

This subject was taken from the store where I gladly live when I retreat to the Texas wilderness.  Before retiring to bed last night, I walked into the store room and looked at this section of shelving behind the cash register, grateful for the memories of painting it last year.

indian corn

Indian Corn, 14 x 18″ framed, $225

I worked on this piece last winter while visiting with my parents in St. Louis, and finally got around to framing it.

palestine

Palestine Memory, 14 x 18″ framed, $200

I painted this scene from the Gallery window during my one-man-show last March, and finally got it framed and presented in the Gallery.

I plan to spend the next three days and evenings in The Gallery at Redlands, making as many watercolors as I can during this period, and continuing to make friends in the city of Palestine.  So far, the experience has been fulfilling.

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.

 

 

 

 

Art Museum Wanderings

May 5, 2015

Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.

Louis Kahn

Inside the Fort Worth Modern

Inside the Fort Worth Modern. Photo by Joe Mabel

Waking without an alarm clock at 7:40 Sunday morning proved to be the commencement of a stellar day for me. The sun was bright, breezes high, and temperatures cool as the morning greeted me with its gentle caress. Saturday was spent all day at the Kimbell Art Museum, participating in a writing workshop. Today, I decided to visit the neighboring Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Thjis beautiful piece of architecture, designed by Tadao Ando of Osaka, Japan, has become to me a cathedral for art. Every time I enter the premises, I feel a hushed state of expectancy. I just know that epiphany will occur.

Rooftop Scultpure Garden

Rooftop Scultpure Garden

After lingering in the galleries featuring the Abstract Expressionist, Minimalist and Pop artists, I decided to venture upstairs to the rooftop Sculpture Garden and enjoy some time outdoors in the shade, sketching the Henry Moore Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 2 gracing the lawn. I cannot explain the serene contentment I feel when I render something three-dimensional in pencil, whether it is a scullpture of piece of architecture. But I enjoy taking it all in, pondering it, and attempting to express it in the confines of a two-dimensional space.

Sketching the Henry Moore Sculpture

Sketching the Henry Moore Sculpture

Stephen's Iron Crown, by Robert Motherwell

Stephen’s Iron Crown, by Robert Motherwell

Gazing at the Henry Moore sculpture made me think of the contours of a Robert Motherwell painting inside: Stephen’s Iron Crown. Returning indoors, I spent some time in front of this large painting and sketched its compositional contours in the small sketchbook I was toting with me, finding ways to relate it to the sculpture outdoors.

Feeling an urge for coffee, I returned to the serene space I visited last week–the outdoor patio of the Modern Cafe, and read from my small Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper. I had managed to find the perfect time, space and climate for journal writing–no appointments, no responsibilities, just free time and great art around me.

Returning home I found myself now in the mood to pick up the brush and work further on this Union Pacific caboose I photographed years ago in the historic Handley neighborhood of east Fort Worth.

I find many reasons to delight in our era of improved access to information. Over a decade ago, I collected historic railroad manuals in order to track down information on diesels and cabooses, based on their road numbers. Now, I find nearly everything I need to know online. Thanks to donsdepot.donrossgroup.net I learned that this particular Union Pacific caboose was built by International Car Company in June 1967. After cabooses were removed from the freight trains, no longer needed for communication with the engineers in the locomotives, this piece of history was donated to the Old Towne Handley Railroad Museum. It now sits on the corner of E. Lancaster and Handley Drive in Fort Worth. I can see by photos of it online that it today sits on refurbished, gleaming trucks, whereas the photo from which I’m working still has the dark rusted wheels and undercarriage showing. I don’t recall how many years it has been since I took my photos of this caboose.

The day has been a genuine inspiration, and I think I can return to school Monday with a renewed spring in my step. 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.