Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sunday Morning Afterglow in The Gallery at Redlands

December 5, 2021
Pair of 12 x 16″ Watercolors Created Saturday

Good morning, friends. I wish I had more time to write, but I need to complete tomorrow’s final lecture for the fall semester at Texas Wesleyan University. At the time of this writing, Sandi and I are still in The Gallery at Redlands–Friday night’s Gallery Talk and Saturday’s Art Walk were successfuly, beyond our widest imaginings. Now I just feel the afterglow, as I can, because I still have work to complete for early in the morning.

So . . . I just wanted to post the two watercolors I did during yesterday’s Art Walk. I hope you like them.

And thanks always for reading.

New Watercolors Begun during Art Walk

December 4, 2021
Two Watercolors in Progress

Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you must, but stop whining and get back to work.

Werner Herzog’s written response to a disgruntled filmmaker (shared by Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic)

I laughed when I read this. I read a similar sentiment many years back from Ian Roberts’s Creative Authenticity. He wrote that the world can get by just fine without our art. I needed to read that because at the time I was feeling low about lack of success in marketing my work. In the years since then, I’ve come to realize how much I truly enjoy the time and space to make art, period. Today the gallery was busy with foot traffic from the monthly Art Walk, but still, I got to sit at the drafting table and paint throughout the day. Sure, I would have gotten further into the paintings had it not been for all the interruptions, but the beauty of watercolor is the ability to stop on a dime, and pick it up when the time is convenient again. So, all day long I have been chipping away at these pieces, enjoying every moment of the experience, and also enjoy conversations with the visiting patrons.

Art Walk has ended, but the dinner hour is about to open across the lobby and Santa has arrived to greet the children being brought in. I just wanted to stop long enough to share these sentiments.

Thanks for reading.

Monthly Art Walk is in Palestine Today

December 4, 2021

Gallery at Redlands ready for Art Walk

It is already a whirlwind of a day. Beginning at 9:00, people began coming into the gallery. Now, after 11:00, I’m still trying to get this blog out.

Today is Art Walk from 10-3:00. Twenty-three businesses in downtown Palestine have artists on the premises, demonstrating and selling their work. I have chosen to stay in the Gallery at Redlands where my drafting table is set up ready for me to create watercolors in real time. Sandi and I will be in the gallery till things close down in the hotel tonight at 9:00.

The gallery was full to capacity last night during our Art Talk. I am posting below the talking points I held in my lap as I spoke. This is not an actual script that I read; rather, it is a road map for what I wished to share. I don’t know how long my “talk” lasted, but the participants remained till 9:30, the discussion was so rich. I can’t wait for us to do this again.

Catching the Winds of Inspiration

By way of introduction, when I was a child growing up in school, I had only one talent, and that was drawing. I was not academically smart, and I was not athletic. Once in college, I woke up to the world of ideas and became so hungry for knowledge that I pursued academic work and basically abandoned art because it had just been exercises in talent and technique. I pursued graduate work until I earned the Ph.D. in New Testament Greek. I then pastored for 11 years. It was not just divorce that ended my ministry; life is more complicated than that. But in 1984 when I endured this existential earthquake and shifted from pastoral ministry to education, I picked up art and was shocked to find out that I was better than when I left it, because I had ideas and theories, not just technique. And so, I like to  refer to myself as a thinking artist; I am just as consumed with art history, criticism and aesthetics as I am with the technical aspects of making art.

And so tonight, I want to talk about this spiritual side of art, this mental part, vs. the mastery of techniques.

Philosopher Martin Heidegger, writing about the creative life, said “We don’t come to thoughts; thoughts come to us”.

Artists, musicians, writers, public speakers—anyone who lives to create knows that we cannot will vision or inspiration. We can only trim our sails to catch the winds when they blow. That is what I want to address this evening.

Artistic inspiration is a visitation. We don’t know where it comes any more than a meteorologist knows where the winds originate. In John 3:8, Jesus is quoted as saying: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes or where it goes. So it is with every one who is born of the wind.” (The Greek pneuma is translated “wind” or “spirit”).

This visitation has come with a rich variety of names: the ancient Hebrews called it wind, though in the Bible we like to translate the word as spirit.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the wind of God brooded over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light.”

The Greeks used the word daimon which New Testament Greek turned into demon. I find this unfortunate. The Greek daimon was that visitor who prompted the creative person to create.

The Romans came along and with Latin rendered the word genius. Later this spirit became known as a muse.

From the blowing wind to the daimon to the genius to the muse.

This visitation: we cannot will it any more than we can make someone else love us. It is a Gift. A precious gift. All we can do is trim our sails to catch the breeze when it blows. But how do we trim our sails?

How do I trim my sail? Frankly, I am not into mask making and altar building. I still laugh at what I heard once from an artist who said she enters her studio and starts with a prayer. If that doesn’t work, she has a glass of wine. And if that doesn’t work?

So, what do I do? I read. And as I read, I lean in and listen. This is a lifestyle that goes all the way back to college days when the Baptist Student Union told me about “quiet time.” At their encouragement, I began to read the Bible daily as Holy Scripture, and listen closely and carefully to the words, expecting a visitation from God. Fifty years later, that is still what I do.  But I listen to EVERYTHING I read, expecting a visitation. Philosophy, novels, poetry, essays . . .

And as I listen closely, thoughts visit me. Memories re-visit without knocking. Cascades of ideas wash over me when I am in the zone, reading and listening.

Since 1985, I have kept a journal, now nearing 200 volumes on my library shelves. Scribbles. Thoughts. Beginnings of thoughts. Ends of thoughts. They are nets for catching butterflies flitting all around me. I go back later to re-read and organize those fragments. By the way, most of what I’m saying tonight is coughed up from my old journals.

I love the Greek language. Logos, the Greek word we translate “word”, means “gathering together.” Cohesion. That’s what words are: harnesses, bridles, fences, packages. Words organize Ideas. And the artist is the one who organizes.

Emerson, in “The American Scholar”, wrote the following: “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 business; it went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of the mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.”

God created people in his own image, the Imago Dei. What is the “image of God”? What is the first thing we read about God? He creates. And if he made people to be like him, then they naturally create. What does a child in the nursery do with a pile of blocks in front of him? He stacks them. He configures them. It is in him. And when we hear the bird singing in the morning, is the bird aware of the beauty of its song, or is the bird just vocalizing out of its essence the way it was created to do? Does the spider spinning the web know the beauty, the symmetry and geometry of the threads it spins, or is the spider just spinning out of its own essence the way it was created to do? Why do we create? Because it is in us. We organize, we arrange, we respond to this spirit that visits us with ideas, with inclinations, with desires.

We cannot will the creative impulse, but we can adjust our sails to catch it and respond when the wind blows. And how about you? How do you prepare yourself?

______________________________

Thanks to reading. Time to get back to the drafting table.

Gallery at Redlands Ready for Yuletide

December 2, 2021

Lobby Display Window to The Gallery at Redlands

Sandi and I stayed up till 2 a.m. working in the Gallery at Redlands, getting it dressed up for the Christmas season and framing up my collection of train watercolors and prints for Polar Express. For the rest of this year, I am taking 10% off the price of my 8×10″ framed reproductions of trains and cabooses–$45. The 11×14″ framed reproductions are now priced at $60. I have three of the large currently, and 14 of the 8×10’s. Last night, framing up 17 of the pieces made me feel I was in Santa’s workshop, making toys. All the while I framed, Sandi worked on the window display, adding battery-powered candles, ornaments and a silver train to my collection of art pieces.

Tonight I will lead our Gallery’s Art Talk at 7:00. This December 3 event has been advertised for the past couple of weeks, and gallery artist Cecilia Bramhall has prepared special treats for tonight’s attendees. Sandi has also worked on obtaining the beverages. We are expecting a good time, and I’ll be addressing the general topic of “Anticipating Inspiration for the Creative Task.” One could say I have worked for two weeks on this topic for discussion, but in reality, I have prepared 67 years for it. I feel that the fulness of time has finally arrived.

Meeting of Dogwood Arts Council last night

It was a joy to gather with the Dogwood Arts Council last night for our monthly meeting in preparation of next March’s 84th Annual Dogwood Art and Music Festival. A huge tent has been secured, the parking lot prepared, and we’re anticipating a splendid event. More on that as details emerge. We also have a new website that has just gone live: https://dogwoodartscouncil.com/ Check us out when you get the time.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday in Studio Eidolons

November 28, 2021
Continued Work for Fort Worth Police Officers Association

. . . the loss of common sense is neither the vice nor the virtue of Kant’s “professional thinkers”; it happens to everybody who ever reflects on something; it only happens more often to professional thinkers. These we call philosophers, and their way of life will always be “the life of a stranger” (bios xenikos), as Aristotle called it in his Politics.

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

After the four-hour round trip to Palestine post-Thanksgiving (a parenthesis to the 48 hours in the Gallery), I woke up gratefully in my own home this morning with my family around me. Our morning coffee in bed with the snoozing dogs created a quiet and comfortable space, and the reading, as usual, was inspiring. I’ve been reading Hannah Arendt’s work off-and-on for months, now covering only about the first one hundred pages. I have to take her in small doses, as I do Heidegger. They offer so much weight to thinking that I find myself scribbling page after page of spin-off ideas in the journal.

Though retired since 2017, I have not ceased from the habit of reading scholarly as well as light material, and though teaching this semester was different, because I had to speak twice a week before an audience about ethical matters, my daily habit has continued unabated. I really thought I was finished with the classroom, and may be when the next week completes the fall term. Nonetheless,, I still enjoy the “life of the mind”, especially the reading of challenging material that continues to stretch my imagination. I loved Arendt’s observations, offered at the top of this post. Though never actually majoring in philosophy, I came to love the discipline during my years of doctoral study, and am glad the universities and high schools provided me the forum to teach it, and thus continue learning.

Thanksgiving has now segued into Christmas season, and I don’t regret that. It no longer bothers me to see Christmas decorations in the stores earlier each year; I wish the season’s spirit of “good will toward men” would be perennial. During this season, I intend to be more consistent in tuning out the negativity. Who knows, maybe with the new year I’ll be able to continue in that vein. It is so much better this way. Meanwhile, I intend to continue my engagement with “strange” readings along with the more popular ones. I’ll try to be more consistent with the blog during this holiday season as well.

Thanks always for reading. Incidentally, Facebook has blocked me from posting on the timeline. I’m happy to have WordPress still.

Saturday evening in the gallery

November 27, 2021
Making Slow Headway on the Fort Worth Police Commission

Men seek out retreats for themselves in the country, by the seaside, on the mountains . . . But all this is unphilosophical to the last degree, when you cannot at a moment’s notice retire into yourself. For nowhere can a man find a retreat more full of peace or more free from care than his own soul . . . Make use then of this retirement continually and regenerate yourself.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The rain and cold weather have for the most part kept patrons away from the gallery today, but the quiet allowed me to get plenty of work done for Monday’s university class as well as the watercolor commission currently underway. I didn’t plan it, but I’m so glad that I decided to bring out Marcus Aurelius at the close of my Ethics class. Reading his Meditations over Thanksgiving break has brought such a balm to my rested soul. I knew from my studies years ago that the American painter Edward Hopper (who devoured literature between his painting activities) was an avid reader of this book along with Emerson’s essays which he said he read daily. I have faithfully read Emerson for over thirty years, but had paid scant attention to Marcus Aurelius, and now am convinced that I will make him a constant companion.

I have my Mom and Dad to thank for my habit of solitary excursions. I didn’t grow up in a neighborhood, so there weren’t playmates available throughout my childhood. That, accompanied by the fact that our single-car-family went without transportation during weekdays as Dad drove into St. Louis to work. So I couldn’t be driven to friends’ houses to play. All of that worked out well. I learned how to entertain myself, and when I finally discovered books, I found that companionship with writers was more than enough.

Without reservation, I recommend that you check out the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. They could be read in a single setting, if not for the need to stop and shudder time and again at the insight this emperor possessed. I have shared before my love of the Greek language. This emperor chose to write in Greek and his style and vocabulary has striking infiniities with the Greek New Testament, hence my deepened interest in studying him.

The watercolor has probably dried enough for me now to return to work on it, but I wanted to stop and send out positive vibes to my reader friends and say please consider reading the Meditations. The practice could indeed improve your life.

Post-Thanksgiving Saturday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

November 27, 2021
Preparing Monday College Lecture

Remember that it is only this present, a moment of time, that a man lives: all the rest either has been lived or may never be.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Life is busy now at The Gallery at Redlands. Polar Express Season is warming up on these cold wintry mornings. The gallery windows show a dark and rainy Saturday morning over Palestine. In my early years, such views depressed me, especially over the holidays, but not any longer. Emerson wrote that nature wears the colors of the spirit, and with that in mind, I now look out on a cold, dark rainy morning and say: “Perfect for coffee and books inside.”

Thanksgiving was truly a gift to me this season, and I offer up genuine thanks from the heart. I’m reading Picasso and the Painting That Schocked the World, a lovely gift from my student Jennifer who visited us last weekend. Picasso’s reminiscence of his Blue Period at the Bateau Lavoir was much more affirming than my own personal blue period of the holidays in 1987. All I can say is that I am overwhelmingly grateful for the love and cheer that embrace me now, replacing the total lack of it I felt in 1987. I wish everyone could know genuine cheer and love during the holiday seasons.

Cecilia Bramhall Collection

The Gallery at Redlands continues to brighten these days. Cecilia Bramhall has brought in several Christmas composition paintings, Paula Cadle’s pottery collection has been replenished, and Sandi is continuing to add garland and poinsettias. I have introduced Palestine’s Polar Express locomotives, selling the prints in 8 x 10″ frames and we are offering gift bags now to the holiday hotel guests.

Next Friday night, December 3 at 7:00, I will team up with radio personality Kevin Harris to lead in a Gallery Talk here at the Redlands. We will be discussing the “creative life” and what we have experienced personally over the years. The next day, December 4, from 10-3:00 will be our monthly Art Walk. Cecilia has already beefed up her Christmas painting offerings for her day spent in The Co-ed Shop, and I will stay in the Gallery at Redlands for the day, offering my own work at a 10% discount.

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.

New Commission

November 22, 2021
Fort Worth Police Officers Association

I am just barely underway with my latest Commission: a watercolor of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association building. I have been drawing on it with pencil and drafting equipment for two days, and I’m just now applying the first washes of the sky and am now waiting for them to dry.

The day has been weird, to say the least. I am unable to post anything on Facebook, having been notified of my restrictions to prevent misuse, whatever the heck that means. Thankfully, WordPress is still allowing me to publish…

Locked out of Facebook

November 22, 2021

FYI, for anyone following me on Facebook. I’m locked out, no reason given aside from their protecting it from “misuse.” Fortunately, I stil have a blog for publication.

Monday Morning in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

November 22, 2021
Morning View out the Window of Studio Eidolons

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, to eschew violence where it is a fraudulent substitute for power, to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

Though chilly outside, the view out my studio window this morning is filled with sunshine and color, and makes me grateful for artistitic appetites. Seeking a good word for the morning, I wasn’t disappointed with Irwin Edman’s expansive comment. Last night in The Gallery at Redlands, a young girl’s mother approached me while others were shopping the gallery, and whispered that her daughther wanted to ask me a question. She was ten years old: “How do you become a good artist?”

This is the kind of conversation I crave, always. It very seldom presents itself. The feelings welling up inside me are beyond description, even the morning after. I poured out all I could as I visited with that young, inquisitive artist, and still see that earnest look in her eyes as she genuinely wanted to talk to someone about making art. When my emotions are a little more under control and I can write with full accuracy, I plan to write out all I can recall from our lengthy conversation and share it on this blog.

Time is short. Though we returned home from Palestine late last night, I have to go back down there today. Polar Express is sending many, many reservations into The Redlands Hotel (they have a shuttle service and the scheduled train rides posted in the lobby), and many of those passengers are coming into The Gallery. I got my latest commission underway (for the Fort Worth Police Officers Association) and decided to leave it on the gallery drafting table last night since I was returning to work on it later today.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and with them many requests. It’s time to take it up another notch or two. I don’t plan to miss any commission deadlines this time of year.

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.