Archive for the ‘Vintage cars’ Category

Commission Finished

February 3, 2019


Thank you, all of you who have shown interest in the development of this watercolor. There have been requests to post it, so here it is, everything except the signature. This was a labor of love, as the stories behind it warm my heart and are very similar to experiences I knew, growing up and visiting my grandparents on the farm. The patron is a published author, with many fine stories to tell. I hope she publishes the stories surrounding this picture, as they have kept me good company while working on it.

Thanks for reading.

Preparing for the Big Game

October 11, 2016


Leonardo is the Hamlet of art history, whom each of us must recreate for himself . . . 

Kenneth Clark, Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of his Development as an Artist

My distracted personality has been tested of late, with time divided between reading several excellent books, completing watercolors, grading papers for school, and preparing inventory for my biggest art show this year: Edom Festival of the Arts, to be held this next weekend, October 15-16 in Edom, Texas.

In recent weeks, I have managed to complete several works which are now being framed or matted professionally for their first public viewing:


Summer Shell (Claude, Texas)

loco (2)

Rounding the Bend (Eureka Springs, Arkansas)


Resting in the Heat (Brookfield, Missouri)


Arkansas Repose


Sleepers (Lexington, Texas)


Autumn at the Back Door

The gas pumps and bucket of apples I had completed long ago and tucked into my portfolio, completely forgetting about them till they were rediscovered yesterday.

Because of yesterday’s school holiday, and Friday’s travel time to east Texas for setup, I have only a three-day week at my school, which in many ways will make it much busier. Once the weekend arrives however, and my booth is set up, I intend to enjoy the October weather of rural east Texas, as well as the crowds that fill the rolling pastureland where the festival is held. Though the location is rural and remote, thousands of patrons pour in from Dallas, Plano, McKinney and several populous cities from the metroplex.


Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone


Swimming in Ideas

August 1, 2016


We sail because our mind is like a fantastic sea shell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.

Abraham Heschel, Man is Not Alone

The day has been quite fulfilling, as I’ve enjoyed Heschel’s engaging work, and picked up the brush after a two-day hiatus.  I picked up my Arkansas truck watercolor from the frame shop and love the presentation the framers put together. Then I turned my attention to the train from Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  This is a rather large composition and it’s going to require some focussed time. So far, it seems that I am doing much more drawing than painting, but I enjoy that too.  Thanks for reading.

train (2)


Memories of an Arkansas Vista

July 7, 2016

arkansas finished (2)

There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.

Thomas Merton (quoted in Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

On this quiet Thursday, I completed my second reading of this magnificent Annie Dillard book, and am closing in on completing this watercolor I began yesterday. I am not happy that my Jeep is suffering difficulties, and was taken to the dealership Saturday, and as of today, they still have not even looked at it.  Six days is too long for anyone to be without their sole possession of transportation. Nevertheless, being housebound, I am completing other tasks, that I hope are not “itsy-bitsy” by Merton statndards.

This truck I photographed while traveling across Arkansas last May on my first of two trips out there to conduct watercolor workshops and judge plein air competitions.  The sight of the sun glinting off the corroded steel of the abandoned vehicle, as well as the liveliness of the surrounding landscape, filled my imagination with such delicious satisfaction, that I turned my Jeep around after traveling an extra mile, and returned to this spot, got out, walked as close as I could to the vehicle, and took several photos with my phone.  Only now, two months later, do I get around to painting the scene.  I was not able to get it out of my mind.

Painting over the past two days has yielded a large quantity of satisfaction for me, as I stared very closely at this composition, crawling around in the weeds and foliage, examining the barbed wire, and scrutinizing every square inch of the faded truck.  The only breaks I took were to read more from Annie Dillard and rest my eyes from the visual details of the painting.

Today I am tired, and still waiting for word on the Jeep.  But I’m happy to have finished a book, and am staring across the room at this watercolor to determine what else needs to be done to it, if anything.

Thanks for reading.


December 28, 2013
Transitions from Magnolia to Mobilgas

Transition from Magnolia to Mobilgas

The ever-whirling wheel

Of Change; the which all mortal things doth sway.

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

Finally, I post this painting that I completed a couple of weeks ago for one of my Christmas commissions.  The owner requested a 1950’s-era filling station (I believe it was 1959) when Magnolia changed to Mobilgas.

With the coming of the New Year, our minds wax pensive with resolutions as we continually confront changes in lives, our environments.  I have been reading lately from the Book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) as I do in the closing days of every year.  The aged author seems to complain that amidst all the changes that there yet remains “nothing new under the sun.”  Personally, I grew weary of the adage years ago that “The only constant is change.”  But I live with that, and wrestle with it throughout my years in education, and now personally as I watch 2013 wane and prepare for the unknown features of 2014.  I do love the face of Janus, the Roman god, looking in two directions simultaneously, and continually think of January as the hinge between those two worlds.

This has been an excellent day to reflect and sort out some matters, while reading and painting (and blogging).  And I can indeed testify that I am looking forward to the new age about to dawn, even though it brings the typical anxieties.  Currently I am so grateful for the “down time” for reflecting and creating new things.  I won’t return to school until January 6, and plan to suck the marrow out of this week that lies ahead.

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.


There’s a Certain Slant of Light

December 15, 2013
First Waking Moment of Sunday

First Waking Moment of Sunday

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

Emily Dickinson

I love Emily Dickinson’s work, but have always wondered over this verse.  Like Edward Hopper, I love slanting light, and I love the quality of winter light the most.  So, when I awoke this morning and saw this on my bedroom bookcase, the words of Emily’s poem immediately flashed across my consciousness, and pulling the poem from my book, re-read it.  Still it reads with a sorrow that I never feel when gazing at winter light.  I always wonder if I am misinterpreting her in this poem.

I could not wait to enter the studio with such clear, cleain light flooding my house.

Race Horse Commission

Race Horse Commission

I am spending today, trying to finish this final commission to be devlivered on Monday.  That will make three commissions in three days signed, sealed and delivered.  A load will roll off my back when that happens.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for those two ice days that opened up a four-day weekend for me.  Withouut that precious time, I’m not sure how I would have pulled off these commissions.

Two Commissions nearly ready

Two Commissions nearly ready

The gas station painting will be delivered to its new owner this afternoon.

Christmas Commissions in Progress

Christmas Commissions in Progress

The Jeep painting I delivered yesterday.  I’m starting to feel like Santa Claus.

Back to work.  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.

Creative Eros

December 11, 2013
Another restless night in the studio

Another restless night in the studio

. . . those who present directly and immediately the new forms and symbols are the artists–the dramatists, the musicians, the painters, the dancers, the poets, and those poets of the religious sphere we call saints.  They portray the new symbols in the form of images–poetic, aural, plastic, or dramatic, as the case may be.  They live out their imaginations.  The symbols only dreamt about by most human beings are expressed in graphic form by the artists.  But in our appreciation of the created work–let us say a Mozart quintet–we also are performing a creative act.  When we engage a painting . . . we are experiencing some new moment of sensibility.  Some new vision is triggered in us by our contact with the painting; something unique is born in us.  This is why appreciation of the music or painting or other works of the creative person is also a creative act on our part.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

All arts create symbols for a level of reality which cannot be reached in any other way.  A picture and a poem reveal elements of reality which cannot be approached scientifically.  In the creative work of art we encounter reality in a dimension which is closed for us without such works.

Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith

Though I have been away from the blog a couple of days, I have not been away from the arts, have not abandoned the creative eros.  Yesterday’s return to school after two snow-closure days pitchforked me back into the chaotic maelstrom of two schools trying to re-set the damaged bones of fractured schedules.  The college had to reschedule final exams, students had to set appointments to make up missed exams because of transportation issues on icy roads.  Yesterday I faced a hectic day in the high school, then spent the entire afternoon and evening at the college with final exams and scheduled make up exams.  But I did extract some quality library time spent in the arts section on the third floor.  I managed about ninety minutes of reading and reflection between appointments.  And my soul was elevated.  I didn’t want to leave that sanctuary.

Today was unusually different.  Coming out of the shower this morning, my mind and imagination shifted into overdrive.  I was scheduled to lecture on Paul Tillich in the 7:35 Philosophy class.  His ideas were tumbling about in my head, and I was having quite a time lining them up for presentation.  The class was ready and receptive, and I felt that the creative spirit of the man visited us.  If there is a heaven, and if I’m permitted to enter, then I would love for nothing more than to see Paul Tillich waiting at the harbor for me when my ship arrived, taking my hand and saying, “I’ve waited for this moment to meet you.  We should have travelled that earthly odyssey together.”  If only I could spend eternity asking him the questions I’ve saved up all these decades.

(I drew this with a fountain pen late one night in my office in 1999, as I was preparing to lecture on Tillich the following morning.  The text I generated spontaneously as I was sketching the portrait.)

After I finished my classes, I was able to return to the watercolor activity.  The top painting is 99% complete and will be delivered Friday.  The bottom painting is getting closer to completion.  A third one, in progress, is lurking in the docks and hopefully I will complete it this weekend.  I’ve made many promises this Christmas, and it appears that, thanks to the snow and ice days, I will manage to finish these tasks and (hopefully) make some patrons happy.

Meanwhile, I’m restless with all my reading throughout the day and evening with Rollo May and Paul Tillich.  I love reading about the creative process, the urge one feels to bring order to the chaos that greets us daily and to make something of it that speaks to our hearts and to others who look and appreciate.  My life as an artist and educator has had its shaky moments.  But as I draw nearer to this holiday season, I’m finding peace with a number of elements that have eluded me throughout the decades.  There are a few things I believe I am coming to understand better, and with that new sense of understanding comes a measure of peace.

Thanks for reading.  It’s time to return to the painting.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Accepting the Gift of Inclement Weather

December 6, 2013
Beginning Work on a Gas Station

Beginning Work on a Gas Station

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.  Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing.  He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates.  For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must fae eternity, or the lack of it, each day.  For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment.

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize acceptance speech

Today’s school closure was a genuine gift for me.  I am up to my neck with three Christmas commissions that I could not give sufficient attention to with my school schedule this semester.  The three-day weekend could not have come at a better time.  The Hemingway statement rings true to me.  Making art is a solitary exercise, as is writing.  I love the fellowship of other creative spirits, but they cannot help me when the task of painting beckons.  And the quiet of the studio throughout this day has been perfect.  I cannot drive anywhere, even if I wished it.  And tomorrow is Saturday–no schoolwork to prepare immediately.  It’s been a great day to get the tasks underway.  I’m posting part of what I’ve accomplished today.  I’ve done quite a bit more, but not sufficient yet for photography.  Three paintings are underway and I’m feeling the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Thanks for reading.  Gotta get back to it!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Finishing the Archer City Filling Station

August 12, 2013
Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.  It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I feel that this watercolor may be finished, though I have yet to sign it.  This afternoon I took a long look at it, made some compositional notes in my journal, returned later, and added only what I had suggested in the journal: darkening the ground  between the building and Hudson, completing the jutting piece of property to the left of the building, completing foliage in the left background, rendering the shingled roof, applying washes of color to the right of the Hudson, finishing the crepe myrtle tree behind the building.  The painting looked much different (and better) to me after those tweakings.  Now I’ll lay it aside for a few days or weeks and decide later if anything else needs to be done.

In response to the quote from Leopold (I’m still trying to finish that book that I started reading years ago!), I’m fascinated with nature and what exactly it is that we consider “beautfiul.”  As stated in an earlier blog, I myself love to look at gnarled dead trees, the kinks in their branches, and the myriad of limbs that dissolve into the sky. No doubt I did more work on the dead trees to the left rear of the gas station than any other single part of this painting, though I doubt sincerely if viewers will even as much as look at that part, which is alright with me.  As a painter, I have never obsessed with what the viewer finds attractive in any of my compositions, so long as the viewer finds the painting worth a second look.

Perhaps tomorrow I can attack the large composition of the Fort Worth Sinclair station I visited yesterday.  I had planned on doing that today, but could not obtain some of the supplies needed to start the painting.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Sunday in the Watercolor Studio

August 11, 2013

Tree  Study in Archer City Painting

Tree Study in Archer City Painting

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf.  We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

For me, Annie’s writing has always been warm company in times of solitude.  Yesterday, I spent a long time, lingering over the mass of trees, living and dead, on the left background of this Archer City composition.  Never in my life have I been satisfied with my handling of dead trees.  I never put in enough tree limbs, and my works look like trees that have been badly pruned.  For this reason, I have, for years now, stared at dead trees and their network of branches weaving webs across the sky.  Fellow artists, during plein air painting excursions have often expressed surprise when finding this out.  Naturally, when enveloped in nature, none of us singles out the same object for scrutiny.  But friends have been surprised to know that I could easily disregard everything else except for a solitary dead tree with thousands of limbs.  I still have plenty of work to do on this particular painting.  I spent more than an hour studying the photo I took of the trees and carefully working with graphite, colored pencil, watercolor pencil and watercolor pigments to render these dead boughs, branches and limbs.  I still have a long way to go.

Archer City, Texas

When taking a break from the background trees, I still have plenty of decisions to make about this foreground.  There is a paved road winding around from behind the filling station to join the highway in front.  I’m working on that now, and also trying to solve the asphalt texturing in front of the Hudson.  I also worked on the car quite a bit more this morning, darkening parts of it and trying to capture the nuances of highlighted reflections on the finish.  I’m getting lost in this painting, as usual.

I haven’t given up on my Coca-Cola sign and garden gate.  I’m still making decsions on how to finish that one.  I also received a tip on a restored Sinclair filling station on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth.  The setting is a real blast from the nostalgic past.  I drove over there this morning, took pictures, and have begun a small 8 x 10″ study on the side of the station where the sun was hitting the stark white.  I plan to return to the site this afternoon when the sun can light up the front of the filling station.  I didn’t like the front facade in total shadow as I found it this morning.  Hopefully I can spin out some nice compositions from that setting as well.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.