Archive for the ‘Waxahachie’ Category

Reflections Over another Good Day of Painting

May 14, 2017

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One Last Waxahachie Plein Air Watercolor

Here’s a quote that I think will interest you–“Great painting like Bach’s music, in texture closely woven, subdued like the early Gobelin tapestries, no emphasis, no climaxes, no beginnings or endings, merely resumptions and transitions, a design so sustained that there is no effort in starting and every casual statement is equally great.”

But of course such depth presupposes another mode of feeling. One has to be Bach before one can paint in his power and richness. Depth of style can only spring from a deepening of our emotional life. 

Letter from NC Wyeth to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

Today grew into a hot 91-degree afternoon in Waxahachie. Returning to the spot that I occupied yesterday, I was delighted to find “Spider”, my new musician friend, there again, playing his guitar and harmonica, and keeping me company and inspired as the temperatures climbed.

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Though I continued to withdraw further and further into the shade, there was no wind where we were positioned, so I continued to feel hotter and fainter as the day wore on. But still, I could not stop hearing those words from NC Wyeth that I’ve posted above–words I read before setting up my easel and making a second start on this ground-level series of arches and portals of the Ellis County courthouse. Like the allusion to a Bach composition, I had no particular starting or ending point or even a focal point as I worked all over this composition before me, sometimes drawing, sometimes measuring, sometimes splashing, sometimes washing, sometimes drybrushing, sometimes scraping–everything I did to this painting felt right, and I loved the intimate connection I felt with the gigantic architectural wonder rising high over my head across the street. I thought of another NC Wyeth quote:

A great truth is like a mountain that one walks around, and the changes of its contour as one moves his position only emphasize and revivify its majesty.

After about three hours of working this composition, with a lunch break in the midst. I decided to sign it and call it finished.

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Romanesque Redivivus

When 5:00 arrived, signalling the end of Paint Historic Waxahachie, I returned to the Art on the Square gallery to gather up my paintings on display, and then learned that despite a slow day of traffic (only about thirty patrons came into the gallery today), the painting above, “Romanesque Redivivus” was purchased this afternoon. That brought me great joy. Three paintings sold and one honorable mention made this show a good experience for me. Now I can perhaps find some rest over the next two weeks before I set up for the three-day Art on the Greene art festival in Arlington.

Thanks for reading. It’s been another excellent day.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Loving the Work Itself

May 13, 2017

The week has been, to me, a singular mixture of ineffable sadness and inspiration–two moods that often happen together. But there is a persistent melancholy which I seem unable to shake off.

To circumvent these feelings I have devoted most of my spare time to reading, especially at night when sleep eludes me.–Thoreau, Goethe, Emerson, Tolstoy–all have struck me, as always, with incisive vitality and freshness. My ruminations have again been vividly stirred.

These great men forever radiate a sharp sense of that profound requirement of the artist, to fully understand that consequences of what he creates are unimportant. “Let the motive for action be in the action itself and not in the event.”

I know from my own experience that when I create with any degree of strength and beauty I have had no thought of consequences. Anyone who creates for effect—to score a hit–does not know what he is missing!

N. C. Wyeth letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944, a year before his death

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My entire day in Waxahachie was spent in this rapturous spot

The 40-minute drive through the country on this 63-degree morning was drenched with scintillating sunlight and excellent vibes. Artists were requested to paint on the courthouse square from 9:00-to-noon, then sell their work from their easels from 1-to-3:00. As it turned out, not many artists showed up for this event, but I was in place by 8:30, parking adjacent to the spot I had selected where I knew the sun’s angle on the courthouse would be favorable for me throughout the day.

With thirty minutes to spare before beginning, I sat in the shade on a stone bench and opened my book The Wyeths, which contains the complete correspondence of N. C. Wyeth. For years I have been enthralled with N. C.’s breadth of reading and thought throughout his years, and was excited when I found out his correspondence was available to read. When I read this morning his closing letters to his son, I was stirred to find that he read the same men that I read with profound pleasure. And I loved his manifesto which matches mine–making art has reward in itself, even if no one comes to look at it or purchase it. I was thrilled to know that this entire day was a gift, and I could do with it whatever I wished.

The courthouse clock struck 9:00, and I approached my easel with a plan–to knock out three watercolor sketches of the same subject in three hours’ time. I selected a 5 x 7″ picture plane, knowing I had three mats and picture frames in the Jeep that would accommodate them if they were worth framing.

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Candid Photo taken by my friend Pamela Brocato.  Thanks, Pam!

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In progress watercolor sketches

I drew the first courthouse cupola, then laid in the wet sky. I then turned to number 2 and repeated the process, then again with number 3.  Returning to the first one, I then painted the top part of the cupola, then moved to the other two. Returning to number 1, I fleshed out the bottom part of my building composition, then repeated with the other two. At 11:15, I despaired of finishing by noon, and set out to work fast and furiously and spontaneously on the tree cover, moving quickly from one to the next to the next. Finally, I put in whatever remaining details on the three buildings I had time to do.  At 11:55 I stopped, took the pieces into Art on the Square, the gallery at 113 W. Franklin St., inserted them into their 8 x 10″ frames and hung them with the rest of my work.

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I have priced the three paintings at $65 each framed in the 8 x 10″ frame, or $50 with only the mat. They will hang in the Art on the Square gallery until tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Making art is a solitary activity, and I don’t believe I have every complained about that. Solitude contains its own rewards, and when I feel that I have entered the “zone”, there is no such sentiment as “loneliness” in my soul. But today, I was definitely not alone. My phone jangled all day with well-wishers, online observers and all kinds of good words. Then companions began to drift in and out of my area the entire day, and it was sublime!

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Drew Minshew, alias “Spider”

A fellow about my age took his seat on the bench in the courtyard behind me and commenced playing his acoustic guitar, harmonica and singing. I seldom hear such talented musicians playing out in public like this, purely for their own enjoyment. This man was professional, and he sang and played the songs that resonate with me from my past–“Dust in the Wind,” “Turn the Page,” “Tears in Heaven,” and many, many more. He stayed until noon, as I did, playing till his fingers got sore. We exchanged business cards, and I intend to hear him perform. He stays busy with gigs. I think I enjoyed him the most, because he gets the same thrill from making music that I do from making art–the joy is in the process.

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Spider and Skeeter

Skeeter Murley, a long-time friend and watercolor enthusiast of mine, surprised me by dropping by. He had work to do in nearby Midlothian, and decided to swing by Waxahachie, knowing this Paint Historic Waxahachie was in progress. Skeeter has a job that takes him on the road too much for him to paint as much as he wishes. Hopefully, he’ll find a way around that soon.  His skill is phenomenal, and I’m proud to belong to the same Society of Watercolor Artists as he.

Cheryl Rose

Cheryl Rose and Me

I have known Cheryl Rose for decades, as we both worked in the Arlington Independent School District. She has retired, and I look forward to joining her ranks in a few weeks. She surprised me with a text that she was coming to town. Cheryl lives in Arlington, and made the 40-minute trek alone, finding no one available to make the trip with her. She came to town to peruse our gallery as well as the antique stores around the square. Cheryl has been a wonderful patron, picking up my limited editions, but today she decided to purchase an orginal.  Thank you, Cheryl!

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“Odysseus on the Rail,” now in the Cheryl Rose collection

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Cheryl Rose took this photo

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. . . and this one as well!  Thanks!

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Pamela Brocato and “Annabelle”

Pamela Brocato is one of the beautiful artistic spirits I gather with on Tuesday evenings for our “artists cafe” in north Arlington. She is a graphics design artist and pastelist, who also works long hours, travels extensively for her job, and struggles to find quality time to make art. But she is a delight in art-related conversations, and when she is in town, she joins our cafe and inspires us. She surprised me with a visit as well, and her adorable Pomeranian is as soft as a cat and just as quiet! The dog never made a sound the entire time Pam visited together at my easel. Pam also surprised me with some fabulous pics and I have to post those as well (she took the photo I posted near the top of this blog as well).

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As the afternoon grew hot and I began to feel my energy fading, I decided I might try one more shot at the courthouse, this time at the ground level.

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Ground Level Portal of Ellis County Courthouse

I worked fast on this one, as I was growing tired and the sun finally found me where I had earlier enjoyed the shade. It was time to call it a day and head back to the house.

This day has been fulfilling on so many levels. I’m happy that I ground out four watercolors, and happier that I met a new friend, and familiar friends cared enough to make the journey to spend time with me.  Thanks to all my friends, and thanks to all of you who follow me on this blog.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Prepping for the Final Weekend in Waxahachie

May 12, 2017

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Honorable Mention at Paint Historic Waxahachie judging

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Sold on opening night of Paint Historic Waxahachie reception

It was a good night.  The courthouse window posted above received an Honorable Mention and a gift certificate of $100 for Jack Richeson & Co. art supplies.  And before the evening was over, my first attempt at the courthouse sold. I drove home happy, thinking about tomorrow’s endeavor.

I will participate in the town square paint-out tomorrow from 9-12:00, followed by the sidewalk art sale from 1-3:00. My plan is to paint at least three 5 x 7″ watercolor vignettes of the courthouse cupola to insert into 8 x 10″ mats and simple frames. We’ll see if they can sell. Meanwhile, I have six additional paintings hanging inside Art on the Square, 113 W. Franklin St. (on the square!) still looking for a home.

If I still have the stamina after 3:00, I plan to retreat to the scenic areas surrounding the town of Waxahachie and focus on some landscape painting. Artists who have registered for Paint Historic Waxahachie can still create new work to sell until 5:00 Sunday. I have blocked off this weekend, hoping to have enough energy to continue painting till it’s over.

Thanks for reading.

Waxahachie Paintings Completed

May 11, 2017

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“Romanesque Redivivus”

The week has been a long grind, but I managed this afternoon to complete painting #7 and titled it “Romanesque Redivivus” since the architectural style is known as Romanesque Revival. I’m too sleepy tonight to record thoughts or musings with any kind of depth or twist, but I did want to show my readers this final painting. All seven paintings are now framed and six of them will be entered into the judging tomorrow. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading!

Crossing Language Barriers

May 10, 2017

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All good drawing or painting is compositional.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

And so I come to my final night before turning in everything by the competition deadline. Paint Historic Waxahachie will continue until Sunday at 5 p.m., but the judging for the competition takes place Friday afternoon, and all work must be submitted by noon Friday. That means Thursday at 6 p.m. for me, because I cannot leave school in time to get to Waxahachie by noon on Friday.

The painting above will need to be completed and framed by tomorrow evening, so I’ve decided to spend tonight looking it over and making compositional decisions regarding the crowns of trees surrounding the structure underneath. I’m satisfied with how the building has turned out, but am unsure of just how to fill in the foliage around the bottom perimeter. I’m confident I’ll make a decision by the time I pick up the brush tomorrow afternoon.

A wonderful encounter took place on the sidewalk today as I worked on this piece. Three men who work at the Foot Spa near Art on the Square came over and looked at my work, speaking only their own language (Japanese?–I’m still unsure). They gestured to me with thumbs up and smiles and nods and continued talking among themselves as they pored over my work in progress. Finally, the man in the red shirt took out his smart phone, typed Asian characters into his keyboard, and then hit translation. He then showed me his phone–“INK?”  I shook my head and typed “WATERCOLOR” into my phone and showed it to him. Quizzically, he copied “WATERCOLOR” into his own phone, hit the translation key, and then nodded and smiled and gave me a thumbs up.  He then spoke in his language to the other two, and they then nodded and continued to talk.

I felt like I was in the “Dances with Wolves” movie as Kevin Costner tried to discuss “BUFFALO” with the Sioux visiting his campsite. But I felt wonderful.  They hung out with me for about fifteen minutes before returning to work, and we never exchanged words. Yet there was a wonderful connection, thanks to art and phone technology. They watched me paint a little while longer before customers began showing up at their business again.

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My new friends from the Foot Spa

Before retiring for the night, I prepared six 11 x 14″ frames and one 12 x 16″ to take to Waxahachie tomorrow afternoon. The paintings I’ve completed have to be framed for display, competition and sale. Once the deadline passes, I have to option of continuing to make new paintings in hopes of selling them, or I may just collapse into a long overdue rest period. I’m not sure yet what will happen after 6 tomorrow evening. It’s been quite a grind, but I’m happy with all of it, and cannot wait to see my trio of new friends when I return tomorrow.

UPDATE !!!!   Someone named Caryl just read my blog a few minutes after I posted it, and emailed me to say the men are Chinese, and the establishment is Yayas Foot Spa, featuring ancient Chinese foot massage techniques. Thank you, Caryl!

Thanks for reading and following our events.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The French Impressionist Legacy in Waxahachie

May 9, 2017

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. . . to transfer the atmosphere of the artist’s studio to the boulevard.

Sue Roe, the private lives of the impressionists

Despite the physical fatigue factor from daily 40-minute afternoon drives and setting up to paint, I cannot describe how invigorating and inspiring the Waxahachie environment has become during this week of plein air activity.  The enthusiasm of the artists coming and going out of Art on the Square at 113 W. Franklin St. is beyond description. And the residents of this town are so friendly, eager to approach our easels to see what we’re working on, and to offer kind words and express appreciation for us coming to town to paint daily.

The skies turned dark over Waxahachie, threatening rain. I chose to set up my easel under the awning of the businesses on the west side of the town square. Measuring out a 9 x 12″ surface, I began carefully drawing out the details of the Ellis County Courthouse’s complex cupola. I worked slowly, taking several breaks, and got to renew friendships with other plein air artists I haven’t seen for over two years. I’ve missed the recent seasons of Paint Historic Waxahachie, and cannot wait to reconnect with other artitsts I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in this area.

And speaking of reconnecting–I have been unable recently to meet my friends at our weekly “artists cafe” gathering on Tuesday nights.  So . . . this afternoon Kelly Noonan and Elaine Jary brought the cafe to me! They made the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie and we had an evening meal, drinks and rewarding conversation at the College Street Pub on 210 N. College Street. This has become my favorite place to decompress after a long afternoon of painting, and what could be better than chatting with kindred spirits. Thanks, Kelly and Elaine for bringing the Cafe Gerbois back to life in this century!

And thanks to all of you who are following this activity. Thank you for keeping me inspired.

I paint in order to discover. 

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Weary in Waxahachie

May 8, 2017

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Waxahachie Depot on South Rogers Street

I am so thrilled, surprised and grateful to see so many following my blog as I make my daily trek to Waxahachie. Today I was more tired than ever, since I was out late last night and rose at 5 this morning to face my classes at school.  As soon as I was free, I made the drive south and managed to finish this caboose composition that I started two days ago and couldn’t seem to manage. I haven’t participated in Paint Historic Waxahachie over the past two years due to scheduling conflicts, and I am finding myself far out of rhythm this go around. It seems that I have to set up two to three times on separate days before I can finish a simple 8 x 10″ painting, and in prior years I was doing them within the hour.

My intention this evening was to complete this painting and then try to start and finish a second one in just one sitting. But I was too sleepy and too out of the mood once this one was finished and hung in the gallery. So, hopefully tonight I will get a decent night’s sleep and find sufficient energy tomorrow evening to start and finish a painting.

Meanwhile, thanks all of you for following me this week.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Grinding Out the Plein Air Enterprise

May 7, 2017

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It is necessary to work very continuously and valiantly, and never apologetically. In fact, to be ever on the job so that we may find ourselves there, brush in hand, when the great moment does arrive.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The words of Henri are timely for me in that I’m finding painting outdoors to be a grind lately. I travel forty minutes to Waxahachie to take part in this Paint Historic Waxahachie event, and after the Friday night carnival activity at my school, I awoke yesterday morning late, and still tired.  Nevertheless, I made the trip and managed to grind out the paintings until nearly dark. I found it necessary to sleep in again today, and thanks to a long sleep, I managed to make the long trip and paint until after 7:00 p.m. again. But I’m feeling it now. Nevertheless, I know for certain that inspiration is not going to strike if I’m sitting at home or at school merely thinking about painting–I have to get out and do it, grind at it, cranking out painting after painting, hoping that something of quality will emerge.  I only hope I keep up the confidence to the point that I can continue to travel to Waxahachie every day after school and keep pushing out paintings.

Approximately fifty artists have already put out a great body of work since the “early bird” special opened April 1.

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The Art on the Square Gallery at 113 West Franklin St. in Waxahachie is already filling up to capacity and we still have a week to go. We anticipate a great showing this year, and I am proud to be a part of this team.

Thanks for reading. Time to get some sleep!

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Return to the Plein Air Trail

May 6, 2017

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Completed Plein Air Watercolor in Waxahachie, Texas

Art appears in many forms. To some degree every human being is an artist, dependent on the quality of his growth. Art need not be intended. It comes inevitably as the tree from the root, the branch from the trunk, the blossom from the twig. 

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Paint Historic Waxahachie officially opened Friday, but I could not make the trip, as I had school all day, and worked an art booth in our school carnival till 8:00 that night. Sleeping late this morning, I finally made Waxahachie in the early afternoon, and went to work completing paintings on site that I had begun in prior weeks but never felt satisfied that they were concluded. The one posted above required work on the first story window, and the door had not yet been drawn or painted. I also decided to experiment with a pair of new pigments I recently ordered– Daniel Smith’s brand of Quinachridone Gold and Quinachridone Rose. I floated these new colors into the brick facade of this building. I also masqued some tree limbs in the lower left corner and floated dark foliage colors over them. Once I stopped, I realized I had a much better composition than the one I aborted week before last.

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Balcony above Smalley’s Law Office

After turning in my watercolor to the Art on the Square Gallery for processing, I resumed work on another composition begun a couple of weeks back. Again I experimented with my two new pigments, and liked the depth of color the bricks were taking on. I also detailed some of the brick facade that had been merely sketched at first, and tried to refine the light yellow banister of the balcony.

I turned in a total of four paintings to the Art on the Square Gallery–the two posted above and the two courthouse portal paintings I worked on Friday and Saturday before the “early bird” plein air session expired. I then journeyed down to the pair of railroad depots that have been restored and picked out an area to compose featuring a bright red M-K-T caboose in front of one of the depots. The drawing went quite well, and the underpainting was doing as I wished it would. As 7:00 p.m. arrived and the sinking sun began to dim my subject, I decided to pack it in and return to it, hopefully tomorrow (Sunday) evening, if the sunlight is strong again.

By 8:00, I realized I hadn’t eaten since lunch time, so I treated myself to one of the best dinners I’ve ever had at the College Street Pub. The night air was pleasant and I found seating available on the back deck beneath the trees. Dinner and journal time were exquisite, and I was so happy that it was Saturday night and there was nowhere I had to be.

The day has been exhausting, but I’m happy that I managed to complete some work in plein air and wanted to take a moment to post and share it. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Portals

April 29, 2017

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A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Finding time to blog has been difficult of late. Since my last post, I have made several journeys to Waxahachie, forty minutes from where I live, and leaving in the late afternoons after a day in school has often found me fatigued once I arrived. Still, I managed to slog through a couple of compositions, but by the time I arrived home late at night, I was too sleepy to blog, and still had school to prepare for the following day. So it goes.

The weather has been pretty uneven lately, thunderstorms alternating with bright sunshine. Sometimes I wonder if a washed earth emits different colors, as I have been fascinated with the way the Ellis Country courthouse seemed to “light up” before my eyes late in the days. As earlier stated, I seem to arrive on site, too tired to paint, and have spent much time circling the courthouse looking at it from all angles. On this particular afternoon, the sun popped out as I was gazing at the southwest corner of the building. The curvature I found fascinating, and I wanted to find a way to capture the pink marble and red granite surrounding the window.

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Once I stopped with this one, I was satisfied with the compositional arrangement, though I felt that I had “missed” on the color of the stones. A very dear friend and teaching colleague of mine who is also an architect, paid me the ultimate compliment when he looked at this sketch the day after, calling it “a poem.”

Returning a few days later in the week, I found myself tired again, and walked listlessly around this same building, looking for something to try and capture on paper. Again, the sun came out just as I was rounding the southeast corner of the courthouse, and as it had rained earlier, I again found myself smitten at the sight of the colors on the building.

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Determined this time to focus more on the color of the marble and granite, I worked more deliberately on those hues, hoping not to overwork it.

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Time has now expired for the “early bird” plein air painting of Waxahachie. The main portion of Paint Historic Waxahachie will kick off next Saturday, May 6, and will last through the following Sunday. I can use this week off, hoping to regather my strength and stamina for that following week, when painters from all around will descend on that town and crank out a high volume of work. I’m glad I chose to sign and pay up early so I could tune up with five paintings before the starting gun. I’ve definitely been out of plein air practice.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.