Archive for the ‘Weatherford’ Category

Waking to Reminiscences of Emerson

June 15, 2014
Finishing an Abandoned Sketch of the Stage Coach Hotel, Fort Worth Stockyards

Finishing an Abandoned Sketch of the Stage Coach Hotel, Fort Worth Stockyards

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.  Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.  In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majestry.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

The moment I awoke this morning, I had two images in my mind’s eye.  They were beginnings to small watercolor sketches that I began long ago and had tossed aside.  I don’t know why I awoke with them on my mind, but decided to take that seriously.  Emerson’s words continue to abide with me, and I never want to fall back into that notion of insecurity that dismisses my ideas as worthless because they are mine.

The studio has been quiet this Sunday morning, and I have worked slowly, but with a heart of content.  In the background, I have played DVDs on the television that feed creative thought.  The company has been sublime.

My first post is an abandoned 5 x 7″ sketch that I began of the remnants of Fort Worth’s Stage Coach Hotel on North Main, in the Stockyards region.  I started a second one and did a better job (it was larger, too) and sold it immediately.  I had forgotten about this aborted one.  It is nearly finished now.  What I looked at this morning was about 40% of what is posted now.  I’m glad I decided to go back to it in an attempt to salvage it.  I’ll put it in a mat and see what I have.

Second 5 x 7" watercolor sketch of Weatherford's Angel's Nest

Second 5 x 7″ watercolor sketch of Weatherford’s Angel’s Nest

Last night I finished a sketch I had begun of the historic Victorian home in Weatherford, Texas.  There was a second one also waiting in the docks.  So, after piddling around with the Stage Coach Hotel, I turned my attention to this one and added about 60% more work and detail to it. I may be close to finishing this one as well.  I’ll then put it in a white mat and see what I have.

Thanks for reading.  I’m ready to go out and try some more plein air rendering this afternoon.  I’m back in the watercoloring mood, and am glad.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



A Certain Slant of Light

June 14, 2014
Silence of Saturday Morning

Silence of Saturday Morning

There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons – 

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes – 


Heavenly Hurt, it gives us – 

We can find no scar,

But internal difference,

Where the Meanings, are – 

.  .  .

Emily Dickinson

This particular Saturday has been a lengthy, pensive one.  Recent events brought me to a state of mind where I thought it best to stay indoors the entire day and devote this space for important, quiet matters.  As I sat at breakfast, the words from Emily Dickinson continued to murmur throughout my soul, again and again.  It was necessary to think on these matters, and I believe her words set me on a fitting course for the day.

Reading Away a Quiet Saturday

Reading Away a Quiet Saturday

Following breakfast, I returned to the pages of Thoreau, and was filled with wonder that a twenty-four year old could write out such incisive thoughts:

A momentous silence reigns always in the woods, and their meaning seems just ripening into expression.  But alas!  they make no haste.  The rush sparrow, Nature’s minstrel of serene hours, sings of an immense leisure and duration.

When I hear a robin sing at sunset, I cannot help contrasting the equanimity of Nature with the bustle and impatience of man.  We return from the lyceum and caucus with such stir and excitement, as if a crisis were at hand; but no natural scene or sound sympathizes with us, for Nature is always silent and unpretending as at the break of day.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, April 25, 1841

Thoreau’s thoughts threw into bold relief the reality of how busy my life had become of late.  I have been out of school a week, but never found the brake to slow things down, until yesterday.  Tuesday I will return to begin summer school, but that is Tuesday–right now, I need to “be still and know.”  Thanks to the morning’s meditations over Thoreau, I managed to relax in the chair well into the afternoon, thinking, writing in the journal, and reading the kinds of things I need to be reading at this moment in my life.

I did return to the drafting table.  Taking out a watercolor sketch I began shortly after Easter, I decided to complete it and make a 5 x 7″ composition, suitable for matting.  This is a Victorian home in Weatherford that has been converted into a popular Bed and Breakfast, The Angel’s Nest:

As for the Edward Hopper study of Marshall’s House, I spent hours this afternoon masquing, applying wash, masquing further, drybrushing, and masquing some more.  This required long stretches of drying (and reading) time.  I also tightened up some of the details on the house, thinking of Andrew Wyeth’s pencil work and precision.  I have now stripped away the masquing and need time to decide how to “clean up” those areas around the masque marks.  There is plenty of time for that later.  For right now, I would like to stop with this one and spend more time looking at it and figuring out what exactly to do next.  I do like the way the contrast is beginning to pop.

Still Experimenting with the Hopper Composition

Still Experimenting with the Hopper Composition

Afternoon has now stretched into evening.   I am not exactly sure what to do next, but thought I would go ahead and release this blog, and thank all of you for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.








April 23, 2014
New Watercolor Sketch over the Lunch Hour

New Watercolor Sketch over the Lunch Hour

The creative process is determined not only by the medium but also by the inner vision.

Edouard Manet

I decided to come home from school over the lunch hour and begin a second watercolor sketch of the same subject as the one I attempted late last night.  I titled this blog entry Palimpsest which refers to a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.  I could have called most of my past oil and acrylic-on-canvas paintings palimpsests, because I continued to revise and obliterate my earlier rescensions of design.  I do some of that in watercolor as well, but late last night decided to begin a series of sketches of the same Victorian house and compare them side-by-side to get a sense of what I want to do next.  Next month I will begin my annual plein air excursion to Waxahachie, Texas, a German town rich in Victorian and Gingerbread architecture.  This year I would like to feel more practiced and primed for those kinds of compositions that I will do on location.  For now, I’m studying photos that I’ve taken over the years, hoping to improve my skills in architectural rendering and composition.

Thanks for reading.  I need to get back for an afternoon class.

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

July 13, 2012

There’s a Slant of Light

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

From my childhood, I have been arrested at the sight of dramatic sunlight and shadows falling across abandoned structures such as this one I found north of Weatherford several summers ago.  I believe, however, that my sentiments have always lay closer to the painter Edward Hopper than the poet Emily Dickinson, though I confess that Dickinson’s poetry evokes considerably more than Hopper’s testimony:  “All I ever wanted to do was paint the light on the side of the building.”  Having read hundreds of pages of biography on Hopper, I have come to the conclusion that his disposition was closer to Emily than mine.  I personally find a sense of joy and the sublime when I see a 45-degree slant of sunlight across a dilapidated structure, and have felt that for as long as I can remember.  The young Henry David Thoreau recorded in his journal: “Aeschylus had a clear eye for the commonest things.”  I could say the same for myself, except that, to me, these “commonest things” cease being prosaic the moment they are bathed in natural light, the moment a geometric, hard-edge shadow emerges to define their contours.

I have spent some of this Friday morning, gazing out the window of my studio into the backyard, admiring the patterns of sun and shadow falling across my privacy fence.  I often wish I could call up the kind of language that Wordsworth did when he described the stirrings he felt deep within, as nature invited him for a closer inspection.  All of these things matter to me as I write this morning, and seek a way to complete this small watercolor that I started and abandoned over a week ago.


My apologies for leaving the blog dangling for so long, again.  I spent the past week attending the Advanced Placement Summer Institute at TCU.  I have to fulfill my Art History requirement there every third summer.  The classes lasted from 8-4:30 daily, and I hadn’t realized how many years it had been since I sat and listened for such long stretches, taking notes, focusing and experiencing brain drain.  When I got home every evening, I had nothing left to give at the studio.  So, I gave my painting a rest.

This morning, I am thinking of finishing this small piece, matting and framing it to put in a Craft Show tomorrow (Saturday) from 9-3:00 at the Stephen United Methodist Church, 1800 W. Randol Mill Rd., Arlington, Texas.  It is time to get some more of my original small watercolors out into the marketplace.

Thanks for reading.

Snowscape at Wayne White’s Ranch

January 3, 2012

Winter at Wayne's

Last winter in St. Louis, snow was everywhere.  I stayed as a guest at my friend Wayne White’s ranch west of St. Louis and was delighted at this view off his back deck.  I completed one watercolor sketch of the woods and fields, and then started this second one, but quit because it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.   After a one-year hiatus, I got the idea this morning to add a row of mailboxes, deepen some shadows in the woods, complete some more snow shadows and then call it a painting.  I’m ready to look at a new project now.

I look at this and think of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

I return to school tomorrow for a work day.  Students will show up the day after.  The winter break is nearly over.  And I’ll probably recite that Robert Frost poem as a mantra in the months ahead.  I do resolve this time not to let school completely crowd out my discipline of completing new paintings.  I look ahead to the prospect of discovering new things as I continue to explore watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

Weatherford Victorian Salute

April 24, 2011

Weatherford Victorian Salute (cropped)

Weatherford Victorian Salute (full painting)

It’s nice to sit in a Starbuck’s and relax with coffee as the Easter weekend draws to a close.  I feel the exhaustion of having painted the past three days in a row.  Yesterday was a plein air assault as I dashed to a secluded cemetery and pushed out a pair of watercolor sketches.  The rest of the weekend was spent in my garage/studio, staring at this enormous (by my standards–22 x 28″) watercolor that I began several weeks ago and abruptly abandoned, not knowing how to handle the lawn.  As stated in a prior blog, I photographed this Victorian home in January or February, while en route to the Brazos River in Possum Kingdom to fly fish for rainbow trout.  The winter sun captured my fancy as I saw it playing off this stately hilltop mansion in Weatherford, just west of the courthouse.  It so captivated me that I turned my Jeep around, and navigated the divided highway back around the estate’s property, found a storage facility where I could park my Jeep, and walked back to the property to photograph it with my digital camera.  I really liked the long sprawling hill filling the foreground, thinking of how Edward Hopper created his gorgeous watercolors of these settings in New England.

The house itself did not really create a problem for me–I just was not sure how to render all that winter grass, freshly mowed, but not yet emerald green, and not completely filled in either.  On Friday I pulled the painting back out, and as I listened to Muddy Waters on the turntable, I began chipping away at the lawn, and resumed work on the house which was only about 2/3 completed.  Any time the grass got too wet to paint, I just returned to work on the house, and when the house became sloppy and wet, I returned to the yard.  I have to admit, I got lost in the house, and totally enjoyed the immersion!  So many angles and details on a Victorian home, and all of them so attractive!

The funny thing is, I thought I would be working on this for at least another week, when suddenly, I stepped back from my work, took one more look, and decided to sign it and quit.  I think I did the right thing.  I have lost so many watercolors by overworking them until they collapsed.  I did not want to lose this one.

To ensure that I would not “diddle” further with the painting, I packed it in the portfolio and delivered it to the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery, which fortunately for me was open today.    (  The painting is now being framed and will stay at the Weiler.  I’m pleased that another piece of work has been added to my one-man-show to open in September.

Thanks for reading.

Edward Hopper-style Victorian Watercolor at Weatherford, Texas

April 23, 2011

Victorian Home, Weatherford, Texas

Finally I return to this large watercolor that I abandoned several weeks ago.  I have been intimidated by the huge expanse of lawn, not knowing for sure how to render it.  The grass was winter grass, not brown, but not very green either, and showing up in patches.  Nevertheless the lawn was freshly mowed.  So I was in a quandary–I’m comfortable rendering watercolors of dead, brown, tall weeds and of summer manicured lawns of verdant green.  But I’ve never attempted this kind of grass patterns before, and certainly not on a full-size sheet of watercolor paper (about 22 x 28″).

So far, I’m not unhappy with what is emerging.  We’ll see what transpires tomorrow when I tackle it afresh.  I’ve known from the start that if all else fails, I could take this painting to the paper cutter and have only the house and surrounding trees.  But I have always loved the Edward Hopper watercolor compositions where he has posted a Victorian home or a lighthouse high atop a verdant hill.  I really wanted that kind of composition with this painting.

Thanks for reading.

T. S. Eliot poetry and Victorian Architecture Watercolor

March 16, 2011

Weatherford Victorian House

Aside from house cleaning (which was more interesting than usual), the day was given to reading T. S. Eliot and chipping away at my Victorian watercolor in the garage.  A nice cool day, and clear skies made the ambience ideal for painting.  My buddy David Slight also came by in the afternoon, and stayed the rest of the day, completing his third watercolor (posted previously) which came out superb.  I’ll probably retire to bed with Eliot’s “Four Quartets” still tumbling about in my consciousness.  What an amazing man of words!  I hope someday to render images in paint as clearly and attractively as he did in words.

Thanks for reading.

Exploring Edward Hopper with Victorian Architecture

March 15, 2011

Victorian cropped

Revisiting Edward Hopper and Victorian Architecture

Spring Break has afforded quality watercolor time, and it is only Tuesday evening.  Daylight Saving Time has given me more quality outdoor light in the afternoon/evening as well.  The garage studio environment has been sublime for painting, reading, journaling and blogging.  I moved my antiquated stereo into the garage and am now enjoying a turntable that I haven’t played in a couple of years. Currently, I’m enjoying a pirated double-LP recording of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Live at the Los Angeles Forum 6-26-1970.  Standing in waiting is a large stack of blues LPs–Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Brownie McGhee, B. B. King, Son House, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson.

The pictures posted above are my attempt to paint a Victorian mansion I have admired for years, situated high atop a hill in Weatherford, Texas, along Highway 180.  A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday, I was en route to the Brazos River near Possum Kingdom to do some fly fishing for recently-stocked rainbow trout.  The sun was strong that morning, and as I drove past this mansion, I had to pull over, turn around, return, get out and shoot some photos of it.  Finally I’m getting around to attempting my first watercolor on full-size paper (about 30 x 22″) with nearly 2/3 of the composition being hillside.  I’m flying blind here–don’t have any idea what I’m going to do with all this grass!  However, the mansion is coming along satisfactorily, and if I decide the grass isn’t working out, I can always take this to the paper cutter!  That should relieve some of the pressure I feel.

T. S. Eliot has been my companion for the day.  I’ve been spending plenty of time in “The Waste Land,” and am now reading the Eliot chapter in Howard Gardner’s Creating Minds. I’m fascinated with this poet, and am pleased that I can learn from his creative endeavor, even if he struggled over language the way I do over drawing.  I just finished reading a letter he wrote to his brother, explaining that he chose to write fewer pieces, concentrating on perfection and making each completed piece an “event” rather than being merely “prolific” and publishing pieces everywhere.  My goal in 2010 was to be prolific, as I have averaged less than twenty watercolors per year.  I completed nearly one hundred in 2010.  This year however, with my first ever one-man-show scheduled for September, I am concentrating on fewer and larger compositions, attempting to make every complete painting worthy of framing.  I know that is plenty to expect, but nevertheless, I am trying for quality over productivity this year.

And I’m certainly pushing some boundaries.  One of Edward Hopper’s neighboring artists commented that Hopper planned out each of his oils completely before he even started the composition.  The neighbor thought that was “a terrible way to paint, because you aren’t discovering anything.”  The critic went on to express admiration for Hopper’s watercolors “because in them you seem him experimenting all the time.”  I’m trying to keep this thought before me, and push each new piece I begin in a direction not familiar to me.  I don’t want to settle into any kind of “hack work,” pushing out watercolors for the trade.  So .  . . with this Victorian set high atop a hill, I try to complete my first Victorian in entirety (all my previous works are only partial studies of Victorian buildings, never completed), and I also try to devote some attention to a large plot of cultivated property.  We’ll see how it goes . . .

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Equestrian Watercolor, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

Sandi Riding Andante

Glad to finish this one, finally.  Sandi will be surprised.  She knew I started this several weeks ago.  But she only saw the outlined pencil drawing of her riding Andante.  Today while she was out doing “horse” things with her daughter, I worked as quickly as possible to finish this up.  It’s always hard to know when to quit and just let the painting go.  I think I have done all I can to it.  Maybe I’ll change my mind in the days ahead, but for now, it looks “finished” and I’m going to leave it at that (for the time being!).

Thanks for reading.