Good Mornings Begin with Cowboy Coffee

September 1, 2021

Since it was a school day, I only had time this morning to fiddle with some watercolor sketching while I sipped and enjoyed my cowboy coffee. Tomorrow I head for The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine Texas, and intend to begin my next watercolor. Stay tuned!

More Greeting Cards from my Watercolors

August 31, 2021

Tuesday was busy with university-related business, but I managed to convert another recent watercolor into a greeting card. I see these 5×7″ cards with envelope inside plastic sleeves for $5 each or 5 for $20. I hope before I leave for the gallery Thursday to have the rest of my new collection printed in greeting cards.

The Vaquero’s Odyssey

As the sun continued to bleach the desert sprawled out beneath the vaquero and his mount, the days seemed to lengthen as the week-long odyssey stretched into a second one. Arizona appeared to expand as the cowboy continued to ride and feel the encroaching numbness due to less frequent rest stops. As his water supply continued to dwindle, he continued to search and hope for a source before entering the danger zone. He had two day’s worth of supplies of food and water, and continued to hold out confidence that he and his mount would find relief within that span of time. Meanwhile, they continued to follow their trajectory toward the western horizon.

Ethics meets again tomorrow before I break for the Labor Day weekend. Thanks for reading.

New Greeting Cards made from Recent Watercolors

August 30, 2021

Monday has been dedicated to my Ethics lecture class and Humanities online class, so it doesn’t appear that I’ll get around to art work till tomorrow. However, early this morning I did create two new 5 x 7″ greeting cards from some of my recent paintings, and these I’ll install in The Gallery at Redlands later this week. I sell the cards at $5 each or 5 for $20.

Hat Creek Revisited (we still don’t rent pigs)

Captains Woodrow Call and  Augustus McRae, finally retired from the Texas Rangers, ride out daily to work their Hat Creek Cattle Company. “All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” (T. K. Whipple, Study Out the Land). Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove continues to enrich our lives and feed our imaginative visitations.

Night Vaquero

Black care sits behind the horseman

Horace, Ode, iii.1.4o

Peering out from beneath the shadow of his brim, the vaquero turned his head and listened. He had just heard something in the stillness of the Arizona night. Twenty miles of riding had sent him into a dozing mode, but now he was alert and stiffened to listen further.

The horse seemed unbothered and continued to plod slowly along. The rider decided that they had pushed far enough along on the day’s ride, and a week of riding still stretched out before them. Searching the horizon line of silhouetted buttes, his eye enjoyed the cool ranges of violets and indigos. Somewhere along the strand, he and the horse would find a place to nest for the night.

I am truly enjoying the lifestyle change with the university coming back into my life. The Ethics lecture class I am grateful to lead, and the student responses, both written and oral, have been most engaging. Hopefully I can find a way to navigate the scholarship and the art as I’ve been called on to do before.

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.

Sunday

August 29, 2021

The border line is the truly propitious place for acquiring knowledge.

Paul Tillich, The Interpretation of History

With the room darkened from overcast morning skies, I woke at 7:00 this Sunday morning feeling the urge for coffee and books. I have not been disappointed. Paul Tillich is one of my patron saints to whom I return again and again, particularly when I begin a new semester of teaching. After a four-semester hiatus, I was not prepared for the rush of eudaimonia I now feel as we burst into this new semester of academic pursuit.

Tillich’s most famous student, psychologist Rollo May, has authored a precious volume titled Paulus: Reminiscences of a Friendship that provides the most intimate gaze into the persona of Tillich and his effect on students. I re-read several chapters of that volume, then went to Paul Tillich: The Future of Religions, edited by Jerald C. Brauer. Brauer authored the first chapter “Paul Tillich’s Impact on America”, and I am inspired profoundly at the description of Tillich’s analytical and synthetic thought processes:

Paul Tillich had the unusual combination of a powerfully analytic mind yet a constructive or creative mind. The power of analysis was never used simply for its own sake–to analyze the ideas of other men or of other periods of history. His primary task was always to construct his own system, to create his vision of meaning and coherence. This was one of the most compelling forces that attracted and held the attention of students. Finely honed analytic minds are commonplace in universities, but a synthetic mind, a truly constructive or creative mind is a rarity.

Reading this sent me back to Rollo May’s Paulus (this book has become a Bible for me since I first read it in 1993). I knew there was an example of Tillich’s creative synthesis of multiple sources:

Paulus encountered the world in many dimensions at the same time. He was at home with Heraclitus in ancient Greece, with Abelard in the Middle Ages, and with Nicolas of Cusa in the Renaissance. He confronted a person with all these different levels at once. . . . In our day of “intimacy-over-the-weekend” we have forgotten the truth in Tennyson’s “I am a part of all that I have met” . . .

Throughout my years of research and teaching, I have always been fascinated with the world of “connections”, of “seams”, of “junctures”. I know that my habit of stitching together disparate sources to construct some kind of a system extends as far back as my college days when I struggled with demands of my own Bachelor’s Degree and my first pastorate. Just this past weekend while immersed in a painting of Lonesome Dove, I found myself re-thinking ideas I had read from the letters of N. C. Wyeth that seemed to link naturally with portions of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. That is how I am wired. I’m always tearing into the building blocks of texts, down to the foundational words in sentences and suddenly recognizing a connection with a completely different source.

At the moment I’m trying to compose an essay (simply for my own edification) that addresses these seams, these cracks, that Tillich identified as “the propitious place for acquiring knowledge”. I find myself hearing Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” once again:

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

Thanks for reading. I need to get back to this stuff . . . I stopped in the middle of my reading with this impulse to try and convey to my readers what’s going on in my head this soothing and dark Sunday morning.

Finished Lonesome Dove Sketch

August 29, 2021
Hat Creek Cattle Company (and we still don’t rent pigs), Watercolor 11 x 14″ framed. $350

His plan had been to observe and sketch a cattle roundup for Scribner’s. But as soon as Wyeth was mounted and facing a herd, he became a cowpuncher. Outfitted from hat to stirrup, he hired on at the Gill Ranch and set out with thirty-five cowboys to “hunt and to bring together thousands of cattle scattered over a large part of the country known as the free range.”

N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

Reading the N. C. Wyeth biography along with Larry McMurtry’s four novels unfolding the Call and McCrae saga has motivated me recently to put out a group of watercolor studies of cowboys, horses, longhorns, bison, etc. This is the last one completed and now displayed in our lobby window of The Gallery at Redlands. My next adventure is to paint mules against some magnificent scenery sent to me by a teaching friend, thank you Peggy Kirkland!

And I thank the rest of you for reading.

New Painting installed in Gallery Window

August 28, 2021

I finally finished “Woodrow & Gus” and placed them in our lobby window.

The frame measures 11 x 14″ and I’ve priced it at $350.

Finishing a Quick Study

August 28, 2021

Why do we seek climates warmed by another sun? Who is the man that by fleeing from his country, can also flee from himself?

Horace, Ode, ii. 16. 18

One telling Socrates, that such a one was nothing improved by his travels: “I very well believe it,” said he, “for he took himself along with him.”

Montaigne, “Of Solitude”

Reading Montaigne on this early Saturday morning has proved to be a great beginning to a day in the gallery/studio. I am happy to find myself in good company when in solitude, but I also confess that the company will improve greatly once Sandi enters the gallery!

My plan is to finish this 8 x 10″ watercolor today and frame it for the Gallery. We will head back home tonight, but I’m delighted to have begun & completed a painting in the short time we were here.

Back to work! 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.

Quick Work on a Pair

August 27, 2021
Attempting the Lonesome Dove Pairing

I cannot believe the afternoon has already arrived. It’s been a busy Friday in the Gallery at Redlands. I began this 8 x 10″ watercolor around 9:30 and have been dividing my time between Lonesome Dove and Aristotle (painting and Texas Wesleyan ethics lecture). I know this sounds nuts, but I love it everytime two seemingly disparate fields flow into one another. While waiting for portions of the watercolor to dry, I’ve been re-acquainting myself with Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Four Causes as expounded in his Physics.

Aristotle argued that all living things have formal, material, efficient and final causes embedded in them. The efficient cause refers to the energy, the urge for one to develop, to strive, to mature toward that final, complete cause. The final cause is the target, the terminus, the realm of completion. And when people ask where the final cause resides, the answer is: within you. Aristotle (later echoed by T. S. Eliot and a host of others) held that the end is already contained in the beginning. People have their own ways to interpret this, but I like to think about my own impulses to make art. From the time I was quite small, I had the urge to draw, to color, to create my world on paper. No matter what trajectory my life followed, in education, in employment, in profession, I always came back around to art, because it was in me.

Another aspect of this Aristotelian argument that appeals to me is the notion of the painting already residing in the surface, though I’m staring at a blank piece of paper. I’m not as anxious as I used to be to touch the brush or pencil to the paper, because I can already “see” what I want to do within this white rectangle. The reason I couldn’t wait to begin today’s watercolor is because I have had this image in my eye for days after countless hours spent sorting out photos and movie clips of Lonesome Dove. My only regret with this small piece is that I left no room behind the characters; I really wished to overwhelm the composition with the Llano Estacado. Maybe I’ll attempt this again later with more background available.

Thanks for reading.

New Work Commencing at Gallery at Redlands

August 27, 2021
Ready to begin new watercolor studies

Edouard Manet: “This will be my best painting yet.”

Edgar Degas: “You always say that.”

Manet: “Yes, and it’s always true.”

For any of you who have not yet viewed “The Impressionists” on DVD (a BBC production), you simply must! It is a gripping motion picture chronicling the dramatic lives of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir and Cezanne. You will laugh and you will cry. The dialogue above always fills my head when I am confident over starting a new watercolor series. (This will be my best painting yet!) Last night I prepared three stretched watercolor papers on stretcher bars and today (Friday) I intend to get started on them. If they turn out like I hope they will, I will be blogging their progress.

Newly arranged gallery window
Some early morning reading and writing before I begin watercoloring

Thanks for reading.

Back in The Gallery at Redlands

August 26, 2021

Thursday has turned out to be transition day, from university life to gallery life. Sandi and I have now arrived in Palestine to stay till Saturday night. We reshuffled the gallery’s deck of paintings to present a new look and are proud of what we see now. Unfortunately, I’m dead tired and cannot think of painting tonight. But there is tomorrow . . . and I’m certain I’ll be blogging and reporting on a new watercolor.

Thanks for reading.