Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Soothing Rains for the Fatigue

November 22, 2014
Posing with Godiva at Christmas in the Village

Posing with Godiva at Christmas in the Village

This Saturday has been a day filled with wonder.  I was invited to attend “Christmas in the Village” at Breckenridge Village in Tyler, Texas.  My artist-friend Bubba Norris, a resident of the Village, displays his art there, and this year I got to sit with him in his booth and watch him make original art.  Sometimes I get more of a thrill watching someone else labor over his/her creation than I do my own.  This day was no exception.  The unexpected bonus was learning that Bubba played in a handbell choir and I got to attend their afternoon recital.  This was my second year to attend “Christmas in the Village” and I was saddened to learn that Clyde, the camel that I posed with for pictures, died since last year.  He was 28.  He was replaced by Godiva, and I found her to be just as cuddly.

Watercolor Sketch of the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth--$100

Watercolor Sketch of the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth–$100

Following the event-filled day at Breckenridge, I found myself exhausted by evening but was delighted to sit quietly with friends.  Three of us experimented with watercolor sketching, and I found the company very affirming.  I did this quick sketch of the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth, about 8 x 10″ overall. I would seel this one, matted, for $100.  I’m quite proud of how it finished out.  I have painted the structure several times, but decided it was time to work on a small, quick one.  Once I laid down the brush, I decided it was time to retire for the night–I don’t bounce back from full days the way I used to do.

Thanks always for caring enough to read me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

The Silence of the Night

November 10, 2014
A Quiet Night in the Garage Studio

A Quiet Night in the Garage Studio

We must reserve a little back-shop, all our own, entirely free wherein to establish our true liberty and principle retreat and solitude.

Montaigne

How wonderful to have my six-weeks report card grades finalized and posted by 7:05 pm on a Monday night!  I had already finished my school preparations for the following day, so like an elementary student released for playground recess, I dashed into the garage where I had already stretched four new 9 x 12″ watercolor papers onto canvas stretchers this afternoon.  Finding them dry, I tossed one on to the drafting table and began sketching the stove-top percolator in the heart of my new still life arrangement, and laid down several washes as quickly as I could.  I found myself impatient, waiting for the paint to dry, so I began fiddling with drybrush textures on the surface of the coffee pot, and before I knew it, I was lost in this new subject.

As I worked, I played a DVD of “Andrew Wyeth: Self-Portrait–Snow Hill” purchased a few winters ago when the three generations of Wyeth painters were on display at the Tyler Museum of Art in east Texas.  I have had Andrew Wyeth on my mind all day, perhaps because of the close studies I did last evening on the Maxwell House tin, and the nature of still life rendering in general.  I took my painting of yesterday to school with me today, and stole many glances of it across the room as my classes ran their course.  I just cannot seem to get enough of this painter and his ideas.  I’m always inspired by Andrew’s life of disciplined drawing and rendering of objects that were personal to him.  In many ways, the objects with which I surround myself in my own garage studio during these winter months exude stories and memories of my past.  I got lost tonight, staring at the surface textures of this coffee percolator–the abrasions, the stains, the light playing off the facets of the glass knob on the lid.  I could close my eyes and remember the gurgling sounds of the coffee percolating on my parents’ stove top during those dark and cold winter mornings.  The kitchen was flooded with the aroma of coffee as it steamed out of the spout.  The longer I gazed at this object, the more I wondered at the stories it could tell of its own farm kitchen, factory kitchen, or neighborhood kitchen.  Where had this coffee pot been?  Whose mornings did it begin?  What conversations did it overhear?

I love the feel of tonight.  My neighborhood is quiet.  The city around me has darkened.  And in this halo of garage light, I hear the words of N. C. Wyeth as his last letter to his son Andrew is read:

Great painting is like Bach’s music, in texture closely woven, subdued like early 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.

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.

Pushing into the Empty Spaces

January 15, 2014
Moving with More Confidence across the Composition

Moving with More Confidence across the Composition

Any painter knows that empty space is his most powerful artistic weapon, if he can adequately animate it.  The void need not be terrifying.

Robert Motherwell

Though today was a long school day, I somehow managed to come home with a burst of energy I haven’t felt in a few days.  The painting was waiting on my drafting table, but I chose first to spend some quiet time reading, reflecting and writing in my journal.  I came across some amazing material in The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell, particulary his observations on the life and writings of Franz Kafka and how those elements carried over to the ethos of the Abstract Expressionist group of painters.  The quote above gripped me in a way that I decided to take a deep breath, and push into the facade of the flatiron building–an area that had me rather nervous because it is so light and fair in contrast to the deeply colored cornice areas.  I don’t know honestly how long this evening I have been working on this–time evaporates when I enter a painting and shut out everything else.  All I know now is that the fatigue factor has set in, I still have some school work to prepare for tomorrow, so I guess I’ll give this a rest for another day.

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.

Wrestling with Hofmann’s “Push-Pull” in Painting

January 14, 2014
Slow, tedious work on the flatiron

Slow, tedious work on the flatiron

Creative expression is . . . the spiritual translation of inner concepts into form, resulting from the fusion of these intuitions with artistic means of expression in a unity of spirit and form. . . . Imitation of objective reality is therefore not creation but dilettantism, or else a purely intellectual performance, scientific and sterile.

Hans Hofmann

What a gift this evening provided–I managed to dust off tomorrow’s class preparations late this afternoon, and am now finishing a deliciously quiet evening of watercoloring and studying.  It’s been frustrating lately, working late into the nights doing school stuff and having little-to-no quality time to paint.  I managed to insert quite a few more details into the crown of this Fort Worth flatiron as the evening progressed, then stopped abruptly awhile ago, realizing that I was falling into my paint-by-number syndrome.  When my mind starts ranging about in extraneous ideas while only my eye responds to details on the watercolor, I feel suddenly that I am on auto-pilot, and am merely whipping out another watercolor for the trade.  At this age, I am more hungry to learn, to experiment, to push the boundaries, and not repeat what I’ve done before.

sketching-and-watercoloring

Nice Quiet Evening in the Claustrum

Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann found his way to the United States in 1934, the same year as Paul Tillich.  Both men fled World War II Europe, set up shop in New York City, and began changing our world by bringing European avant-garde thought to our early twentieth century.  Both men had an engaging way of applying dialectic to their disciplinary homes.  Paul Tillich was fascinated with the “boundaries” separating disparate realms, and Hans Hofmann alike spoke of that energy emerging from the “push-pull.”  Among Hofmann’s discussions of “push-pull”, I have decided to play with contrasts in color, both warm vs. cool and complementary pairs as well.  As I worked in the shadows of the cornice of this flatiron building, I continually balanced my Transparent Yellows with my Winsor Violets, and juxtaposed my Winsor Reds with mixtures of Transparent Yellow and Winsor Blue (Green Shade).  My photography is quite primitive, and I hate it that my blog cannot really put the painting before my reader’s eyes in the same way that this raw watercolor gazes back at me.  But I’m loving what I see with these colliding pairs of colors placed side-by-side.  My shadows are showing much more dynamism than they did in the days when I relied on Payne’s Gray for cool effects or Sepia for warmth.  There is so much more going on now, in the shadows, plenty of push-pull.

I’m glad I stopped earlier this evening.  The theories I’m reading from Hofmann and Paul Cezanne regarding complementary colors and warm vs. cool colors are giving me fresher ideas that I intend to apply to this experimental painting.  Just before stopping for the evening, I looked at the work and began to realize that it was becoming academic and tight.  I’ve done more than enough of that throughout my life.  I want to discover new worlds in watercolor, and wish to learn something new from every painting excursion.  I fear that art will become boring to me if it ever reaches a point where I am cranking out product.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remember that I am not alone.

The Opening Measures of a New Symphony

January 12, 2014
Opening Moves on a Small Flatiron watercolor

Opening Moves on a Small Flatiron watercolor

The patches of color on the canvas tend to become out of gear with one another as more colors are added during the process of painting: “every brush stroke diminishes the importance of the preceding one.”  Revisions, increases of amount are necessary to recover the original structure.  “To do this I must organize my ideas; the relation between the hues must be so established that they will sustain one another.”

Robert Motherwell

After  a considerable amount of energy expended on preliminary sketches, I finally settle into a 9 x 12″ watercolor of the top portion of Fort Worth’s historic flatiron building, on the south side of downtown, Houston @ W. 9th Street.  I spent a chilly, windy morning working on it today, and felt a rush of excitement while on site.  I also did some preliminary sketching of the north portal of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church located on W. 10th Street @ Lamar.  Coming home, I carefully prepared 9 x 12″ compositions of both studies.  After digressing a few hours to complete my assignments for tomorrow’s A. P. Art History, I returned to the flatiron and began painting.  The sky, of course, laid in quickly, but was so wet that it took quite awhile to dry out (I really do not like using hair dryers to speed up the drying process).  Once it was absolutely bone-dry, I went to work on the corbels and upper regions of the cornice and immediately found myself facing dilemmas.  As I stared at the iron work this morning, it didn’t take long to get past the “blackness” of its overall appearance.  The blue-green patina streaks are posing a problem, but I’m determined to keep working on them.  I’m also finding some interesting combinations of Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow to work on the “bronzy” looking portions.  I find myself drawing, drawing, and drawing some more as I work on this upper portion, and so far I’m enjoying all of it, though it is coming along very, very slowly.  I just hope I’ll have the patience to stay with it and not try to speed up the experiment.

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.

My Watercolor Featured on new Eureka Springs School of the Arts T-Shirt

December 1, 2012
Eureka Springs School of the Arts

Eureka Springs School of the Arts

Several months ago, I was moved deeply at the words of a beautiful letter from the President of the Board of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  She was expressing admiration for the watercolor above that she now owns, and was asking me in the letter if I had objections to its being used on a T-Shirt promoting the School.  Of course I had no objections; I was honored that they would use the image.

Today, after a spectacular afternoon spent in the Tyler Museum of Art perusing the Wyeth exhibit, I came home on a natural high, ready to re-enter the studio and see if I could turn out anything decent with my watercolor efforts.  In the mailbox, I found a package containing this T-Shirt.  I am wearing it proudly this evening, and delight in this opportunity to show it to you.

Thanks for reading.

Thoreau Wins Out Over Picasso in the Studio Tonight

June 14, 2012

Close up of the Tarrant County Courthouse Cupola

This has been a day filled with reward, and I’m feeling grateful for the gifts.  I’m growing weary of the close, tight work this courthouse cupola is demanding at this moment.  An hour ago, I felt a kinship with Picasso who spent late, late nights in the studio, sometimes toiling till daylight, always spinning out new creations.  But my eyes are starting to fail me, and my back is getting tired of hunching over the drafting table.

Besides, this beautiful volume of Thoreau Journals has been sitting at my elbow, and I think it’s time that I drink from his waters.  With a little reluctance, I’ll turn off Alabama Live and listen to the night sounds outside my open garage door.  I haven’t done much quality journaling on this day, and I think it’s time to get some good things on the page.

Thanks for all of you who follow me on this blog.  It has been a rewarding spread of days lately.  Talk to you tomorrow!

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Late Summer Night Watercolor Session in the Man Cave

June 13, 2012

Tarrant County Courthouse

Darn!  It is approaching the midnight hour, I have to rise at 6:00 for summer school, but I’m addicted to late-night watercolor sessions in my man cave.  The itch returned this afternoon as I knocked around Fort Worth, talking to some friends, artistic spirits and business associates.  I wish I could have a studio closer to them so I could see them more often and more easily.  But then again, I probably wouldn’t be getting this kind of work done.

I was baffled by the colors reflected off the courthouse cupola last evening.  I have blown up an 8 x 10″ photo that I took, then zoomed in the structure more.  I’m trying to work Winsor Red and Transparent Yellow on the sunlit portions, then Winsor Violet and Alizarin Crimson in the shadows.  A few other colors are tossed in here and there, as well.  So far, I’m not getting the colors I saw, but if they look good, I won’t mind.  At this early stage though, I can’t really tell if they look good.  It also bugs me, working under this artificial light.  Even day bulbs don’t really get it done.  Oftentimes when the morning comes and I see my watercolor in the natural light, I find myself totally exasperated at the results.  Still, I’m finding the night to be very enjoyable nonetheless.  To me, the act of watercoloring is every bit as enjoyable as a good finished result.  Unlike Edward Hopper, I DO enjoy the act of painting.  It takes me to another world.  And tonight I am in a much better, more serene world, than the one that often accompanies me during business hours.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Janet Capua tonight for looking at, and posting to my blog.  What are you doing up so late?!  You have plenty of cooking awaiting you in the morning.

Thanks all of you for reading.  Some of you know that I keep a journal, almost daily.  As I’ve posted before:

I journal because I am alone;

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Beginning the Tarrant County Courthouse Cupola

June 13, 2012

Tarrant County Courthouse Cupola

While the water floats about the Winsor Blues and Reds billow about, I thought I would pause, photograph and post again to the blog before it gets much later.  I think I’ll be at it awhile tonight.  Meeting new friends today, and connecting with some old ones has managed to inject some new energy in me.  Also, I feel my time in the man cave coming to an end, as I am about to leave for Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I decided to begin a mid-size watercolor (17″h x 15″w) of the cupola of our Tarrant County courthouse.  The light playing off it last evening was breathtaking, and I find myself wishing to experiment with some new color combinations I haven’t tried before.

I’m getting a kick out of listening to Alabama Live on the stereo as I poke around on this watercolor.  During the past decade, I have missed listening to their rich vocal harmonies, and always wished I could be part of a group capable of pushing out that kind of sound.   I have only listened to their studio tracks over the years, but this live album has a medley of “There’s No Way/When We Make Love” that is a real heart-stopper!  Anyway, great musical company.

Back to painting!  Thanks for reading.

Transitions

June 13, 2012

There’s No Place Like Home

I have taken no pleasure in being out of the blog loop this past week, though I have taken sincere delight in different surroundings.  Too much has happened (most of it good) for me to stop long enough to write a reflective blog, until tonight.  “Transitions” is a good topic for this post, because I have certainly encountered, with surprise, several “clearings” in the woodpath I’ve been cutting lately (my favorite Heidegger metaphor).

First, I would like to introduce you to two fascinating personalities, pictured above.  Standing to the right is Abby Pewitt Slayton, owner of There’s No Place Like Home at 855 Foch St. in Fort Worth, in the heart of the museum district.  And at left is Sallie Mitchell of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  It was a pleasure chatting with these ladies this afternoon, and photographing them standing with one of my limited edition giclee prints of the historic Fort Worth Flatiron building located at Ninth and Houston St. (http://www.fortworthflatiron.com/)  Abby responded to one of my Facebook posts last week, inviting me to place one of my limited editions in her furniture store for purchase.  No Place Like Home offers buyers a wide variety of furniture, lighting, rugs–the works–from antique to contemporary, rustic to eclectic.  One could truly get lost in wonder and imagination, perusing the merchandise inside this venue http://www.noplacelikehomefurnishings.com/ .  Today, I would not have traded my conversations with Abby, Sallie and Jodi for anything.  They were truly a respite from the daily grind.  Thanks, all of you.

I would also love to point any local readers to a fabulous cafe I encountered recently.  Z’s Cafe is located at 1116 Pennsylvania Ave., in the hospital district of Fort Worth (http://www.zscafe.com/).  Janet Z. Capua is the owner and chef at that location.  She also responded to my Facebook post, inviting me to display two small prints of my Fort Worth watercolors in her “gallery.”  Janet is a remarkable chef, and tireless promoter of the arts and business on Fort Worth’s south side.  Visual, musical and culinary artists flock to Janet and feed off her energy (and the cuisine is truly exquisite!).  I am abundantly grateful to have found such a friend in Janet.

Summer school began Monday.  And–I don’t say this lightly–my present class has started better than any summer school class I have known in over a decade of summer school sufferings.  My pleasure has found a daily resting place with ten students, all seniors, enrolled in English IV (British Literature), all of them knowing what they want to do with their lives.  They work, they show respect, they make the life of a teacher truly rewarding (that has not been my summer school experience, ever).  I will miss them next week when I travel to Eureka Springs School of the Arts for a one-week watercolor workshop.  But when the workshop is finished, I will have nothing but optimism to look forward to, as I return to study with them.

I am within a few days of leaving for Eureka Springs, that scintillating Victorian town nestled in the Ozark Mountains.  This will be my third consecutive summer teaching there.  I don’t know how I ever deserved this opportunity to teach plein air watercolor to willing adult students.  With sadness, I share that Pat Carmichael, the assistant executive director who hired me three years ago, passed away over the Christmas holidays.  This will be my first time teaching there without seeing and speaking with her.  That is going to be sad beyond words.  Pat, I’ll never forget you for all the encouragement you offered in the past, for your willingness to give me this shot at teaching something I love, in the middle of a place I’ve grown to love, and above all, for sending me your daughter, twice–one of the most inspirational art students I will ever know.  I will feel your affirmation every time I gaze upon that historic town, and touch my brush to the watercolor block.  You have been an unending inspiration.

There is a group on Facebook known as Remember in Fort Worth when . . .  I joined that group last week and began posting images of the watercolors I’ve created lately of Fort Worth landmarks.   The response has been remarkable.  Already sales have been generated, much interest has been posted, and I’ve been offered two venues to display my prints.  I had no idea these kinds of clearings would open in this forest.  This is an exciting time to be engaged in painting.

And, speaking of such–thanks largely to the enthusiasm of my recent Facebook contacts, I am ready to begin work on my next Fort Worth landmark.  I would have it in progress already, but felt this compulsion to push out a blog.  After all, it has been days, and I would not want my readers to think that I had abandoned this odyssey.  The Tarrant County Courthouse is my next engagement.  I found yesterday’s late afternoon light, after the rains, to be clear, clean and bright.  So, Sandi and I drove to Belknap Street in Fort Worth, found a beautiful green belt to walk about after we parked, and I shot over 40 photos of the courthouse cupola.  It is a little after 9:00 p.m. now, and I am ready to begin.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient with me during this recent and unfortunate hiatus.  Hopefully, I’m back!