Posts Tagged ‘Art for Goodness Sake’

Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

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Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

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“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.

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Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Approaching Yuletide

December 7, 2017

300 finished

Finally Finished with the #300

This watercolor marks the culmination of my 2017 series titled “The American Railroad Odyssey” featured at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. The subject is one of the steam locomotives that used to pull The Polar Express between Palestine and Rusk. I thought it fitting to enter the Christmas season with a splash of red as the Texas State Railroad 300 approaches the station in the night to pick up waiting, expectant children in their pajamas.

This has been an exciting week of business and pleasure in Lubbock, Texas. I have entered into an agreement with another gallery, Art for Goodness Sake Gallery & Studio located at 1810 19th Street. David and Leann Lamb-Vines have been such gracious proprietors and I have deposited in their gallery a substantial quantity of greeting cards (including the new sets of Christmas card trains) and limited edition signed and numbered prints. Already they have sold pieces of mine, and I’m excited to be in business with them.

Tomorrow I will give my last classroom final exam at Texas Wesleyan University and then plan to enjoy an extended holiday break before resuming with a pair of Humanities classes in the Spring. Some of my finest students have already signed up for that course, and I’m ecstatic at the prospects of seeing them again.

I have had the privilege of writing extensively in my journal this morning as I’m now reading volume 1 of Robert Motherwell, A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941-1991. A deep sentiment was triggered when I read the following words of something he experienced right after his first one-man-show:

This was the moment when Motherwell realized that he did not have to try to seek a single image, or give a real priority to any single image; that he wanted to create a body of work that would reflect the entire range of his sensibility and feelings, which he could explore in different images that would reflect different aspects of his being.

I found this liberating, because I, as an art history teacher, recognized that though Motherwell is often “branded” with his “Elegy of the Spanish Republic” and Willem de Kooning with his “Woman” series, that these artists did not stick with just one subject; they were not one-trick ponies, and never became their own fan of a single signature series.

Since March of this year, I have focused on train subjects in my watercolors, knowing I was going to launch this Railroad Odyssey show in December. But now I am ready to explore other subjects once again, as in the past I have delighted in a number of genres, including plein-air landscape, still life, American nostalgia and Blues music. Recently there has been a revived interest in my collage pieces of my academic heroes. I have plans to return to that genre as well.

The holiday season is offering plenty of new experiences, and I’m beginning to relax into this new life that beckons.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.