Posts Tagged ‘bait shop’

Bait Shop Watercolor Finished

March 11, 2014
Completed Bait Shop Watercolor

Completed Bait Shop Watercolor

Reading allows me to be in communion with other people without having to mingle with the crowd, which always frightens me.  It is one of the adornments of my solitude.

Paul Gauguin, letter to Andre  Fontainas, August 1899, Tahiti

The day began deliciously at 6:00 with plenty of quality studio time.  Then 9:00 came, businesses opened, and I had to take my Jeep to a couple of establishments for some routine maintenance.  Unfortunately, the wait was long.  Fortunately, I brought my Gauguin, Writings of a Savage.  Good thing too–I spent more than two hours sitting in reception areas, waiting for work to be completed.  I found Gauguin’s writings very engaging, and didn’t fret the long wait hours.

After two more stops beyond Jeep maintenance, I finally got back home to my studio and picked up the brush a final time, finishing this watercolor.  It’s been satisfying.  The painting started very badly, and finished alright.  I’m pleased.  Now, I turn my attention to the large Hermann, Missouri composition.  What a satisfying Spring Break!

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.

Early Morning Watch in the Studio

March 11, 2014
Rising Early to Paint

Rising Early to Paint

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.  I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Daylight Saving Time still has my circadian rhythms out of whack.  I sat up reading until 2:00 a.m., and still awoke at 6:00 which is my normal time to rise on workday mornings.  Spring Break has been sweet up to this point, and I am now glad that I decided to rise at my normal time.  Already I’m on my second cup of coffee and have poured a ton of attention into this Bait Shop watercolor.  The morning light is flooding my studio and I am enjoying the quiet serenity that envelops me.

Painting the human figure still terrifies me.  I am out of my element.  Having spent hours visiting the Hopper exhibition that recently closed at the Dallas Museum of Art, I have resolved to study and sketch the human figure and incorporate these studies into my watercolors.  I believe my biggest fear is making these innocent people look like caricatures or cartoons, even though I think many of Edward Hopper’s masterpieces render the human figure in the likeness of a comic strip.  I need to stop worrying about this and just proceed.  I have four people in this reference photo taken last November, and most of my attention this morning has been on them.  For better or worse, I believe I’ll be finished with this piece by lunch time.  Then I hope to return to my large painting of Hermann, Missouri.

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.

Watercoloring Late into the Spring Night

March 10, 2014
Painting Late into the Night

Painting Late into the Night

As best we could, we have just pointed out and then explained color as living matter; like the body of a living being.  Now we must talk about its soul, that elusive fluid which by means of intelligence and the heart has created so much and stirred so much–about color that helps our imagination to soar, opening a new door onto mystery and the infinite. We cannot explain it, but perhaps indirectly, by using a comparison, we can suggest its language.

Paul Gauguin, “Miscellaneous Things,” from The Writings of a Savage

This night is getting late, but I am enjoying the mix of reading from Gauguin and exploring color in this small 8 x 10″ watercolor.  Funny how I feel that the older I get, the less I know about color, even though I seem to be learning things at a much faster pace than when I was younger.  In a few days, I’ll teach a watercolor workshop, and already wonder how much these new discoveries will disrupt my comfort zone as a teacher.  That is no doubt a silly anxiety.  We are all in pursuit of improvement, and just need the constant reminder that teachers aren’t expected to know it all.  The truly educated never graduate.  I am, for all practical purposes, still a student, and an enthusiastic one at that.

So far, this Spring Break has provided a delicious respite from the daily grind.  It is pure joy to soak up the quiet of the studio late at night, to enjoy reading, to enjoy chipping away at a watercolor.  Life is good.

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.

The Nightingale’s Song

March 10, 2014
Revisiting an earlier start on a Texas Coast Bait Shop

Revisiting an earlier start on a Texas Coast Bait Shop

A given arrangement of colors, lights, and shadows produces an impression.  This is what we might call the music of the painting.  Often you are seized by that magical harmony before you even know what the subject of a painting is, as when you enter a cathedral and are too far away from the painting to make it out clearly.

Paul Gauguin, Miscellaneous Things” from The Writings of a Savage

This afternoon, I returned to a watercolor abandoned a few months ago.  I abandoned it because it started out badly.  The reason I chose the composition was because I was enchanted with the abundance of blue tones I found on site when I took the photograph.  And I was confident that I could solve the overall blue composition.  But the painting went south in a hurry, and I tossed it aside in disgust.

Oftentimes, I’ll look at a discarded work repeatedly as months go by, and sometimes I’ll give the composition a second chance.  This is one of those times.  Taking my lead from Paul Gauguin, I am trying to bring out the “music” in the subject that so captured my fancy last November when I was on the coast.  I am more pleased with how the painting is shaping up today, and think I’ll stay with it some more.  Sometimes I find a way to rescue a painting that starts out badly.  Maybe this will happen again.  At any rate, I’m not attached to it, so we’ll see what happens.

Yesterday, while reading Gauguin’s journals (I’m nearly 200 pages into them now, and astounded at his erudition and vision), I came across his criticism of the French Impressionists for relying on the eye more than the intellect.  In the final analysis, he dismissed much of their work as merely “the song of the nightingale.”  This prompted me to revisit Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 story “The Nightingale.”  As I read, I sighed at the thought that in my studio, my works of art are strewn about, and outside my window, the nightingale of Art sings a sublime music that lifts my soul to another level, much like in the Andersen fable.  For years in my study of art history, I have distinguished Art from works of art.  Our landscape is strewn with works of art, and all those creators had one thing in common: they were striving to create Art.  We fashion singing nightingales, but are always moved at the song of the real one just outside the window.

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.

The Urge to Soldier On

February 11, 2014
Sketch of a Bait Shop on the Texas Gulf

Beginning Sketch of a Bait Shop on the Texas Gulf

Who cares what sensibility or discrimination a man has at some time shown, if he falls asleep in his chair? . . . Of what use is genius, if the organ is too convex or too concave and cannot find a focal distance within the actual horizon of human life?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

This statement from Emerson knocked the wind out of me this afternoon (oops, yesterday afternoon–midnight has already arrived) when I was closing out one of my classes and thinking about my recent reduced watercolor and sketching output.  Too often I use my job as an excuse, but frankly I’ve been able to average over a hundred watercolors a year for several years in a row now.  So it has to be something else.  Inspiration has been on the flat side.   But when I read this Emerson statement from “Experience” (a fabulous essay that I hadn’t read in over ten years) I was reminded of something I read last year from Ian Roberts in Creative Authenticity, namely that no one cares how much talent you have if you’re not creating anything.  Good point.  I’m glad that I spent the better part of this past evening working at my drafting table.  It’s a good feeling, being a part of something much larger than my individual self.

O me! O life!  of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the

foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than

I and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the

            struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I

            see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me inter-     

            twined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these,

            O me, O life?

 

            Answer

 

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

 

Walt Whitman, “O Me! O Life!

 

The watercolor sketch above is something I started a couple of months ago and then abandoned as other projects crowded in.  A former student of mine, Mike Catlin, is now managing Bowman Design and Framing in Portland, Texas, near Corpus Christi. He invited me into that gallery last year, and I traveled down there in November to deliver some of my work.  We spent a couple of days together, renewing an old friendship, then traveled about the coast to take pictures for future sketches and paintings.  I got after this 8 x 10” watercolor rather quickly, but then stalled.  So I’m now trying to breathe life back into it–something I always find hard to do when I’ve let a piece lie about and get cold for awhile.  I took several dozen photos of old bait shops in that area, and really like the compositions of some of them.  I just need to put my head down now and get some of them kicked out.  Soon, I will be leading a watercolor workshop for that gallery, and I would really like to get some paintings together of the area before I show up for the sessions.

Thank you, Mike, for helping me get untracked again.

And thanks to the rest of you for reading me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Musing Over New Year’s Resolutions and Starting a New Painting

December 29, 2013
Bait Shop

Bait Shop

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

This day has had more than a fair share of rewards.  I’m pleased that I rose early from a good night’s sleep, enjoyed a good breakfast, and devoted some serious “chair time” to reading Ecclesiastes in its entirety, taking my time, letting the message seep in.  The words of the Preacher have lingered with me throughout the day, and put me in the mood to begin a new watercolor.

This is an 8 x 10″ sketch I’ve begun on a bait shop I photographed a few months ago when I was on the coast.  The details are slowing me down considerably, so it’s not shaping up as quickly as I had imagined.  But there is no deadline here; I hope to begin a larger, more serious watercolor of the same subject once I get more comfortable with it.

I am haunted by the words of the Preacher posted above.  As I move toward the New Year and contemplate the things that matter, I find myself saddened deeply by the sentiments of one who feels that the final assessment of his life’s accomplishments was empty.  I have always felt sorry for anyone who hated his/her job.  I have not known that misfortune.  But sadder still is this writer’s broader assessment of his life’s accomplishments.  How could one regard the overall value of a life’s endeavors as worthless?

Personally, I have enjoyed life as an educator, and I’ve pursued this nonstop since 1985, full time since 1988.  Besides teaching a handful of my favorite subjects, I have also tried to pursue a life in the arts.  In my later years, art has become more my center.  The line from Hippocrates resonates profoundly with me:

Life is short,

and art long,

opportunity fleeting,

experience perilous,

and decision difficult.

I don’t fret over Malcolm Gladwell’s dictum that 10,000 hours are required for one to master his/her field.  I think I have put in my 10,000 hours, paid my dues.  But as I grow older, my awareness increases that art technique requires long and sustained study and practice, and life is comparatively short.  I understand better at my current age why Leonardo and Michelangelo felt a pang of discontent that they would not live long enough to figure it all out.  I’m just glad that I haven’t gotten so old that this reality bothers me.  I know I’ll never “get there”, but that’s not the point–I love the process, love the search, love the endeavor.  I’m still enchanted when I see paintings emerge beneath my brush.  I cannot describe the emotion I feel as that happens, and I can never express how grateful I am that I was given this chance while on earth to engage in this task.

And sometimes, others join in on that bliss.  Tonight, I received two emails, fifteen minutes apart, from two patrons that commissioned work from me for Christmas.  They wanted me to know that they loved the paintings, and so did the ones who received them as gifts.  Patrons will probably never know just how deeply I am stirred to hear that someone else has been touched by something I  made.  Those two emails in themselves were genuine Christmas gifts to me, tonight.

Art still has truth, take refuge there!

Matthew Arnold, “Memorial Verses April 1850”

This has been a most satisfying day.  Meaningful reading and reflection, another chance to pursue watercolor, and gracious words from good friends.

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.

In the Studio Tonight

In the Studio Tonight