Posts Tagged ‘billboard’

An Entire Saturday of Plein Air Watercolor Activity, Some of it Good

May 8, 2011

Red Goose Shoes, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

This was an unbelievable Saturday (yesterday, May 7).  I set out early in the Jeep and came to rest in sun-washed downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  Sundance Square is a delicious setting with an abundance of historic sites that I wish to watercolor, hopefully very soon.  So, here is my first sketch of Red Goose Shoes (sign only, the store below long gone) next to the historic theater, formerly the AMC Sundance 11, at 304 Houston Street.  It also is long gone (suites of meeting rooms now) though the facade is still intact.

I remain deeply dissatisfied at my own watercolor sketches.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love watercolor sketches and gaze at them for hours–just other people’s watercolor sketches!  I have come to appreciate more my own “finished” watercolor paintings.  The spontaneity of a well-done on-site sketch I recognize in other artists, just not my own.  But, I’ll get there.

The experience of sitting in a cool shade and sketching the facade of this building and magnificent sign defies description.  I worked on it for about 34 minutes (I’m so obsessive/compulsive with the journal I keep at hand–10:08 until 10:42!), and the result was very bad.  I’m not sure if I’ve already posted this in a previous blog (not sure if I’m thinking too much or just getting old), but I’m reading with great delight Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit.  This amazing artist/teacher is truly prophetic in the writings he has left behind.  The testimony of his “presence” and power to inspire others around him is well-documented.  In reading him, I laughed, being caught off guard at one of his remarks–few artists can finish a painting because they cannot seem to start one well.  Ouch!  Many, many of my paintings start out very badly, and I find myself working slavishly to “rescue” them.  Some just have to be abandoned.

So here I was, with another bad start to a plein air watercolor sketch, though I was truly “in the moment” and enjoying the outdoors immensely–every sound, smell and sight absorbed into my excited and receptive pores.  I love the bustle of a city waking up on a weekend.

I packed my gear together and proceeded south on Houston Street to duck into a Starbuck’s enjoy a tall bottle of cold water, fiddle around on my laptop (so much delicious correspondence to enjoy, thanks to the blog, Facebook, email–thanks all of you!) and to take another look at this.

I took out my journal and made critical notes, then returned to my painting spot, enriched the reds, detailed the sign, tried to load in some better contrast, and delineate the bricks in the white facade.  Finally, the painting appeared to do all it could, and each new stroke seemed to diminish it, so I quit, and moved on to the next location, which I will record next, in “Part 2.”

I have posted other “Red Goose Shoes” paintings on this blog.  There is a magnificent sign like this in south St. Louis that I completed earlier this year.  Red Goose Shoes is a memory from my childhood, even though I never bought a pair of shoes from them.  My parents always took me to the local Fischer’s Department Store in High Ridge, Missouri.  I liked Fred Fischer, but he didn’t offer golden eggs filled with prizes!

Thanks so much for reading.  Hope your Saturday was sublime as well.


The Creative Interlude: Cracks between the Paintings

April 1, 2011


Rural Colorado

I am pleased to announce that fifteen of my original works are now posted on the website of the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery.  I took my most recent three watercolors to the gallery for framing (posted this past week) and, a t the request of Bill Ryan, the proprietor, submitted my JPEG images for the paintings already in the gallery.  If you wish to see them, go to


Same old tired story–school responsibilities have taken me out of the studio the past two days, and resultantly, this blog died.  But it is Friday morning, and in just a few hours, I will escape to the garage/studio and get something else going (not sure exactly what, but will indeed pick up the brush and resume the enterprise).  I will be posting something this evening to give an account of today’s art endeavors.

Thanks for reading.

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer’s Grill

February 3, 2011

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer's Grill

This one is going to be fun!  Spencer’s Grill, along historic route 66 in Kirkwood, Missouri, was a visual landmark for me, even before I was old enough to read.  This 1947 diner, with its 1948 sign, was featured on a billboard in Fenton, Missouri, adjacent to the Meramec River bridge on Highway 30.  As a small child, I admired the maroon-and-gold signage complete with vintage clock.  Once I was old enough to enter the diner on my own, I discovered a scene reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s painting “Night Hawks,” complete with stainless steel kitchen and the aromas of old-fashioned cooking.  Every summer and Christmas, when I re-visit St. Louis, I stop into the Spencer’s Grill, usually for breakfast which includes scrapple, of all things!

I began this work last month, then stalled as I continued work on a couple of other large watercolor compositions, and of course, the constant juggling of high school and college teaching schedules.  Yesterday I discovered water damage in the midst of the painting (sloppy me–always leaving a damp towel on my work).  I have just about restored all the “bleeding” areas that weren’t supposed to be there, and I pledge to be more careful now as this thing slowly takes shape.  I still have plenty of pencil work to do, as I’ve decided now to extend the composition to the bottom and to the right.  And of course, there is still plenty of signage to detail, traffic to block in, and shadows to lay down.  But I am finding real joy in this.

Texas has canceled school three days in a row, an extremely rare feat–in fact I don’t recall three consecutive cancellation days in my near-25 years of teaching.  At any rate, it has allowed me to focus more on my painting, and for that I am grateful.

Thank you for reading.  I’ll try to be more faithful with daily blogging . . .  Wish me luck on this one!