Posts Tagged ‘church’

Sun Slanting over Vespers at a Quiet Presbyterian Church

June 13, 2011

First Presbyterian Church Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The first day of class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is in the books.  I was so excited that I set my alarm for 5:30 and arrived at the school by 8:00.  Class began at 9:00.  Six students this year, same number as last year, and I love them all.  All of them talented, all of them enthusiastic, and all of them wanting to push their skills further by exploring plein air watercolor.  We worked our first day at the school.  Tomorrow we meet in the historic district of Eureka Springs, and will paint the town, literally.

Class went from 9 to 4.  I gave myself about an hour to decompress in this lovely living facility (Twilight Terrace at Sweet Spring), then returned to the site about 2 blocks from here where I began this plein air sketch yesterday at this same time.  I spent one more hour on it today and declared it finished.  After all, it’s just a plein air sketch, not a finished, polished studio piece.  Maybe I’ll do that some other day.

This is the First Presbyterian Church of Eureka Springs on Spring Street.  When I decided to work on it yesterday, I was fascinated with the rustication on the exterior of the structure, thought about how the ancient Romans introduced that to the Western world, and fancied this as a Roman Catholic Church.  Now today I read the sign and saw it was actually Presbyterian (sorry Jean!).  Nevertheless, it has that Roman look (to me).  And I am aware that Vespers came from the Roman Catholic tradition, drifted to the Greek Orthodox, and was later adopted by the Lutherans.  But I believe the word just means “evening” and I know that Presbyterians, Unitarians and other church bodies today use that word “vespers” to refer to some of their liturgical practices.

This was truly a “vespers” moment for me as I spent this evening’s hour finishing this piece.  The slanting rays of the sun continued to wash the environment, and chase lavender shadows across the recessed areas of this scene.  I really did not want to stop painting on it.  But alas, I have overworked far too many watercolors (and may have this one as well!).  So, I decided to let it go, and rest up this evening so I can teach another class tomorrow, and (hopefully) kick out another plein air watercolor at tomorrow’s vespers.

Thanks for reading.  Eureka Springs is a beautiful place to paint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Plein Air Watercolor Start on a Eureka Springs Church

June 12, 2011

Eureka Springs Church

This morning, my wife and I rose at 5:00 to make the four-hour drive to Little Rock so she could catch a flight back to Texas.  She begins teaching summer school in the morning, and I begin my one-week class here in the morning as well.  The return to Eureka Springs capped eight hours of driving, and I felt it.  However, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts has provided me with a place to stay this week, and when I moved in this evening, I could not believe my eyes!  I’m in a luxurious space, and feel so unworthy!  All I could hear were the dying words of Tom Hanks to Private Ryan: “Earn this.”  (Incidentally I did not care for the movie, but always remembered that “hook”).  And so, with “Earn this!” on my conscience, I hastily unpacked my gear in this beautiful dwelling, then headed out into the surrounding neighborhood at 6:00 p.m. to paint something, anything.  I just felt I needed to “earn this!”

The sun was setting on this beautiful church, about a block from where I will be residing.  I only had 45 minutes of light with which to work, so this is as far as I could go.  I believe I will set it out as a sample for my plein air students in the morning, showing them how I begin an on-site work.  Then, when 6:00 p.m. rolls back around, I’ll return to the site, and hopefully complete it.  I begin with four students tomorrow.  We’ll practice plein air watercolor for five days, 9:00-4:00.  I’ve waited a year for this, and can hardly believe that the inauguration of this experience is just hours away now.

About this start to the church painting–I was much more fascinated with the beautiful sunset colors filling the trees and foliage to the right of the church, than the actual church structure, although I look forward to (trying) to solve the problem of the rusticated exterior.  I love such cut-stone buildings and their Roman predecessors.  Finally I get to attempt a watercolor of one.  Hopefully I’ll render the stop sign and street signs with enough detail that they emerge from the overwhelming, colorful foliage.  I also love the slant of the street downward, much like what I saw with that Victorian cottage bathed in yellow that I attempted a few days ago (posted).

Thank you for reading.  Wish my class (and me) good luck tomorrow as we begin this week.

A Second Attempt at Watercoloring the Country Churchyard

April 23, 2011

Cahill Cemetery

This is a super-quick watercolor sketch I attempted at the Cahill Cemetery, having finished the one posted under the heading “Elegy in a Country Churchyard.”  The weather was too nice, the breeze too soothing, and the surroundings too quiet for me to leave at just that moment.  I cannot express the depth of gratitude I feel to be alive, to have the time and space to pursue plein air watercolor experiments and to enjoy space and quiet like this afternoon.  Working in pubic education can be taxing, to put it diplomatically.  Weekends are sacred to me, and what is more appropriate than finding a churchyard in a quiet countryside to spend some quiet moments, the day before Easter.

The Cahill Methodist Church is 2.7 miles east of I-35W on F. M. 917, south of Burleson, Texas.  I have found this a splendid place for weekend retreats from the city, and this is my sixth watercolor sketch done on these premises.

Thanks for reading.

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, Loss and Presence

April 23, 2011

Sketches in the Studio

1887 relic of 4th Methodist Church Fort Worth, Texas

Today, Friday morning, April 22, 2011 begins a 3-day weekend for me.  While in classes yesterday morning, I suddenly was seized with this notion to visit this relic from the edge of downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  It is what remains of the 1887 Fourth Street Methodist Church (today First Methodist Church, in a different location).  The ruins were discovered a few years back when demolition began of a storage facility, with no knowledge that the skeletal remains of this vestry were within the old structure.  The Bass brothers decided not to destroy the relic.

For the past two weeks (is this serendipitous?) I have been mulling over William Wordsworth’s “Lines.  Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour.  July 13, 1798.”  I have also lingered over a watercolor by J. M. W. Turner, composed while the painter was quite young and visiting that same Medieval ruin of a church.  The poem and the painting have been on my mind the past few weeks, again with all those Proustian notions–of memories, of loss and of presence.

Other writers have expressed this better than I, but I know these heart-shuddering sentiments of standing in the midst of something left over from the past, with the wreckage of decomposition prevalent, and I simultaneously feel a profound loss and an exhilarating “presence.”  This is what I feel when I look on this church ruin adjacent to a thriving Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas.  At the close of the 19th century, worshipers, mourners, seekers–people of all persuasions–lingered on these grounds and worshiped within the sacred space.  I tried to focus on those matters while the traffic of downtown Fort Worth whizzed past me.  One memorable moment during this 30-minute sketching exercise was a courteous bicycle security guard working for the city stopping by and chatting with me for a few minutes.  Her presence, and the knowledge that there were “many of them” about the town, made me feel safer to return here and sketch again.  Indeed I shall.

Thank you for reading.  It is now Saturday, and I hope to get some quality work done in watercolor by the close of this day.

Cahill Cemetery Peace, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010

Cahill Cemetery Peace

This is a small plein air watercolor sketch I did rather hastily as the sun was setting south of Fort Worth.  This cemetery is behind the lovely Cahill Methodist Church east of Interstate 35 on F.M. 917.  I have painted the church three times, and one of the paintings is now the cover of a fiction novel published a few years back (the painting is “First Night in Waterford” and can be found on my website http://recollections54.com/).  Though I painted this in the fall of the year, the sun was hot late that afternoon, and I worked rather quickly so I could retreat to an air-conditioned room and drink some kind of an icy beverage.  I just didn’t get around to finishing it and posting it till now.

Thanks for reading.

Watercolor Sketch in Crested Butte, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

church in Crested Butte, Colorado

Took about 45 minutes to do this quick watercolor sketch while strolling Crested Butte, Colorado.  The sun was setting low and I liked this rim of mountains behind this church cupola.  The mountain range did not come out the way I wanted so I took a cloth towel and water and scrubbed it of most of its color.  I’ll return to that later and try to get the sunwashed mountain colors and cool shadows into place.

Thanks for reading.  If all goes according to plan, I will attempt my first plein air oil painting since about 1976.  I’ll make this attempt in Creede, Colorado.  We’ll see how that goes.

Coffee Church finished, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

Cahill United Methodist Church

I will probably title this Cahill United Methodist Coffee Church.  My connection with this subject began several years ago when I painted the rear portion of the church to publish on the cover of a forthcoming fiction novel by a local writer.  I fell in love with the overall location of this scenic church south of Burleson, Texas and just east of Interstate 35.  I returned to the church a year later and began this composition.  I was totally satisfied with the tree on the extreme left, and took a picture of the church, hoping to finish the building part of the composition later.

One Saturday, while working in the studio space behind Arlington’s Upstairs Gallery, I knocked my cup of coffee over and completely flooded this painting.  Instead of throwing it away (because I liked the tree!), I kept it around, and worked on it intermittently, trying to find ways to eliminate the coffee stains.  Finally, I ended up with this.

Thanks  for reading.

Can we salvage a coffee-damaged work? February 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

Cahill Methodist Coffee Church

I have painted this Cahill United Methodist Church several times.  It is located south of Fort Worth, Texas, east of Interstate 35W, near the town of Joshua, Texas.  The back section of the church has been published on the cover of a fiction novel (more information on my website of this painting and book–www.recollections54.com).

While working on the initial stages of this painting, in the studio behind the Upstairs Gallery in Arlington, Texas, I knocked over my cup of coffee and splattered it all over the right side of this composition.  You can clearly see the coffee stains on the right side of the church and grounds, as well as the streams of coffee  shooting up through the sky.  The only reason I didn’t just throw it away was because of the single tree I had rendered to the left.  I thought this was the closest I ever got to Andrew Wyeth-type “perfection” in rendering tree bark and the stark figure of a tree in winter.  I just hated to toss the painting.

This afternoon, with the sun lovely and the temperatures moderate, I went to Lyndon Acres to watch my wife ride her horse, and I began chipping away at this church, rendering the details of the facade and trying to give it some overall shape.  I’m still not sure what to do about all the coffee stains, but meanwhile I’m enjoying the watercolor experience, and learning as I apply some new techniques and color theories.

Thanks for reading . . .  it’s been a fabulous day for painting outdoors.