Posts Tagged ‘Coca Cola’

Remembrances of a Gifted Uncle

October 18, 2013
Recent Watercolor Going Public in an Upcoming Festival

Recent Watercolor Going Public in an Upcoming Festival

 

This past weekend, I boarded AMTRAK in Fort Worth and made the sixteen-hour journey to St. Louis to pay tribute to my Uncle Paul who had recently passed away.  He was 91.  His ashes would be interred at the Indian Creek Cemetery in rural Jackson, Missouri.  There was to be a memorial on October 12 at a local funeral home.  My heart was full of memories as I sat in the coach and rolled late into the night.

Uncle Paul was one of thirteen siblings born to tenant farmer parents in southeast Missouri.  Educated in a one-room schoolhouse until he was old enough to work the fields, Paul did the things farm boys did in those days until he entered World War II.  Finishing his service, he chose not to return to his humble southeast Missouri roots, but to move to the West Coast in search of a better life.

Paul landed a position with Greyhound Bus, and stayed with the company twenty-five years, promoting to supervisory status, and choosing to work night shifts so he could have sufficient quiet and space to pursue his real interests—writing and story-telling.

Extending the Mark Twain/Will Rogers tradition, Paul developed a love of humor and stories covering country life.  He carefully researched the history of rural Jackson, Missouri, listened in on the memories of others who grew up there, and carefully committed these stories to print.

Growing up, all I knew was that Uncle Paul was special.  On the rare occasions that he made the excursion from California to Southeast Missouri, all the Tripps would gather to greet him, to sit in the living rooms until late at night, listening to him spinning his humorous tales as he smoked his cigars.  Personally, I felt that I was re-living the days when people gathered to listen to and laugh at the humor of Mark Twain.

By the time I grew into my teens, the Uncle Paul events had graduated from the parlors to weenie roasts along the banks of Indian Creek.  My Uncle Bus and Aunt Bea had a humble house on the banks of the creek, and Paul chose to roost with them every time he came home.  The problem was that Bea and Bus were early risers and preferred to get to bed early.  They became resentful of these all-night parties.  Every year they began to level their protest, but Paul had a tin ear.

I will never forget the time Bea put her foot down and swore there would not be a weenie-roast this time.  “We’re turnin’ in early tonight—no weenie-roast.”  By mid-afternoon, cars began pulling into the driveway.  “Why’s everyone comin’ here?” asked Bea.  “The weenie-roast,” I replied.  “Oh no!  There ain’t no weenie-roast tonight!  I said so.  Where’s Paul?”  “At the store buying hot dogs and buns.”  “No, no!  We’re not havin’ a weenie-roast!”  Children were dragging up driftwood and tree limbs from creekside for the bonfire.  “Stop draggin’ that stuff up here!” shouted Bea.  “There ain’t no weenie-roast tonight!”  Coolers of beer were being hauled out of car trunks.  Folding lawn chairs appeared, arranged in ranks around the pile of timber.  “Get that shit outta here!” shouted Bea.  “There ain’t gonna be no weenie-roast tonight!  Do it somewhere else!  We’re goin’ to bed!”

Paul squirted lighter fluid on the timbers, produced a match, and the blaze went up.  Bea yawned.  Bus mumbled that it was getting dark and time for bed.  People dragged up chairs.  Children cut tree limbs to support weenies for the roast.  The guitars came out.  Music filled the air.  The weenie roast was on.  And soon Paul would be holding court.

Around 2:00 in the morning, all grew quiet.  Paul was out of stories.  People were dozing in their lawn chairs, having pulled blankets and sleeping bags over them.  The guitars had stopped.  Scattered, intermittent conversations were still ongoing.  At one point, Paul turned to me.  I was seventeen and in awe of him.  “You have a good vocabulary,” he observed.  I was startled.  “You should write.  There aren’t enough people writing these days.  People want stories.  You can provide them.  You have a good vocabulary.  You should write.”

Drawing out his wallet, Paul removed a folded piece of paper.  That strange lighter-fluid smell emanated from the paper as he unfolded the “Xerox copy” (remember how those smelled in the mid-1970s?) of a check in the amount of $75 he had been paid by a West-Coast magazine for one of his stories.  “There’s money in this,” Paul mumbled, “but you’re too good to write this kind of stuff.”  Looking up from the check, I could not hold back my astonishment: “Seventy-five dollars for a funny story?”  “No. A scrounge story.  I wrote this one night in the office while on shift at Greyhound.”

I knew Paul was full of stories.  I knew he had the gift to deliver humor before a live audience.  What I didn’t know was that Paul wrote stories for porno magazines and collected good sums of money over the years.  “You don’t need that,” he advised me, “You have much more going for you.  You should write, and write about things that matter.”

That night beside the fire turned out to be a teachable moment for me.  Forty-three years later, I thought about that intimate conversation late at night as I rode back to Texas on AMTRAK.  Relatives that took Paul with a grain of salt remarked that he was only about himself, his stories, his need for an audience, his practice of holding court.  But I remember the night that Paul turned his attention on me for a few minutes and delivered a life-transforming Word, an Oracle.  Paul, I never forgot that moment.  Thank you for your compliment, for your encouragement.  I love to write.  I have found ways to weave this passion into my teaching profession, am proud to have been published a few times, still enjoy keeping an old-fashioned journal and now love to weave words and put them on a blog.  And I am  grateful to have readers.

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.

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The Struggles Latent in Finishing a Painting

August 4, 2013
Coca-Cola Sign and Gate Nearly Finished

Coca-Cola Sign and Gate Nearly Finished

When a reporter asked [Jack Kerouac] how he was able to finish so many novels, since he  never finished anything elsehe gave a jazzman’s answer.  “I don’t finish,” he said.  “I just write it continuously.  Sooner or later you reach the point in a book where you feel everybody’s bored, and you bring it around somehow and end it.  That’s deep form.”

John Leland, Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They’re Not What You Think)

For several days, I have stared at this large watercolor on my drafting table, while pursuing domestic chores.  Today being Sunday, I thought I would take a shot at finishing it, and I believe I’m getting quite close.  I never know when to say a watercolor is done, except to acknowledge the point where anything I do no longer improves the work’s overall appearance.  I then choose to sign it and let it go.  I’m close with this one.

Finding One’s Own Voice

July 30, 2013
Working till the Light Fades

Working till the Light Fades

The snow falls on no two trees alike, but the forms it assumes are as various as those of the twigs and leaves by the genius of the tree.  So one divine spirit descends alike on all, but bears a peculiar fruit in each.  The divinity subsides on all men, as the snowflakes settle on the fields and ledges and takes the form of the various clefts and surfaces on which it lodges.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, January 30, 1841

I finally laid down the watercolor brush as the sun faded from my studio windows.  I have refused to work under house lights on this watercolor, and really hated to lose the natural light.  I felt that I still had so much energy and enthusiasm left in me to proceed.  I only hope that the appetite is still there when school ends tomorrow.

Relaxing over the Journal of Henry Thoreau, I was suddenly gripped by this text I’ve just posted.  As a high school teacher, I have tried for years to encourage my students to find their own voice, to seek their own path.  But what a powerful metaphor Thoreau uses here!  It certainly got my imagination going, the notion of inspiration couched differently in individuals.  Throughout my years as educator and artist, I have tried to avoid those cookie-cutter templates that hold the attention of public education and taste.  Those who know my work are aware of my deep admiration for the watercolor technique of Andrew Wyeth.  Yet I knew years ago that I did not want to set a course to “ape” Andrew Wyeth.  As a student of art history, I have always wanted to emulate particular features from a number of artistic heroes, rather than “channel” one.  I have always wanted to assemble techniques into some kind of a toolbox, and in the process, hope that some kind of “style” might eventually emerge that I could call my own, my own voice.

On the last blog I wrote about drybrush and my attempts to weave it over watercolor wash, hoping to find some kind of “musical” composition in the combination.  Today I want to address color.  In my years of studying Andrew Wyeth, I always wondered why his neutrals seemed more “lifelike” than mine.  Once I threw away my sepia, burnt umber, paynes gray, burnt sienna, etc., I found myself moving closer to what I wanted.  My palette has been very restricted over the past few years, working almost exclusively with primary colors.

close-up of bottle in progress

close-up of bottle in progress

 

This vintage sign from which I’m working measures 36″ across.  I’m getting lost in it, as I sit just a mere five feet from it in my studio, with the northern lights bathing it all every afternoon.  I’ve been mixing the brown pigments in the Coca-Cola bottle from a combination of Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Transparent Yellow and Winsor Red.  Three years ago, I would have been using sepia, burnt umber, raw umber, or something of that nature.  I’m fascinated to see these three colors meshing and watching the gradations occur as I add water.  Staring at the sign, I’m fascinated with the imagination of whomever painted this Coca-Cola bottle.  The right-hand side of the bottle neck is outlined in dark green, with an aqua pin-stripe on the inside, before transitioning into that warm brown “cola” color.  The highlighed facets of the bottle are warm gray, and there are plenty of pools of bright red flanking the cola-brown.  As I continue to explore the surface, I’m intrigued by all these aqua highlights that occur across the surface.  I’m also trying to solve the myriad of tones appearing in the abused part of the white surface of the sign.  It’s been hit with a shotgun blast, and there is much corrosion as well.  There are so many different values mingled among all that damage.  The drybrush and scrubbing of the surface here is presenting a different kind of a challenge than the myriad of details covering the bottle image itself.  The longer I play with my palette, experimenting with the color mixing, the more I feel like a mad scientist in his laboratory.  It all adds to the fun and intrigue of the studio.

I am fully aware, as I pursue this, that I am doing copy work, much like an electric guitarist covering someone’s else’s published music.  This just gives me all-the-more respect for the original creators who design works like the one I’m copying.  Perhaps one day I’ll create something original.  But for now, I am still training the eye.  I still recall my Art I teacher, Mr. Scucchi, telling us ninth-graders: “I am not here to teach you to draw.  I’m here to teach you to see.  If you can see it, you can draw it.”  I’m still working on the vision thing.  I recall with amusement something attributed to Paul Cezanne when he was praising his colleague Claude Monet: “Monet is only an eye, but my God, what an eye.”

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Thoreau

July 28, 2013
2nd Day on Coca-Cola Watercolor

2nd Day on Coca-Cola Watercolor

Of all strange and unaccountable things this journalizing is the strangest.  It will allow nothing to be predicated of it; its good is not good, nor its bad bad.  If I make a huge effort to expose my innermost and richest wares to light, my counter seems cluttered with the meanest homemade stuffs; but after months and years I may discover the wealth of India, and whatever rarity is brought overland from Cathay, in that confused heap, and what perhaps seemed a festoon of dried apple or pumpkin will prove a string of Brazilian diamonds, or pearls from Coromandel.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, January 29, 1841

Though I stayed up late last night, I was awake  by 9:00 this morning.  After putting on coffee, I sat in the morning light reading from the Journal of Henry Thoreau.  I found this quote amusing as well as insightful.  I began my journal activity in 1986.  I haven’t counted the volumes recently, but know that they exceed 110 by now.  I’ve had some good years, some good entries, some insightful recordings.  And I have also produced pages of stuff worthy for kindling in the fireplace.  I suppose if I had never kept a journal, I would not have easy access to my thoughts over the past couple of decades, notes jotted down from books and magazines, original constructions that were used as skeletons for high school and univeristy lectures as well as public speeches and sermons.  And I probably would never have launched a blog had I not followed the journal instinct throughout my professional life.  The more I read Thoreau, the more convinced I am that he is a kindred spirit.  I’m so grateful to have been introduced to him.

As for day two of my watercolor, I worked through the morning, masquing, rendering more foliage, and detailing the twisted gate wires and a small portion of the Coca-Cola sign.  The painting is large–22 x 28″–and I am enjoying it challenges.  I cannot wait to take it up again after school tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I  blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Returning to Watercolor after a Hiatus

July 27, 2013
Still Life Set Up in the Studio

Still Life Set Up in the Studio

Large Watercolor in Progress

Large Watercolor in Progress

I don’t play with Crazy Horse all the time.  You can’t wear it out.  You know, it’s like you can’t constantly be doing everything.  You have to give it a rest.  It’s like planting stuff.  You’ve got to let the field rest for a year.

Neil Young “American Masters” PBS

I did not intend to get away from watercoloring.  Several things entered my life the past couple of weeks.  Summer school got busier (my class has grown by one-third this second semester, accompanied by a chronic absenteeism that wasn’t happening the first term).  I also picked up my guitar again and played in a live gig that required some rehearsals.  Then an unforseen series of events led to my standing in my waders, waist-deep in Windmill Lake at the LBJ Grasslands, flyfishing for largemouth bass.  It had been too long since I last enjoyed that avocation, and I was very grateful for the experience.  I also have become friends with a remarkable guitarist, Reid Rogers (http://reidrocks.com) who has me doing things with an electric guitar that I have never before accomplished.  Reading has also chewed into my lifestyle.  I took off three days to read Dan Brown’s Inferno, which then led me to Dante’s Divine Comedy.  I’m also reading The Andy Warhol Diaries.  And my mornings still begin with the Journals of Henry David Thoreau over a cup of coffee.

Texas temperatures are dreadful in the summer, so my garage Man Cave has been abandoned till probably October.  I brought my favorite vintage Coca-Cola sign into the house from the Cave, and set it up on an easel next to my northern light windows.  Behind it I positioned this gate that was a Father’s Day gift from a lovely friend.  The previous owner of the vintage sign sent me a photograph of it fronting an evergreen tree, so I am looking at that image on a computer and trying to paint it into the backdrop.

This watercolor is on a full sheet (22 x 28″) of 300-lb. D’Arches cold-press paper.  I usually don’t quake over a $20 sheet of paper, but since I hadn’t painted this large in over six months, and hadn’t painted at all since my last 8 x 10″ over a week ago, I felt somewhat timid as I approached this one early this morning.  Lacking the technical tools, I used a frying pan to draw the circle of the sign.  I had to re-draw the gate several times, fitting the sign to its dimensions in a satisfactory way to suit the composition.  Next came the odious task of all that masquing–so many bent, twisted wires, steel framework and scrollwork on the top.

Though I have been at this since 7:15 this morning (it’s 8:21 p.m. as I write this), I have never worked on it for more than forty-five minutes a session.  As I wrote earlier, I’m a little gun-shy since I hadn’t painted on this large of a scale for awhile.  I kept backing off from it and re-checking the proportions of the composition.  Like the carpenter who cuts once, measures twice, I kept erasing and redrawing the Coca-Cola bottle on the sign.  Since high school, I have found the drawing of bottles extremely difficult.  I constantly measured and put this bottle on a grid, to make sure the proportions lined up, and kept double-checking the symmetry of the opposing sides.  But I enjoyed every moment, truly.  During my breaks, I continued to read from Dante, Thoreau and Warhol.  And of course, I’m always scribbling in my own journal.

Once the masquing dried, I mixed a cool highlight for the leaves of the evergreen and began by spritzing the paper with a spray bottle and floating the light bluish-green pigments all over the gate.  Once it was dry, I used the Fine Line Resist Pen to draw the highlighted leaves.  Once that dried, I mixed a concoction of Winsor Green, Winsor Violet, Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Yellow, WInsor Blue (Green Shade) and Permanent Rose to make as-near-a-black as I could for the shadows in the tree.  I applied this liberally over all the tree, then sprinkled salt in it and used the spray bottle to break it up.  After all that dried (plenty of time to read today!) I came back and removed all the masquing, applied Transparent Yellow to some of the highlighed leaves, then rendered some of the twisted wire and metal gate framework.  I also did a tiny bit of work on the Coca-Cola bottle cap, and some staining of the damaged sign.

The light outside has gone away for the night, so I’m finished for now.  But I cannot wait to wake up to this again tomorrow.  Today has been splendid, with painting, reading, journaling, and guitar playing marking the time, all of it exquisite.  I actually feel that my breathing has slowed down somewhat.  And school doesn’t resume until Monday!

Thanks always for reading.  It’s nice to be back in this mode again.

The Daily Endeavor

June 24, 2013
Second Day on the Vintage Coca-Cola Sign

Second Day on the Vintage Coca-Cola Sign

Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings.  The reality will make any sincere record respectable.  No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, July 6, 1840

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I keep returning to these words from Thoreau and Hemingway, wanting to sustain the energy for daily thought and visual art as they did for thought and the written word.  They believed in their ideas, their abilities, their daily craft.  And they pursued these with unflagging purpose.

I painted yesterday, though tired.  I painted again this evening, though tired.  I’m still recovering from the extensive travel and workshop activity, and jumping into the daily summer school fire (English IV) as I write this.  But weary as I feel tonight, I am delighted that I said Yes to painting these last two times.  And I’m very pleased with how this small 10 x 8″ watercolor sketch is progressing of my vintage Coca-Cola sign.  I’m chipping away at this sign, remembering those countless times as  a child that I saw signs such as this mounted on fence posts, general stores and billboards in southeast Missouri.  This sign is as genuine a relic of Americana as anything I have witnessed in these past decades.  I’m proud to own it, and so pleased to have this opportunity to sketch it, paint it, plot out future compositions with it.

I’ve added quite a bit since yesterday, mostly the distressed marks, rust and buckshot damage on the background of the sign, as well as the shadows running around the curved side.  I also extended the background on the left side, darkening some of the evergreen.  I have some masqued highlights in the evergreen that I’m anxious to remove, but I have soaked the composition, and it’s going to take awhile for it to dry sufficiently for me to remove the masquing.  I believe I’ll finish this one tomorrow after school, and put if up for sale, 10 x 8″ with a 14″ x 11″ white mat and plastic sleeve.  Asking price: $100.

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you tomorrow!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercolor as a Relaxing Routine

June 23, 2013
36" Antique Coca-Cola Sign

36″ Antique Coca-Cola Sign

Routine is a ground to stand on, a wall to retreat to; we cannot draw on our boots without bracing ourselves against it.  It is the fence over which neighbors lean when they talk.  . . . Our health requires that we should recline on it from time to time.  When we are in it, the hand stands still on the face of the clock, and we grow like corn in the genial dankness and silence of the night.  

Henry David Thoreau, Journal.  January 23, 1841

When I drove away from the Eureka Springs School of the Arts last Friday, I felt so much good will from a class that performed above and beyond expectations.  I also felt satisfied in completing several demonstration watercolor sketches.  I thought that I would be O.K. with extended road time and the possibility of not picking up the watercolor brush for days.  But as Sunday dawned, I already felt a sense of listlessness with the broken routine, and decided to get back into something.  I acquired this magnificent 36″ antique Coca-Cola sign a few weeks back, just before I hit the road to do back-to-back workshops.  I never forgot about the sign, and thought it seemed silly to transport it in the back of my Jeep with all the rest of my watercolor gear and suitcase.  But the sign has been on my mind, and I thought that today I would try a few rough sketches of it.  I pulled out my “Fluid” watercolor block, hoping that that would signal a loose sketch and not a finished painting.  What is wrong with me?  Why can I not just cut loose?  Oh, I worked fast on this indeed, but, as you can see, it’s not loose.  It’s just as tight as though I were working on a full sheet of 300-lb. watercolor paper.  It is only 10 x 8″ but I worked as tightly and accurately as I could, though I worked fast indeed.  This is what I accomplished over the course of a few hours today, and I loved every minute, every second of the experience.

The sign has some corrosion, and plenty of abuse from a shotgun blast that I still haven’t really put into the composition yet.  And I’m still trying to solve the problem of an evergreen backdrop, spending plenty of time perusing Andrew Wyeth drybrush studies of evergreens.  I am so glad to have this sign in my actual presence, rather than trying to work from a photograph.  The relic is magnificent to behold.

Thanks for reading.  It’s nice to be back into the watercolor routine after only a two-day hiatus.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercoloring in the Quiet Morning

June 10, 2013
Continuing the Ghost Sign

Continuing the Ghost Sign

I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse.  I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happines of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the espeically ticketed ways.

After all, the object is not to make art, but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I awoke at 6:51 this morning, without an alarm, and I had to rise from my bed, because I had Robert Henri on my mind, and felt that I needed to keep an appointment with him.  Long ago, I had developed a daily habit of keeping some kind of a “morning watch,” a time in which I read from my Bible, kept a journal, and tried to prepare myself to live the day to the fullest.  I still maintain that “watch” much in the same way Immanuel Kant devoted the first hour of his morning to sitting in his chair and contemplating.  I always have the journal out, and something significant to read.  And Henri has been my muse of late, stirring me in the same manner that he did “The Eight” when they gathered in his studio apartment at 806 Walnut St. in downtown Philadelphia at the close of the nineteenth century.  He read to them from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, from Emerson, from any creative spirit he thought could ignite the artistic fires in his disciples.  And now, as I read this collection of his letters, addresses and private musings, I feel my own fires rekindling.

It did not take me long to lay the Henri volume down, pick up the brush, and return to this ghost sign that I found and photographed day before yesterday.  The quiet and sweetness of the morning has provided the perfect sanctuary for me to pore over this composition, think thoughts of art, philosophy, literature, life, and wonder what exactly this new day, this new gift, could reveal.  I so love the summer holiday from school (though I will resume teaching summer school very quickly).  Time evaporated yesterday, as I stood with my fly rod, looking into those waters, and recalling the words of Thoreau: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”

I am indeed on the same page as Henri, concerning the artist.  I believe everyone has that potential to live the artful life, to think the artful thoughts, and make constructions that are unique to his/her inner life, and to express them, whether in visual art, music, journaling, blogging, or conversing artfully with the friends around.  I believe everyone has the artist within, and that that artist deserves feeding, nurturing.  This blog is part of my outlet.  But my intake today has been the words of Henri, and the visual stimulation of this commercial building standing mute with its layers of memories enfolded.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Sketching a Ghost Sign

June 9, 2013
Coca Cola Ghost Sign

Coca Cola Ghost Sign

The artist, who is not a materialist, sees more than the incident.  He puts in his work, whether conscioulsy or not, a record of sensibilities, and his work bridges time and space, bringing us together.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I found a ghost sign yesterday afternoon, photographed it in the afternoon sun, and decided after putting away the windmill that I would try and sketch it out.  I’m working on that Fluid Watercolor block, trying to remind myself that I am sketching, not painting (such a hard thing for me to do in watercolor–I really need to loosen up and learn some things!).

I always find it hard to break in, to “dirty up” a new toy.  When I won Best of Show the other night, I was presented not only with a handsome check, but a Winsor & Newton lightweight sketcher’s box.  I went wild, just looking at it!  Now, two days later, I finally work up the nerve to open it and use it, dirtying up the palettes inside, and using pigments I’ve never before used.

For the underlying brick wash, I’ve combined Scarlet Lake and Viridian (two pigments I don’t recall ever using before).  Once it’s dry, I’ll begin working brick textures over it.  I’ve already screwed up the “o” in “Cola” (I always screw up the Coca-Cola script, though I just love looking at it!).  But there is a large tree spreading its canopy beneath this ghost sign, so no doubt I’ll thrust some branches and foliage up over that second “o”.  I just have to keep reminding myself–this is only a sketch, learn to sketch, don’t try to make every watercolor endeavor frameable.

I love the Robert Henri sentiment posted above.  I cannot explain the “Proustian” sentiment I feel stirring within when I view advertising billboards remembered from my youth.  I am truly not a materialist.  No doubt I try to apply all the academic training I can recall to every artistic endeavor I engage.  But it is feelings beneath that I am truly after, and every time a viewer of my work feels those stirrings, I feel that I have accomplished my task.

Thanks for reading.  I’m having fun.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Trying to Capture the Late Night Shadows in a Watercolor

April 26, 2013
Painting in the Man Cave Late Friday Night

Painting in the Man Cave Late Friday Night

 

Detailing the Door and Darkening the Surrounding Shadows

Detailing the Door and Darkening the Surrounding Shadows

If a painting is good, it will be mostly memory.

Andrew Wyeth

I spent much of this evening, listening to Andrew Wyeth documentaries on VHS and DVD, as the shadows gathered in the Man Cave.  As I look at Wyeth’s drybrush and watercolor sketches, I am mesmerized at his dark, dim interiors.  The D’Arches paper I use makes me think I am painting on snow–it is so white and reflective.  I apply countless glazes of pigment, trying to darken the areas around this pale blue bucket and capture the essence of the dim interior of a garage, work shed or barn.  One of these days, perhaps I’ll figure it out.

I did enjoy “scarifying” the door in the background.  My Man Cave has nine aged doors that I keep moving around and studying for their varying textures and colors.  I really want to master abused wood textures and colors in watercolor.  This has been a fascinating study for me.  I have combined watercolor, x-acto knife scrapes, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite and fingerprints to build up layers of door grime.  I just love getting into this.

I’m still not sure how to get the blue pail to “pop.”  The blues I have been pouring on it have not really worked to my liking, yet.  I have worked transparently, layering wash after wash.  There is still plenty of paper surface shining up through the layers of pigment, but I’m still not getting the luminosity I want.  I’m not sure how to solve this issue yet.

The overturned Coca-Cola crate has surprised me.  I’ve barely touched it, and I feel that it is about “there”, if not “there” already.  I had this same issue twice before when painting a cast-iron skillet in my two large still-lifes back in January.  The skillet only required minimal work and was done.  I was disappointed!  I wanted to work it, re-work it, and re-work it, applying layers and textures, and building up pigments, but it seemed to shape itself rather quickly.  That is what has happened to the Coca-Cola crate–I had all kinds of plans for it, and it looked “finished” before I even got into it.  Oh well.  Maybe the next time it will be more obdurate.

Well, it’s getting late.  I have a plein air invitation pending for tomorrow, and I’m seriously considering participating in the event.  So I guess I’ll turn out the lights and give this painting a rest.  Tomorrow in the daylight I can see if I like what’s happening.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.