Posts Tagged ‘coffee house’

Lazy Afternoon at Zula’s Coffee House. Last Day of Waxahachie Plein Air Competition

June 2, 2011

Lazy Afternoon at Zula's Coffee House, Waxahachie, Texas

Today marks the end of the plein air competition in Waxahachie (for me).  The deadline for entering work is tomorrow (Friday) at 2:00, and I will be stuck in school for the entire day.  The last week of public school is a total waste of time and resources, if I may offer my frank opinion.  Prime time every day this week has been spent in a high school where everyone–student and teacher alike–has already mailed it in.   I’m happy that I managed to crank out seven paintings since last Friday–six of them between Friday and Monday, and then the past three days on this one (again, prime time spent in school, and left-over, late-afternoon time, painting).

Zula’s Coffee House is my favorite place to land when I’m in Waxahachie, Texas.  Terra, the proprietor, has this way of making any patron comfortable and grateful for setting up in this coffee haven, any time day or night.  It has become a popular venue for folk singing, book discussions and various other small group activities.  Wi-Fi makes it a great place to work on the laptop when deadlines are pressing.  The coffee house is located on Business Highway 287, on the north side of downtown Waxahachie (Main Street).  It is far enough away from the town square to escape the traffic noises of midday, and has a life of its own (which the town square lacks after 5:00 p.m.).  The open meadow across the street provides plenty of space for anyone with an active eye and a dreamy imagination.  During the fall of last year, I painted the meadow in all the bright colors that the late afternoon sun yielded.  Again, this is a sweet spot to land for anyone who is a lover of art, books, music and of course, coffee!

Thanks Terra for a very rewarding three days.  I’m glad I finally got around to painting this splendid venue.

Thanks for reading.

Ghosts of Eureka Springs Past

March 13, 2011

Ghosts of Eureka Springs PastI just got my painting framed at the Weiler House Gallery (http://weilerhousefineart.com) and will soon deliver it to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for their first faculty art show.  I haven’t seen the town since I left it last June, when I was privileged to teach a one-week plein air watercolor class to an outstanding group of painters.

I’m glad the painting is finally framed, and that I am at the beginning of a one-week Spring Break from school.  Already I’m in the garage planing out my next composition, and hopefully will have it posted soon.

Thank you for reading.

A Close Second to a Parisian Sidewalk Cafe

February 24, 2011

Sidewalk Cafe Life at Eureka Springs

Texas temperatures are getting better–80 degrees and sunny today.  My garage has turned into an art studio/man cave for me, with a portable TV/VCR playing an assortment of tapes for my listening pleasure while I paint–lectures on Friedrich Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams to name just a few.  I feel myself entering this composition that I’ve tinkered with for several months now.  I can almost hear the voices around the table discussing poetry, philosophy, theology, books–all the artistic elements that keep us alive and alert.

This setting is in downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where it was my profound privilege to teach a week of plein air watercolor classes for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  It was my first time, and I have an application pending there now, hoping with all I have that there will be a class again this year.  My two favorite towns so far are Waxahachie, Texas and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for on-site watercoloring.  Both towns boast streets lined with Victorian architecture, flower beds, cute shops around the downtown district, and compositions for painting in any direction one looks.

This particular painting is huge by my standards–30 x 22″–and it involves elements that are outside my comfort zone–people and a myriad of details.  I have avoided genre painting for a number of years, realizing that there are countless artists “out there” who do it so exceedingly well.  But I recently read something from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau that convinced me to go for this: “There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject, as there is room for more light on the brightest day, and more rays will not interfere with the first.”  All I had to do was substitute “painting” for “book,” and I got his point.  My contribution to this genre of painting will in no way diminish what has been done by others, and yes, there is room in this world of art for me to contribute as well.  So . . . with that in mind, I was liberated to go after this composition.

Today was quite a full day–high school classes by day, a trip to the veterinarian this afternoon, and a college class tonight.  But there is still time to engage in the arts, and I so love returning to my studio, even when the day has been filled with “work.”  Thoreau said (I believe in Walden) “To effect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.”  That I must remember.  Though packed to the rim, today has nevertheless been “artful.”

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you again tomorrow . . .

Christmas at the Diner on U. S. Route 66, Missouri

February 3, 2011

Christmas at the Diner on U. S. Route 66, Missouri

Tomorrow will mark our fourth consecutive day of school closures.  I’m still tinkering with this late into the night, reminiscing about late-night diners, coffee and conversations that remain with me.  Hopefully I can keep my momentum going right into tomorrow and the weekend.  This painting is growing on me.

Thank you for reading.

Saying Goodbye to a Friend, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010

Ronny Hopkins, 1950-2010

This morning, we said “Goodbye” to Ronnie Hopkins, our lead singer, vocalist and creator of the Acoustic River Band.  Ron passed away last Thursday, at age 59, after a two-year battle with liver disease.  It remains such a bitter irony–Ron lived a clean and wholesome lifestyle.  We are flooded with stories of musicians and their deaths from substance abuse, but this gentleman lived a life where he did everything right, and currently none of us can find peace with the reality of his leaving the earth while still in his prime, and with so much left to offer. He leaves behind a wife of nearly forty years (he missed their anniversary by two weeks), two daughters and two grandchildren.  He managed to witness his younger daughter’s wedding scarcely a month ago.

Ron was undoubtedly the best guitarist I ever knew, who knew me by name.  He is the best guitarist I’ve heard without being charged admission.  And I was profoundly honored to be invited to join his band.  Technically, I played second guitar, but beside him, I felt like the tenth guitar.  Acoustic River was invited to play two selections at his services this morning, but frankly, Acoustic River without Ron Hopkins was Creedence Clearwater Revival without John Fogerty.  We played his favorite pieces, but knew that we were a mere shadow of the sound we heard when he sat among us, and his guitar resting on the empty chair was the visual reminder of what is no longer with us.

Shortly after Ron became ill, I was commissioned by David Slight, our bassist, to create this portrait as a surprise for Ron while he was in the hospital.  Using a photograph, we tried to capture his quintessential smile that continually disarmed us, and will continue to do so with every memory.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog.  I’ll be getting back to the studio watercolors, but not just now.  It’s taking awhile to absorb all of this.  Thanks Ron, for including me in your full and fruitful musical circle.

Closing in on the Rogers Hotel, March 6, 2010

March 6, 2010

Rogers Hotel, Waxahachie, Texas

Spent the entire day trying to catch up on lost sleep, and writing a Unitarian Sermon to be delivered tomorrow morning on “The Artistic Vision.”  The work week has been diastrous, nearly cutting out my studio time.  I did return to this watercolor this evening, and enjoyed tweaking it for a few hours.  Hopefully I’ll be finished with it soon and move on to several other works that are “in progress.”  I still need to figure out how to finish out the building around the lamp post, and then return to the foliage to thicken in considerably.  I’m enjoying the play between Paynes Gray and Cadmium Scarlet with occasional touches of Brown Madder in between.  These are new color combinations for me.

Resuming Rogers Hotel, March 4, 2010

March 4, 2010

Roger's Hotel, Waxahachie, Texas

I’ve been swamped with teaching responsibilities.  A lousy week indeed.  But I did manage to return to this watercolor for awhile today.  Also, I got to begin a watercolor sketch of an old restored M-K-T railroad depot in Hillsboro, Texas late this afternoon.  I look forward to posting that one when I get a little farther into the composition.

The current posting is of a watercolor that started out very badly (I’ve had several of those already this year).  But today I managed to improve it somewhat, as I detailed the windows and some of the brickwork as well as the hotel sign.  We’ll see how it comes along in the days ahead.  I have school responsibilities tomorrow for a full day, and speaking engagements over the weekend, but I’ll try hard to return to this painting.

Thanks for reading.

Kat Under a Hot Tin Roof, February 11, 2010

February 11, 2010

Kat Under a Hot Tin Roof

Isn’t it funny how we as artists practice the “dance of avoidance” (Ted Orland, Creative Authenticity) when we have all the time in the world to practice our craft?  Why do we do that?  Why do I do that?  I got sick last week, the doctor ordered me to stay home for four days and recuperate, and what did I do?  I worked harder on my lesson plans, anticipating my return to the classroom.  I’ve taught 22 years!  I don’t have to re-invent the wheel for public school!

Now, north Texas is expecting up to 8 inches of snow.  Tomorrow’s (Friday) classes are already canceled, and Monday is President’s Day.  So–I’ve just inherited another 4-day weekend.  I’ll get to know myself a little better this time, perhaps, and have something to show for the hiatus before I get back into the classroom next Tuesday.  Right now, I’m just sitting, chilling, and rhapsodizing on the huge, HUGE snowflakes filling the sky outside my study window, and recalling–Oh yeah!  a blog for today!  So, here goes. . .

I’ve had the privilege of playing acoustic guitar and singing in a band for a number of years now.  I have posted a watercolor of Kat Duke, one of our most amazing charter band members.  Kat is a gifted, soulful song writer, acoustic guitar player and vocalist (my how dusky and sultry her alto voice is!).  She and I began pulling people aside back in 2004 to play together, and, next thing we knew, we were a band with gigs on the calendar.  Through the years, band members came and went, but Kat always remained steadfast.

Finally in January 2008 Kat decided to pursue her long deferred dream of moving to the Pacific Northwest and living out the life of a folk singer.  She boarded a plane for Seattle, and we were all saddened to lose her, yet proud of her brave step into the future.  Before she departed, I secretly created this watercolor of her.  The pose came from a photo I took of her playing my guitar in my art booth at a festival at Kessler Park in Oak Cliff, Dallas.  I created the brick wall from my imagination, and added graffiti of all the band members who had played with her since 2004, and a logo of the band that she and I stayed with the longest–Interchangeable Parts.

Anytime I want to hear Kat’s voice, I only have to look at this painting.  And it all comes back . . .