Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Arboretum’

The Refuge of Art

April 25, 2019

Art still has truth. Seek refuge there.

Matthew Arnold


Seated this morning in The Gallery at Redlands, I confess that Art is indeed my refugue, my inner calm. I have heard fishermen claim that even if they fish all day without a bite, it was still an excellent day. I disagree. No matter how serene the surroundings, if I fish all day without success, I am soured. But art is a different story; I can paint all day and create junk, but I still have experienced a sublime day. The act of making art floods my being with sentiments that are just as genuine as the satisfaction I know when creating something worth viewing.

Soon I will be packing my art out of here to take to the Dallas Arboretum for Artscape 2019. I set up Friday morning and we have a Members Only Preview Show that evening. The actual show opens Saturday morning at 9:00 and runs till 5:00. Same hours on Sunday.


Smooth Rock 93.5 is broadcasting at the moment, so I am keeping things quiet at my end of the gallery. After the morning show is over at 10:00, I’ll begin taking down my paintings and loading the Jeep for the show. Meanwhile, it feels good to enjoy the calm of the morning, and spend this quality time reading and scribbling in the journal.

My next blog will feature photos of my new booth appearance at Artscape 2019. I have made a number of profound changes in my display, and after a month of seeing the visions in my head, I look forward to seeing the real edifice raised in the morning. And then, I hope to enjoy a pair of relaxing days seated in the booth, meeting art lovers and feeling the genuine gratitude of being invited to participate in such an event as this. I love the environment of a quality art festival, and this particular one is one of the most successful I have experienced over the past fifteen years.

Throughout my decades of employment, I cannot say that I was always surrounded by creative, optimistic personnel. But art festivals are different–from set up till break down, I always find my neighboring artistic spirits to be filled with a joie de vi·vre that buoys my spirits. And I look forward to seeing many of these artists whom I haven’t seen in a year. Catching up is always a joy. Being a part of this kind of community reminds me of how blessed I am.

This book, Culture Care, that my friend Ben gave me yesterday is providing much food for thought this morning. I hope to have more to say about it in the days ahead. But now, the broadcast team has finished their work of the morning, and it is time for me to load the paintings.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

artscape 2019

The Greeks had a concept of Kairos time, which is not quantitative like our normal conception of time, but qualitative–rich or empty, the meaningful hour or the hurried moment. When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time–slowly, serenely but thickly.

David Brooks, “We need more timelessness, outside the speed of social media”

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Since my last post, I have journeyed to Palestine, Abilene, Lubbock and San Angelo. The whirlwind of activity made it difficult to stop long enough to post a blog. Now I am sequestered in The Redlands Hotel, my home-away-from-home, and I am packing and loading for Artscape 2019 at the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.

The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, 9-5, and it is my biggest art show of the year. This will be my second time to participate, and I am still awash in splendid memories of last year’s encounter. I have framed the watercolor pictured below and am looking forward to bringing it out for its first public viewing.


I am also bringing out a number of plein air experimental watercolors I have made over the past six months.




This is an exciting time for me, but I’m glad it is only Wednesday. My Jeep is already loaded with all my booth furniture and the only job left for me is to pack the paintings. It is nice to approach the event without feeling my hair is on fire.

My friend Ben Campbell from the Texas State Railroad dropped by the gallery this afternoon. He was one of the first friends I made when we opened The Gallery at Redlands a little over two years ago. He gave me a gift, the book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura. I am already immersed in this beautiful literary work. I posted above the quote by David Brooks from an article he published introducing the book. Ben was profoundly moved in his reading of it and purchased an extra copy for me. I love reading the works of reflective minds who manage to steer clear of the frenetic pace set by social media and our culture in general. So, thank you, Ben. This is a timely (in the kairos sense) gift that I am already treasuring. The evening is still young. I’m going to go upstairs and read this volume in the quiet comfort of the Redlands Hotel.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sunday Evening Soundings

April 7, 2019


Be open to mystery. Not everything needs sharp lines.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

Although we all started life with a Da Vinci-like insatiable curiosity, most of us learned, once we got to school, that answers were more important than questions. In most cases, schooling does not develop curiosity, delight in ambiguity, and question-asking skill. . . . The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach to education may have served to provide society with assembly-line workers and bureaucrats, but it does not do much to prepare us for a new Renaissance.

Michael J. Gelb, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day 

Today has been the finest Sunday I can recall for months, perhaps even years. Cool, breezy temperatures throughout the day set the stage for pleasurable reading and journaling outdoors. This new Michael Gelb book I picked up recently has been great company, sending me alternately to my journal and my sketchbook. In fact, this day in retrospect appears to be comprised of one lengthy, continuous sketchbook/journal. For one day at least, I have broken the dividing line between sketchbook and journal, and have found myself throughout most of the day alternating between writing and drawing on the same pages.

Wordsworth’s sentiment about the child being father to the man has lingered with me throughout the day as I continually alIowed myself the leisure of free, unbridled thought, particularly questions. I have already jumped into the thick of the spring art festival season, participating in plenty of events already, and looking ahead to some big ones just around the corner. Questions which have dogged me for years finally were faced honestly today, and I have a genuine feeling of being re-born because I arrived at some solutions I am willing to try.  Artscape 2019 will arrive at the Dallas Arboretum April 27-28. This is a high-end festival that last year filled my innermost being with memories for which I’ll always remain grateful.20180427_1343502567829112073059263.jpg


(Last Year)–Artscape 2018

After years of struggling with the specifics of booth presentation, I have finally found great help in consultation with a dear, close friend, and thanks to further research, have come up with some new ideas. The next few weeks, I’ll be working on this project with renewed enthusiasm. I can hardly wait to present my new booth format. I’ll gladly photograph and post it when the time arrives.

It is Sunday night as I sit and write this. Finally, after nearly two years, I have accepted retirement. I will not be rising at six in the morning to scramble and arrive in time to teach a full slate of crowded high school classes beginning at 7:35. I will not come home tired at the end of tomorrow afternoon with enough grading and prepping to keep me busy till bedtime so I can get up and dash to the high school again for another weary round. I will not go to bed every night with the realization that I did not do everything expected from me, though I never taught less than four subjects per semester. Finally, that albatross has been cut loose from around my neck, and every day is mine to chart and navigate as I choose. I wondered how long it would take for this feeling to set in. Nearly two years. Thank God the sentiment has finally settled in on my contented soul. Maybe that is another reason why Sundays are so good now; they no longer serve as preludes to grinding, mostly thankless work weeks. I rise early on Monday mornings now, but not to dash to school. Mornings have finally become sacred.

Reading all this da Vinci material now reminds me of all the ideas that surged in me during my three decades of teaching–the primacy of curiosity, the value of open questioning, the belief that the journey is just as important as the destination. I believed all that then, and believe it now. But I saw little interest in these matters inside those institutional walls, despite the lip service paid to the themes during those annual inservice rituals. One would think that I now would be saying–“if only I realized these values when I was teaching . . .” But the fact is, I did. And I gave my best to facilitate an environment for such inquiry. And sometimes it worked. I’ll try to dwell on those sacred times when it in fact worked, and be watchful not to dwell on the darker, sterile memories when it didn’t.

The bottom line–today was a special, enlightening, Renaissance-type of Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to question.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Second Attempt, Painting the Azaleas en Plein Air

April 14, 2012

Azaleas at Dallas Arboretum, 2nd attempt

After taking my time to focus on my subject en plein air for 90 minutes, I then shifted gears and kicked out this one in 30 minutes.  I just wanted to see if I could capture a nice watercolor sketch in a short span of time, having already worked through it once slowly and methodically.  I cannot say I enjoyed the second attempt more than the first, but I am pleased with how this one came out.  For years I have wrestled with green colors in nature, never satisfied with my own mixture of them when trying to render foliage.  I’m more satisfied with this pair of paintings I did today.  Maybe I’ll change my mind tomorrow, but currently I’m quite happy with these, and looking forward to the next plein air experiment.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring Azaleas at the Dallas Arboretum

April 14, 2012

Azaleas at the Dallas Arboretum

Though I’m still sleep-deprived, I was honored to be included in the Art Club field trip from Martin High School, where I teach art history.  We boarded a bus shortly after 8:00 this morning and headed to the Dallas Arboretum, where we had three hours designated for painting en plein air.  I had seized the opportunity last month, during Spring Break, to paint some azaleas out here.  I went to a spot near where I painted last month and spent about 90 minutes on this composition, taking my time, and really enjoying the richness of color and shadow, as well as the network of tree limbs spreading over the top of all this.

Fifteen students from Martin also scattered about the arboretum, taking photographs and making art.  It was such a pleasure to spend this day with them.  After the arboretum excursion, we journeyed northward to the Rachofsky House and studied the portrait exhibit currently housed there.  It was a beautiful day for being outside and perusing a quality museum.

Thanks for reading.

Dallas Arboretum Watercolor of Azaleas

March 14, 2012

Arboretum azalea painting

Today, I am happy to attach a higher-quality photo of the first watercolor sketch I created yesterday while at the Dallas Arboretum.  The work was photographed by Natalie Smith of Sister Chicks Photography.  She was gracious enough to send photos to me this morning, and I am so happy to get this one out on the web.  Natalie’s website is  This pair of sisters has created a spectacular body of work.

Thank you, Natalie.  Thanks to the rest of you for reading.

First Plein Air Sketch at the Dallas Arboretum

March 13, 2012

First Dallas Arboretum Sketch

This is a BlackBerry photo of my first watercolor sketch at the Dallas Arboretum this morning.  It was the first time that I sold a painting literally “off the easel.”  The work was not completely dry when a patron purchased it.  I failed to photograph the painting, but was happy that it found a home so quickly.

The morning was overcast and wonderfully cool for working outdoors.  The crowds were huge, but fortunately there is enough space at the Arboretum to handle them.  I found everyone very friendly, and enjoyed conversing with a number of onlookers as I worked on this one.

I found the Arboretum to be a splendid place for painting, but was not thrilled with the $25 admission.  Fortunately, I left the place with a profit, thanks to this sale.  I’ll look forward to painting for free at Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens on Thursday.

Thanks for reading.  It was a great day for painting.

Plein air Painting at the Dallas Arboretum

March 13, 2012

Dallas Arboretum

Today offered perfect weather for plein air painting.  My friend Chris Toplyn and I journeyed early to the Dallas Arboretum and met three other Fort Worth painters for a day of painting.  This is my second attempt of the day.  I’ll try and pull a photo of my first one from my BlackBerry.  I failed to photograph it with my good camera, and sold it off the easel before remembering to get a good shot of it.

I stared at this subject for a long time before finally deciding to try it.  I was really transfixed at the sight of the distant dead growth contrasting against the explosive yellows of the foreground tree.  Finally, I decided that if I tinted the background in lavenders instead of the gray that I actually saw with my naked eye, that perhaps a complementary composition would be pleasing to the eye.  My real interest in painting this was the stark, “druidic” looking tree that invited an Andrew Wyeth-type of drybrush study.  I still am not satisfied with my way of handling stark, dead winter trees, and I spend hours poring over illustrations of Andrew Wyeth drybrush studies of this subject.  To me, he is the master.

Painting this subject brought pure pleasure to me, as did the affirming comments from passersby.  The Arboretum was overrun with people on this gorgeous day, and  I enjoyed every conversation.

I plan to visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens on Thursday, hoping for a continuation of this gorgeous painting weather.

Thanks for reading.