Posts Tagged ‘Dante’

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 ( 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.

One Final Day in the Man Cave Before Returning to School

March 17, 2013
Man Cave Rearranged for Festival Business

Man Cave Rearranged for Festival Business

No man will ever unfold the capacities of his own intellect who does not at least checker his life with solitude.

De Quincey

Tomorrow I return to school with a glad heart and a serene mind.  This week of Spring Break has felt like two, and I am boundlessly grateful for all it brought.  I only departed the homestead for one all-day excursion, which was a beautiful one, and most of the rest has been spent in my Cave.  I do love this garage as a space for painting, working on my art business, reading, writing in my journal, listening to music, and just feeling life circulate through my Being.  I have been surrounded by my art work as I set up a mock booth in the center of the garage.  There is a tremendous art festival coming up next weekend here in Arlington, Texas: Art on the Greene, in the beautiful park between the two stadiums.  (  Getting ready for it has modulated further my modular Man Cave, and now the large easel paintings form the wall that turns my drafting tables into a cubicle for reading and writing, as well as matting and packaging my paintings and prints for next week’s show.  I could say that this is Andy Warhol’s Factory, but no one else is here, aside from a cat and pair of small dogs, and I don’t envision Andy Warhol reading books and writing about his interior thoughts.

I have started reading The Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have tried before, and failed to understand, but am getting great help now from Margaret Dickie’s monograph On the Modernist Long Poem, and am reading Dante’s Divine Comedy alongside him.  Some important ideas are coming to light, and I could be blogging them in the days ahead.  The week has been a venerable literary smorgasbord, to say the least: Hemingway, Joyce, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummings and now Ezra Pound.  They have been great “cave companions”.

I have over a dozen new greeting cards coming out with my watercolor reproductions on the front and texts on the back (blank inside).  I’m busy composing the texts now, so I have to close this blog and get back to work.

Thanks for reading.