Posts Tagged ‘David Tripp artist’

A Weekend to Hit the Reset Button

April 14, 2019

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It is a thorny undertaking, and more so than it seems, to follow a movement so wandering as that of our mind, to penetrate the opaque depths of its innermost folds, to pick out and immobilize the innumerable flutterings that agitate it.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

After nearly a week of sweating out business paperwork, I finally escaped to Palestine and the waiting Gallery at Redlands. It was so good to see my art-loving friends again. Looking back now at the restful Friday, Saturday and Sunday that provided a wholesome blend of reading and watercoloring in the gallery, I’ll see if I can put some words on the page describing the delights.

A few weeks ago, I began reading from the Essays of the sixteenth-century thinker Montaigne, the one credited with inventing the genre of essay. I was aware of his literary prowess through my readings of Emerson, but never got around to reading him directly. This recent experience has been quite a revelation, and has inspired me to take my ideas more seriously, and seek a stronger link between my art and philosophical musings.

The two evenings prior to my departure for Palestine were spent seated in a patio area of a recently opened Kroger store a few miles from where I live. This store is planted alongside state highway 287, on an enormous piece of undeveloped property. Noticing the earth-moving equipment on the vacant property west of the store made me realize that this raw land will not be pristine much longer. So I decided to spend two late afternoons on the patio, looking across the vast stretch of land with sketchbook, journal and Montaigne on the table before me. As the sun sank lower in the sky, the most amazing array of colors refleted off the knee-high weeds on the property, and my eye was overwhelmed at the contrast of warm golds and cold greens alternating across the undulating grasses until it stopped at the stand of trees at the far end, almost a silhouette against the sunset sky. What I saw was the quintessential Edward Hopper oil painting of landsapes under low-angle sunlight. I know that such luminosity is possible with oil, but have puzzled frequently over how to get it done in watercolor.

Once I arrived at the gallery, I took out three 8 x 10″  stretched panels of watercolor paper and went to work experimenting on the landscape that remains etched in my mind’s eye. I laid down the initial skies Friday night, then worked on some washes of basic land color on Saturday. Sunday was spent mostly experimenting with dry brush, masquing, misting with a spray bottle, and splattering with a toothbrush. Finally by Sunday afternoon, I felt painter’s fatigue and decided to give my eye a rest until tomorrow. The paintings remain in the gallery downstairs, and I am now cozied up in my favorite Redlands Hotel suite with my copy of Montaigne and an open sketchbook. Here is what I have so far with the three watercolor sketches:

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Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to find fresh energy to continue work (play) on these three pieces.

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.

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Afterglow from Yesterday

April 11, 2019

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Plein Air Demo before High School Students

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

Billy Joel, “River of Dreams”

Recently, quality time for blogging has been scarce. Between spending hours behind a windshield in addition to processing hours of business affairs on the computer, I have felt my soul drying up. I love making art, reading, writing and blogging, and it’s been about 48 hours since I have been able to pursue those necessities that nurture my “real” life.

But for now, I need to push away the business paperwork so I can at least respond to a most precious moment I experienced during the first half of yesterday. Cindy Thomas, a public art teacher colleague I have known over twenty years, has also retired and taken up a part time position teaching art in a private school (smaller, more respectful classes and much larger studio space). She invited me to visit three of her classes yesterday and demonstrate watercolor en plein air. Their high school campus had a beautiful outdoor garden area and the weather was sunny and cool–just perfect for such an occasion.

I am anxiously waiting for the video her film classes produced of this event. In three separate sessions, I had the privilege of demonstrating and fielding questions from art and film students, roughly ten students per class, just the right size for direct, intimate conversation. Though I don’t miss full-time high school teaching, it was refreshing beyond words yesterday to see the students’ eyes light up as we discussed the profound joys of making art while surrounded by a natural environment. The questions covered art theory, history, philosophy, journaling, sketching practices, and the necessary steps for getting one’s art out into the public eye. Though twenty-four hours have passed, I am still warmed at every remembrance of this special encounter. Thank you, Cindy, and Pantego Christian Academy.

One of my best remembrances was the scripture passage above the door of the studio from Ephesians 2:10–

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

From my years in graduate study, I recall two notable ideas from this passage. First, the word translated “handiwork” is from the Greek word poiêma. Our word “poem” comes from this, and the word basically refers to a work of art, a creation. The passage sets forth humanity as God’s work of art. The close of the passage speaks of an advanced preparation for humans to do the good work intended. Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Four Causes sets forth the argument that our good works are already present within us, and they will issue forth. I tried to urge it upon the students in our discussion that they already have artistic tendencies in their essence, and this artistry is intended to come forth, whether they do it in visual, literary, musical or political arts; they already have that capability within themselves. Now, in their educational arena, they have that opportunity to cultivate those gifts.

Reluctantly, I have to return now to the business affairs of my art. Hopefully tomorrow I can emerge and get back to what I enjoy the most. Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you the joys of yesterday.

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

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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

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(Last Year)–Artscape 2018

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscap

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.

Saturday Morning Musings over Coffee

April 6, 2019

creel redone

“Thinking About the Next Catch”

Watercolor

I think continually of those who were truly great.

Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history

Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,

Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition

Was that their lips, still touched with fire,

Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.

And who hoarded from the Spring branches

The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

 

What is precious, is never to forget

The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs

Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.

Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light

Nor its grave evening demand for love.

Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother

With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

 

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,

See how these names are fêted by the waving grass

And by the streamers of white cloud

And whispers of wind in the listening sky.

The names of those who in their lives fought for life,

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.

Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun

And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Sir Stephen Spender, “The Truly Great”

Day-before-yesterday, while poking around in an eclectic bookstore, I happened across a copy of Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.  My curiosity aroused, I pulled up a chair, opened the book, began reading from the Preface, and was immediately charmed. This was published in 1998. How on earth did it fly under my radar for twenty-one years? I have never heard of the author, a motivational speaker featured by a host of corporations at various events. As I continued reading, I found the volume to be similar in its attraction to a TED talk. Hardback. $7.50. Why not?

The book has been a warm companion since its purchase, and with this being a Saturday morning, I decided to remain in bed with a cup of coffee, my laptop, smartphone, journal, sketchbook, and of course, this book. Reading about Leonardo is never a wasted activity for me. I have collected at least a half dozen biographies of him, culminating in my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s celebrated work.  Wishing that I had brought the Isaacson biography on my current trip, I stopped yesterday at a Barnes & Noble store to pull one from the shelf and take the following notes from the closing pages: twenty life lessons from Leonardo da Vinci:

Take notes, on paper. Five hundred years later, Leonardo’s notebooks are around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start writing them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.

I began my journals back in the 1980’s and am still at it, scribbling almost daily. But again, reading of Leonardo’s lifestyle, I still fall short of the sketchbook/journal synthesis; I rarely draw in my journals, maintaining separate sketchbooks for that purpose. I still wish to cultivate the habit of cross-sectioning my drawing with my writing; I would love to know the synthesis of the two as Leonardo practiced.

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While musing over Leonardo, journaling, sketching, and the general incubation of ideas, I was suddenly seized with the impulse to indulge in some “psychic automatism” sketching as the surrealists artists practiced and later extolled by Robert Motherwell. After several thumbnail abstract sketches, I then pursued some free writing and found the exercise rewarding. In fact, that is what prompted me to set aside my playthings and see if I could push out another blog.

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By the way, this is Hazel, a new “friend” I’ve met who has a fascination with lighted screens–TV, cell phone, laptop. She’s a Jack Russell Terrier/Corgi mix, and she habitually perches on the sofa at my shoulder to stare intently into whatever I am engaging at the moment. She will remain there as long as I am engaged–sometimes for hours. Now that I have moved to the kitchen table, she has decided to join me in this effort. We have been here for nearly half an hour now, and she is still staring . . .

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assistant editor

Earlier, while still in bed, I received the delightful email notifcation from CC Young Senior Living that I have been awarded first place in the watercolor category for their annual Artists & Writers competition. I posted the winning entry at the top of this blog: “Thinking About the Next Catch”, a watercolor still life I created in my garage man cave a few winters back. I look forward to attending the reception in Dallas on April 27.

This morning has been positively delicious–reading, journaling, sketching, thinking, blogging, and smiling down at Hazel in all her inquisitive glory.

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 (this morning I have Hazel).

 

Quality Leisure

April 4, 2019

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“Uncas Slays a Deer” by N. C. Wyeth

To me, the most glorious phase of the great man’s career is that final period of divine serenity–not self-satisfaction, but at peace with himself.

N. C. Wyeth

After more than a week of events and travel, I happily stop to rest for a few days. This morning I completed my reading of David Michaelis’s N C. Wyeth: A Biography.  Much of the final chapter I savored yesterday afternoon in the quiet galleries of the Museum of Texas Tech University. Their Diamond M Collection features an entire gallery filled with original N. C. Wyeth paintings. Time seemed to evaporate while I sojourned there, gazing upon those large, colorful compositions. Finally I sat on a comfortable bench and read, enjoying the communion with this handsome body of work.

Much of this biography filled me with a sense of sadness, reading of N. C.’s dissatisfaction with his life’s work. It is not uncommon to read of one’s profound sense of unhappiness when failing to reach a particular goal. I myself did not reach the goal I had set for myself ages ago at the beginning of my profession. But honestly, I don’t feel a sense of failure. In fact, I doubt that I would have been happy and fulfilled had I reached the goal I initially set. Looking back now, I see my life as a metaphor once spelled out by Emerson–a zigzag set of tacks left by a sailboat en route to the distant shore. My professional career shifted more than once before settling into twenty-eight years at one job and then finally retiring. I look back with no regrets. The art that I now pursue was possible throughout those decades, nothing blocked my efforts. And now, I simply have more quality time for these pursuits.

Wyeth was deeply dissatisfied that he never achieved his standard. He wished to be a fine artist rather than an illustrator. He once wrote that he could have become a fine artist had he not “bitched” himself with a lifetime of illustration commissions. In my earlier years, I complained that my art was more illustrative than aesthetic. The only reason I stopped worrying over that was my discovery that Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper frequently complained that they were regarded as illustrators rather than fine artists. I found that liberating, and decided from that day on that I would just pursue my passion of drawing and painting and no longer worry over what kind of artist I am.

I have just returned from some luxurious days spent in Corpus Christi, where I delivered a pair of new paintings to be featured in a show at Castaways Gallery in Port Aransas, Texas. I am posting these along with two others selected from my collection at Bowman Design and Framing. Pictures were posted in a recent blog, but a change has been made, for the better, I believe. Here are the four that will be included in the show of “Sand Dunes”:

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The reception for the show will be Friday night, April 5, from 5-7 p.m.  The gallery is located on the premises of Castaways Seafood & Grill at 337 N Alister St., Port Aransas, Texas. I wish I could attend, but I am eight hours away from there, and have several more deadlines to meet in the coming days.

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.

Thoughts While Surfing the Open Road

March 29, 2019

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East of Windthorst, Texas

Only for a moment; but it was enough. It was a sudden revelation, a tinge like a blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer . . . 

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

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8 x 10″ Watercolor Sketch of the Subject

The past week has been a whirlwind of engagements. After finishing my Palestine activities centered around the Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I returned home, then made a quick journey to Dallas to enter a pair of watercolors into a competition, then home to work on a pair of sand dune watercolors for an upcoming exhibit in Corpus Christi. After finishing and framing them, I hit the open road yet again, my ultimate destination being Corpus Christi. But I’m not there yet.

Stopping at a coffee shop to use their Wi-Fi, I graded a round of assignments that just came due from my pair of online college classes (wonderful to be able to do my college work while in transit). Having completed that, I thought that I had this access I would go ahead and send up a smoke signal for my devoted readers. I have posted above a recent watercolor sketch completed of a stretch of Texas country that I encountered when I left Archer City a few weeks ago. When I get a chance to photograph my recently framed sand dune watercolors, I’ll post them as well. Right now they are wrapped and packed in the Jeep.

Waking this morning, I encountered something while reading Max Horkheimer & Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments that really took my breath away:

The urge to rescue the past as something living, instead of using it as the material of progress, has been satisfied only in art, in which even history, as a representation of past life, is included.

Having recently delivered a gallery talk on nostalgic themes in “Art in the Small Town”, I believe I have found yet another wonderful text to insert into this conversation. I hope I can fertilize it effectively in the coming days, water it, and see something wonderful emerge as I continually pursue this project. Because of the nostalgic ring, I have resumed my reading and study of Homer’s Odyssey as well as Joyce’s Ulysses. My life has been so consumed lately with travel and appointments that I have trouble finding quiet time to sort out some of these marvelous sentiments I have felt recently. As I peer through the windshield, traveling these Texas highways, I keep encountering ideas about this series I am now pursuing, and I frequently have to pull over and scribble these thoughts into a small notepad. In addition to the Homer and Joyce works, I have packed Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The thrill of these fresh ideas cannot be measured in words, though I try.

Time to get back on the road .  .  .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Decompress, then Jump into the Next . . .

March 27, 2019

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Sunday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

To be an artist is to live suspended above the abyss between recognition and artistic value, never quite knowing whether your art will land on either bank, or straddle both, or be swallowed by the fathomless pit of obscurity. We never know how our work stirs another mind or touches another heart, how it tenons into the mortise of the world.

Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, March 24, 2019

One of the greatest salves for my weary soul is reading “Brain Pickings” which come out on Wednesdays and Sundays. Maria Popova has poured out her life into beautifully written observations that nourish the artist continually. I am posting her link below. I appreciate this quote because I have known for years the suspension between the poles of recognition and authenticity, always wondering if I was accomplishing either, both or neither. I don’t worry about it as much as I did in the past; I love the work (play) of making art and can think of few other things that bring me this kind of pleasure.

brainpickings.org newsletter

The weekend was a bruiser, but successful. The Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival kicked off in Palestine with a V.I.P. “meet the artist and presale” event under the big tent Friday night, and the place remained pack throughout the event, with patrons enjoying wine, cheese and finger foods while perusing the work of artists selected for the opening. The next day, I dashed back and forth from my booth to the Redlands Hotel. I gave my first ever public gallery talk on “Art in the Small Town,” and was very happy with the reception. I have been asked to do it again, and look forward to that.

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My First Gallery Talk

Nostalgia is a personal experience I hallow as another might a religion.

N. C. Wyeth

Everything above was written Sunday morning after the festival, but I didn’t post the blog because I had to hit the road and make some other appointments. I have been invited to return to the coast to put a pair of paintings into a show focusing on sand dunes at South Padre. I have only been to the coast once since my artist-in-residency in 2015 and I have missed all of my friends there. The subsequent visit was complements of someone with real estate holdings who offered me a weekend in a condominium on South Padre so I could do some plein air painting of the coast. I dashed off a watercolor and promptly sold it when I returned to Arlington. Fortunately, I had taken a number of photos during my painting session, so I searched my archives till I found them, and this week have worked on a new pair that are nearly finished. I’m posting them below:

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First Sand Dune Attempt–16 x 20″ frame

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Second Sand Dune Attempt–11 x 14″ frame

After they are complete, I plan to re-post them. I’m still looking them over, making decisions on how to finish them. This has been an interesting endeavor. I wondered how to render the broad expanse of sandy wasteland, big sky, and strip of the Gulf on a small rectangle. I finally decided to create some kind of moving “action line” of dry brush of the vegetation, and leave large expanses blank save for subtle washes of color. This is new to me, so it’s probably going to take awhile to make a decision on how to wrap it up.

I love the N. C. Wyeth quote. “Nostalgia” is actually from a Greek word used in Homer’s Odyssey to describe Odysseus’s ache to return to his home. Nostaglia pervades the art I try to make, and this week I have known the pangs of longing as I worked on the  sand dune paintings, remembering my earlier times spent among the dunes reading, painting and thinking. It has been four years since my excursions on the island in the Laguna Madre during my residency, and three years since I taught a workshop on the site. I cannot wait to see the area again when I submit this work for the upcoming show.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

When the Muse stirs . . .

March 20, 2019

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My Study in the Pre-Dawn Hours

The compensation of growing old was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained—at last!—the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence,-the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Rising at 4:40 this morning was not my plan. But when the muse stirs, we have no choice but to respond. Several weeks ago, we decided to launch our first gallery talk in Palestine, Texas, as a part of kicking off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival. I have chosen the topic “Art in the Small Town.” I will use the art I have created over the past twenty years, along with selections from American artists who featured the small town genre. American writers will also be woven into the narrative as they spun their novels, short stories and poetry around this nostalgic subject. These ideas have been coursing through my veins the past several weeks, and pages of notes and drafts have been stacking on my desk, stuffing my briefcase and swelling my journal. Finally, this morning in the pre-dawn, the tumblers began to fall into place and I sprang out of bed to power up the laptop and record the sensations as quickly as I could. I am only taking a break from the writing to let my readers know what is going on. For anyone who follows me on Facebook, I launched the event page describing the event a few hours ago. Already I am getting a response, and that is gratifying. For years I have ached to take part in this kind of forum.

My reading from the biography of N. C. Wyeth is stirring my soul like seldom before. The young Wyeth realized in art school that he needed an education to grow his character, not just hone his artistic skills.  In retrospect, I feel that sentiment profoundly. Throughout my younger school days, I was immature, a dreamer, intellectually lazy. I had skills as an artist and worked hard at them. But when I entered the university, I came to rely only on my talent in the art studio, while at the same time growing an intellectual appetite in the general university studies. I failed to put the two together. As I proceeded next through my seminary years, I turned to religion, philosophy and literature. Many years later, after taking a job in the public schools, did I return to my art, and then discovered a depth I never had before. Ideas and deep sentiments had been grafted on to my mechanical skills. I had a feeling for expression and composition.

Since about 1990, I began pursuing this idea of creating a body of work nostalgic in nature. I learned from my seminary Greek studies that “nostalgia” is a Greek word found in the Homeric epics, describing the feelings of Odysseus as he longs to return to his home. My home town of High Ridge, Missouri, along with small towns where I pastored churches in my earlier years, managed to plant images, stories and sentiments that I have longed to express in drawing and watercolor. In 1999, I decided to launch a series called “My Town”, inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. As he created his Grover’s Corners, so I also created Turvey’s Corner, and created this painting:

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Along with a phony zip code: 63050 (High Ridge is 63049, and the next town four miles away, House Springs, is 63051), I began creating paintings and writing cycles of short stories to flesh out this fictitious town of my imagination, spawned by my memories. I lanched my show in Hillsboro, Texas at the newly-opened Stairwell Fine Arts Gallery, and the painting above sold at the opening reception. So did two others. A few weeks later, a Florida collector passed through the gallery and purchased the remainder of the portfolio. And then, my story just stopped . . .

About a month ago, while reading Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond, all my feelings from 1999 came tumbling back in on my consciousness. That, along with the writing of my memoir, thanks to Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, convinced me to pick up this old project, dust off the cobwebs, and renew the vision. So . . . I have been working on a new series of paintings and writings, and this Saturday look forward to sharing this vision in the gallery talk.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in white 11 x 14″ mat–$75

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those quiet lovely days spent mostly in The Gallery at Redlands. I managed to squeeze out a new painting (above) during those luxurious hours. The historic Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street in downtown Palestine, Texas is the most lovely place I have ever been privileged to “nest.” Emerson, in his small book Nature, wrote: “in the woods, too, a man casts off his years as the snake his slough and at what period soever of life is always a child”. This is what I experience when I have those moments of walking about in the wild, but I also feel it every time I enter the first floor of the Redlands Hotel. We celebrated the hotel’s 104th birthday on Friday, March 15:

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Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

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First Floor of The Redlands

Every time I descend the stairs of The Redlands, I feel that I am supposed to be smoking a large cigar, my clothing including a vest, watch chain and spats. The space is a veritable museum with a pulse. We anticipate a steady flow of traffic next weekend when the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival commences.

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Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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Marc Mitchell (foreground) from “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” Show

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

It is now Monday morning, and the hotel is everything but silent. The “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” show, as always, keeps me great company while broadcasting out of this gallery. This morning they featured local artist/writer Kirk Davis who has just come out with a book sharing letters from World War II between his father and mother. His father, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has left behind a romantic legacy embracing the love of his life as well as his drama in the Pacific theater. Kirk will be under the tent with a number of artists this coming Friday night’s V.I.P. event as well as Saturday 9-4:00, signing copies of his new book and displaying his father’s war memorabilia (including the Medal of Honor) along with his own artistic creations.

When I close this blog, I’ll be preparing for our big events next weekend. In addition to the Friday night V.I.P. party and the Saturday Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I will be giving my first ever gallery talk on the subject of “Art in the Small Town.” Using a flat screen TV in the Redlands Hotel lobby, I will be showing images of my “Recollections 54” paintings over the past twenty years that feature small town nostalgic scenes. I have a talk prepared that will feature those who have inspired my own work, notably Edward Hopper’s narrative paintings, along with references from selected American writers who have contributed to our collective memories of the communities that have nurtured us. I am enthusiastic about this event, and thank Jean Mollard for her vision of sponsoring a series of gallery talks for the east Texas community.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Bowery Bum

March 17, 2019

Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves.

Frank Lloyd Wright

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Archer City–$75 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$60 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Palo Duro Canyon–$80 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$50 in white 11 x 14″ mat

Years ago, at the close of a state convention (the Texas Council of Teachers of English), several of us were sitting in the Dallas convention hotel lobby. I was in my second year of teaching, and felt energized after two days of sessions. As we sat in silence, soaking the afterglow of the event, one of the “more seasoned” teachers remarked: “At the close of these things, I often feel like a Bowery bum with an empty bottle.” We all laughed at the brilliant, poetic analogy, and I then wondered to myself: “Will I one day know that kind of weariness?” What a dumb question, I now realize three decades later.

The past forty-eight hours were the kind that used to energize me, but now I know the sentiments of that seasoned English teacher. For a few weeks, we advertised a beginning watercolor workshop that I would hold in the lobby of our Redlands Hotel. We decided we would limit the session to twenty applicants, but before we knew it, twenty-eight had thrown hats into the ring, so I decided to add a second session immediately following the first. By the time the day arrived, we had nineteen committed to the morning event, and fourteen for the afternoon. Setting up the lobby for the event proved to be exhausting, and I was glad we did that the day before. Nevertheless, the evening before the event, I knocked out a pair of watercolor samples of what we would attempt (and found neither of them satisfactory). Then, at the two workshops, I did a second pair as a live demo, one for each session, and found little satisfaction with both of those. Nevertheless, the participants were enthusiastic beyond description, and today I am still warmed at their remarks and sentiments throughout the day.  I couldn’t have asked for more eager and focused participation, and I can proudly say that the students’ attempts were all better than mine! So I can at least take pride knowing there was quality art created throughout the day.

By the end of the second session, I barely knew my own name, and understood the Bowery bum analogy–I certainly lack the energy I knew in earlier days. Going upstairs to bed (the Redlands Hotel is a beautiful place to reside!), I turned off my phone, vowing to sleep from 9:00 till sometime the following afternoon. But by 8:30 this morning, after waking a dozen times and feeling that it was nearly noon, I decided I had had sufficient rest for the new day. My plan was to do nothing all day but read. That didn’t happen. By the time I had finished my coffee and read about twenty more pages from the N. C. Wyeth biography, the itch returned to go back downstairs and open the gallery.

Once inside the gallery, I matted and sleeved five watercolors that needed presenting–four of them completed over the past couple of weeks (No, I will not mat the four demos I worked on the past couple of days!). The N. C. Wyeth biography, along with the affirming remarks I heard all day yesterday among the workshop participants, inspired me to go to work on a fifth attempt of what we painted in yesterday’s workshop and see if I can turn out a decent painting of the subject. I posted the Frank Lloyd Wright quote above, because when I crank out several paintings at a time I am reminded of how prolific he was as an architect late in life, and hope that I will be able to keep up that kind of production and enthusiasm.

It is Sunday, and I expected to see no one in the gallery today. Sundays are very quiet in downtown Palestine, and the weather is gorgeous today, inviting people to flock to the lake. But surprisingly, in the first 45 minutes, three people have already come in to browse and chat, so I guess I figured that one wrong.

At any rate, it feels great to be painting again, and if I can turn out a decent effort this time, I’ll post it for you to see.

Thanks for reading.

I make art to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.