Posts Tagged ‘drybrush’

Finishing an Antique Door, and Thinking About Andrew Wyeth

April 28, 2013
Finishing a Small Antique Door Watercolor in the Man Cave

Finishing a Small Antique Door Watercolor in the Man Cave

Finished Dry Brush Study of Antique Door Knob and Screen Door

Finished Dry Brush Study of Antique Door Knob and Screen Door

Great painting is like Bach’s music, in texture closely woven, subdued like early tapestries, no emphasis, no climaxes, no beginnings or endings, merely resumptions and transitions, a design so sustained that there is no effort in starting and every casual statement is equally great.

N. C. Wyeth’s last letter to his son Andrew, Feb 16, 1944

As I bring today’s “cave activities” to a close, I feel a touch of sadness.  I’ve been playing and replaying a DVD of Andrew Wyeth’s work: Self-Portrait: Snow Hill.  I still remember January 16, 2009, the day I stood at my school computer, and saw on the day’s news that Andrew Wyeth had passed away.  It was not unexpected, he was aged and in poor health.  I had known that.  But my eyes filled with tears, as they still do when I listen to this DVD play, and realize that there will be no more work coming from his hand.  He has been the life-force of my art throughout most of my life, and yet I didn’t venture into a drybrush still life until four years after his passing.  Now, I cannot seem to let it go, I am so absorbed in the dynamics that play when eyeing an object in light and shadow, and trying to reproduce it on a white rectangle before me.

This has been quite an explosive day in the Man Cave.   I’m not used to plowing through so many watercolors, attempting to bring them to conclusions.  But it’s been quite a ride, and I’m glad I did it.  Tomorrow starts another weary round of school, and it is time to change gears, to pay my dues.

Thanks for reading.  And thanks especially to all of you who have been following me throughout this day, posting your “likes” and “comments”.  I appreciate every encouraging word and gesture.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Watercolor Sketch of Kerosene Lantern

December 21, 2012
Vintage Kerosene Lantern

Vintage Kerosene Lantern

Sandi was sweet enough to purchase for me this aged kerosene lantern last weekend while we were antiquing.  I couldn’t wait to set it up in front of my old Barq’s Rootbeer sign and take a shot at a drybrush watercolor sketch of it.  When I was in ninth grade, my Art I teacher set up a still life of about twenty objects, giving us charcoal and full-size sheets of paper on which to draw it.  Once I got over the terror of drawing out such a large and complex composition, my eye went to the kerosene lantern as a focal point, and everything else had to find its proper place around it.  I have wanted such a vintage lantern ever since, and am happy now to have one in my studio.  This lantern will be making several more appearances in the future.

School ended today for the holidays.  I was happy to get all my grades finalized, load up my art and get out.  There were two hours of daylight left, so I took the flyrod to Chisholm Park in Hurst, Texas, where trout were released yesterday.  There was no wind and it was so soothing to be out there in the open, flycasting, and watching all the rainbow trout taunt me as I worked so hard to seduce them.  They were rising all around my fly, and did not take it a single time!  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience, my breathing changed, my heart rate slowed down, and I knew I was in a different zone.  Better luck next time, perhaps.

Thanks for reading.

Thinking About Closure

December 9, 2012

Drybrush of Vintage Door

I’m seriously considering placing an 8 x 10″ matte on this and declaring it “finished.”  I only have about an hour invested in it, maybe 90 minutes.  I didn’t time myself this time.  I won’t be able to work on it the rest of this week, because I leave for school before daylight, and return when it’s almost dark.  I was depending on the natural light outdoors, rather than studio lamps.  I liked the clean, northern light that was on the door as I sketched it.

I have looked at a number of Andrew Wyeth drybrush “vignettes” and have often been just as fascinated with all the empty void throughout the composition as I have his tightly detailed focus areas.  So, I think I might just call this a “drybrush sketch” and be done with it.  That way, I can start fresh on a new one of this same subject, and perhaps push the details further on it.

It’s been a great day.  Thanks for sharing it with me.

Watercoloring in the “Cave” as Temperatures Fall

December 9, 2012

Painting in the Man Cave

As the Arlington, Texas temperatures dip to 53 degrees, I feel more excitement in the air.  I love the coming of winter, and one of the many reasons for my painting old dilapidated doors and doorknobs is that they remind me of the kind of doors I saw as a child when I stayed with grandparents, particularly during the winter holidays.  Just seeing these old doorknobs reminds me of their cold, clammy farmhouses and the odors of kerosene heaters burning throughout the winter.  We would bundle in patchwork quilts, snuggle into sofas and watch TV, passing the cold, dark Southeast Missouri winter days.  I like reliving those memories when I paint subjects such as this.

Pretty soon, I’m going to have to close my garage door, though I must admit I’ve really enjoyed the view of my quiet neighborhood during this Sunday.  People are staying indoors, and very few cars have passed by this way.

Thanks for reading.

In the Garage with Andrew Wyeth

December 9, 2012

Beginnings of another Antique Doorknob

Ernest Hemingway lifted me again this morning.  Looking up at a set of doors at the neglected end of my garage, I noticed how the the morning overcast light was creating interesting patterns on the abused wooden surface.  I got out my tools and removed a knob and locking plate from one other doors and fastened it to this one, and then set to work sketching it out on an 8 x 10″ 300 lb. cold-pressed watercolor surface.  I’m barely in to it, but very interested at this point.  I’m going to do the “Hemingway thing” and lay it aside while I’m “hot” for it, knowing I’ll return to it gladly.  Several chores await my tending, so I walk away, satisfied that I have a fun art task awaiting me.

Thanks for reading.  What a splendid day, and it’s not even noon yet!

Saturday Night in the Man Cave, Painting Door Knobs

November 17, 2012

Third Watercolor of a Vintage Doorknob

The weekend has grown quiet, and I managed to find a Saturday night free of engagements, allowing me to return to my forsake man cave.  The drafting table was a mess, and it took some time to get all my debris cleared away so I could resume work on this watercolor abandoned a week ago.  School has been much too busy to my liking, and I’m grateful now for this hiatus, with Thanksgiving break just around the corner.

Though I haven’t been able to paint for a week, I have had the warm privilege of opening Rollo May’s My Quest for Beauty–a book I ordered from Amazon eons ago, that finally arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Though my jealous cat crawled on top the open book on my lap for the first hour, I did manage to get into the text late last night, and spent quite a bit of time in it today (incidentally, the cat is all over me right now, as I attempt to type this entry).

I enclose a gem from Rollo May:

My firm belief is that one paints, as one writes, not out of a theory but out of the vividness of an experience . . . Rational thoughts follow to anchor theoretically the truths that already have grasped us as a vision.

That lets me off the hook.  I cannot explain to anyone why I have attached myself to doorknobs recently.  These relics are what survive of my memories in my grandparents’ homes when I was a child.  I have dropped the Proustian line continually as I blog, and I do enjoy the shock of recognition when I see an antique that unleashes those submerged memories from my past.  Maybe some day I will be able to write eloquently about what I am painting.

Thanks for reading.

A Relaxing Afternoon in the Man Cave

November 9, 2012

Friday in the Man Cave

Well, another week of public school is in the books.  The students were wonderful, but I came home tired today.  I sat in the man cave and messed up the watercolor that I started recently.  So, I took a nap and returned to it refreshed.  Hopefully I have restored it and have it moving in the right direction again.  I am at the stage where I am combining drawing and drybrush, working these over the layers of wash already laid down.  I love this weaving stage of the watercolor.  I chose to stop at this point and let the composition sit for another day or so.  I believe that composting is the right direction for me right now.  I need to take my time and let this painting mature.

Thanks for reading.

Drybrush Beginning on my Third Vintage Doorknob with Musings of William Carlos Williams

November 7, 2012

Beginning of Third Vintage Doorknob Watercolor

With daylight saving time providing much longer nights, I found myself desiring to withdraw to the man cave this evening and begin my third watercolor attempt of a porcelain doorknob from my collection.  About ten years ago, I began collecting old doors to hinge together and use as temporary walls for displaying my watercolors in art festival booths.  Because the doorknobs and lock plates interfered with folding the doors together and transporting them, I removed them all, stored them in my classroom locking cabinet and forgot about them until recently.  Now I’ve gone on this still life watercolor binge, inspired by a recent visit to the Wyeth exhibit at the Tyler Museum of Art.

For several decades, I have pored over images of Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings of dilapidated doors and knobs, and have stared at real ones as well.  In a Proustian sense, they take me back to my grandmother’s ramshackle house that featured abused doors and porcelain knobs with skeleton key locks.  I always found them more fascinating throughout my childhood than the doors of our suburban home–brass knobs with all the doors featuring the same wooden stain.

As I worked in the studio this evening, I continually replayed the Voices and Visions VHS tape of William Carlos Williams, a family doctor who drove around his small New Jersey town in the 1930’s, taking in images all day, recording them on prescription pads and converting them to poems every evening, late.  Imagism emerged in his works, along with those of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.  “Say it again–no ideas but in things.”  Several months ago, I made a couple stabs at painting still life objects in a prosaic, commercial fashion, much as Andy Warhol did with his Campbell Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.  I have pulled them out recently, wondering if I should put the images on an old wooden table, or in front of one of my ten vintage doors resting in the man cave.  I’m fascinated with these images of late, staring at them, watercoloring and sketching them, reading William Carlos Williams poems and continually looking at Andrew Wyeth and Andy Warhol paintings of prosaic objects.  I am not sure where this is going to lead, but I must say I am gleaning much satisfaction, personally, from these experiments.

Thanks for reading.

A Second Attempt at Painting a Vintage Doorknob with Andrew Wyeth Influence

November 3, 2012

Second Vintage Doorknob in Drybrush Watercolor

With delight, I return to my home (and my man cave) tonight.  I traveled to Bullard, Texas after school Friday to set up for the 5th Annual Jenny Wood Art Show, hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Bullard Mission House.  This is a remarkable show, set up in the memory of Jenny Wood, a quintessential artist of East Texas who passed away five years ago.  The event organizers–a commited community of local artists and volunteers–were among the finest I’ve met in my past six years of art festival participation.  The facility was magnificent–a family life center connected to the Methodist Church there, and I was surrounded by magnificent art.  My thanks goes out to the artists and marvelous patrons who turned out in droves and made the event a success, with a significant amount donated to the Mission House.

The night before I left for the show, I began drawing out the composition posted above–a second 8 x 10″ rendering of another of my antique doorknobs and doors in my man cave (that doubles as a wall for displaying my art at festivals).  I had hoped to work on this watercolor sketch in the hotel room last night, but I got in rather late after setting up my display, and chose instead to unwind in the pool (a wise choice!).  Rising at 6:00 this morning, I returned to Bullard from Jacksonsville (and I highly recommend their LaQuinta), and just before the show opened, I resumed work in this sketch.  I took with me the doorknob, and completed it while at the festival, then returning home tonight, set up in the man cave and focused on the door and the lock plate.  I feel that I am near completion but haven’t yet signed the piece.  After the luxury of setting my clock back and getting an extra hour of sleep, I’ll have a clearer eye in the morning to decide whether or not this piece is actually finished.  But as of now, I am exhausted to the bone, and glad that I can fall asleep tonight with a smile, thanks to the wonderful artists and patrons I met this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Halloween Respite, though a New Painting is Underway

October 31, 2012

Attempt at an Andrew Wyeth-type Drybrush Rendering

My sincere apologies for not posting my new watercolor sketch that is well underway.  I did in fact begin a second “doorknob drybrush” after school this afternoon, and to my dismay, ran out of Winsor & Newton Transparent Yellow and Winsor Violet pigments.  All I had managed to do in 45 minutes was a careful drawing of the new 8 x 10″ composition and some basic washes in pale yellow and violet.  Leaving the studio, I dashed to Asel Art in the Fort Worth Museum District, and was about to return home at dark, when I suddenly realized–Halloween.  Drat.  I live in a neighborhood, which means my night would be filled with running back-and-forth from the garage studio through the kitchen, dining and living rooms, to the front door to answer doorbells.  I had not yet gone to the store to buy stockpiles of candy, and so I decided (yes, Grinch that I am) to go to the University Park Barnes &  Noble Store and Starbuck’s Cafe and thus spend the night perusing four of the Andrew Wyeth books I had packed this morning in my school bag, along with my journal and laptop.

So, here I am.  I really wish I could have painted this evening, but based on past Halloweens, that would not have happened until much later.

The Andrew Wyeth studies have flooded my soul with fresh inspiration.  I simply cannot get enough of his drybrush, pencil and watercolor renderings of still life objects up-close-and-personal.  And I’m still filled with enthusiasm over the one I finished yesterday.  My new piece is of a different door and doorknob/locking assembly arrangement.  I am fascinated with the chipped paint surrounding the lock box.  Again, I will try to make the background extremely dark, combining mostly Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow.  I also picked up at the store some more graphite pencils and plan to work more of them into the details of the composition as well (something I had intended with yesterady’s painting, but forgot).

One of my favorite portions of the Andrew Wyeth interviews read tonight (from the Autobiography, foreward by Thomas Hoving) was his description of the process of drybrush, where one weaves the brush of dried pigment into the layers of wash and employs graphite pencils for detail work.  Wyeth also used Higgins’ ink, which I have not chosen to use (though I tried this many, many years ago in my watercolors).

When I return home later tonight, I plan to layer the dark washes of violet and yellow into the background, giving it a good soaking, then let it set up overnight.  Perhaps tomorrow I can return to the work after school and try to finish it (though I have another weekend art festival for which I have not yet begun to pack and load).  Oh well . . .

Thanks for reading.  I’ll post pictures of the new work tomorrow.