Posts Tagged ‘farm’

Abandoned Desoto in Tall Weeds, Cotter, Arkansas

May 24, 2011

Abandoned Desoto in Tall Weeds, Cotter, Arkansas

Finally, back home, I am able to photograph my plein air paintings created during my stay at the Plein Air on the White River festival in Cotter, Arkansas.  This was one of two wonderfully sublime mornings where I had the privilege of working all alone, surrounded by quiet, space, and feelings of the Sublime.  What a wonderful world received me as I chipped away, attempting to record a profound experience en plein air.

Thanks for reading.

Winter Watercolor progressing, February 2, 2011

February 1, 2011

Labadie, Missouri snowscape

I posted the information to this watercolor on the previous post.  I’ve been picking at this watercolor most of this day.  I’m thrilled to have my first one-man show this coming September, and have found another gear to pursue watercolor with larger compositions.  This one measures 12 x 18″. I’m trying to solve the dry brush problems of winter foliage.  I’m not sure how to finish this one out, so I believe I’ll turn my attention to the other two paintings for a little while.  Luck for me, school has been canceled tomorrow as well (two days in a row).  The snow and ice have not been too heavy in this part of  Texas, but the falling temperatures have kept them in place, making travel hazardous.  It is 14 degrees as I write this, at 9:00 p.m.  I’m lucky to have a couple of days in a warm studio!

Thanks for reading.

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011

Labadie, Missouri Snowscape

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I have always felt dreamy when hearing these Robert Frost words from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  For any of you who have followed my blog, you have seen this composition before: while Christmas vacationing in Missouri, I paused at the back door of the apartment we stayed in while visiting with Wayne White on his Double D Acres ranch.  Seeing the lovely woods shrouded in snow, I had to capture them quickly in drybrush watercolor, on a block measuring 8 x 10″.  As soon as I returned to Texas, a dear friend purchased the small sketch, but I could not forget the scene.  Hence I pulled my digital photo of it, printed off an 8 x 10″, and went quickly to work on this 12 x 18″ composition.  I have a good feeling about this one, though it has come along very slowly, which I guess isn’t a bad thing.  Sometimes a long gestation period works with my paintings.

The interruptions have meant plenty of “down time” for this piece: I have two other large watercolors in progress (already posted on this blog).  I have also spent time in L.A. on school business (sketches from there already posted as well).  I’m also teaching two college courses at night, in addition to my “day job” at the high school.  Hence I have had problems getting back to this one.  So why is today different?

Well, this morning we were awakened by a 5:15 phone call that school was canceled for the day.  Looking outside at the solid sheet of ice that covered everything in my neighborhood, I was seized with delight, made coffee and returned to bed with an excellent book:  Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. While enjoying this remarkable book, my BlackBerry tinkled a Facebook message and what did I find? A former student’s photograph of her lovely little daughter watercoloring in the living room, titled “The artist in residence: snowy day watercolors.”  That was enough!  I returned to my studio, since piled high with books and journals, cleared a path for my art work, and resumed work on this piece.

Always I am amazed when I pore over an Andrew Wyeth snowy drybrush piece.  Naturally, as I tinker with this one of my own, brushing, dragging, salting, spattering and drawing, I will ruminate over his magnificent contribution and how much it has enriched me since the first time I saw his work in 1968 as a curious, yet awkward high school freshman Art I student.  Thank you, Mr. Wyeth.  I miss you, and will always treasure your Chadds Ford and Cushing meditations.

New Year 2011, My Sleeping Cat and a Winter Landscape en plein air

January 1, 2011


Missouri Winter Landscape

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this.  I have just returned from a St. Louis Christmas holiday, and though the family activities kept me busy, I did find a brief opportunity to paint.  My eye was filled with wonder the entire six days I spent in the midst of the snowy Missouri winter.


One of my profound blessings of recent months was renewing a friendship with Wayne White, a classmate I knew since second grade but lost contact with following high school graduation.  Thanks to Facebook we found each other again.  Wayne is a farrier who works on his beautiful spread at Double D Acres in Labadie, Missouri (not far from historic route 66) southwest of the St. Louis area where both of us grew up.  You can read all about his life and work at

Wayne graciously put my wife and me up in a comfortable apartment on his ranch, and we spent a quality morning with him in the frigid barn temperatures, watching and photographing as he worked, shoeing one of his horses.

The morning of the shoeing, I awoke to a gorgeous snowscape, and could not stop admiring this view of his property behind his house.  I was filled with an Andrew Wyeth drybrush-sense of wonder, and could not stop gazing at it, all the while hearing the words from Robert Frost–“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”–

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I was not going to let this opportunity pass.  It was frigid cold outside, but the view through the kitchen apartment door was fine enough for me.  I laid my supplies on the table, held the block in my left hand, and sketched, brushed with my right.  I only spent about 30 minutes on it (a small 8 x 10″ sketch), but was happy with the results.

I am back home now in Arlington, Texas, in my garage studio (man cave!), with the door shut because of the 35 degree temperatures.  I finished this work a few moments ago, adding only the tree trunks and their shadows at the bottom of the page.  I believe that is all this needs.  Hopefully I can work on some more snowscapes this winter, if not from Texas landscapes, then from photos I took while in St. Louis this past week.

Meanwhile, in the company of my sleeping cat, I believe I’ll move on to another watercolor.

Thanks for reading.


Visions of Kerouac, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

Visions of Kerouac

After a long weekend of delivering my art to three separate events (competition, gallery opening, and 2-day festival), I feel rather “wasted” this Monday morning.  But school still beckons, I’m a teacher, and therefore I answer the bell.

While at the festival, I worked on a painting each day.  The one posted is what I began yesterday (Sunday) morning, and tinkered with throughout the day (patrons were very few and even further between).  This is a 1950 Chevy Sedan Delivery that I have visited several times, thanks to the gracious owner of the property that allows me to “trespass.”  It is parked in a field north of Highway 77 just east of Interstate 35W, north of Hillsboro, Texas.

Making the one-hour drive to and from the festival each day gave me plenty of time to muse as I listened to CDs of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, narrated by Matt Dillon.  Kerouac’s work always leaves me in a contented state of mind, especially when I’m staring through the windshield of my Jeep and driving through wide-open country.  I decided on that second day of the festival that I would return to this subject of the Chevy.

I feel “drawn in,” Proust-like, when I see a vintage car rusting in an open field somewhere (and they are getting harder to find these days).  Cars from the fifties remind me of long road trips with my parents.  Seated in the backseat, I could not read (carsickness), so I had to stare out the window at the American countryside scrolling across my window as it were a TV screen.  I had hoped when I was younger that I would grow up to be a man with the ability to capture these American scenes either through story-telling or artist illustration.  I still feel that compulsion.

I’m experimenting more and more with the Masquepen when I work with tree foliage, weeds, and automobile texturing.  And I’m also finding salt to be more and more fun with all the surprises it leaves behind during the drying stages of the wet-on-wet washes.

Thank you for reading.

15-Minute Plein Air Watercolor Sketch, Oct 26

October 27, 2010

Tree Sketch, Watercolor

The art festival circuit over the month of October has completely taken me away from the plein air activity I have enjoyed so much over this past year.  Yesterday evening, after a brief workout at the health club, I re-joined my wife at the farm where she stables her horse, and was glad to find that she still had about 30 minutes of work to do.

Feeling a “Winslow Homer” and “Andrew Wyeth” surge, I looked out at the raw beauty of an autumn sun setting over the pastureland, and took fifteen minutes to dash out this sketch on an 8 x 10″ watercolor block.  I was not aware of working quickly, or against a clock, or against a time table.  I just happened to be delighted to note that only fifteen minutes elided by the time I called this one quits.  I took no pains to correct, adjust, or edit in any form.  I’m happy with the spontaneity of the sketch, and regret that this has not played a significant role in my past decade as a watercolor artist.  I hope that this chance encounter will shift the tide and convert me to a habitual “sketcher” in pencil as well as drybrush.  This fall, I pledge that my watercolor supplies will remain always in the Jeep with me, even if I am just going to work.  Hopefully, I’ll become more prolific in this art.  Last night’s experiment was overwhelmingly satisfying to me.

Thanks for reading.

Clawing My Way Back to the Studio!

October 26, 2010

Special Delivery

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted.  I have violated my oath taken last New Year to do my dead-level best to post daily.  October has been a more-than-usually-busy month, with my teaching load at high school and university combined with four consecutive weekend art festivals.  Fortunately, my next festival is three weekends away.   Between now and then, I am committed to returning to the studio, tidying it and resuming my art production.

I did finish this painting last week.  It was begun over the summer (and the early stages of it were posted to the blog).  It began as a “poured” piece, and finally I got around to finishing up the dry brush foreground, detailing the car and refining the fence line.

This car is parked in a field alongside Highway 77 north of Hillsboro, Texas, just east of Interstate 35W.  The owner of the property has graciously allowed me to access his land and do multiple studies of this car and a 1954 Ford sedan.  I’m still not finished with these subjects, but am glad to have this composition completed.  Most of my watercolors are around 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 in size.  This one measures 20 x 25″–quite large by my usual standards.

Thanks for reading.

“Nocturne” to be Published Soon, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010


I just received the good news that my painting of Nocturne will be published in the August issue of the Lone Star Horse Report.  Nocturne was a 23-year old Welsh Cob stallion belonging to a friend who boards my wife’s horse and gives her lessons in dressage.  We were all saddened when he had to be euthanized last year.  This painting of him was my first attempt at painting a horse.  I still miss him every time I go to watch my wife ride, and am thrilled that his memory will be published with this image next month.

Plein Air Watercoloring in a Field of Junked Autos, May 8, 2010

May 9, 2010

1950 Chevy Sedan Delivery, north of Hillsboro, Texas

Saturday afforded great weather (59-72 degrees and plenty of bright sunshine) for hitting the road early and doing some plein air watercoloring.  I took Chris Toplyn (Boston watercolorist recently transplanted to Texas) to one of my favorite sites, this property along Highway 77 north of Hillsboro that is lined with vintage vehicles rusting in the elements.

I’ve already tried this 1950 Chevy Sedan Delivery from the front view twice, and have a third poured painting in progress (all posted on the blog).  Today I chose to set up behind it and see what I could do.  On this day, I took genuine delight in drawing with the pencil, erasing, correcting, re-drawing.  I sketched and studied for quite awhile (so nice when there are no time constraints), and when it came time to flood the water across the page and drop in the first few washes, I felt I had found paradise.  Many times, plein watercoloring, to me, is like fly fishing in a Colorado stream–time elides and all my pores are delighted in what surrounds me–smells, sounds, sights.  And I lose track of time.  When I stopped noodling on this, I checked and saw that I had spent two-and-a-half hours on it.  It seemed like fifteen minutes.

Afterward, Chris and I decided to get back on Highway 77, and head to Waxahachie to see what we could conjure during the afternoon hours.  This time in the field with this car was a morning well-spent.  I wish I had more of them, but am extremely grateful for the ones granted.  And speaking of which–though it’s rained and gotten soggy outdoors, I have this day to see what I can get done inside the studio.  I’ll see what I can do.

Gorgeous Plein Air Environment, April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

Wildflowers among the wreckage

School has been keeping me buried in work, but I did manage to escape late Sunday afternoon, driving an hour south of where I live to capture this quick scene of a panel truck abandoned in a field of wildflowers.  The sun, shadows, and temperature of the day was gorgeous beyond description, and I could have stayed for hours.  But alas, there is still schoolwork to do and I’ll be up late again.