Posts Tagged ‘farmhouse’

Accosted by a Stallion, February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

Tack shed from Ranger, Texas

Just finished teaching an evening class in Logic.  Still have stacks of work to do for tomorrow’s Advanced Placement Art History.  But, a promise is a promise.  At all costs, I will strive to post my art with commentary every day of 2010.  This is about the only New Year Resolution I have yet to break.

I am posting something from my files of memory lane.  My wife Sandi, our friend Kat Duke, and I traveled to Ranger, Texas in 2008 on a scalding hot summer day–triple digits.  Her grandfather has property there and raises quarter horses.  Our only “plan” that day was to look for inspiration so we could write in our journals, create poetry, essay, write songs for our guitars, and just (to borrow from Kerouac and friends) enjoy some “kicks.”  We just hadn’t anticipated the kind of “kicks” awaiting us.

While walking across a seemingly boundary-less pasture, we were suddenly accosted by a very handsome stallion.  The first response of this magnificent beast was to turn his rear toward us and poop a large pile.  I thought this was O.K., but the ladies warned that he was marking his territory.  I was alright with that too.  The drift that I was not getting was that the three of us were not “invited” guests.  We casually walked away from him and he followed, closer and closer and closer.  Sandi would turn from time to time and gesticulate with her broad-brimmed sun hat, and he would wheel and turn and gallop away, but only for a short distance, and then would return.  This uneasiness persisted for what seemed a lifetime, as I thought we would never get to a fence–and he just kept coming, every time with more aggression.  Finally, the fence arrived, we were over it, and he seemed calmer without us.

Once the stallion incident was behind us, I came across this tack shed, that Kat’s grandfather built himself.  I loved the sight of it, the dark interior, the smells emanating from the mixture of heat, Texas dust and horse residue.  I took several photos and made some quickie sketches in my journal.  Once back at my studio I decided to add this Chesterfield King cigarette sign I photographed that was tacked to the outside of a restaurant in Creede, Colorado.  I also decided that the white-hot cloudless Texas sky was kind of boring, so as a last touch, I darkened it for a more overcast look.

Kat has moved on to Seattle to continue writing songs and living out the life of a folk singer.   We all miss her in Texas, but the Pacific Northwest is now much improved, having added her to their population of creative spirits.  Her mother purchased this original watercolor from me this past Christmas.  I’m delighted that it has found a home with its rightful family.  So, my heartfelt thanks goes out to Kat’s mom for the purchase, to Kat for all the memories and music together, and above all, taking us to Ranger, Texas for an unforgettable day of experiences.

Grandmother’s House again, January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010

the Old McNeely House

I have returned to my Grandmother McNeely’s farmhouse so many times, that I feel an affinity with Andrew Wyeth’s obsession with Kuerner’s Farm and the Olson Place.  I spent summers here and holiday vacations.  I still miss the old place with its sights and smells.  This is one of my watercolor studies of the back of her house after the back porch had been removed.  The gas pump and tractor I added from photos I had taken of such subjects in other similar settings.  The old house is in rural Jackson, Missouri not far from the Mississippi River.  The gas pump and tractor were photographed in rural Texas locations.

A Surprise from my Files, January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010

Snowy Bourbon, Missouri with Railroad

A real surprise greeted me this evening as I looked through my old digital files of watercolors done in years past.  A few days ago, on January 17, I posted the right half of this painting, not knowing that the left half still existed in my files.  When I began converting my watercolors to 5 x 7″ greeting cards several years ago, I cropped this panorama composition so it would fit nicely on the standard-sized card, and completely forgot about the left hand of the composition.  The story of this subject is told in my January 17 blog, about my Christmas season surprise to see this beautiful snowscape in Bourbon, Missouri, early one morning as I was returning to Texas after a holiday visit with my St. Louis family.  This left-hand portion I did, trying to copy Edward Hopper’s oils and watercolors of railroad crossings and the embankments that partially obscure residential dwellings and small businesses.  I was trying to capture some of that when I worked out this composition.

Re-Visiting My First Gallery Sale, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010

Union, Missouri

This watercolor means a great deal to me.  It was the first work I ever sold through a gallery.  The buyer was returning to her native Germany, and told the gallery director that the house reminded her of farm homes in the “Old Country.”  I photographed the old house when I was returning to Texas from a visit with family in St. Louis.  As I stood on the property, assuming the place was abandoned, I heard a dog suddenly bark in the distance, then I heard a door slam, and immediately an old pickup truck emerged from behind the house.  Fearing I was about to be chased off the property, I left in a hurry.

This was one of my first serious attempts at Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush technique.  I still remember how painstaking I was, when I tried to render the wood grains on the old siding of the house.  The tall weeds were also filling me with anxiety as I attempted to render them.  The siding and the weeds were first attempts.

A Walden Pond Remembrance–January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

Dexter, Texas (Ghost Town)

It looks as though tomorrow I can pursue new work, and stop posting these old watercolors from my past.  This one is of a cabin in Dexter, Texas (now a desolate relic of a town–probably a ghost town).  From the time I photographed the cabin (around 1986), I was smitten at its resemblance of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond.  I didn’t get to visit that historic site until the mid 1990’s, but the replica cabins I’ve seen at the Pond and at the Concord Historical Society match this as to size.  Only difference of course is Thoreau had only one door at the end, and a window on both sides.

A couple of year ago, I returned to the Dexter site, and was saddened to see only one wall still standing of this cabin, and completely overgrown with trees and underbrush.  It was not even approachable.  Nature always reclaims what isn’t overrun by people.

I was proud of the painting from the time I executed it.  Thrilled that the drybrush on the woodwork of the building “worked” as did the torn-up roofing.  I was pleased with the blistered wood around the door frame and window sash, and the way the horizon trees washed out in the distance.  These were several “firsts” for me, and though I do these kinds of techniques now without fear, I seem to lack the spontaneity that appears in this painting, and of course I no longer no the profound serendipitous delight of seeing something new emerge beneath my brush.  While I was in visiting family in St. Louis, I was surprised to receive a check in the mail from the Hillsboro Gallery with the notification that this painting had sold.  I called the love of my life (now my wife) and told her the great news over the phone.  Then when I returned home to Texas, and went to her place to visit, I was gratified to see this hanging over her fireplace–a secret sale!  Now it is in our home, belongs to her, and I’m still delighted that it is where I can see it any time, every day.

“McNeely Farm” January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010

McNeeley Place

I have resolved to do my best to blog daily my watercolor activity and theories.  This is turning into a chore.  School has resumed with all its responsibilities, and currently I am working on three acrylic canvases for a hotel commission.  Acrylic is not my preferred medium.  I may put up images of the canvases, if I find satisfaction in them.

Meanwhile, here is another old one–late eighties probably.  Those of you following my blog will recognize it as my grandmother’s house.  I’ve posted other watercolor studies of it.  This one attempts to show the surroundings and how isolated the farmhouse always appeared to me as a young child.  The second story window on the right is where my bed was when I stayed there in the summers.  One of my earlier posts has a closeup of that window.

On the right I tried to sketch in the rolling hills about 1,000 yards back, where Indian Creek cut through the farm acreage.  That creek marked my rite of passage as I learned to fish there as a child, and I still remember–in Proust fashion–memories of all those mornings and afternoons when I pulled out of those waters bluegill, sunfish, perch, catfish, largemouth bass and buffalo.  The trek across those fields was a long one for a small child, but well worth the effort.  Now little remains besides that two-story house.  Bu the memories will never die.  Sometimes I’m sorry that I don’t live in rural Jackson, Missouri.

“Willis Crossing” January 7, 2010

January 8, 2010

Grandpa's Cabin

This remains the only watercolor I executed on a full-size page of D’Arches 300# rough paper.  I worked on it for weeks, having no idea how much surface there was to cover!  (Lots of dybrushin’!).  I was happy with the results, but never again enthused to work on such a large scale.  The majority of my works are done on a half page or even a quarter.  This was the cabin my grandfather converted from a hen house and stayed in at nights (I posted these details on an earlier post of a front view of this same building).  He dwelt about 50 feet from the main house where my grandmother stayed.  Surgeries had disrupted his ability to sleep well at nights, so he chose to spend his evenings in this “man cave” with his TV, cardtable and bed.  He continued to spend his days at the main house and took all his meals there.   The overall technique of this painting of course was influenced by the drybrush sketches by Andrew Wyeth at Kuerner’s Farm.  The only difference was that I chose to lean heavilyy on the lavendars for shading, rather than neutrals.

A Return to Grandmother’s House, January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010

The McNeely Farm

As I posted yesterday, I have a desire to put a blues musician on a sagging porch in front of this house.  The house I have painted several times since around 1990, and I was fortunate to sell one of these (“Abandoned”–posted on my website) last year to one of my high school acquaintances.  Several years back, while reading the Foreword to a biography of Muddy Waters (Can’t Be Satisfied), I got this vision in my mind’s eye to paint a blues guitarist in a setting much like this painting.  I have lost track of the original painting posted above.  To this day, I honestly do not know what became of it–I don’t recall selling it, and haven’t seen it among my own holdings.  I am quite certain that it was rendered around 1990 or shortly thereafter.  I’m not sure I ever even signed it.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to have an image of it, and would like to pursue again a blend of drybrush and deeper colors.

Backyard Blues, January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010

My Brother and His Guitar

I’m embarrassed that I forgot to post this (although I did, to my Facebook friends last month).  This watercolor took first place in the membership show of the Desoto Art League (Desoto, Texas) early in December 2009.  The show just closed and I got to bring it back home again.

My younger brother is playing the guitar, although I had to use a photograph taken of him in a St. Louis living room.  I’ve always thought he resembled David Crosby, in hair, mustache and weight.  The buildings I found here in Arlington, Texas, behind the Upstairs Gallery on Abrams.  This is my first attempt to render a “bluesman” outdoors in humble surroundings.  Hopefully, I will get to pursue some more of these subjects.  I would like to put a blues guitarist on the porch of my grandmother’s defunct house (posted a couple of days ago–“No Longer Home”).  I have never put a human figure with that house in all my attempted sketches and paintings.  I think it’s time.  My attempt to work on the Wyeth drybrush as well as the Impressionist plein air came together somewhat in this painting, but I still have a long way to go.  I began a sketch yesterday that attempted to merge the two techniques, and think I have found a few fresh ideas to pursue.

“No Longer Home” January 3, 2010

January 4, 2010

My Grandmother's Abandoned Home

My attempt at plein air watercolor on this day was not successful.  Texas remained dark and overcast, and the icy winds from the north I could not successfully repel with three layers of clothing, fleece cap and mittens.  I painted outdoors at Lyndon Acres for about 30 minutes, attempting a sketch of horses in the pasture, and trying to finish a painting started a couple of weeks ago.  Finally I gave up.

The image posted is of a drybrush watercolor I executed in 1990.  I will forever regret releasing it for sale, as the only record I have (posted) is this poorly-taken 35mm slide (I am not a photographer!).  I believe this remains my most successful attempt of the Andrew Wyeth-style drybrush that I have admired since 1968.  As a small boy, I slept in that bedroom window on many a night.  This building is what is left of my grandmother’s house.  I still remember the smells of that attic, along with the wasps, the sounds of rats in the walls, and my terror at the sound of every creak I heard in the depths of the nights spent up there.  It was already a very old house when I was very young, and the layers of stories told there are just as varied as the smells and sounds I experienced in the night.  The more I read of Andrew Wyeth’s fixation at Kuerner’s Farm throughout his life (sadly he died nearly a year ago), the more I wish to pursue studies of the McNeely Farm where I spent so much time growing up and exploring.

Currently, I am caught between the extremes of Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush (that avoids the saturation of hues, preferring to layer the neutrals) on the one hand, and the felicity of the French Impressionists in their pursuit of pure light and color as they worked en plein aire (something I discovered only last year).  So, for anyone reading these Blogs, I presume that you will be seeing future posts of an inquisitive artist trying to find his way between these extremes.  Incidentally, the paintings I pursued this afternoon in the cold were much brighter, but failures.  Perhaps I’ll have something better to show tomorrow, rather than an old, recycled drybrush.