Posts Tagged ‘Fort Worth’

Losing Myself (or Finding Myself?) in a Large Watercolor

July 11, 2018

commission tues

Santa Fe Depot in Fort Worth, Texas

It is humanity’s tragedy that today its leaders are either sullen materialists or maniacs who express the psychopathology of the mob mind.

Barnett Newman, 1933

I was stung this morning by these words from Barnett Newman (an artist and thinker), published in 1933 when he was running for mayor of New York City, being dismayed at the slate of candidates. These words could have been printed in this morning’s newspaper. Throughout my six decades-plus of living, I am losing hope that matters can improve in our nation’s leadership, or the rank and file of American voters that judge them worthy at the ballot box.

I’ll try to get this negative stuff out of the way quickly. Also this morning, I read an article from The Atlantic, posted by one of my stellar former students on Facebook: “The Wisdom Deficit in Schools.” The argument was one I held to no avail for nearly three decades in public schools. I am losing hope there too, and am glad to be retired. In three decades, I saw no improvement, only state legislators who dared not enter the premises of public schools while continuing to drain them of their resources, along with “experts” putting out annual talking points to improve education. And I concluded that most experts are to education as bumper stickers are to philosophy. The only thing I could do in three decades was teach the students entrusted to me to the best of my ability, with resources gleaned from my own education, hoping it would be enough–it was all I had to offer. I once read from someone that education was the pouring out of a life. And I did that (still do, but with much more fulfillment in semi-retirement).

Enough of that.

I rose from my reading and went out, hoping to waddle my way out of the cesspool of negativity that was drowning me. I found a public facility conducive to a studio, spread my supplies across a large table, dialed my phone to my favorite YouTube music, and proceeded to swan dive into this 30 x 22″ watercolor. And the longer I drew, painted, wiped, and splattered, the more contented I grew.  It always happens that way.

Years ago, I made art, hoping for attention, sales, and a sense of self-worth. Today, I can honestly say I am blessed to have received satisfying measures of those. Now, I make art because it brings quality to my life. As I paint and listen to music, messages sink into my soul that I have gleaned from my reading earlier in the day (today from Barnett Newman, Edward Hopper, Eugene Delacroix and Ralph Waldo Emerson). And yes, I am currently on vacation, but it is a working vacation as I pursue this promised commission and prepare for three college courses in the fall. And it is all good.

Eugene Delacroix has spoken to my soul repeatedly, and I thank God he kept journals. I’ve posted this one before, but do so now again, because he pours out his sentiments in words more eloquent than mine, and all I can say is that I affirm his testimony 100%–

(from Sunday, July 14, 1850): Today, Sunday, I may say that I am myself again: and so it’s the first day that I find interest in all the things which surround me. This place is really charming. I went this afternoon, and in a good mood, to take a walk on the other side of the water. There, seated on a bench, I started to jot down in my notebook some reflections similar to those I am tracing here. I told myself and I cannot repeat it to myself often enough for my repose and for my happiness (one and the other are but a single thing) that I cannot and must not live in any other way than through the mind; the food that it demands is more necessary to my life than that which my body calls for. 

Why did I live so much, that famous day? (I am writing this two days afterward). It was because I had a great many ideas which, at this moment, are a hundred leagues away. The secret of not having troubles, for me at least, is to have ideas. Therefore no effort is too great if it gives me the means of bringing them into existence. Good books have that effect, and above all certain ones among those books. The first thing to have is health, to be sure; but even in a sickly condition, such books as those can reopen sources through which imagination can issue forth generously.

Thank you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Advertisements

Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

opening 2

Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

ghost ranch upright

“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.

commission-1.jpeg

Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.

commission

depot

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

plaque

Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

Open House at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater Sunday Afternoon

July 18, 2015
Fort Worth Cattle Drive

Fort Worth Cattle Drive

A man’s life should be as fresh as a river. It should be the same channel, but a new water every instant. Some men have no inclination; they have no rapids nor cascades, but marshes, and alligators, and miasma instead.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, March 25, 1842

The more I read from this young man’s journals, dating prior to his stay at Walden Pond, the more astonished I am at his profound wisdom. He was only twenty-five when he wrote these words. For years, I have thought of bodies of water as metaphors for lifestyle characteristics. I love the statement above, because it attaches nicely to Thoreau’s Walden discussion of how he bathed every morning in Walden Pond, regarding it as a religious ritual as he followed the dictum of Confucius, to renew himself every day.

Today, I awoke with the feeling that I may not get to enter the studio at all. I have a show tomorrow afternoon at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater, an Open House from 2:00-4:00. Today will be spent pulling together my inventory and preparing the necessary images, labels, signage, etc. that goes with my display, as well as packing and loading all the freight into the Jeep before I pull away in the morning. It tends to be an arduous, time-consuming affair. Still, there are worse fates. Thinking again of Thoreau’s line, I’m just happy to know I am not awaking today to doldrums, boredom, listlessness or frustration. I have a task to perform, it is art-related, and therefore I feel refreshed.

Here is a link to tomorrow’s Open House: http://stagewest.org/made-music-arts-drinks-eats

The image above I just picked up from the printers yesterday as a limited edition, signed and numbered giclee print. I have the first four available to take to the show. They measure 18 x 24″ and sell unframed for $100. They are shrinkwrapped and mounted on a foam core backing.

I am also bringing out this “Summer Morning on Sundance Square” for the second time, same size, same price:

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

This limited edition of the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd. has just been renewed. I have four of these I’ll be bringing to the show. Same size and price:

Ridglea Theater

Ridglea Theater

Since this is a Fort Worth venue, and it’s only open for two hours, I may as well pull out all my Fort Worth images. I’ll also have this one available, for $75 unframed, shrinkwrapped and mounted on foam core. It is the restored Sinclair station on McCart Ave.

McCart Sinclair

McCart Sinclair

I have the historic Flatiron building from downtown ready to go as well. 18 x 24″ and $100 unframed:

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

St. Ignatius Academy, just south of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, downtown Fort Worth will also be there in a limited edition:

Saint Ignatius Academy

Saint Ignatius Academy

And finally, the Poly theater on Vaughn Blvd (two separate editions):

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Vaughn Blvd Relic

Vaughn Blvd Relic

There is still much to do. As much as I hate to leave the studio, I’m glad to be participating in an art event.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

A New Limited Edition

May 21, 2015
1st Edition of 500 just Came off the Press

1st Edition of 500 just Came off the Press

Every time I participate in an art festival, I try to bring out something new. For several years, I have wanted to make this painting available in a limited edition, but couldn’t seem to get it done. Finally, it has happened. The subject is Haltom Jewelers at Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth. This painting has been popular with my greeting cards and small 5×7″ and 8×10″ prints. But it is now available in a giclee limited edition that measures 18×24″. I’ll be putting it on display for the first time at tomorrow’s Center Stage Music Festival in Arlington, Texas. http://levittpavilionarlington.org/events/downtown-arlington-center-stage-music-festival/ We will be showing and selling our work near the performing arts pavilion on W. Abram near Center Street.

I’m pricing these prints at $100 and the first five are being processed this weekend. The first edition (pictured) is priced at $150 which seems pricey, but there are two reasons for that: #1–it is my best painting to date, and #2–for the first time ever, I plan to custom frame one of my own limited edition prints, and I would like it to be this one!

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercolor Sketching on a Rainy Saturday Night

November 22, 2014

image

Flatiron Watercolor Delivered to the Gallery

February 15, 2012

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

I have delivered this watercolor (size 30″h x 22″w) to the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery, 3126 Handley Dr., Fort Worth, TX   76112.  Now that it is out of my sight, I am more than ready to begin the next adventure, hopefully by this weekend, seeing that it’s a 3-day weekend off from school.  Thanks to all of you who watched this painting from its birth to its completion.  The journey was a rewarding one for me.  I only hope the next one proves to be half as fun.

Thanks for reading.

Making Christmas Cards over the Holidays

November 26, 2011

Making a Christmas Card

I apologize that more than a week has passed since my last post.  Too many disruptions that were school-related and then holiday-related.  Finally I manage to get back into the studio!  The “man cave” (garage, actually) is quite chilly as winter winds are blowing across north Texas today, Saturday.  But thanks to a heavy sweater, I’m managing to find some contentment in this space, and oddly enough, I’m listening to The Teaching Company VHS and DVD lectures on Aristotle.  I’ve had a curiosity about his ethics these past months, and thought I would devote some quality time to hearing lectures on the topic.  So far, I’m finding them quite engaging.

Yesterday afternoon, I journeyed to Fort Worth’s Sundance Square to see everything set up for the Festival of Lights that took place last night.  For several years now, I’ve had good intentions to photograph the complex “Santa Stage” and do a series of Christmas watercolors on the subject.  I am in the process of setting up my own “store” on http://cafepress.com and I did not think the store would be complete without Christmas cards.  I have begun two that are 9 x 12″ in size, that I plan to digitize and reduce to 4 x 6 or 5 x 7″.  We’ll see how that one goes.  I’m getting lost in the profusion of bright primary colors in the Sundance stage and wonder at this point how I’m going to unify the composition.  But at any rate, I’m having fun chipping away at the piece.  We’ll see how it all turns out.  Hopefully I can post more progress later tonight.

Thanks for reading.  Sorry for the lengthy hiatus.

Haltom’s Jewelers Watercolor, Sundance Square, Nearly Complete

July 26, 2011

Haltom's Jewelers nearly finished

I’m trying very hard to have this watercolor wrapped up and delivered to the Weiler House Gallery by tomorrow (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com).  The latest obstacle interfering with its successful completion is our air conditioning breaking down today.  It is only 102 degrees outside now, meaning that the inside of my studio is a cool 90 degrees.  I find this exceptionally irritating, especially since I called in our problem Saturday morning and it only took four days for someone to come and announce that the motor was nearly dead, and that ordering and receiving the replacement would take a minimum 48 hours–then 3 hours after he left, the motor gave up the ghost.

At any rate, I still hope to finish this tonight and deliver it tomorrow.  I will take one final photo of the completed work.  I hope all I need do is complete the downspout and vertical slice of brick facade running down the right side of the composition.  Of course, if I stare at it long enough, I’ll no doubt find other things to do to it.  Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my self-imposed deadline.   Tomorrow, then.

Thanks for reading, and especially for following up on this particular watercolor odyssey.  It’s been an interesting path for me.

Continuing the Haltom’s Jeweler’s Clock, Sundance Square

July 21, 2011

Haltom's Jewelers Clock, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

It’s hard for me to take a decent digital photograph in the comparatively dim light of my studio as opposed to outdoors in the daylight.  But I wanted to get this latest development out there on my blog.  Thanks to those of you dear readers who always offer so much encouragement, and provide the impetus for me to continue, even when I am tired, or on the verge of burning out.

I was terrified of watercoloring this clock, because I had no clue as to how to mix the bronze colors (still don’t!).  I’ve been using Aureolin as my base, with touches of Cadmium Red Medium and the occasional Winsor Green.  For tighter work, I’m relying heavily on a Dark Sepia watercolor pencil (Albrecht Durer brand), and sharpening it frequently to create clean edges where I can.  I’m just about finished with the monument.  The major thing that remains now is heavy street shadows with all kinds of variation going on.  We’ll see how they come along (probably tomorrow–I’m getting tired!).

Thanks always for reading.