Posts Tagged ‘gallery at redlands’

Catching the Wind

September 27, 2017

Blog Wed 2

Completed Durango-Silverton Railroad

It is as if our own body, the container that our very own being has been poured into, shrugs off its torpor and awakens to its possibilities to speak and take flight.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World

In my reading early this morning, I came across this line from Peter London that captured what I felt yesterday, and the effects linger still today.  I’m finished with my morning college classes and am returning to the studio with sustained enthusiasm.  As artists, we know that we cannot make the wind of inspiration blow, but at least we can trim our sails to catch the breezes once they do stir. Yesterday morning I found myself with a full day available to make art, and am glad I went to work at it. A short time after beginning, I felt the surge.

Waking early this morning, I enjoyed some quality reading and journaling, then went to class, inspired by the line I’ve posted above. I’m setting aside the Durango-Silverton posted above, because I feel that I’ve done enough to it to consider it finished. I’m still puzzling over the painting below, so I’m going to let it ride a bit longer.  I have two more works in progress that need my attention, so I’ll see what I can accomplish with them.

blog Wed

Nearly Complete–Texas State Railroad #30

Thanks for reading.

 

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Grinding, but Happy Again

September 26, 2017

rusk blog

Current Watercolor in Progress

The creative geniuses of art and science work obsessively. They do not lounge under apple trees waiting for fruit to fall or lightning to strike. “When inspiration does not come to me,” Freud once said, “I go halfway to meet it.” Bach wrote a cantata every week, even when he was sick or exhausted. Though most composers would kill to have written even one of his best pieces, some were little more than wallpaper music. Eliot’s numerous drafts of “The Waste Land” constitute what one scholar called “a jumble of good and bad passages [that he turned] into a poem.” In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Simonton found that the most respected produced not only more great works, but also more “bad” ones. They produced. Period.

Sharon Begley, “The Puzzle of Genius,” Newsweek, June 28, 1993

Good morning, blog readers. I regret that I have been away so long, but I just emerged from a punishing two-week schedule of engagements and only this morning woke to a dawn with no appointments till tonight. I’m happy in the studio once again, and decided to take a break to write you . . .

The past several weekends have been spent in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas, where I have begun four new watercolors of trains: the Texas State Railroad #30 (above) along with the Durango-Silverton, Cumbres & Toltec, and the historic T & P #610, now housed in Palestine. I have been working since last March on a train show I plan to open in the gallery during this upcoming holiday season. The show will feature a number of framed original watercolors of historic trains, along with limited edition prints, greeting cards and postcards. We’re really hoping to increase the traffic through our new gallery that opened last March.

I posted the quote above from a magazine article I tore out of Newsweek in 1993 and have shared with students every year since that day till I retired. I have to return to it to remind myself that I’ll never produce quality art until I am willing to make a large quantity of work and not fear the “bad” works that emerge. From my current four watercolors in progress, the one above is coming along as I like it. The other four, well, I’m not too pleased with what I see so far, but the one above didn’t start out so great either. I’ll just keep chipping away and grinding at the process. I do indeed love the work, and today has been sublime, and I’m not even close to the noon hour yet.

One week ago, I had the daunting task of demonstrating my watercolor techniques before the Society of Watercolor Artists who meet in Fort Worth, Texas. I was invited nearly a year ago to do this, and had the entire year to worry over the details. As the day drew nearer, I felt sicker. This is an assembly of outstanding watercolorists, and I constantly second-guessed my worthiness to stand before them. Once the night was over, I could breathe again. The members of the Society were generous and affirming beyond description, but I’m just so happy to have that one behind me. I love watching other watercolorists share their craft, but just cringe when it’s my turn to stand and deliver. Thank you, SWA; I am sincerely grateful for your kind words and encouragement that night.

SWA demo

Thank you, Heidi Russel, for posting this photo on Facebook

I need to get back to work, but thank you for reading. Below, I’m posting some of my recent photos–an instant replay of the life I’m loving when I get to stay and work in Palestine, Texas

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Working inside The Gallery at Redlands

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A collection of new paintings–several of them in progress still

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A spectacularly cool morning on the balcony of The Historic Redlands Inn

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The T&P #610 was towed outdoors last weekend for a photo-op

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I always linger a moment outside the Gallery before leaving to return home–I absolutely love working here, and remain so grateful to all those who made this available to me.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

Thoughts Concerning Creative Energy

August 26, 2017

train drawing finished

Did our birth fall in some fit of indigence and frugality in nature, that she was so sparing of her fire and so liberal of her earth, that it appears to us that we lack the affirmative principle, and though we have health and reason, yet we have no superfluity of spirit for new creation? . . . We are like millers on the lower levels of a stream, when the factories above them have exhausted the water. We too fancy that the upper people must have raised their dams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

As I grow older and find creative energy harder to sustain, I take solace in reading testimonies from Emerson and Walt Whitman, who knew all-too-well the difficulty of continuing the push for creative eros.  Emerson’s essay “Circles” has a great metaphor, describing the endeavor as pushing outward in concentric circles one’s creative energy. Each circle goes out a certain distance, then piles up and hardens into a berm. A harder effort is required to push the new wave of energy with enough force to burst that dam, but alas, the new circle also rises into a new berm, further away and higher. As one continues to create, more and more force is required to break through the earlier barricades.

At my age, I find that I’m sleeping longer and having to be more thoughtful of my diet. And I have to be more reasonable about deadlines and how much time is required to do quality work. Drawing and painting today has been a genuine joy, but I feel the weariness, and notice that the work requires more scrutiny than it seemed to before. But I still want to create, to live an artful life. I’m grateful to Texas Wesleyan University, for giving me a creative outlet in classes only three times a week, and to The  Gallery at Redlands for giving me a place to create and display my art. The patrons today have given me profound joy in conversation and encouragement. Palestine is a remarkable town.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Life Slowing Down

August 26, 2017

redlands now

Nestled in The Gallery at Redlands for the Weekend

A political orator wittily compared our party promises to western roads, which opened stately enough, with planted trees on either side, to tempt the traveller, but soon became narrow and narrower, and ended in a squirrel-track, and ran up a tree. So does culture with us; it ends in head-ache. Unspeakably sad and barren does life look to those, who a few months ago were dazzled with the splendor of the promise of the times.  . . . Do not craze yourself with thinking, but go about your business anywhere. Life is not intellectual or critical, but sturdy.  . . . We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Now, in my semi-retirement days, Emerson is even more a friend and kindred spirit than he’s been in the past twenty-five years for me. When I was younger, I was more of a romantic enthusiast who truly believed in promises delivered by politicians on a national, state and local school district level. For years, I believed in the substance of political stump speeches and beginning of the school year pep rallies. After I stopped believing in the promises, I believed that the speakers themselves believed in their own empty promises. Now I even doubt that, and choose not to listen much any longer. Instead I choose to do what I do, and try to improve over the years in my own performance. Voltaire encouraged us to cultivate our own gardens. Emerson challenges us to learn to skate well on the surfaces of life presented to us.

After a summer on the road, filled with new vistas and fresh encounters, I began to feel a renewed enthusiasm and confidence that had been reduced to dying embers over recent years. I have returned to my home turf to begin a semester at Texas Wesleyan University as an adjunct instructor. I knew the change would be good, but had no idea it would be this good. I have now shifted from a full-time high school schedule with four subjects to teach across six classes, all day Monday through Friday (and an online college course as well), to a university campus where I teach one subject in the classroom for two hours Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings, plus my one online course. That’s it.

The culture shock cannot be overstated; in nearly thirty years I have not been allowed the luxury of space and quiet and time between classes to think, write, re-think, revise and flow into a classroom environment (smaller classes too!) of older students who show up ready to think and engage in dialogue. Of course, the biggest change has been the university requiring only a syllabus to be submitted by me on the third week of school.  By this time, I would have submitted stacks of documents to my school district to satisfy some bureaucratic monster. And even larger still–at the university, I will submit a progress report at midterm, then grades at semester’s end.  In high school, progress and report card grades are submitted six times by semester’s end. All week long, during this first week at the university I felt that I was forgetting to do something; I couldn’t believe I had 48-hour lapses of quiet between class lectures. And 48 hours is a broad expanse of time to research, write and edit classroom lectures. I feel genuinely spoiled, and my heart is full of warmth and good feelings. I’m sorry I had to wait so long to get to this day.

This  weekend and next will find me at one of my favorite places–The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. I’ll keep the gallery open all day today and into the evening (there is fine dining across the hall at the Red Fire Grille with plenty of patrons coming and going).  I will also keep basic Sunday hours (10-5) as well. I have rotated five new paintings into the display and will take the replaced five back home for awhile. The summer has kept me away from here, but I look forward to putting in as many weekends as possible, maintaining some kind of presence here.

train drawing

Initial Stages of a Locomotive Drawing

Palestine is an extraordinary town with a magnificent railroad heritage. I began a project in the spring, involving vintage railroad scenes, and have already completed four watercolors with more in progress as I write. Above is the beginning of a pencil drawing, as I plan to present a showing of drawings and paintings this winter, just in time for Palestine’s Polar Express experience. The Gallery at Redlands hopes to have a sound artistic presence when the holidays arrive.

Thank you for reading. Now that life has slowed considerably for me, I hope I’ll find the energy and enthusiasm to update this blog and let all of you know what is happening in this part of the world.

truck

Tell Me Where the Road Is

Watercolor, 27 x 24″ framed

$700

Here is a watercolor I’ve introduced into the gallery collection that hasn’t been here before.  This fall, many new works will be added and displayed here. Stay tuned . . .

 

Drawing the Next Circle

July 24, 2017

redlands

In the Gallery at Redlands, Palestine, Texas

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn, that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

Awakened at 5:30 this morning by a heavy rainstorm (love the sound of rain on a tin roof!), I rose refreshed, and by the time I finished showering, making breakfast and loading the Jeep for the 50-minute drive to the gallery, I was surprised to be at the desk by 8:00. My pump is primed, and I am ready to begin the next painting.

Emerson’s meditation on “Circles” has possessed me since 1992 when I was first introduced to it while at Oregon State University. The words resonate with me, because I seldom feel that I’ve been mired in a rut; there is always a new adventure to pursue, a new experience to savor.  When Jack Kerouac wrote that beyond the hills in the distance something wonderful is going to happen, I believe it was Ken Kesey who retorted, “It turns out there are just more hills.” I have met many with Kesey’s sentiment, but I am not one of them. In a short time I’ll be departing for my next road trip, and I’m excited beyond measure. Meanwhile, I have a commission to complete, so I’m getting down to the business of it. It’s a beautiful morning in Palestine, Texas for working on a painting.

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Last evening, between soggy rainstorms, I did manage to get in a little fly fishing in a private pond near the store where I reside in the country. I managed to land two largemouth bass and a pair of fat panfish. I returned them all, just enjoying the sport of fishing. I couldn’t imagine a better way to finish an evening. Last week in Louisiana, some of my best evenings were capped by fishing area lakes, and I’m still thinking fondly of those experiences.

Time to get to work . . . thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Closing out an Intriguing Odyssey

June 17, 2017

last morning

Reading Annie Dillard at the Store

But if I can bear the nights, the days are a pleasure.  I walk out; I see something, some event I’d otherwise have  utterly missed and  lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

This is the first time I’ve been able to lodge at my favorite place, “The Store”, for more than a weekend.  Waking at 6:11 on my fourth and final morning, I took the leisure to enjoy a cup of coffee and read Annie Dillard as the sun pinked the eastern skies over rural Texas.  During the past two morning watches, I certainly felt some sort of affirming power brushing me “with its clean wing,” and I went to work in the gallery with a renewed sense of purpose.

last gallery

The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas

We don’t know what’s going on here.  If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite?  We don’t know.  Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Reading Annie was a soul-stirring event again this morning.  I drove the fifty minutes to the gallery, and by the time I arrived, I knew that I wanted to begin a fourth watercolor on this fourth day.  Something inside drives me to create, to express, and now that I am retired from a full-time job, I am enthused about responding to this compulsion.

Thanks for reading.

I make art because it’s in me.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Almost Finished with Old #610

June 16, 2017

610 near complete

I am proud of how this locomotive is progressing and wanted to post it tonight before shutting down. I have already signed it, but have little doubt that I’ll find several things tomorrow that I want to do with it.  I’ll be working in The Gallery at Redlands until about 9:00 tonight, so I still have nearly three hours to do whatever I feel like doing, probably resuming work on the abandoned mailbox I started this morning. Tomorrow, with fresh eyes, I’ll look at the locomotive again and perhaps do some final tweaking on it.

Thanks for reading.

Mornings with Emerson

June 16, 2017

emerson

(I’m going to try and paint this!)

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

This morning’s introduction to the New Day lies far beyond adequate description, but I shall try, nevertheless.  Waking around 6:30 without an alarm (thanks to retiring to bed much earlier than my custom), I rose to a beautiful eastern sun, and after making coffee, settled onto the porch of this old store where I reside while in the country.

thoughtful coffee

I decided to spend a few moments in Heidegger’s poem, “The Thinker as Poet”, and came across these words:

The world’s darkening never reaches
       to the light of Being.
We are too late for the gods and too
       early for Being. Being’s poem,
       just begun, is man. 
To head toward a star—this only.
To think is to confine yourself to a
      single thought that one day stands
      still like a star in the world’s sky.

When I lingered on those final lines, holding my thought to one steady idea, the large tree in front of me suddenly stirred with life as the morning breezes whispered through the leaves, and I felt my face caressed by gentle winds.  My thoughts immediately recalled Emerson’s lines from Nature that open today’s blog, and I felt a rush of eudaimonia, embraced by a beautiful morning.  All thoughts of driving to the city evaporated, and I sat in that rocker for I don’t know how long, savoring the gift of that sublime moment too deep for words.

From my early years of studying the Greek New Testament, I have always been fascinated with the idea of logos, and have enjoyed reading Heidegger’s rendering of that word as “gathering together” or “gathering process.”  Recently I have pondered my endeavors in making art as attempts to bring together all that I have encountered in my life’s experience and express it in watercolor compositions that have something meaningful to say.  My attempts at making art have been an engagement with the logos, an encounter that involves assembling my key ideas into some kind of creative expression. This morning was timely for me, as I knew I had a significant opportunity before me in the gallery to make art that matters to me.

As I drove through the country, I suddenly stopped, turned my Jeep around, and returned to an abandoned open mailbox shaded in the trees and engulfed in flowers. I took several photos, including the one posted above, and have plans to work on this composition as well.

Once at the gallery, I resumed work on the old Texas and Pacific #610 that remains here in Palestine.  This locomotive was built in 1927 by Lima Locomotive Works, and only seventy of this model were made.  This is the only known one still to exist today, and in 1977 it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

610 friday

If my strength holds up, I’ll continue working in The Gallery at Redlands till 9 p.m. The Red Fire Grille across the lobby brings in a sizeable dinner crowd on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t mind patrons drifting into the gallery as I paint.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement Odyssey

June 15, 2017

crockett

My first Retirement Retreat off the Grid

Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

1:21 a.m., Thursday morning (barely)
June 15, 2017

Sitting in this dark country kitchen tonight, I feel that I am drifting in the current of a moonless midnight river without oars, and without compass. With the banks on both sides concealed in the night gloom, and unable to discern what lies immediately before me, I find retirement very scintillating and intriguing. The senses feel sharp, and the anticipation positive. In midweek, I decided to make the two-and-a-half-hour road trip to Palestine, Texas, and resettle The Gallery at Redlands for a few days. This new gallery opened in March with my one-man-show, and the relationship I have enjoyed with the proprietors since that day has been deeply satisfying to my soul. When I retired last week from twenty-eight years of teaching school, I was happy to know that a new chapter was waiting to be written.

After yesterday’s road trip following a mostly sleepless night, I found myself extremely exhausted by five in the afternoon. I had already put in six hours at the gallery and another hour at a Rotary Club meeting where I made a number of new acquaintances. I managed to frame a couple of my recent watercolors, began work on a new painting and resumed work on a painting abandoned last year. Ten more works were added to the display I already had in place, and the interior of the gallery felt like home once again to me. I could feel myself smiling internally.

After closing shop, I made the fifty-minute drive out into the country to tuck myself in to my favorite hideaway—an old store that friends allow me to make my home-away-from home, off the grid beside a gravel road. Settling on the porch with a fresh cup of coffee, the cool winds concealed the reality of a 95-degree late Texas afternoon, and I gazed across acres of sun-washed pastureland, letting my thoughts drift. Finally at 7:30, I could no longer keep my eyes open, so I retired to bed, knowing that was probably a mistake. Sure enough, at 11:50 I awakened, and have been unable to sleep since. My mind is too awake, too interested, too consumed with possibilities of the new Thursday that has yet to dawn. I sit now at the large kitchen table of this old store, composing this “blind blog” (no Wi-Fi in this remote location), waiting for drowsiness to lead me back to bed.

Palestine is a city of trains, and the Texas Railroad Authority has granted me access to some of their historic locomotives, including old #610. This behemoth pulled the Texas Freedom Train all over the state during our nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Following that year, the locomotive served time in Atlanta, Georgia until it completely tired out, and was returned to Texas. For nearly three months, I have waited for the opportunity to paint this enormous machine, poring over a number of photos taken from a recent visit to the shed where it’s been parked. I have a number of experimental ideas in mind as I try for the first time to render this loco’s portrait in watercolor and pencil.

While I’m working in the gallery over the next few days, I also hope to complete a larger watercolor of a passenger rail car I found in Eureka Springs, Arkansas during a visit last year. I’ve always been dissatisfied with the muted colors on the side of the car, and think I can try a few tricks to enrich them. The foliage also needs more work.

(Next day) After falling asleep around 2:30 this morning and sleeping till nearly 7:00, I rose to a more promising dawn, and the moonless night river yielded to a sunny morning drive, my Jeep cutting across the countryside, and my heart filled with a renewed sense of adventure. By mid-afternoon things were hopping in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, as I met several new friends, and managed to frame two more watercolors, finish my Eureka Springs passenger rail car, and break ground on the old #610. This is a retired Texas and Pacific 2-10-4 steam locomotive, the largest I’ve seen in over ten years. Seventy of these 600-series locomotives were manufactured, and this is the only one that still exists.  Right now, I’m waiting for the background of the painting to dry so I can begin work on the actual locomotive.

610 beginning

Old #610 Texas and Pacific in Progress

The draftsman must aggress; only by persistent assault will the live image capitulate and give up its secret to an unrelenting line.

Rico Lebrun

I anticipate a struggle and plenty to learn as I attempt to render the details on this complex locomotive.

eureka springs beginning

Eureka Springs Rail Odyssey, 16 x 12″ unframed, $250

Finally I finished the Eureka Springs passenger car I started long ago and resumed work on yesterday afternoon.  A number of new paintings have been brought out to The Gallery at Redlands for display and sale as well:

old store

Remnants from an Old Store, 11 x 14″ framed, $250

This subject was taken from the store where I gladly live when I retreat to the Texas wilderness.  Before retiring to bed last night, I walked into the store room and looked at this section of shelving behind the cash register, grateful for the memories of painting it last year.

indian corn

Indian Corn, 14 x 18″ framed, $225

I worked on this piece last winter while visiting with my parents in St. Louis, and finally got around to framing it.

palestine

Palestine Memory, 14 x 18″ framed, $200

I painted this scene from the Gallery window during my one-man-show last March, and finally got it framed and presented in the Gallery.

I plan to spend the next three days and evenings in The Gallery at Redlands, making as many watercolors as I can during this period, and continuing to make friends in the city of Palestine.  So far, the experience has been fulfilling.

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.

 

 

 

 

The Afterglow

April 10, 2017

puppy

All I Needed this Morning was a Puppy to Hug

Just when I concluded that this Monday morning following my show couldn’t get any better, a sweet puppy trotted into the copier room at school. One of my colleagues was preparing to take him to the vet. I have had shih tzus in my past, and certainly miss their affectionate nature. This one was no exception. Having these moments to love him before walking into my first class was the ice cream on the cake. Thanks, Molly, for sharing him!

Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories, coming out in limited editions for $100

I am very pleased to find my “Fishing Memories” watercolor now getting attention. This morning I have been approached by two friends asking for a limited edition giclee. This print will be the same size as the largest ones I’ve sold before (“Summer Morning in Sundance Square” and ” Fort Worth Cattle Drive”). Today I will place an order for the first four with the company that designs my limited editions. Thank you, Mark and Kathy, for your interest that got this started. I still believe this is the best watercolor I have done to date. My original is still available in its frame for $1200. These limited editions will be priced at $100.

I am feeling profound withdrawal. I knew I was going to miss the people in Palestine, Texas, but had no idea how profoundly I would miss them this soon. I have opportunity to return to that town for future work and I cannot wait for that to happen.

Again, thank you so much for all of you that took interest in my One-Man-Show, clearly one of the best experiences of my art career.

I paint in order to discover

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.