Posts Tagged ‘ghost signs’

An Artful Palestine Weekend

April 16, 2022
Mike Long posing beside his Father’s Art Work

“Mitcha, why aren’t you at home painting?”

Hans Hofmann, chiding Joan Mitchell for walking her dog

For the past 72 hours, I’ve heard Hofmann’s stinging rebuke in my ears as I closed the door to my Studio Eidolons and bowed to the ugly task of consolidating all my financial data to submit to my tax preparer yesterday. I absolutely hate going over volumes of spreadsheets of dollar figures to submit to IRS once a year, and swear every year that I will do a better job daily or weekly of consolidating all that stuff rather than poring over it for days on end once a year. Today is Saturday, and my dream for two weeks has been to paint the Chamber of Commerce building across the street from The Gallery at Redlands. Well guess what–it is dark and overcast all day today, so there will be no sun on the side of this building, so I won’t paint today after all. But I can blog . . .

Postponement of painting till the sun emerges again. At least the preliminary drawing is in place

So . . . the photo of the Dr. Pepper ghost sign at the top . . . Last night we were surprised in the gallery by a visit from Mike Long. His father, Donnie Long, painted this Dr. Pepper billboard on the side of the building next door to The Redlands Hotel in 1964. I have been looking at the ghost sign since 2017 when I arrived and have yet to paint it, though Dave Shultz our local friend and photographer, has photographed and enhanced the image numerous times since I’ve known him.

Mike’s information about the Dr. Pepper sign still has my head swimming today. His father painted it free-hand. I have a special gift book about ghost signs that my dear friend Dian Darr handed to me not long after I completed the ghost sign watercolor last year from Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“Palimpsest” Framed Watercolor 22 x 33″. $800

I am fascinated by the stories I read of sign painters and the special templates and tools they used to render their images and slogans. Hearing that this sign was painted free-hand has made me go out there and look at it more closely with astonishment.

I’m sorry to learn that Mike’s father is deceased, and in fact had passed away in 1979, before the sign had been covered over by some kind of new siding. In the late 1990’s, Mike got a surprising phone call from the business across the street while he was working in his office across town. “Come down here, now. And bring your camera.” Mike closed his office and drove to the location to see the “ghost sign” that had been covered over for decades. No one present knew the sign was underneath the siding until it was removed. Mike had even forgotten about it, because he was only a boy when his father painted it. As it turns out, the siding protected the paint from the elements for over twenty years.

As Mike and I visited, he reminisced about his father’s studio, filled with paintings in progress. Mike said his dad would work on whatever his mood directed each day, some of the paintings lying incomplete for months or years before finishing. This fact made me feel better, because I have closets and file drawers filled with “in-progress” watercolors dating back to 2006, some of which may never be finished. I suppose I have more patience in my senior years of work being postponed. After all, I thought I was plein air painting today, and the weather said No. Another time. There are plenty of other tasks to chase today.

Sandi, always working, cleaning, tidying in the gallery

I’m grateful to Sandi and her partnership in this endeavor. All morning she has been working on the gallery, tidying, re-arranging, etc. while I’ve pursued paperwork, this blog, and made preparations for an art lesson this afternoon. There is always something to do in The Gallery at Redlands.

Magazine Launch Party Announcement

Speaking of which–we have a Magazine Launch Party next Wednesday, April 20, from 5-8 pm here in the gallery. The new magazine has come out, Palestine as a “Destination City” has ten pages of ads in the publication, promoting artists and local business sponsors of the arts. If you’re in the area, we would love for you to stop by, meet the artists, sponsors, and Gloria Hood the magazine publisher. The magazines will be available here, and I’m sure that artists would be happy to autograph their pages! We’re looking for a good time that night. Special treats are being prepared, and there will plenty of wine to pour.

Thanks for reading. I’m always happier when I land in Palestine, city of the arts, to pursue new adventures.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sunday Morning Musings from Studio Eidolons

April 11, 2021
Glad to be back in the Studio for some Quiet Restoration

. . . finding you were able to make something up; to create truly enough so that it made you happy to read it; and to do this every day you worked was something that gave a greater pleasure than any I had ever known.

Ernest Hemingway

Today is restoration day. Sandi and I received our second COVID vaccine shots yesterday and are happy to experience no unpleasant symptoms. We’ve just been on the go for several days and are glad now to stop for awhile.

I’ve resumed reading Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. I love the quote above, and that general sentiment of the artist–creating something out of the void. My life has been enriched in recent years by a mix of painting and writing. Last weekend while in The Gallery at Redlands, I met an author who invited me to join their writers’ group that meets once a month. The next one won’t be until May, but I am already leaning forward with enthusiasm to gathering with these writers and finding ways to sharpen my own vision of what to do with my own practice.

My latest watercolor has laid dormant on my drafting table for twenty-four hours, and I intend today to give it my next push. I’ve gotten bogged down with the bricks and ghost signage, so I may decide to return to work on the trees awhile. We’ll see.

Planning today to return to the Ghost Sign watercolor

I look forward to participating in Artscape 2021 at the Dallas Aroboretum April 23-25. Last year was canceled due to COVID, but I understand that there will be 80+ artists participating this year. This festival has been one of the highlights of my annual art schedule before last year’s cancellations. I am excited to bring out quite a stack of framed watercolors that have not yet been seen by the public. I guess that’s one positive to address concerning the lost year during COVID.

A new Greeting Card for my Inventory

Hank Under Oklahoma Stars

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky.

The back of the Greeting Card (blank inside)

I have allowed my greeting card inventory to dwindle over the past couple of years. In The Gallery at Redlands, as well as my festival tent, I sell 5 x 7″ cards (blank inside) with my artwork on front and a descriptive text on back. They sell for $5 each, five for $20, and come with the proper envelope. A protective plastic envelope encases the assembly. Above is an example of one of my newest ones printed last week. Materials just arrived to print 250 new cards, so I’m excited to create new editions as well as replenish the ones sold out. Above is an example of one of my newest cards; below is a photo of another spread out.

(Cards are blank inside)

I’m ready to paint again. 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.

Watercoloring Ghost Signs and Weathered Bricks

August 14, 2012

Savoy Coffee Shop and Hotel

I awoke this morning with a passion for working on ghost signs and weathered bricks in watercolor.  I had been avoiding that part of this large watercolor I began a few days ago.  For several hours now, I have been masking, drawing, spattering, pouring and salting layers and layers of flowing watercolor onto the weathered side of this historic building.  It has been years since the last time I pursued this kind of a subject.  Ghost signs have fascinated me since I was a child on road trips, trying in vain to read through the layers of the painted palimpsests adorning the sides of recycled businesses.  Fortunately, I have a number of photos of this building to study and seek to emulate.

The intellectual company has been sweet this morning.  I listened (for the thousandth time) to the DVD of Robert Motherwell and the New York School:  Storming the Citadel.  I miss him since he passed away, and will always be grateful that he left these sensitive interviews behind.  John Donne’s Meditation has always moved me, his words saying that someone else’s death diminished him.  I certainly feel that concerning Motherwell.  I share his intellect, his aesthetic, and his love for literature, even if his style is totally foreign to what I attempt to do as an artist.  The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins and George Herbert have also kept me good company during the drying stages of this watercolor that have forced me to walk away from it.  And speaking of which, I suppose it is dry enough to resume, so I guess I’ll go back and see how much further I can kick it this afternoon.

Thanks for reading.

Watercolor has come along very slowly, but has been most enjoyable.

August 11, 2012

In the Studio with a Large Watercolor in Progress

Good afternoon.  I wish I had more progress to report.  The painting today has gone very, very slowly, and has been painstaking.  The ghost signs and window sashes have really slowed down my progress.  The light has started to fade, so it looks as though I’ll have to lay this aside till tomorrow.  At least I have some momentum building, and that’s a good thing.  It’s good to be painting in the studio again.

Thanks for reading.

Ghosts of Summers Past–Eureka Springs Watercolor Delight

February 22, 2011

Ghosts of Summers Past--Eureka Springs

I’m glad to return to the garage studio.  For any of you following my blog, I haven’t posted since the passing of Zeb Cash-Lane, simply because I haven’t painted since then.  I needed a little time after his passing to sort some things out.  Then my school district dropped its bomb.  I have been in training for over a year to begin teaching in the International Baccalaureate Diploma program.  You may have noted my watercolor blog posts from Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles while I was studying and attending classes in IB.  Last week the district canceled the program.  Texas public schools face a funding crisis, which has been the general law since 2005 (earlier than that, actually).  The decision left me in a state of rage, that I’ve had trouble laying aside.

Finally, I decided to pick up the brush again, and push the public school finance and politics behind me.  The more I painted yesterday and today, the further school receded from my thoughts.  The way I figure it, I only need another day or two to paint like nothing else happened.

This composition has burned in my retina since I spent a week in Eureka Springs, Arkansas last June.  I sincerely hope to return again this year.  The Victorian town is absolutely breathtaking in the summer sun, and I took dozens of photos similar to this.  I have a real compulsion now to work on some downtown scenes, particularly ones I can find with turn-of-the-century commercial buildings and their fading ghost signs towering above, muted against brightly-colored umbrella tables and modern signage below.  I still struggle with my rendering of people in watercolor, but I’ll never “get it” until I do it more.  So . . . there will be people in this one.  Right now I’m working on a ceramic chef standing outside the restaurant.  Hopefully I can get him to look right.  Then I’ll turn to the patrons at the bottom of the composition.

It’s good to be back in the garage studio.  The weather yesterday and today was heavenly, with bright sunshine and cool breezes blowing.  I was in the mood to push this painting for another hour or two, but heavy cloud cover has turned my outside world dark and gray.   I really hate to work with studio lights indoors, but I just may have to this evening.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see if I can make enough progress to blog further tomorrow.  I’m getting excited about the possibilities of this painting, possibly the largest I’ve attempted so far–about 30 x 22″.

Eureka Springs attempted, January 8, 2010

January 8, 2011

Historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Texas weather was in the upper fifties today, and the sun was bright.  I raised my garage door, and whittled some more on this work-in-progress, enjoying the bright afternoon sun on the paper.  This is a full sheet of watercolor paper, and I’m not used to working on so large a scale.  I’m getting lost in the painting!  I photographed this quaint historic district of Eureka Springs, Arkansas repeatedly when I was teaching at the School of the Arts last June.  I have gazed at the photos numerous times, and decided it was time to get daring and try a large piece.  I’m enjoying the ghost signage, the plumbing and cables outside the old brick walls, the painted bricks, and the brightly-colored umbrella tables down  below that I plan to tackle tomorrow.  If I can pull this one off, then hopefully I can return to Eureka Springs this coming summer and try to paint en plein air this same district.  I’ve been offered a position teaching there again in June, contingent on the class making.  Last summer was quite successful, as I taught plein air watercolor in the town.  I would love to do it again.

For those of you gracious enough to read my blogs, I hope to kick up my activity to a higher gear.  It appears that the next four months are going to allow more time for painting and blogging.  School got pretty tight last semester, but the approaching spring term appears to be a little lighter (I hope it will be, anyway).

Thanks so much for reading.