Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Town’

Returning to St. Elmo Watercolor in the Man Cave

June 6, 2012

Working on St. Elmo, Colorado in the Man Cave

After re-working my Edward Hopper painting, I next turned to another painting that needed finishing, which I choose not to post, maybe some other day.  Now, I turn my attention to the third painting of the day–St. Elmo, a ghost town in Colorado, where I took a number of 35mm slides years ago.  I have to use a Kodak carousel projector to put this image up to where I can study it.  It’s nice that I can darken the garage sufficiently this morning (now 8:31 a.m.) to project the slide onto the wall in front of my drafting table.

My goal is to complete this painting today, so I can move on to something new.  I’m ready for a new challenge, and wish to get some quality painting done before summer school begins Monday, and then my Eureka Springs watercolor class, a week from Monday.

Thanks for reading.

Another Route 66 Service Station Relic from a Dying America

March 3, 2011

Cold Desolation, Robertsville, Missouri

I have decided to post an older work now featured on my website (and the original is still for sale at the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery http://www.weilerhousefineart.com).  A demanding school schedule has jerked me out of the studio for a minimum of two days, it appears, and I really wish to blog daily.  I’m having to work hard to make this possible.  Hopefully tomorrow I can return to my Spencer’s Grill painting and (maybe) finish it by the weekend.

My father has always taken an interest in my art work, even from my early childhood.  Once I launched Recollections 54, he was even more diligent in scouting for me these out-of-the way, forgotten towns that had once flourished throughout the fifties.  During one Christmas visit, he took me on some county roads west of St. Louis, adjacent to Route 66.  Stopping in Robertsville, I photographed this abandoned station from every possible angle.  It was about 10 degrees out, and snow was everywhere, and my 35mm camera lens was continually fogging up.  But I managed to get some decent photos, and put these images in the back of my mind’s eye to “compost” for a few years.

Of course, there were no signs left on this abused structure.  I added all of those, using props I’ve collected over the years.  The automobile was actually found alongside Route 66 in New Mexico, somewhere near Santa Rosa.  No such vehicles were to be seen on this property.

Once I finished the wintry, stormy sky and was ready to begin painting the building beneath, I had an accident in the studio.  Pushing a pile of books off my desk to clear room for an armload of “junk,” I hadn’t counted on the books bouncing along the floor and hitting this painting which was on the floor, propped against the wall.  I prefer to work on D’Arches paper, soaked in a shower and stapled on canvas stretchers, as though I were preparing a surface for oil or acrylic painting.  When dry, this surface is stretched tight as a drum skin, and delightful to work on with wet-on-wet watercolor.  Anyway, the books tore three holes in the painting.  My first reaction was to rip it off and throw it away, but it was the best sky I had ever painted!  So, I turned it over, scotch-taped the rips from behind, and proceeded onward with it.  I’m glad I did.  The painting won Best of Show in a competition the following year and a handsome check.

Something that attaches me to this painting is the reality that it was painted all over the Midwest, West and Southwest.  The summer that it was painted was a time when I decided to do a “Kerouac-style” road trip.  I loaded my Jeep and drove from Dallas/Fort Worth through SE Oklahoma, across Missouri and to St. Louis where I stayed awhile and visited with my family, painting on this from time to time.  Then I drove west to Kansas City, and onward to Denver.  From there I fly fished my way west to Kremmling, and then all the way down the Arkansas River, from its headwaters in Leadville, and on down through Buena Vista, Salida and Canon City.  Then it was on to Santa Fe, New Mexico and finally back home to Arlington, Texas.  I finished this watercolor in Canon City, Colorado, but enjoyed thoroughly working on it in St. Louis, Kremmling and Leadville as well.  All of this is to say–I saw much of this kind of “abandoned town” setting throughout my lengthy road-trip excursion that summer, and all of those sights fed this painting.

Incidentally, I had another “accident” in my garage studio day before yesterday–my French easel collapsed (a small piece of wood with 2 screws tore loose on the back leg) and crashed to the floor with “Spencer’s Grill” on it.  The result is two holes in this painting, now.  Anyway, I scotch-taped those from the back as well, and hope this will be alright.  I like the painting too much to throw it away.

Thanks for reading.

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.