Posts Tagged ‘Hudson’

Finishing the Archer City Filling Station

August 12, 2013
Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.  It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I feel that this watercolor may be finished, though I have yet to sign it.  This afternoon I took a long look at it, made some compositional notes in my journal, returned later, and added only what I had suggested in the journal: darkening the ground  between the building and Hudson, completing the jutting piece of property to the left of the building, completing foliage in the left background, rendering the shingled roof, applying washes of color to the right of the Hudson, finishing the crepe myrtle tree behind the building.  The painting looked much different (and better) to me after those tweakings.  Now I’ll lay it aside for a few days or weeks and decide later if anything else needs to be done.

In response to the quote from Leopold (I’m still trying to finish that book that I started reading years ago!), I’m fascinated with nature and what exactly it is that we consider “beautfiul.”  As stated in an earlier blog, I myself love to look at gnarled dead trees, the kinks in their branches, and the myriad of limbs that dissolve into the sky. No doubt I did more work on the dead trees to the left rear of the gas station than any other single part of this painting, though I doubt sincerely if viewers will even as much as look at that part, which is alright with me.  As a painter, I have never obsessed with what the viewer finds attractive in any of my compositions, so long as the viewer finds the painting worth a second look.

Perhaps tomorrow I can attack the large composition of the Fort Worth Sinclair station I visited yesterday.  I had planned on doing that today, but could not obtain some of the supplies needed to start the painting.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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Sunday in the Watercolor Studio

August 11, 2013

Tree  Study in Archer City Painting

Tree Study in Archer City Painting

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.  We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

For me, Annie’s writing has always been warm company in times of solitude.  Yesterday, I spent a long time, lingering over the mass of trees, living and dead, on the left background of this Archer City composition.  Never in my life have I been satisfied with my handling of dead trees.  I never put in enough tree limbs, and my works look like trees that have been badly pruned.  For this reason, I have, for years now, stared at dead trees and their network of branches weaving webs across the sky.  Fellow artists, during plein air painting excursions have often expressed surprise when finding this out.  Naturally, when enveloped in nature, none of us singles out the same object for scrutiny.  But friends have been surprised to know that I could easily disregard everything else except for a solitary dead tree with thousands of limbs.  I still have plenty of work to do on this particular painting.  I spent more than an hour studying the photo I took of the trees and carefully working with graphite, colored pencil, watercolor pencil and watercolor pigments to render these dead boughs, branches and limbs.  I still have a long way to go.

Archer City, Texas

When taking a break from the background trees, I still have plenty of decisions to make about this foreground.  There is a paved road winding around from behind the filling station to join the highway in front.  I’m working on that now, and also trying to solve the asphalt texturing in front of the Hudson.  I also worked on the car quite a bit more this morning, darkening parts of it and trying to capture the nuances of highlighted reflections on the finish.  I’m getting lost in this painting, as usual.

I haven’t given up on my Coca-Cola sign and garden gate.  I’m still making decsions on how to finish that one.  I also received a tip on a restored Sinclair filling station on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth.  The setting is a real blast from the nostalgic past.  I drove over there this morning, took pictures, and have begun a small 8 x 10″ study on the side of the station where the sun was hitting the stark white.  I plan to return to the site this afternoon when the sun can light up the front of the filling station.  I didn’t like the front facade in total shadow as I found it this morning.  Hopefully I can spin out some nice compositions from that setting as well.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

It is Easy to Repeat, but Hard to Originate

August 8, 2013
Archer City Hudson Beginning

Archer City Hudson Beginning

It is easy to repeat, but hard to originate, . . . we may easily multiply the forms of the outward; but to give the within outwardness, that is not easy.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, February 2, 1841

The Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1940’s and 50’s despaired of Thoreau’s sentiment posted above. Abandoning visual subject matter in order to focus on painting expressively their feelings and emotions, they wrote and spoke of the difficulty of expressing the inward, when they had no external props.  Having been an abstract painter in my earlier years, I knew that difficulty then, as I know it now.  However, returning to recognizable subject matter has not gotten me off the hook where expression is concerned.  I recognize the difficulty of being “orginal” when I paint representationally.  In fact, to borrow from one contemporary painter’s published remarks, this style of art tends to make artists of my caliber “dinosaurs.”

But the issue I address here goes beyond style or classification.  I am speaking of inward expression.  I realize that when I paint objects representationally, my work could be viewed as illustration, and my artistry could be assessed in terms of skill or technique.  Edward Hopper wondered if viewers looking upon his work would feel the emotions he felt while creating the work.  I believe that as he got older, he stopped worrying about it and just continued to paint.  I think that is where I am emotionally as well.  But, since I am blogging, and some are reading, I will say this again–I am painting things that hold my attention, things that draw me in, because they are assoicated with warm, Proustian, primal memories from my childhood that I love to re-visit.   I miss the curvilinear, full-bodied automobiles from my childhood.  I most notably miss the Hudson.  When Sal Paradise asked Dean Moriarty how he got from the west coast to the east so fast, Dean answered: “Ah, man, that Hudson goes!”  Ever since I read Kerouac’s On the Road, I haven’t been able to pass an abandoned filling station without envisioning those anti-heroes pulling a Hudson up to the pumps, and dashing inside to steal cigarettes while the attendant pumped their gas to send them back out onto the road.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.