Posts Tagged ‘longhorns’

Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive Watercolor Delivered to the Gallery

December 2, 2012

Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive

I am pleased to report that I have finished this cattle drive painting, and delivered it to the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery this afternoon (

Today was one of the best Sundays I have known in a long time.  I awoke shortly after 8:00 (without an alarm).  I felt rested and refreshed.  Turning on my computer, I was gratified to find a number of posts on this blog and on Facebook, affirming what I had posted the day before, and giving me plenty of encouragement in my watercolor pursuits.  I was pleased to enter the Man Cave early, and not only finish this painting, but sign off on a number of other pieces: my Lucky Strike still life watercolor, and a pair of antique door knob renderings.  I then set to work on some watercolor renderings of autumn leaves, and really like the beginning of the work.

Aside from watercoloring, I managed to get in some fabulous reading from the Journal of Henry David Thoreau.  He really touched me with the following words, written on June 22, 1840:

He is the true artist whose life is his material; every stroke of the chisel must enter his own flesh and bone and not grate dully on marble.

Tonight found me enjoying the outdoors as I sat outside the University Park Barnes & Noble Store and enjoyed more words from Thoreau, and some excellent comments from the catalogue of the Wyeth exhibit at Tyler Art Gallery (a good artist friend surprised me with the catalogue as a gift yesterday as we toured the collection).  Above all, I felt gratitude for a good, positive day.

Thanks for reading.

Final Decisions on the Cattle Drive Watercolor

December 1, 2012
Longhorn Cattle Drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards

Longhorn Cattle Drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards

Returning from the Tyler Art Museum today (viewed the Wyeth exhibit), I entered my Man Cave with renewed inspiration to wrap up some unfinished work.  I completed the Lucky Strike cigarette tin watercolor (already posted to the blog), and then turned my attention to this large piece.  I worked further on the central and right cowboy riders, then worked further on the right-hand side of the composition, particularly the longhorns that had been barely “washed” in.  Then I set the painting up on my drafting table, focused some lights on it, and sat back in a chair for a long period of time, staring at the piece and trying to decide whether or not it is finished.  I still don’t know.

Man Cave Drafting Table with Cattle Drive Watercolor

Man Cave Drafting Table with Cattle Drive Watercolor

There are several factors at work contributing to my indecision: 1. the studio lights at night are never as good as the daylight. 2. my watercolor has considerably less contrast than the photos that I took on site at the Stockyards.  3. the hot, triple-digit temperatures on that day in August are still vivid in my memory of this moment.  Therefore, I don’t know whether to leave the watercolor as it is–light, somewhat atmospheric and suggesting dust rising off the streets–or deepen the contrast of shadows and highlights.  I didn’t think it wise to make this decision at night in the studio, feeling the fatigue of today’s 5-hour round trip.  So I chose instead to put the painting to bed and come to Fort Worth to my favorite site for a time of reflection, reading, journaling and enjoying warm coffee.  I’ll make a decision tomorrow on this painting (and hopefully, God, hopefully!) finish it.

Thanks for reading, dear friends.


More Stockyards Work, Sign Added, More Details, Etc.

November 30, 2012
Watercolor of Fort Worth Stockyards

Watercolor of Fort Worth Stockyards

I finally got the background billboard blocked in, worked some more on the longhorns to the left, finished the hooves of all the right-hand livestock, and laid down some more street shadows.  I have an early-morning appointment, so I need to retire for the night.  But I am now confident that I can finish this up later Saturday.  No doubt my readers would enjoy seeing something besides longhorns every time they open my blog.  I’m getting a little weary of the composition myself.  Here’s to a weekend filled with art, literature and good things . . .

Thanks always for reading.

Friday Night in the Man Cave, Watercoloring the Cattledrive, Still

November 30, 2012
Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive

Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive

I am not crazy about 72-degree November evenings, but I’m glad the weekend arrived.  I am nestled into my garage Man Cave, and really in the mood to push this Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive to a conclusion.  I had no idea how many weeks this thing would take to see to its conclusion.  Tonight I worked on the hooves of this lead horse, and am waiting for the paint to dry and set up so I can go back into the street and deepen the colors and details.  I need to work some shadows onto the horse’s legs as well.  Two other riders await completion as well, and I need to decide what to do with that large billboard sign stretched across the top right border of this composition.  All in all, though, I can see the finish line.  Maybe I’ll cross it tonight.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading.

Tonight Shakespeare Collides with Watercolor Activity

November 28, 2012

Cattle Drive at Fort Worth Stockyards

As I draw near the close of an exhausting week, I must confess that it has been harder to enter the studio.  A dear friend of mine recently fell, breaking a leg and wrist, and I have been distracted, trying to assist some of her family and close friends with basic tasks and visitation.  Today I spent the entire afternoon out of town, visiting in the hospital, and returned tonight to the daily school tasks.  I did manage to pull out this cattle drive watercolor and work on it for about an hour.  But frankly, my eyes are tired, and my discernment powers seem considerable compromised at this point.  I would hate to lower its quality at this late stage of the process, but a few misplaced strokes or the addition of colors that don’t work.  It’s really hard to focus on the rendering of the details of the horses and riders.  I think I’m going to put it on the easel and gaze at it from time to time, make some notes and hope for a stronger effort tomorrow.

As a first-time senior English teacher, I am encouraged by my students’ efforts today to give Shakespeare a chance.  They seemed to enjoy Act I of Macbeth, working quietly over the text, writing out answers to key questions and participating in dialogue.  So, I think I’ll relax in a comfortable chair here in my man cave tonight, with my Shakespeare volume open on my lap, a journal on my side table, and pore alternately over the bard’s text and my cattle drive painting, taking notes on both and hoping for a stronger work performance tomorrow.  I really want to wrap up this painting, earnestly hoping that by tomorrow or Friday I can call it a fait accompli.

Thanks for reading and for all the encouragement you’ve given lately, my dear friends.

Returning to the Long Horn Cattledrive Watercolor

November 24, 2012

Fort Worth Stockyards

I did manage to get in some quality studio time as this Saturday came and went.  I returned to the man cave this evening (my garage) and pulled out this full-size, 22 x 28″ watercolor of the Fort Worth Stockyards that I began quite some time ago.  My recent distractions with still life and plein air experiments have taken me away from two large studio pieces (I also have a Trinidad, Colorado scene also in progress–22 x 28″).

I decided this evening to darken the foreground street colors and the background foliage colors in order to make the subjects pop a little more effectively.  I also put quite a bit more time in on the white horse to the left.  Still, there are so many details to tend.  I keep feeling that the conclusion to this composition draws further and further away from my reach.  Hopefully, I can lay this one to rest next week.  It is time to finish it and move on (something I seem to have problems with recently in my increasing number of unfinished watercolors!).   Speaking of which . . . I have another blog to post of a Lucky Strike composition begun last summer and abandoned.  Time to turn my attention to that now.

Thanks for reading.

Still Buzzed by the Weekend Road Trip

October 28, 2012

Fort Worth Stockyards

“Right over those knolls over there, something wonderful is going to beUh, but you found out that, the more you went, there was just more knolls.”      (interview with Ken Kesey)

In the past few days, I have reopened Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, thus renewing my own favorite past time.  As I journeyed two hours toward Tyler, Texas early yesterday morning, I laughed to myself as I recalled the words above that Ken Kesey uttered in a moment of candor.  Many times I have found nothing more than extra knolls waiting for me as I journeyed hopefully toward some kind of grail at the end of my road odyssey.  But yesterday, something wonderful indeed was waiting at the end of my search.  I was greeted by the embrace of Wyeth’s spirit, and delighted myself in the company of his marvelous art.

Today has been an all-day romp over this painting (except for some stolen moments re-assembling my man cave in the garage–it’s nice to have cold weather in Texas and be able to work in the garage, putting that abandoned studio back in order).  As I linger over the surface of this cattle drive, I continue to stitch up loose details.  I spent most of today on the right-hand side of the composition, detailing and separating the bodies of the longhorns and trying to finish the background foliage, signage and grounds.  Then I switched to the left, laying in the basic colors and textures of the street beneath the foreground horse’s hooves.  I still have plenty of work to do on the horse and rider.

As I retired to bed last evening, thinking over the events of the Andrew Wyeth day I had just experienced, I could not stop writing in my journal and perusing the volumes I have on Wyeth’s work.  Plenty of ideas for new work emerged, and I am anxious to see where they take me.  I have not only Wyeth to thank for the new ideas, but some key ideas that have sprung from recent readings in T. S. Eliot, Henry David Thoreau and especially Joseph Heller’s Something Happened.  I found the reading of Heller’s novel very sobering when I first went through it back in 2005.  When we get past mid-life, things happen that often turn our world dark, and Something Happened explores that world with frankness.  Well, yesterday I can certainly say Something Happened, and it is much larger than Wyeth and an art museum, and I cannot express enough gratitude for it.  For the first time in years, I feel that I could be on to something quite special as I make this new excursion into art production.  Indeed, I have heightened expectations for new discoveries.

Thanks for reading.

Further Work on the Stockyards Watercolor

October 18, 2012

Fort Worth Cattle Drive, East Exchange

This is my last evening to work on this watercolor.  I leave immediately after school Friday for Edom Festival of the Arts.  I regret that I will be unable to post to my blog while there.  No Internet service will be available in that remote area.  In fact, there will be no electricity on the festival grounds.  I know that from past experience, this being my third year to participate.  The festival is absolutely wonderful, with patrons driving long distances to reach that remote East-Texas setting.  The beautiful pastureland and shade trees make the festival idyllic, and I can hardly wait to get there.  Once my tent is up, I plan to relax under the trees and perhaps get in some quality plein air watercolor sketching done of the surrounding terrain (I enjoyed doing that last year).

I am getting attached to this stockyards painting.  The color and textures on the hides of the longhorns are proving to be a real challenge, and are pushing me into some color schemes I haven’t explored previously.  The banners hanging from the lamp post also hold a fascination for me, as do the signs in the right background.  I am still exploring the contrasting values of the longhorns and the street surface below, and haven’t quite decided where to push that.  Much work remains on the horse to the left, and the horses and riders in the rear center are not even yet underway.  Plenty of work remains.  At this point, it appears that I will not be able to touch this till Monday.

Thanks for reading.

Resuming the Stockyards Cattle Drive Watercolor

October 17, 2012

Fort Worth Stockyards

To say the very least, the consecutive weekend art festivals (three in a row) combined with a full-time high school teaching load is taking a toll on me.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel–this weekend’s Edom Festival of the Arts will mark the end of my art festival season for 2012.  After such a bruising 2012 schedule, I have the winter to decide between quitting the art festival circuit completely, or restricting my shows to 2-3 a year (instead of the dozen or more that have marked my last few years).

I found some daylight in my afternoon schedule today to pursue this full-size Stockyards cattle drive watercolor I started a few weeks back.  I hate that the festivals have taken me out of the studio of late.  This afternoon and evening have been soothing as I have watched the details of this watercolor slowly emerge.  Most of my attention has been focused on the horse at the left foreground, particularly the saddle, rope and harnessing, along with the clothing of the rider.  I have opened the windows of my studio, and the cool winds coming through the night are a stark contrast with the triple-digit heat I knew the day I took this series of cattle drive photographs.

Thanks for reading.

Longhorn Cattle Drive, Fort Worth Stockyards

October 10, 2012

Fort Worth Cattle Drive

It was Thursday afternoon, August 9, 2012, at 2:46 p.m., with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees.  I sat on a bench beneath a tree on Fort Worth’s West Exchange Avenue and waited for the 4:00 cattle drive that would be coming down the street.  I wrote in my journal, read from a good book, made some preliminary sketches of the environment, and waited.  Finally, they rounded the corner and tramped straight in my direction as I snapped dozens of photos of this longhorn cattle drive that is a Fort Worth cultural tradition held twice daily.

My reason for waiting several months before attempting this is my reservation to paint longhorns for the first time.  I felt the same paralysis a few years back when I painted “Jennifer in the Hunt” (a fox hunt featuring hounds in the foreground which I painted for the first time).  I just feel so helpless when I face an unknown, unfamiliar subject.  Nevertheless, one longhorn has been rendered, and I feel that I am ready to approach the remaining ones.

This afternoon I spent more time working on that single longhorn, then turned my attention to the street, trying to render the textures and construction of the inlaid bricks.  I also deepened the shadows in the trees and re-worked the brick column in the background.  I feel that I am generating some momentum.

I have a festival fast approaching–Discover Historic Mansfield Art Music Festival will be Saturday and Sunday.  This will be my third straight weekend to participate in an art festival.  So far, they have been worthwhile, and I hope the trend continues this weekend.  This afternoon I replenished about fifty greeting cards that had been depleted during last weekend’s sales.

Thanks for reading.  It’s good to be painting again!