Posts Tagged ‘Lucky Strike’

Between the Darkness and the Light

February 7, 2013
Still Life of Fishing and Camping Memories

Still Life of Fishing and Camping Memories

Nodding gently in his rocker beside the rusting lantern, the weathered farmer stared across the dimly-lit garage at the jumbled remembrances of his former years–fishing, camping, Dining Car coffee and Lucky Strike cigarettes.  His tired eyes were growing dim at the close of the day.  The Jim Beam in his tumbler was slowly drawing him down.  But his memories waxed even as his strength and vision waned.  Once more, he read from the small volume of poetry that lay in his lap.

I cannot find my way: there is no star 
In all the shrouded heavens anywhere; 
And there is not a whisper in the air 
Of any living voice but one so far 
That I can hear it only as a bar 
Of lost, imperial music, played when fair 
And angel fingers wove, and unaware, 
Dead leaves to garlands where no roses are.

No, there is not a glimmer, nor a call, 
For one that welcomes, welcomes when he fears, 
The black and awful chaos of the night; 
For through it all–above, beyond it all– 
I know the far sent message of the years, 
I feel the coming glory of the light. 

Edwin Arlington Robinson 

Looking up from his book, the old man peered intently into the darkened recesses of the Canada Dry crate, barely discerning the dark, distressed leather knapsack from his early touring days . . .

The summer morning in the Athens Plaka was as dreadfully hot as any Texas summer day.  Sitting wearily at an outdoor cafe table with the taste of Greek coffee in his mouth, he gazed across the street, through the white dust rising from the shambling sandals of tourists, and saw, hanging on a post of a leather shop, this dust-coated dark-leather, used knapsack.  Dashing across the street, he inquired of the short, stocky mustachioed Greek proprietor:

“How much for the knapsack outside?”

“Oh no!  Too old!  Too dirty!  Have new ones! From Italy!  Finest leather!”

“No.  I want the one outside.”

“It’s used!  Worthless!  Only for show!”

“I like it.  I’m American.  From Texas.  I like old and dirty.”


“Character.  More interesting.  I want it.”

“Twelve dollars, OK?”

“Deal.  Here you are.  And an extra gold coin, with my thanks.  Kalimera!

Gazing at the abused knapsack this night, he mused over all the places it had traveled, and the assorted cargoes once wrapped in its embrace: books, journals, tools, tobacco, bottles of beer, small boxes of leaders, dry and wet flies, fishing reels . . . What a contrast between the darkness of the leather, the even darker inside of the crate, the ultimate darkness within the knapsack, and the blazing light of the Greek sun on that hot day, the whiteness of the dusty street, and the gleam of the marble monuments everywhere.  Darkness and light.  Laying aside his poems, he reached to the small table beside him and picked up his old worn and tattered Latin Bible, glad for what he retained from Catholic School.  Thumbing through the crinkled yellow-stained leaves, he found what he was looking for:

Et lux in tenebris lucet

Et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt.

And the light shineth in the darkness;

And the darkness apprehended it not.

John 1:5 (American Standard Version)

He reflected on the reality of life as a balance between the light and darkness, thinking of his fading days, his ebbing strength, and what still remained within his abilities.

Yet a little while is the light among you.  Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not.

John 12:35

He smiled inwardly as he slowly nodded off to sleep.  The room was dark, but he remained in the light.  The memories were bringing back the light.  And the printed words on the page were bringing light (“The entrance of Thy word bringeth light”).  And the dawn would soon bring new light, a new day, and new opportunity.  It was the closing of another good day.  It was alright for now that the darkness was drawing near.

Thanks for reading.


Continued Work on a Still Life of Fishing Equipment

February 1, 2013
Friday Afternoon Segment of the Fishing Still Life

Friday Afternoon Segment of the Fishing Still Life

While listening to a Robert Motherwell DVD documentary, I spent Friday afternoon in the Cave tinkering with this fishing-equipment still life I began last night.  I spent most of the time trying to establish the dark shadow areas, and laying in the bright red accents on some of the detailed objects (and there are many–fishing lures, coffee can. Lucky Strike cigarette package, lettering on the feed company sign).  I am now up-to-my-elbows with it, and starting to feel the fatigue of too-little sleep from last night and a heavy teaching load today.  So I think I will lay it aside before I start making lazy short-cuts (which I do when I’m tired).  I will either return to it tonight or tomorrow, but I shall return.  I’m getting attached to this one early.

Thanks for reading.

Caught Somewhere Between Pop and Imagism

December 1, 2012
Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Saturday night finds me relaxing outside the Barnes & Noble Store at University Park in Fort Worth, one of my favorite places to chill.  I am posting the finished watercolor that I signed this afternoon, having returned from the Tyler Museum of Art to admire the Wyeth exhibit.  I was inspired to finish some of my dangling watercolors, so I first wrapped this one up, deciding only to scuff up and scumble the left-hand side of the table top, which I thought was lacking in woodgrain texture.  I’ll never forget working on this composition.  The cigarette tin I painted earlier this summer, inspired by Andy Warhol’s Pop images.  I was afraid to paint a prosaic image such as this tin which I purchased many years ago in an antique store.  But I finally decided to give it a try, and enjoyed immensely the sensation of focusing on the damaged paint and rust on the tin, and most particularly the peeling adhesive stamp on the lower left corner.  I experimented with watercolor, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite and salt texturing, finding all these techniques to be plenty of fun.  My recent doorknob paintings have given me the courage to attempt this table top as well.  I still have so much to learn when it comes to rendering wood surfaces.  I’m looking forward to more experiments here.

Thanks for reading.

Returning to Work on a Lucky Strike Watercolor

November 24, 2012

Lucky Strike Cigarette Tin

Last summer, I took a detour from my usual watercolor subjects and painted still lifes of my antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin and my Maxwell House coffee tin.  I rendered the subjects in the best detail of which I was capable, but left the backgrounds white, undecided as to what direction to take with them.  Last week, I began arranging the cigarette tin on various table surfaces and in front of different antique doors.  I also experimented with lighting effects.  Finally I decided on this antique table surface and an extremely dark background.  I’m finding the surface textures of the table top to be quite a challenge, especially the damage and scratches which I have not yet even attempted.  I do enjoy solving problems and taking watercolor in new directions.  This one is turning out to be quite enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Poetry and Cigarettes Still Life

November 20, 2012

Poetry and Cigarettes

My Thanksgiving Holiday is off to a satisfying start.  I have completed work on this small 5 x 7″ still life that features an 1881 copy of Whittier’s Poems and an old Lucky Strike cigarette tin I found in an antique store years ago.   A few weeks back, I surprised myself by doing some close-up studies of antique doorknobs.  This has only whetted my appetite for more.  I have had a fetish for old objects such as these, and have stared at them for years, wondering if I could ever render them in pencil or watercolor (I have always envied other artists who did).  Finally, I decided “Why not?”  I’m glad I finally got around to giving this a try.

The PBS Voices and Visions series has been an inspiration to me since the early 1990’s.  Recently I was directed to the website where all the documentaries can be streamed.  What a wonderful companion piece for the studio!  While working on this still life, I have listened, with deep emotional stirrings, to the presentations on T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens and Walt Whitman.  The laptop is such a great accessory to have handy in the man cave.  My cat even seems to enjoy napping to the sounds of the sonorous voices reading the poetry and opining on the lives of these great writers.  My watercolor supplies, volumes of poetry, a laptop and a cat–who says you can’t have it all?!  I’m looking forward to vacationing in my cave for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

Further Work on the Watercolor Still Life of Poetry and Cigarettes

November 20, 2012

Poetry and Cigarettes Thanksgiving

I shall always be grateful for school Thanksgiving holidays beginning on Tuesday afternoon.  After nailing down a few necessary tasks, my plan is to escape to the man cave this evening and take a serious look at this 5 x 7″ watercolor I began day-before-yesterday.  I feel myself drawn in, more and more, as I gaze on these objects beneath a strong light, and spend quiet moments reading poetry and finishing the Rollo May book My Quest for Beauty.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to post this evening.  Thanks for reading.

A New Still Life Watercolor, with Thoughts of the Fireside Poets

November 19, 2012

Still Life Watercolor of Book of Poems and Cigarette Case

I must be half-nuts.  I have three or four watercolors still unfinished, and here I am, starting on something else.  Last night, I was reading selections from the Fireside Poets, and came across this 1881 volume of John Greenleaf Whittier.  As I thumbed through it, I thought, with great delight, that I was possessing a volume that was for sale on a book shelf while this poet was still living.  Many winters ago, when Texas had snow, I read “Snow-Bound” from this old volume, enjoying a fire and a cup of coffee.

So, last night, before I could talk myself out of it, I dug out my old Lucky Strike cigarette tin, laid this volume on top of it, and began sketching.  Once I had the composition blocked out, I was in the mood to paint, so I took out my Winsor & Newton field box (I recently replaced the pans with colors from the palette I adopted about six months ago).  I am finding a strange satisfaction, painting this small still life with a small paint box instead of the large palette and butcher tray I had grown accustomed to using in the studio.  I am also doing much more pencil work with this piece than is my usual custom.  I’m not sure where it is going to take me, but I’m enjoying this new twist.  This composition is probably not going to grow beyond 5 x 7″.  It is extremely rare for me to work so small.

I have nearly finished the Rollo May book begun over the weekend: My Quest for Beauty.  I will have plenty more to say about that, but wish to return to painting for now.  The man cave is providing an excellent environment, and I have the  “T. S. Eliot” documentary from Voices and Visions playing on my laptop.  This is a great moment.

Thanks for reading.

Maxwell House Coffee Tin in the Painting Studio

August 21, 2012

Feeling Andy Warhol’s Muse

Hello again.  I’m settling into the mood to read, and my eyes are getting a little weary of all the close work demanded by this 12 x 14″ watercolor just begun today.  The details are tight, and I’m getting tired of staring so closely at it.  So, I  believe I’ll put it up on the easel next to the Lucky Strike painting and see how it looks across the reading room.

I’m surprised by this sudden obsession to paint still life objects in more exacting detail than I’ve formerly done.  But I am enjoying the results.  The nostalgia that surrounds objects such as these gives me a warm feeling as well.  However, I have an inviting stack of books at my elbow, good things to drink, and believe I’ll shut down the art for the evening and let some of the literary muses tickle my imagination before bedtime.

Thanks always for reading.

My First Watecolor Still Life since Tenth Grade (better than the paper mache flowers)

August 18, 2012

Lucky Strike

In the tenth grade, we watercolored paper mache flowers in Art II.  That was the first and last watercolor still life I ever attempted.  This is number 2.  I have had the time of my life, the past two days, playing with this.  It is nearly finished.  I cannot make up my mind whether the background should remain white, or if I should do something with it.  The overall measurement of the page is 12 x 14″.

I think I’ll return now to the Fort Worth Stockyards composition.

Thanks for reading.

Studio Experiment in Pop Art with Watercolor and Pencils

August 18, 2012

Pop Art in the Second Man Cave

My detour into Pop Art has extended into a second day.  I cannot exactly explain how this has happened.  For about a year, I have been bothered that my genre for painting has anchored in landscape and nostalgic items of architecture, signage and vehicles.  I’ve been contemplating still lifes, but never made the effort until yesterday.  And I ended up backing into it because of my ongoing interest in Andy Warhol and the Pop Art phenomena.  For over ten years I have purchased objects from antique stores and nostalgia shops to support my Fifties interests (my company is, because the Fifties were my years of growing up, and my eyes were always filled with wonder at my surroundings.  I read that Henri Matisse as a young boy was enchanted at the sight of colorful birds, tropical fish in bowls, and his first set of watercolors.  Well, I too recall my pre-literature years and the fixation I had with commercial color schemes, most notably cereal boxes, coffee tins, gas station signs and billboards.

When I first saw the Stuart Davis Lucky Strike painting, I marveled at the dark green and bright orange-red color scheme, recalling that my growing up only witnessed Luckies as a red target on a white background.  About ten years ago, I found this cigarette tin in an antique store and couldn’t reach for my wallet fast enough–there were the colors that I found so enchanting in the Davis painting at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.

Yesterday I began this 12 x 14″ composition in watercolor, Prismacolor and watercolor pencils with occasional ink.  My eye has always focused on details, colors and textures, whether I was staring at a landscape or building en plein air or an enlarged photograph.  But now I am staring at a cigarette tin, hand-sized, on the table in front of me, that keeps changing as the northern lights outside my studio windows change from sunny to overcast (it’s trying to rain in Arlington, Texas at this moment; yesterday it was bright and sunny throughout the day).  I am fascinated with the highlights coming off the painted surfaces of the tin, as well as the dynamics of all the rusted spots, scratches and imperfections.  And  I am trying to record these observations the best I can on paper with the materials at hand.  And I am enjoying the experience.

I have finally completed a second Man Cave environment.  My garage will not be available again until probably late September (Texas temperatures are deadly this time of year).  So I have moved a second drafting table to my living room, where I have an entire wall of windows to the north, providing excellent lighting.  As I’ve worked today, I have listened to a 120-minute DVD documentary titled Painters Painting.  The film features interviews with New York artists from the Fifties onward, including DeKooning, Motherwell, Newman, Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg and many others.  I am particularly enjoying the discussion of the shift in the art world from Abstract Expressionism to Pop.  I am sympathetic to both sides, and find myself particularly anchored in neither school, as I still find my comfort zone in the realm of Regionalism as I’ve enjoyed the works of Homer, Hopper and Wyeth.  But still, as a student of art history, I love all periods, and enjoy their contributions to art and the ideas we enjoy.

Thanks for reading.