Posts Tagged ‘Mobilgas’

Changes

December 28, 2013
Transitions from Magnolia to Mobilgas

Transition from Magnolia to Mobilgas

The ever-whirling wheel

Of Change; the which all mortal things doth sway.

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

Finally, I post this painting that I completed a couple of weeks ago for one of my Christmas commissions.  The owner requested a 1950’s-era filling station (I believe it was 1959) when Magnolia changed to Mobilgas.

With the coming of the New Year, our minds wax pensive with resolutions as we continually confront changes in lives, our environments.  I have been reading lately from the Book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) as I do in the closing days of every year.  The aged author seems to complain that amidst all the changes that there yet remains “nothing new under the sun.”  Personally, I grew weary of the adage years ago that “The only constant is change.”  But I live with that, and wrestle with it throughout my years in education, and now personally as I watch 2013 wane and prepare for the unknown features of 2014.  I do love the face of Janus, the Roman god, looking in two directions simultaneously, and continually think of January as the hinge between those two worlds.

This has been an excellent day to reflect and sort out some matters, while reading and painting (and blogging).  And I can indeed testify that I am looking forward to the new age about to dawn, even though it brings the typical anxieties.  Currently I am so grateful for the “down time” for reflecting and creating new things.  I won’t return to school until January 6, and plan to suck the marrow out of this week that lies ahead.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

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Lost in Memories of Yesterday

December 9, 2013
Study of a Service Station Transitioning from Magnolia to Mobilgas

Study of a Service Station Transitioning from Magnolia to Mobilgas

The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

Coleridge nailed this one.  I have enjoyed the delicious warm indoors of my studio while looking out on the winter light throughout the day.  This painting is a close study of the transition of a 1950’s gas station from Magnolia to Mobilgas.  I’ve had such fun researching the signage, color schemes, advertising, architecture and vehicles of the era, and the longer I work on this, the more I recall my own childhood (by the way, I call my company Recollections 54 because it is my birth year, and I enjoy painting memories from that era).  My website is http://www.recollections54.com.  I have a Sinclair station on the front page of that site, a site that has been restored, located on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas.

It looks like I’ll return to school tomorrow after a glorious four-day weekend.  I’m sorry to leave this painting schedule I’ve enjoyed so much.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Expanding the Circle

December 8, 2013
Sunday Morning Watercolor in the Studio

Sunday Morning Watercolor in the Studio

Another analogy we shall now trace, that every action admits of being outdone.  Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

As my eyes opened to the dim winter light of another morning, I felt the pull of the watercolor entering its third day.  It was time to rise and widen the circle.  After the painting got too wet to manage, I went to my reading chair and opened Emerson’s Essays.  “Circles” has been a favorite of mine since I was introduced to it in the summer of 1992.  In this meditation, Emerson describes in visual fashion the difficulty of continuing to expand one’s circle of creativity:

The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end.  The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.  For it is the inert effort of each thought, having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance,–as for instance an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious rite,–to heap itself on that ridge and to solidify and hem in the life.  but if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind.  But the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses it already tends outward with a vast force and to immense and innumerable expansions.

As I age, I am aware of the difficulty of breaking new ground, of exploring new pastures of creativity.  Every time we push out a creative idea or work of art, it rises and hardens as a berm, a dam, an enclosure, to keep us where we are.  It is hard to burst that retaining wall and push the boundary further out still.  I love exploring watercolor, I am astounded every time I learn something new from experimenting with a new painting.  And this particular piece on which I now work has been no exception.  As it continues to spread, to develop, I look at it in wonder, savoring every new experience.  But the time will come to sign it and move on to the next.  As long as I breathe, there will be a next.  And my fervent wish is that I continue to develop, evolve, improve, learn.  I hope never to reach a plateau where I find that I am merely whipping out Tripps for the Trade.  Hopefully, as long as I stay plugged into Emerson, I can avoid that trap.

Thanks for reading.  It’s time to get back to this painting, which by now is dry.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Inspiration for Sketching and Composition

December 4, 2013
Preparatory Studies for a New Watercolor

Preparatory Studies for a New Watercolor

Art lies behind the cloth of surface things, it is always deeper than appearance and must be delved for.  Within or about every living work of art, or thing of beauty, or fragment of life, there is some strange inner kernel which cannot be reached with explanations, clarifications, examinations, or definitions.  This kernel remains beneath, behind, beyond.  It is this dimensionless particle which lives, beathes, and means.  It is this living particle which makes art mystical, unknown, real, and experienceable.

The best way to talk about art is to work.  The best way to study art is to work.  The best way to think about art is to work.  art is to work hard and one day it may become art and you may discover the artist that you are.

Richard Pousette-Dart

After two extensive visits to the Dallas Museum of Art to view the new Hopper Drawings exhibit (http://www.dallasmuseumofart.org/View/FutureExhibitions/dma_507810), I am still vibrating with newfound energy and a renewed sense of joy about making art.  One primary element that’s been missing from my work over the years has been the discipline of sketching and compositon in preparation for my finished paintings.  Naturally when I watercolor en plein air I go directly to the painting with just enough pencil work to provide a scaffolding for the watercolor sketch.  But when I work on a serious studio painting, I usually go directly at it with a pencil to sketch in the structure of the painting.  I have not had the discipline or interest to do thumbnail sketches and compositional studies.  And I have always been bothered by this.

My colleagues at Arlington Martin High School, Dan Darr and Patrick Schneider, are excellent draftsmen, always sketching, always drawing seriously, filling up sketchbooks as fast as I fill up journals with my scribbled thoughts.  I have twins in my Advanced Placement Art History classes this year who are continually drawing in their Moleskine journals as well as taking notes.  Daily I see them bent over their work, and am inspired to follow suit.  A fellow artist/blogger, Corey Aber (http://coreyaber.wordpress.com/), is a master sketcher, and I am always moved at the sight of his prolific output.  I have been an admirer of Leonardo da Vinci throughout the years because he went back and forth between writing and drawing in his sketchbook journals.  History is replete with authors who filled journals and artists who filled sketchbooks, but how many Leonardos have there been?  For several decades, I have marveled about this, yet I keep my journal activity separate from my art activity, and as said earlier, have done very little sketching over the years.

Last night, I sat down to do some serious sketching, and continued during my breaks at school this afternoon.  I am making preparation for another mid-sized watercolor of a service station from the 1950’s and am excited about getting this one right.  Taking a page from Edward Hopper, I started with some thumbnail preliminaries (not posted) and then moved on to some larger tonal sketches, using a dark sepia Faber-Castell pencil.  I thoroughly enjoyed poring over the composition and making decisions of where to place objects, where to deepen the shadows, where to place mid-tones, etc.  I got lost in the study.  I feel that I am nearly ready to begin the painting.  And I am very enthused about this new direction and where it could take me next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

What are the Ideas that Lie behind these Things? Musings for the New Year 2013

January 1, 2013
Still Life on New Year's Day

Still Life on New Year’s Day

“People who don’t look at my work think I’m a painter of old oaken buckets.  I’m anything but that!”

Andrew Wyeth, interview with Richard Meryman, First Impressions: Andrew Wyeth

I got a late start in the studio today, January 1, 2013.  No regrets–I got to spend the best part of this day engaged in meaningful conversation with a kindred spirit.  There seems to be not enough of that in my life these days, and good conversation is a gift.  Now I find myself conflicted between painting and reading (that is nothing new).

I did find enough energy to work on the lettering at the top of the Mobilgas sign, and then painted in the Pegasus, then finally scarred up the sign itself, to depict decades of weathering and abuse.  I also devoted considerable attention to working on the shadows and deeper colors falling across the Maxwell House tin at the lower right.  I have the desire to work on other parts of the composition, but the night has arrived and the daylight that I depend on, coming through the garage door windows, has vanished.  The lighting on the still life itself is inadequate for me to proceed, so I suppose I’ll let this one compost for another night.  I have been moving it to a bedroom easel so I can spend evenings looking up at it, from a good book.  Andrew Wyeth always preferred to put his work in progress up on a wall somewhere in his home, where he could glance up at it occasionaly and get a “glimpse” of it “out of the corner of the eye.”  He was convinced that those fleeting impressions of a work told him more than hours of staring all over the composition.  I tend to agree.

I’m grateful for such an affirming start to 2013, and hope all of you have had a wonderful first day as well.  That first movement, that first revolution of the wheel, I believe, is significant.  It sets the tone for what follows.

Thanks for reading.

 

Final Art Studio Posting of 2012–Watercolor Still Life Still Growing

December 31, 2012
Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

The drilling machine for the Aargau lecture (“Biblical Questions, Insights, and Vistas”) is going at full strength and an unbroken pillar of smoke is rising from my pipe to the ceiling as in the best times of my life. 

Karl Barth, letter to friend Edouard Thurneysen dated March 17, 1920

What an amazing age in which we thrive today!  The above fragment is from a letter sent by one Swiss pastor to another.  They lived on opposite sides of the mountain and traveled once or twice a week to see one another for hours of conversation.  Between visits, they sent letters almost daily back and forth.  In this letter, Barth paints in words the picture of a day in his study where he worked furiously on a lecture and the smoke from his pipe never ceased.

Well, today, the water and pigment in my watercolor brush never ceased or dried up.  And as I painted alone in my Cave, I was inundated with phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook messages and Blog comments from dear, dear friends and associates, all of them kindred spirits.  Thank you, I love you all.  You made this day very, very meaningful.  I can close out 2012 and move with confidence into 2013.  You’ll never know what a Gift you gave this day.

I have posted my last picture for this year.  I spent most of this afternoon and evening tinkering with the Maxwell House coffee tin, the stove top percolator, the Texaco oil can and the kerosene lantern.  Of course, I continued to play all over the rest of the composition–the darkened background, chips in the paint on the doors, the locking plate, the Mobilgas sign, the frying pan.  I work all over the composition, even while focusing on one key object.  And all of it was just as grand as the conversations I enjoyed with friends.  I can retire to bed happily tonight, thank you again.

Thanks for reading.  All of you have made me even more enthusiastic about blogging my painting experiences.

 

A Frigid Day Warmed by Watercoloring, T. S. Eliot and Soulful Conversations

December 30, 2012
Still Life in Progress

Still Life in Progress

Subject matter, if the artist is even using it, is just an armature for the artist to engage his intensity of feeling.  It is the quality of your attention that influences how you see and how deeply you feel.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Before painting this morning, I sat down to breakfast and played part of a taped lecture by the late Robert Solomon on Husserl, Heidegger and Phenomenology.  As he spoke of “intentionality” and the emphasis on one’s consciousness directed at a particular object, I came to the conviction that I had found another piece to my “Imagist” puzzle and my efforts to grasp William Carlos Williams’ “No ideas but in things” remarks.  Staring at this still life brings to my remembrance Uncle Lloyd, in his full beard, working in a Texaco filling station in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  The Mobilgas sign stirs my earlier fancies in the Pegasus images I used to stare at as our car rolled past those stations in southeast Missouri.  The coffee pot reminds me of the predawn sounds and smells of coffee percolating as Mom prepared Dad’s breakfast before he left to work a full day at a filling station in south St. Louis.  I read somewhere that art helps us remember.  Perhaps I paint to remember.  I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am coming to the close of a very sublime day.  The 42-degree temperature outside has a “real feel” of 36, so The Weather Channel informs me.  And, despite the close proximity of this space heater, I am feeling a chill in my bones that I cannot seem to shrug off any longer.  So, I’m going to put this painting on my bedroom easel to look at tonight while I cozy into my bed and read T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.”  I always appreciate the comments received from those who follow my blog.  And today, a kindred spirit has pointed me back to Eliot.  I am most grateful for that prompt as well as the many other rich ideas that have been born from fabulous chats throughout the day.  Thank you.

I am posting below a close up of the still life as it stands now.  I spent considerable time on the Texaco oil can, laboring over the letters and logo.

Sunday Night Still Life

Sunday Night Still Life

I have decided to lay this to rest for the night, not only because of the cold, but because of the inadequacy of light on the objects.  I posted yesterday that the frying pan is little more than a silhouette at night.  Likewise the lantern, which I really want to work on now, loses much of its highlights  and middle-tones in this darkened garage.  So, I suppose I’ll need to await the morning light.  I’m fatigued anyway, for now.  So I’ll say Good Night to you, and Hello to Eliot.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday Morning Solitude

December 30, 2012
Large Watercolor Still Life in the Works

Large Watercolor Still Life in the Works

Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.

Edward Gibbon

After retiring to bed long after midnight, I arose a little later this morning and couldn’t wait to re-enter the Cave.  The fried eggs and sausage just couldn’t cook quickly enough!  Coffee is brewed, I allowed myself the luxury of reading from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau (I’ll post that below), and I have now completed two hours in the Cave, loving the silence that envelopes me (even my cat is keeping still, as long as he can lay close by).

Now that I have some daylight streaming through the garage windows, the skillet has ceased being a silhouette.  It was nice to add some modeling to it.  I then went to the locking plate and doorknob below, and then the blistered paint of the door.  The Mobilgas sign I worked on after midnight last night (this morning, actually!) and I am still tinkering with the Barq’s Root Beer sign.  The circles are starting to expand concentrically as I try to find my way back to the perimeter which I darkened before I began the actual painting (the end is in the beginning, said Heraclitus and T. S. Eliot).

I have turned to this blog, because I was warmed by the thought (as I was working in absolute silence–44 degrees outside means the neighbors are not working in their yards or getting into their cars to go somewhere) that I have an environment of silence and solitude that allows me to paint at my leisure–no deadlines, appointments or meetings until January 8.  Realizing that this could go on for another week warmed me all over.  I have always dreamed of this kind of space and time, and I don’t recall it ever happening, except perhaps that year in 1987 when I worked on a doctoral dissertation and did little else, living far out in the country of north Texas.  It is a nice sentiment.  If I live long enough to retire, maybe I’ll know more of this kind of life.  But for now, I’ll accept the gift.

I close with something I read this morning from Thoreau’s Journal.  A most unusual thought:

Unless we meet religiously, we profane one another.  What was the consecrated ground round the temple, we have used as no better than a domestic court.

Our friend’s is as holy a shrine as any God’s to be approached with sacred love and awe.  Veneration is the measure of Love.  Our friend answers ambiguously, and sometimes before the question is propounded, like the oracle of Delphi.  He forbears to ask explanation, but doubts and surmises darkly with full faith, as we silently ponder our fates.

In no presence we are so susceptible to shame.  our hour is a sabbath, our abode a temple, our gifts peace offerings, our conversation a communion, our silence a prayer.  In profanity we are absent, in holiness near, in sin estranged, in innocence reconciled. 

Thanks for reading.

A Proust Moment, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Abandoned gas station near Callisburg, Texas

I believe this watercolor was my first (of many, many attempts) time to combine several different photo images into one composition.  The building is outside of Callisburg, Texas, and I drove past it numerous times in the mid-1980’s when I was pastoring a country church in that vicinity.  The building was completely stripped of signage, so I added various signs of Mobilgas, cafe, and motor oil and feed store logos.  The truck I took from a photo that an art student gave me years earlier.  I tried to dock the truck under the awning like it belonged there.  It was interesting trying to put a truck in a location such as this and make it look right.  The drybrush technique of course was my attempt to try the Andrew Wyeth “look.”

I’m fascinated with Marcel Proust’s work and how he writes of those primal memories that are stirred within us by a certain touch, smell, taste, or visual stimulus.  When I see abandoned filling stations such as this, I still hear the cables ringing when the wheels of vehicles pass over them.  I hear the gas pumps ringing as the numbers spin, telling the dollars owed and gallons dispensed.  I smell the oil and grease, the tires, the grime–all of it.  And I can’t drive past a vintage gas station without looking long and hard, and more often than not–pulling over to take a picture or grab a quick sketch.