Posts Tagged ‘Paint Historic Waxahachie’

Late Afternoon Plein Air Painting in Waxahachie

April 24, 2017

Structure, I believe, is the giver of light.

Louis I. Kahn

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By the time I finished all my school responsibilities late this afternoon, I was so fatigued that I was trying to talk myself out of the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie to continue work on the Painting Historic Waxahachie project. By the time we reach the submission deadline May 11, I want to have as many paintings as possible to display and sell. But I was sooooo tired!

The weather was 81 degrees and brightly sunny, and when I parked on the courthouse square and saw the magnificence of the Ellis County Courthouse towering above, reflecting the late afternoon sun, I was glad I decided to make the trip. I set up my easel on College Street again, and like last Saturday, a strong, cold wind was blasting up the street. It felt really good on my back, and removed any discomfort that a Texas sun would try to bring.

Drawing this courthouse has always been a chore for me. I lack formal training in architectural rendering, and am always intimidated when I attack a building, one small piece at a time, with pencil on paper. I drew on this a long time, and erased plenty. Finally, when time came to flood the sky with blue hues, I felt that I had a chance at a decent composition.

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The afternoon passed quickly, and again the Waxahachie folks proved themselves to be among the most friendly on the planet. I talked to over a dozen people–artists working on this same project, couples out for a stroll, and a couple of young girls interested in becoming artists who were out with their mother. All the conversations were engaging, and I appreciated every good sentiment.

Once the sun set and the light turned to gray, I knew it was time to stop and take a day or two to evaluate whether this is finished or needs further development. Unfortunately I have meetings tomorrow afternoon and night, so I won’t be able to paint tomorrow. Hopefully by Wednesday I will have made a decsision on this one. At any rate, it turned out to be a great afternoon for painting.

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The College Street Pub has become my favorite “decompression hangout” in Waxahachie when I am in town painting. Dinner was a great experience this evening as temperatures continued to cool and I enjoyed the back patio with its soothing surrounding scenery. I spread out my three Waxahachie paintings and spent some time taking critical notes on them and making decisions on what to do next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Musings on the Last Day of My Show

April 9, 2017

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Three Views of the Lobby of The Redlands Historic Inn

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Photo taken by Z Jary

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Selfie taken early this morning before opening, the last day

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Jean Mollard just added me to the historical brochure of The Redlands!

Waking this Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure how I felt. Closing out this three-week show this evening and heading back home flooded me with a sad feeling. Yet, being invited to take part in Palestine’s future cultural events bathed me with warmth and excitement, knowing I can now begin writing a new chapter to this life narrative. So, before I open The Gallery at Redlands for this day, I pause once more to thank everyone who contributed to the excitement and success of the last three weeks–to my friends who visited, my patrons, my new friends I’ve met in this community, my facebook and blogging friends who continually wrote in your support–so many well-wishers–I thank you from the depths. Above all, I thank Wade and Gail for your vision in opening this gallery space, as well as Jean and Mike for your warm friendship and hospitality in this remarkable Redlands Historic Inn. This 102-year-old Inn is a most remarkable environment for overnight or extended stays, and the Red Fire Grille on the ground floor offers a fine dining experience that still leaves me in awe. So, anyone reading this, check out www.RedlandsHistoricInn.com, look at the photos of their spectacular rooms, pack your bags, and move in!  This historic facility and its owners are first-rate. I had friends come out and book suites the past two weekends, and they are still buzzing about the experience of staying here. I too had the privilege of living here the past three weekends and am going to miss the place sorely when I move out today.

Someone who was bound to know what he was talking about, Albrecht Dürer, did after all make the well-known remark: “For in truth, art lies hidden within nature; he who can wrest it from her, has it.” “Wrest” here means to draw out the rift and to draw the design with the drawing-pen on the drawing-board. But we at once raise the counterquestion: how can the rift-design be drawn out if it is not brought into the Open by the creative sketch as a rift, which is to say, brought out beforehand as a conflict of measure and unmeasure? True, there lies hidden in nature a rift-design, a measure and a boundary and, tied to it, a capacity for bringing forth–that is, art. But it is equally certain that this art hidden in nature becomes manifest only through the work, because it lies originally in the work.

Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

Over breakfast this morning, I reread portions of Heidegger’s essay that always intrigues me. Next week I will engage in plein air painting as Paint Historic Waxahachie is already under way for those of us who registered early. These words from Heidegger and Dürer will linger with me as I set up my portable easel, fix my eye on a subject, and begin dragging my pencil across the white rectangular surface of stretched watercolor paper, searching out the rift, the boundary, the divisions. I recall Robert Motherwell saying that drawing was the organization of space. I like that perspective. The compositional issues playing out on the white rectangle of space, the abyss, as I organize graphite lines and colored pigments always thrills me when I am outdoors attempting to capture a slice of the scene playing out before me. I got to do some of that inside this gallery the past two weekends as I painted something I could see out the window.

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Is it still plein-air when you are standing indoors?!

Next week, I will be outside giving this another try.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Pining for Plein Air Activity

April 5, 2017

South Fork Pine

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch of Colorado Pine

My one-man-show will close Sunday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. and I hope to take a day or two to catch my breath.  Then I will dive head-first into my favorite annual plein air painting event: Paint Historic Waxahachie.  Artists who registered in advance were given the green light to begin painting April 1, but I’ve been too busy with this show and my daily school responsibilities–next week, I hope.

The watercolor sketch posted above is in my show at the Gallery at Redlands. I painted it in Colorado last summer while relaxing with daily fly fishing and plein air watercoloring. My pulse rate changes dramatically when I am in that Rocky Mountain environment, and I cannot wait to return there for an extended vacation this summer. Every time I look at this small painting, I recall those beautiful, chilly, sun-drenched mornings when I sat out on the porch of my cabin with my coffee, surveying the South Fork of the Rio Grande rolling by below.

I truly miss those days, and can’t wait for them to return.

Thanks for reading.

A Cleansing Interim in the Wilderness

June 7, 2014
Honorable Mention at Paint Historic Waxahachie

Honorable Mention at Paint Historic Waxahachie

I got to spend my Saturday in my classroom, fulfilling my teacher contract in making up for an inclement weather day.  The students went home yesterday, so teachers had the option today of taking a personal business day off, or spending the day in the classroom doing . . . what?  That was my day.  A day in an empty classroom.

But now school is really out (until summer school in about ten days).  I drove south to Waxahachie for the Awards Reception this evening.  I managed an Honorable Mention.  The competition was fierce indeed this year, and I was fortunate to achieve any level of recognition.  I’m proud to get the ribbon, and proud to be listed next to the winners, who were truly outstanding this year.  I’m glad I decided to do that last painting at deadline yesterday, as it was the one that took the ribbon.  I was tired then, and am tired tonight.

Now I have a little over a week to retreat to the wilderness for solitude, reflection, thoughts about what direction to take next in my art.  I will be listening attentively to the art masters that I have been reading recently (Henri, Hopper, Manet, Homer, Wyeth, Delacroix, Gauguin), as well as the philosophical thinkers (Emerson, Tillich, Heidegger).  And I plan to do plenty of writing.  I am ready for new ideas, new visions, new directions.  A few days ago I introduced brighter, more aggressive color into my compositions.  I intend to follow that thread for awhile, and see how I can weave it into the detailed work from my past.  I’m wondering where it is going to take me.

This interim space is a genuine gift for which I am boundlessly grateful.  My students this past year have been lovely beyond description.  But I am ready now for the quiet, ready to sit in a room alone with my thoughts with no deadlines.  There is so much to ponder now, and I need that time and space.   Only good things can come from the retreat.

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.

A Note about Authenticity

June 6, 2014
College Street Rhapsody Waxahachie, Texas

College Street Rhapsody
Waxahachie, Texas

If we are to say something authentic, we need to stick with an idea for a while.  We need to gnaw at it, mine it, obsess over it.  I’ve met creative people who are painting, yet also distracting themselves trying to learn Photoshop and taking singing lessons.  It’s true that Bernini managed to sculpt some of the most virtuosic marble sculptures ever produced, while also finding time to design buildings and monuments that changed the face of Rome, write and produce plays and compose the music for them as well.  But that was Bernini.  

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

I have read and re-read this book by Ian Roberts, with much delight, just as I have enjoyed re-reading Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit.  I like the point he raises here.  My own time is divided between watercoloring and teaching public school full time, and that is distraction enough.  I used to belong to bands and tie up much of my time with rehearsals and gigs, and I frankly no longer miss that life.  I would indeed like to be single-minded in my pursuit of watercolor, but that is not going to pay my bills, so there it is.  I can also throw into the mix books–I am a bibliophile and I cannot read enough art history and poetry.  That also requires quality time and composting.

I am also struggling with authenticity and a sense of identity with my recent watercolor pursuits.  Every time I think I have found my voice, I find myself turning yet another corner and exploring another realm.  For the past month of weekends, I have been gearing up for the Paint Historic Waxahachie annual event by painting in historic towns in north Texas.  Since last Saturday, I have spent every day in the town of Waxahachie making plein air paintings.  My heroic model for these exploits has been Andrew Wyeth.  I have focused on improving my drawing skills and seeking greater detail.  But a few days ago, when looking at the body of work that emerged from the past month, I grew tired of the sameness of it all, and took greater delight in looking at my colleagues’ work in oils featuring vivid colors.  So, I decided to go for brightness and contrast with the last four paintings.  I haven’t much liked the results, but do appreciate the difference between these and what I had been cranking out for a month.

Today was the last day for competition, with a 4:00 deadline.  I set up this afternoon on S. College Street, across from the College Street Pub (that I’ve painted three times over the past years), and looked up the hill toward the square.  Last Sunday, I painted the Ellis County Courthouse cupola peeking over the rooflines of the businesses.  This time, I looked away from the courthouse and focused on the backside of the imposing Rogers Hotel.  I decided once more to try and go for bold color.  I spent two hours on this composition and feel O.K. about it.  I would like to try and do a large studio watercolor of this same subject under the morning light instead of the afternoon.  There is much character in the windows, and I would welcome the chance to go after them with some fine draftsmanship and detail, instead of the sketchy way I cranked it out today.  I worked faster than I would normally choose, because a deadline was looming.

Now that the Paint Historic Waxahachie deadline has passed, and today was the last day of school, I look forward to some “chill” time as I try and figure out what direction I want to take next with my painting.  I need some wilderness time now, some solitude, some quality time for reflection and figuring some things out.

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.

Gazing at a Classical Column in Waxahachie

June 5, 2014
Bed and Breakfast in Waxahachie, Texas

Bed and Breakfast in Waxahachie, Texas

I admit that exhaustion is slowly taking me down.  I chose to drive to Waxahachie late this afternoon, following a round of final exams at my high school.  By the time I arrived, I discovered that there was serious loading that had to be done for the art work to be successfully installed by Saturday’s show.  I helped carry a number of screen panels to serve as temporary walls for hanging art work.  By the time that job was done, the sun was at quiet a hot spot in the late afternoon.  Cruising northward on Business Highway 287, my eye was caught by the sun on the side of this Ionic column at a popular Bed and Breakfast.  I pulled the Jeep over and gave it a try.  Though the sun and humidity were hard to bear, the shade made it possible for me to stand at my easel awhile and attempt to capture this pretty environment.

Thanks for reading.  Tomorrow is the last day to paint before judging.  I’ll try to get in time for one more painting between school and the late afternoon deadline.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Hot Afternoon for Plein Air Painting

June 4, 2014
Late Afernoon Plein Air Attempt in Waxahachie

Late Afernoon Plein Air Attempt in Waxahachie

After a full day of teaching school, it turned out to be a long, hot, late afternoon in Waxahachie.  I managed to find some shade on the west side of town next to a biking trail.  I focused on the same train depot and caboose that I tried the past two days.  Again, I’m experimenting with bolder, heavier colors in my watercolor technique.  The results are very different from what I’m used to seeing from my own brush.  After nine “quiet” plein air watercolor sketches that were long on drawing and conservative on color, I decided to pull out some stops and see what I could do with some aggression in my technique.  My jury is still out.  Nevertheless, I’m enjoying the change.  I have plenty of decisions to make.

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.

Thoughts About a Mechanic’s Fine Tuning

June 3, 2014
Re-touched Waxahachie Caboose Plein Air Sketch

Re-touched Waxahachie Caboose Plein Air Sketch

My father, now retired, was a certified automotive technician for General Motors.  That is a more refined way of saying that he worked as a mechanic for GM dealerships throughout St. Louis as I grew up.  When I moved to Texas in 1977, I was driving a high-mileage clunker.  When it needed a valve job, I limped it home to St. Louis and my father graciously did the work, without charging me what dealerships charged for service work on vehicles.  I am not a mechanic.  I watched him remove the heads, take them to a machine shop, and pick them up later that day, machined and slick, looking like new.  The weather that June afternoon was very hot and humid. Our clothes were sticking to us. Yet, Dad continued to lean over the engine, installing the heads.  Finally, he told me to start the engine.  When I did, I got out of the car, and was horrified to see oil spurting everywhere and the engine sounding like it was breathing its last.  As it clattered loudly and Dad patiently adjusted the tappets, I was amazed to watch and listen as it eventually evened out, quieted down, and at last was purring like a brand new engine.  The touch of the master mechanics hand!

Today I returned to hot and humid Waxahachie with my bloody painting started yesterday, and thought about my Dad as I bent over the easel, and began going to work adjusting, adjusting, and adjusting some more.  I worked on it for about an hour, finally deciding I had done all I could to “save” it.  Thankfully, today’s painting looks nothing like the wreck that I pulled off the easel at the end of yesterday’s attempt.  I don’t think I had the same skill level that Dad had the evening he fine-tuned my ailing engine.  But I’m happy that today’s work looks much better than it did when I gave up yesterday.

The nine paintings I did in preparation for this Waxahachie event are all pale and carefully drawn.  I decided this time that I wanted to paint with some guts, so to speak.  I wanted bolder, heavier colors in my composition.  This is quite a big step for me.  We’ll see where it leads.

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.

A Hunter-Gatherer Plein Air Artist Stalks Waxahachie, Texas

June 2, 2014
Beginning of a Caboose Attempt

Beginning of a Caboose Attempt

I could feel a change in my breathing and pulse as soon as my Jeep turned southward on Highwy 287 toward sunny, soulful Waxhachie.  This was to be a genuine sojourn into solitude.  The further I drove, the more the cacophonous clatter of today’s classes retreated.

I was on the hunt for a subject filled with history, memories, stories.  I was happy to see that reporter Andrew Branca from the Waxahachie Daily Light published my comments after a nice impromptu interview on site.  You can read his article in the following:

www.waxahachietx.com/news/artists-brush-up-on-plein-air-painting-at-market/article_c22c2da1-f715-568c-9767-2d36150a47d2.htm

I was trying this afternoon to get beyond what I call the Edward Hopper Plein Air Syndrome.  His watercolors are spectacular, and I love poring over them in several books I’ve acquired over the years.  Every time I find one in a museum I find myself rooted in front of it, unable to move on to other works of art.  But Hopper was known to grouse and snarl his way about, looking for the perfect composition to paint.  He was overheard muttering: “Light isn’t right.”  “Composition misses.”  “Doesn’t look quite right.”  Sometimes he returned home empty-handed.

In my sixth year of Paint Historic Waxahachie, I confess that I fell into that same trap every year, even up to last year’s event.  But not this time.  I may not be able to claim that my body of work overall is just as strong currently as it has been in previous years (I never know how to assess my own collection of watercolors), but I do know that I have been more assertive (and happy) this year, making more confident decisions on subject matter and getting down to the business of plein air painting.  To date, I have nine completed watercolors, all 8 x 10″ and matted and sleeved in 11 x 14″ white mats.  I still have this week to produce more work, and I’m eager to do it.

When I arrived in Waxhachie, the sun was hot and the weather humid.  I set up beneath some trees in a wooded area and tried to work on this caboose and renovated train station on the west side of town.  I was afraid I had screwed up the painting beyond repair, as it got very wet and out of control.  I decided to stop and head back home, where more work was waiting for me.  When I pulled out the painting tonight, I thought it might be salvageable.  So . . . tomorrow when I finally get back to Waxahachie, I’ll see if I can straighten this one out, otherwise I’ll begin anew with a different composition.  I’m optimistic that I can “fix” this one, however.

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.

Cut Once, Measure Twice

June 1, 2014
Working Slowly and Methodically on a Large Composition

Working Slowly and Methodically on a Large Composition

During my graduate school days, I worked many night hours cutting and welding stainless steel at POCO Graphite Inc. in Decatur, Texas.  Stainless was a very pricey steel ($2.48 /lb. then) and management had zero tolerance for mistakes when we cut the large plates into the necessary pieces for building furnace retorts.  I often heard the expression “Cut once, measure twice” as a cautionary note while standing for hours on end at the band saw.  I always shuddered when I looked at the forms in the buyer’s office, seeing that orders sometimes totalled $530,000 for a single shipment of steel.

I have been moving slowly and cautiously on this piece posted above, measuring 18 x 24″.  My models include a black and white photograph of the nineteenth-century historic home, and a photo of an oil painting done of it long, long ago.  As I continually look back and forth between the two photos, I keep double-checking my measurements and proportions before proceeding.  Hence, it’s taken quite a few days already.  But I’m enjoying the process, and glad that I’m in no real rush to conclude the piece.

There are times when the quiet of the studio is soothing.  Tonight is one of those times.  I’ll need to shut things down soon to get a decent night’s rest for school tomorrow, and Paint Historic Waxahachie tomorrow afternoon.  But for now, I’m glad for the quiet time and space, and the reward in making another piece of art.  I felt truly in my element this morning when I painted the cupola of the Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie (posted earlier today).  It was quiet in that town on a Sunday morning as well.  Almost no traffic moved down College Street this morning, and I was glad for the soothing, cool weather that welcomed me.

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.