Posts Tagged ‘Richard Diebenkorn’

Revised Monday on the Laguna Madre

June 15, 2015


When the first light dawned on the earth, and the birds awoke, and the brave river was heard rippling confidently seaward, and the nimble early rising wind rustled the oak leaves about our tent, all men, having reinforced their bodies and their souls with sleep, and cast aside doubt and fear, were invited to unattempted adventures.

Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Waking at first light, I lay on the comfortable bunk bed, enjoying the sounds of the occasional boat passing by, the birds along the coastland, and feeling the breezes coming through the open screened windows. I rose at 6:30, turned on the lights to see better to get dressed, and at 6:35 the power failed. I texted my contacts on the coast, and two university men came out promptly to inspect the electrical problem. Discovering that the problem could not be repaired within the week, they left with me a gas-powered electric generator, good for 10 hours, and promised to return in 48 hours to see if it needed more fuel. As it turns out, the only thing I would really prefer to do is charge my cell phone when needed, and percolate coffee once a day. I will have no lights inside, so I’ll need to go to bed when it gets dark. That suits me fine.

I tried twice to catch fish today. I managed three hard strikes, but landed nothing. Two of them I saw—big fat redfish taking my shrimp-patterned fly. They were really heavy, and I was excited.  I’ll try again later, but it was a thrill watching the redfish charge the bait. I need to keep my priorities in order–my first task here is painting, not fly fishing.

Today I painted the house on the island south of me, a bright yellow house that made me think of a Van Gogh painting in Arles. I loved the complementary purple structure immediately to its left, and tried to enhance that relationship. The clouds were delicious again, as they had been on the first day, and I wondered if the climate were this beautiful as far as the eye could see, at least to Mexico. As I painted, the sun highlighted the pier nicely to the right of the house, so I applied masquing to protect those areas and worked dark tones over the masquing. Later when I peeled it off, the highlights stood out just enough to satisfy. I’m still timid when I look at the shoreline, uncertain how to render the colors of the shallows alongside the bank. I’ll leave that to a later painting. So far I like what is happening in the upper part of the composition.

Painting Number 5

Painting Number 5

Looking eastward from this setting, I saw a gigantic cloud formation, so I decided to try a cloud portrait again. I thought of Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park compositions as I finished out the bottom ribbons of horizon, lagoon, and near shore. Before I came to the island, I wondered about the abstract possibilities of the landscape in this setting, and just now got my answer. I took a chance on rendering the light-colored shallows alongside the beach, but could not quite decide how to handle the sand. Another painting, perhaps. I’m deeply dissatisfied with the brushstrokes showing in the sky, and cannot believe that is happening. I’ve known how to do a flat wash since high school, and for some reason, I have lost that touch. The skies about this island are solid in hue, and I cannot seem to paint a “strokeless” sky. I’m going to have to figure that one out.

Painting Number 7

Painting Number 7

I also tried to paint the power station on the horizon for the second time, this time trying to capture the colors of the lagoon as well as the grasses, cacti and wildflowers on my side. Unsettled by the brushstroke issues in the sky, I chose to cloud this one up considerably, leaving little blue expanse to show.

Painting Number 7

Painting Number 7

I’m still trying to catch up on some lost sleep, and my energy is a little lower today. I was happy to have done four paintings on my first day, but will stop with three today.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

The Artistic Muse–painting, architecture, philosophy and literature merging

October 3, 2011

Weatherford, Texas Victorian Bed and Breakfast

How resilient the Life of the Mind, even when daily work details work overtime to drive away the creative impulse!  As I write this, I am totally exhausted, teaching high school full-time (or should I say overtime, since an extra class has been added to the previous “full-time” teaching load?) and keeping a busy schedule with art festivals.  I just finished my second festival in three weeks, the two combined festivals spanning six days.  I have two more consecutive festivals the next two weekends, and a final one the last Saturday of the month.  All told, it will be five festivals over seven weeks, the festivals themselves spanning ten days.  Oh yes, and there was the opening of my One-Man Show during that span, and a marvelous newspaper feature article giving me considerable exposure to the community.  The six-week grading period has just ended at school, so grades are due to be posted tomorrow.  Of course, I am still not finished with that task, and tomorrow will no doubt be another late night.

Nevertheless—my head and heart are abuzz with ideas, not always flying in formation.  I’ve never been linear in my processing.  Today alone (besides teaching three Art I classes and one Philosophy class) I have been possessed with musings over the Richard Diebenkorn show that I viewed breathlessly yesterday at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum, along with ideas gleaned from The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell (my favorite “intellectual” artist of the 20th century), an extensive article from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The History of Aesthetics,” the Classical Age of Greek Art (my preparations for tomorrow’s A. P. Art History class), the Art of the Ancient Aegean (my preparations for tomorrow’s two regular Art History classes) and my recent sketches of Fort Worth’s 1907 Flat Iron building erected south of Sundance Square.

As I was musing over Classical Greek architecture, Motherwell’s comments on abstraction and some things written over the years in my personal journals, I decided to re-post this image of a watercolor I created earlier this year of the Angels Nest at 1105 Palo Pinto Street in Weatherford, Texas (   It turned out to be a large vertical painting (approximately 22 x 30″) with the actual Victorian house occupying a small space at the top of a sprawling hill.  The majesty of this site is amazing to behold, and I would love someday to spend a night or two lodging there.  I first decided to paint it last January, when I was journeying to the Brazos River in Possum Kingdom to fly fish for rainbow trout.  The winter sun was extremely bright that day, lighting up this house like a diamond against the azure blue sky.  So splendid was the view, that I went to a great deal of trouble turning my Jeep around on a divided highway and coming back to this spot so I could take photographs to bring home to my studio.  Once I started on the painting, I found little trouble rendering the house, but considerable headaches dealing with that sprawling lawn and treeline.  The painting now is on display at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  My One-Man Show will close Saturday, October 8, at the conclusion of the HandleyFest.  I’ll be present at that festival as well, with my tent in place.

I am stirred up by all these wonderful ideas, and wish I had time to pursue them in sketches and watercolors, but alas, there is a heavy slate of classes awaiting me in the morning, and a department meeting over the lunch hour.  Still, I think I will have a window of opportunity to paint with a friend tomorrow after school, and Thursday as well.  Yesterday afternoon yielded quality time to render the historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie in quick watercolor.  I now have designs on the Fort Worth Flat Iron building, and hope I can get to it, if not tomorrow, then by Thursday afternoon.  Motherwell wrote about the word “abstract,” taken from the Latin, meaning to remove something.  He thinks that abstraction is one’s attempt to remove the unnecessary in order to get at the essence of something.  Much of that notion echoes the ideas of Andrew Wyeth with regard to drybrush renderings.  Today in the Art I classes, I was trying to lead the students in that exercise by drawing coffee mugs, and trying to discern how little of a mug could be drawn before the viewer could recognize its “essence.”  While students worked on coffee mugs, I worked on the Fort Worth Flat Iron in my sketchbook, trying to draw just enough of it to make the structure recognizable in its “essence.”  I next tried it with Victorian homes.  That reminded me to re-visit this Weatherford Victorian painting.

As my company is called Recollections 54 (from my birth year), I still find myself musing over cultural relics that remain from that decade, often in a current state of disrepair, yet possessing enough “essence” to exert their authenticity.  And just as an incomplete structure possesses the power to draw us into its essence, so also a partially-drawn structure can lead the viewer to the portion of the subject that matters, the core, the essence.  We are still able, with a little lingering, to recover some of the warm memories that hover in residual fashion about these structures.  The longer I linger in their presence, and the more time I spend in the writings of kindred spirits like Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn, the more I feel the presence of the muse and feel the stirring sensation of her whisperings.  And once again, I am ready to pick up the brush.  I hope I can tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Attempting Watercolor Plein Air over Dinner

October 2, 2011

Historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas

It has been days since I last posted to the blog.  I participated in the Fort Worth Music Festival, which took me away from my work Thursday through Saturday.  Today, Sunday, was my decompression day.  Though weary from the festival exertion, I chose to spend most of my day at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum.  The Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park Series has just opened at the Modern–an enormous show.  I have seen it twice now, and still cannot absorb what is going on in all those galleries.  What a marvelous body of work.  I purchased the museum catalogue and hope to find some quality reading time in the days ahead.  I really want to know more about Diebenkorn’s approach to abstraction.

When the museums closed, I decided it was time to eat, and preferred to be seated outdoors.  La Madeleine (French cafe) on the west side of Fort Worth was an excellent choice.  I thought I would sit outside, and while lingering over Caesar salad and tomato basil soup, see if I could get in some good work with the Diebenkorn publication.  But the slanting light of the western sun was exquisite on the historic Ridglea Theater across the street, and I found myself fishing watercolor supplies out of my shoulder bag, and before I knew it, I was attempting a sketch of this edifice once again.  There are a few things I like about this attempt that I haven’t been able to capture in earlier endeavors, most particularly the popping red colors of the sign letters facing away from the viewer on the left side of the tower.  I found a little more satisfaction with the brickwork on the tower as well.  This will certainly not be my last attempt to capture the Ridglea on paper.

Thanks for reading.