Posts Tagged ‘sketch’

Blue Rondo A La Turk – Dave Brubeck

February 10, 2014

This morning, driving through the icy darkness to school, I slid Dave Brubeck’s CD into my dashboard player and felt warm amusement as Blue Rondo A La Turk played.  I don’t know how to discuss music on an academic level, but I’ll simply say this–at the 1:53 mark, this piece finally settles into a pleasant 4/4 swing groove, only to be repeatedly interrupted by the spastic staccato that opened the first minute and a half.  And the more I replayed it, the more I laughed in the darkness and enjoyed it.

Forgive this unschooled application of Brubeck’s piece, but the longer I thought on it today, the more I saw how it fit life as I experience it daily.  I can safely say that my daily round of work routine involves a series of comfortable, flowing grooves, punctuated with intermittent surprises.  If I can ride the rough surf of the surprise, the groove will follow shortly.  I can usually count on that.  This is true of every class, every passing period, and every evening once I arrive home and begin my nightly routine–interstices consisting of grooves and spazzes.  That is how I view life.  And yes, I acknowledge that the perspective is colored by my own peculiar lenses.

Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion.  Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

But enough about moods.  Let’s talk about art . . .

Second Evening Sketching in Watercolor

Second Evening Sketching in Watercolor

Again, I find myself lost in an evolving sketch.  I am grateful for the warm memories of that Saturday afternoon in Dallas, especially now with the night around me dropping to 29 degrees with freezing rain.  I am still poking at this sketch, unsure of how to make the warm yellows and oranges pop against the atmospheric surroundings I found that afternoon.  The sun from the right was very intense, and I loved the effects of it.  I’m still wondering if I should try and get that on this page, or just focus on the people I’m trying to render and the decorations on the side of the food truck.  As I work, I’m listening to some very old VHS tapes of Joseph Campbell lecturing on James Joyce.  I love the work of Joyce, and love Robert Motherwell’s assessment of him as the Shakespeare of Modernism.  Motherwell said that the work of Joyce made him want to paint.  I can say that listening to Campbell’s fireside chats on this cold night have stirred my blood, helping me get back to the brush.

The sweetness of this day at school consisted of thoughts of returning to a moment like the one I was able to know this evening.  All day long when we’re on the job, our minds drift to those spaces where we want to retreat, and look to retreat as soon as the moment presents itself.  Emerson has been a genuine friend the past couple of days, particularly the insights he’s offered in his later essay “Experience.”  I close with this:

There are always sunsets, and there is always genius; but only a few hours so serene that we can relish nature or criticism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

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.





One-Hour Oil Portrait Sketch by a Ninth-Grade Student

January 14, 2012

One-Hour Oil Sketch by Ninth-Grade Student

In another post on this same day, I introduced my private art student, Maddie, who has studied with me since last October.  Here, I have posted a one-hour oil sketch that she did as a preliminary to the finished portrait that I posted earlier.  They are two separate paintings.  I cannot express my pride in this young ladie’s work, seldom do I encounter students so young and so serious to learn their craft.  Maddie never took a pencil or charcoal to this canvas; the portrait sketch was begun with turpentine-thinned oil for a sepia wash.  She blocked it in quickly and accurately, then layered her paints following the preliminary sketch.

Thanks for reading.

2nd Watercolor Pencil Sketch of Church Tower

September 22, 2011

Methodist Church Tower 2

This is my second quick watercolor pencil sketch of the Provincetown Methodist Church, using as a model a watercolor Edward Hopper executed in 1930.  As yesterday, I attempted this one in a matter of minutes, with Art I classes buzzing about me.  The students were good, but it was hard to focus on this, when my real responsibility was to direct the students and “be there” for assistance in whatever way necessary.  Still, I enjoyed the stolen moments of playing with Prismacolor watercolor pencils and exploring their qualities.

The weekend is approaching.  I have no hard-set plans, so perhaps some quality time will yield itself for further study and exploration.  The Texas temperatures are cooling, and that means more opportunity for plein air activity.  I’m looking forward to that.  My next art festival is about nine days away, so I have a little time to make art.

Thanks for reading.

Forgot the watercolor block, Father’s Day, June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010

Channeling Andrew Wyeth

I accompanied my wife Sandi to Lyndon Acres today where she was going to ride Andante.  My plan was to get in a quick watercolor sketch, then head for the gym.  Well . . . I failed to pack watercolor blocks or paper.  I always carry spare watercolor blocks in my Jeep, but emptied all contents yesterday so I could have it washed and vacuumed inside and out yesterday at the Elite Car Wash.  The watercolor blocks were still in my garage along with jumper cables!  Oh well–instead I drew out an HB pencil and my journal, which contained good acid-free unlined paper, and I knocked out this quick sketch, thinking about how focused Andrew Wyeth always was with his pencil drawings.  I need to work much more in this medium.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Plein Air Watercolor sketch, March 3, 2010

March 3, 2010

Property adjacent to Lyndon Acres, Burleson, Texas

My watercolor of the Rogers Hotel in Waxahachie is starting to improve.  Not enough change to justify a new post however.  I’ve been out of the blog loop two days due to the end-of-six-weeks grading period at school, followed by that vomitous TAKS testing the very next day.  Now that the debris has settled, I can get back to what matters.

Today I looked through a colleague’s sketchbook/journal and was stunned at his watercolor sketches done on site as he moved through life daily.  They were so exquisite to look upon, and I was reminded that I’ve never been a sketchbook person.  Ever.  I’ve kept journals faithfully since the late 1980s, but I have never been one to fill sketchbooks.  So today I thought I would change all that.  I went to Lyndon Acres after school, and while my wife rode her horse, I did this watercolor sketch of the adjacent property as the sun was setting low.  The experience was exquisite for me.  I’m glad that I finally did a watercolor “sketch” instead of a long, drawn-out painting.  And once I laid the sketch aside, I felt “primed” to resume my hotel painting.  Hopefully I’ll have enough of that ready to post on tomorrow’s blog.

Thanks for reading.

10-minute portrait, February 7, 2010

February 7, 2010

Portrait Andy Wilson

Still recovering from illness and had to spend mega-hours preparing lessons to hand over to tomorrow’s substitute.

This post is from 1989.  I remember the day well.  My art classroom after hours at Lamar High School, Arlington, Texas.  A number of art and humanities students were crowding into my classroom after school on particular days to work on art projects, discuss books, music, etc.  This student, Andy Wilson, was seated on one of the tables reading a book and listening to classical music on WRR-FM.  I liked the way the light played off his blonde hair, so I took out some stick pastel and rendered him in 10 minutes, with no preliminary drawing–just stick pastel, and little-to-no smudging.  I liked the directness and freshness, and wonder why I don’t do this anymore.  Perhaps I’ll get back to it.

Impressionist Horse, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

Impressionist Horse

A beautiful sunwashed afternoon at Lyndon Acres, watching horses graze, my wife ride, and working on the “Hunt” watercolor (posted twice in progress).  Having only rendered two more horses in the “Hunt” I’m still holding off from posting it (not different enough yet from earlier posts).  So, here is one I call “Impressionist Horse.”  Last year, as the sun was setting in a blaze of color, I rendered this small tree rather quickly before I lost the light.  Just before the sun dipped over the rim, I threw some Alizarin Crimson into the tree shadows on the grass.  After it dried I really like what I had, even though it was just a small sketch.  For months I looked at it every time I plundered through my stacks of sketches and unfinished works, and really wanted to put a matt around it, but there just wasn’t enough, as far as I concerned–just a small tree and a cool shadow dynamic along the ground.  So one day, after sketching horses for about an hour at Lyndon Acres, I inserted this one into the composition.  You can see through the horse literally–the colors that were on the page before I added him.  But I liked the transparent effect, and liked the way the horse appeared even though (when you zoom in, you can see) there was very little color on him and even less detail.  Just a ghostly sketch of a horse.

Maybe by tomorrow I can post the “Hunt” picture.  I just can’t seem to push it very far at a time, what with all the courses I’m teaching.  There is so little quality time in the day (and night) to get art work completed.  Even now I have a pile of work left for tomorrow’s Advanced Placement Art History, and it’s nearing 8:00.  So, until tomorrow–hope you enjoy this one.  And thanks for looking–thanks even more for all your gracious comments of support.