Posts Tagged ‘small town’

Finished the Cotter Cabin. Time to Move On

July 4, 2011

Historic Cabin, Cotter, Arkansas

To those of you who have followed my blog, this picture may look no different than the one posted late last night.  Exactly the reason for me to sign it and leave it alone.  I have worked an additional 90 minutes on it this morning, but once I realize that each stroke I add does not radically improve the overall composition, and indeed may diminish it, it is time to let it go.  Perhaps I held on to this painting too long because it reminded me of things in my life that I need to let go.  So, there it is.  Ironically, I have another of the same size started, but I have decided for the moment not to pursue it.  Time to look at something else.

The morning of the 4th of July has started early for me.  I’ve chosen to paint in the garage because of the wonderful light, though I’ve been shirtless for an hour and am still mopping my brow frequently with my gym towel.  But I do love the light.  Funny–I’m not a guy who takes sun well, and doesn’t particularly like it.  Yet when I watercolor outdoors, I find a way to tolerate it.  Granted I would not enjoy pulling weeds or painting the siding of my house in this climate.

I am listening with my whole being as the VCR plays behind me “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”  That book by James Joyce touched my life at the very core when I read it back in the late 80’s.   I really need to read it again, but I’m hung up in Proust right now, hoping to finish him this summer.  Joyce and Proust both put me in touch with the important elements of my upbringing, and with summer vacation present, I have tried to spend more time pondering those matters.  Unfortunately I let other elements intrude, and they managed to keep me away from my quality reading and painting.  Perhaps Independence Day will be doubly poignant for me if I allow it to mark the first day of my return to what matters.  All I need to determine at this point is–what matters?!

Anyway, for the moment, painting matters.  And having said that, I have a couple of unfinished works at my side that need tending, so I will pursue those.  With some good fortune, I’ll be posting them in the hours ahead.

Thanks for reading, and I hope your 4th of July brings good things your way.  I’m happy to be painting this morning while my wife rides.  The garage studio space is working, for the moment.

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Watercoloring the Hot Summer Town of Hico, Texas en Plein Air

June 29, 2011

A Hot Summer Afternoon in Hico, Texas

After the morning plein air excursion into Granbury, I next turned my Jeep further south, and arrived in Hico, Texas as the sun waxed hotter.  What a fabulous town for painting!  Ghost signs were everywhere to be found on the sides of buildings of brick and rusticated stone.  I turned down a major street, and was delighted to find it divided, with a tree-shaded island featuring park benches and gazebos.  I found plenty of space to set up my easel on the island, without blocking sidewalk traffic (not that there was much, in that small town!).  As I painted, I found the residents of Hico to be exceedingly friendly.  A number of men and women approached me, looked at my work, said affirming things, and chatted with me about life in the small town, and also asked how things were in my large city, and I found it pleasing to cover a number of conversational subjects with them, all of the talk pleasant.  I even had the pleasure of meeting an acrylic studio painter who owned a business on the street where I painted.  A lady in a passing car rolled down her window, took a look at my work, and expressed admiration for my attempt at architecture.  She was a painter of animals and thought it would be difficult to paint buildings.  I guess I should have mentioned to her that I find it difficult, painting animals!

I loved this street intersection vista.  The light rusticated stone building contrasted nicely with the darker buildings across the street on the left, and I was fascinated with the tree on the right invading the compositional space.  I took a reference photo of this site and am seriously considering taking another shot at this in the studio.

The day was hot, the travel exhausting, but I’m glad I got out and did this.   Last night I looked at the website of the Weiler House Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#events) and saw that my Solo Show for this fall has been posted.  My first reaction was that it was time to “find another gear” in producing art work.  Showtime is in two months.

Thanks for reading.

A Summer Victorian Experience in Granbury, Texas

June 29, 2011

Granbury, Texas Victorian Home on a Summer Morning

As a vacationing Texas school teacher, I refuse to give in to the hot summer doldrums.  Yes, today was another triple-digit day, with plenty more in sight.  Nevertheless, I set set my sights on yet another plein air excursion that would take me 226 miles down hot Texas roads, and would burn up the entire day.  But by day’s end I consider the excursion worth it, though I’m bone tired as I post this.

I hadn’t visited Granbury in a little over a year, never forgetting what a good experience it was, watercoloring in that Victorian town.  Though this Victorian was built only eleven years ago, it has that delightful “look” that holds my gaze and makes me want to paint.  Fortunately there was a huge tree throwing its shadow across the cross street, and I found the morning temperatures (in the shade) to be quite pleasant for the painting experience.  Granbury is a friendly town, and the neighbor to this residence walked down the street to greet me and to visit for awhile.  He gave me excellent background to the architecture surrounding me, and I hope to get back before long to paint the rest of the neighborhood with its beautiful architecture, fencing and landscaping.

After about 90 minutes, I decided that this one was finished enough and that it was time to find some lunch and move on to the next painting.  That would turn out to be in Hico, Texas.  That painting I’ll reserve for the next post.

Thanks for reading.

Sun Slanting over Vespers at a Quiet Presbyterian Church

June 13, 2011

First Presbyterian Church Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The first day of class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is in the books.  I was so excited that I set my alarm for 5:30 and arrived at the school by 8:00.  Class began at 9:00.  Six students this year, same number as last year, and I love them all.  All of them talented, all of them enthusiastic, and all of them wanting to push their skills further by exploring plein air watercolor.  We worked our first day at the school.  Tomorrow we meet in the historic district of Eureka Springs, and will paint the town, literally.

Class went from 9 to 4.  I gave myself about an hour to decompress in this lovely living facility (Twilight Terrace at Sweet Spring), then returned to the site about 2 blocks from here where I began this plein air sketch yesterday at this same time.  I spent one more hour on it today and declared it finished.  After all, it’s just a plein air sketch, not a finished, polished studio piece.  Maybe I’ll do that some other day.

This is the First Presbyterian Church of Eureka Springs on Spring Street.  When I decided to work on it yesterday, I was fascinated with the rustication on the exterior of the structure, thought about how the ancient Romans introduced that to the Western world, and fancied this as a Roman Catholic Church.  Now today I read the sign and saw it was actually Presbyterian (sorry Jean!).  Nevertheless, it has that Roman look (to me).  And I am aware that Vespers came from the Roman Catholic tradition, drifted to the Greek Orthodox, and was later adopted by the Lutherans.  But I believe the word just means “evening” and I know that Presbyterians, Unitarians and other church bodies today use that word “vespers” to refer to some of their liturgical practices.

This was truly a “vespers” moment for me as I spent this evening’s hour finishing this piece.  The slanting rays of the sun continued to wash the environment, and chase lavender shadows across the recessed areas of this scene.  I really did not want to stop painting on it.  But alas, I have overworked far too many watercolors (and may have this one as well!).  So, I decided to let it go, and rest up this evening so I can teach another class tomorrow, and (hopefully) kick out another plein air watercolor at tomorrow’s vespers.

Thanks for reading.  Eureka Springs is a beautiful place to paint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Plein Air Watercolor Start on a Eureka Springs Church

June 12, 2011

Eureka Springs Church

This morning, my wife and I rose at 5:00 to make the four-hour drive to Little Rock so she could catch a flight back to Texas.  She begins teaching summer school in the morning, and I begin my one-week class here in the morning as well.  The return to Eureka Springs capped eight hours of driving, and I felt it.  However, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts has provided me with a place to stay this week, and when I moved in this evening, I could not believe my eyes!  I’m in a luxurious space, and feel so unworthy!  All I could hear were the dying words of Tom Hanks to Private Ryan: “Earn this.”  (Incidentally I did not care for the movie, but always remembered that “hook”).  And so, with “Earn this!” on my conscience, I hastily unpacked my gear in this beautiful dwelling, then headed out into the surrounding neighborhood at 6:00 p.m. to paint something, anything.  I just felt I needed to “earn this!”

The sun was setting on this beautiful church, about a block from where I will be residing.  I only had 45 minutes of light with which to work, so this is as far as I could go.  I believe I will set it out as a sample for my plein air students in the morning, showing them how I begin an on-site work.  Then, when 6:00 p.m. rolls back around, I’ll return to the site, and hopefully complete it.  I begin with four students tomorrow.  We’ll practice plein air watercolor for five days, 9:00-4:00.  I’ve waited a year for this, and can hardly believe that the inauguration of this experience is just hours away now.

About this start to the church painting–I was much more fascinated with the beautiful sunset colors filling the trees and foliage to the right of the church, than the actual church structure, although I look forward to (trying) to solve the problem of the rusticated exterior.  I love such cut-stone buildings and their Roman predecessors.  Finally I get to attempt a watercolor of one.  Hopefully I’ll render the stop sign and street signs with enough detail that they emerge from the overwhelming, colorful foliage.  I also love the slant of the street downward, much like what I saw with that Victorian cottage bathed in yellow that I attempted a few days ago (posted).

Thank you for reading.  Wish my class (and me) good luck tomorrow as we begin this week.

A Winsor Lemon Victorian Cottage in the Morning Sunlight at Eureka Springs

June 9, 2011

Second Morning in Eureka Springs

How could a life of plein air painting get any better?  I woke before my 7:00 alarm, found Eureka Springs bathed in yellow sunlight, and decided to give this perspective a shot.  I loved the Winsor Lemon color of this Victorian in the slanting yellow rays of the morning sun, and the longer I gazed at this setting, the more “taken” I was by the lemon yellow sunlight that washed the atmosphere, and the complementary lavender shadows that flowed out from the foreground pavement.  I did not want to stop painting on this composition!  I finally made myself stop, pencil in some refinements on the house, sign it and leave it alone!  This one was hard to release.

The Carnegie Public Library, as it turned out, is right around the corner from this lovely home on Spring Street.  How convenient to step into this air-conditioned ambiance, enjoy the aged, classic architecture of the interior, and post this blog!  How could it get any better?

Thanks for reading.  More tomorrow, as the plein air odyssey continues.

Lazy Afternoon at Zula’s Coffee House. Last Day of Waxahachie Plein Air Competition

June 2, 2011

Lazy Afternoon at Zula's Coffee House, Waxahachie, Texas

Today marks the end of the plein air competition in Waxahachie (for me).  The deadline for entering work is tomorrow (Friday) at 2:00, and I will be stuck in school for the entire day.  The last week of public school is a total waste of time and resources, if I may offer my frank opinion.  Prime time every day this week has been spent in a high school where everyone–student and teacher alike–has already mailed it in.   I’m happy that I managed to crank out seven paintings since last Friday–six of them between Friday and Monday, and then the past three days on this one (again, prime time spent in school, and left-over, late-afternoon time, painting).

Zula’s Coffee House is my favorite place to land when I’m in Waxahachie, Texas.  Terra, the proprietor, has this way of making any patron comfortable and grateful for setting up in this coffee haven, any time day or night.  It has become a popular venue for folk singing, book discussions and various other small group activities.  Wi-Fi makes it a great place to work on the laptop when deadlines are pressing.  The coffee house is located on Business Highway 287, on the north side of downtown Waxahachie (Main Street).  It is far enough away from the town square to escape the traffic noises of midday, and has a life of its own (which the town square lacks after 5:00 p.m.).  The open meadow across the street provides plenty of space for anyone with an active eye and a dreamy imagination.  During the fall of last year, I painted the meadow in all the bright colors that the late afternoon sun yielded.  Again, this is a sweet spot to land for anyone who is a lover of art, books, music and of course, coffee!

Thanks Terra for a very rewarding three days.  I’m glad I finally got around to painting this splendid venue.

Thanks for reading.

Colorful Victorian Home, Third Day of Waxahachie Paint-Out

May 29, 2011

Victorian Home on a Sunday Morning in Waxahachie

Today was the third day of the Paint Historic Waxahachie event.  I rose early this morning and drove straight to the town, looking for beautiful historic homes bathed in sunlight.  This was my choice today.  It turned out to be an excellent choice, as the wonderful residents of the home came out several times, bringing me cold bottles of water and fruit drinks.  The sun got brutal long before I finished, and had it not been for their wonderful hospitality, I probably would have stopped to go back the the Ellis County Art Association for bottled water, air conditioning, a comfortable sit-down, etc.!  As it turned out, I was able to stay with the painting and see it through.

I was not successful in matching the colors of the house to my pigments on the paper.  I always hate it when I come up short in that respect.  The house was absolutely gorgeous, and “popped” with color in the sunlight.  I’ll never forget the sensations I felt when I first saw it from my driver’s seat.  I had to turn the Jeep around and come back for a second look, and it only took me that second look to decide to give it a try.  I’m reminded of how the great American painter Edward Hopper often selected compositions to paint, when the said they “put out a call.”  He felt invited to enter that space and create a work of art.  That was exactly how I felt early this Sunday morning.  And the residents greeting me pleasantly and offering me cold beverages made it all the better.

Thank you for reading.

Plein Air Painting of a 1903 Cabin in Cotter, Arkansas

May 24, 2011

Plein Air Painting of 1903 cabin in Cotter, Arkansas

This was my second sublime morning of plein air painting during the Plein Air on the White River competition in Cotter, Arkansas.  Shortly after the sun rose on this 1903 cabin, I found my eye filled with gratitude at every detail of this forsaken cabin that cried out for an Andrew Wyeth-style dry brush study.  I only had about 90 minutes to work on it, but I am persuaded that I will give this subject some serious studio scrutiny in the immediate days ahead.  These kinds of subjects are too elusive these days.  I cannot find them very easily.

Thanks for reading.

Demonstration of Plein Air Painting in Cotter, Arkansas

May 24, 2011

Demonstration of Plein Air Painting in Cotter, Arkansas

This is the plein air painting demonstration I performed on the first day of the Plein Air on the White River event in Cotter, Arkansas.