Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis’

A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

christmas painting

Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.


Day Tripp in St. Louis

March 16, 2017


A brilliant sun punctuated the 27-degree morning as my family piled into a passenger van and motored into south St. Louis.  The interior of the van was flooded with conversation punctuated by AM talk radio. Surrounded by my father, sister, brother and niece, I nestled into a “Day Tripp” dedicated to exploring St.Louis landmarks we always knew existed but never really “saw”. I also wanted to re-visit some areas where I lived but was too young to remember with full detail. The AM talk radio was eventually replaced with Son House as we entered the neighbohoods of south St. Louis, and the bottleneck blues served as a perfect soundtrack for what we viewed.

stl home

Watson Road @ Hampton Avenue

The first stop was the apartment building where I lived from the age of 16 months to three years.  The two windows at the top right were kitchen windows, and the two left were bedroom ones, where Mom and I would sit on the bed and look down across the street at school children changing buses.

stl home 2

Eventually, we moved downstairs to the back of the same building. The porch and driveway have since been removed.  I was nearly three by this time, and I remember looking down at my father pulling out of the driveway in his white-over-powder blue 1955 Pontiac 2-door hardtop.  To the right of this picture was a car dealership–Hale Motors. He sold Willy’s Jeeps. Behind the dealership was their body shop, and mechanics worked in the garage with the windows open during the summer.  I would walk down to the shop with a story book tucked uinder my arm, sit on top of a dirt pile where they could see me, and wait for them to come out to eat their lunches. They would then read my book to me. In those days, three-year-olds could wander around their yards and neighbors in the city without danger.


University City, adjacent to Washington University, is one of my favorite places to haunt. Fitz Rootbeer was a St. Louis tradition when I grew up, and this sign continues to stir memories.

berry statueChuck Berry monument

Lunch today was at Blueberry Hill where Chuck Berry used to perform one Wednesday night a month until 2014. The place boasts the best burger in St. Louis, and we decided to enjoy lunch there and peruse all the memorabilia, including Chuck Berry’s Gibson hollow body guitar.

Iberry hands

Berry used to own and operate The Southern Air restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri.  Back in the 1980’s, I visited the establishment for lunch and saw him in the dining area, smoking a cigarette. I was taken at the sight of his magnificent hands, and am glad to see they’ve since been casted and installed at Blueberry Hill.

fenton home

Fenton, Missouri

Once we returned home, we found Mom feeling better (she didn’t feel healthy enough for the day-long excursion). As we talked of our past and its memories, she expressed a willingness to jump back into my vehicle with me and visit the places I lived from ages three to five. They moved to Fenton, Missouri, west of St. Louis (and only seven miles from where they live now) when I was three, and settled on this street. Their apartment has long since been razed and replaced by the Fieser Nursing Home on the right side of this street.  All the buildings across the street are the same as they were back then. On the nursing home site where our apartment stood was also the Fieser Funeral Home. They had a basement where they allowed Mom to hang laundry during the cold winter months. She was spooked by the old clothes of the deceased that hung all about the walls, and I was spooked by a large red furnace that made an incredibly loud noise when it kicked on. I thought it was something living that was going to eat me.

hr home

High Ridge

Mom and Dad now reside in High Ridge, in the home where I lived since it was brand new in 1961. But before we moved into that home, we would live in four other locations from my ages of three to six. This apartment was our home for a short time, and Mom’s only memory of me was my running all around the back yard pulling a red wagon with a toad loaded in it. Somehow I instinctively knew when the toad would leap out and I would immediately stop, retrieve it, and reload it to continue the fun ride. She also shared that when I got as far away from the apartment as possible I would stand with feet far apart, refusing to move until she would come all the way out there and carry me back to the house for a clean up.  It had something to do with #2.  It took me awhile to outgrow that. I’ll stop the story there.

hs home

We moved to another location in High Ridge shortly afterward. I have chosen not to visit or photograph it this time.  All I will say now is that a mentally deranged woman owned the property and our time there was not good.  My brother was born during our time there, and I was four years old.  We then moved four miles west along Highway 30 to House Springs. The house where we lived is no longer there.  Above, I photographed the rough terrain alongside Byrnes Mill Road where the house stood. I have dozens and dozens of stories to tell of my time there, because I was old enough to retain those memories and sensations. But that will have to come at another time. I feel I have rambled long enough on this one.

Thanks for reading. I’m still absorbing the memories of today’s visit, and more than two typed pages of material Mom and Dad shared with me as I questioned them this evening about those sketchy memories of my life between the time of 16 months and three years.

Relaxing into Christmas

December 24, 2016


Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:–

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length are free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Chambered Nautilus”

Happy Holidays to all my treasured blog readers!  I haven’t posted for over a week, as Christmas obligations and errands, along with the responsibilities of closing out the fall semester, left me with little time for communication.  I did however begin work on my first new series that I am titling “Portals.”  I dragged an antique door from my man cave into my living room studio so I could enjoy painting near the fireplace while listening to Christmas music this past week.  As with every Chrstmas season, I leave a fresh painting-in-progress behind in my studio as I flee to St. Louis and visit with family and friends.  But I always am able to return to my home free of post-holiday depression because of a painting still waiting for me that I’m excited to engage.

I am re-reading an Andrew Wyeth biography that I enjoyed years ago, Richard Meryman’s Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life.  My soul stirs deeply as I read of his life and legacy, and the life and ideas of his father N. C. have taken such a hold on me that I just ordered and received (thanks Amazon!) The Wyeths, by N. C. Wyeth.  That incredibly large man was so charged with literary ideas and philosophical sentiments that I cannot wait to read from the 1200 letters that he left behind, exposing his most intimate thoughts and dreams about art. So, in addition to enjoying my circle of family and friends, I’m enjoying some quality reading and times for reflection.  The holidays are such a warm and intimate time for these kinds of pursuits.

I wish all of you the very best of life as we sail through this season.  Christmas and the New Year always fill me with the most meaningful ponderings.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself tha I am not alone.


A Better Slant of Light

December 28, 2013

Morning Winter Light in the Writing StudioWinter Slanting Light in the Writing Studio

Nothing goes by luck in composition.  It allows of no tricks.  The best you can write will be the best you are.  Every sentence is the result of a long probation.  The author’s character is read from title-page to end.  Of this he never corrects the proofs.  We read it as the essential character of a handwriting without regard to the flourishes.  And so of the rest of our actions; it runs as straight as a ruled line through them all, no matter how many curvets about it.  Our whole life is taxed for the least thing well done; it is its net result.  how we eat, drink, sleep, and use our desultory hours, now in these indifferent days, with no eye to observe and no occasion [to] excite us, determines our authority and capacity for the time to come.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, February 28, 1841

Reading from the Thoreau Journal

Reading from the Thoreau Journal

Good morning!  About thirteen days ago, I posted my last post about a “Slant of Light.”  Since then I have closed out two campus semesters, Christmas vacationed in the St. Louis area with my parents (who have no Wi-Fi) and returned home at midnight last night.  I was too wired-and-tired to sleep, it appears.  Finally I crashed around 3:30 a.m. and awoke again around 7:30.  No doubt I’ll crash later today, but for now, the coffee is brewed, Thoreau is touching me with his meditations, and I have so much reading and watercoloring on my mind.  I will be following up with posts as this day unfolds.  I did manage to create two 8 x 10″ watercolors while in St. Louis, managed a ton of quality reading, and still found warm conversation time with my parents and son.  Friends also reached out from several directions and I love all of them as well.

So, to all my readers, thank you for spending a moment on this page with me, and for all the earlier times this year we have shared.  You have truly enriched my life, enabling me to write and post about things that matter to me.  This is a great time of the year for quiet and reflection, and I am ready to settle into that now that my travels have ceased for awhile.  A host of pensive scribbles in my personal journal need to be re-visited and fleshed out.  Perhaps some of those will find their way into this blog as well.

More later!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Ozark Court on Historic Route 66

December 14, 2011

Ozark Court on HIstoric Route 66

This watercolor was a quick-study of a scene I have returned to for nearly three decades.  I blocked in the sky as a demonstration for a student several weeks ago.  Finding this discarded study recently, I decided to put a landscape under the sky, and had been musing over an 8 x 10″ photo I took of this Ozark Court hotel on historic route 66.

This abandoned hotel site has been a sad scene for me during the years I have traveled back and forth between Fort Worth and St. Louis.  I have watched its decay throughout the decades, and now I am sad to report that the sign has even been removed.  I never recall seeing this business open during my travels, but the sign was always a reference point for me, and of course the nostalgic memories of highway motels always stirred my imagination.  This setting was always a welcoming sight for me, particularly when I felt weary and lonely from travel.

I was always touched by the lines from William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.”  The shell of that Medieval church stirred him in ways similar to how I feel when I travel and look upon ruins such as this–a reminder of yesterdays that will not be returning.  I miss many of these business establishments and their collective histories.

In a couple of weeks, I will be journeying past this lonely spot along Interstate 44 yet again, and no doubt will feel a tug when I drive past this pair of buildings marking what used to be a warm, welcoming spot.

Thanks for reading.



Red Goose Shoes Revisited, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

September 4, 2011

Red Goose Shoes, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

After a two-week hiatus, it was meaningful to return to the studio early on a Sunday morning and pick up the brush once again.  Throughout my childhood, Red Goose Shoe Stores were abundant, and recently I have made attempts to render these abandoned store fronts in watercolor.  An earlier example from this year may be found at the following site: which is located on the south side of St. Louis.

The one I began this morning may be found in downtown Fort Worth on Sundance Square.  The store is no longer viable, neither is the theater next door.  Nevertheless the shells remain intact and splendid for anyone interested in viewing them.  This particular watercolor is mid-sized, measuring about 18 x 14″.  There were plenty of errands to run today, thus my time on this piece was constantly interrupted.  Nevertheless, I would say that I have probably invested about three hours total time in it, and hopefully can put in much more tomorrow during Labor Day.  School began two weeks ago (we reported for duty three weeks ago) and unfortunately I have put in zero work on watercolor since reporting.  But now that I have begun a new piece, I’m confident that the art work will pick up once again and gather some momentum.

I had the profound pleasure of meeting two other watercolorists who just happen to live in my neighborhood–Carolyn Collum and her mother Grace.  They dropped by my studio for a visit and to talk business concerning Kennedale’s Art in the Park festival coming up next spring.  I was overwhelmed at the quality of work they brought for me to see, and enjoyed showing them the pieces I still have here in my home.  We had the privilege of passing a couple of pleasant hours of conversation over coffee and tea.

Bill Ryan, proprietor of the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery, also stopped by to pick up more work for my One-Man Show which opens next Saturday, September 10.  (  I had no idea how exciting it would be, wrapping up the final installment of framed paintings and loading them into the back of his SUV.  The walls around my house are quite blank now, but I cannot wait to see the opening of the show.  I estimate that there will be more than twenty framed watercolors on display, and at least a dozen more matted.

Thanks for reading.  It’s a joy to be painting again.  I’ve been away too long.


Smaller Watercolor Version of the Winfield Antique Store, now Framed

May 15, 2011

Small Watercolor of Abandoned Winfield, Missouri Antique Store

This is one of five framed watercolors I picked up today from the Weiler House gallery (  We are preparing for a One-Man Show this fall.  I have now painted the facade of this abandoned antique store along Highway 79 in Winfield, Missouri, north of St. Louis.  Andrew Wyeth continually returned to his favorite subjects for painting, especially in watercolor, and so do I.  The morning I drove past this establishment, my heart nearly stopped.  The sun had just topped the Mississippi River, washing the front of this store in delicious yellow light.  I pulled my Jeep over and too dozens of photos from all angles, wishing I could go inside and peruse the interior.  Alas, it was out of business, and in fact had it been viable, I would have had to hang around four more hours, waiting for it to open.   Nevertheless, I got the same feeling that I do when I view Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning, and I’ve always wanted to do a painting of that kind of genre.

Thank you for reading.


Memory Lane: Trautwein’s Red Goose Shoes on Gravois, St. Louis, Missouri

March 29, 2011

Trautweins Red Goose Shoes, 5227 Gravois, St. Louis

After two consecutive mornings of rising at 4:30 in order to devote one hour to watercoloring, I’m finally getting some projects finished, though my eyes are burning intolerably right now.  Today I finished my diptych of the 8 x 10″ Eureka Springs paintings.  After school, I returned to the above piece and believe it is now finished.

As a child, I was inundated with Red Goose Shoes commercials, though I never bought a pair.  This sign on 5227 Gravois, southwest of downtown St. Louis, I recall seeing time and time again.  Last Christmas, while visiting St. Louis, I poked around the remnants of Route 66 that wound in strange fashion through the city of St. Louis, and fortunately had bright sunlight and plenty of snow to provide a great shot of the defunct storefront. As I took my photos, I felt that warm “Proustian” remembrance of special things past.

Throughout my elementary school years, I raced home daily after school so I could watch The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, and other assorted programs  my parents deemed “inappropriate.”  Nevertheless, they were aired on local children’s programming, such as Captain 11 Showboat.  As I watched daily, lucky children sitting in the “peanut gallery” (I believe that designation actually came from Howdy Doody) would win a box of shoes from Red Goose Shoes, along with the Golden Egg filled with prizes.

As stated in an earlier blog, I’m delighted to find a Red Goose Shoes vintage sign in Sundance Square, downtown Fort Worth, about twenty minutes from where I live.  My intention is to capture that in watercolor soon.

Thank you for reading.


A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.



Kerouac Jazz Moods for Late Night

March 8, 2011

jazz at the bistro

Trying to unwind and get to sleep.  Earlier today I posted the Red Goose Shoes sign from a low angle, reflected in a store front window, and just now recalled this low-angle Jazz sign I painted last year with a reflection off the window.  This marks the first time I ever tried to paint a window reflection.

This original watercolor, unfortunately, was either lost or stolen last summer.  The organization that had possession of it made good and paid me the listed price of the painting, and fortunately I had images of it to make limited edition giclee prints.  But it always sickens me to have an original piece come up missing like this.

It’s very likely that I could finish the Red Goose Shoes painting tomorrow.  I’m ready to move on to another composition.  Red Goose gave me headaches, with all the detail called forth.  I’m ready for something looser and more atmospheric.  We’ll see what transpires.

Thanks for reading.