Posts Tagged ‘Studio Eidolons’

A Brighter Morning

January 9, 2021
Paddington just keeps growing and stretching

Brethren preached separation from worldly pleasures, but my mother laughed at comedians, particularly Gracie Allen, who said, “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

Garrison Keillor, That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life

This morning was brighter, filled with more color, than the past two days. Sipping coffee before the fireplace, reading more of Garrison Keillor, dog snuggled under the blanket with me–yes, a much warmer morning. Entering Studio Eidolons a few hours later, I found Baby Paddington looking not so much as a baby anymore. He seems to stretch halfway across the room now when he’s looking for something beneath the tree. We’ve decided to let the tree remain through January, since we spent so little time in the house with the Christmas decorations in place. Now we can enjoy them for a few more weeks without departure interruptions.

. . . painters must devote themselves entirely to the study of nature and try to produce pictures which are an instruction. Talks on art are almost useless. . . . Literature expresses itself by abstractions, whereas painting by means of drawing and colour gives concrete shape to sensations and perceptions.

Paul Cezanne, letter to painter friend Emile Bernard

Today I have worked further on this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of winter trees I photographed in St. Louis when we visited during Christmas 2017. I painted them once before, and sold the piece before I was emotionally detached from it. That happens sometimes. For three years, the image has continued to burn on my retina, so I researched the files in my smart phone to find the photo and give it another crack.

Having stripped away the masquing, the snow seems to be showing up OK now. I have just barely begun to place the dead tree branches into the gaps on the left side of the composition. This is going to take considerable time as I’m spending more time enlarging the photo on a flatscreen TV and working on the nuances of the branches (color, thickness, direction of movement, density, and so on). I’m still trying to find the recipe for the neutral coloring of the trunks and branches as well.

Yesterday I struggled with a problem that Cezanne expressed in his writings, namely that the difficulty in painting a cluster of trees was separating out all the shades and tints of green so the painting doesn’t become dull and monotonous. I haven’t solved that problem to my satisfaction, but I think the painting is OK so far. Today I struggle with the Cezanne quote posted above concerning the relationship of literature and visual art. Last month, I had an engaging conversation over dinner in St. Louis with my high school friend Clarry Hubbard, a retired journalist. He expressed how he continually wrestles with visual images as he writes, and I countered with my own struggles, attempting to express visually the literature I read and hear. Soon, I hope I can find a way to write more lucidly about what I am trying to do with brush and paper. In the meantime, I echo Gracie Allen’s sentiments: “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Post-Christmas Musings from Studio Eidolons

December 29, 2020
View from my Writing Desk

Then came the sound of a musical instrument, from behind it seemed, very sweet and very short, as if it were one plucking of a string or one note of a bell, and after it a full clear voice–and it sounded so high and strange that he thought it was very far away, further than a star. The voice said, Come.

C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrims’ Regress

The interim between Christmas and New Year’s Eve proves a pensive one for me. I may sound off about 2020 in future blogs, but not tonight. Tonight I feel the pull, the invitation, to breathe in the beauty of life and attempt to create something in response.

I chose tonight to re-open a C. S. Lewis book I read in the late 1970’s that continues to whisper to me from the shadows. Though my worldview has changed profoundly from what I thought in my early thirties, the allegory remains poignant for me. Life for me has always been an odyssey. From childhood I have wondered where my journey would take me, and there is no way I could have anticipated what unfolded in the decades following. Now, in these quiet times of retirement and reflection, I still am haunted by the faint sound of a sweet musical strain.

With a calendar containing very few appointments, I have adjusted to the sweetness of leisure, and just the mere act of thinking is better than I have ever known before. It appears that the only strife I endure is finding ways to describe in writing and conversation the nature of this Quality, this I have always pursued.

While majoring in art in my early university days, I was drawn more deeply into a university Christian fellowship and found myself taking steps toward the pastoral ministry. This resulted in an internal conflict between religion and art as I thought I understood them then. One day in a studio drawing class the instructor, making opening remarks to inspire us to begin our assignment, commented that he could not find a line separating art from religion. Unaware of the smallness of my own perspectives, I vigorously shook my head. The instructor acknowledged my protest with only a wry smile.

Today I look back on that college moment with embarrassment. If the instructor were still alive, I would wish to apologize for my immaturity on that day, and acknowledge now that I can no longer separate art from religion, if indeed they are different. Twenty years ago, my art was only a tool for me, while religion was something I could not sufficiently explain to others or to myself. Today, art and religion may be different words for the same phenomena. For me anyway, they far surpass my ability to encapsulate in words.

For a week now, I have found myself reading, reflecting and journaling, but producing no art. After months of commissions I finally have the freedom and space to create whatever I wish, and frankly I wish to pursue so many subjects in watercolor as well as drawing that I find myself clogged up. Finally yesterday I sat down with a sketchbook and did a quick study of a Bighorn Sheep that I could not stop thinking about since he surprised me on the slopes of Zion National Park several months back. Maybe now the cork is out of the bottle and art work can once again flow from the tip of my pencil or brush. We’ll see. I’m packing my art supplies for both studio and plein air activity for when we reach our destination.

Bighorn Sheep Sketch
Winter 2017 in the St. Louis Region
Quick watercolor sketch, using the photograph above

I’m glad that now in the age of smart phones we carry our photo albums with us always. In looking through my photos from the past few Christmases, I came across this pair. I had done an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of a winter riverside scene I liked very much. My plan was to use this sketch to create a larger, more studied painting. But within a week, the sketch sold, and I soon forgot my plans. Oh well. Maybe this winter I’ll consider re-doing this project.

Sandi is finally recovering from an illness that dogged her for the better (or worse) part of a week. We are preparing to hit the road for another adventure, and I intend to blog along the way.

Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you a beautiful holiday season.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Studio Eidolons

Holiday Bounty

December 9, 2020
Merry Christmas from Studio Eidolons

There is no adequate explanation for my lengthy blog hiatus. November and December have been full and bountiful for me with much travel and an abundance of art-related obligations. Having read Hamlet’s Blackberry some years back, I was convinced that it didn’t matter if my blogging fell by the wayside for a season; who would notice or care? Well . . . this morning I received a heart-warming email from a reader inquiring if I was OK. I’m truly touched by this, and want to take a moment to tell everyone Yes, I am very OK and didn’t realize it had been so long since my last post.

Autumn Morning through the new Studio Window
Is it still Plein Air when you are Indoors?!

Most mornings for the past month have been the same–Sandi and I enjoy coffee, books, and the dogs’ affections for an hour or so. Then I go into Studio Eidolons to work on some kind of art project, whether its class preparations, a commission or just my own joyful explorations. Lately I have been doing many more watercolor sketches in my sketchbook and exploring techniques not tried before. My Wednesday watercolor classes at Show Me the Monet gallery in Arlington have picked up; instead of teaching twice a week, I’ve been doing them weekly. My last one for December will be on the 16th. I’m not sure yet what is happening in January . . .

Baby Paddington beginning to Fill Out

Our baby Paddington is growing like a weed and seldom holds still long enough for a picture, but I was quick enough to capture this pose. Every day when I work in the studio he takes a nap in his bed nearby, and his presence is a joy to me. Now that the Christmas tree is up he enjoys his bed next to the tree.

Partial Demo for this Afternoon’s Watercolor Class

I am dashing this blog out quickly because I have a watercolor class this afternoon, 2-5:00. Above is the beginnings of what we will paint today–an historic cabin in Arlington’s Knapp Heritage Park.

Cindy and Gary setting up for a Film Shoot

Work on the film by Cindy Thomas has kicked into high gear this past month. She is putting together a presentation that combines my watercolor activity with fly-fishing and journal activity. Time divided between the studio and the outdoors has piled up over many days now, and who knows how many hours she has spent in the studio editing. I was privileged to see the first cut a couple of days ago. The film will also feature narration by Kevin Harris of Smooth Rock FM that I came to know as a friend in recent years. A music student from University of Texas Arlington is also composing a score to accompany the piece.

Cindy Filming on the Guadalupe River
Beginning the Shoot
The Amazing Clarity of the River
That’s a Wrap!

Recently we spent two days on the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas. The temperatures were in the frigid thirties, but the quality of light and clarity of the stream were breath-taking. We are planning another film shoot on that location in the coming weeks.

Beginning Work on Christmas Cards

For over a week, I have tried daily to create a blog, but there have been too many disruptions (thankfully the Christmas shopping is finished, and the home decorating near completion). Hopefully, I won’t wait as long before posting the next one.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Odyssey Driven

September 5, 2020
Returning to Work on Homer’s Odyssey

Tell me, Muse of the man of many devices, driven far astray . .

Saturday in the Studio Eidolons finds me chasing multiple interests. We’ve decided to put together another road odyssey with the change in weather approaching. Sometimes I think we have that inborn compulsion of geese taking flight when weather warnings are in the air. After laying it aside for quite a few months, I’ve re-opened the Greek text of Homer’s Odyssey and am once again immersed in his epic.

Putting a Few Finishing Touches to the Bomber Lure

After only two days, I seem to be nearing completion of the Bomber lure. The background took much more time than rendering the actual subject itself.

I completed a quick watercolor sketch for the first time in a watercolor diary I purchased last week. I plan on taking this sketchbook on my journey soon to see how many pages I can fill as we travel.

5 x 7″ watercolor sketch

The Arlington Gallery that carries my work (Show Me the Monet) has decided to sponsor Watercolor Wednesday, offering 3-hour watercolor classes 2-5:00 every Wednesday. I am scheduled to teach on alternating weeks. I have posted my next two classes, September 16 and 30 on my professional Facebook page. Cost is $55 and classes are limited to six participants. If you are interested in signing up, phone (817) 468-5263. September 16 will focus on painting a railroad boxcar similar to the one above, and on the 30th we’ll paint a wooden trestle located here in Arlington, Texas.

September 16 subject
September 30 subject

The morning is nearly over and I have promised myself more quality time in Studio Eidolons. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Serene Day in Studio Eidolons

August 25, 2020
Working on the details of a Royal Wulff fly pattern

Ever the mutable,

Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,

Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,           

Issuing eidólons.

Walt Whitman, “Eidólons

Buoyed by the spirit of Walt Whitman in my own atelier, I’ve enjoyed working on this commission requesting three popular fly patterns from the trout stream. The Elk Hair Caddis and Parachute Adams I’ve used many times, but I have yet to put a Royal Wulff in the water, though I must say I am loving the colors of this pattern.

Having named my studio after Whitman’s poem, I’ve been reading the piece daily, and decided today to post another segment from it. I love his reference to the “changing, crumbling, re-cohering” nature of the process I witness while working on a watercolor composition. And as for my personal working space, my imagination vacillates between the elegant historic French notion of a posh atelier similar to a show room and Andy Warhol’s notion of his working space being a factory, because he was always cranking out work for the next commission, much like an assembly line.

As for my dog, he has recently marked out a spot, designating Studio Eidolons as a comfy place to relax.

Patches has found a resting place beneath one of the drafting tables

Time has been divided today between painting and continuing the task of sorting out materials that have been stored for years, deciding what to discard, what to file, and what to store in a more orderly fashion. A master bathroom adjoining my studio has now been re-assigned for studio storage. Not only is it nice to have nearby sinks for water (instead of traveling to the kitchen) and ample counter space for lining out and stretching watercolor paper, there are now two walk-in closets and a built-in set of cabinets. Finally, all art supplies, paintings, papers, matting materials etc. are stored in closets, cabinets and a lateral file–NO MORE CRAP lying about the floor or leaning against walls!

I also found rolled up in a tube the presentation I made to my principal for what would become the first of many murals painted at Martin High School. This sketch eventually became a 15 x 50 foot cafeteria mural. With a sigh, I decided it was time to discard. So I rolled it out one last time and took a photo to store in my memory collection.

Design for a High School Cafeteria Mural

Time to get back to work. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.