Posts Tagged ‘Studio Eidolons’

Another Late One in Studio Eidolons

November 2, 2022

It is closing time in the gardens of the West and from now on an artist will be judged only by the resonance of his solitude or the quality of his despair.

Cyril Connolly, Horizon, Dec. ’49-Jan ’50

One week before our magazine launch party at The Gallery at Redlands, Sandi and I find ourselves in the midst of yet another late night, working on promoting the event. We’re proud that we’ve been chosen a second time to launch The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine. Volume 8 will be brought out next Wednesday. Our party will last 4-8:00 and we’re excited at the growing number of interested participants that have notified us.

Our new cover artist is Amanda Hukill of Palestine. We’re happy that she is joining our assembly of artists in the gallery, and we’re currently working on a display of her work in our lobby window. We also welcome oil painter Steve Miller of Grand Prairie, Texas. We will be hanging three of his pieces in our collection this weekend, and party goers will have the pleasure of meeting him at the event.

We’re extremely proud that Art Connection of East Texas, under the capable guidance of Executive Producer Neita Fran Ward, has joined in on this publication effort. Their spread of pages in the magazine are exquisitely produced. A contingent of their artists will be setting up an exhibit in the lobby of our Redlands Hotel, serving as an extension of what The Gallery at Redlands has on display. The city of Tyler, Texas and its Palette of Roses possesses a body of over a hundred visual artists. Palestine is enriched to make the acquaintance of these creatives, and looks forward to working together with them as we continue this New Byzantium theme promoting East Texas as a burgeoning art community.

We just now received the digital link so we could view online the entire magazine. I’m sorry I cannot post this, since the issue won’t come out till next week’s launch. But our excitement knew no bounds as we perused every page of this beautiful publication.

Cowboy coffee has been brewed and poured into my bison mug as we continue into the early morning hours, trying to finish up details for next week’s event.

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.


Musings in Studio Eidolons

October 18, 2022

Instead of celebrity philosophers we have celebrity chefs, dozens of them. But they never talk about how delicious life itself could be if we followed a different recipe. That’s what McLuhan was all about, really, recognizing that the kitchen of the mind is stocked with all the best ingredients. Each of us could be in there every day, cooking up a masterpiece. Why aren’t we?

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

There is magic in waking to a 43 degree morning. Without an alarm I was up before daylight, made coffee, and thought I was going straight to the drafting table to pursue work on my latest project. But I opened a book and journal, and alas, ideas began savaging me. Hours later, I sit down to this blog to record some of it, then get back to work . . .

One idea leads to the next, one book to the next, etc.

I have this obsession with re-reading quality books that have fed my imagination in times past. My recent dip back into Hamlet’s Blackberry found me doing the breast stroke through the chapter featuring Marshall McLuhan. I’ve never read his books, but have decided now to take a look into The Gutenberg Galaxay and Understanding Media. The man was truly prophetic, seeing well in advance the digital age and how it would transform society. Though I hadn’t read him, his name crept into my consciousness recently during scattered chats with friends at Edom Art Festival, Hideaway Lake Art League, and creative spirits from Palestine and Greenville, Texas.

Beginnings of mapping out New Byzantium

Purchasing recently a Rand McNally road map of Texas, I spread it out on the table and began marking the towns that have recently gotten my attention with their current activities in the arts–visual, musical, performing, and literary. There is a genuine Renaissance blossoming. I have been referring to it as The New Byzantium, and intend to write more about it as these matters unfold. I am thrilled at this new vibe that is in the air, just as invigorating as the recent plunge in temperature, signaling autumn and all the excitement that comes with the approaching holiday seasons.

I’m glad to have a couple of days in my suburban home before descending back into the Palestine mix. Their annual Hot Pepper Festival is coming up this weekend, and there will be thousands of people in the downtown area. It’s time once again to roll up the sleeves and get to work on the matters at hand.

Thanks for reading.

Warm Remembrance of Edom Art Festival

October 4, 2022
The Shed Cafe. Edom, Texas (no longer open)

While sitting in the waiting room of the dealership waiting to have my vehicle serviced, I scribbled out a story about Edom Art Festival that is 100% true, but changed my name to Randy. I plan to edit this and include it in the book I’m writing. This is my fondest memory of the Edom Art Festival, one of my favorite events of the year. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary this weekend when they open 10-5:00 Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be setting up my corner booth on Friday and then look forward to another extraordinary adventure. I hope you will join me, and I hope you feel the bliss that this memory provides me.

Thanks for reading.


The October morning frost brought a chill to the inside of Randy’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. It had been a miserable, forgettable year economically, forcing him to pack his entire art festival gear, including his 10 x 10′ display tent, into the Jeep and journey two hours to rural East Texas for yet another art festival. When he finished setting up last night, the sun was sliding behind the tree-lined pasture land, temperatures were dropping into the fifties, so he decided not to drive away in search of a hotel. He wasn’t sure how far away the nearest town was, and he was too weary to think about pursuing such details. Parking his vehicle between a pair of RVs, he stretched out in back of the Jeep and was soon asleep.

With the coming of dawn, temperatures had dipped to near thirty degrees, and Randy was glad he had packed a denim jacket. Pulling on his boots, he scrambled out of the back of his Jeep and trudged up the hill, between the shrouded white tents lined up on either side of the wide path, creating a long winding boulevard. In a few hours, the air would be filled with the noises of artists opening their tents, setting out their pieces, and preparing for the opening of the first day of the festival.

Turning the corner and walking through the festival gate, he saw to his delight the distant lights of The Shed Cafe. Silvery smoke curled up from the chimney, the air was filled with the aroma of bacon and eggs frying, biscuits baking and coffee steaming. Randy was happy to the point of tears. The miserable year he had endured seemed to melt away with the warmth of the food waiting for him. The festival would not open till 10:00, so he could look forward to four hours of breakfast, extra coffee, journal time, and the gift of relaxation and anticipation of a first-rate art fair. All that he could think of was . . . What a wonderful world!

Knocking Upon Silence

September 27, 2022

This morning’s view from my bedroom window

We knock upon silence for an answering music.

Archibald MacLeish quoting a Chinese poet

The wondrous light that greeted me this morning through my open window made me think of Annie Dillard’s reference to “the tree of lights” in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I never forgot that quote, and now that I am re-reading Rollo May’s The Courage to Create, I’m gleaning gold just as lustrous as that in the leaves above as I read his account of Cezanne’s revelatory experience gazing upon the colors of trees. I also hear reverberations of my friend Clarry Hubbard as he writes poetically about the trees he visits on his morning hikes.

I have started a commission for one of my dearest friends, and would love to post a picture of how it is coming along, but alas, the part I am working on is now covered in masquing fluid and flooded with yet another tree color. I have this feeling that once I remove the “bandages” I’m going to see something sublime, but that is not going to happen till it’s 100% dry. The problem of working on 300 lb. watercolor paper is the long drying process that comes with it.

More later. Thanks for reading.

4:30 a.m. Start . . .

September 19, 2022
4:30 a.m. sketch

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.

Paul Klee

I woke this morning around 4:30 with the Paul Klee quote in my head. Unable to return to sleep, the urge to draw a horse whispered to me in the darkness. So, without question I rose, plodded silently down the hall to my Studio Eidolons, and drew the horse head posted above. I like it enough to finish out the body contours with accent lines, then put it into a 4 x 6″ mat and install it into a 10 x 12″ frame and put it in the Gallery at Redlands for sale. If nobody purchases it, the drawing will at least keep me good company. The Palomino was at the Stone Creek Ranch where I just completed a watercolor workshop and packed home years’ worth of memories.

Thanks for reading.


September 18, 2022
First Morning at Stone Creek Ranch. Mountain Home, Arkansas

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for people to dwell together in unity”

Psalm 133:1

The quiet of Studio Eidolons on a Sunday evening grants me this opportunity for silence and grateful remembrance for all the events of the past couple of weeks that time didn’t afford for recording and posting (wi-fi was also nil). My experience of making art with six precious souls who showed such warmth and reception to others filled me with feelings of beatification. Several times I heard remarks such as “doesn’t this beat sitting at home watching cable news?” Someone else responded, “At least artists are not hurting anybody or spouting negative remarks.” We truly felt the warmth of dwelling together in unity.

Over a year ago, I was booked to teach this watercolor workshop at the Women Artist Retreat. The day finally arrived September 7, and the picture above shows the lovely Stone Creek Ranch with the resplendent sunrise that filled me with gladness.

Lovely morning light

As I awaited the arrival of twelve artists and the other instructor (six students apiece for oil and watercolor classes), I strolled the grounds to seek out plein air subjects. It didn’t take long for me to select the one above, particularly because the separation of warm sun and cool shadows was equally attractive during the “golden hours” of morning and evening.

Oil Painting Instructor Sandy Arnault demonstrating

I found oil painter Sandy Arnault to be a genuine delight, and regret that I could not attend her classes, especially when I witnessed her demo the first evening. She will soon travel to Kentucky to pursue her equine studies. Her oil paintings of horses are superb, and she is still fervently studying this craft.

Everyone immediately set to work

It seems that every workshop has its “firsts”. This one was no different. My tenth-grade art teacher, Mr. Leo Hoeh, an ardent watercolorist, taught us to stretch watercolor paper on canvas stretchers, explaining that the paper would dry more quickly than if we used watercolor blocks or taped the paper to a board. When I returned to making art in my mid-thirties, I resumed this practice, assuming all watercolorists did. Boy, was I wrong. Every class I teach and every demo I perform before watercolor audiences brings surprise from everyone. They ask me where in the world I came up with such an idea.

I prefer 90-lb. D’Arches paper, not only because it dries the quickest, but because it is the least expensive, and proves to be a quality, sturdy surface that withstands all my abuse of masquing and scraping. So what was my “first” this time? That every single student, upon watching my demonstration, immediately got out her tools and began stretching one, two, and three surfaces for her own use, before the first class even got underway. Walking around, watching them work with such focus, brought back warm recollections of those (rare) moments in public school when an entire high school art class would enthusiastically pursue a new task.

First Session Underway

The first day scheduled a pair of three-hour sessions. I surprised the students when I presented my plan for them to create two 8 x 10″ watercolors by day’s end. Every single student completed that task. The paintings featured a lone bison and a cowboy seated under the stars, leaning back against his backpack. Throughout the day, we moved back and forth between the two works, allowing one to dry while picking up the other. It was amusing, watching the traffic flow out into the sunlit ranchland to lay paintings out to dry, and return to resume the other painting, then repeat the process. This assured that no one would overwork a watercolor by overpainting it while it was still wet. It also allowed them continually to put fresh eyes on a resumed piece that had been out of sight drying in the sun for 15-to-20 minutes. Without fail, each student presented a pair of completed, fresh watercolors by the end of the day.

All the ladies enjoyed Shiner, our studio assistant

Throughout the day, we were accompanied by an eighteen-year-old Siamese cat, the only Siamese that I have ever found to be affectionate and cuddly. The little fellow always sat in the chair next to me when I worked alone in the studio, often climbing on the table to shove his face into my hands and nuzzle my wrists and arms while I worked. I could never express adequately the gladness I felt at the women’s conversations while painting. Oftentimes, there would be silence for several minutes as everyone focused on the work before her. But then the comments would resume, and all of it was positive, engaging, and affirming. The bonding experience was one I’ll never stop recalling.

Plein Air Pleasure

The second day was plein air. As usual, several students admitted they had never tried it, had always felt too intimidated. I tried to take the sting out of it by reminding them that plein air was more about sketching, experimenting, information-gathering; many times our plein air pieces do not result in completed, frameable paintings. They help us turn corners, open new chapters. I gave about a five-minute talk, covering these points, and I could sense the enthusiasm beginning to percolate. And of course, they spread out over the acreage, forcing me to walk many, many steps in order to see their work and offer instruction. I’m glad my smart phone was able to record my steps; I went far beyond my quota on that day.

My own Plein Air Setup
My own Plein Air Experiment
Three Meals a Day

I doubt that anyone looks forward to mealtime more than I. But dining with this crowd was superb! Again, the conversations, the laughter, and oh, the jokes! But as I wrote earlier–artists don’t hurt people. The togetherness was great as was the food.

Dana Rowell Johnson, our Chef Extraordinaire, oil painter and leader
Debby Lively, our watercolorist and leader

Dana and Debby not only pulled together this complex event; they also participated in the classes, so every artist had the privilege of making art alongside a leader. Their confidence and positive attitudes kept the event lively and light-hearted. I’m very grateful to both of them for pulling off such a successful event.

And of course, Shiner

I cannot close out this blog without one last reference to Shiner, my companion in organizing and setting up our watercolor studio. He had no problem spreading his love around to all the participants, and was never bereft of attention and affection. I miss him (but don’t tell my dogs).

My notes for the plein air session

Today, while finally unpacking my gear, I came across this napkin on which I jotted my talking points for the plein air session on the second day. I decided not to throw it away, but keep it among my memorabilia on the shelves here in my Studio Eidolons. Every time I pass by this shelf I’ll be reminded of those special moments spent at the Women Artist Retreat.

Yes, today has definitely been an afterglow. My love goes out to the women artists of this retreat that I will never forget.

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.

Solitude Eludes Words

August 31, 2022
Morning Sketch in Studio Eidolons

This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

I felt Annie’s presence this morning, as I sat at the window sketching, the cool gray morning light filling the studio. I also felt an intimate connection to all creatives who know the sweet solitude that comes with writing a song, a literary composition, or creating a piece of visual art. Creative eros is a sweet presence that prevents solitude from descending into loneliness. No doubt we creatives thrive on attention, but we also draw deep sustenance from the act of creating while alone.

For years I’ve floundered, seeking words to reveal the feelings one knows when s/he taps a perfect putt across a green, or lays out a perfect cast with the fly rod, or scrapes the sharpened pencil across the surface of the paper, or plucks the acoustic guitar string in such a way that the note lingers in the air and resonates in the room. And then, I come across a quote by Anais Nin that tells it like it is:

I have never been able to talk as I think, to anyone. With most people you can only talk about ideas, not the channel through which these ideas pass, the atmosphere in which they bathe, the subtle essence which escapes as one clothes them. Most of the time, I don’t feel like talking about ideas anyway. I am more interested in sensations.

Anais Nin (French author/diarist)

The morning is off to a sweet beginning. 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.

Help from Joan Didion

August 30, 2022
Sketching in the Studio

See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write—in that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there  . . .

Joan Didion

Joan Didion pulled me out of the abyss this morning. I cannot put my finger on it; I slept late, woke up feeling drained, and found myself tidying the studio and doing all kinds of busy work instead of sitting down and making myself draw in the sketchbook. Once I did the morning drawing (a new discipline I’m trying to instill in myself), I settled in to read, but nothing clicked. One of those mornings when I wished for an oracle and heaven was silent. Then I remembered: I have this deep, deep file of quotes I’ve lifted over the past twenty years or so. The first file was Joan Didion, and the above statement lifted me to higher ground.

We all have our habits. Decades ago, when I was in the ministry, I began every morning searching my Bible for some Word, some organizing, cohesive force to direct my life. When I left the ministry and entered the teaching field, the habit remained, only this time I searched not only the Bible, but books in my study, magazines, newspapers, file folders of gems I’d copied from my past–anything that might start a fire of creative desire in my imagination.

Now retired, the habit remains. For some reason this morning, I pursued chores, tasks, busy work, and postponed the morning coffee for nearly two hours. But now here I am, coffee’d up, breakfasted, read up, scribbled up in the journal, and ready to go to the drafting table to the big watercolor and figure out what to do next with it.

Quick Sketch of a Blues Man

Thanks, Joan. And thanks to the rest of you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Sketches & Thoughts

August 29, 2022
Morning Sketch of Son House over Coffee

He was by far the most intense. If blues was an ocean distilled to a lake, to a pond, to a pool, to a tub, to a glass and ultimately to a drop, the essence, the very concentrate, this is Son House.

Dick Waterman

I started this day off better. Having resolved to shift priority #3 to #1, I began my morning over coffee by sketching in my sketchbook. Opening Billy Wyman’s Blues Odyssey: A Journey to Music’s Heart and Soul, I found this photograph of Son House and an accompanying article about Dick Waterman, who re-discovered Son House in his later years, living in a New York apartment, and in failing health. Waterman put Son House back into the blue’s limelight and he was able to enjoy success till his death. Waterman’s glowing tribute of Son House and how he represented the essence of blues music is a sublime piece of writing.

I’m happy now to return to sketching, and intend to be more disciplined and consistent with it. Now, it’s time for me to pick up my other two priorities and see if I can continue this excellent day.

Thanks for reading.

The Logos

August 28, 2022
Patches, my Pal

. . . and Paddington, my other Pal

            The pressure disappeared with the first word he put on paper.  He thought—while his hand moved rapidly—what a power there was in words; later, for those who heard them, but first for the one who found them; a healing power, a solution, like the breaking of a barrier.  He thought, perhaps the basic secret the scientists have never discovered, the first fount of life, is that which happens when a thought takes shape in words.

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

The passage above describes newspaper mogul Gail Wynand gathering strength to write a rebuttal to a published editorial, to defend his public position. As a lover of the Greek language, I’ve been captivated by the logos, generally translated as “word” but oh, so much more. The philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote extensively about the Presocratic texts, and how their sense of logos involved the “gathering together.” The idea of cohesion lies at the foundation of this powerful word. We use words as harnesses, as fences, as cages, to encapsulate our ideas. And the word–whether spoken, heard, written, read–empowers us, liberates us, integrates us, brings clarity and meaning to our lives.

This is a personal moment for me. I’m sitting up in bed, late on a Sunday night, tapping these words out on the laptop, hoping to send out yet another blog post, another flag to send up the pole. Why do I do this? I’ve asked myself this question countless times throughout the years I’ve put out these blogs. Why do I do this?

Good-natured friends have chided me that I do this to convince the world of how great I am. I don’t take offense at that, and I have always felt that the barbs were in good fun. I hold my nose at the recollection of many blogs I’ve read that came across to me as “preachy”, that seemed designed to tell others what they should be doing to be successful, to be better. The superiority I sense behind those blogs is off-putting to me. And I constantly question whether or not my own writings come across that way to others. God, I hope not.

Why do I blog? Because I’m always reading, always journaling, always exploring ideas, always hoping to understand better and thus improve my own life. And as a retired teacher, I still have this urge to put something out to others that could give them a good feeling about themselves, a desire to improve their own lives and those that surround them. I try to stay away from the negativity that dogs me when I write, because I want someone to feel good when they read me, instead of insulted or angered.

I love words. I love their power, their integration, their restoration. And I hope every time I put out a blog post, that words sent out into the world will empower, integrate, and restore others.

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.