Posts Tagged ‘Studio Eidolons’

New Horizons

August 2, 2021
View from Brookie Cabin, South Fork, CO

Though it’s been a couple of weeks, my heart remains in the Colorado Rockies. I thought of those daily rains yesterday afternoon when the rare thunderstorm “mashed” the skies (Emily Dickinson’s description) here at home.

Heavy Arlington, Texas storms

Before going to the ophthalmologist to get my eyes dilated, I thought it best to send out some thoughts while I could still see. Finishing Larry McMurtry’s Streets of Laredo this morning filled my head with images to pursue next. Once in able to see again, I hope to begin immediately.

Paddington naps beneath the desk
Planning new images for watercolor

I spent the entire morning going through literally thousands of photos I took of horses, longhorns, bison & canyons in preparation for my next series of watercolors & drawings. I leave for St. Louis before the weekend, so hopefully I’ll begin posting before then.

Thanks for reading.

Stream of Consciousness from Studio Eidolons

July 26, 2021
In the Studio Eidolons with Slumbering Paddington

All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lies in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.

T. K. Whipple, Study Out the Land

The Texas forecast threatens a 102-degree day this Monday. Yesterday reached 100, and I enjoyed the entire day indoors, in my pajamas, finishing Larry McMurtry’s Commanche Moon. I had not read Lonesome Dove till a couple of years ago, and now I’ve decided to finish out his series by reading Dead Man Walking and Streets of Laredo. I’m saddened at McMurtry’s recent death and consider myself blessed that I met him on a number of occasions while visiting his Booked Up Inc. in Archer City, Texas. Reading his Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond led me to read Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller” and convinced me to continue following my dream of writing and illustrating a book of short stories or maybe even a novel featuring life in America.

Commanche Moon has reignited my appetite to read the history of the American West and re-visit some of the subjects I was painting a couple of years back while engaged in McMurtry reading as well as historical research on the West. I’m pulling out my sketches of bison, longhorns, horses, Plains Indians and cowboys. Perhaps in the coming days I’ll have new work to show.

Thanks for reading.

Aging and Loving

July 21, 2021
Shelton Hall, Old Town Palestine, Texas (still in progress)

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for . . .

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

We have not yet been home a week from our Colorado excursion, but already I find myself firmly set in the daily schedule of my usual life divided between Arlington and Palestine, Texas–a life we had escaped last week for a few days. Daily, I re-open journal pages and sketchbooks from the Colorado hiatus and review the many photos taken, not wanting those memories to fade . . .

Always when traveling, I pack several books, never sure exactly what is going to hold my attention while vacationing. This time I took Martin Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought, Larry McMurtry’s Comanche Moon, my Greek texts of Homer’s Odyssey and my New Testament, and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Every day on the deck of our Brookie Cabin, I found time for journaling, watercoloring in my sketchbooks and reading from Heidegger and Dillard. PIlgrim at Tinker Creek I have read twice, but the text is so rich I continually find myself re-reading passages that though highlighted had been pushed down the corridors of fading memories, needing refreshment.

I have posted above the passage that knocked the wind out of me (as if breathing at 8,000 feet wasn’t difficult enough already). Annie wasn’t very old at the time she wrote that, but the depth of feeling seized me then, and of course seizes me much more at my current age.

I’m never sure how to address this issue of aging, but these are the things on my mind this morning: First, I have been aware of a sedentary lifestyle for decades, but lacked the inititative to do anything about it. Reading books and making art and driving long distances are not acts that improve physical conditioning. Weight gains and aging finally drove me to hire a personal trainer, and for several months in the gym, I’ve experienced the Greek αγωνία as muscles have been stretched and torn. I gratefully realized the improvement last week when in the stream fly-fishing, that my footing had much improved over the slick rocks underneath and my stamina was better wading upstream against torrential currents. Scaling the hills back to the cabin also came easier. So yes, I am much grateful to Inner Strength Fitness for pointing me in the right direction, healthwise.

But of course, there is no reversal for aging. The longer I live, the more I realize how much I love life and want to suck out its marrow, as Thoreau expressed in Walden. I am not living a life of regret over past decisions, but I do regret the feeling of doors slowly closing on the road ahead. My watercolor posted above, nearly complete, depicts a subject that has pulled at my sentiments since the 1980’s–an America I knew as a child in the 1950’s that is slowly vanishing from our landscape, but not my memories. I call my company Recollections 54 because it points to my birth year along with the decade that shaped my earliest impressions. The city of Palestine is replete with these relics from the past, and I’m grateful now to possess a gallery in what I know to be the best part of that town–the historic Redlands Hotel, built in 1914 and still maintained with pride and dignity. But as I continually survey the aging buildings and properties about me, I feel the corollary of my own life that continually resists entropy.

Tomorrow I will return to Palestine and The Gallery at Redlands, hopefully complete this watercolor, then begin a new composition, picking out yet another of hundreds of its monuments from the past. We have exciting events on the horizon in Palestine as we continue to pump new life into its art scene. Next month will witness the return of Wayne White, my “Hank” hero from the short stories I’ve been writing for a book to come out sometime in the future. On Friday night August 20 at 7:00, Wayne will team up with fellow Gallery at Redlands artist Stacy Campbell to host our “Gallery Talk.” Few people can “slap it around” better than Wayne and Stacy when it comes to discussing art and humor. You won’t want to miss that event. And then the next day, Saturday August 21 will be our third “Art Walk” that will take in over a dozen businesses in downtown Palestine from 10:00-3:00. At 7:00, our concluding summer concert event will feature Carson Jeffrey. A number of Palestine creatives have pooled their enthusiasm to pump up the fine arts in town and I’m proud to play a part in the events.

The morning has stretched into the afternoon already. I plan to spend the day in Studio Eidolons to see what I can cook up next. I hope to write you from The Gallery first thing tomorrow.

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.

Sunday Repose

June 13, 2021

All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.

Thomas Carlyle

What a serene Sunday! Dragging in at 11:30 last night after a 48-hour gallery weekend, I was quite bedraggled, but happy. Happier now, rested! My reading this morning over coffee yielded this remark from Carlyle that I had recorded 15 years ago in my journal, and forgotten (I really should spend more time digging up the old bones I’ve buried in those notebooks since 1985). I cannot exaggerate the power of books to light creative fires for me. When I’m feeling flat, someone will always pull me out of the funk with what s/he cared enough to write for others to find. I still love the quote from the film Shadowlands: “We read to know we’re not alone.”

I have decided today to push further with this “Lone Bison” series. It began in Utah last September when I encountered a herd and took dozens of photos. Not long after, I used the photos as models and began drawing and watercoloring in sketchbooks my experiments with color and composition. I am becoming more daring with my colors of late and want to see how far I can push it.

When it comes to selling my art, I often find myself talking out both sides of my mouth: I’ll sell anything. However, there are particular pieces that I’m attached to for various reasons, and while in my possession, I spend time looking at them and contemplating how I can repeat the painting or extend it into a new direction. When a new work sells quickly, I’m robbed of that contemplative, composting time that has come to mean so much more in these later years.

Case in point: The Lone Bison. Last weekend I pulled from my collection at home a solitary bison, 5 x 7″ inches, that I painted as a demo for one of my “Watercolor Wednesdays” classes. I liked the way it cropped neatly into a 5 x 7″ inch matt, so I framed it and set it on the display case in The Gallery at Redlands. That very evening, someone bought it. So . . . all week long I could not stop thinking of that small watercolor study. Yesterday, in the gallery, I painted another one, using the same model as before. Before I could get it into the frame, a dear friend I’ve known since high school texted me that he wanted to purchase it. So . . . in the evening, I painted a third one, matted and framed it, but left it in the gallery in case someone just might see it this next week and wish to purchase it. So now here I am, at home in Studio Eidolons, thinking of all the possibilities I want to pursue with that solitary bison. We’ll see what happens today. I’m grateful for the time, the space, and the quiet.

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.

Dawn in Studio Eidolons

May 24, 2021
Early Morning in Studio Eidolons

Motherwell’s varied imagery was a product of his complex, anguished inner being, and also an expression of his deeply held convictions about the nature of reality, which he believed to contain not a single truth but many relative truths, which could be only partially revealed and not explained. This is reflected in his fascination with the idea that the ancient Greeks had no word for truth. As he told an interviewer, “Socrates says something and it’s translated, What you say is true Socrates.” But as Motherwell pointed out, the Greek word was aletheia, which meant revealed, or hidden. “And so a literal translation,” he noted, “would be you’ve unhidden that point, Socrates.”

Jack Flam, “Introduction: Robert Motherwell at Work,” volume one Robert Motherwell: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941-1991.

5:37 a.m.–the dogs dragged me back to consciousness. Something triggers inside them, telling them it is time to eat, and they immediately pounce on me. This is good though. I retired early to bed last night thinking of what I could do when I return to my studio vacated since the middle of last week. I love being back in the space where I can pursue creative eros. By the time I entered this morning, the light was just breaking, and I felt my breathing change.

While making Cowboy Coffee, my eyes lighted on the three-volume Catalogue Raisonné I purchased for myself as a retirement gift four years ago. Re-opening it over coffee, I decided to re-read portions I had marked (and forgotten), and came across the thought-provoking passage quoted above.

We acknowledge that we are complex individuals. The longer we live, the more we seek understanding of our complexities. We reach for an explanation, pattern or key phrase to encapsulate our persona.

Early in life I sought role models. Later, wishing to find myself rather than copy the character of others, I looked upon my assembly of heroes as templates, finding pieces of my own life amidst the collage of attributes among them. I turned to Robert Motherwell this morning, not because of his artistic style (of which I share little-to-nothing), but because of his lifelong struggle to balance a life of art and scholarship. Art Digest labeled Motherwell as “one of today’s most thinking painters.” He was frequently criticized for teaching and publishing instead of focusing all his time on developing as a painter.

I laid down my brush for a decade to study theology at a seminary. Once I emerged from the halls of academia, I entered the teaching field. Within a year of teaching, I once again picked up the brush, hungry to make art again, but never able to walk away from the books. Motherwell is my friend, because I see in him a complete man who never apologized for pursuing both worlds–art and scholarship. Art feeds my scholarship and scholarship feeds my art. At this age, I make no apology for living a life of the mind.

This morning’s reading brought my attention again to this notion of “truth.” Learning Greek years ago in seminary, I knew the word translated “truth” (aletheia), but never paid attention to its etymology till late one night (in that wonderful rustic general store in the east Texas wilderness) reading Martin Heidegger’s notes on the pre-socratic Heraclitus. It was then that I learned the word (aletheia), often rendered “truth”, is better translated “unforgetting, revelation, uncovering, or discovery.” The word “lethe” we know from the River of Lethe. It means “forget”. The prefix “a” (alpha privative) is the negation, hence “the un-forgetting.” Continuing with Motherwell:

“In that sense, I wish the word truth didn’t exist. Because one of the reasons I’ve been able to move all over the place is I take that for granted. Everybody has his own revelations, but the mass of the totality has never been revealed to anybody.”

I am going to try in my future to redefine this notion of “truth” that has been misused and understood throughout my life. The word denotes an uncovering, a revealing, a reminder (un-forgetting), a discovery.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to UNCOVER (seek the truth).

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Continued Work on “Palimpsest”–Measure Twice. Cut Once

May 3, 2021

palimpsest

noun

a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Home again in Studio Eidolons, I’m finally rested and refreshed and ready to return to painting. I did maage to get some work done over the weekend in The Gallery at Redlands on this building I discovered in Little Rock, covered with ghost signs. I am thinking about titling it “Palimpsest” because the layers of signage from early 19th to mid-20th century remided me of my earlier years of seminary studies when poring over photo facsimiles of ancient biblical palimpsest pages.

Ghost signs have been my passion for many years, and my dear friends the Darrs just gave me a very fitting birthday gift, an out of print book, Ghost Signs: Brick wall Signs in America, by William Stage an amazing author and photographer with a background in philosophy. I am nearly finished reading the entire text and am deeply touched by this statement from art critic John Brod Peters:

On ancient, peeling brick walls, these fading signs are the dying whispers of another age.

Reading that, I felt the hairs raising on the nape of my neck. This particular building in Little Rock, Arkansas is the 1891 O’Bryan building. The orginal painted advertisements were covered by an adjoining building in 1915. When the newer building was torn down in the 1980’s, the ads were visible again. The Coca-Cola ad barely shows beneath the Tom Moore cigar ad.

Studio Eidolons in the Morning

The day in studio has been soothing, and the watercolor is now slowing down considerably. The old adage “Measure twice. Cut Once” is in play as I spend more time staring at every square inch of detail than actual painting. The mortar seams in the brick work are slowing me down as is the parking lot and sidewalk just barely begun. When I am this deep in a painting, I tend to tighten up and sometimes lose the freshness and spontaneity that I love to see. I’m glad there is no deadline for this piece.

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.

A Special Day

April 20, 2021
View from my Studio Eidolons

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . . .

The world’s darkening never reaches

to the light of Being. . . .

To think is to confine yourself to a

single thought that one day stands

still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

The pups woke me at 6:20, so the day seemed like most others at its beginning, except . . . Facebook greetings came pouring in. My Birthday. At age 67, I confess that for several years birthdays have tended to sneak up on me; I just don’t look forward to them as I did while younger. But I don’t mean to sound morose; my life in the past few years has been better than ever before, and I wish it could go on for another 67 years. But I have to say this: greetings from friends truly mean much more in these senior years than actual gift-wrapped presents received in earlier times.

After feeding pups and French-pressing my favorite New Mexico Pinon coffee, I found a nice comfy chair next to a window and opened my Heidegger volume to read what I was thinking as I waited for the coffee and looked out the kitchen window at the lovely light of this lovely day.

I am a sucker for antiquarian book stores. I found one in Palestine, a couple of blocks from our gallery. This morning I opened my recent purchase of a collection of Alexander Pope’s poems, the volume was published in 1876. I took a few moments to read the first page of his “Essay on Man.”

Let us (since life can little more supply

Than just to look about us, and to die)

Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;

A mighty maze, but not without a plan.

The first two lines didn’t really “do it” for me, but Wow, the final pair! I feel that this sentiment will abide throughout this day. Birthdays probably make me more introspective and retrospective than other days (and that is saying plenty!). Though I have a huge stack of work in front of me, I believe I’ll find a way to think over this extensive gift of life and adventure that has been granted me.

This weekend I will be in Booth #71 at the Dallas Arboretum for Artscape 2021. I have a ton of new work I am packaging for display and sale. Below are a couple of the more than 100 new greeting cards I have created. They are 5 x 7″ and I sell them for $5 each or 5 for $20. My art is on the front, text on the back, and they are blank inside.

I hate to close this so quickly, but I am going to be extremely busy the next three days preparing for the weekend art festival. 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.

Sunday Morning Musings from Studio Eidolons

April 11, 2021
Glad to be back in the Studio for some Quiet Restoration

. . . finding you were able to make something up; to create truly enough so that it made you happy to read it; and to do this every day you worked was something that gave a greater pleasure than any I had ever known.

Ernest Hemingway

Today is restoration day. Sandi and I received our second COVID vaccine shots yesterday and are happy to experience no unpleasant symptoms. We’ve just been on the go for several days and are glad now to stop for awhile.

I’ve resumed reading Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. I love the quote above, and that general sentiment of the artist–creating something out of the void. My life has been enriched in recent years by a mix of painting and writing. Last weekend while in The Gallery at Redlands, I met an author who invited me to join their writers’ group that meets once a month. The next one won’t be until May, but I am already leaning forward with enthusiasm to gathering with these writers and finding ways to sharpen my own vision of what to do with my own practice.

My latest watercolor has laid dormant on my drafting table for twenty-four hours, and I intend today to give it my next push. I’ve gotten bogged down with the bricks and ghost signage, so I may decide to return to work on the trees awhile. We’ll see.

Planning today to return to the Ghost Sign watercolor

I look forward to participating in Artscape 2021 at the Dallas Aroboretum April 23-25. Last year was canceled due to COVID, but I understand that there will be 80+ artists participating this year. This festival has been one of the highlights of my annual art schedule before last year’s cancellations. I am excited to bring out quite a stack of framed watercolors that have not yet been seen by the public. I guess that’s one positive to address concerning the lost year during COVID.

A new Greeting Card for my Inventory

Hank Under Oklahoma Stars

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky.

The back of the Greeting Card (blank inside)

I have allowed my greeting card inventory to dwindle over the past couple of years. In The Gallery at Redlands, as well as my festival tent, I sell 5 x 7″ cards (blank inside) with my artwork on front and a descriptive text on back. They sell for $5 each, five for $20, and come with the proper envelope. A protective plastic envelope encases the assembly. Above is an example of one of my newest ones printed last week. Materials just arrived to print 250 new cards, so I’m excited to create new editions as well as replenish the ones sold out. Above is an example of one of my newest cards; below is a photo of another spread out.

(Cards are blank inside)

I’m ready to paint again. 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.

Morning Serenity in Studio Eidolons

March 30, 2021
First Early Morning Peek into Studio Eidolons

Yes, to paint is to love again, live again, see again. To get up at the crack of dawn in order to take a peek at the water colors one did the day before, or even a few hours before, is like stealing a look at the beloved while she sleeps. The thrill is even greater if one has first to draw back the curtains. How they glow in the cold light of early dawn! Another hour or two and they will already have lost some of their gleam and sparkle. Coming on them by surprise this way they give the impression of having slept all night with their eyes open.

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

Working very slowly and deliberately on my newest composition.

After a full day of rest from my crazy On-the-Road experiences of the past couple of weeks, I finally settled down late last night to my drafting table in my home studio. Before retiring to bed, I read the words posted above from my beloved Henry Miller gift book (love you, Stacy and Leigh!). Waking at dawn, I had to walk into the studio and steal a peek at my work in the morning light. And now, with a shower, fresh clothing and modest breakfast with coffee behind me, I am eating up the precious experience of leaning over my newest piece and painstakingly working with pencil, drafting tools, watercolor pencils and large washes of Winsor & Newton pigments. Slowly the image is taking form, seen perhaps the same way a dark room photographer once saw as s/he leaned over a tray and looked at the film shimmering below the liquid surface.

I won’t be leaving for The Gallery at Redlands till early Thursday morning, so I still have two complete days with very few appointments to get my affairs in order and enjoy this new experience painting in the studio. I fully intend to take this new watercolor with me, although I was unable to work on it at all until late nights in Palestine, the gallery had an abundance of traffic, which we appreciate very much.

16 x 20″ framed special edition giclée print of Burleson, Texas railroad setting. $225

As we approach the third and final weekend of Dogwood Festival, we continue to add new work to The Gallery at Redlands. This morning I framed one of my special edition giclée prints of a Union Pacific diesel rolling through Burleson, Texas. We also welcome new artist Kathy Lamb, who has a pair of framed oils now displayed in the lobby window of our gallery. As soon as I hit town Thursday, I will photograph and post those to the blog.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Early Sunday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

March 7, 2021
Quiet Time for Reading and Reflection, The Gallery at Redlands, Palestine, Texas

For many artists, their profession is a mysterious calling, a way to create something unique while rebelling and living outside of society, yet never losing sight of the need to move society. Most artists must persevere against enormous odds in pushing their talent forward. For many, there are no rules or guidelines in the silence of the studio–and, more terrifying, no audience in the loneliness of the studio.

Murray Dessner, Foreword to Living the Artist’s Life by Paul Dorrell

At Work in Studio Eidolons, Arlington, Texas
Working in my Undisclosed Texas Location

The Redlands Hotel is generally quiet on Sundays, and that is when I manage to get most of my work done. This Sunday was a rare exception. The Gallery at Redlands witnessed quite a stream of people passing through, and the conversations were pleasant. Sandi and I are bemused, and happy at the same time. Since we took over the gallery February 1, we haven’t really been open for business, but still managed to sell five paintings. It feels unusual to have patrons perusing the gallery while we are still installing furniture, hanging paintings and adjusting lights. But that is OK.

The quote posted above rang my bell early this morning. I’m looking forward to talking to The Twelve when they finally gather here in The Gallery at Redlands March 20 for our Opening Reception. I’ve wanted to talk to kindred spirits for years about the dynamics we experience when working alone in studios, with our eyes fixed on the days we enter the artists’ marketplace. For years I have known the tension of my private vs. public life (artist vs. public school teacher). Now retired, a different tension has caught me by surprise: artist vs. gallerist. Friends have recently asked me if I am leaving behind the life of an artist to pursue life as a business man. My simple response: No. Daily I am thinking out paintings, waiting for an opening to pursue the next one. I anticipate it will happen soon after our March 20 Gallery Reception if not sooner.

This blog had its inception at 7:30 this morning. Now, it is 4:13 and I am still trying to wrap it up, such has been life in The Gallery at Redlands this Sunday. Our hope is that this will continue.

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.