Posts Tagged ‘Sundance Square’

October 19

October 19, 2019



Sundance Square. Fort Worth, Texas

The sunwashed cool days of this weekend have been so satisfying. I feel that I am finally rested from the past couple of weeks of activities requiring constant travel. Sitting outside at a Starbucks in downtown Fort Worth, I read through a journal of mine from the winter of 2015-16. Finding notes I took on N. C. Wyeth, I rediscovered the historical events that all occurred on today’s date–October 19.

On this day . . .

. . . 1902. N. C. Wyeth arrived in Wilmington, Delaware to study under the illustrator Howard Pyle.

. . . 1932. Andrew Wyeth entered the studio of his father to begin his apprenticeship as an artist.

. . . 1937. Andrew Wyeth opened his one-man-show in New York City. It sold out the following day.

. . . 1945. N.C. was killed along with his grandbaby, struck by a freight train when their car stalled at the crossing.

I feel that I’ll never see October 19 the same again.

Thanks for reading.


Late Night Muses Stirring

September 11, 2015

imageIt is a common point from which I start; for there again and again I shall return.


Thursday has been a grinder of a day, rising at 5:00, entering my classroom by 5:55 and responding to the snarling grading deadline. Once classes were over, I continued to feed the beast until about 8:30 at night. Then, there was nothing reasonable to do but go out into the night and feed my soul.

A Bottle of Pellegrino, a Book and my Journal

A Bottle of Pellegrino, a Book, my Journal, and Fountains

How enchanted I feel with this balmy evening, listening to the swish of the fountains, live music pounding a few blocks away, the conversations and laughter of lovers at tables scattered across the plaza, but most of all–the echoes of Socrates from the mountains of Delphi, through the streets of Athens and finally down through the corridors of Fort Worth’s Sundance Square tonight. I feel the power of his ideas now as I pause for the first time throughout this lengthy (boring) day of grading and meeting school deadlines.

I try to distill the legacy of Socrates in a few statements: (1) the unexamined life is not worth living, (2) the answer lies within you, not in the books or the teachers or authority figures, (3) there are valid principles to follow in order to maintain a quality life, (4) leave nothing unexamined. Much of what this sage has left us has been fleshed out in the writings of Aristotle, Descartes and Emerson, and already I look forward to opening their ideas before my students later in the semester.

Teaching is my job, but what I am doing beside the fountain tonight is my life–a life of the mind, a contemplative life. This is the food that sustains my spiritual body and keeps me alive. Hopefully in tomorrow’s philosophy class I can share this moment in a meaningful way, but if not, I still harbor this treasure in my heart.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air Excursions and Thoughts from Thoreau

June 15, 2014
Finished the Haltom Jewelers Clock on the Second Visit

Finished the Haltom Jewelers Clock on the Second Visit

It is only by a sort of voluntary blindness, and omitting to see, that we know ourselves, as when we see stars with the side of the eye.  The nearest approach to discovering what we are is in dreams.  It is as hard to see one’s self as to look backwards without turning around.  And foolish are they that look in glasses with that intent.

Father’s Day, of course, gave me a full day to think over these matters raised by Thoreau.  Funny how I feel my sense of identity evaporate when I am out of the classroom, as I have been for a little while now.  I know I am a teacher by profession, but feel odd when I try to identify myself as an artist when there is no audience.  When paintings are cranked out daily, I wonder if they are compared to symphonies played in deserts or smoke signals sent from uncharted islands.  I make art because it is in me; I can do nothing else.  But quiet moments like the present can render my sense of equilibrium shaky.  Ah well, I’ll get past that one.  🙂

I returned to Sundance Square this afternoon, mostly because of the opportunity to re-connect with old friends.  That in itself was a priceless moment.  And I also got to finish this plein air sketch I started Friday morning.  I’m satisfied with it and ready to move on to the next . . .

Upon completion of the clock, I retired to the Sundance Square Starbuck’s and enjoyed an iced coffee in the air-conditioned indoors (94 degrees outside).  I was really in the mood to sink my teeth into some Emerson essays, but the crowd noise inside I found intolerable.  Funny–I can usually tune out the clatter, but not today.  The coffee shop was overflowing with intolerable verbal clatter.  I had to leave.  Coming home to the studio, I found this:

A Studio Filling Up with Unfinished Projects

A Studio Filling Up with Unfinished Projects

So . . . Emerson or more watercolor activity?  Tough choice, really.  I’ll get back to you on that later.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never really alone.

Responding to the Muse on Sundance Square

June 13, 2014
Early Morning Plein Air Attempt of a Monumental Bronze Clock

Early Morning Plein Air Attempt of a Monumental Bronze Clock

In order to make art, we must first make an artful life, a life rich enough and diverse enough to give us fuel.  We must strive to see the beauty in where we are planted.

Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

We are not on this earth for long.  Part of what a midlife crisis is about is figuring out what gives you pleasure and doing more of that in the time you have left without asking for permission or a financial or emotional subsidy from anyone else.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

Last night in downtown Fort Worth was restorative to my weary soul.  I enjoyed the sounds of people milling about Sundance Square, enjoyed my late-night coffee, read my book, and scribbled in my journal with utmost serenity.  Suddenly, I was drowsy and knew it was time to go home and retire.  Passing by the Haltom Jeweler’s clock that I had painted as part of my downtown composition a few years ago, I wondered why I had never sketched the clock en plein air.  It seemed that the Muse whispered that question into my ear, and the matter was settled.  Arriving home near midnight, I set my clock for 6:00 a.m., having checked the Weather Channel app on my phone to note that the morning was expected to be about 71 degrees.

When the alarm sounded, I made quick work of showering, dressing and “breaking my fast” (Thoreau’s favorite expression).  I was on the road by 6:48, and seated beneath this monumental bronze clock by 7:18.  I sketched and painted exactly one hour, and stopped, strolled into Starbuck’s, and enjoyed my morning coffee with this piece lying before me on the table.  I’m not sure if I’ll work further on it–plein air, to me, is strictly for gathering information, learning on the fly.  The experience will remain with me and inform my future work.

I am so grateful that I listened to the muse and followed my bliss this morning.  Sitting at the Starbuck’s table and reading Julia Cameron’s The Sound of Paper, I came across these words:

I am more than my circumstances, more than the cage of my environment.  There is a dignity inherent in making art, a filament of largesse and generosity, a connection to something better and brighter than myself.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



In the Twilight Between Sartre and Heidegger

May 14, 2014
Beginning a Watercolor of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge

Beginning a Watercolor of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge

Thinking is hard work. It’s why so few people do it.
– Henry Ford

As reported in earlier posts, I have been engaged in a couple of larger watercolors that I could not post to the blog because there was not very much to see at that point–light pencil sketches and very little color.  Now I can finally publish this commencement of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge, a substreet-level jazz club in an alley on the south side of Fort Worth’s re-energized Sundance Square.  I have always loved the darkness of this alley and the lighted neon sign suspended above.  It’s fun to take the elevator down to the club proper when you enter from the alley at night.  For several years I have taken photos of this sign but never seemed to have the courage to begin.  So I finally thought, “Why not?  What have I got to lose?  I’ve made bad watercolors before and I can do it again.  I have the guts to make a bad watercolor.”   I have found working over this one to be deeply enjoyable so far, even though the image is emerging very, very slowly.  The overall composition is of substantial size, and will probably be cut to 16 x 20″.  I began last week with the careful pencil sketch, then made a decision to lay in a dark, warm background.  I applied a wet-on-wet coat of Aureolin (yellow) first.  One day later, I added a second wet-on-wet coat of the same.  On the third day (always making sure I was giving it 24 hours to dry on this 300-pound D’Arches cold-press paper surface) I applied a mixture of Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Green, Transparent Yellow, Winsor Red, Winsor Blue (Green Shade) and Cadmium Red.  Finally I’m getting that dark brick color I’ve been needing for three days.  I just needed the patience to let the layers of pigment do their work.  This evening I began work on the crimson part of the sign.  I will probably have to lay this aside now, because I have plenty of other (not as interesting) tasks to tend tonight.

I am also working on a Philosophy lecture for Friday morning, introducing Martin Heidegger.  In my high school classes, I haven’t discussed Heidegger (or Sartre) for at least three years.  Both thinkers I find too difficult to discuss, and I hate to simplify and distort them.  But I sucked it up and delivered the Sartre lecture this morning, and was pleasantly shocked at the level of interest and reception.  So, I decided to soldier on and see how it goes with Heidegger on Friday.

I would be lying if I reported that I’ve read and understood Being and Time.  My interest in Heidegger comes primarily from secondary sources about his life and work.  The only writings of his that I have enjoyed are his translations and meditations over the Greek Presocratic fragments.  I have loved the Greek language since my seminary days, and have spent as much time over the past couple of decades translating Homeric, Presocratic and Classical texts than New Testament passages.  What I love about Heidegger is the way he lingered over these ancient texts, expecting some kind of oracular encounter.  That is my own lifestyle as well, and I cannot put those emotions into words. But they are precious moments, and every time I read something significant from his hand that emerged from the words of Anaximander, Heraclitus or Parmenides, I feel as if he is in the same room with me, conversing over these fragments.  The word is indeed a living power.

Tonight I’m going to try and read Heidegger’s essays “The Thinker as Poet” and “The Origin of the Work of Art.”  I’m approaching them with a sense of expectancy.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Making Christmas Cards over the Holidays

November 26, 2011

Making a Christmas Card

I apologize that more than a week has passed since my last post.  Too many disruptions that were school-related and then holiday-related.  Finally I manage to get back into the studio!  The “man cave” (garage, actually) is quite chilly as winter winds are blowing across north Texas today, Saturday.  But thanks to a heavy sweater, I’m managing to find some contentment in this space, and oddly enough, I’m listening to The Teaching Company VHS and DVD lectures on Aristotle.  I’ve had a curiosity about his ethics these past months, and thought I would devote some quality time to hearing lectures on the topic.  So far, I’m finding them quite engaging.

Yesterday afternoon, I journeyed to Fort Worth’s Sundance Square to see everything set up for the Festival of Lights that took place last night.  For several years now, I’ve had good intentions to photograph the complex “Santa Stage” and do a series of Christmas watercolors on the subject.  I am in the process of setting up my own “store” on and I did not think the store would be complete without Christmas cards.  I have begun two that are 9 x 12″ in size, that I plan to digitize and reduce to 4 x 6 or 5 x 7″.  We’ll see how that one goes.  I’m getting lost in the profusion of bright primary colors in the Sundance stage and wonder at this point how I’m going to unify the composition.  But at any rate, I’m having fun chipping away at the piece.  We’ll see how it all turns out.  Hopefully I can post more progress later tonight.

Thanks for reading.  Sorry for the lengthy hiatus.

Haltom’s Jewelers Watercolor, Sundance Square, Nearly Complete

July 26, 2011

Haltom's Jewelers nearly finished

I’m trying very hard to have this watercolor wrapped up and delivered to the Weiler House Gallery by tomorrow (  The latest obstacle interfering with its successful completion is our air conditioning breaking down today.  It is only 102 degrees outside now, meaning that the inside of my studio is a cool 90 degrees.  I find this exceptionally irritating, especially since I called in our problem Saturday morning and it only took four days for someone to come and announce that the motor was nearly dead, and that ordering and receiving the replacement would take a minimum 48 hours–then 3 hours after he left, the motor gave up the ghost.

At any rate, I still hope to finish this tonight and deliver it tomorrow.  I will take one final photo of the completed work.  I hope all I need do is complete the downspout and vertical slice of brick facade running down the right side of the composition.  Of course, if I stare at it long enough, I’ll no doubt find other things to do to it.  Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my self-imposed deadline.   Tomorrow, then.

Thanks for reading, and especially for following up on this particular watercolor odyssey.  It’s been an interesting path for me.

Continuing the Haltom’s Jeweler’s Clock, Sundance Square

July 21, 2011

Haltom's Jewelers Clock, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

It’s hard for me to take a decent digital photograph in the comparatively dim light of my studio as opposed to outdoors in the daylight.  But I wanted to get this latest development out there on my blog.  Thanks to those of you dear readers who always offer so much encouragement, and provide the impetus for me to continue, even when I am tired, or on the verge of burning out.

I was terrified of watercoloring this clock, because I had no clue as to how to mix the bronze colors (still don’t!).  I’ve been using Aureolin as my base, with touches of Cadmium Red Medium and the occasional Winsor Green.  For tighter work, I’m relying heavily on a Dark Sepia watercolor pencil (Albrecht Durer brand), and sharpening it frequently to create clean edges where I can.  I’m just about finished with the monument.  The major thing that remains now is heavy street shadows with all kinds of variation going on.  We’ll see how they come along (probably tomorrow–I’m getting tired!).

Thanks always for reading.

Watercoloring the Haltom Jewelers Clock

July 21, 2011

Haltom's Jewelers Clock, Sundance Square

This morning, I rose bright and early, determined to go after this clock that I have avoided from the start.  I spent about 30 minutes on it, then quit to work out at the health club.  Returning, I labored over it again for about an hour, then quit again,  This afternoon, I am chipping away at it yet again.  My fear has been that the clock would melt into the background, so I keep backing away to study my reference photos taken on location, to get a good read of the surrounding contrasting colors.  As I’m getting deeper and deeper into this painting, I’m aware of my tendencies to “choke,” as I fear doing something that will un-do whatever good work I laid as a foundation.  So far, I’m pleased.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring Haltom Jeweler’s, Getting Lost in the Details

July 20, 2011

Haltom Jewelers details

By now you have probably guessed rightly that I am terrified of painting this monumental clock.  I’ll get to it, when I’m comfortable with it.  Meanwhile, I pursue the endless details.  I’ve heard it said that the Devil is in the Details, but I have always found the Sublime in the Details, at least when it comes to drawing and watercoloring.  I get lost when this occurs, and I find it totally enjoyable.  My breathing changes when I detail a watercolor just as profoundly as when I step into a mountain stream with a fly rod.  Considering that Texas is facing yet another triple-digit temperature day today, I could wish to be wading a mountain stream, but oh well–I’m glad to be painting.

Thanks for reading.