Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Preparing for the Big Game

October 11, 2016

edom-festival-entrance

Leonardo is the Hamlet of art history, whom each of us must recreate for himself . . . 

Kenneth Clark, Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of his Development as an Artist

My distracted personality has been tested of late, with time divided between reading several excellent books, completing watercolors, grading papers for school, and preparing inventory for my biggest art show this year: Edom Festival of the Arts, to be held this next weekend, October 15-16 in Edom, Texas.

In recent weeks, I have managed to complete several works which are now being framed or matted professionally for their first public viewing:

claude

Summer Shell (Claude, Texas)

loco (2)

Rounding the Bend (Eureka Springs, Arkansas)

brookfield-gas

Resting in the Heat (Brookfield, Missouri)

arkansas-truck

Arkansas Repose

lexington-pumps

Sleepers (Lexington, Texas)

bucket-of-apples

Autumn at the Back Door

The gas pumps and bucket of apples I had completed long ago and tucked into my portfolio, completely forgetting about them till they were rediscovered yesterday.

Because of yesterday’s school holiday, and Friday’s travel time to east Texas for setup, I have only a three-day week at my school, which in many ways will make it much busier. Once the weekend arrives however, and my booth is set up, I intend to enjoy the October weather of rural east Texas, as well as the crowds that fill the rolling pastureland where the festival is held. Though the location is rural and remote, thousands of patrons pour in from Dallas, Plano, McKinney and several populous cities from the metroplex.

edom-2

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone

 

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Working on a Manuscript

July 24, 2016

20160606_120858.jpg

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?—it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye.  But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

During this dog-day July heat in St. Louis, I’ve spent some time reworking a manuscript I began last year.  I’m releasing the Introduction as it currently stands.  I have six chapters written, but I continue to revise.  I find great pleasure in that.  And I hope someone can find pleasure in reading the following:

A Week on the Laguna Madre

INTRODUCTION

 Cleansing the Eye:

Recollections from a Grateful Artist-in-Residence

“Gauguin returned from his first Tahitian sojourn in 1893 with enough canvases and carvings to constitute a one-man show; but he knew that the strangeness of his Tahitian imagery would require some stage-managing if it was to be a success. He had in mind the idea of producing a book that would introduce and explain his imagery to a Parisian audience.” [1]

How do I introduce myself as quickly as possible and then get out of the way?  I am aware that I am writing a book about what is flowing through my mind, but I hope, Dear Reader, that I am also creating a space into which you may enter, explore and discover deeper layers of yourself as well.  I have never believed that quality reading is a passive exercise; you the reader create your own world as you read my words and interact with this text.  Upon completion and release of this book, I will not go forth into the rest of my life, wondering whether or not I am remembered; I just want to make a contribution.  I want someone’s life to improve because they spent time with me in this work.

So, what exactly am I?  An unfrustrated public school teacher who has had the pleasure (for the most part) of doing as he pleased for more than a quarter of a century.  Like many others, my career did not go in the direction I had intended, but I have found immeasurable pleasures in what I have encountered.  And now, my only real issue is figuring how to make a gift of the knowledge and experiences that have enriched me throughout these years.  My lifestyle, in this worldly sojourn, has been to absorb knowledge, Faustlike, and imbed these observations in lesson plans, lectures and paintings, hoping always that others could receive something significant from the encounters.  I never expected others to see the world my way, but always hoped to deal an ace worth picking up and inserting into someone else’s poker hand.

Why did Henry David Thoreau go to Walden Woods?  My perspective has been this: he received a vaunted Harvard degree, and with it a skill set, an academic toolbox.  But early in life, he reached the conviction that all knowledge he had received up to that point was secondary.  All the divines whom he had read received their truths directly from nature, he from their books and lectures.  He had lived out Emerson’s complaint that opened Nature in 1836:

The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes.  Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?  Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?  Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe?  The sun shines to-day also.  There is more wool and flax in the fields.  There are new lands, new men, new thoughts.  Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.[2]

Travelling to Walden Pond to live for over two years, Thoreau decided it was time to learn directly from nature, to find out what he could learn from her, and then to publish those results to the world.

And hence I find myself this day at the Laguna Madre.  This is a gift.  My education over my past sixty-plus years has been a gift, but nearly all of it secondary.  Now, for the first time, I hope to scoop primary experience and pass it on to other outstretched hands.  Hopefully, by the end of this sojourn I will echo Nietzsche’s words that I have become weary of my wisdom as a bee that has gathered too much honey, needing hands outstretched to receive it.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.[3]

My conviction has always been grounded in the notion that solitude is the studio for creativity.  I myself have never found fulfilment in collaborative projects in the visual arts, nor have I found my inspiration in the vortex of think tanks.  The school of solitude is where I have always mined my ideas for painting.  Anthony Storr has argued:

The creative person is constantly seeking to discover himself, to remodel his own identity, and to find meaning in the universe through what he creates.  He finds this a valuable integrating process which, like meditation or prayer, has little to do with other people, but which has its own separate validity.  His most significant moments are those in which he attains some new insight, or makes some new discovery; and these moments are chiefly, if not invariably, those in which he is alone.[4]

“Alone” is the key word that describes my life, though I have been in relationships throughout most of my years.  Space has always been required for my own thinking, writing and creating.  This was true in public school, the university, graduate school, the ministry, and all my subsequent years devoted to the classrooms and lecture halls.  I still look back with gratitude at those times spent in library study carrels, in my own study, under trees, beside flowing streams, in hotel rooms and lobbies, coffee bars and book stores, in roadside parks and staring through a windshield while driving across the country.  My private study cubicle has been wherever I could pause, alone, and pull out a journal or laptop or sketchbook, and pour out my thoughts on the pages.  And throughout my years, I have looked at those file drawers filled with stuffed manila folders, those computer files filled with data, the over one hundred volumes of handwritten journals on my bookshelf—and wondered how to distill those memories and research efforts into some kind of a book, my life, my philosophy, my love.  Volumes and volumes, pages and pages, layers and layers of themes and threads seeking some kind of resolution, some kind of synthesis, some kind of understandable “story” for others to read and use as desired.  My clusters of recorded ideas have milled about over the decades, as actors on a stage waiting for a director.

As shared in the opening of this chapter, Gauguin returned from his island excursion with a stack of canvases and sought a way to “stage-manage” his public exhibition. So I too returned from the Laguna Madre with nineteen plein air watercolors, with a plan to show them in two exhibitions, conduct a series of watercolor workshops, deliver some public addresses, and attempt to relay to my audiences what I gleaned from this peak experience.  Today as I edit these pages, I have added three more workshops to the list and am preparing to return to the island for a second week of solitude.  And so, this book will be my first effort, since my doctoral dissertation, to engage in an extended essay, synthesizing the ideas that have meant so much to me over the years and found a way to crystalize while sojourning on a small spoil island in the Texas Laguna Madre.

When Hemingway accepted his Nobel Prize, he declared that “writing, at its best, is a lonely life.”  I would propose the word “solitary.”  The existential theologian Paul Tillich, in a sermon titled “Loneliness and Solitude,” emphasized that loneliness is the cross of humankind, and solitude the glory.  I don’t feel lonely when I make art, though I am alone, solitary.  I find those moments soothing.  When the boat pulled away from the dock that first Sunday morning on June 6, 2015, and I waved good-bye to my new friends, watching as they diminished in size on the horizon, the first thing I noticed was that the island was quiet, very quiet.  And I could feel myself beaming inwardly.  I was in an unspoiled paradise, though standing on a spoil island.  It was time to go to work.  Jack Kerouace said it best:

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?—it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye.  But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.[5]

                [1] Wayne Andersen, “Introduction” in Paul Gauguin, The Writings of a Savage, ed. Daniel Guérin (New York: Paragon House, 1974), p. X.

                [2] Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, in Emerson: Essays & Poems ed. Joel Porte et al., (New York: Penguin, 1983), p. 7.

                [3] Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience, ed. Michael Meyer (New York: Penguin, 1983), p. 135.

[4]Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to Self (New York: The Free Press, 1988), p. xiv.

                [5] Jack Kerouac, On the Road (New York: Penguin, 1955), p. 156.

The Urge to Soldier On

February 11, 2014
Sketch of a Bait Shop on the Texas Gulf

Beginning Sketch of a Bait Shop on the Texas Gulf

Who cares what sensibility or discrimination a man has at some time shown, if he falls asleep in his chair? . . . Of what use is genius, if the organ is too convex or too concave and cannot find a focal distance within the actual horizon of human life?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

This statement from Emerson knocked the wind out of me this afternoon (oops, yesterday afternoon–midnight has already arrived) when I was closing out one of my classes and thinking about my recent reduced watercolor and sketching output.  Too often I use my job as an excuse, but frankly I’ve been able to average over a hundred watercolors a year for several years in a row now.  So it has to be something else.  Inspiration has been on the flat side.   But when I read this Emerson statement from “Experience” (a fabulous essay that I hadn’t read in over ten years) I was reminded of something I read last year from Ian Roberts in Creative Authenticity, namely that no one cares how much talent you have if you’re not creating anything.  Good point.  I’m glad that I spent the better part of this past evening working at my drafting table.  It’s a good feeling, being a part of something much larger than my individual self.

O me! O life!  of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the

foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than

I and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the

            struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I

            see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me inter-     

            twined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these,

            O me, O life?

 

            Answer

 

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

 

Walt Whitman, “O Me! O Life!

 

The watercolor sketch above is something I started a couple of months ago and then abandoned as other projects crowded in.  A former student of mine, Mike Catlin, is now managing Bowman Design and Framing in Portland, Texas, near Corpus Christi. He invited me into that gallery last year, and I traveled down there in November to deliver some of my work.  We spent a couple of days together, renewing an old friendship, then traveled about the coast to take pictures for future sketches and paintings.  I got after this 8 x 10” watercolor rather quickly, but then stalled.  So I’m now trying to breathe life back into it–something I always find hard to do when I’ve let a piece lie about and get cold for awhile.  I took several dozen photos of old bait shops in that area, and really like the compositions of some of them.  I just need to put my head down now and get some of them kicked out.  Soon, I will be leading a watercolor workshop for that gallery, and I would really like to get some paintings together of the area before I show up for the sessions.

Thank you, Mike, for helping me get untracked again.

And thanks to the rest of you for reading me.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Doing Something that Matters

November 24, 2013
Completed Edom Painting #2

Completed Edom Painting #2

Seated at my writing desk, looking out at the glittering lights, I strive for a sense of optimism, a feeling that as small as I am, what I am doing still matters in the scheme of things.

Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverence

I enjoy reading Julia Cameron publications, even though I don’t regard myself as a “blocked” artist.  Sometimes I have trouble finding quality time to pursue my craft, but that is because of long and demanding job hours.  My mind is always on the art I want to make, I just don’t always have the space in my daily grind to go about the task as I would like.

Right now, I am still waiting for the promised ice storms that have been predicted for twenty-four hours now.  I keep hoping school will be canceled due to all the icy streets that still haven’t occurred.  Texas meteoroligists have always thrown darts, and very seldom hit the bull’s eye when forecasting severe winter weather.  I am amazed to think of how much they must be salaried for getting it wrong.  And I wonder why people such as I still listen to them.  Hope, I guess, is what keeps us listening, and believing, expecting, wanting.

Back to Julia Cameron, I like to think about the creative life, and why it matters.  I spend little time wondering if my art will ever have widespread impact.  In fact, I’m not sure I ever went down that path of wondering whether my work would be widely-known.  For about the last five years, all I know is that making art has mattered to me, has given my own existence meaning and a sense of joy.  Days that include making art are always better than days that do not.  And I guess that’s why I find myself wishing tonight that school tomorrow would be canceled–I would much rather give tomorrow to making art than filling up classroom hours with chatter, grades, and goals, knowing that the students are already focused on the vacation at hand (and so are we teachers).  We all need the break from the relentless grind that has worked on us since August.

I am posting the watercolor that I completed a little while ago.  It is the second in a series of three 8 x 10″ sketches I’m doing of the Edom business district.  I’m happy that I was able to “rescue” a watercolor that started off rather badly.  I managed to get some colors to pop with contrast, and to correct some of the goofs I made in the early stages.  This one took some sweat to figure out, but I think I got it looking O.K.  At least, I’m happy enough to sign off on it as a finished piece.

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.

 

Preparing for an All-Day Show in Edom, Texas

November 23, 2013
Edom Festival of the Arts

Edom Festival of the Arts

Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.  No amount of skillful inention can replace the essential element of imagination.

Edward Hopper

We hear so often that the artist’s temperament is restless, irritable, and discontented.  All of that is very true–when we are not working.  Let us get in a good day at the page or the easel and we are suddenly sunny and user-friendly.  It is the blocked artist who is such a study in malcontent.  Artists have an itch that nothing can scratch except work.

Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverence

I’ve had a delicious evening, picking up the brush and giving watercolor yet another nudge.  This is an 8 x 10″ sketch I started quite awhile back, and then got “blocked” by job-related deadlines.  The subject is the entrance to the annual Edom Festival of the Arts, a festival I have been privileged to join for four years now.  This year, following the festival, I was invited to be the feature artist at Edom’s Shed Cafe on Saturday, November 30 (right after Thanksgiving).  The town will be sponsoring Art Jam, and artists will be featured in the local businesses.  The Shed serves about 1500 patrons on any given Saturday, so I am excited for the opportunity to get my work out in the public on that day.

I gave the bulk of this Saturday to a day trip to Tyler, Texas, a two-hour drive one way, to see Christmas in the Village at the Breckenridge Village of Tyler.  I took a number of photos, but have misplaced the cable that connects my camera to the laptop.  Hopefully I’ll get the photos posted tomorrow.  There was a live nativity scene, and I did have the fun of having my picture taken with a live camel.  I told him my name wasn’t Mike-Mike-Mike-Mike-Mike.  He was adorable–as I scratched his neck, he buried his head into my chest and made contented sounds.  I wanted to bring him home with me.

Texas weather threatens to close schools Monday.  There is a forecast calling for freezing rain and ice accumlation starting Sunday.  All I can think of is the potential for unrestricted studio activity.  It’s been so long since I’ve known that reality.  What timing if we get an extra day off during next week’s holiday week.  We’re only scheduled for Monday-Tuesday in the public school and college.  I’m ready for the break so I can get back to what I love.

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.

 

 

Carving out a Niche in this World

November 13, 2013
Edom Tire Shop Finished

Edom Tire Shop Finished

Most people with whom I talk, men and women even of some originality and genius, have their scheme of the universe all cut and dried,–very dry, I assure you, to hear, dry enough to burn, dry-rotted and powder-post, methinks,–which they set up between you and them in the shortest intercourse; an ancient and tottering frame with all its boards blown off.

Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

In recent days, I am drawing unspeakable riches from my students in philosophy and art history.  I sense a drive in many of them to articulate a personal philosophy, to design their own thought paradigms, to construct a meaningful worldview.  They share with me what they are reading from thinkers they choose to pursue, they bring to me their discoveries from the school and public libraries, epiphanies they’ve experienced at exhibits in local art museums.  The more I see them constructing their own worlds, the more driven I am to continue building my own.  I love this quote from a recent reading in Thoreau, the dry wit directed at worn-out, second-hand ideologies.

I am so pleased these past couple of days to find a little space, a slight crack in my professional routine, that has allowed some stolen moments for reading, reflection and painting.  Today I finished my first of at least three Edom, Texas subjects–the small tire shop at the main intersection of town near where I will set up on November 30 for an all-day Art Jam.  I finished out the surrounding foliage, darkening the perimeters of the composition, then tried to put in some accents in the pavement at the bottom of the picture plane.  I re-worked the dark shadows under the awning, laid some more rust and corrugated textures on the roof, and finally worked on some geometric shapes on the right side to give some kind of “pop” to the composition overall.  Finally, it was time to sign the darned thing and move on.  Already I have sketched out my next composition and tonight am ready to lay down my first watercolor washes on it.  It will be a second 8 x 10″ composition.

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.

A Late Night in the Studio

November 12, 2013
Tire Shop in Edom, Texas

Tire Shop in Edom, Texas

There are times when thought elbows her way through the underwood of words to the clear blue beyond.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 12, 1837

Today was Henry David Thoreau day in my high school Philosophy class.  Years ago, I feigned myself a decent lecturer–in these later years I’m not so sure.  But one thing I do know–it’s hard to muck up a Thoreau lecture, although I seemed to try that several times this morning.  I’m not sure why I was “off”, but I certainly saw determination, eagerness and enthusiasm in my students to get us through the ninety-minute segment.  The result was one of the best classes I have ever experienced in my high school career.  When students are “on”, it’s difficult for a teacher to fail.

Among the many facets of discussion this morning, there was a particularly good moment when we examined the idea of a Word emerging, like an Oracle, from the morass of words that daily engulfs us.  In public education, hoards of figures, statistics, spread sheets, surveys, audits, and every possible collection of numbers imaginable are hurled at me.  I often feel that I need a raincoat to protect me from the stains of such garbage.  In addition to the numbers are pages and pages of goals, objectives, directives, assessments–on and on and on.  Reading the plea from Walden to “Simplify, simplify,” I thank the sublime that a mind such as Thoreau is still capable of reaching through the tempest and uttering the Word with power sufficient to improve our lives.  Thanks to Thoreau, and thanks to my Philosophy students, I captured a warm sentiment early this morning that managed to accompany me throughout the day, even through my 7:00 p.m. Logic class at the university.

The hour is drawing late, Texas temperatures are expected to reach down into the twenties tonight, I’ve managed to cover my outdoor faucets, finish my A. P. and regular Art History preparations for the morrow, and even find time to pick up the brush and push this 8 x 10″ watercolor of the tire shop in Edom, Texas toward its conclusion.  On November 30, I will spend the day in Edom for their Art Jam, setting up inside The Shed Cafe, and attempt to sell some paintings, greeting cards and prints of my small-town subjects.  This is my first Edom composition.  I plan to move on to a painting of The Shed next.

This has been a most affirming day, and I’m proud that I had the space to share it with you, thanks for reading me tonight.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Magnificent Plein-Air Day of Watercoloring

April 20, 2013
Plein Air Watercolor Sketch #1

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch #1

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch #2

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch #2

This morning, my painting buddy Chris and I piled our equipment into my Jeep around 8:30 and motored south to Ennis, Texas, to Love Park.  We found a large gathering of plein air painters from the north Texas area that we are fortunate to join from time to time in these excursions.  The day was sun-washed, about 60 degrees, with pleasant winds.  Bluebonnets infested the area, and most of the oil painters were standing completely enveloped in them as they painted their surroundings.

I chose a spot across the road from them, that had more cedars than bluebonnets, and I made two attempts at watercolor sketching these subjects.  Pines and cedars have always flummoxed me in watercolor (and still do).  I spent the entire morning, and early afternoon, staring at one single cedar, half in shadow, with a scattering of bluebonnets beneath.  I admired the view blissfully, and worked very hard, trying to match up the reddish-green tints that clothe the cedar.  I tried Quinachridone, Permanent Rose, Winsor Red and Cadmium Red.  I mixed in some Transparent Yellow, and occasionally Cadmium Yellow.  Nothing seemed to work in the final analysis.  I also studied hard the separation of shadows and mid-tones in the mass of the cedar, and enjoyed all the nuances I saw in those middle tones, the primarily warm colors, and the cools in the shadows.  I worked on those as well.

The bluebonnets–well, this was my second attempt in about four years with those.  I never can seem to make them “pop” out of their environment of green on my paper the way they do on earth.  I don’t have a clue yet what that secret is.  They looked pretty good against the white paper, but disappeared as I floated light, subtle greens around them to give them a “home.”  I guess I’ll have to work on that problem another day.

It was a very pleasant experience, the plein air sketching today.  I met some fabulous new friends that I look forward to seeing again.  We plan to gather at PrairieFest in Fort Worth on April 27 for another day of plein air bliss.

Thanks for reading.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone. 

Preparing for Friday Night, Piccolo Mondo Restaurant and Bar

June 27, 2012

Piccolo Mondo Restaurant, Arlington, Texas

I just completed my second consecutive night in the sweaty, 97-degree man cave, gathering and packing my inventory for Friday night.  Five local artists will be displaying and selling art out of the Piccolo Mondo Restaurant in north Arlington Friday from 5:30-11:30.  This will be the first time I have set up inside an elegant restaurant and bar.  The Friday night clientele has been described as a good audience for an art show, so I guess we are about to find out.   At any rate, it will be nice to hang out with my friends in a lovely setting.  We will set up our exhibits at 3:00 and the establishment opens for dinner at 5:30.  We have been told that reservations are the wise choice for a Friday night, but walk-ins are accommodated as well.  Our display area is one of the dining rooms clearly visible from the waiting and bar area.  The French doors will all be opened, and the art work will be visible to anyone entering the establishment.  I’m getting excited as the time nears.

Tomorrow will end my summer school for the week–it’s so nice not to teach on Fridays.  I had hoped to paint tonight, but ran out of time.  The hour is getting late and 6:00 will come all-too-quickly for me, again.  But I have every hope of painting tomorrow after school, as the weekend officially begins.

For any of you in the area, I would love to see you Friday evening.  For all the rest of you, I pledge to be painting and blogging again tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.  I’m not sure if this virtual tour of the restaurant is going to work, but here is the link:

http://tours.digispin.com/?sid=52159

A Plein Air Retreat with Claude Monet

April 30, 2012

Monet's Giverny in Athens, Texas

Sunday presented me with a bounteous gift.  I received a surprise phone call while in the studio Saturday from a long-time teacher friend/colleague.  Back in the early 1990’s we team-taught French Impressionism to her French classes and my art classes at Lamar High School.  Though we had not seen much of each other for nearly two decades, we continued to share a common thread in French Impressionist art.

She phoned Saturday to say she had just driven past a site in Athens, Texas that reminded her of Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny–a pond on some private property that was glistening in the morning sun with a large body of water lilies.  My friend contacted the owners and secured permission for us to go on to the property.  I arrived the next day, and we went directly to work.  The owners of the property were extremely gracious to us, and I cannot recall a more splendid plein air opportunity than the one I experienced as the sun began to set on this beautiful body of water and lily pads.

I was out of my element, which is always fun en plein air.  I had never before attempted to paint lily pads, and found myself scrambling on this one.  But the sight of the sun, back-lighting the trees behind the pond, proved just as scintillating a subject as the shimmering water surface itself, and I found myself getting lost in this composition.  I have been invited to return when the lilies are in bloom, and I cannot wait for that day to happen.  The two-hour drive was well worth the experience, and I welcome the return.

I loved the connection I felt to Claude Monet as I studied the light playing across the water surface, the flickering leaves on the trees, and the bending grasses.  I did not want to leave the site.  I cannot thank my friends enough for giving me this opportunity.

Thanks for reading.