Posts Tagged ‘The Gallery at Redlands’

Thoughts on a Rainy Sunday Morning

June 16, 2019

palestine beginnings

Early Sunday Morning (still in progress)

The sight of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church tightened the heart of the young divinity student when he turned the corner onto Queen Street. The early Sunday morning stroll had been the first relaxing moment he felt since his return to Turvey’s Corner for a semester break visit. The looming façade brought into his memory a passage he had recently translated from his Greek New Testament:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

During his teenage years, the fellow had “surrendered to the ministry” (the congregation’s description of his decision). Under the close watch of the Divinity School, he pursued with delight the serious exposition of the scriptures, and when he came across this passage, he felt his entire life turning smoothly as if on a hinge. The first eighteen years of his life had been given to pursuit of the arts, because it was discovered that he had a talent for drawing as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil. But at age eighteen, he departed from the arts and pursued theology, believing that he should live a life of service to others rather than the pursuit of beauty.

When he translated the Ephesians passage, he discovered that the word rendered “workmanship” was poiēma, from which we take our word “poem.” We are God’s poem, he mused. Pursuing the Greek construction, he discovered to his amazement that “poem” is better translated “work of art.” We are God’s work of art. The text urges that we are God’s work of art, and we have been created for the purpose of quality work, and God determined beforehand that we should pursue that work.

The goals of pastoral ministry evaporated like the fresh dew on a summer morning as the young man suddenly determined that his natural, inborn talent lay in making art. During this Sunday morning walk, his mind was flooded with ideas and questions revolving around how he could merge his inborn artistic gift with the recent years of theological scholarship.

Mass would be starting in about ten minutes. He decided he would continue to pursue his own worship as he sauntered around the sleepy town. A rich Sunday morning was dawning.

. . . . .

I have begun work on the next installment of my Turvey’s Corner 63050 series. The actual setting above is a view of The Redlands Hotel (The Gallery at Redlands is on the first floor just inside the entrance shown). Across the street is the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church that I have already painted four times. I have decided to include this city block in my fictional Turvey’s Corner series, and with it I am introducing a new character. The above story is a first draft that I hope to polish considerably over time.

Thunderstorms are pounding east Texas as I write this, and the Palestine skies are extremely dark and heavy. I stepped out once to run an errand and regretted it as I got soaked to the skin. This is a perfect day for staying inside to paint and read.

I am also very proud to announce that a dear friend and artist/colleague I have known for over twenty years, Cindy Thomas, has decided to make a video documentary of my work. The Turvey’s Corner 63050 series will be included in the presentation, and we will be filming from my home studio, our Gallery at Redlands, and the remote country store location in east Texas where I escape from time to time to work on my art. This will be a long-term project, and we shall keep you posted as it progresses.

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One Happy Cluster of Athletes!

For days I have debated over whether or not to include this in my blog. I try to present myself as artist, thinker, writer, etc., but I feel compelled now to reveal that I am a St. Louis native, and that the St. Louis Blues became a franchise fifty-two years ago, when I was a high school freshman. I watched them enter the Stanley Cup Finals their first three seasons in existence and not win a single game–swept all three times, Then, for forty-nine more seasons they seemed to be a team built for the playoffs but not a championship. They made the playoffs twenty-five consecutive seasons, only to be eliminated in the first or second round. But every year I continued to watch, and believe.

On January 3 this year, midway through the season, the Blues were dead last in the NHL–anchored solidly in thirty-first place. Their coach had been fired and an assistant coach promoted as interim head coach. After January 3, they began to win. They made the playoffs as the third seed in their division. And then they began the four rounds of playoffs, each one a best-of-seven series. Sixteen wins were required to bring a Stanley Cup to their city for the first time in their fifty-two year history.

What I watched this time was the most amazing playoff series in my entire life. From my perspective, the Blues were less skilled than all four opponents they faced–Winnepeg, Dallas, San Jose and Boston. In every matchup, the Blues were slower and possessed fewer quality goal scorers. Some of their losses were the most humiliating lop-sided blow-outs on the scoreboard. Yet they proved resilient, almost never losing two consecutive games. After every loss, they regrouped and returned, eliminating Winnipeg in six games, Dallas in seven, San Jose in six, and ultimately Boston in seven. In every best-of-seven series, the Blues played hard-nosed, blue-collar style hockey, their MVP and leading scorer revealing after it was all over that he was playing with fractured ribs from the very first series.

I have enjoyed every St. Louis Cardinals World Series championship. And I felt something special when the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl (but that team, especially its owner, can rot in hell now, as far as I am concerned). What I am feeling this morning with this St. Louis Blues championship I will never be able to describe. Fifty-two years the city languished as the team pushed for that accomplishment. And now they raise the Cup. And though several days have passed since that historic night, I am still vibrating from the memories.

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.

. . . and the Blues are the Stanley Cup Champions!!!!!

 

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Serene Morning in a Railroad Town

May 13, 2019

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Watercolors Completed over the Weekend

The Gallery at Redlands always provides a quiet, serene Monday morning after a weekend of painting and keeping gallery hours. I just finished matting and pricing seven new watercolors completed over the weekend, then stepped out into the cool, sunswept Palestine morning to pick up a few office supplies, and of course, stop to pick up coffee somewhere, anywhere.

Choosing a local donut shop in the same shopping center as Kroger, I went inside, paid for coffee, and held the door open as I was leaving to let in a middle-aged couple. The man looked at me, smiling broadly, and I thought for a moment that he was someone I had encountered in the gallery or at some public function recently. I was stunned when he shouted:

I knew it! Soon as I saw ya comin’ out of that Jeep, I told my wife: “Now see, that there’s a man goin’ after coffee right now!”

I am still laughing as I type out this encounter. I grew up in a midwestern town where strangers never spoke, seldom even made eye contact. But here in Palestine, Texas I encounted a man that still has me laughing and feeling light and lively about the morning. I don’t know what his full-time occupation is, but I certainly hope his fellow workers experience that same light-hearted humor. He reminds me of Shorty Lee, a funny man I worked alongside on a maintenance crew during my graduate school years.  I’ll be thinking and smiling over this morning’s encounter for years, I am confident.

On Smooth Rock 93.5 FM we just shared for the first time a special event coming up soon. On Saturday, may 25, the Texas State Railroad will hold its “Celebration of Steam” event. The excursion train from Palestine to Rusk will run on that day, and ticketholders will get in free. For anyone not riding the train, a $10 gate fee will be charged. Three historic locomotives will be on display throughout the day for photographing. The steam locomotives will be #610 and 30. The refurbished diesel #125 will also be on view. I  have been invited to set up my tent and sell my train art from 8:00-11:00 with the option of staying open when the excursion train returns at 3:00. I am posting below the paintings I have done of the steam locomotives. I have also painted the diesel, but it has since changed its road colors and number.

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After a busy weekend, it feels good to relax in the Gallery for awhile this morning. The watercolors are packaged, priced between $75 and $125 each, and are in the bin. Now, I catch up on some quality reading and reflection.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Perusing Old Journals and Creating New Paintings

May 12, 2019

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Mother’s Day Morning in the Gallery at Redlands

The daemon knows how it is done.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (journal entry)

There are large modulations of tone throughout fifty-seven years of musing in the journals, yet Emerson seems perpetually in quest to hear his daemon speak to him.

Harold Bloom, The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime

Waking early on Mother’s Day in the Redlands Hotel, my first thoughts surrounded the question over whether or not I would have a second prolific day of painting. Yesterday, I completed four watercolors that had been started en plein air while I was traveling in El Paso and the surrounding areas. Often when I spend an entire day of painting, I feel somewhat emptied and wasted on the following day and resort to reading and journaling. I don’t expect every day to yield fertile thoughts and visions. Our great American poet Wallace Stevens stated it eloquently:

It is not every day that the world arranges itself into a poem.

Wallace Stevens

Harold Bloom, citing examples from Walt Whitman’s experiences while trying to push out the great body of poetry titled under the umbrella Leaves of Grass nailed the phenomena with these words:

No man, no woman, can live in a continuous secular ephiphany.

Throughout my creative years, I have learned the lesson that there are bursts of creative energy, often followed by moments of quiet restoration. Looking back over the decades, I find a measure of satisfaction that a large body of work has been created, and I am more aware of the prolific periods than I am of the fallow ones. I spent some time this morning reading from my old journals, and came across extensive notes I recorded four years ago from reading the published works of the painter Robert Motherwell, and came across this:

An artist has to be a long-distance runner, and the thing I’m most proud of is my most recent work is as fresh as the first.

As the morning hours passed in the quiet Gallery at Redlands, I felt my urge to create beginning to build, thanks to Harold Bloom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wallace Stevens and Robert Motherwell. Suddenly, I knew what I was going to approach next.

As always, the studio was the space of revelation.

Bernard Jacobson, Robert Motherwell: the Making of an American Giant

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Several weeks ago, I was surprised by the colors falling across some vacant undeveloped land adjacent to a new Kroger store built near the neighborhood where I live in Arlington. On this particular late afternoon, with the weather being pleasantly temperate, I chose to drive to the Kroger store and take a seat in the patio area on the southwest corner of the complex. No one else was seated out there, and I anticipated some quality reading and journaling time with coffee. But as I looked up, I was astonished at the quality of colors the late afternoon sun cast down over the field with the dark horizon of trees in back. I took several reference photos, and next time I was at The Gallery at Redlands, I began three 8 x 10″ studies of this composition. I found none of the three satisfying, and abandoned them.

When I traveled to west Texas and New Mexico last week, I brought the three watercolor sketches with me, and took them out once during the trip to take a closer look. I still felt nothing as I looked at them. Yesterday, I spent the day in the Gallery working on the four mountain sketches I had begun during my travels. This morning, I went out to the Jeep and retrieved the three “Kroger” paintings, and after about an hour of reading my old journals along with some new reading from Bloom, Emerson, Stevens and Motherwell, I suddenly had an idea for the three discarded paintings. They are wildly experimental, but I have posted them above and believe I will go ahead and put mats and plastic sleeves on them, and maybe even frame one of them, it’s still too soon for me to decide.

At any rate, I’ve had a great Mother’s Day in the gallery/studio and feel like quality time has been enjoyed.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Rainy Saturday in the Gallery at Redlands

May 11, 2019

Follow your genius closely enough and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect at every hour.

Henry David Thoreau

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Signal Peak, Guadalupe Mountains

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Franklin Mountains, El Paso

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Franklin Mountains, El Paso

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Valley of Fires, Carrizozo, New Mexico

I have chosen to ensconce myself in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas for Mother’s Day weekend. A recent trip through Cloudcroft, Corrizzozo and El Paso still floods my imagination, and I wanted to have some quiet time in the gallery to complete some plein air watercolor sketches I attempted this past week. It has been pouring down rain most of the day today, so foot traffic through the Redlands Hotel has been quite sparse, allowing me hours of uninterrupted time working at the watercolors. In my hometown neighborhood, an art festival is in progress, and I made the decision after nine straight years not to participate this time. I think I made a good call, considering the heavy rains and soaked parks in this part of Texas.

The Thoreau quote posted above I have engraved on a wooden desktop ornament that my friends the Darrs surprised me with last summer in Crested Butte, Colorado. I chose this weekend to pack it in my bag to keep on the gallery desk for inspiration. Looking up at it throughout the day, I mused over this motto that has shaped a large part of my adult life. I always hesitate to use the word “genius” because people today often equate the word with I.Q. and think of Einstein-type personalities. The word had different connotations with Emerson, Thoreau and their fellow New England Transcendentalists. They regarded genius as that independent, inner voice that introverts know all-too-well, that compulsion that Thoreau described as “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”

In the quiet of the gallery, I have delighted in this opportunity to gaze at reference photos I took of the locations I visited to paint. I have so much to learn when it comes to painting mountains in watercolor, and I am enthusiastic to pursue this for awhile. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I will keep the gallery open throughout the day. But if the weather is anything like it was today, then I may find myself dashing out several more watercolor sketches. I am grateful for quality times such as these.

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.

When the Muse stirs . . .

March 20, 2019

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My Study in the Pre-Dawn Hours

The compensation of growing old was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained—at last!—the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence,-the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Rising at 4:40 this morning was not my plan. But when the muse stirs, we have no choice but to respond. Several weeks ago, we decided to launch our first gallery talk in Palestine, Texas, as a part of kicking off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival. I have chosen the topic “Art in the Small Town.” I will use the art I have created over the past twenty years, along with selections from American artists who featured the small town genre. American writers will also be woven into the narrative as they spun their novels, short stories and poetry around this nostalgic subject. These ideas have been coursing through my veins the past several weeks, and pages of notes and drafts have been stacking on my desk, stuffing my briefcase and swelling my journal. Finally, this morning in the pre-dawn, the tumblers began to fall into place and I sprang out of bed to power up the laptop and record the sensations as quickly as I could. I am only taking a break from the writing to let my readers know what is going on. For anyone who follows me on Facebook, I launched the event page describing the event a few hours ago. Already I am getting a response, and that is gratifying. For years I have ached to take part in this kind of forum.

My reading from the biography of N. C. Wyeth is stirring my soul like seldom before. The young Wyeth realized in art school that he needed an education to grow his character, not just hone his artistic skills.  In retrospect, I feel that sentiment profoundly. Throughout my younger school days, I was immature, a dreamer, intellectually lazy. I had skills as an artist and worked hard at them. But when I entered the university, I came to rely only on my talent in the art studio, while at the same time growing an intellectual appetite in the general university studies. I failed to put the two together. As I proceeded next through my seminary years, I turned to religion, philosophy and literature. Many years later, after taking a job in the public schools, did I return to my art, and then discovered a depth I never had before. Ideas and deep sentiments had been grafted on to my mechanical skills. I had a feeling for expression and composition.

Since about 1990, I began pursuing this idea of creating a body of work nostalgic in nature. I learned from my seminary Greek studies that “nostalgia” is a Greek word found in the Homeric epics, describing the feelings of Odysseus as he longs to return to his home. My home town of High Ridge, Missouri, along with small towns where I pastored churches in my earlier years, managed to plant images, stories and sentiments that I have longed to express in drawing and watercolor. In 1999, I decided to launch a series called “My Town”, inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. As he created his Grover’s Corners, so I also created Turvey’s Corner, and created this painting:

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Along with a phony zip code: 63050 (High Ridge is 63049, and the next town four miles away, House Springs, is 63051), I began creating paintings and writing cycles of short stories to flesh out this fictitious town of my imagination, spawned by my memories. I lanched my show in Hillsboro, Texas at the newly-opened Stairwell Fine Arts Gallery, and the painting above sold at the opening reception. So did two others. A few weeks later, a Florida collector passed through the gallery and purchased the remainder of the portfolio. And then, my story just stopped . . .

About a month ago, while reading Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond, all my feelings from 1999 came tumbling back in on my consciousness. That, along with the writing of my memoir, thanks to Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, convinced me to pick up this old project, dust off the cobwebs, and renew the vision. So . . . I have been working on a new series of paintings and writings, and this Saturday look forward to sharing this vision in the gallery talk.

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.

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in white 11 x 14″ mat–$75

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those quiet lovely days spent mostly in The Gallery at Redlands. I managed to squeeze out a new painting (above) during those luxurious hours. The historic Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street in downtown Palestine, Texas is the most lovely place I have ever been privileged to “nest.” Emerson, in his small book Nature, wrote: “in the woods, too, a man casts off his years as the snake his slough and at what period soever of life is always a child”. This is what I experience when I have those moments of walking about in the wild, but I also feel it every time I enter the first floor of the Redlands Hotel. We celebrated the hotel’s 104th birthday on Friday, March 15:

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Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

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First Floor of The Redlands

Every time I descend the stairs of The Redlands, I feel that I am supposed to be smoking a large cigar, my clothing including a vest, watch chain and spats. The space is a veritable museum with a pulse. We anticipate a steady flow of traffic next weekend when the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival commences.

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Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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Marc Mitchell (foreground) from “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” Show

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

It is now Monday morning, and the hotel is everything but silent. The “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” show, as always, keeps me great company while broadcasting out of this gallery. This morning they featured local artist/writer Kirk Davis who has just come out with a book sharing letters from World War II between his father and mother. His father, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has left behind a romantic legacy embracing the love of his life as well as his drama in the Pacific theater. Kirk will be under the tent with a number of artists this coming Friday night’s V.I.P. event as well as Saturday 9-4:00, signing copies of his new book and displaying his father’s war memorabilia (including the Medal of Honor) along with his own artistic creations.

When I close this blog, I’ll be preparing for our big events next weekend. In addition to the Friday night V.I.P. party and the Saturday Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I will be giving my first ever gallery talk on the subject of “Art in the Small Town.” Using a flat screen TV in the Redlands Hotel lobby, I will be showing images of my “Recollections 54” paintings over the past twenty years that feature small town nostalgic scenes. I have a talk prepared that will feature those who have inspired my own work, notably Edward Hopper’s narrative paintings, along with references from selected American writers who have contributed to our collective memories of the communities that have nurtured us. I am enthusiastic about this event, and thank Jean Mollard for her vision of sponsoring a series of gallery talks for the east Texas community.

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.

The Bowery Bum

March 17, 2019

Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves.

Frank Lloyd Wright

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Archer City–$75 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$60 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Palo Duro Canyon–$80 in white 11 x 14″ mat

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$50 in white 11 x 14″ mat

Years ago, at the close of a state convention (the Texas Council of Teachers of English), several of us were sitting in the Dallas convention hotel lobby. I was in my second year of teaching, and felt energized after two days of sessions. As we sat in silence, soaking the afterglow of the event, one of the “more seasoned” teachers remarked: “At the close of these things, I often feel like a Bowery bum with an empty bottle.” We all laughed at the brilliant, poetic analogy, and I then wondered to myself: “Will I one day know that kind of weariness?” What a dumb question, I now realize three decades later.

The past forty-eight hours were the kind that used to energize me, but now I know the sentiments of that seasoned English teacher. For a few weeks, we advertised a beginning watercolor workshop that I would hold in the lobby of our Redlands Hotel. We decided we would limit the session to twenty applicants, but before we knew it, twenty-eight had thrown hats into the ring, so I decided to add a second session immediately following the first. By the time the day arrived, we had nineteen committed to the morning event, and fourteen for the afternoon. Setting up the lobby for the event proved to be exhausting, and I was glad we did that the day before. Nevertheless, the evening before the event, I knocked out a pair of watercolor samples of what we would attempt (and found neither of them satisfactory). Then, at the two workshops, I did a second pair as a live demo, one for each session, and found little satisfaction with both of those. Nevertheless, the participants were enthusiastic beyond description, and today I am still warmed at their remarks and sentiments throughout the day.  I couldn’t have asked for more eager and focused participation, and I can proudly say that the students’ attempts were all better than mine! So I can at least take pride knowing there was quality art created throughout the day.

By the end of the second session, I barely knew my own name, and understood the Bowery bum analogy–I certainly lack the energy I knew in earlier days. Going upstairs to bed (the Redlands Hotel is a beautiful place to reside!), I turned off my phone, vowing to sleep from 9:00 till sometime the following afternoon. But by 8:30 this morning, after waking a dozen times and feeling that it was nearly noon, I decided I had had sufficient rest for the new day. My plan was to do nothing all day but read. That didn’t happen. By the time I had finished my coffee and read about twenty more pages from the N. C. Wyeth biography, the itch returned to go back downstairs and open the gallery.

Once inside the gallery, I matted and sleeved five watercolors that needed presenting–four of them completed over the past couple of weeks (No, I will not mat the four demos I worked on the past couple of days!). The N. C. Wyeth biography, along with the affirming remarks I heard all day yesterday among the workshop participants, inspired me to go to work on a fifth attempt of what we painted in yesterday’s workshop and see if I can turn out a decent painting of the subject. I posted the Frank Lloyd Wright quote above, because when I crank out several paintings at a time I am reminded of how prolific he was as an architect late in life, and hope that I will be able to keep up that kind of production and enthusiasm.

It is Sunday, and I expected to see no one in the gallery today. Sundays are very quiet in downtown Palestine, and the weather is gorgeous today, inviting people to flock to the lake. But surprisingly, in the first 45 minutes, three people have already come in to browse and chat, so I guess I figured that one wrong.

At any rate, it feels great to be painting again, and if I can turn out a decent effort this time, I’ll post it for you to see.

Thanks for reading.

I make art to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

The Search for an Anchor

March 13, 2019

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A Second Snow Scene in Progress

            He kept trying to find among his peers the degree of emotional intensity he had achieved with Howard Pile. “It is the search for living co-workers and the everlasting failure to find one that can measure up to one’s active standard that is the constant source of my depression,” he wrote.

. . .

            Yet he continually wished Chapin would hold him to higher standards. He wanted to be challenged, not only aesthetically but morally, spiritually. Wyeth’s search for an omnipotent male figure had an Eastern quality; he felt that the ideal master should be something of a mystic.

. . .

            “I’m not crazy,” he insisted to Stimson, though as N. C. began his thirties, his search for a spiritual guru often left him feeling unreal. “I’m not holding a living or dead man up as an example of what I should be; I go beyond that—I want to be myself, and better, to be myself without the whole damn world knowing anything about it!”

            But he was holding up a dead man as his model. Taking Walden as his guide, he contended that Thoreau “is my springhead for almost every move I can make” . . .

            He liked to think that if Thoreau were alive, if they could talk an hour every evening, Thoreau would understand him. With Walden in hand, N. C. could “feel his approval surging within me now, and I lay my hand on his precious book . . . with the deepest reverence I am capable of.”

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

These quiet winter mornings have recently been a genuine salve for my soul. As I sit over a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee, the aroma filling this dark room and Bach playing softly in the background, I am preparing to launch into yet another small watercolor, allowing the one posted above to sit quietly awhile, waiting to see what next to do with it. Five watercolors are scattered about the room, a couple of them probably finished, the other three sitting there saying, “Well?! . . .” My spirit soars when I sense that my creative blood is stirring once again. When I’m on hiatus, I don’t really want to say I am “blocked”, rather I am reading, journaling, thinking, and musing over what to pursue next.

Having ventured over 200 pages into this N. C. Wyeth biography, I feel a primal connection with much that he expressed in his letters and diaries. Currently, I am reading of his constant quest for a spiritual partner or mentor to complete his personhood. As I reflect over my past, I recognize that he and I both circulated between the living and the dead for role models. And we weren’t really looking for someone to imitate, but rather assimilate, absorb and re-apply to the things we were attempting to do in our own lives. N. C. Wyeth did not want to paint like Howard Pyle; he was trying to find his own style and character in his paintings and illustrations. Pyle was a genuine inspiration and guide for him in his early career, and a sounding board when Wyeth wished to road test his new techniques and compositions.

While writing my own memoir, I am constantly sifting through all the men and women who have been my spiritual guides and sounding boards, and like N. C., I often felt that shock of recognition when reading the works of those who had passed in the centuries before me. Much of what N. C. admired in Thoreau’s writings have also smitten me in the past three decades. And frequently, I think of what it would be like to sit in intimate conversation with a Thoreau, an Emerson or a Tillich. So many times when I read them I feel they are writing directly to me, addressing my current condition. And I revel in these encounters. And then, when I am permitted an intimate conversation with a living being in my present, I count that among the richest gifts in life. Such conversations are rare.

I am just a few days from a monster pair of beginning watercolor workshops. More than thirty have already registered for my Saturday event to be held in the Redlands Hotel lobby in Palestine, Texas. I am trying to limit the 10:00 session to twenty participants. It will last three hours (including lunch) and the fee is $30. Then I will hold a second 1:00 session for two hours (no lunch this time) for $20. I already have four committed to the afternoon session. Twenty-eight are trying to crowd into the 10:00 group, but perhaps some of them would prefer to move to the 1:00. We’ll see. The bottom line is that I am pumped to do this! I absolutely love exploring the wonders of watercolor with willing participants. I anticipate a great time together.

Well, let’s see if we can kick some life into this new fledgling painting . . .

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.

Finishing a Small Snowscape

March 12, 2019

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Recent View of Fresh-fallen Snow in High Ridge, Missouri

Wyeth had of course pleased everyone but himself. His apprenticeship now appeared to him shallow and degrading. the Pyle School had been nothing more than a factory where successful pictorial journalists had been–his word–manufactured. He and the others had been “whipped into line,” taught artificial shortcuts, trained to think as the audience thinks, not for themselves as artists.

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

After more than 200 pages of reading, I am finding it very difficult to put down this volume on N. C. Wyeth. His son Andrew has been my patron saint since high school, but in the past year I have been studying more about N. C., and love his fixation on the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Now, reading of his training as an illustrator, and his subsequent struggle to navigate his way between the identities of illustrator and painter, I am finding so much to think about as I find my own way as an artist.

This morning I finished the painting I started of the view across my sister’s backyard. The snow was falling heavily that day a couple of weeks ago, and I used a toothbrush to spatter masquing fluid all over the page before commencing the actual painting. The ony part I found most difficult (and rewarding) was the attempt to draw the houses and rooftops peeking through the winter trees. It has been awhile since I studied and sketched winter tree anatomy, and I have missed the experience. I have a second snow scene nearly finished as well, and hope to be  posting that one soon.

Between reading, painting, and preparing materials for my pair of workshops this coming Saturday, there has been little down time. Still, I love the life I’m able to pursue, balancing my reading with my studio art endeavors. I hope I can continue to find room and space for both in my daily life.

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.

Nearing the Finish of a Commission

February 2, 2019

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. . . some of the words you’ll find within yourself,

the rest some daemon will inspire you to say.

Homer, The Odyssey

While taking breaks from my painting to read from Homer’s Odyssey, I was arrested by these words Athena spoke to Telemachus when he feared that, as a youth, he did not know the proper words with which to address King Nestor. The reference to the daemon reminded me of a book I still haven’t completed reading: Allan Bloom’s The Daemon Knows. In this work, Bloom quotes an obscure reference from one of Emerson’s journals, claiming that the daemon knows where the idea is going to go. Throughout the work, Bloom extols the virtues of intuition and daring to go outside the box. He argues that we don’t know if our efforts will produce a work of genius. Nevertheless, we continue to push, continue to love the work.

I find all of this refreshing when I find myself struggling with a watercolor. With the one in progress above, I have encountered countless problems that I have not been schooled to address, and I have had to remain focused on the task. So far, nothing has happened to upset me, and the patron came in to look at it today and was pleased with the direction it is taking. Her sentiments freed me considerably, so now I am working on it with much more confidence. All the same, however, I still don’t really know what it is that makes a composition “work”, and I continue to feel this concern that I will make the wrong moves and the piece will “miss.” Even at this age, I must learn to trust my instinct and push onward.

This day has been a soothing balm, reading and painting in the gallery and greeting patrons. Soon, I’ll get to listen to my radio friend, Kevin Harris, perform a solo gig here in Palestine. Afterward, I plan to return and work late in the gallery, as the Red Fire Grille stays open late on Saturday night, and sometimes a good number of patrons come into the gallery. And who knows, maybe I’ll finish this painting tonight!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.