Posts Tagged ‘train’

The Harmony Beneath the Disarray

August 29, 2017

grapevine train.jpg

Nearing Completion of Another Watercolor 

The ancients, struck with this irreducibleness of the elements of human life to calculation, exalted Chance into a divinity, but that is to stay too long at the spark,–which glitters truly at one point,–but the universe is warm with the latency of the same fire. . . . Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars, is a musical perfection, the Ideal journeying always with us, the heaven without rent or seam.  Do but observe the mode of our illumination. When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Rising at 5:40 this morning, without an alarm, it didn’t take long before I felt bathed in the warmth of Emerson’s words. As an older man, he soberly assessed “experience” as a replacement for his earlier romantic flourishes as a thinker and writer. I love the quote above as he acknowledges that the spark in later years may lack the white hot dynamic of ideas that struck him in his youth, but the warmth and duration remained. Ideas such as this have helped me in my transitions in life, from a young educator, to one middle aged, and now retired.

More than ever before, I have come to embrace the “musical perfection” underlying the “inharmonious and trivial particulars” of daily life. In my early days of the ministry, I would devote all my energies of a particular day to poring over the biblical writings, believing that they contained the Word of God, and that I would be encountered, confronted by their message. I expected some kind of an oracle. For the past several decades, I have known that oracles would come through a multiplicity of avenues–literature, philosophy, conversation, art, music; I would no longer have to seek an encounter aggressively, but rather let it happen when it happens.

Today has been spectacular, though the bare details of the day sound pedestrian. I have divided my time between reading Emerson, writing a college lecture for tomorrow, listening to documentaries on YouTube on Hemingway and Joyce, finishing up a watercolor begun two days ago, and practicing guitar songs for tonight’s Open Mic. And all day long, a Presence has lingered with me, though I live alone. That Presence has been the underlying harmony of all the disjunctive tasks I have pursued. And I didn’t have to force any kind of encounter; it just happened, as it always does.

open mic

Fun at Dr. Jeckyll’s Open Mic

Thanks for reading.

 

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Grinding Out the Plein Air Enterprise

May 7, 2017

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It is necessary to work very continuously and valiantly, and never apologetically. In fact, to be ever on the job so that we may find ourselves there, brush in hand, when the great moment does arrive.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The words of Henri are timely for me in that I’m finding painting outdoors to be a grind lately. I travel forty minutes to Waxahachie to take part in this Paint Historic Waxahachie event, and after the Friday night carnival activity at my school, I awoke yesterday morning late, and still tired.  Nevertheless, I made the trip and managed to grind out the paintings until nearly dark. I found it necessary to sleep in again today, and thanks to a long sleep, I managed to make the long trip and paint until after 7:00 p.m. again. But I’m feeling it now. Nevertheless, I know for certain that inspiration is not going to strike if I’m sitting at home or at school merely thinking about painting–I have to get out and do it, grind at it, cranking out painting after painting, hoping that something of quality will emerge.  I only hope I keep up the confidence to the point that I can continue to travel to Waxahachie every day after school and keep pushing out paintings.

Approximately fifty artists have already put out a great body of work since the “early bird” special opened April 1.

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The Art on the Square Gallery at 113 West Franklin St. in Waxahachie is already filling up to capacity and we still have a week to go. We anticipate a great showing this year, and I am proud to be a part of this team.

Thanks for reading. Time to get some sleep!

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Bringing out New Work for the Show

March 30, 2017

durango silverton

Durango-Silverton Train, limited edition giclee print

Throughout today, I intend to post new images of work to be added to this weekend’s one-man-show at The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas.  The above image is a limited edition giclee print of the Durango-Silverton Railroad that I painted in watercolor, years ago. The original has long since found a home, but the prints have been quite popular, and last weekend I sold out of the gallery the last one in stock. I managed to place a new order Monday for six that will be ready for pick up before I return to the gallery this weekend. These images are $70 and are preserved shrinkwrapped against a foamboard backing.

Several more giclee prints are forthcoming, and i will post images of them later today when I have a break in my schedule.

Thanks for reading.

Henri’s Wisdom

September 12, 2016

The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The words of Henri, always an inspiration to his disciples, fuel my imagination this morning. The original Ash Can School would gather in his apartment at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia where he would read to them from Whitman and Emerson. Later, at his school in New York, he would continue to lecture and inspire, and his writings are now collected in The Art Spirit.

At my age, I’m still learning technique, but still wonder what exactly it is, to select a subject and assemble a composition that creates a work that will inspire. Perhaps artists, writers and musicians never really know the secret to this big picture.

Thanks for reading. I’m getting close to finishing this passenger rail car relic (I think).

Creating Worlds

September 10, 2016

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The blank canvas is the blank page. You start with nothing. It’s hugely provocative. It’s frightening because you may have too much to put on it. Or not enough of yourself.

Wim Wenders

This cool, dark, overcast, rainy Saturday morning put me in the mood to continue a watercolor I worked on last evening. I’m getting close to finishing it. While painting, I like to listen to some kind of creative stimulus, often spinning LPs on my turntable, or using the laptop to dial up a YouTube presentation. Choosing the latter, I was shocked to discover a nearly hour-long documentary on Edward Hopper titled “Edward Hopper and the Blank Canvas.” What jolted me after all these years was to discover how much film footage remains of Hopper’s television interview with Brian O’Doherty. The presentation is very engaging, and filled with plenty of interviews with film maker Wim Wenders (who was deeply influenced by Hopper’s scenes and collaborated with his photographer to re-create many settings reminiscent of these paintings). The above quote from Wenders is still working on me as I pour myself into this most recent painting.

Eureka Springs is the setting, and their historic railroad depot provides a lengthy section of abandoned trackage where derelict rolling stock has been parked. Every time I visit the town, I love to stroll the length of these tracks, taking pictures and making sketches of the rail cars. As I painted this afternoon, watching my blank paper slowly develop into a painting, I felt the sweet memories of last summer’s excursion flowing through me. Of course, I’m never sure if my feelings come out in the paintings (and Edward Hopper never knew, or perhaps didn’t even care, whether his thoughts were recognized by viewers of his work). I think what engages me the most, thinking of the Wim Wender quote, is when I should declare a painting finished, whether or not I have pushed my feelings far enough into the process. Of course, that is something I’ll never know. But I still think about it as I work.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

dark-studio

Grand Saline Railroad Painting (2nd day of Mineola Festival)

November 6, 2011

Grand Saline Union Pacific

The second day of the Mineola Holiday Bazaar was much busier than day one.  Therefore, painting time was at a premium.  As you can see, by show’s end, this is as far as I could get on a new watercolor.  I photographed this in Grand Saline on my way to Mineola for this Holiday Bazaar.  The Union Pacific and GATX colors against the fall foliage were so striking, that I had to pull the Jeep over and take photographs.  I thought seriously about painting this one yesterday, but opted for the New Mexico composition instead.  Alas, I had very little quality time to spend on this one, and now I have school beginning early tomorrow morning (after I load out this show and pack everything home, 2 hours away).  So . . . I’m not sure when I’ll get to finish this one.  Perhaps tomorrow after school (ack!  it’s that dreadful 4-class day!), perhaps later.  But I will finish it.

Thanks for reading.

Eureka Springs Railroad Environment

July 4, 2011

Eureka Springs RxR

The 4th of July has turned out to be a decent day for painting.  Once my thermometer reached 106, I decided it was time to get out of the garage and retreat to my indoor studio (I cannot bear the dim light of the indoors, once I’ve indulged in plein air, nevertheless I’m not inviting heat stroke either).  It’s nice to work in an air conditioned place now.

I began this small 11 x 14″ piece on the last day of class with my Eureka Springs School of the Arts group.  It was Friday morning, and I felt a heaviness, knowing I was going to leave Eureka Springs and all its beauty that day, yet anxious in my heart to get on to the next appointment.  I felt that great things were just ahead.

Once I took out this piece today, I realized that the antique steam engine really needed a set of wheels.  So I fortunately had a reference photo taken on location, and set to work today trying to finish out the bottom of this composition.  I’m glad to bring closure to this work.  Again, I have too many conflicting feelings co-mingled, as this painting takes me back to the end of Eureka Springs and the transition back to life as I know it today.  It has not been an easy shift, and I’m still working to get my feet back underneath me.

I have filled out an application for the 2012 academic year at Eureka Springs School of the Arts, and hope I can return to this remarkable mountain town next summer.  This quaint Victorian mountain town is a plein air artist’s dream.

Thanks always for reading.

Quick Watercolor Sketch of the Durango Silverton RxR

June 30, 2011

Durango Silverton RxR Skirting the Gorge

Every time I think I have finished this small watercolor sketch, I find something else to do to it.  I began the work while sitting in my booth at Art in the Park last spring in Kennedale, Texas.  My reference photo is a small 3 x 5″ photo I took with a throw-away digital camera purchased years ago before I bought my own Nikon.  I had the privilege of sitting near the back of this train, and was able to photograph the front portion of it as it wended its way around the mountains between Durango and Silverton, Colorado.  I still haven’t managed to capture the steam billowing out of the engine, and feel that I’m going to have to do some scrubbing with a towel or maybe even some sanding with light-gauge sand paper and begin again.  I really want to show the steam.  I’m also not satisfied with the misty trails in the distant valley to the right.  I feel that it looks as though I just quit on the foliage.  I believe the cliff face in front also needs additional work on the deep shadows, and there are some details with the yellow passenger cars that I forgot to finish out.  Anyway–plenty more “playing around” left to do on this way.  All the same, I wanted to post it on the blog, so here it is.  Hopefully I’ll show it again when I get it where I want.  It’s a small piece by the way, about 12 x 16″.

Thanks for reading.

Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside shacks in Waxahachie, Texas

May 30, 2011

Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside in Waxahachie, Texas

The winds got up again this afternoon, making it difficult to paint and hold supplies in place.  But it also kept the heat from rising.  I found a tree that offered plenty of shade, and went to work on this trackside structure, stopping occasionally to allow passing freight trains to obstruct my view (one Kansas City Southern, one Union Pacific).  I painted this shack at last year’s Waxhachie Paint-Out, but this time decided to paint it larger (11 x 14 instead of 8 x 10) and incorporate more of the surrounding trees.  I did not time myself, but estimate that I had this one finished in less than 90 minutes.  Two paintings in one day has exhausted me.  School resumes tomorrow (one more week of it) and I will return to Waxahachie for a new plein air adventure as soon as that final bell rings!

Thanks for reading.

Durango-Silverton Railroad, painted at an Art Festival

April 10, 2011

Durango-Silverton Railroad

On the final day of Art in the Park in Kennedale, Texas, I began this quick watercolor sketch of one of my favorite subjects–the Durango-Silverton railroad in Colorado.  The first time I rode this train, I was seated in the rear car and was able to photograph the front section of the train repeatedly.  I have already done several watercolors of this subject, but never from this angle.  I had very little time to paint this today, as (gratefully) the festival was extremely busy with patrons and prospective buyers.  I enjoyed every conversation throughout the day, and even made special friends of a family from London, England and Aberdeen, Scotland, in the United States on a holiday.

Well, school resumes tomorrow, I am absolutely “wiped out” from the 3-day weekend festival, I have high school all day and college all night, plus I need to make a delivery to one of the patrons who purchased art that was not available in the booth.  Time for bed.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll try to post more tomorrow (when both eyes are open and focused!)