Posts Tagged ‘trains’

Catching the Wind

September 27, 2017

Blog Wed 2

Completed Durango-Silverton Railroad

It is as if our own body, the container that our very own being has been poured into, shrugs off its torpor and awakens to its possibilities to speak and take flight.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World

In my reading early this morning, I came across this line from Peter London that captured what I felt yesterday, and the effects linger still today.  I’m finished with my morning college classes and am returning to the studio with sustained enthusiasm.  As artists, we know that we cannot make the wind of inspiration blow, but at least we can trim our sails to catch the breezes once they do stir. Yesterday morning I found myself with a full day available to make art, and am glad I went to work at it. A short time after beginning, I felt the surge.

Waking early this morning, I enjoyed some quality reading and journaling, then went to class, inspired by the line I’ve posted above. I’m setting aside the Durango-Silverton posted above, because I feel that I’ve done enough to it to consider it finished. I’m still puzzling over the painting below, so I’m going to let it ride a bit longer.  I have two more works in progress that need my attention, so I’ll see what I can accomplish with them.

blog Wed

Nearly Complete–Texas State Railroad #30

Thanks for reading.

 

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A Life of the Mind

September 14, 2017

Blog Thursday

Morning Meditation over the Journals of Eugene Delacroix

Blog Thursday 2

Working on Watercolors as the Dawn Breaks

There, seated on a bench, I started to jot down in my notebook some reflections similar to those that I am tracing here. . . . I cannot and must not live in any other way than through the mind; the food that it demands is more necessary to my life than that which my body calls for.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal, July 14, 1850

Finally, a genuine “off” day between college lecturing. After the third week of the semester, I finally have my ducks in a row so that on the days I don’t have class I can actually spend my hours doing what I feel is most central to my life–reading, writing in my journal, blogging and making art. Tomorrow’s college lecture is ready so I don’t have to fret over those details.

I rose at 5 a.m., with a sense of joy and anticipation. Following breakfast, I found myself in the watercolor studio picking at a composition I had been working on the night before. I now have three railroad watercolors in progress, and am happily moving to and fro among them. By 6:15, I decided to break from the painting and retreat to my study to continue my reading from Delacroix’s journals. I laughed out loud when I read the passage posted above, because I have felt foolish keeping a handwritten journal religiously since 1985, and still scribbling in it almost daily, then occasionally writing a blog from what I’ve already written in my journal. And here, I find Delacroix admitting the same thing–keeping a notebook, then re-writing, editing what he first wrote as he transfers it into the journal now published. From time to time, I wonder if I should print out all my blog pages, then wonder if that is really necessary, since I’ve already recorded most of this stuff in my handwritten journals.

I have always loved this notion of “the life of the mind” and am gratified this morning to read Delacroix expressing the same sentiment. I’ve always feared that it sounded arrogant to say that I live a life of the mind, perhaps even foolish and impractical. But it’s accurate. Forty years ago this fall, I embarked on the life of the mind when I entered graduate school, thrilled at the daily pursuit of the history of ideas, and over these decades, reading has been my food, and attempting to express my ideas by making art and standing to deliver in classrooms has been my exercise.

On Monday evening, I will stand before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth for the purpose of doing a watercolor demonstration. To describe this event as daunting is a gross understatement. I’ve known of the assignment for a number of months, but still, the anxiety of standing and delivering amidst a body of seasoned watercolorists keeps my inner doubts churning. At any rate, I’m preparing daily now to have something (hopefully) worthy to say and demonstrate when that hour arrives. Wish me luck!

Much of what I express on these blog pages is being shaped into the coming presentation. So, again, I thank all of you for your reading and your responses.

Until next time then . . .

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thoughts Concerning Creative Energy

August 26, 2017

train drawing finished

Did our birth fall in some fit of indigence and frugality in nature, that she was so sparing of her fire and so liberal of her earth, that it appears to us that we lack the affirmative principle, and though we have health and reason, yet we have no superfluity of spirit for new creation? . . . We are like millers on the lower levels of a stream, when the factories above them have exhausted the water. We too fancy that the upper people must have raised their dams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

As I grow older and find creative energy harder to sustain, I take solace in reading testimonies from Emerson and Walt Whitman, who knew all-too-well the difficulty of continuing the push for creative eros.  Emerson’s essay “Circles” has a great metaphor, describing the endeavor as pushing outward in concentric circles one’s creative energy. Each circle goes out a certain distance, then piles up and hardens into a berm. A harder effort is required to push the new wave of energy with enough force to burst that dam, but alas, the new circle also rises into a new berm, further away and higher. As one continues to create, more and more force is required to break through the earlier barricades.

At my age, I find that I’m sleeping longer and having to be more thoughtful of my diet. And I have to be more reasonable about deadlines and how much time is required to do quality work. Drawing and painting today has been a genuine joy, but I feel the weariness, and notice that the work requires more scrutiny than it seemed to before. But I still want to create, to live an artful life. I’m grateful to Texas Wesleyan University, for giving me a creative outlet in classes only three times a week, and to The  Gallery at Redlands for giving me a place to create and display my art. The patrons today have given me profound joy in conversation and encouragement. Palestine is a remarkable town.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Independence Day Gratitude

July 4, 2017

4th of July

Before the Zen calligrapher begins his first stroke, he pauses to bring himself into full awareness of what he is doing.  That moment’s pause is crucial to what follows.  Instead of plunging pell-mell into the task at hand, he takes a moment to settle down in order to be at one with what he is about to do.

The Creative Spirit

I enjoyed my early morning reading today, particularly the passage that I posted above. Reading it made me think of the gymnast who pauses before plunging into his/her routine, or the guitarist before stroking the opening strains from the guitar. Having prepared my ground last night for this new watercolor of the old #610 Texas and Pacific locomotive housed in Palestine, Texas, I spent a considerable time of quiet, looking over the composition this morning before making my first move.  Using a toothbrush, I splattered masquing fluid all around the perimeter that I hope will translate into stars or cincders.  After it dried, wishing for a deep blue background that lightens as it approaches the engine, I sprayed the page with a bottle, then mixed a considerable quantity of Antwerp Blue, Winsor Blue (Green Shade) and a touch of Cerulean Blue and then applied these pigments to the moist paper, occasionally spraying it with a small bottle to feather the pigments toward the train.  As it began to firm up, I sprinkled stale bread crumbs all over the area, again hoping that it would look like debris in the steam once I get to putting that into the picture.

Fourth of July finds me with all my family, and the homecoming is always sweet to me. There will be a houseful this evening and several of my family members will be cooking and preparing dishes throughout the day.  I’m in someone else’s kitchen, so I guess I’ll spend the day working on this watercolor and trying to stay out of the cooks’ paths as I pore over this composition.

Thanks for reading, and happy Fourth of July.

 

Thoughts Between the Rivers

June 27, 2017

camp

There are two things in painting: the eye and the brain, and they have to help each other; you have to work on their mutual development, but painter-fashion; the eye, for the vision of nature; the brain, for the logic of organized sensations which give the means of expression.
Paul Cezanne

I thought on this day I would be on Day Three of our planned river excursion.  However, a few difficulties ensued, and we decided to abort and begin a modified plan on Thursday. Wayne had some difficulties with the supply boat and its stability in the swifter currents, and I–I had difficulties keeping my kayak upright. We did manage to get in some quality fishing time, however.  But as nightfall drew nearer and the currents more difficult, we decided it safer (for me) and more expedient (for the packing supplies) to call off the odyssey and plan a new one.  On Thursday, we should be joined by Mark, and I’ll trade my kayak for the canoe I rode last summer.  Most likely, we will paddle and fish throughout the day, set up camp for the night, then decide on Day Two if we’ve had enough fun.

wayne fishing

Wayne Fishing Big River

Today I join Wayne and his grandson for some lake fishing (and I’ll stay on the shore this time) and I anticipate a scenario resembling more of a fishing team than Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday, after drying out my sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and going to a coin laundry to wash all my river-soaked clothes, I settled back into a watercolor I started two days ago.

train

I have a large project before me involving trains, and should be posting many more watercolor renderings in the weeks ahead. While working on this one, I kept Cezanne’s ideas in my head, constantly adjusting my eye to my brain. I’m working from a quality photograph, so I should be able to put the necessary details in place.  However, the picture composition leaves much to be desired, and I hope I’ll be able to factor in some quality composition decisions.

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.

 

Mornings with Emerson

June 16, 2017

emerson

(I’m going to try and paint this!)

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

This morning’s introduction to the New Day lies far beyond adequate description, but I shall try, nevertheless.  Waking around 6:30 without an alarm (thanks to retiring to bed much earlier than my custom), I rose to a beautiful eastern sun, and after making coffee, settled onto the porch of this old store where I reside while in the country.

thoughtful coffee

I decided to spend a few moments in Heidegger’s poem, “The Thinker as Poet”, and came across these words:

The world’s darkening never reaches
       to the light of Being.
We are too late for the gods and too
       early for Being. Being’s poem,
       just begun, is man. 
To head toward a star—this only.
To think is to confine yourself to a
      single thought that one day stands
      still like a star in the world’s sky.

When I lingered on those final lines, holding my thought to one steady idea, the large tree in front of me suddenly stirred with life as the morning breezes whispered through the leaves, and I felt my face caressed by gentle winds.  My thoughts immediately recalled Emerson’s lines from Nature that open today’s blog, and I felt a rush of eudaimonia, embraced by a beautiful morning.  All thoughts of driving to the city evaporated, and I sat in that rocker for I don’t know how long, savoring the gift of that sublime moment too deep for words.

From my early years of studying the Greek New Testament, I have always been fascinated with the idea of logos, and have enjoyed reading Heidegger’s rendering of that word as “gathering together” or “gathering process.”  Recently I have pondered my endeavors in making art as attempts to bring together all that I have encountered in my life’s experience and express it in watercolor compositions that have something meaningful to say.  My attempts at making art have been an engagement with the logos, an encounter that involves assembling my key ideas into some kind of creative expression. This morning was timely for me, as I knew I had a significant opportunity before me in the gallery to make art that matters to me.

As I drove through the country, I suddenly stopped, turned my Jeep around, and returned to an abandoned open mailbox shaded in the trees and engulfed in flowers. I took several photos, including the one posted above, and have plans to work on this composition as well.

Once at the gallery, I resumed work on the old Texas and Pacific #610 that remains here in Palestine.  This locomotive was built in 1927 by Lima Locomotive Works, and only seventy of this model were made.  This is the only known one still to exist today, and in 1977 it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

610 friday

If my strength holds up, I’ll continue working in The Gallery at Redlands till 9 p.m. The Red Fire Grille across the lobby brings in a sizeable dinner crowd on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t mind patrons drifting into the gallery as I paint.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Weary in Waxahachie

May 8, 2017

caboose (2)

Waxahachie Depot on South Rogers Street

I am so thrilled, surprised and grateful to see so many following my blog as I make my daily trek to Waxahachie. Today I was more tired than ever, since I was out late last night and rose at 5 this morning to face my classes at school.  As soon as I was free, I made the drive south and managed to finish this caboose composition that I started two days ago and couldn’t seem to manage. I haven’t participated in Paint Historic Waxahachie over the past two years due to scheduling conflicts, and I am finding myself far out of rhythm this go around. It seems that I have to set up two to three times on separate days before I can finish a simple 8 x 10″ painting, and in prior years I was doing them within the hour.

My intention this evening was to complete this painting and then try to start and finish a second one in just one sitting. But I was too sleepy and too out of the mood once this one was finished and hung in the gallery. So, hopefully tonight I will get a decent night’s sleep and find sufficient energy tomorrow evening to start and finish a painting.

Meanwhile, thanks all of you for following me this week.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.