Posts Tagged ‘vintage door’

An All-Day Plein Air Paint-Out in Glen Rose, Texas

May 18, 2013
Barnard Mill, 1860

Barnard Mill, 1860

I apologize in advance for not posting an articulate blog.  I’m still weak from my recent illness and I completed an eight-hour paint-out in a day that reached 91 degrees in Glen Rose, Texas.  I did manage to kick out three watercolors in that span.  That’s not very fast by my standards, but I’m a bit rusty, still a bit tired, and really was in no hurry.  This is the old Barnard Mill.  I was blessed to receive Honorable Mention for this piece, which took me just under two hours to complete.  I am very attached to this structure and cannot wait for my next opportunity to return to Glen Rose and do another study of it.  I really believe I will one day do a large full-size watercolor of this magnificent old structure.

Heritage Park

Heritage Park

I next drove to Heritage Park and looked over all the historical structures that had been moved there.  But it was high noon, and the light wasn’t that great.  The heat was starting to wear me down as well.  After breaking for a quick lunch I set to work on this stone structure, but couldn’t really get what I wanted on the paper, though I enjoyed scrutinizing every detail of this building.  No matter how I worked, I just didn’t seem to be solving this one as well as I had the mill earlier in the morning.

Barnard Mill Door

Barnard Mill Door

After a second refresher break (I must have downed about eight bottles of water today!), I returned to the Barnard Mill with about 90 minutes left until the cut-off time.  I decided to give a shot at one of the doors below the composition that I painted first thing this morning.  I thought it would be somewhat easy, since I’ve painted quite a few abused door in my garage over this past winter.  It wasn’t.  I found myself fighting this one as well.  Again, I chalked it up to heat and fatigue.  When it was done, I was glad to know that I had eked out three paintings in a day.  And then a bonus–this one got purchased!  So I was glad to come home with some money in my pocket in addition to the Honorable Mention ribbon.

Glen Rose is a little over sixy miles from where I live.  The drive down this morning (I rose at 6:00) was very scenic and serene, and by the time I arrived, I was ready to paint.  But by day’s end, I was dried up, had to wait an hour for the judging to run its course, and then the reception and art sale was scheduled for another hour.  So I got home a little after 7:00 this evening, made dinner, and now, with one eye open, am pushing out this blog.

I think I hear my bed calling out to me.  I don’t know when I’ve been more ready to crash for the night.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Open Door. Imagination Preceding Technique

May 6, 2013
Completed Watercolor Study of Screen Door

Completed Watercolor Study of Screen Door

There is the heart and the mind, the Puritan idea is that the mind must be the master.  I think the heart should be master and the mind should be the tool and servant of the heart.  As it is, we give too much attention to laws and not enough to principles.  The man who wants to produce art must have the emotional side first, and this must be reinforced by the practical.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I wrote of some of this over the weekend when I discussed “Imagination vs. Technique.”  Henri’s words continue to thrill me as I read further into The Art Spirit.  He really fired up his disciples who became the nucleus for America’s Ash Can School at the turn of the century.  This book just crackles with intensity.

I really believe that I was more technician than artistic passion when growing up and pursuing my art.  From my childhood, I wanted to be good, wanted to excel in making art.  From the first junior high art class I took, on up through my college degree, it seems I tried to seize all knowledge, Faust-like, and translate it into technique to make better and better art.

Not long after the millenium turned, I became deeply dissatisfied with my art.  As I’ve reported in earlier blogs, I was moved profoundly by the offerings of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, feeling a deep-seated connection with their lives and interests, yet feeling that myown work was merely illustrative, merely exercises in technique and craftsmanship, and not truly art that would express my feelings or evoke feelings from observers.

Since the beginning of 2013, I have suddenly shifted to painting still-life compositions filled with objects that have stirred me from childhood.  Odd that I had not attempted a still-life watercolor since tenth grade, and the thought of trying it terrified me.  I started simply with one or two objects, and eventually grew to more complex compositions.  The transformation was slow at first, but now it is starting to make sense to me–I am painting things that truly “matter” to me, objects that stir my imagination, and bring to the surface, in Proust-like fashion, warm primal memories from my childhood, memories worth holding.  Passion is now driving my art, and technique just seems to be the tools in the box, ready and waiting for me to take up and use as needed.  Though I am not a mechanic, I think I feel some of the mechanic’s sense of satisfaction when he reaches for a socket wrench that happens to be the right size to fit the bolt that needs adjusting.  I too, feel a sense of satisfaction, when a particular brush is just what I need to scumble or glaze or detail a particular portion of the composition slowly emerging from the white plane before me.  I have the imagination burning, trying to give birth to an image, and the tools of the trade that have been taught me over the years stand by, ready for service.

Right now, in my endeavors, technique is serving imagination, precision is serving passion, thinking is following feeling.  It seems that this is the first time I have experienced this, in decades of making art.  And I like it.  I’m interested in seeing where this is going to take me.

Today after school, I put the finishing touches on this screen door composition.  I spent a large part of my day at school glancing at it (while students tested for four hours), trying to get a sense of what was still needing to be completed.  All I did was finish out the borders of the screen, texture the wood further, work a little more on the spring stretched across the bottom and re-do some of the area surrounding the door knob.  I’m ready to find another subject to paint now.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Seer, Part 2

May 5, 2013
Re-Touched Watercolor, after Masquing Removal

Re-Touched Watercolor, after Masquing Removal

Art after all is but an extension of language to the expression of sensations too subtle for words.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Most of what we express creatively is prelinguistic.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Too subtle for words.  Prelinguistic.  Indeed.  I fumble for words, trying to blog what I find so appealing in these vintage doors, aside from the fact that they remind me in Proustian fashion of what I saw, visiting grandparents in rural southeast Missouri during my childhood years.  Over the past twelve years, I have acquired a total of nine vintage doors that are now hinged together in twos and threes.  They form the modular walls that shape and re-shape the space in my garage Man Cave.  I love hanging antique signs on them, attaching reading lamps to them, sitting among them reading, and for the past few months decided it was time to start putting them into my watercolor compositions.  I note with bemusement that for the past decade, as I’ve sat among them reading and journaling, I have often looked up from what I was doing, and found myself staring at the details of their abused surfaces, wondering how I could “solve” some of those textures in watercolor and drawing techniques.  I guess one could say I’ve been “composting” these recent watercolor experiments for over a decade now.

So, what is it exactly that I “see” in these compositions?  A potential sale?  A market?  A new style, new genre to pursue?  Not really.  I see character, I see history, I see volumes and volumes of stories.  When I look at the body of an abused, vintage guitar, I see stories.  I see the worn places along the neck, especially on the 3rd, 5th and 7th frets, and muse about the “boxes” this guitarist made use of when he worked on lead riffs.  I look at the cigarette burns near the nut, and realize the guitarist frequently inserted his cigarette up there while playing, a makeshift ashtray.  I have a pre-World War II Gibson archtop that belonged to my late uncle.  There are grooves above the frets, showing that he preferred the C chord, along with the G and D.  The nicks all over a guitar body tell the story of clubs, bars, campouts–all the places the guitar had visited during the player’s life.

When I look at these doors, I can tell which sides were interior and which were exterior.  I can tell which ones had a screen door in front. leaving the sun imprint as a stencil on the door.  I can see the key gouges around the locking plates, the grime on the porcelain door knobs, the dents in the metal ones.  I can see at the bottoms where they have been constantly kicked open, I suppose when one’s arms were laden with groceries or provisions.  So many stories.  So many lives.  Now they stand mute in my garage.  But I take up the brush and record their stories, adding my own as well.   And of course, I lay my memories over the tops of the stories, leaving a virtual palimpsest for readers to translate.

What I see in subjects such as these, and what I think about the art milieu are things that defy words, yet I managed to cover my blog with yet more words.  But what are my alternatives?  I love to paint, love to muse, love to stretch.  And I love to share what’s going on. I appreciate that there are those “out there” who take the time to look at these images, read these words and have something to say in return.  I’m appreciative of that as well.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.