Posts Tagged ‘Weatherford’

The Artistic Muse–painting, architecture, philosophy and literature merging

October 3, 2011

Weatherford, Texas Victorian Bed and Breakfast

How resilient the Life of the Mind, even when daily work details work overtime to drive away the creative impulse!  As I write this, I am totally exhausted, teaching high school full-time (or should I say overtime, since an extra class has been added to the previous “full-time” teaching load?) and keeping a busy schedule with art festivals.  I just finished my second festival in three weeks, the two combined festivals spanning six days.  I have two more consecutive festivals the next two weekends, and a final one the last Saturday of the month.  All told, it will be five festivals over seven weeks, the festivals themselves spanning ten days.  Oh yes, and there was the opening of my One-Man Show during that span, and a marvelous newspaper feature article giving me considerable exposure to the community.  The six-week grading period has just ended at school, so grades are due to be posted tomorrow.  Of course, I am still not finished with that task, and tomorrow will no doubt be another late night.

Nevertheless—my head and heart are abuzz with ideas, not always flying in formation.  I’ve never been linear in my processing.  Today alone (besides teaching three Art I classes and one Philosophy class) I have been possessed with musings over the Richard Diebenkorn show that I viewed breathlessly yesterday at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum, along with ideas gleaned from The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell (my favorite “intellectual” artist of the 20th century), an extensive article from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The History of Aesthetics,” the Classical Age of Greek Art (my preparations for tomorrow’s A. P. Art History class), the Art of the Ancient Aegean (my preparations for tomorrow’s two regular Art History classes) and my recent sketches of Fort Worth’s 1907 Flat Iron building erected south of Sundance Square.

As I was musing over Classical Greek architecture, Motherwell’s comments on abstraction and some things written over the years in my personal journals, I decided to re-post this image of a watercolor I created earlier this year of the Angels Nest at 1105 Palo Pinto Street in Weatherford, Texas (   It turned out to be a large vertical painting (approximately 22 x 30″) with the actual Victorian house occupying a small space at the top of a sprawling hill.  The majesty of this site is amazing to behold, and I would love someday to spend a night or two lodging there.  I first decided to paint it last January, when I was journeying to the Brazos River in Possum Kingdom to fly fish for rainbow trout.  The winter sun was extremely bright that day, lighting up this house like a diamond against the azure blue sky.  So splendid was the view, that I went to a great deal of trouble turning my Jeep around on a divided highway and coming back to this spot so I could take photographs to bring home to my studio.  Once I started on the painting, I found little trouble rendering the house, but considerable headaches dealing with that sprawling lawn and treeline.  The painting now is on display at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  My One-Man Show will close Saturday, October 8, at the conclusion of the HandleyFest.  I’ll be present at that festival as well, with my tent in place.

I am stirred up by all these wonderful ideas, and wish I had time to pursue them in sketches and watercolors, but alas, there is a heavy slate of classes awaiting me in the morning, and a department meeting over the lunch hour.  Still, I think I will have a window of opportunity to paint with a friend tomorrow after school, and Thursday as well.  Yesterday afternoon yielded quality time to render the historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie in quick watercolor.  I now have designs on the Fort Worth Flat Iron building, and hope I can get to it, if not tomorrow, then by Thursday afternoon.  Motherwell wrote about the word “abstract,” taken from the Latin, meaning to remove something.  He thinks that abstraction is one’s attempt to remove the unnecessary in order to get at the essence of something.  Much of that notion echoes the ideas of Andrew Wyeth with regard to drybrush renderings.  Today in the Art I classes, I was trying to lead the students in that exercise by drawing coffee mugs, and trying to discern how little of a mug could be drawn before the viewer could recognize its “essence.”  While students worked on coffee mugs, I worked on the Fort Worth Flat Iron in my sketchbook, trying to draw just enough of it to make the structure recognizable in its “essence.”  I next tried it with Victorian homes.  That reminded me to re-visit this Weatherford Victorian painting.

As my company is called Recollections 54 (from my birth year), I still find myself musing over cultural relics that remain from that decade, often in a current state of disrepair, yet possessing enough “essence” to exert their authenticity.  And just as an incomplete structure possesses the power to draw us into its essence, so also a partially-drawn structure can lead the viewer to the portion of the subject that matters, the core, the essence.  We are still able, with a little lingering, to recover some of the warm memories that hover in residual fashion about these structures.  The longer I linger in their presence, and the more time I spend in the writings of kindred spirits like Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn, the more I feel the presence of the muse and feel the stirring sensation of her whisperings.  And once again, I am ready to pick up the brush.  I hope I can tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


Large Framed Watercolors for the One-Man Show

May 15, 2011

Weatherford Victorian in the frame

Here is my second large full-size watercolor that I picked up framed today.  The Weiler House Gallery did the magnificent framing, and will host my One-Man Show in September.  For additional work at the Weiler House, please see

Thanks for reading.

Weatherford Victorian Salute

April 24, 2011

Weatherford Victorian Salute (cropped)

Weatherford Victorian Salute (full painting)

It’s nice to sit in a Starbuck’s and relax with coffee as the Easter weekend draws to a close.  I feel the exhaustion of having painted the past three days in a row.  Yesterday was a plein air assault as I dashed to a secluded cemetery and pushed out a pair of watercolor sketches.  The rest of the weekend was spent in my garage/studio, staring at this enormous (by my standards–22 x 28″) watercolor that I began several weeks ago and abruptly abandoned, not knowing how to handle the lawn.  As stated in a prior blog, I photographed this Victorian home in January or February, while en route to the Brazos River in Possum Kingdom to fly fish for rainbow trout.  The winter sun captured my fancy as I saw it playing off this stately hilltop mansion in Weatherford, just west of the courthouse.  It so captivated me that I turned my Jeep around, and navigated the divided highway back around the estate’s property, found a storage facility where I could park my Jeep, and walked back to the property to photograph it with my digital camera.  I really liked the long sprawling hill filling the foreground, thinking of how Edward Hopper created his gorgeous watercolors of these settings in New England.

The house itself did not really create a problem for me–I just was not sure how to render all that winter grass, freshly mowed, but not yet emerald green, and not completely filled in either.  On Friday I pulled the painting back out, and as I listened to Muddy Waters on the turntable, I began chipping away at the lawn, and resumed work on the house which was only about 2/3 completed.  Any time the grass got too wet to paint, I just returned to work on the house, and when the house became sloppy and wet, I returned to the yard.  I have to admit, I got lost in the house, and totally enjoyed the immersion!  So many angles and details on a Victorian home, and all of them so attractive!

The funny thing is, I thought I would be working on this for at least another week, when suddenly, I stepped back from my work, took one more look, and decided to sign it and quit.  I think I did the right thing.  I have lost so many watercolors by overworking them until they collapsed.  I did not want to lose this one.

To ensure that I would not “diddle” further with the painting, I packed it in the portfolio and delivered it to the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery, which fortunately for me was open today.    (  The painting is now being framed and will stay at the Weiler.  I’m pleased that another piece of work has been added to my one-man-show to open in September.

Thanks for reading.

Edward Hopper-style Victorian Watercolor at Weatherford, Texas

April 23, 2011

Victorian Home, Weatherford, Texas

Finally I return to this large watercolor that I abandoned several weeks ago.  I have been intimidated by the huge expanse of lawn, not knowing for sure how to render it.  The grass was winter grass, not brown, but not very green either, and showing up in patches.  Nevertheless the lawn was freshly mowed.  So I was in a quandary–I’m comfortable rendering watercolors of dead, brown, tall weeds and of summer manicured lawns of verdant green.  But I’ve never attempted this kind of grass patterns before, and certainly not on a full-size sheet of watercolor paper (about 22 x 28″).

So far, I’m not unhappy with what is emerging.  We’ll see what transpires tomorrow when I tackle it afresh.  I’ve known from the start that if all else fails, I could take this painting to the paper cutter and have only the house and surrounding trees.  But I have always loved the Edward Hopper watercolor compositions where he has posted a Victorian home or a lighthouse high atop a verdant hill.  I really wanted that kind of composition with this painting.

Thanks for reading.

T. S. Eliot poetry and Victorian Architecture Watercolor

March 16, 2011

Weatherford Victorian House

Aside from house cleaning (which was more interesting than usual), the day was given to reading T. S. Eliot and chipping away at my Victorian watercolor in the garage.  A nice cool day, and clear skies made the ambience ideal for painting.  My buddy David Slight also came by in the afternoon, and stayed the rest of the day, completing his third watercolor (posted previously) which came out superb.  I’ll probably retire to bed with Eliot’s “Four Quartets” still tumbling about in my consciousness.  What an amazing man of words!  I hope someday to render images in paint as clearly and attractively as he did in words.

Thanks for reading.

Exploring Edward Hopper with Victorian Architecture

March 15, 2011

Victorian cropped

Revisiting Edward Hopper and Victorian Architecture

Spring Break has afforded quality watercolor time, and it is only Tuesday evening.  Daylight Saving Time has given me more quality outdoor light in the afternoon/evening as well.  The garage studio environment has been sublime for painting, reading, journaling and blogging.  I moved my antiquated stereo into the garage and am now enjoying a turntable that I haven’t played in a couple of years. Currently, I’m enjoying a pirated double-LP recording of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Live at the Los Angeles Forum 6-26-1970.  Standing in waiting is a large stack of blues LPs–Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Brownie McGhee, B. B. King, Son House, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson.

The pictures posted above are my attempt to paint a Victorian mansion I have admired for years, situated high atop a hill in Weatherford, Texas, along Highway 180.  A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday, I was en route to the Brazos River near Possum Kingdom to do some fly fishing for recently-stocked rainbow trout.  The sun was strong that morning, and as I drove past this mansion, I had to pull over, turn around, return, get out and shoot some photos of it.  Finally I’m getting around to attempting my first watercolor on full-size paper (about 30 x 22″) with nearly 2/3 of the composition being hillside.  I’m flying blind here–don’t have any idea what I’m going to do with all this grass!  However, the mansion is coming along satisfactorily, and if I decide the grass isn’t working out, I can always take this to the paper cutter!  That should relieve some of the pressure I feel.

T. S. Eliot has been my companion for the day.  I’ve been spending plenty of time in “The Waste Land,” and am now reading the Eliot chapter in Howard Gardner’s Creating Minds. I’m fascinated with this poet, and am pleased that I can learn from his creative endeavor, even if he struggled over language the way I do over drawing.  I just finished reading a letter he wrote to his brother, explaining that he chose to write fewer pieces, concentrating on perfection and making each completed piece an “event” rather than being merely “prolific” and publishing pieces everywhere.  My goal in 2010 was to be prolific, as I have averaged less than twenty watercolors per year.  I completed nearly one hundred in 2010.  This year however, with my first ever one-man-show scheduled for September, I am concentrating on fewer and larger compositions, attempting to make every complete painting worthy of framing.  I know that is plenty to expect, but nevertheless, I am trying for quality over productivity this year.

And I’m certainly pushing some boundaries.  One of Edward Hopper’s neighboring artists commented that Hopper planned out each of his oils completely before he even started the composition.  The neighbor thought that was “a terrible way to paint, because you aren’t discovering anything.”  The critic went on to express admiration for Hopper’s watercolors “because in them you seem him experimenting all the time.”  I’m trying to keep this thought before me, and push each new piece I begin in a direction not familiar to me.  I don’t want to settle into any kind of “hack work,” pushing out watercolors for the trade.  So .  . . with this Victorian set high atop a hill, I try to complete my first Victorian in entirety (all my previous works are only partial studies of Victorian buildings, never completed), and I also try to devote some attention to a large plot of cultivated property.  We’ll see how it goes . . .

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Equestrian Watercolor, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

Sandi Riding Andante

Glad to finish this one, finally.  Sandi will be surprised.  She knew I started this several weeks ago.  But she only saw the outlined pencil drawing of her riding Andante.  Today while she was out doing “horse” things with her daughter, I worked as quickly as possible to finish this up.  It’s always hard to know when to quit and just let the painting go.  I think I have done all I can to it.  Maybe I’ll change my mind in the days ahead, but for now, it looks “finished” and I’m going to leave it at that (for the time being!).

Thanks for reading.

First Art Festival of 2010, March 7, 2010

March 7, 2010

Abandoned Filling Station north of Weatherford, Texas

With only three days to go till my first Art Festival of the year,  I’m scrambling to create greeting cards from all my recent watercolors.   This 5 x 7″ card is blank inside, with the following caption on the back:  With all greeting cards, my first intention is to identify the location of the subject.   I have been unable to re-locate this abandoned service station that caught my eye in 2007 while I was driving north of Weatherford, Texas.  All I can say is that it sits at a crossroads on a Farm Market road.  Twice I have returned to the vicinity, and have been unable to find it.  Service stations are among my favorite subjects for watercolor, and I came across this one during a fine sunny morning, when I was able to capture with the camera this wonderful separation of sunlight and cool shadows.

I’ll try to post all the new greeting cards in the days ahead.  The festival is in Hillsboro, Texas, Thursday through Sunday, at the Outlets alongside Interstate 35.  I’m pleased, for the first time, to have a 10 x 20′ booth out of which to sell my art.