Posts Tagged ‘Winesburg Ohio’

Sun Slanting over Vespers at a Quiet Presbyterian Church

June 13, 2011

First Presbyterian Church Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The first day of class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is in the books.  I was so excited that I set my alarm for 5:30 and arrived at the school by 8:00.  Class began at 9:00.  Six students this year, same number as last year, and I love them all.  All of them talented, all of them enthusiastic, and all of them wanting to push their skills further by exploring plein air watercolor.  We worked our first day at the school.  Tomorrow we meet in the historic district of Eureka Springs, and will paint the town, literally.

Class went from 9 to 4.  I gave myself about an hour to decompress in this lovely living facility (Twilight Terrace at Sweet Spring), then returned to the site about 2 blocks from here where I began this plein air sketch yesterday at this same time.  I spent one more hour on it today and declared it finished.  After all, it’s just a plein air sketch, not a finished, polished studio piece.  Maybe I’ll do that some other day.

This is the First Presbyterian Church of Eureka Springs on Spring Street.  When I decided to work on it yesterday, I was fascinated with the rustication on the exterior of the structure, thought about how the ancient Romans introduced that to the Western world, and fancied this as a Roman Catholic Church.  Now today I read the sign and saw it was actually Presbyterian (sorry Jean!).  Nevertheless, it has that Roman look (to me).  And I am aware that Vespers came from the Roman Catholic tradition, drifted to the Greek Orthodox, and was later adopted by the Lutherans.  But I believe the word just means “evening” and I know that Presbyterians, Unitarians and other church bodies today use that word “vespers” to refer to some of their liturgical practices.

This was truly a “vespers” moment for me as I spent this evening’s hour finishing this piece.  The slanting rays of the sun continued to wash the environment, and chase lavender shadows across the recessed areas of this scene.  I really did not want to stop painting on it.  But alas, I have overworked far too many watercolors (and may have this one as well!).  So, I decided to let it go, and rest up this evening so I can teach another class tomorrow, and (hopefully) kick out another plein air watercolor at tomorrow’s vespers.

Thanks for reading.  Eureka Springs is a beautiful place to paint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Evening Plein Air Watercolor Start on a Eureka Springs Church

June 12, 2011

Eureka Springs Church

This morning, my wife and I rose at 5:00 to make the four-hour drive to Little Rock so she could catch a flight back to Texas.  She begins teaching summer school in the morning, and I begin my one-week class here in the morning as well.  The return to Eureka Springs capped eight hours of driving, and I felt it.  However, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts has provided me with a place to stay this week, and when I moved in this evening, I could not believe my eyes!  I’m in a luxurious space, and feel so unworthy!  All I could hear were the dying words of Tom Hanks to Private Ryan: “Earn this.”  (Incidentally I did not care for the movie, but always remembered that “hook”).  And so, with “Earn this!” on my conscience, I hastily unpacked my gear in this beautiful dwelling, then headed out into the surrounding neighborhood at 6:00 p.m. to paint something, anything.  I just felt I needed to “earn this!”

The sun was setting on this beautiful church, about a block from where I will be residing.  I only had 45 minutes of light with which to work, so this is as far as I could go.  I believe I will set it out as a sample for my plein air students in the morning, showing them how I begin an on-site work.  Then, when 6:00 p.m. rolls back around, I’ll return to the site, and hopefully complete it.  I begin with four students tomorrow.  We’ll practice plein air watercolor for five days, 9:00-4:00.  I’ve waited a year for this, and can hardly believe that the inauguration of this experience is just hours away now.

About this start to the church painting–I was much more fascinated with the beautiful sunset colors filling the trees and foliage to the right of the church, than the actual church structure, although I look forward to (trying) to solve the problem of the rusticated exterior.  I love such cut-stone buildings and their Roman predecessors.  Finally I get to attempt a watercolor of one.  Hopefully I’ll render the stop sign and street signs with enough detail that they emerge from the overwhelming, colorful foliage.  I also love the slant of the street downward, much like what I saw with that Victorian cottage bathed in yellow that I attempted a few days ago (posted).

Thank you for reading.  Wish my class (and me) good luck tomorrow as we begin this week.

A Winsor Lemon Victorian Cottage in the Morning Sunlight at Eureka Springs

June 9, 2011

Second Morning in Eureka Springs

How could a life of plein air painting get any better?  I woke before my 7:00 alarm, found Eureka Springs bathed in yellow sunlight, and decided to give this perspective a shot.  I loved the Winsor Lemon color of this Victorian in the slanting yellow rays of the morning sun, and the longer I gazed at this setting, the more “taken” I was by the lemon yellow sunlight that washed the atmosphere, and the complementary lavender shadows that flowed out from the foreground pavement.  I did not want to stop painting on this composition!  I finally made myself stop, pencil in some refinements on the house, sign it and leave it alone!  This one was hard to release.

The Carnegie Public Library, as it turned out, is right around the corner from this lovely home on Spring Street.  How convenient to step into this air-conditioned ambiance, enjoy the aged, classic architecture of the interior, and post this blog!  How could it get any better?

Thanks for reading.  More tomorrow, as the plein air odyssey continues.

A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website http://www.recollections54.com).

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisas-Market-Street-Grille/274360247861

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

 

Summer Morning Odyssey along Missouri Highway 79

March 7, 2011

Sun Rising on Winfield, Missouri

I have completely re-written my opening blog page “Hello and thanks for entering my blog.”  That was long overdue.

I posted yesterday that it seemed unlikely that I would get into the studio today.  I have high school all day, and Open House tonight.  However, I got an early start on this day, and it now seems possible that I could get in some studio work this afternoon during the interim.  If I do, I’ll certainly post my progress.

Meanwhile here is a piece I have at the Weiler House Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I came across this location during a 2009 summer odyssey I took from my home town of St. Louis, north up Highway 79 en route to my college alma mater.  The location is Winfield, Missouri–a sleepy little Mississippi River town.  The sun was just rising over the Mississippi when I came across this abandoned store front–to me the most perfect setting for a watercolor study.  I photographed it at least twenty times from every conceivable angle, totally delighted at the warm early light of the sun and the cool shadows dancing everywhere.  The bright reds made me think of Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning. I have painted this store a second time–the other from a frontal perspective like Hopper’s painting just mentioned.  Very soon, I hope to return to this and capture it from yet another angle.  I wish there were more structures like this in our small towns.  It seems they have all been cleared away and replaced with Seven-Eleven or comparable stores.

Thanks for reading.

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer’s Grill

February 3, 2011

Nostalgic Christmas Dining on Route 66 at the Spencer's Grill

This one is going to be fun!  Spencer’s Grill, along historic route 66 in Kirkwood, Missouri, was a visual landmark for me, even before I was old enough to read.  This 1947 diner, with its 1948 sign, was featured on a billboard in Fenton, Missouri, adjacent to the Meramec River bridge on Highway 30.  As a small child, I admired the maroon-and-gold signage complete with vintage clock.  Once I was old enough to enter the diner on my own, I discovered a scene reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s painting “Night Hawks,” complete with stainless steel kitchen and the aromas of old-fashioned cooking.  Every summer and Christmas, when I re-visit St. Louis, I stop into the Spencer’s Grill, usually for breakfast which includes scrapple, of all things!

I began this work last month, then stalled as I continued work on a couple of other large watercolor compositions, and of course, the constant juggling of high school and college teaching schedules.  Yesterday I discovered water damage in the midst of the painting (sloppy me–always leaving a damp towel on my work).  I have just about restored all the “bleeding” areas that weren’t supposed to be there, and I pledge to be more careful now as this thing slowly takes shape.  I still have plenty of pencil work to do, as I’ve decided now to extend the composition to the bottom and to the right.  And of course, there is still plenty of signage to detail, traffic to block in, and shadows to lay down.  But I am finding real joy in this.

Texas has canceled school three days in a row, an extremely rare feat–in fact I don’t recall three consecutive cancellation days in my near-25 years of teaching.  At any rate, it has allowed me to focus more on my painting, and for that I am grateful.

Thank you for reading.  I’ll try to be more faithful with daily blogging . . .  Wish me luck on this one!

Finishing the Route 66 Billboard, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

Zephyr Billboard Historic Route 66, Villa Ridge, Missouri

I’m nearly finished with this one.  I’ll be leaving for Colorado next week for some more plein air painting (and fly fishing!), and I need to finish up the partial paintings on all my watercolor blocks.  I have several in progress, and the blocks are all tied up until I can tear the paintings off.  A good predicament, I suppose.

I took a number of photographs around Villa Ridge, Missouri while visiting there last week.  Soon, I hope to get into a series of Route 66 nostalgia pieces.

Thank you for reading.

Back from the Road Trip, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010

Town House/Bed & Breakfast, Yelleville, Arkansas

My last plein air attempt occurred on my last day of the road trip.  I had stayed the night with good friends from Cotter, Arkansas.  We rose early the next morning, and gathered with other plein air painters to give this wonderful Victorian home a try.  The building is now a popular Bed and Breakfast.  I allowed myself a 90-minute window, but managed this in just about one hour.  I’m pleased to be adding some speed and accuracy to my plein air attempts.  I used to spend hours just trying to capture a composition such as this.  The plein air practice is beginning to pay off.  This one measures about 9 x 12″.  I still worship the Edward Hopper watercolors of these kinds of subjects, and hope one day to capture his kind of nuances.

Silver Dollar Tavern (in progress), 4th of July, 2010

July 4, 2010

Silver Dollar Tavern

I’m excited to re-enter the studio at last.  The long hiatus can be best explained by a conference at Lake Tahoe, California, followed by travel weariness and the need to clean my studio.  Finally I have my energy back and a place to work.

While cleaning the studio, I came across a large watercolor I had begun about 5-7 years ago and abandoned, then forgot about completely.  I almost threw it away, but after looking at it over the past several days, decided that I could rescue what was earlier considered a botched attempt.

Last night I added the guitar player (myself), the GMC pickup (that appears in another watercolor of mine titled “Brian Plays the Blues”), and signage from some abandoned sites in New Mexico I photographed on a road trip three summers ago.  I think these props have greatly improved the overall composition of this piece.

This is much larger than I’ve grown accustomed to creating (about 22 x 14″).  I’m getting lost in the detail, but loving it.

The setting is what’s left of the Silver Dollar Tavern, a road house that my father frequented before he entered the Korean conflict.  It is located along old U. S. Highway 61 (the Blues route, hence the guitar player recently added) in the small town Old Appleton.  The place has great memories for my father–a bar on the ground floor and dance hall on the second.  It has memories for me as well.  Before Interstate 55 was created, we had to travel the winding Route 61 to visit my grandparents in rural Jackson, Missouri.  From St. Louis, the trip was 2 1/2 hours and dreary for me as a child, save for some of these relics that would catch my eye along the roadside.  Once I-55 was in place, an hour was cut off our travel time, so we no longer had to fret about weary two-lane travel.  Many decades later, I returned to old Route 61 and took quite a few photographs.  Finally I am getting around to painting some of these abandoned sites.

Thanks for reading.

Wrapping up the East Texas Plein Air, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

Edgewood TexasAs Gaylord O’Con and I headed back toward Dallas, following a sweaty morning of painting in Grand Saline, we discovered this delightful Heritage Park in the small town of Edgewood.  We found Mary Henson on the grounds, who welcomed us to explore the artifacts and make watercolor sketches of what interested us.  She was filled with fabulous stories and facts, displaying her passion for research into the history of these small east Texas towns.  I was fascinated with this beautiful preserved gas station complete with vintage pumps.  The heat was oppressive, but the shade trees offered plenty of protection, and the occasional breeze kept us going.  I’m glad we stopped here, and look forward to returning to this site.  There is also a fabulous train station, reefer car and Union Pacific caboose nearby.