Thursday, August 30, 2018


“I try to suggest rather than delineate, working with a lot of pure color
and effects of light.” “Whether it be a storm across the Glades,the caress
of a fresh breeze, or the silence of the deep woods, it has always been my
desire to interpret the moods of nature.” - A.E. Backus

Beecher on Cutting the Strings 

“Even one day in the country is good. But not till you settle down,
cut the string that binds you to the city, shove out its cares, and rid yourself of its excitements, can you feel the genuine comfort and happiness of being in the country.” Henry Ward Beecher 1860’s

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Reflections and Shadows 

Reflections and Shadows - At the Oxbow Trailhead on the Withlacoochee River. The fallen tree is slowly disappearing,

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thomas Schaller On Watercolor Painting 

Thomas Schaller On . . .
  His Typical Working Method: About 75 percent of my work is made in the studio, but 100 percent of what I do is informed by my plein-air work. If I’m not able to complete a painting on site, I do a small sketch–not to record what the subject looks like, but rather to capture the effects of light and the mood I’ll want to convey in the final piece.
His Greatest Challenge: In the study of Buddhism, there’s the belief that the act of letting go takes more strength and courage than the effort to hold on. So, to relax, to breathe, to reduce the stress of expectation and the desire for “perfection” are my biggest challenges.
The Most Interesting Thing About the Way He Works: I never sit down. I move around constantly, and I also move my painting around a good deal. I hold it upright, tip it this way and that, and use gravity to manipulate and guide the flow of my washes for various effects. Learn more about Schaller’s watercolor painting techniques in
Thomas Schaller: Watercolor Touched By Light.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Biking the Mountains Original is Sold 

Biking The Mountains 2- 15 X 11 Watercolor. As I painted I was thinking about the Smoky Mountains. I added the distance and fog. To a new home today.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

"Listening to Your Painting" 

Thomas w. Schaller - watercolor artist March 6, 2015 · . "Listening to Your Painting" Is there a better feeling as an artist than when you find yourself lost inside the world of your painting as it unfolds in front of you? Everything seems to be happening as it should, but it’s as if you are not even painting it! Yet somehow the thing appears - as if by magic. Of course when this happens (and it does not always!) it is not magic; but it does feel magical. And it is at those times when I feel most alive - when I exist completely in the moment of creation - no worries about the past and no fear of the future. All that matters is what is happening at that very moment in the world of the painting. Then I feel beyond time and space - outside myself, and completely at peace. I am untouchable. My choices and reactions are the ones that have come from somewhere beyond thought and effort. Rather they spring from something more direct and honest, more emotive and pure. I’m always asking my groups - and myself - "not to paint whatever it is that inspires us - but rather to try to paint the inspiration itself". Fancy words, but what do they mean? Well, for me, if I am stopped in my tracks by a particular sight or scene and suddenly "feel a painting coming on”, I think it’s important to remember that the painting I will do will not be a copy of whatever that sight or scene is - but rather my interpretation, my reaction, to that sight or scene. Because if there is any art to be found, it is only there. And so with little more than my basic idea and an overall plan of shapes and values in mind, I begin. And this is where my thinking stops and my feeling takes over. I then just have to trust myself enough to let my instincts lead the way. And as I paint, I am informed - and my painting is shaped - by my emotional response to the scene that inspired me - not by the specifics of the actual scene itself. In fact, once the painting begins, the actual scene fades in importance as it is in the world of my painting that I now live entirely. Given this, I am very open to the possibility that my plan may - and will - shift as I proceed….. All paintings have a mind of their own. So its great to be able to let “mistakes” happen and decide on the fly if they are good or not. Most often, when they happen (and they will), you learn to recognize immediately that they are often “just what the painting wanted” and you see them not as mistakes, but as advantages that could have never been planned. Memory and instinct silently guide us to make choices our mind could never imagine. Learning to shut off the world, turn down the volume in your mind, and “listen to your painting” is really just another way of saying that you are learning to trust yourself and hear only your own unique artist’s voice at last. That - and your painting - very often know what is best.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are we artists only when we paint? By Thomas W. Schaller 

Thomas W Schaller Are we artists only when we paint? As visual people, we are – in a sense - always painting. In fact, most paintings I do begin long before the brush ever touches the page. As Edward Hopper said: “Art is the outward expression of the inner life of an artist. And this inner life will result in a personal vision of the world.” And it’s in how we see and feel about the world that we are framing our future work. When just out walking, we may notice a bit of light, a hint of color, a composition of values that we never saw before. Or as the sunlight slants along a narrow street that we may have seen a thousand times, we realize; we never noticed it quite like that. Sometimes, we do a sketch, or take a quick photo. But often, we just file these impressions away somewhere in our hearts – a collection of moments. Over the years we amass a vast storeroom of moments; visual, sensory, and emotional memories - a collection we can draw upon for a lifetime. And in that collection should also be those feelings we had at the very moment we saw that light, or remembered the smell of those leaves, or the chill in the air one afternoon as the shadows inched across that road, or the talk we had that day with a neighbor or a friend. This is the stuff of Art – more than the exact specifics of what this view or that scene may actually look like. And so of myself I ask that I paint not so much the scene in front of me – but rather, how I remember, or how I feel about that scene right now. And if my painting comes even close to asking that question of the viewer, then I feel I’ve done my job. A painter paints, a writer writes, and so on it is said. That’s true enough. We only improve those skills that we practice. The only garden that grows is one that we have watered. And to be honest, I am usually not happy when I have to miss a day of painting. It is the garden I most wish to tend. But I think I need to remember how much my inner life is shaped and informed by the world around me. Taking some time to just be mindful and observant of this world – moment by moment -is critical. If I spend a little time just riding my bike, or watching people on the street, or talking with a friend, or just absorbing the sights, the sounds, the millions of angles of light that Nature provides, or just looking up and really watching the sky; all this helps to shape my unique personal vision. And back at the easel, that is at least as important a tool for the artist as any paint or brush could ever be.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

"Only Connect" by Thomas w. Schaller  

"Only Connect" “….. the prose and the poetry. Live in fragments no more.” Epigraph to the novel, Howard’s End ; 1910. E.M. Forster For this book, Forster borrowed a snippet of dialogue from one of his own characters to perfectly sum up the theme of the work . For much of his writing - and I believe his own life - was informed by the concept of “connection” - or the lack thereof . So many of his characters are in a struggle to integrate their inner lives with the outer world in which they live. And that world itself is struggling to adapt to constant transition and the evolving, cyclical nature of Time. It illustrates Forster’s fascination with the duality of Transition and Isolation. Our lives are constantly on the brink of change and exciting new discoveries - or the risk of being lost and forgotten forever. “So what has this got to do with painting?" you might be asking. For me - just about everything. In a sense, my work is a study in connection. Different values speak to one another, complementary tones are in constant dialogue, and angles - subtle or obvious lines of connection - are all central to my compositions. "Connect” is also a word heard a lot in my classes. I admit, I’m a bit obsessed with it : by the connections we have with one another , the invisible threads that bind us all in an unseen fabric that stretches across continents; one that also reaches down to Mother Earth, and then up to the very stars, and beyond. We are all part of something far more vast than ourselves. This is powerful and inspirational material for an artist and whatever stories we may wish to tell. As a painter, and a bit of an introvert, I admit that I have long struggled with my own sense of isolation and the need to connect the apparent rift between my own creative and intellectual selves - or the two opposite sides of the brain as some would have it. It’s a constant process, but I think I’ve made great strides. Yet, there are miles to go still. And that is good! But as I come to see that there really is no rift - no difference at all - just complementary parts of the same connected whole , my paintings have changed ; my relationship to others - and to the Universe we share - has changed. I have changed. And changed too are my paintings themselves; the themes, the expressions, the shapes, and values, the angles that help me try to express the changing stories I want my paintings to tell. And in the same way, this is not just a little story of my own journey - but one that I expect I share to some degree with many. As I think about all the connections there are, I feel less isolated - more happy and more free. As I paint, I am more able to become lost in the world of my painting - without a thought as to “how am I doing?” or “how do I compare?”. All that matters is the present moment in which Art is most alive. I feel no fear of the future and no regrets about the past. “Now” is all that matters. And life can be seen as just a series of “nows” - all connected, one to the other, yours and mine, forever . My wish for us all in this New Year is for more of that sense of joy and freedom in whatever we may choose to do. And as we strive to be more accepting and kind to others , we should not forget to afford ourselves that same courtesy. While we can - and should - set extremely high standards, we should also be able to forgive ourselves if we fall short. Because we will. But we will get up and try again with the knowledge that in painting - as in the rest of life - “mistakes” are sometimes the best things that can happen to us - and often - turn out not to be mistakes at all, just another connection to a new discovery - a new success.

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