Panoply (drop your guard)

wall sculpture-painting – synthetic polymer paint on wood
1998 – 20″x24x6″(deep)

Ah! Panoply! We hardly knew ye 😦 But you have a nice home with my friend an ex-coworker at TTUSOA. I guess that’s not the name of that art school now. Somebody, quick! Hand me an Acronymosaurus!! Ha! Well, don’t care to go there. I love this wall sculpture and I want to dream nostalgic about it.

Panoply has a lot going on, face to face. But it has as much or more going on around the corner(s). Unfortunately I let those photos get lost in the e-zone. My bad, really, e-bad on me!

I may not be able to repair that loss. Anyway, Panoply was the first appearance of “The Snowmen.” I am not sure I quite appreciated what they were all about at that time – almost ten years before I drew & painted “The Cave of Lost Snowmen.”

Did I know I was beginning to paint environmental “global warming” art? I don’t quite think so. But my deep soul did. And now it’s quite important with Generalissimo Bozo having hijacked the Oval Office and being all busy as a busted brain bumble bee trying to deny the reality of the death of “The Snowmen.”

I cannot sit back and do nothing at all. I know I can do little. So I must retrieve the edge photos of this artwork – they show the first appearance of King Snowman I …

The Snowmen help keep the earth on track and in its orbit!!

Cave of Forgotten Snowmen10

Cave of Forgotten Snowmen

Mondo Abstracto

wall sculpture – synthetic polymer paint on wood
6.5″x12″.5″(deep) 1985

I’ve always loved this diminutive wall sculpture 🙂 which is NOT diminutive in my artist eyes & mind!! It never did sell down in Houston. The little creature traveled with me a couple of times to different states, and finally I sold it to a friend of mine – doctor’s wife, for her husband’s birthday. That sort of sale is always a scary thing for me.

A lot of times I’ve experienced an enthusiastic spouse but the other spouse wasn’t enthusiastic at all. And if the enthusiastic spouse be female, “occasionally” it has appeared (like a big truck) that hubbo was a bit more than unenthusiastic, if you be getting my drift.

Well I don’t want to drift along like an iceberg – ready to ram the Titanic of marriage voyages . . . yikes. Still, being an artist trying to sell his or her art follows a simple formula that was succinctly explained to me by my most excellent artist friend (both artist & friend) Ron K Smith many long years ago down in Houston, TX.

Believe them (public art buyers) when the check is in your hand!

This simple statement runs counter to many folks romantic idea of what it’s like to be an artist. I’ve heard both ends of the spectrum actually. There isn’t a lot of middle ground and Ron’s handy art measuring guide is very useful, as it does lie firmly in the middle ground of artist reality (a place that seems to be getting harder ‘n harder to locate for everybody).

But before I break out into song (which sometimes happens when I begin to ‘n so watch out people!! You saw that ‘n in the previous paragraph. I did, too, and went all mental uh oh. Song-bloggin’ is a scary place to be with me…. I’ll move on with my bloggy bloviatin’ blather. See, the ‘ns are multiplyin’ haha My wordy word words are the lesser of two or three e-evils when you’re surfin’ the interwebs 🙂

SO, the glamour of being an artist is (partial fun list): full of a lot of alone time – painting, sculpting, printing, priming, sanding, crating, uncrating, etc. Also, calling dis-interested gallery owners & entering shows (well I’ve been sho nuff lazy ’bout that – got me a good violin soundtrack goin’ now!! Yes, there’s plenty o’ rejection from galleries for most of us (but as Dean Andrew Martin says, “It’s a numbers game – Just keep entering.” That doesn’t seem to bother some artists. They just move on down the gallery row list. But some of us are sensitive artists like yours, too-ly! haha I don’t like no rejectins. Still, do it enought and it gets easier. Not sure it gets quite as glamorous as a job at the art supply store, though 🙂 Meet lots of artists there, male & female. Move to the big city, like Houston – Texas Art Supply has tons of folks buying their art supplies there. I worked there for 4 years. I met lots of art people. Not glamorous but could be fun for an isolato artist like me. Still . . .

For me, the most glamorous parts are those times (and not every day, when the pieces of the art jig-saw puzzle fall into place and I see something new & amazing on my easel or wall! WOW! Often this is 3AM, 4AM, or 5AM. Almost always it’s when I’m totally alone! Just me, my brushes, and my cats!! That’s when I’ll often have my music turned way up and my ancient dancin’ feet going a mile a minute… Or, I’ll be sitting in my special art chair just gazing at what I just finished painting – wondering how that got painted exactly… and… wondering if I will be able to make such magic happen again. Because often I’m not too sure how it did happen anyway. But the wondering doesn’t drown out the feelings of awe at these times!

Yes, art IS GLAMOROUS!! But the general public misses most of it 😦 

Gift of the Sun

(Gift of the Sun)
Wall Sculpture – synthetic polymer paint on wood

Heliodor is an awesome wall sculpture. Oh let me toot my own artist horn just a little bit. It’s a looming wall piece that has a definite physical presence in a room. I painted it before I got my job really going at TTU School of Art, so I wasn’t quite aware of ADA regulations regarding objects protruding from walls in public spaces. Well, this piece helped acquaint me with those regs due to its 14″ wall protrusion 🙂

It hasn’t been a problem really. I haven’t sold the artwork, thought I did hang it in my Reconnecting show at Goldesberry gallery back in 1997. The piece had a $9000 price tag on it then, which sounds like a lot (well it really is) but considering all the work I put into it, that’s not a big price.

The name Heliodor means “Gift of the Sun” and the piece is named after a crystal family – the Beryl family. I’ve always loved crystals, and Heliodor is the bright yellow Beryl crystal.

Now the wall sculpture graces my bedroom wall. It’s a little large for it, but I’ve had it mounted in there for many years and would miss it if it left for greener pastures. Not that I wouldn’t love to get $9000 for it. Actually I think that’s a little bit low.

My lifelong art mentor, Jim Howze saw the piece soon after I completed it in early 1998. He told me, “Well, I just got back from a trip to New York City and this is as good as anything I saw there!” That was quite the statement. He didn’t hold back his thoughts. I knew that about him If he didn’t like something he would let me know it. Once, back in art school he told me, “That piece makes something start going around and around in my stomach and I have to choke it off at the neck!” hahaha

He was so right about that nauseous artwork!! I was using a lot of greens shades in it. Some of them were in trouble 😦

And I am not directly sure about his statement about Heliodor. I haven’t been to New York City.. And I have no idea what he saw while there. I”m assuming he saw work by many of the recognized masters of 20th century art. I didn’t quiz him on it, but I just assumed who they might have been.

Jim Howze image Jim Howze passed into the great beyond at the end of 2016 😦 He will be missed by many, certainly by me. He told me to call him Jim and not Professor Howze, so I did. But I always felt a little bit uncomfortable and phony doing it, because he always seemed to understand my art better than I did. My great mentor and friend, Jim.


So WP art lovers, get busy saving your spare quarters. I probably won’t be making huge wall sculptures like Heliodor anymore. Get this one while it’s hot!! Isn’t that how you sell a huge artwork? One deluxe model wall sculpture. Buy it while the price is still reasonable.

It’s probably the last of its breed, I’m thinking. Twenty years ago I was up for producing these really heavy wall sculptures. Now, though, I’ve switched to canvas painting. It’s a great way to work, too, and my shoulder still gives me a little bit of love at the end of the day.

I almost forgot to mention the semi-hidden visual “story” in Heliodor. Why didn’t anybody say anything? Probably because not too many folks are up at 5:45am blogging full-tilt bloggie. So! Heliodor has a theme of the Greek myth of Icarus. If you look closely you can see him falling earthward after his wax and feather wings have failed. So how does that “fit” with Heliodor gift of the Sun? I don’t want to make that determination. This is highly visual art. The meaning rests in the visual 90+ percent. I could come up with some verbal connections I’m sure. But I want to keep it viaual. That’s my theme for this blog post, and my art-life in general. Until I post again with another visual theme motto 😉 hahah

(so, friends, did you just love my little conflation of Icarus experience & art mentor? Thought I quite nearly pulled it off. Maybe next post trip!)


I love them!

This little wall sculpture was the first of a series of quite a few small wall sculptures I made in the early to middle 1980s. I had a wall full of these and they looked good! Good enough that Kauffman Gallery decided to accept me into their “stable” as some galleries call their artists. I’ve never been too fond of that term, but I do love horses 🙂

Be that as it may, It was late 1984 and I had quite a few of the little wall sculptures finished. I thought they looked strong – a solid direction to present to a gallery. And life was pressing in on us. Things back home were not good. My parents were going through it and every time ET phoned home the news seemed worse. Bad for them, but sort of a sword dangling over my head to work my tail off to present to art galleries. Why my parent’s plight affected me directly like it did I’m not entirely sure. My existential artist plight was drenched in family drama at that time.

So, I got up my nerve and called a gallery (big deal for me). She seemed to like my work but informed me the next day that my work was not a fit. I was disappointed but it was only the first gallery I’d called, so… I recovered quickly and in a day or two called the director of Kauffman gallery – which I felt drawn to already. I’d attended shows there and (years before) hoped someday I would show my work in their attractive gallery space.

The Kauffman director, Leigh Smitherman, caught me off guard. I asked if I could show her my work and heard, “Sure, do you want to come in today?” This was such a surprise to me I fumbled around and said, No, I can’t today, but tomorrow is good (what a big artist dummy I was…).

The next day, I arrived at the gallery with my little sculptures in a cardboard box. haha What a presentation. I was a few minutes early, so I pretended to look at the art on the walls, but, yes, that’s what I was doing. A few minutes passed and she came in – but I didn’t know it was Leigh.

She saw my box of art first and said, “Oh these must be Robert Terrell’s pieces! I LOVE THEM!” That was one of the best reviews I EVER HAD. I think I said, I’m really glad you like them, and then told her I was the man! haha We looked at the ones I brought – I think about 8 of them. I told her how I made them and what they meant to me.

She told me the gallery voted on new artists that coming Friday, so I had to wait a couple of days to find out if they were interested. From her opening comments and our conversation I was hopeful but still I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. You never know. She was not the gallery owner. But, like I said, I’d wanted to be in their gallery for a long time 🙂

Friday came and I called (I think I did the calling). Leigh told me I’d gotten a thumbs up from the gallery committee, and that such great news – it was the beginning of my new life at age 31!! They started hanging my art, including some larger pieces (I will post photos of a couple of them).

The first month with the gallery I sold two pieces for about $750 and $500 so I did the only rational thing – I quit my pretty good job at Texas Art Supply. And, No… that wasn’t the best idea I ever had.

My wife and I began eating more potatoes than usual.

My joining the gallery was still such a good experience for me… I finally felt like I’d achieved a real artist goal. Now other artists had a reason not to like me (they thought) – and some of them did seem to have some issues. They had more Houston connections, they had more art schooling…. oh well.

Even after all these years, I still look back to that afternoon. “Are these Robert Terrell’s pieces, I love them!”

You can see several of the little wall sculptures here on my art website: Little Wall Sculptures by Robert L Terrell

Wooden Galaxy & Objets d’Art

wooden-galaxy wall sculpture

Another “legacy wall sculpture” I made back in the day 🙂 I had a downtown art studio on San Jacinto Ave in Houston, TX when I was creating these pieces. But it’s been so long I don’t think I get any ego trip from it anymore.

Most of the artwork was done in the apartment living room using my little Dremel tool saw. My ex-wife put up with a lot from me (always) and I wonder how many wives would be okay with hubby sawing out wooden pieces in the tiny apartment living room!

But during this time she could see my artistic self was very motivated and I was getting some art production moving and in a definite, solid direction.

I may be fibbin’ a bit (little white lie) so far in this post – but I’m guessing nobody cares except me, and… not even me anymore. This piece Wooden Galaxy was probably created in the house we moved to over in the north loop Heights section of Houston.

That house was a productive art studio home for me. Considering my diet was baked potatoes, marijuana, and diet coke, I managed to get a lot of art done – at least I thought I was! HAHA And I was. These numerous small wall sculptures got me into Kauffman gallery at the end of 1984. They loved my art and sold quite a few of them (and much larger wall sculptures) through the years.

Now decades later the Houston art years seem a little unreal. I still have friends there, and Houston will always be my original artist home. When I look at the photos of my artwork from the early Houston years, I remember what a great inspiration Houston was for me and the artwork reflects it. I will always love that city 🙂

But I realized a long time ago that wherever I live I can produce art that doesn’t make me cringe (too much haha) decades later. I find inspiration in the external world wherever I live, but my artistic self makes it happen ultimately.

That being said, some locations are great for the artist to grow and thrive and others not as much. Houston really was the artist nurturing home for me from 1981-1985 especially.

Then, I had a big Houston art show in 1985 and one of the reviews was not entirely glowing for me. the reviewer at the Houston Post reviewed the citywide show (can’t remember the name). But galleries all over town participated. I was part of this show. Of course, quite a few artist were mentioned in the review, including me. The reviewer said:

“Then there were the usual “objets d’art.” Robert Terrell’s wall sculptures at Kauffman Gallery …”

So I got top billing among the usual artsy objects in the show. That was very upsetting considering how hard I’d worked. The nurturing felt like it was over!! My wife and the gallery people told me not to worry about it, but i felt like something was lost, or over, or…. I don’t know. I didn’t want to live in Houston anymore. haha Maybe a bit of an over-reaction.

But we moved to LA a few months later…