The Journey of a Sketch – “Base Romance”

Last week we put the image of “Base Romance”, a sketch from the book, Sketch Book published in 2004 with 70 sketches and the stories associated with each sketch. This week Warren shares some of his insights concerning the drawing of “Base Romance” and images of art works created from the same idea.

The Journey of a Sketch

“Base Romance” was drawn 1/10/2001 with an ink pen. I don’t remember the exact experience that triggered the idea. My best guess? The drawing was created on a cruise ship in a jazz bar, watching a couple sharing a glass of wine before dinner. A string quartet was playing quiet jazz. I was listening, observing the patrons and enjoying my glass of Merlot. I was also drawing, always drawing.

Perhaps it was my third or fourth cruise since our marriage on Valentine’s Day 1999. I had to be talked into my first cruise, but after one week in the Caribbean I was captivated by the entire experience. My idea of traveling before I was married to Kitty was joining expeditions as an artist. I would carry a back pack, with a sketch book, board a plane and arrive in some remote part of the world. The food was strange, water undrinkable and the natives were more than restless. Accommodations were a hammock strung under a thatched hut complete with bugs. It seemed the weather was always hot or rainy, or both.

This ust’a be “adventure artist” sipped his wine, remembering a dig in a cave on an archaeological expedition on Easter Island, looking for the remains of the early Rapa Nui people. Or in the jungles of Northern Brazil for a month, on a ethnomusicologist team to film a documentary of a folk festival among the natives of Northern Brazil. The music there was made with boa skin drums, rattles and vocals. I am dressed in my tuxedo, relaxing in the comfort of “my” cruise ship, and drawing. A gentleman in a bow-tie and not dressed in a loin cloth and carrying blow-gun, asked me if I would like another glass of Merlot.

A year after I drew the “Base Romance” sketch, I transferred the drawing to fit a  copper plate and produced a soft ground etching in black printing ink, finished in watercolor. A couple of years later, I used the same idea painting a 60” x 40’’ canvas in acrylic. I liked the painting and decided to hold off putting it up for sale. In my sculpture studio in 2005, I created a clay relief of the same motif, made a mold and the piece was cast in bronze and aluminum. A year ago the Pecan Street Association asked me to use one of my paintings for their spring poster. “Base Romance” was chosen, so the journey of the sketch of “Base Romance” goes on.

Base Romance Painting


 Base Romance Sculpture

Relief Sculpture

 Base Romance Poster


 Thanks for reading; I would appreciate your comments.  Warren


Base Romance

Base_Romance - Drawing

“Base Romance” from Sketch Book

By Warren Cullar

The bass instrument, the moon, and vino all contribute to the night’s romance. It’s a composition of textures and two people blending together. The abstract textures and shapes merge to become one.

Whimsical Jester

“Whimsical Jester” – From Sketch Book by Warren Cullar

Whimsical Jester

We buy hats for the holidays.  For Christmas 2000, we wore jester hats. I drew this character in remembrance of that year and played with the textures that lines and dots can bring. He brings good humor and brightens a dreary world with outlandish colors and design with no apparent balance. The jester is into the silliness of serving a cat.

Art needn’t be serious, but colorful and full of delightful surprises.

Parade of Posters

Written by Jacob and Warren. Nonfiction


Earn your choice of one of the following signed posters by

– posting a comment on our blog

– Mentioning us on your own website

– or re-posting one of our posts.

Send us a confirmation, your address and $7 for shipping and we will send you a free poster of your choice.

Offer valid until we run out of posters.


Warren has been in well over 25 shows of the biannual Pecan Street Art Festival in Austin, Texas, including the upcoming festival on September 27th and 28th. This year he will be in the center of Trinity and Sixth Street selling prints, paintings, and bronze sculptures. If you can’t make it to the festival, Warren is also holding a follow-up show at his studio on October 4th and 5th. After submitting paintings to the competition for featured art at the festival for years, Warren has been asked to submit paintings for posters in the last two shows.

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Our World Changed


2014-09-02 09.29.52 2014-09-02 09.30.43 2014-09-02 09.30.11 2014-09-02 09.30.22

This nonfiction story was written by Warren about his experience during 9/11.

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The sand gritted in my teeth as I pulled my straw hat tight to my head to keep the wind from tearing it off and rolling it across the desert.  The year was 1976.  I was in Egypt for the summer as one of seventeen college instructors on a study grant. We were guest of the Egyptian government and on that hot and windy afternoon we were touring the monument of Abu Simbal on the Upper Nile.

I was standing in the shadows of four colossal figures of Ramses the Second sitting upon their thrones. The sandstone sculptures towered over me sixty seven feet into a hazy, sand colored sky.  The base of the sculptures was taller than my head. I ran my hand lightly over the low carvings of hieroglyphics, all the while staring at the historical events that were so beautifully portrayed with skillful hands 1257 BCE. The low relief panel composed of a language that only a few Egyptian Archaeologists could decipher, but enough imagery to leave no doubt as to what happened over three thousand years ago. The “headlines” although carved in fine grain sandstone represented the brutal act of Ramses’ conquering army over his foreign enemies. The Pharaoh had his captives paraded before him, hundreds if not thousands, all with their right hands cut off to ensure that they would never fight again. That historic day is so far off in time that the only surviving record is this panel of sandstone, which weathers away a little with each wind storm until even it will only be another inexcusable experience in the tragic fabric of world events.

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Watching Paint Dry

Warren the Artist

Warren the Artist

 Austin, Texas, Warren’s large painting studio located  on the back of his landscaped  property. Warren is putting on his artist’s hat today (literally) working on a 60” x 40” acrylic painting. Writing Coach Jacob is the observer today, watching and writing as Warren goes through his artistic process.

Watching Paint Dry

By Jacob Pousland

Warren begins with a ritual dance of preparation. The studio must be cleaned, the acrylic paints organized in neat rows, fresh water is readied next to the glass palette. The water and a plastic box can keep the paint wet for weeks, Warren explains as he pushes aside a couple canvases that were “distracting” him. The easel is an enormous 8×4 foot piece of painted white plywood with peg holes drilled into it; Warren adjusts the pegs to keep the artwork at eye level. The final touch is his apron and artist’s hat, because in his words “I also like to wear a hat while I paint. I don’t know why, It just always feels more comfortable.”

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The Art Seller

The Art Seller from Sketch Book sketched in Venice (2000)

The following is an excerpt from Warren Cullar’s Sketchbook (ISBN 0-9747782-0-6) published in 2003.

The Art Seller

from Sketch Book

sketched in Venice (2000)

I was taken with the activity I saw at the Rialto Bridge in Venice. We had stopped for lunch and to write postcards in a little café, where the waiters were full of themselves. An art vendor captivated me. She had a steady stream of people walking by looking at her painting.

It was a beautiful pleasant day and I became quite nostalgic. Feeling a universal connection and identifying with her, I decided to sketch the art vendor.

The scene reminded me of the many hours I stood, during my twenty-seven years as a street vendor, waiting for collectors to buy my art works. In that beautiful city with centuries of art, I felt universally connected to all artists past and present and wanted to capture that connection.

Next Sunday on August 31st read Watching Paint Dry as Jacob writes about his experience watching Warren paint a new painting.

On the Road Again

Christ in the Desert Monastery road, northwestern New Mexico near the Rio Grande.

Christ in the Desert Monastery road, northwestern New Mexico near the Rio Grande.

Warren spent a week packing for his trip to Loveland Colorado for the Loveland Sculpture In The Park Show. This week Warren retells his roadtrip deja vu and shares some advice he gave a bellhop in New Mexico.

On the Road Again

The inside of my Cadillac Escalade was getting ready for another road trip. Clothes hung on hangers behind the driver’s side, a well-organized food box behind Kitty’s seat, the space between loaded with plastic divider boxes with everything from road flares to safety pins. The giant first-aid box was buried beneath them and behind that a “GOOD” emergency backpack. “GOOD” is an axiom for “Get Out Of Dodge.” It contained a knife, solar blanket, dry food for three days, water, matches, ponchos, gloves and a laundry list of other items. Four small suitcases and a case of wine for our Colorado friends along with our pillows completed the traveling supplies. Collecting and packing had taken a week and I was doing the final preparations for our road trip.

The driver’s seat was adjusted; I slid the plastic wrapper off a CD box containing three compact discs. Tony Hillerman’s story, Talking God, one of a few I had either not read or listened to on previous trips. I relished the stories of Joe Leaphorn, Navajo Tribal Police detective, as he solved murder mysteries on the Navajo reservation. Wife Kitty opened the door and noticed the CD I was placing in the slot. She warned, “Warren, do you remember the time we were driving to New Mexico listening to another Hillerman story?”

“Of course.”

“Remember how we were so absorbed in his story, then stopped for gas out in the middle of nowhere and the old gas station had ‘out of gas’ signs. And how we went in, took a bathroom, break, bought a bag of Cracker Jacks and drove on West on I-40 toward Santa Fe and stalled because we didn’t get gas?”

“Let’s not do that again.” She pointedly suggested. The stage was set for another turn of events.

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