Taking Notes, on Paper

January 9, 2018

solo show

Take notes, on paper. Five hundred years later, Leonardo’s notebooks are around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start writing them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo Da Vinci

On Monday, I returned to the public library in Hillsboro to put the final touches on my solo watercolor exhibit which will hang till the end of February. Once the task was complete, I sank into a comfortable sofa at the end of the gallery and read for awhile, enjoying the perfect silence and rest. This marked a transition into my next enterprise–the Humanities curriculum for Texas Wesleyan University had just arrived via email, and I had only nine days till the start of the spring term. So . . . I sat in the soft light of the soothing gallery, surrounded by my art, and began reading and sketching out broad ideas in preparation for the new class.

That was yesterday. Today, Tuesday, I spent the entire day in my study, going over all my resources for the seventeenth-through-twentieth centuries of Philosophy, Art, Literature and Music. Once I laid out the scope and sequence of the spring semester and drafted a syllabus, I settled into writing an introduction to the seventeenth century, and then the reading of Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum, a treatise I had known about for decades but never actually read as a primary source. And as I read, I scribbled, in my journal, on index cards, on sheets of computer paper, sheets of legal paper and post-it notes. And the more I scribbled, the happier I felt, recalling the thrill of the search in college days and early days of teaching.

Humanities is a course I was privileged to develop for the public high schools way back in 1989, and then later was invited to teach at Texas Wesleyan University. But I haven’t taught the course for nearly ten years, and I am so enthused to return to the discipline. The history of ideas has always fueled my imagination, and now once again, I am granted access to these fine minds of history, with hopes of inciting interest in the young minds of our culture. A part of me is glad that I’m still a week away from the first day of school, as I’m still preparing, but another part of me wishes I could walk into that lecture room in the morning.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Opening of my New Solo Show

January 8, 2018

show3

Today I put the final pieces in place for my new solo show that just opened at the Hillsboro City Library on 118 S. Waco Street. Below is a copy of the flyers I’ve placed at the entrance to the show:

Proustian Moments

Watercolors by David Tripp

How many times have you looked upon a subject and felt suddenly “visited” by a warm, primal memory from your past, a memory worth holding in your heart? And then, just as suddenly, that sensation is gone, yet you continue to hold on to the memory. French novelist Marcel Proust wrote stories about those sudden shocks of recognition from our past. Hence, we refer to them as “Proustian Moments”. 

With watercolor pad and digital camera at his side, David Tripp spends hours driving in his Jeep, poking around the sleepy Texas towns along county roads, searching for subjects to paint.  Every day presents a new opportunity for discovery of some artifact reminiscent of earlier decades of energy and prosperity.  Today, only the shells and husks remain of filling stations, general stores, movie theaters and other public buildings formerly stirring with conversations, stories and glimpses of life.  These monuments are disappearing from our landscape, but not our memories.

show2

The gallery space in the basement of the library is magnificent and I was able to fit eighteen watercolors comfortably around three walls. The reading room on the main floor and second floor balcony provide an excellent environment for study and reflection.

library

show4

This show will hang till the end of February. An artist’s reception will be scheduled for some evening in February. As soon as the date is set, I will certainly post it.

Thanks for reading. I’m finally well enough to be out and about . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Excavating Layers of Creative Eros

January 1, 2018

desktop

Most of what we express creatively is prelinguistic. The deeper insights are obviously coming from somewhere. They are not logically structured in the mind, but it may take logic to get them expressed.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

As the initial day of 2018 stretches into the cold night, I continue to appreciate the warmth of my fireplace, an excellent biography (Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs), an illness finally ebbing, and good thoughts of past years as well as anticipations of the one dawning.

I’m glad that I managed to take up the brush awhile today and pick at an old watercolor never completed. Glad also to eat, nap, regather strength and enjoy a comfy chair. The New Year season has always been one of reflection for me, and this current one has not hit yet on all cylinders, because I haven’t had the physical comfort to engage my mind or imagination (medication as well as illness tends to dull my creative eros).

But I do want to take this moment to acknowledge the completion of one of the most amazing years of my life. In 2017 I experienced the luxury of retiring from a full-time job that set most of my agenda for nearly three decades. On the heels of the retirement came the opportunity to teach part time at a small, intimate university. This reduced-time schedule has allowed me to pour more meaningful preparation into classes that I never knew as a full time public school teacher. The passion I knew many years back when there was more quality time to prepare classes has returned.

This was also the year that I received the gift of a beautiful gallery space where I could showcase my work with a pair of solo shows and enjoy working weekends in its studio. This amazing gallery experience has opened several brand new venues that I look forward to sharing on the blog in the months ahead. I am deeply thankful for the gifts that life brought me over this past calendar year.

And now, leaning forward into 2018, I’m glad to have a little space between college semesters, space to peel back some layers of my creative attempts from the past and make some important goals for what lies ahead.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Re-Stoking the Fires

January 1, 2018

high ridge

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The first day of the New Year is a sluggish one for me, as I’m still shaking off this nagging respiratory infection that saps my energy. I’m spending more time in front of the fireplace under a blanket, watching TV when I would rather be reading, writing or painting. But I just don’t seem to have the energy or drive to be creative.  The Steve Jobs biography is still exciting to me, yet fails to fire my own spark plug of creativity. I did pull out an old watercolor abandoned from a year or two ago, and I worked on it for over an hour, but I never felt much of a rush or thrill, which is so unlike me when I’m painting. Nevertheless, I’ve posted a photo of its progress above.

I wish all of you the happiest of new years, as I myself am anticipating many new adventures. Meanwhile, I’m just going to keep taking it easy until my strength returns.

Thank you always for reading . . .

Warm Sentiments for 2018

December 31, 2017

new year

It stimulated me, roused my long-held desire to be an architect of ideas.

John Sculley, after his meeting with Steve Jobs about becoming President of Apple.

New Year’s Eve finds me enjoying a quiet one at home. For the past couple of days I have fought back against an upper respiratory illness (I’ve been dogged with it for over a week now) an spent most of today in bed. Fortunately, I’ve felt much better since around 6:30 and have been at my desk reading stacks of books, scribbling resolutions in a journal and focusing my mind and heart on 2018 just around the corner.

I hope I feel good enough to resume painting tomorrow as I have several ideas seething that want to come to expression. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to find inspiration from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs. John Sculley left Pepsi to become President of Apple, and the quote above moved me. I myself have wanted to be an architect, or designer of ideas since the 1980s, and have given my life to pursuing that dream, both in classrooms and in the art studio. I am just grateful to move into a new era of 2018 and lay the foundations for new endeavors.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year to all of you.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Settling into the Cold Nights

December 30, 2017

snow high ridge

“A mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

William Wordsworth

I picked up the quote above from my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. After a hundred pages of reading, I can say I am genuinely hooked on this biography and am grateful that the frigid weather now gripping north Texas waited for my return from a St. Louis Christmas (which featured delightful snow!). Now I’m snuggled in front of my fireplace as temperatures promise to reach lows in the upper teens the next few days.  I’ve posted above a watercolor I did today (8 x 10″) from a photo I took of a Christmas eve snowstorm in St. Louis.

And . . . I seem to lapse into the habit of photographing breakfast in front of the fireplace on those rare occasions that Texas gets cold enough for a fire in the winter.

breakfast

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

christmas painting

Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.

New Horizons

December 22, 2017

2018

We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.

Paul Tillich

The Christmas road trip has been one of my life’s many bookmarks since 1977 when I moved from north Missouri to Texas. My parents and siblings still reside in the St. Louis area, so I always know where I am heading when I hit the Interstate in late December. Like every other year, the Route 66 excursion will provide hours of windshield time and memories will roll across my consciousness as the miles roll beneath the tires.

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to post a blog as the New Year dawns. 2017 has brought many treasures into my life, and I’m anticipating new adventures in 2018. But now, the Christmas season is in full swing, and I’m grateful to spend it with family once again.

I wish all of you the best as we enter this Season.

Pondering the Source in Silence

December 21, 2017

heart

Safely Ensconced in a Hotel Far Away . . .

Existence beyond number

Wells up in my heart. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Good day to all of you friends who read my blog. Since my last post I have been knocked down by a sinus infection and encroaching flu symptoms. Thankfully, the flu never fully materialized, though a good number of my dear friends were stricken by it. Nevertheless, I have spent hours of days and nights sleeping, and, during my waking hours, sitting in a fog. For weeks I have run nonstop from engagement to engagement, as the art business and holidays joined forces in a flurry of activities. Once those were finished, much Christmas shopping remained to be completed, plus the mailing of packages, as well as the tying up of loose ends to facilitate holiday travel and visitation. And then the dreaded fatigue and sinus infection. I’ve lost track of the past several days except for occasional errands. But today I feel good enough to read and pull together a few thoughts that have been percolating during this down time.

I regret repeating myself in posts, but some of you don’t really know my past, so I feel the urge to put this out: as a student in public schools, I was not driven academically, but extremely bored except for my art endeavors. I will forever be thankful that my art abilities landed me a scholarship to the university, and in that acid bath of academics, I finally woke to a world of ideas, and could not consume knowledge fast enough. I pushed through the undergraduate and graduate levels till I graduated with my doctorate and then taught in public schools for 28 years. All of this now seems a blur. At age 63, I have not slowed or cooled in my enthusiasm for learning, but have always had to admit that my academic foundation was not very strong once I entered the university, and I have always felt “behind.” Though in addition to my 28 years of high school teaching I’ve tacked on 31 years of college teaching concurrently, I still don’t feel academically “endowed.” I’m a mule. A plodder. Slow and ponderous. But I love thinking. I love reading for the sake of pushing back the boundaries of experience, and in the making of art, I am always questioning what it is exactly I am trying to express in these pursuits.

And so, during my recent illness, I have returned to reading Martin Heidegger. To those who know, that triggers a belly laugh. Heidegger is extremely difficult to penetrate. But I’ve been fascinated with his ideas for years, and have labored many, many hours, poring over his obdurate texts and extracting what I could of value. His translations and discussions of Presocratic texts I think are the best, and I’m always intrigued by his essays, particularly “The Origin of the Work of Art.”

For a number of days now, I have been wrestling with his essay “What are Poets For?” And early this morning, finally feeling well and sitting in a window seat of my hotel room (pictured above–I love the timer on my camera phone that facilitates selfies!), I came across his response to some of the poetic writings of Rilke:

The inner and invisible domain of the heart is not only more inward than the interior that belongs to calculating representation, and therefore more invisible; it also extends further than does the realm of merely producible objects. Only in the invisible innermost of the heart is man inclined toward what there is for him to love: the forefathers, the dead, the children, those who are to come. All this belongs in the widest orbit, which now proves to be the sphere of the presence of the whole integral draft.

Since the days of my university “awakening”, I knew that I was a slower intellect than my peers, but I also have known since those days that I am more of a romantic than a classicist (I am stereotyping those words, I know). To put it another way, I have more passion than precision. And throughout my years of study, I have sought ways to express what I’ve learned–in the pastoral ministry for a decade, in the classroom for three decades, and in my art for the past couple of decades. Throughout this life, I have tried to find connections between my head and heart, my knowledge and passion, my academics and my art.

And now, in this Heidegger essay, I am embarking on a rich discussion of the “heart” the real center of it all. And I’m happy that my head is clearing up from all the medication and my body is responding better to my commands. Christmas arrives in four days, and believe me, this year it definitely overtook me quickly. I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to blog again before that special Day, but at least I had this opportunity today to pause and send all of you the best of what I’m thinking and feeling. I’ll be going on the road soon.

Thanks always for reading, and I wish you love throughout this holiday season and beyond . . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Be Still and Know

December 17, 2017

be still 2

be still

Many of us are willing to embark upon any adventure, except to go into stillness and to wait, to place all the wealth of wisdom in the secrecy of this soil, to sow our own soul for a seed in that tract of land allocated to every life which we call time–and to let the soul grow beyond itself. Faith is the fruit of a seed planted in the depth of a lifetime.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

After a long, cold, rainy night, I rose this morning before dawn to a 37-degree wet morning, but was glad to know that the only task before me was changing out the exhibit in the gallery. About 50% of the paintings have been replaced with others, and I was surprised to have it all done before the gallery officially opened at 10:00.  Even more surprised was I to encounter several patrons and make sales before 10:00. Once 10:00 arrived, the typical quiet Sunday morning set in, and I was able to collapse into a chair and breathe. Allergies have dragged my system down the past couple of days, and I regret that my energy level is low, but not my capacity for contemplation.

Reading from the Heschel text has been satisfying, particularly the piece I posted above. I recall the impatience I felt in the years of my youth, when studying under the guidance of teachers and professors, wishing I knew more, wishing I had more talent, wishing I had some kind of a defined purpose in life.  My mentors usually smiled and said, “It will come. Just be patient.”

In my current senior years, I cannot claim to be wise, but I do understand now that the qualities for which I yearned come over a stretch of time. There is no royal road, no shortcut, no cheat sheet. Hegel said the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk. I’m deeply thankful that I have been granted the gift of living this long. I’m grateful that foolish mistakes from my past did not prevent me from getting to this place. My twin loves of art and scholarship have finally taken root to where I can detect some progress, yet I still know the drive of wanting to know more, wanting to push the boundary into new territory.

I have pursued a train subject in painting since March and am glad that this show has finally ended. I already know what I wish to study next, and will gladly unveil that project in the new year. I have a solo show opening just around the corner, in January. Once that show is up, I plan to chase this new project and share it with you.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.