Welcoming 2019

January 1, 2019

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The passions are a kind of thirst, inexorable and intense, for certain feelings or felt states. To find or invent ‘objects’ (which are, more strictly speaking, relational structures) whose felt quality satisfies the passions,- that for me is the activity of the artist, an activity which does not cease even in sleep. No wonder the artist is constantly placing and displacing, relating and rupturing relations; his task is to find a complex of qualities whose feeling is just right – veering toward the unknown and chaos, yet ordered and related in order to be apprehended.

–Robert Motherwell

What an exhilaration to awake to a 19-degree winter morning on New Year’s Day 2019! With no appointments on the books, I felt a soothing calm as the day presented itself with leisure and books. Reading passages from Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell put me in the frame of mind to explore drawing with renewed vigor. He defined drawing as a method for organizing space on a two-dimensional plane.

The first day of the new year often witnesses a different trajectory in my art. Currently I am working on commissions, and will begin posting them, but I also laid down a New Year resolution that I would draw more. So . . . a few years ago, I drew one winter tree per day for the month of January, then matted each 5 x 7″ drawing, framed a few, and sold a large quantity of them. This year, I’m not thinking about the sale, only the hope to improve with the careful discipline and repetition of drawing. My intention is to spend January with a focus on drawing nature.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Hank Under Oklahoma Skies

April 3, 2020

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

While working on this most recent painting, Whitman’s poem constantly played in my memory, and I thought about those countless times through decades when I traveled back and forth between Fort Worth and St. Louis. I always chose to drive at night, because the Oklahoma skies along historic Route 66 (now Will Rogers Turnpike) were spangled with stars, compliments of the wide-open country and absence of city light pollution. I always pulled my vehicle to the shoulder and walked out into empty pastures to gaze upward in wonder and deep gratitude.

I regret to report that I have only one stretched sheet of 8 x 10″ watercolor paper remaining in my stock, and stores are closed until further notice. I placed an order online and it is not expected to arrive until next week sometime. The good news is that I still have one painting ready to start. I have already selected my next composition to continue my Hank series, and I look forward to sharing it with you once it is underway. Meanwhile, I am rewriting my Hank stories and will soon post the series of paintings and stories completed so far. Here is a repost of what I have so far on the painting above:

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. Thanks to a pair of truckers, he had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky. Slowly drifting toward a satisfying slumber after his fireside snack of S’mores, he overheard the words he had just read from Kerouac’s On the Road in the glow of the firelight:

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Hank Under an Oklahoma Sky

April 2, 2020
May be finished . . .

I am taking a breather, realizing that this painting may now be finished. This is my first attempt to paint a night scene in watercolor, and I am proud of how it has developed. In my previous blog post, I attached the first draft of my story of Hank in this scene. After some rest, I plan to return to the story to see if it needs to be worked further.

I thank my readers for all the kind encouragement that has been posted, and hope you will continue to follow my blog.

Musing Beneath the Stars

April 2, 2020
Painting Still in Progress

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. Thanks to a pair of truckers, he had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky. Slowly drifting toward a satisfying slumber, he overheard the words he had just read from Kerouac’s On the Road in the glow of the firelight:

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

____________________________________________________________________________

I send warm greetings from my Shelter-in-Place, and am proud to share the watercolor I began yesterday afternoon to include in my newest Hank series. The setting is his first night spent outdoors, having set out hitchhiking that morning, leaving Turvey’s Corner behind.

For years I have wished to paint a night scene in watercolor, but was always timid to give it a try. Once I was handed this splendid photograph from my friend and fellow blogger, Wayne White (https://ramblingsofafarrier.com/), I knew I had to give it a try.

Having read of the practices of Andrew Wyeth’s use of India Ink when he wished for a dark, dense background, I decided to give this a try. Spattering Richeson Mediums Liquid Masque from a toothbrush first, I let it dry, then spread a coat of India Ink across the top two-thirds of the night sky. Once dry, I painted over it with a wash of Antwerp Blue, all the way to the horizon. I repeated with the blue wash three or four more times, because India Ink is dirty and dry to the touch, and I was worried that it would conceal the stars when it came time to rub off the masque. Apparently the watercolor sealed the ink just fine.

This watercolor is 8 x 10″ and coming along quite fast. I feel that once I finish the backpack, plaid shirt, jeans and foreground textures I’ll be finished, perhaps today. I am deeply enjoying my time lingering over this work, and my head is filled with Hank stories. Above is my first draft, and hopefully I’ll have something more polished and rounded by the time the painting is completed.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will take the time to check out my website http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Beginning of the Next Installment of the Hank Series

April 1, 2020

It is rare for me to be painting into the night as I am now, and the lighting is not too great for photographing my work. Nevertheless, before retiring to bed, I wanted to share with my readers the beginning of my next painting of Hank.

This scene finds Hank 24 hours after leaving Turvey’s Corner. Thanks to a pair of truck drivers, he was able to hitchhike his way down Route 66 and is now bedding down under a starry Oklahoma sky.

Thanks for reading. I shall post more tomorrow.

Nearly Finished with Hank’s Odyssey

April 1, 2020

Nearly finished. Still trying to determine how ethereal to render the Osage visitation.

Hank’s Odyssey

April 1, 2020
Painting Still in Progress (as well as the story)

The crisp October winds were just as delicious as the cliff-side foliage sprinkled with its palette of Indian reds, assorted greens and bright yellows. Hank had packed his belongings and departed the filling station at daybreak. Now with Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” surging through his being, he stood alongside Route 66 on the edge of Turvey’s Corner and said good-bye to the town that had cradled him since childhood.

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me.

The long brown path before me leading wherever I

            choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-

fortune, I myself am good-

            fortune.

Henceforth I whimper no more,

            need nothing . . .

____________________________________________________________________________

Good morning, friends. How unusual for me to awake early on the morning of April Fool’s Day after more than a week of staying up very late and sleeping in even later. I awoke with the new Hank series drifting through my consciousness and decided to start writing the next chapter of his story. Later, I plan to resume the painting still in progress and draft the story about the warrior above looking over the unfolding story below.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Resuming the Hank Chapter for Turvey’s Corner

March 31, 2020
Hank on the Road

There was only one firm spot in my world at that moment, one solid, endurable thought: I did not wish to go on the way I had been going.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World

This new painting has been in my blood for days, and finally I have a start on it. It marks the continuation of my work on the Turvey’s Corner 63050 series I began in 1999. The subject focuses on Hank as he leaves Turvey’s Corner in search of meaning for his previously sheltered, uneventful life. The quote above from Peter London could well have been authored by Hank himself late that night in the filling station when he decided he was leaving town in the morning.

Hank is my alter ego. I left home in 1972 to enter college, in that day feeling just as lost and rootless, and I never returned to my hometown to live. Hank, according to my Turvey’s Corner series, leaves home after a short time studying at the community college and working nights in the filling station. As he hitchhikes along Route 66 he senses a Presence watching over him. High on the hill overlooking him, I am going to place an Osage warrior on an Appaloosa mount. Osage Indians massacred the first settlers of Turvey’s Corner in March 1800. The spirit watching over him now is the spirit of the Native American, of Homer, of John Muir, of any wandering mendicant seeking a place to anchor his life.

As the coronavirus continues to keep us close to home, I am pleased to have a sense of purpose in working on my art. One day I am confident that I will re-enter our community, and when I do, I intend to have a large body of new work to put in my galleries and festival booths. If there is any upside to this Shelter-at-Home lifestyle, it is the freedom to pursue my art with no appointments or expectations binding me.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Putting Out Fresh Bread

March 30, 2020
Sunday Morning Watch

Good morning. The lovely Sunday morning sun bathes my bedroom with a glow that exceeds description and my spirit feels the warmth, though outside temperatures have dipped into the 30’s. Something wonderful has happened and I feel compelled to send it up the flagpole of my blog. The reader is not compelled to salute. Because of a resolution about a week ago to post an occasional sermon revised from my past, I considered posting one of about a dozen that are ready to go online. But today I have changed my mind, wishing instead to share thoughts that visited me this morning. Rather than posting something revised from the past, I wish to put out fresh bread. For those interested, I have new paintings in progress, but they are too sketchy and vague to put on the blog this early. I look forward to sharing them when they come together a little better.

Mornings are sacred to me, just as Thoreau rhapsodized about the “wakening hour.” And this morning, though the blog may be a meandering ramble, I want to share the visitation.

I have written in the past that I was in the Protestant ministry long ago, a congregational position that lasted eleven years. Not long after I left the ministry, I entered the field of education, and remained there another thirty years. Now in my third year of retirement, and especially in this time of Sheltering at Home, I luxuriate in a time of introspection, and am writing new chapters of my personal memoir.

What I want to share this morning is this daily practice I have held since autumn of 1972. In my Baptist Student Union days, we called it Quiet Time, a practice of beginning every morning in seclusion, poring over a worthy text, recording thoughts in a journal and expecting an oracle. In the days of the ministry, I was soaking the biblical writings; mornings since 1985 have found me grazing from a multiplicity of sources. I still remember the first time I tried this, on an October morning in 1972, seated at the edge of a forest, looking out over a lake, reading from my Bible, recording notes in a spiral notebook, and feeling a Presence that was affirming and encouraging. It colored the rest of that day, and now, 48 years later, I can still testify that a morning spent in quiet solitude and meditation potentially sets the stage for a more positive day.

For those of you who have followed my blogs, you see the quotes from what I’m reading during my morning watch. This morning (maybe because it’s Sunday, I don’t know), I opened my Greek New Testament to The Letter of James and spent about thirty minutes lingering over the words of the first chapter. A few observations I now wish to share . . .

In the opening verses of this letter, the author encouraged his congregation to be steadfast in trials because of their potential to build character–“that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The word translated “perfect” is telos.  We recognize from the root words such as telegraph, telecommunication, telescope, etc.—the idea of extending to a goal. Aristotle used this word to depict the goal, target or end of every living being. The nature of being alive is this primal drive onward toward completion. Aristotle believed the end was in the beginning. The destiny is already potential in us.

I was also intrigued by the Greek word translated “complete”. The word could be rendered as complete in all parts, entire, sound. The Latin equivalent is integer. Reading this verse reminded me of the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible. A jaded old man, convinced that life was full of vanity (empty), concluded his treatise by exhorting his readers to fear God and keep his commandments, “for this makes one complete.” At my current age, I am more absorbed with thoughts about my own life’s purpose and what is involved in being a whole person. I suppose that all of us reach for some peg on which to hang our entire identity, and speaking for myself, I finally acknowledge that art has always been at my core, accompanied by my own pursuit of academics with a deeper understanding of the religious dimension. The life of the mind has helped shape the contours of my art.

In verse eleven of the first chapter of James, reference is made to the sun rising, also reminding me of a passage early in Ecclesiastes and Ernest Hemingway’s chosen title to his first novel. James testifies that this sun scorches, bringing to an end a rich man’s accomplishments. Reading this passage made me think of that arc we always acknowledge in the life of a person or of a nation or an era. There is a birth, an increase, a peak, then the decline, and finally the end. As I look over my own life’s trajectory, I struggle with this, wanting to be better now than ever before in what I do, yet acknowledging that many elements of my life are waning, declining. I still have trouble facing this, yet in my art and ideas, I still work in earnest, believing I can still bring to fruition something of value for me and to share in this world. At this age, I muse about what kind of footprint I am going to leave behind.

Chapter 1, verse 18 also got my attention: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. All of us wonder over our origin. The New Testament’s confession of God as our author comes as no surprise. But the phrase “word of truth” never really sunk in while I was reading this from my English Bible. My debt to the seminary for teaching me Koinē Greek is boundless, and since leaving the ministry I have enjoyed over the years the access to Classical as well as Homeric Greek. The linguistic work of Martin Heidegger also has fueled my interest. Thanks to his work, I now regard the Greek word logos not just as word, but as “the force that gathers.” In addition to this, the word for truth, is comprised of the root lēthe. The mythic River of Lethe was the river of forgetting. The extension of that word involved a covering or concealing. The Greek alpha in front of the root is a negation. Hence, alētheia denotes the unforgetting, or the uncovering, which resonates much more with me than the mere word “truth.” Now to translate: “We have been set forth by the cohesive force of the uncovering.” It takes some mental work and time for that to sink in, but the effort, I believe, is worth it.

And finally, the purpose of our being brought into this world is that we become a “first fruits”. In the ancient Greek world, both inside and outside the New Testament, first fruits is best translated “sacrifice.” Throughout my life, I have been stung by accusations of being selfish, self-centered, egocentric etc., and I understand those labels grounded in behavioral traits I’ve exhibited. But long ago, this word from the New Testament prevented me from wilting under those criticisms and accusations. As a teacher, one pours out his/her life daily, not only in study, but most of all in handing out the precious truths gleaned from a life of experience and study. And the daily outpouring is indeed a sacrifice, another day “spent” in service to something greater than ourselves. The same goes for the artist—with every painting, poem, novel, or song, another piece of the creator’s life has been carved away and sent out into the world. The work we do in life is a sacrifice; it takes away another part of our life and offers it to the world, hoping to leave this world one day better than it was when we entered it.

I know this is one of my “rambling” blogs, but I wanted to send out these thoughts gleaned from a Sunday morning watch.

Thanks always for reading, and I hope you’ll check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Turvey’s Corner–the next chapter

March 28, 2020

I perceive the writings herein as the pieces of a whole, each one the element of an intricate but unified design. They are the facets of a verbal prism, if you will, patterns like the constellations.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

On this beautiful Saturday morning, I am thrilled to announce the beginning of a new chapter on the project I’ve worked on for years–I am hoping to publish a book titled Turvey’s Corner 63050. The Missouri town is fictional as is the zip code, lying between the place of my hometown High Ridge (63049) and where I attended church and school, House Springs (63051). My series has already featured the gas station I am naming Jerry’s Texaco, and the young attendant inside whom I’ve named Hank. Like the Momaday quote above, I have been piecing stories and paintings together for about two decades now, hoping to weave a story worth hearing.

Attendant Not on Duty
Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

The still life above has been painted to depict the store room of the gas station where Hank sometimes spends the night after closing the store.

Hank was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed Jerry’s Texaco after the last of the Turvey’s Corner work force drifted in and out, their work in the city done for another day. Steve himself could have called it a day but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county. So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back storeroom where he kept his cot, amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations.

The Texaco station was anchored on the first bend of the highway out of Turvey’s Corner. Interstate commerce had all but obliterated this sleepy town, and as soon as this young man graduated from the community college, he would depart as well. The local patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young dreamer. His volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. And his few camping possessions stored in this back room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild. He would be packing up his gear in a week and leaving without notice. It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world calling out to him.

My next painting for Turvey’s Corner will feature Hank hitchhiking his way out of town. As he begins this odyssey, his mind will be preoccupied with the roots of Turvey’s Corner. In March 1800, Osage warriors massacred the family who built the first cabin in this town (this historical record can be researched under the massacre at House Springs, Missouri). As Hank hitchhikes, he feels a presence watching, and imagines Osage warriors overseeing his odyssey with approval, knowing full well the trials of a new beginning.

Between the cities of High Ridge and House Springs is an outcropping of rock, where U. S. Highway 30 was carved out of the hills. My new painting will use this composition of the site that I painted years ago.

High Ridge Bluff

Hank will be at the base of this rock, his thumb out hoping to hitch a ride. On the hilltop I will place an Osage warrior looking down at the traveler.

During this time of staying indoors due to the scare of the virus, I’m excited to be working on the next chapter of my project.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website: http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Making Art while the Calendar is Frozen

March 26, 2020

These things I shall remember by the way, and often they may seem to be the very tale itself, as when I was living them in happiness and sorrow. But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it.

John G. Neidhardt and Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks

Kiowa Looking over Ransom Canyon
Crow Warrior Surveying
Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona
Bell Rock Revisited
Bell Rock Vistas
Meditatons Below Bell Rock
Leaving the Promised Land
Twilight Wanderings

I have decided to treat this Stay at Home directive the same way a farmer responds to wintertime when nothing is to be planted, or rainy season when he cannot get into the fields. There is always something to do. When art festival season is at high tide, I always complain that I cannot find quality time to make art or frame art. That excuse has now been eliminated. The coronavirus season has ordered me to stay put and find creative ways to spend my days. I hope you enjoy seeing what I make.

Thanks always for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.