Leonard’s Small Engine Repair, January 9, 2010

Leonard's Small Engine Repair

All day today I’ve been in the studio working on three 22 x 28 acrylic canvases for a hotel project.  Thus, I’ve had to go another full day without working on new watercolor.  This watercolor is from a series I began right around the year 2000 called “My Town 63050.”  I wanted to do something similar to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town or Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio–invent a town, give it a fake zip code (this one would fall between High Ridge 63049–where I grew up–and House Springs 63051, I suppose).  I started a series of paintings (probably around ten or so) with appropriate businesses, houses, railroad and industry, and even thought about writing some short stories with fictional characters.  Those were the days when I thought I was a writer.  At any rate, the series kind of stalled when a Florida collector bought an entire portfolio of my work that included most of “My Town” and the rest just got sold off here and there.  I still think about restarting the series.

This one I titled “Leonard’s Small Engine Repair.”  The abandoned building I found at Moselle, Missouri, a railhead town west of St. Louis, and now a defunct town.   I thought there was plenty of character in the building, and decided to put it alongside a railroad spur.  I like the loneliness that clings to this piece.

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4 Responses to “Leonard’s Small Engine Repair, January 9, 2010”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    What a wonderful idea to paint and write about a make-believe town. I think it is a great idea. I’m not a writer, either. I am amazed by how some people can make pictures with words. I like the composition in this one. I think it is difficult to work with a foreground object like rails, used here, fences and dominant trees. It seems that you handled it well by angling the rails and including values to lead my eye along a part of them and then into the grasses, finally reaching that dominant dark window on the left. I want to visit here. I think that’s a sign of a good painting. Many of yours make me want to walk into the scene. I don’t think you would have to write too much to fill a book with your paintings. It would sell.


  2. David Tripp Says:

    Thank you, Leslie. As an artist, you certainly nailed the problem part for me–positioning the rails and transitioning the foreground into the background. I was in unfamiliar waters when I made those decisions. Putting the railroad in the foreground was inspired by many of Edward Hopper’s works, for me particularly “House by the Railroad” and “Freight Cars, Gloucester.” I always wanted to try that kind of composition. Thanks for the input about the “book”–I’m still intrigued by that idea of combining text with images, and do that by putting all my watercolors on a 5 x 7 greeting card and putting “the story” of the painting on the back, hopefully enough to intrigue the patron to look further into the picture.

    Thanks most of all for your comments about feeling “invited” into the scene. That is what I always wanted, and several years ago I fretted about the issue of “how do you paint mood or feeling”? I thought that all I was pulling off was illustration. Then, when I read biographies on Hopper and Wyeth I discovered that that was always what bothered them, and many critics continued to call them “illustrators.” So I stopped worrying about it and just kept painting. Now, in the past year, I have finally been getting these comments from viewers including you that they feel “drawn in” or feel that there is room left in the composition for them to “enter into the picture.” These words have been my biggest affirmation. And for those I thank you.


    • lesliepaints Says:

      I don’t know why people make differentiations in titles such as artist and illustrator. I suppose we humans like to categorize things a little too much. You can rest assured that I view what you do as art. 🙂


  3. David Tripp Says:

    Thank you again. I’m glad I stopped worrying about the handles–as soon as I did, I started getting the feedback I needed.


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