Archive for May, 2011

Abandoned Desoto in Tall Weeds, Cotter, Arkansas

May 24, 2011

Abandoned Desoto in Tall Weeds, Cotter, Arkansas

Finally, back home, I am able to photograph my plein air paintings created during my stay at the Plein Air on the White River festival in Cotter, Arkansas.  This was one of two wonderfully sublime mornings where I had the privilege of working all alone, surrounded by quiet, space, and feelings of the Sublime.  What a wonderful world received me as I chipped away, attempting to record a profound experience en plein air.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring a 1903 Cabin in Cotter, Arkansas

May 22, 2011

Tripp Painting at 1903 Cabin, Cotter, Arkansas

Finally got home before 9:00 p.m. Sunday night, exhausted.  I promise much, much more concerning the Plein Air on the White River event.  I have many, many photos, thanks to Bill Barksdale and my wife Sandi.  I just haven’t the time tonight to get them all posted, as I have to rise at 5:30 a.m. and begin teaching school again tomorrow.

This is a photo Bill took of me very early Saturday morning, as we studied this 1903 cabin, I believe to be the third home built in Cotter, Arkansas.  The sun was just breaking through and the subject was filled with such a magnificent “presence” as I beheld it.  I’ll have plenty more to add tomorrow.

I promised to fill you in on the Emergency Room story.  About 30 minutes after I finished judging the show and the awards were announced, I was visiting with two of the winning artists–Best of Show and Purchase Award winners.  In the midst of our conversation under a tree, a fly or some kind of unidentified insect flew deep into my ear and commenced vibrating so loudly I thought my eardrum was going to explode.  Never had I experienced such pain from a tiny insect.  I could not dig it out, and 3-4 times it shrieked loudly from deep within my ear (I believe it was the wings beating) and the pain was excruciating.  I was driven to the Emergency Room in Mountain Home (about a 30-minute drive as we had trouble finding the darned hospital), and got to go through all that process of checking in, waiting, examination, etc.  Whatever the insect was, it was finally extracted as they flushed my ear with some kind of hot liquid, discovered an ear infection where the alien had been working, and gave me antibiotics and something with which to flush the ear daily.  I was glad to know upon dismissal that whatever the assailant was, it was finally gone, my ear was clean, and there wasn’t going to be anything vile “hatching” somewhere between my inner ear and brain.  A weird, weird event indeed, and I missed meeting all the artists, the wine, the cheese, the conversations–all the wonderful things that wrap up a show, I missed.

Thanks for reading.  More tomorrow . . .

An Andrew Wyeth Meditative Moment–1903 cabin in Arkansas

May 22, 2011

1903 Arkansas Cabin

Good afternoon!  After a long weary drive, Sandi and I are relaxing at a Mount Vernon, Texas Rest Area along Interstate 30.  We still have a couple of hours’ driving time before we get home.  However, I found that there was wireless Internet service here, so I thought “Why Not?”

On the final morning of the Plein Air on the White River event (Saturday), Bill Barksdale drove me to this site to see (I believe) the third home built for the railroad boom town of Cotter, Arkansas.  The date (I believe) is 1903.  When we pulled up to this cabin around 6:30 a.m., I could not believe my eyes.  The longer I gazed at this structure, the more “Andrew Wyeth drybrush” details I saw all over it.  I wanted to spend the entire day just rendering it in pencil.  But, plein air you know!  So I sketched it as quickly as possible, got out the water and brushes, and went to work on it.  We only had about 90 minutes to work, so I did what I could.  Hopefully I’ll post the watercolor sketch after I get home tonight.  But for now, this is my easel, and in front of it you can see the fabulous setting that I had exclusive access to during that delicious early Saturday morning.

Ready to head the rest of the way home.  Thanks for reading.  Today and tomorrow I will try to post to the blog all the rest of the final details of this fabulous event (including my surrealist Emergency Room visit).

When it Rains, You Move your Plein Air Indoors!

May 20, 2011

Tripp painting in the tower

It rained cats and dogs all day in Cotter, Arkansas and the surrounding towns.  My friend Bill took me to the Gaston Visitor’s Center in Bull Shoals, and secured permission for me to set up my plein air easel and paint inside the facility.  We went to the top floor and looked through the pouring rain to the exciting terrain below.  Here is the photo Bill took of me as I got into the work.  The painting is not yet finished, so I don’t anticipate putting it on the blog at least until tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Painting an Aging Desoto en Plein Air

May 20, 2011

Tripp Painting an Aging Desoto en Plein Air

My photographer friend and mentor Bill Barksdale photographed me early in the morning, painting this abandoned Desoto on the property of Helen Lacefield in Cotter, Arkansas.  It was the ideal morning for a plein air experience in painting.  The morning air was sweet, the Arkansas sunrise was gentle, cool breezes kissed the pastureland and caressed my face.  I felt an abiding Presence even while alone as the morning extended.  My profound thanks to Bill for recording this event which will last with me a very long time.

Thanks for reading.  One more day left in the Plein Air on the White River event.

Second Day of Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas

May 20, 2011

Aged Desoto on a Farm in Cotter, Arkansas

Thunderstorms and heavy rains are predicted to arrive this afternoon.  I wanted to get out in front of the weather, so I rose at 6:00 with my friend Bill Barksdale (he and Sandy are providing wonderful lodging for Sandi and me) and we drove to a farm outside of Cotter, Arkansas, owned by Helen Lacefield.  She graciously allowed us access onto the property, and I was delighted to find this aged Desoto sitting in the weeds out in a pasture.  Mrs. Lacefield shared the information that her husband arrived in this vehicle to pick her up on their first date!  I could not stop thinking about that as I worked on this composition, admiring the beautiful morning light of a rising sun that played all over the surface of this vehicle.  I got lost in the golds, reds, lavenders, and the patina of rust that was slowly taking possession of the car.  The more I looked at it, the more I felt it looking back at me in the morning silence!  From my early childhood, I looked at the fronts of cars as faces, with the headlights being the eyes and the grill being the mouth, and the logo plate on the front resembling the nose.  I always thought Desotos and Buicks and Oldsmobiles had the most interesting countenances in the early fifties.

I will probably re-post this later in the day.  Bill is a professional photographer, and he took many shots while he was on the scene.  This photo unfortunately had to be lifted from my  BlackBerry as I forgot to pack the cable that connects my digital Nikon camera to this laptop.  After shooting for quite awhile, Bill had to move on to assist some other artists in finding the locations they wished to paint today.  I remained on the scene, and had this small watercolor sketch finished in about 90 minutes.

Thanks for reading.

First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas

May 19, 2011

Billingsley House - Cotter

Tripp Demonstrating at the Plein Air on the White River EventBillingsley House - Cotter

Thursday, May 19, 2011, First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas.  The first day is in the books.  My eyelids are heavy, but I really wish to get this information on the blog.  Yesterday, Sandi and I made the nine-hour drive from Arlington, Texas to Cotter, Arkansas to begin this event this morning at 8:00.

Twenty-seven artists registered today, and quickly dispersed throughout the thirty-mile designated radius of small Ozark Mountain towns in search of subjects to paint en plein air.  It is my privilege this year to judge the competition, and I found it difficult to avoid seeing the artists’ paintings (I am supposed to judge the works without signatures and without prior knowledge of who painted what).  It seemed that everywhere I turned throughout the day, there was an artist working at an easel!

The town of Cotter was bathed in yellow sunlight throughout this afternoon, and I think I felt some of that joy that Winslow Homer knew in 1878 when he figured it out that transparent watercolor offers a magnificent way of experiencing the effects of light shimmering off the white paper as it glows through the washes of transparent watercolor.  This afternoon I was privileged to experience the excitement of layering washes of transparent color and experiencing the changes in light that appeared through the layers from the paper surface beneath.  I cannot wait to get in on this some more tomorrow.  I have quite a few experimental ideas percolating this night.

My only responsibility today was to present a 3:00 demonstration of the plein air process in watercolor.  I chose this house built around 1914, today known as the Billingsley House.  As I looked across the backyard and attempted to paint what I saw, and enjoyed the participating artists gathered to watch the demonstration, I could not help but wonder what kind of personal history this property carried with it.  I was to find out later that evening.  Mrs. Billingsley lived alone in this house during the 1950’s and the story is that she would stand inside her fenced-in yard and visit with students walking by on their way to school.  She would walk the entire property, talking with the children all the way to her furthest boundary, and continue talking as they journeyed further and further away, en route to the school house.  No doubt much of what they were learning from textbooks contained a diminished value compared to what she had lived, witnessed and was willing to share to anyone who would listen.

Cotter was launched with the coming of the railroad around 1902 and the erection of a lumber company between 1903 and 1904.  With the lumber company came the construction of the most famous landmark houses of this small town, now with a population slightly under 1,000.

Hopefully I will be able to recover some lost sleep tonight and put in a productive day of painting tomorrow.  I already look forward to posting more tomorrow evening when the day is done.

Thanks for reading.

Smaller Framed Watercolor of Antique Store for One-Man Show

May 15, 2011

Smaller Antique Store from Winfield, Missouri

This is my fifth and final post today of the five framed watercolors I picked up from the Weiler House Gallery (   Bill Ryan, the proprietor of the gallery, does a spectacular job framing, and is helping me get the paintings presentable for my first One-Man Show this September.  Those of you following my blog may recall this painting from January of 2010.  Recently I completed the same composition on a full-size sheet of watercolor paper.  That large painting has also been framed and posted on today’s blog.

Thank you for reading.

Smaller Watercolor Version of the Winfield Antique Store, now Framed

May 15, 2011

Small Watercolor of Abandoned Winfield, Missouri Antique Store

This is one of five framed watercolors I picked up today from the Weiler House gallery (  We are preparing for a One-Man Show this fall.  I have now painted the facade of this abandoned antique store along Highway 79 in Winfield, Missouri, north of St. Louis.  Andrew Wyeth continually returned to his favorite subjects for painting, especially in watercolor, and so do I.  The morning I drove past this establishment, my heart nearly stopped.  The sun had just topped the Mississippi River, washing the front of this store in delicious yellow light.  I pulled my Jeep over and too dozens of photos from all angles, wishing I could go inside and peruse the interior.  Alas, it was out of business, and in fact had it been viable, I would have had to hang around four more hours, waiting for it to open.   Nevertheless, I got the same feeling that I do when I view Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning, and I’ve always wanted to do a painting of that kind of genre.

Thank you for reading.

Nostalgic New Mexico Road House Watercolor

May 15, 2011

New Mexico Road House

The Weiler House just framed this watercolor for me, in preparation for the One-Man Show this fall.  See for the gallery’s website.  I saw this abandoned road house several years ago while traveling New Mexico during the late summer.  I painted it once before, putting railroad tracks in the foreground.  This time I thought I would let the “Mother Road” roll past the front.  I seem to recall that this collection of buildings was near historic route 66.

Thanks for reading.