Archive for September, 2011

Finished Store Rooftop Watercolor at Grapefest

September 16, 2011

Watercolor of Store Rooftop at Grapefest Art Festival

I arrived at my festival booth early this Friday morning, relishing the 72-degree temperature and overcast skies.  The cool breezes are delicious too.  I managed to open my booth a good 30 minutes before the gates opened, so I took out this sketch I began yesterday and finished it up just in time to hurl onto the blog.  During the slow moments of the art festivals, it’s rewarding to be able to have something creative to do with all that down time.  If the crowds don’t pick up this morning, I’ll begin another plein air sketch.  I do love the festival atmosphere.  The people here were lovely yesterday.  I’m looking forwards to more of the same today.

Thanks always for reading.

Watercoloring during the Slow Moments of the Art Festival

September 15, 2011

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch during Grapefest Art Festival

This first eleven-hour day of a four-day art festival is rough on a guy who only had two hours of sleep.  The crowds have been O.K., conversations sporadic, and sales super-slow.  I’m glad I brought along my Winsor & Newton watercolor field box along with some basic supplies.  While sitting in a lawn chair, I’ve had a long and steady look at the shops across the street, facing my art booth.  Finally, I took out the supplies and began work on this sketch.  I first sketched the brick edifice with pencil in my sketchbook, then growing dissatisfied with the lack of color, decided to get out my D’Arches block and begin a watercolor sketch.  It has certainly helped the time pass a little better.

Thanks for reading.  I wonder if I should bring additional resources for painting again tomorrow?

Greetings from Grapefest (Grapevine, Texas Art Festival)

September 15, 2011

Artist's Booth at GrapeFest, 2011

Greetings from GrapeFest 2011!  The Texas weather is windy and cool today, with very pleasing temperatures.  Thus begins a four-day art festival that will close Sunday at 6 p.m.  I’m proud to be set up in my new tent.  The EZ-Up pop-up tent proved its worth over the past three years, but I’m happy now to have a much sturdier structure that will resist the high Texas winds and occasional violent rain storms.

The season for art is an extremely busy one for me right now, with my One-Man Show opening last Saturday at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery ( and lasting for a calendar month, along with this current Grapevine, Texas art festival, soon to be followed by the Fort Worth Music Festival and finally the Handley Blues Festival.

The Thursday crowds are rather thin, but Saturday and Sunday predict thousands of people pouring through the festival grounds.  So far today, the conversations with patrons have been pleasant, and I’m confident that the sales will pick up soon.  Whatever happens, its great to be outside on a day such as today, and if any of you readers are in the area the next few days, I would love to chat with you.

Thanks for reading.


Local Watercolor Artist published in Fort Worth city newspaper

September 14, 2011

Arlington Art Teacher Has Picture-Perfect Talent (Fort Worth Star-Telegram feature)

I am reproducing this article coming forth Wednesday in the Arlington Citizen Journal section of the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper.  The journalist, Robert Cadwallader, spent hours interviewing me patiently, and the newspaper sent a photographer for the photo shoot (complete with one of my dogs and cat!).  I am extremely proud to be published as a local artist, and grateful for the advertising this provides for my One-Man Show running during the next month, as well as the local art festivals where I’ll be participating.  Thank you for reading.

“Arlington Art Teacher Has Picture-Perfect Talent”

As an art teacher and artist, David Tripp has bristled at old sayings about teachers teaching because they can’t do.

But Saturday night, the Martin High School teacher made a very public case for his dual abilities at a reception kicking off his art exhibit at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery in Fort Worth. Among the many attendees were some of his current Martin High School students, and several others he hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years.

“This is my first one-man show,” said Tripp, 57. “I am very, very proud for them to know that their art teacher is an artist.”

The Weiler House is showing about 40 of his watercolors, which depict what he sees as a fading midcentury rural America. His canvases are filled with crumbling convenience stores, quaint Victorian homes and dreamily colorful streetscapes he has encountered on sojourns in the Midwest and Southwest, including the infamous and now mostly bypassed Route 66 highway.

Some of his paintings had local influences, including the old Poly Theatre in Fort Worth.

“The genre I paint is ‘dying America,'” said Tripp, whose art will be featured through Oct. 8. “When I see these shuttered buildings, it fills me with a sense of loss — and presence. I love to paint the little stores that were replaced by 7-Eleven and Walmart.”

His work caught the eye and heartstrings of Bill Ryan, the owner and director of the eclectic gallery, over a year ago. He’s already sold a number of Tripp’s paintings.

“People really relate to his work,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if it’s nostalgia, but it’s about how we share in a common past.”

Getting started

The early memories that shaped Tripp’s artistic interest are rooted in rural, impoverished southeast Missouri, where he was born to tenant farmers after the Korean War.

When he was 2, his family moved to St. Louis in search of a better life, and his dad, a Korean War veteran, got a job as a mechanic. But Tripp returned frequently to visit his grandparents near his birthplace.

“My grandparents were still tenant farmers, so I was still surrounded by that kind of rural poverty in southeast Missouri,” he said. “From the time I was a child, I really loved the things I saw on their farm — the old tractors that were rusted out, and the barns that had lost all their paint.”

From the age of 2, he recalls having a gift for drawing and sketching. In school, his abilities to re-create his observations on paper developed, but it distracted from academics.

“I spent a lot of time drawing in the margins of my notebooks,” he recalled. “I was being praised from the time I was really young that I was a good artist, but no one said I was a bright student.”

But when he reached eighth grade — the first grade that offered art courses — he excelled, being named the best art student at the annual awards assembly. He duplicated the feat in high school and earned a scholarship that set him on a path to appreciate learning.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in education at Northeast Missouri State University — now named Truman State University — then detoured to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where he earned a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in New Testament while also preaching in churches.

Learning to teach

Tripp, who also is a guitar player and an avid fly fisherman, got his first teaching job at Lamar High School in 1988.

He wasn’t very good at watercolors at the time, despite his love for the medium. That was a problem, because he had to teach it. But he managed to push watercolor study to the spring semester and dedicated the Christmas break to learning it.

The trick, he learned, is letting the watercolors dry several times during the painting process.

“I was messing with them too much while they were wet,” he said. “Now I will sometimes have six watercolors going on simultaneously, so I don’t overwork them.”

Tripp later moved to Martin High to develop an art history class. It was there he met his wife, Sandy, who now teaches English across the hall from him.

Tripp started his nostalgic watercolor project more than 20 years ago. He drives around snapping photos of interesting subjects and then goes home to paint them. Over the years, he has had many opportunities to show his work as part of a group of artists or as a vendor at festivals.

He’ll be doing that at Grapefest in Grapevine this weekend and at the Fort Worth Music Festival Sept. 30 through Oct. 1.

But the Weiler House is the first to feature him solo — a status that is exciting not only to Tripp but also to his boss.

“To see his work in this gallery,” said Linh Nguyen, the school district’s visual arts coordinator, “that lets me know that he’s not only teaching his kids but nurturing his own creativity as an artist himself. That tells students there are opportunities out there for kids to find a career as an artist.”

Hico, Texas–Painting the Town on a Hot Summer Day

September 13, 2011

Downtown Hico, Texas

Now that school is underway, I really miss the open road and those splendid opportunities of the past summer to paint en plein air.  Though the temperatures remained at triple digits (including this afternoon spent in Hico, Texas), I nevertheless found favorable settings for watercoloring in the open air.

Hico, Texas was a fun place to pass the day.  From this location, I was situated on the divided street of the main drag, enjoying the shade of trees and gazebos.  There was even Wi-Fi available, and I was able to blog on that particular afternoon from the place where I painted.  A number of the town’s citizens dropped by out of curiosity, watched me paint, and engaged me in meaningful conversation.  To me these are the most perfect moments in creating art–the privilege of talking to strangers who will not remain strangers.  I felt a real “connectedness” on that day, with every conversation that transpired.  I am hoping that when the temperatures cool, the leaves turn, and the art festival season ends, that I will be able to return to Hico for further work.  I was fascinated with the age of the public buildings, with their rusticated, cut-stone exteriors, old signage and fabulous shadows.  And I now know that the public is very receptive to artistic endeavors on the main drag.

Thanks, Hico!  It was a fun day, and I look forward to returning.  And thanks all of you for reading.

Trolley Car Watercolor posted on Magazine Cover

September 13, 2011

Trolley Car Watercolor Illustrated on Magazine Cover

My artist friend from Canada, Nancy Trottier, continues to nurture me as I hack my way through the technological thicket.  I complained yesterday online that I did not know how to convert PDF to JPEG.  I awoke this morning with detailed instructions in an email from Nancy, and within two minutes, the deed was done.  Thank you, Nancy!  You’re always showing me the way!

A graphics design artist from Fort Wayne, Indiana surprised me with an email Sunday, requesting to use my watercolor of a trolley car that I did en plen air during the summer of 2010.  He was designing the cover of a weekly magazine for an arts fundraiser involving a trolley tour of the museums in the city.  I’m pleased now to post a photo of the magazine cover, and happy once again to have a piece of my art published.  I have never travelled to Fort Wayne, or even entered the state of Indiana for that matter.  But I’m amazed at how art blogging has opened new frontiers for me, and allowed me to meet more people as well as get my art out to a broader audience.

Thanks for reading, and thank you again, Nancy.

Plein Air Watercolor of Trolley now Published

September 12, 2011

Trolley Car Parked in Waxahachie, Texas

The blogging life of the artist has taken interesting turns of late.  This is a trolley car that had been parked on the square in Waxahachie, Texas two summers ago (2010).  I painted it during a “Paint Historic Waxahachie” event that featured 55 plein air painters from the surrounding areas.  The eight-day competition spurred the creation of hundreds of paintings.  This one pictured was one of nine I painted during that eight-day cycle.

Yesterday I received an email request from a graphics design artist working for the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He was requesting permission to publish this on the front of an advertisement for an arts fundraiser involving an arts trolley tour around the local museums.  The publication is giving me credit for the art and publishing my website.  I was all-too-glad to grant permission.  The cover page has been sent to me, but alas, it is in PDF and I have not found out how to convert PDF to JPG unless I pay for the service.  My attempts to publish the PDF photo on this blogsite have proved futile.  At any rate, I have the magazine cover saved on my flash drive, and have been admiring it all day.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring a 1903 Cabin from Flippin, Arkansas

September 11, 2011

1903 Cabin Flippin Arkansas

Last spring, while judging a plein air painting composition in Cotter, Arkansas, I was taken to this wonderful rustic cabin dating back to 1903.  This structure was reportedly one of the first two homes built in Flippin, Arkansas, just about the time the railroad was coming through the town.  I was taken to this site just after sunrise on a morning that was threatening rain.  The cool, moist atmosphere and the gathering clouds cast such an amazing pall over the cabin that I set up an easel and went to work immediately, trying to capture a watercolor sketch of it.  Once I returned to my studio in Texas, I used the original watercolor sketch along with some reference photos taken with my digital camera, and created this piece.

I was most intrigued with the light and shadow playing across the table and chairs lining the porch, as well as the rusty screen covering one of the doors.  The entire cabin seemed alive with the dynamics of light and shadow flickering in the dim light of that spring morning.  I hope one day to return to this cabin for further sketches and studies.

Thank you for reading.  And thanks all of you who attended the opening of my One-Man Show Saturday night at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery.   (   I appreciate each and every one of you!

David Tripp watercoloring a 1903 cabin from Flippin, Arkansas

September 10, 2011

Tripp painting historic cabin in Flippin, Arkansas

 With watercolor pad and digital camera at his side, Texas watercolor artist David Tripp drives his Jeep along meandering county roads, seeking small towns and open countryside 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. David’s watercolors feature subjects drawn from 1950’s America, now present as mere relics of a once-thriving civilization fading from our American landscape, but not from our memories.

David received his Bachelor’s degree in art from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in 1976, focusing on drawing, painting and art history.  Graduate school took David’s curiosity down a more academic path, focusing on philosophy, religion, literature, and art history, finally earning him the Ph.D. in 1987.  Since then he has been a full-time educator in high school and part-time at the university. 

Every derelict commercial structure or private residence leaves this artist with a feeling of profound loss, but at the same time an exhilarating presence. The writer Marcel Proust has pointed out the thrill of beholding an object capable of triggering profound memories from our youth, and our being filled with a sense of warmth and gratitude.  Pausing before these subjects allows space to re-live important elements from our past, the recollections that create what we are now.

Fly Fishing Watercolor for the One-Man Show

September 9, 2011

Finding the Seam

My breathing changes profoundly the moment I step into a mountain stream with waders and a fly rod.  There will never be enough of those precious moments, so every time I journey to the Colorado high country, I breathe a prayer of gratitude.  The crystal clarity of a trout stream moving over the rocks from the basement of time contains a beauty beyond the reach of my words.  Henry David Thoreau said “time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

It took a number of years for me to work up the courage to watercolor a fly fishing composition.  My wife took this picture of me fly fishing in South Fork, Colorado.   I chose to pour this composition, masking out tree patterns and pouring pure watercolor pigment from bowls onto the soaked paper.  Sprinkling salt and spritzing the drying pigments created a number of satisfying textures in the foliage as well as the surface of the stream.

I am now counting the hours toward the opening of my One-Man-Show.   Forty-two watercolors are in place at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  The show opens Saturday night 5-9:00.   This watercolor has been framed and is now hanging in the show.  I’m proud that my friends get to see the painting at last.  I’m deeply satisfied with the depths of colors and the effects created by the pouring technique.

Thanks for reading.