Archive for January, 2012

A Re-Discovered Joy, Teaching a Young Art Student

January 14, 2012

Oil portrait by ninth-grade art student

Though I have used this blog to promote my own art work, I cannot help but post a couple of images of work from one of my private art students.  Maddie is a ninth-grade student, seeking admission to a fine arts school.  A portfolio is required, so her parents have hired my services to assist her in building a portfolio of 25 pieces to submit when she applies.

All I can say is, I have met very few students as gifted as Maddie.  Her eye is so good, and her intellect so keen that she seems able to do anything she attempts in the field of art.  I have never touched a brush or pencil to her compositions, but have only stood nearby coaching and re-directing as necessary.  She only has to be told once, and she gets it.

This is a life-size oil portrait that Maddie spent 2 hours creating, while viewing a large projection of an oil painting from centuries past.  She never touched a pencil to the canvas, but began with turpentine-thinned oil on a brush, blocking in the portrait with a sepia wash, and then building from there.

I think the painting is magnificent.  I don’t know when I have felt more proud of a student with this kind of willingness to come into the studio after hours, following her own daily school and extra-curricular schedule.

Thanks for reading.

Finished Advertising Image for Art in the Park

January 14, 2012

Art in the Park, Kennedale, Texas

Sorry I’ve been away from the blog so long.  I have experienced a myriad of computer-technology problems and now am working on different equipment.  I cannot understand why this posted image looks so grainy.  Granted I took the photo outdoors when evening was darkening, but I have done that before with no issues.

I just finished an image to advertise the 3rd annual Art in the Park at Kennedale, Texas.  The two day event will be March 31-April 1.

Thanks for reading.


Chipping Away at an Historic Flat Iron Building in Watercolor

January 7, 2012

Fort Worth, Texas Flat Iron Building

While waiting to give a private art lesson Friday afternoon, I had a few more leisure hours for drawing and watercoloring on this Fort Worth Flat Iron building begun a couple of days ago.  It is on a full sheet of paper (22 x 30″) and rather hard to get to, requiring plenty of leaning over a desk.  Fortunately the weekend has arrived, and I have a tilting drafting table here in my studio to make access more pleasant.  As you can see, I’ve devoted most of my recent work on the shadow end of this building.  I still need to darken it further, but will probably move on to the sunlit flat end and get to work on all those blasted windows (yawn).  Hopefully by Monday I will have much more of this behind me.  I do have another major project to work on as well, however.  If that second project goes well, I’ll toss some of those pictures on the blog as well.

Thanks for reading.  Have a splendid weekend.

In Progress Watercolor of Fort Worth Flat Iron Building, Downtown

January 6, 2012

Fort Worth Flat Iron Building

After an exhausting day of lecturing my way through three Art History sections, I finally had the opportunity to return to this full-size watercolor (22 x 30″) of an historic Flat Iron building on the south side of downtown Fort Worth.  Though the building is a considerable walk from mainstream Sundance Square, it is nevertheless worth the walk to view it in all its dignity.  I have wanted to paint it for several years, and quite frankly have felt intimidated with all the details on the building.  But now I have the serious urge, so I’ll see where it takes me.

I have another major watercolor project to tackle this weekend, that is long past due.  No doubt I’ll be posting that one as well.  I sincerely hope I can get some quality work done on this pair of projects with what time I have left Friday through Sunday.  Next week promises to be a brutal school schedule.

Thanks for reading.

The Loss of a Faithful Fishing Buddy

January 4, 2012

Harvest of Largemouth Bass

The phone call came at 2:20 p.m. today while I was working in my classroom.  Dave Wright passed away last week while I was out of town.  I had to sit down.

In the fall of 1988, at an extremely low point in my life, wondering what kind of profession I should pursue, I signed my first teaching contract at Arlington Lamar High School.  I knew no one there, lived out-of-town, the 5A school was enormous, and I felt hopelessly lost.  The first human being to reach out to me in genuine friendship was Dave Wright, the head custodian.  I found myself frequenting his office for a cup of coffee, a sit-down, and plenty of laughs.  Slowly but surely, he helped me find my bearings, and our friendship endured beyond the seven-year tenure I put in at that campus.  We became fishing buddies, and I regret to find out that I have no photos of him taken with my digital camera–all shots were taken long ago with a 35mm camera.  Once I went digital, I began photographing the fish we caught, but not the fishermen.

Dave was always needling me about my late-sleeping habits.  He would arrive on the Lamar campus daily around 5 a.m.  Coming from southwest of Fort Worth, I would occasionally set an early alarm and dash to the school, sometimes arriving there around 5:00, but **drat!** the lights would be on inside, I would enter the side door, and hear that familiar shout of his from the far end of the corridor: “WELL!  IT’S ABOUT TIME YOU SHOWED UP!!!!”  I would look to see him grinning and pointing at his wristwatch as though I were late, though I had arrived three hours before classes began.  We would sit down to coffee and plenty of pleasant conversation (mostly about fishing).  Incidentally, he never drank coffee, yet always felt he had to have the pot ready for anyone like me who happened to drift by the custodial office.

Dave and I drove hundreds of miles and fished so many waters around north Texas.  He had a knack for getting us invited onto private waters for quality fishing, and we certainly pulled in more than our share of trophies.  He was always good-natured, even when his health began to fail and he could no longer drive.  I didn’t mind taking over the chauffeur responsibilities, and we managed to put in about ten more years together before he left this earth.

Dave was also a collector of my watercolors, and I suppose he has about 7-8 of them framed and hanging in his home.  He always stopped by the classroom while I was at Lamar, and spent plenty of time in my home and studio, looking at what I was painting next.  And I’ll never forget those surprises while I was lecturing in art history, looking up to see him standing inside my classroom door, listening and watching the slides we were discussing.

But most of all, we shared the fishing trips, and it is those that I will miss most.  Dave had a profound love for the outdoors, for the water, and for those long quiet moments, waiting for a bass to strike.  I have met few fishermen with his patience, and fewer more successful than he was in outwaiting the fish.

I cannot explain the hollowness that I feel this day, and cannot begin to know the profound hurt of his wife, son, daughter and grandchildren.  There will never be another Dave.  I’ll never know a school staffer with his wit, his gentleness and humor.  And I’ll never know a fisherman cut out of his cloth.  He was truly unique.  And I miss him so.

Rest in peace, my Gentle Friend.  Thanks for counting me worthy to be a part of your circle.

Musing the Night Before Returning to School

January 3, 2012

Frohna Feed Mill

Tomorrow I return to my classroom for a workday, followed by a private lesson for a student I have been coaching for an upcoming portfolio review.  The next day, the spring semester begins with three Art I classes and a new Humanities class.  Friday will feature two regular Art History classes and one Advanced Placement Art History class.  Already I dread the grind, but I’ll get through it.  This has been a most miserable year, schedule-wise.  More-than-enough-said.

Tonight I took some steps toward getting well.  I’ve been suffering a sore throat for a few days now, but that is not as bad as many around me have suffered.  A dreadful flu is making its rounds.  I haven’t endured the pain that many others have, but my energy has ebbed, and I’ve required quite a lot more sleep than usual.

I have also sought spiritual health, because I have a good idea of what kind of semester awaits me–much the same as the one I just buried.  I certainly needed a holiday break between terms to try and find my footing again.  The holidays had some highs and some lows.  But today, I have found a friend in Paul Tillich and his classic book The Courage to Be. 

Courage is self-affirmation “in-spite-of,” that is in spite of that which tends to prevent the self from affirming itself.

That is only the tip of the iceberg; there has been so much gold mined, and I only have about 40 pages covered.  I eagerly seek an oracle, and Tillich is certainly providing one for me.

I have classical music playing, and am finding contentment in reading and writing reflectively.  A late afternoon nap and my second cup of coffee are keeping me up past my normal bedtime.  But sleep will come in due time, and I’ll be grateful when it does.  Meanwhile I’ll enjoy the reading.

The picture I have posted is a watercolor I completed some time ago, perhaps as early as 2006 or 2007 (cannot read the date beneath my signature).  It sold just before Christmas break.  The Weiler House Fine Art Gallery has sold an amazing number of my watercolors this year.

My father took me through Frohna and a number of old German towns in Southeast Missouri more than twenty years ago.  I took scores of 35mm slides of sites we visited, and in the ensuing years have returned to these compositions again and again.  This painting is of the Frohna Feed Store, and I managed to capture several low-angle photographs of it while there.  My father grew up in rural Jackson, Missouri, not far from there.  This evening, as the hour draws late, I’ve felt a comfort in viewing a giclee print of this painting that I had processed several years back.  I’ve also enjoyed the comfort of classical music (mostly Mozart) in the background, hot coffee, a quiet house, and plenty of soothing words from the mind of Paul Tillich.  Thomas Jefferson always wanted to close out his nights with positive reading and positive thoughts, believing that it would set the tone for a quality night’s sleep and good footing to begin the duties of the next day.  It seems to me that Marcus Aurelius had that same idea as well.

I apologize if this blog seems to ramble–I seem to be doing on this blog what I daily do in my handwritten journal.  I suppose that what I am trying to say is this: I could have a better semester this spring if I remember to explore watercolor, read quality works for my own healing, and continue recording in the journal and the blog.

Thanks for reading.  I take a measure of comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who sees these words.

Snowscape at Wayne White’s Ranch

January 3, 2012

Winter at Wayne's

Last winter in St. Louis, snow was everywhere.  I stayed as a guest at my friend Wayne White’s ranch west of St. Louis and was delighted at this view off his back deck.  I completed one watercolor sketch of the woods and fields, and then started this second one, but quit because it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.   After a one-year hiatus, I got the idea this morning to add a row of mailboxes, deepen some shadows in the woods, complete some more snow shadows and then call it a painting.  I’m ready to look at a new project now.

I look at this and think of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

I return to school tomorrow for a work day.  Students will show up the day after.  The winter break is nearly over.  And I’ll probably recite that Robert Frost poem as a mantra in the months ahead.  I do resolve this time not to let school completely crowd out my discipline of completing new paintings.  I look ahead to the prospect of discovering new things as I continue to explore watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Wyeth Winter Snowscape

January 3, 2012

Wyeth winter finished

I’m ready to move on to the next watercolor sketch.  A few finishing touches were added to this copy of an Andrew Wyeth drybrush of a snowscape at Kuerner’s Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  I spent most of this evening reading reflectively, writing in my journal, and just now, around midnight, found the notion to pick up the brush again.  I regret that my camera abilities are severely limited with the kind of lighting I have in my studio–I do much better photographing these pieces in the daylight outside.  Nevertheless, this one is finished and I choose now to move on.

Thanks for reading.

2011 in review, a summary of David Tripp’s wordpress blog

January 2, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Second Cup of Coffee and a Second Attempt at Andrew Wyeth Drybrush

January 2, 2012

Wyeth Winter

I’m surprising myself with today’s output, on only the second day of the New Year.  School will not resume for three days yet, and already I’m wondering in my head how many watercolor sketches I might kick out between now and then.

This is my second attempt at copying the essence of an Andrew Wyeth drybrush of a winter landscape at Kuerner’s Farm in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania.  I’m still pondering the Six Canons of Xie He, and am fascinated with the idea of distilling the essence of what you see.  As previously recorded, I had a good experience at an Oklahoma camp a few days ago, staring into the depths of a forest and trying to capture the essence of the masses of winter trees to record on paper.  I have always had a primal visual connection with Andrew Wyeth’s renderings of snowy scenes  in graphite, watercolor and gouache.  I missed my White Christmas in St. Louis this year, but decided nonetheless to pursue some winter scenic paintings.

The coffee has been delicious all day (my niece works at Soulard Coffee Garden & Cafe in south St. Louis, and gave me a wonderful Christmas gift of Soulard Coffee).  The reading has been delicious as well.  I’ve felt a rich communion with Marcus Aurelius and Paul Tillich as these great men left behind wonderfully introspective writings about life, always a good read at the beginning of a New Era.  I owe them a genuine, heartfelt thanks.  The readings and my own musings have produced about a dozen handwritten pages in my journal, and I regret to say that my journaling had dried up considerably in recent months.  It is great to be back at it again.  And this blog also gives my personal journals a shot in the arm, so thanks to you readers as well.