Archive for June, 2012

Preparing for Friday Night, Piccolo Mondo Restaurant and Bar

June 27, 2012

Piccolo Mondo Restaurant, Arlington, Texas

I just completed my second consecutive night in the sweaty, 97-degree man cave, gathering and packing my inventory for Friday night.  Five local artists will be displaying and selling art out of the Piccolo Mondo Restaurant in north Arlington Friday from 5:30-11:30.  This will be the first time I have set up inside an elegant restaurant and bar.  The Friday night clientele has been described as a good audience for an art show, so I guess we are about to find out.   At any rate, it will be nice to hang out with my friends in a lovely setting.  We will set up our exhibits at 3:00 and the establishment opens for dinner at 5:30.  We have been told that reservations are the wise choice for a Friday night, but walk-ins are accommodated as well.  Our display area is one of the dining rooms clearly visible from the waiting and bar area.  The French doors will all be opened, and the art work will be visible to anyone entering the establishment.  I’m getting excited as the time nears.

Tomorrow will end my summer school for the week–it’s so nice not to teach on Fridays.  I had hoped to paint tonight, but ran out of time.  The hour is getting late and 6:00 will come all-too-quickly for me, again.  But I have every hope of painting tomorrow after school, as the weekend officially begins.

For any of you in the area, I would love to see you Friday evening.  For all the rest of you, I pledge to be painting and blogging again tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.  I’m not sure if this virtual tour of the restaurant is going to work, but here is the link:


No, I Am Not Painting Right Now

June 27, 2012

Tripp working at “Paint Historic Waxahachie”

Good morning!  I wish I could say that I am painting.  But I am not.  Currently, I am teaching English IV in summer school (until 12:45 daily).  After school (yesterday and today), I have some social engagements (good ones, of course), a few unpleasant tasks to complete (I won’t go into those) and some decisions to make on which of my works to put on display and sale at a Friday night restaurant and bar venue (a good thing).  And then, there will be preparations for tomorrow’s summer school.  So, unfortunately, painting is crowded out at the moment, but hopefully I can resume tomorrow (Thursday). Meanwhile, I have photos to post that some beautiful friends emailed to me yesterday.  The one above was taken by Vickie Cunningham, a photographer I had the privilege of meeting on my last day of the historic Waxahachie paint out (I was trying to “capture” a Gingerbread home that was being toured across the street from where I parked my Jeep).  Vickie has a fabulous blog to which I have just subscribed, and she has posted a host of photos from Jerome, Arizona and Portland, Oregon, her two most recent excursions.  Check out her work at

Tripp’s Glowing Easel

On my last day at the Eureka Springs Plein Air Class, I did this quick demo of the facade of the historic train depot.  After I was finished, Sharron Spence, one of the students in the class, showed me this photo she took of my easel.  Pointing out the glow around the watercolor pad, she joked that she had discovered the secret of my success–some kind of divine energy field that hovers about the surface of my work!  I begged for a copy of this photo, and she graciously sent it to me yesterday.

On a closing note, Sharron couldn’t resist a final dig:  my students had this tendency to spread further and further apart as the week progressed (regressed?).  It got to the point where I walked about 300 yards to get from one end of my student line to the other, stopping to critique their work as I walked.  Finally, when I gave a pointer or two, to a student, I would say: “See you next in about an hour, I suppose.”  Here is a photo of me wending my weary way along the circuit.  Thanks, Sharron, these memories will always be special to me, as you are special.

Tripp Walking the Artist Circuit at Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Analysis of my Most Recent Plein Air Demonstation

June 25, 2012

Today, I am attaching an email with pictures sent to me by one of our Plein Air students at Eureka Springs School of the Arts, Carl Petering.  Carl was a serious student of plein air throughout the week, with plenty of questions that kept me engaged.  He demanded a great deal from himself, seldom satisfied with his attempts, but committed to improving.  He made great gains throughout the week, and on the last day, took copious notes from my demonstration and then graciously sent it to me.  It is with his approval that I post this:

“A good painting begins with a good drawing. If the  drawing isn’t good, nothing else we do will improve the painting.” (In conversation later, I said that I’m learning strong value contrasts and complementary color juxtaposition are what makes a picture dramatic).

He uses a Windsor Newton Watercolor easel (Dick Blick) and a Plein Air Pro Palette (Dick Blick).

He was attracted to the subject’s values as created by the sun and shadows, the rustication, and the red sign.

He quickly put in a sky with light washes and a grayed blue color (Cerulean blue, Windsor Red, and Transparent Yellow). “Just get a little color and move on.”

Otherwise, he does not lay in washes, as they take too long to dry. He works on detail from the get-go.

He used the “ugly brush” to outline the “rustication,” and relied on it more than anything else.

He put in the darks on the tops of the building with brown blues, Transparent Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Windsor Green – a “smoky, nasty mess.”

He put in the darkest dark first to establish contrast.

He added Cad red since the mix was already dirty and used the “ugly brush” for rustic stone work. He used his finger to smudge the paint.

The window pane was put in with Cobalt blue using a flat brush with some smokey cast to the color. Victor Parkerson of Fayetteville is observing.

David used a chisel brush on the architectural features and the “ugly brush” on foliage. He puts hard shadows in last unless it is an angle he really likes, and then he puts it in and stays with it as the sun’s angle changes.

David uses water soluble graphite pencil for darks, then a wet brush over it to blend it and make shading. If he is in a hurry to finish he’ll use the graphite pencil also. He used Transparent Yellow and Windsor Violet for the sides of the stone walls and dark Sepia water color pencil to give detail in the stone work. He just put in a few blocks – the “essence of the picture” – as the Chinese would say.

He moves around in the various areas of the painting to avoid getting his hands in the paint, and he used the “ugly brush” and dark green to frame the lighted part of the building.

He did not paint the building all the way to the ground, as he kept in mind what would fit in a standard size mat.

Finally, he filled in the foliage behind the red sign with the “ugly brush.”

Thanks, Carl, for sending this.  And thanks to the rest of you for reading.

Parting Shot, the Eureka Springs Historic Depot

June 23, 2012

Eureka Springs Historic Depot

Here is the railroad depot I painted as a demonstration on our last morning, yesterday in Eureka Springs.  Home now, I am trying to get my man cave back in order and resume some measure of studio routine before summer school resumes Monday.  I have a Tarrant County Courthouse I wish to complete, and a few new ideas from last week that I would like to put into action, before I lose momentum.

I apologize for not having more to report.  I slept in (a little) this morning, and then took a nap this afternoon.  I still feel plenty of fatigue, associated with the seven-hour drive home at the end of a busy day yesterday, accompanied by the general “let down” feeling that follows such a natural high as what occurred this past week.  I really miss the chatter, laughter and energy of the students I encountered this past week.  I was deeply gratified at the quality of work they generated, their enthusiasm for plein air painting, and the affirmation I feel, knowing that two of them plan to return next year to study with me.  I’m finding it hard to shift gears today.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here is a photo of all the sketches I kicked out last week–nine in six days.  I thought I had done only about five; I was surprised at the number.

A Week of Plein Air Sketching

Thanks for reading.

Final Plein Air Day from Eureka Springs School of the Arts

June 23, 2012

Tripp Demonstrating a Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on Final Day

This post is coming a day late.  Yesterday, I finished up my last class at 4:00, and one hour later was packed and on the road for the seven-hour Road Odyssey back Home.  I arrived around 12:30 midnight.  Rising earlier than planned this  morning, I’m feeling more-than-a-tad sluggish today, but nevertheless wish to post the final blog pictures celebrating a very rewarding week.  The one above is me, demonstrating a quick sketch of the facade of the Eureka Springs Railroad Depot.  The setting was a perfect place for the students to experience their finale in this enterprise.

Below are a few shots of the students studiously executing their pieces:




Thanks for reading.  More later today.

Studio Walk-Through Tour at Eureka Springs School of the Arts

June 21, 2012

Thursday Evening Eureka Springs sketch

Rain drove us inside today, so we did all of our painting inside the studio at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  Our studio walk-through tour was from 4:00-5:30 and quite a number of people came out to the show.  I was gratified to see my students’ work arranged throughout the studio.  Some of them put out as many as three-four paintings a day, and then returned in the late afternoons/early evenings to paint.  Once the tour was over, six of us returned to the historic district and painted until the evening light faded.  All of us were tired, and talked considerably less, but nevertheless we worked.  Here is the one I cranked out this evening.  Below I am posting pictures of my easel on location, followed by each of my students holding his/her favorite piece from the week.  I’m really going to miss these people, they have been so inspiring to me, and affirming of me as an instructor.

These are the kinds of creative spirits and friends I wish could drift into my Man Cave every evening.  What a wonderful neighborhood that would make!  Tomorrow will be our last day together, and already I feel “heavy” about having to say Good-bye.  We’ve had a wonderful week together.

Updates from the Eureka Springs School of the Arts Plein Air Activity

June 21, 2012

Director of the School

The third day of our school found us planted in the Historic District of Eureka Springs.  Just as we were setting up to paint, we were greeted by the broad smile and bubbling enthusiasm of our school’s Executive Director, also a published author.  She paused in the midst of her hectic schedule to wish us all well.

Painting the lovely springs at Howell & Spring St.

This is one end of my “instructional” circuit.   It was amusing that the students spread further and further apart in opposite directions as they continually found new subjects to paint.  By day’s end, they spread about 300 yards up and down Spring Street.  At one point, I was walking all the way to Carnegie Library to get to the opposite end of this one!  When I finished giving advice, I would say, “See you next time, in about an hour.”

When Sitting Gets Old

This student quickly found out that she would never run out of flowers to paint on this lovely street.

Finding the Shade

This pair of sisters would quickly find out that the intersection was a busy one, and that tourists and well-wishers would be looking at their work throughout the day.  It was a rewarding effort today, and the public could not have been more enjoyable for visiting with while working over the paintings.

Eureka Springs

Near the close of the afternoon session, I set up my easel at Springs and Howell to sketch quickly this piece of the garden beneath the bluff.  The calm dignity of the Ionic column pedestal was what caught my attention, and I loved gazing at the stained surface of it that seemed to be an extension of the rock wall that served as its backdrop.

Last night brought new adventures.  Two of my students invited me along to Chelsea’s, a local bar that serves the best pizza in Eureka Springs.  Wayne the Train was stopping over at Eureka Springs en route to Springfield, promising to play live music for the night.  He added his powerful Hank Williams-style vocals and acoustic guitar rhythms to the lead guitar and upright bass skills of another pair, and the trio belted out rock-the-joint music for hours.  Wednesday nights are “Drink and Draw” for the local artists, and the three of us were included, even though we were not local (they’ll let anybody in?).  For $5, we were handed whatever art supplies were available  (abundant acrylic paints, brushes, palettes and canvas boards of all sizes).  I did an on-site portrait of the rockabilly trio that entertained us all night (I won’t bother to post that image), and found the enterprise to be great fun.  That is why I am posting this the morning after–I got in quite late, and therefore needed to sleep well past 5:00 as well.

As I write this, it is raining hard outside.  I had to pause, take my coffee out on the back deck, and breathe deeply the cool, refreshing air.  We are scheduled to paint all day at the train depot, but our alternative is to work inside the studios at Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  That would be a nice alternative to the recent flurry of outdoor sessions.  Besides, we have a walk-through studio tour this afternoon, and could use some time to get all the work of the week out for display.  Every student will matte his/her best work of the week for the exhibit.

Thanks for reading.

Continued Experimenting at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts

June 20, 2012

Experiment in Poured Watercolor

Students this year have expressed an interest in pouring techniques, so I developed this experiment over a three-day period, by masking, pouring Transparent Yellow, then Winsor Blue (Green Shade), masking some more on day two, then pouring Winsor Violet and Phthalo Turquoise.  After all of it was dry, I used my “ugly brush” to render foliage textures, using mostly Dr. Ph Martins liquid watercolors (Sap Green with touches of Transparent Yellow and Ultramarine Blue).  After removing all the masking, I worked in some tree branches, using an X-acto knife and Albrecht Durer brand watercolor pencil in Dark Sepia.  Plenty of salting and spritzing occurred throughout the two-day experiment as well.  I think I’ve done about all I can with it, so I now post it and let you have a look.

Daffodil Cottage in the Waning Light

Three of my students this year are residing within a block or two of where I am.   Last night, they invited anyone interested to “congregate” at the Piedmont House, where they were staying.  Seven of us gathered in the waning light, and gave plein air our best shot.  I thought I was choosing well by going to the second floor deck and looking down the street at the Daffodil Cottage and adjoining property.  What I hadn’t counted on was the low ceiling blocking out the light from my easel, and the longer I worked, the less I could discern between the reds and the greens on my watercolor block!  So, I threw in the towel.  I have posted what I attempted.  Nevertheless, I must say this–when a fisherman casts about all day, and never gets as much as a strike, and tells me that it was still a beautiful day to be out, I don’t trust him.  When a golfer shoots considerably higher than his comfort-zone-score, and says that nevertheless he had an enjoyable time golfing, I suspect he is lying.  I can say for myself, without hedging, that every plein air attempt brings me joy, even when I make a bad painting.   I already have more-than-enough paintings in my inventory; it doesn’t matter that the present one isn’t worthy.  I always enjoy plein air, and really believe that I have learned at least one thing from engaging in that effort.  And last night, I enjoyed immensely.

After I descended the stairs, I found everyone else still painting, still engaged, and still happy.  And I took genuine delight in that.  Afterward, we sat around awhile longer talking, laughing, listening to the sounds of a tourist town winding down for the evening.  I have no regrets from last night.

Thanks for reading.

A Feeble Attempt at Rendering Cattle in the Distance

June 19, 2012

(Supposed to be) Cattle in the Distance

After lunch, we returned to the farm and found the sun out and the place blazing hot.  In the distance, I saw an enormous heard of cattle under the shadows of the treeline that formed the boundary to the pasture, and I took over a dozen reference photos, with a profound interest in the slanting horizon line and the various colors of the different breeds of cattle.  The trees were nearly black in silhouette in that bright afternoon.  I gave it my best shot, and didn’t fare too well.  Still, I wish to paint a decent watercolor of this composition, and plan to study my photos when I finally get the chance to enlarge them and make some decisions on how to go about painting them.

Thanks again for reading.


Plein Air Watercolor Study of a Barn

June 19, 2012

Barn Loft

It’s getting late, and I’m fatigued.  I went back out and did another plein air sketch of some of the Eureka Springs cottages, but it is too dark to get a decent photograph of the sketch.  Five of the students gathered with me, and all of us took a shot at watercolor sketching until it got too dark.  Then we just had a fun time visiting on the deck, seated in rocking chairs and enjoying the cool Ozark mountain evening breezes.

Here is the barn I sketched in watercolor this morning, while my students worked on their projects (photos in previous post).  The skies were darkening and threatening rain throughout the morning.  It led to great atmospheric colors (and cooler temperatures).  I wish I could return and give this barn another shot tomorrow, but we’re going to gather in the Eureka Springs historic district and start painting the attractions there.

Thanks for reading.