Bursts of Color: A Fresh Start

Tackle Box Filled with Vintage Lures

Tackle Box Filled with Vintage Lures

She ran the section of the shop that sold housepaints, making up the customers’ orders and advising on colour schemes.  The colours impressed Henri as a boy much as they did another future painter, Felix Valloton, whose parents also kept a provincial hardware store in the 1870s:

“The second shopwindow was the best: twelve tubular glass bottles, drawn up in battle order on a stand and filled to the brim with colours whose very names made me feel proud.  They were, in order, pale chrome yellow, dark chrome yellow, cadmium, cobalt blue, ultramarine, Prussian blue, milori green, English green, rose madder, Austrian vermilion, Turkey red and pure carmine.”

Matisse said he got his colour sense from his mother, who was herself an accomplished painter on porcelain.

Hilary Spurling, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869-1908.

Resting up from the weekend art festival, I had an idea of the subject I would take up with my next watercolor endeavor.  That idea was confirmed this morning before school began, when a student entered my room delivering a package (posted above): a locked tackle box, that, when opened, exploded in color with vintage lures and paraphernalia from a fisherman’s supply of yesteryear.  The benefactor was a remarkable man I met at the festival who took an interest in my recent watercolors of vintage lures, and made a purchase.  Others followed suit, as the weekend progressed and I was delighted to find these small paintings to make such a hit with the public.

The Matisse biography by Hilary Spurling I had the privilege of reading back in 2006 when I took an extended Jeep odyssey, looping from my Dallas/Fort Worth region to Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and finally back through Texas.  As I fly fished and watercolored along my journey, I spent hours poring over the pages of this book, again and again reading of how the young boy Matisse’s eyes lit up at the sight of the paints in his mother and father’s general store, along with the brightly-colored exotic fish in beakers, birds in ornamental cages, and finally the tray of watercolor pigments given to him as a gift.  It made me think of my times as a small boy, when I was surprised by the brilliant colors of fishing lures when dad shopped at the sporting goods store, or the gumball machines just inside the doors of the drugstore, or the color chart at the hardware store, when mom and dad shopped for interior household enamel paint.

Seeing this tray of lures has made me decide it is time to see how bright I can make future watercolor compositions.  Until 2006, I had followed the somber, neutral palette of Andrew Wyeth drybrush.  In recent years, plein air activity has forced me to match colors with what I saw in architecture, on automobiles and in botanical gardens and arboretums.  Now, it is either fishing lures in a tray, or a gumball machine.  Until someone lends me a gumball machine, I believe I will stick with these vintage lures, eternally grateful for recent friends lending me these treasures to explore in drawing and painting.

This project will emerge slowly.  The dreaded tax deadline is nearly here, and I am spending countless deadening hours gathering my tax data so I can get this stuff filed.  And of course, school is relentless as the year draws to a close and more testing is just around the corner.  And the endless grade reporting.  But these paintings will get done.  Soon I will be breathing much easier as I get out from under these other deadlines and demands.

Thanks for reading.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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8 Responses to “Bursts of Color: A Fresh Start”

  1. coreyaber Says:


    That’s an exciting new direction.

    It’s no wonder the lures have been taking off for you. They’re so well executed with so much life and character. Exactitude and lightness. They also showcase the great potential and value of watercolor. I could not imagine those lures being so compelling in any other medium.

    You talked about your old Wyeth influenced palette. What’s your palette today, and where will you go with it for these more vibrant works? I am always interested in the materials people use for their work, whether it be music or art, and how that ties to the mission and potential of the art. I’d like to know more.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      After years of working in neutrals, trying to emulate the Wyeth drybrush look, I started working in plein air, and was challenged with the change in colors.

      My current palette is exclusively Winsor & Newton pigments: Transparent Yellow, Winsor Blue (both red and green shade), Phtalo Turquoise, and Winsor Red.

      When I need further help with reds, I go to Permanent Rose and Quinachridone Red. I will use Cadmium Red when I don’t mind mud. Winsor Violet I use occasionally to neutralize my yellow. For black, I mix Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Green. That’s it.

      Thanks for asking. I’m really envious of your drawing/sketching discipline. For years I have chastened myself for not doing that more–I believe in it, yet don’t practice it, to my shame. I have sketchbooks all over the studio–I just don’t draw. I do all my drawing on the actual watercolor sketch or serious painting composition. I’m supposed to be working on thumbnail sketches and compositional studies, and I worship all of you who do that.

      I love looking at your preliminary sketches.

      Thanks for all your encouragement.


  2. bmarzinske Says:

    Very Nice read from a kindred spirit. I’m old enough to have fished with some…if not many…of those lures.


    • davidtripp Says:

      How fabulous to hear from one who knows what that’s all about! Thank you for responding to me. As soon as I finish filing all this dreaded income tax information, I will gladly return to painting these memories.


  3. reidrogers Says:

    David, you know I’m going to buy this painting, right? Another vibrant reminder of your talent, sir!


  4. niasunset Says:

    I love your blog and your art… How beautiful your last lines… and it finds meaningful touches for me too…. But I take photograph instead of painting… Thank you dear David, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia


    • davidtripp Says:

      Nia, thank you for following my blog. I think your photography is spectacular, and I wish you much Blessing and Happiness as you continue to create wonderful worlds through your lense. Best to you.


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