Working on the Cafe Theme, Late at Night

Cafe Still Life at Night

Cafe Still Life at Night

To mean something, anything, art must provide a specific sense of where you are and where you have been, of your particular take on the larger history of which you, willingly or not, form a part.

Gordon Theisen, Staying Up Much Too Late: Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and the Dark Side of the American Psyche

I am driven to paint daily.  When a day goes by and I am not en plein air or in my Man Cave, I feel something was taken away from me, like missing a meal, or getting shorted on a decent night’s rest.  As I say repeatedly, I paint to remember.  Whether I use a word like “nostalgia” or “Proustian” to describe my sentiments, I just merely want to work on images that have played an integral role in my life’s composition.  “No ideas but in things” writes William Carlos Williams.

I turned 59 today, and all those closest to me had their beautiful ways of sending me the warmest, most loving sentiments.  I love and appreciate all of you, thank you so much.  During this exquisite day, I’ve had the opportunity to paint in a beautiful park setting, kicking out a pair of watercolor sketches.  And during that time outdoors, it finally dawned on me what I want to do with my next series of cafe still-lifes.  And this delicious day and night afforded me plenty of silence and space to work and play over this piece that slowly emerges beneath my gaze, like a developing photograph in a dark room.

This composition that I’m toiling over now (and loving the scrutiny and problem-solving) truly resonates with me.  The setting is a cafe, where someone has opened a letter while relaxing over coffee.  The spectacles I recovered from the estate of one deceased about twenty years ago.  The letter, postmarked 1962 was given me by a dear friend who deals in antiques and always has the objects I request for these kinds of compositions.  The diner mug I found in an antique store two days ago.  And the pillow case, also found in the antique store, will have to serve as my cafe tablecloth.

These days, I love the emails and text messages I receive from those I love.  And in the days of yesteryear I loved receiving the letters in the mail (I really love the handwritten letters that I still receive occasionally in these current days).   Communication has always been our lifeline, and coffee in the cafes has always been my spiritual life’s blood.  I wish I could find the right words to describe what a sanctuary the cafe has become for me in recent years, and how precious the moments are when I can sit with coffee and re-read something sent from someone who matters.

So, as  I linger over this piece in the days and nights ahead, I just wanted to let anyone out there who reads me know, that this is a personal composition for me.  And I have the desire now, the genuine compulsion, to work on a series of cafe still-lifes depicting these quiet, pondering moments harbored in quiet contemplative American lives these days and nights.

Thanks for reading.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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4 Responses to “Working on the Cafe Theme, Late at Night”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    Thankyou and Happy Birthday. I find your quotes most apposite, and today it touched a spot. Indeed I have already learned much from your own work – you must be a great teacher. Tony


  2. davidtripp Says:

    Thank you, Tony. The birthday was really fabulous, and I’m back at the painting today. I appreciate your responses, and am delighted that my words are not empty. I like to share what’s on my mind, what’s driving me.


  3. eukelrawalker Says:

    In this picture, it makes you think. Like did all the coffee spill on your work? The most artistic thing i saw in this picture is the shading in the shadow. -E.W and C.M


    • davidtripp Says:

      Hello. I’m still trying to solve the problem of the shadows on this one. I put them in first, because the entire setting was predominately white and I needed to put some darker values into the composition.


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