Painting a Trackside Shanty in Waxahachie

Shanty Town

Shanty Town

That moment of completion is also, inevitably, a moment of loss–the loss of all the other forms the imagined piece might have taken.

David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

What a day.  I closed out an art festival late last night, getting into bed around 1:00 a.m.  At 7:30, I was up with the alarm, packing my gear to head forty minutes south to Waxahachie, Texas.  Today marked the official start of the week-long event Paint Historic Waxahachie.  I knew before I drove out of my driveway that I was already weary from the schedule of the past two days.  But I could not pass on the opportunity of plein air painting without working around a school schedule.  Memorial Day was a gift to me, and I had to accept it.

I arrived in Waxahachie, and began by completing a painting on the square that I had begun last Saturday afternoon, and was not entirely happy with its look.  After spending an additional thirty minutes on it, the work looked better, and I called it complete.  I then drove south of town, to a railroad shack and oil tanks I have painted twice before.  But I couldn’t get interested in them this third time.  Walking down the tracks a short distance, I came across this shanty and was immediately drawn to the darkness of the woods beyond a cyclone fence.  Having fiddled around with the masquepen, attempting screen door paintings recently, I thought “Why not”?  The weather was overcast, and a real deal-breaker for plein air painters wishing to paint sun-splashed Victorian and Gingerbread homes.  Everything was quite flat throughout the day.  So, I chose to focus on these deep, dark woods, the accents of a cyclone fence, and hoped I could manage the texturing and weathering of this sad building.  I was glad to frame the bottom of the composition with railroad tracks as well, and try my hand at drybrushing the road bed and weeds rising to meet the fence.

I worked very quickly on this, and really got to the point that I was enjoying the process when suddenly, I realized it was near completion.  There have been so many times that I did not want a watercolor session to end.  This was one of them.  When a freight train came between me and the subject matter, I stepped back, waiting for it to pass, and in viewing the painting from a distance, realized I had done about all I could to it.  So I signed it and walked away.  The work is now in the Ellis County Art Association office, awaiting the competition judging Friday, and then the Saturday-Sunday sale at Gezendaner Park.  It is an 8 x 10″ composition, inside a white 11 x 14″ matt.  I have priced it at $125.

Thanks for reading.  I can’t wait for school to end tomorrow so I can return to the Waxahachie scene and attempt another painting.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


11 Responses to “Painting a Trackside Shanty in Waxahachie”

  1. Rachel Carter Says:

    Oh wow I love it. Wish I could go to the sale!


  2. Angeline M Says:

    This is absolutely lovely! I too wish I was in the vicinity for the sale.


  3. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    david, you should be able to sell your paintings pretty easily via this website. you probably have a ready market right there.. your prices are very fair.



  4. coreyaber Says:

    David. I like this one a lot. It is a great reminder of how much interest there can be in such an apparently simple subject when channeled through a painter’s eye and brush. I came across a few similar views while biking Saturday, and I am now inclined to see what I can make of them sometime.

    Good luck this week. I am looking forward to all your postings throughout the plein air season, as they help keep me motivated to work outside whenever I can.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Corey. Thanks always for looking and responding. I was glad to go to a new location yesterday. Matisse quoted somebody (I think Delacroix) in saying that traveling to new places to paint “cleanses the eye.” I hope that after school today, I can journey to a different corner of Waxahachie and find something to “arrest” my imagination. Good luck in your endeavors as well.


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