He’s Out of His Tree

Laumeier Tree House

Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis

After a grueling first week of school, I found the opportunity to scamper home to St. Louis to visit my parents for a couple of days over the holiday weekend.  I had not had a real visit with them since Christmas, and was long overdue.  Time spent with Mom and Dad was a quiet respite from the weeklong frenzy I had just experienced at school, and on the second day of my visit, I retreated to Laumeier Sculpture Park, found this tree house, and decided “Why not?”

Inside the Tree House

Inside the Tree House

Taking my Titian volume, I climbed the ladder, sprawled inside, and enjoyed my reading and journaling in the peace and quiet above the beautiful sculpture garden.  I read of Titian’s idyllic youth spent in the mountainous region north of Venice, in the remote township of Pieve di Cadore.  The quiet Sunday afternoon in Laumeier yielded the perfect enclave as I read and reflected on the early influences of that remarkable painter.

Jonathan Borofsky Sculpture

Jonathan Borofsky, “Man with Briefcase at #2968443”

I also took some time to stroll around the grounds, taking dozens of photos of the monumental sculptures and recording notes from them.  Eyeing this Borofsky monument, I determined not to allow myself to be another number, another cog in this impersonal workforce that engulfs me daily.  The school where I teach has over 3,000 students and over 200 faculty in one large building.

Drawing with a Ballpoint Pen

Drawing with a Ballpoint Pen

Sitting on a park bench in the shade, I took out my ballpoint pen and tried to render a cedar in my Moleskine notebook.  I don’t draw nearly enough in my later years, and enjoyed this moment of relaxation, though I preferred to have my watercolor block in hand.  The Jeep was parked a long distance away however, and I didn’t feel like walking the distance (and risk losing the urge to sketch).  Besides, I had an earlier opportunity to kick out a quick plein air watercolor sketch the day before . . .

Roadside Park along Historic Missouri Route 66

Roadside Park along Historic Missouri Route 66

I got a late start to St. Louis over the holiday weekend, choosing to drive through the night.  When I realized that I was going to reach my parents’ house around 5:00 a. m., and that I was growing drowsy, I chose the safety of a roadside park along I-44, parking in the midst of a row of seven or eight cars, reclining my seat, and drifting off to a welcoming sleep.  When I awoke, the sun had just risen, and I looked out and saw this bluff across the divided highway.  I didn’t have to think twice about it–retrieving my backpack, I dug out my watercolor supplies, found a picnic table, and went to work sketching this out on an 8 x 10″ D’Arches block.

Winsor & Newton Field Box

Winsor & Newton Field Box

I worked very quickly, enjoying every moment of the encounter, and musing over the works of Joan Miro as he rhapsodized over the rural Catalan landscapes of his environment.  I don’t emulate the style of Miro, but my heart beats faster every time I read of an artist who works at capturing the landscape of his youth.  The cliffs carved for the thoroughfares of Route 66 always held my attention as a young boy, gazing out the window from the back seat of the passing car.  I always wished I could sit atop them, look across the land, and attempt to paint them.  Finally I’m getting that chance.

After the rhapsodic moment with the morning cliffs, I climbed back into my waiting vehicle, knowing Mom and Dad would have fresh coffee waiting.  It was good to go home again.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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6 Responses to “He’s Out of His Tree”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    What great moments. I too remember driving through the wilds of Southern Africa across great escarpments and roads cut into the rock and being fascinated by the patterns of rock layers, the rough and smooth textures. What a wonderful moment too sitting awaiting the dawn and sunrise. You describe it so well… Tony

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thanks, Tony. I’ve loved those road cuts all my life, but once I began watercoloring, was intimidated by the striations. I love trying them now, and am fascinated with the contrasts amongst those lines and the varying textures of the rock.

      Like

  2. Bonnie Says:

    I’m liking both of these!!…(the sketch looks very nice, too!)

    Like

  3. Jnana Hodson Says:

    What is it about the idea of a tree house that takes some of us back to childhood, even if we never had the tree house? (I did have a great tree and my routes to the tippy top.)
    And here you enter that fantastic one in the park as a kind of retreat and come out with a renewed sense of that childhood awe.
    Thanks for bringing us along.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Jnana, thank you for posting that. I never had my own treehouse as a child, but had the pleasure of playing in several belonging to other playmates. Spending time in the one at Laumeier allowed me to linger above the world as I once did as a child, and the perspective was refreshing.

      Like

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