Thoughts on Northern Hindu Temples and Cezanne’s Mont Sant-Victoire

Ink Sketch of Vishvanatha Temple, Khajuraho, India

Ink Sketch of Vishvanatha Temple, Khajuraho, India

We work in the dark–we do what we can–we give what we have.  our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.  The rest is the madness of art.

Henry James

It’s been quite a week in Lake Wobegon.  I found myself teaching Southeast Asian Art in A. P. Art History at my high school, along with Buddhism in World Religions at the university.  My regular Art History class at the high school focused on Impressionism all week, and today looked at how Paul Cezanne transitioned from Impressionism into a modern style that served as a gateway for twentieth-century art.  All week my head throbbed with a thousand stimuli from all these courses, readings, musings of students–and then today something happened.

I have this amazing pair of twins in my A. P. classes.  They are both artistic, carry moleskine journals (as do I), and continually draw in them as well as record their musings.  They keep legitimate sketchbook/journals in true Leonardo da Vinci fashion, going back and forth frequently between drawing and writing.  One of them told me that it helped her concentrate better on the objects studied in art history.  Today, during a lull in the A. P. class, I opened my book to the Southeast Asian chapter, pulled out my ballpoint pen, and sketched this Hindu Temple that follows the northern style of architecture, with its towers (shikharas) bulging to emulate the Himalayan mountain range.  I experienced what I heard this young twin mention to me a couple of weeks ago–as I drew this structure, I was forced to look at architectural details I had never before noticed.  She was right–drawing something makes you stare at every cubic inch of the form, enabling you to take in details not seen before.  I was amazed to see this range of mountains emerge from the architecture, and especially loved the way the base flanged outward to meet the ground.

As I drew, my mind drifted over to Paul Cezanne and his theories, and his late fixation on Mont Sainte-Victoire.  As I thought of his attempts to contrast warm and cool colors across the face of the mountain he painted at least sixty times, I suddenly recalled the mountain I had begun as an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch a week ago and abandoned.  Going home during my conference period, I found a 140-lb sheet of D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper, soaked it in the shower, and stapled it to an 18 x 20″ stretcher frame to dry.  This evening I have spent, bent over the composition, trying once more to capture the essence of this gorgeous mountain I stood beneath last weekend as the evening descended and the rainbow trout began to rise.  I’m so glad I lingered long enough to take photos of other fly fishermen in the stream beneath this outcropping of rock. I will put them in place later.

Beginning of an 18 x 20" watercolor of Beavers Bend.

Beginning of an 18 x 20″ watercolor of Beavers Bend.

I hate that I had to work on this under artifical light, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of waiting until morning.  I just hope the colors turn out to be O.K. when the natural light hits them in the morning.  I genuinely hope that this weekend will yield quality time to focus on this mountain, as I continue to think about Cezanne, the Hindu worshippers, and that amazing pair of twin artists that have helped me move in a new direction.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts on Northern Hindu Temples and Cezanne’s Mont Sant-Victoire”

  1. Barbara Tyler Says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to read about the twins in your blog, as they are my twins! I too have been amazed by them-and for many years. My story is (they will probably cringe as they read this) that when they were about three years I gave them some crayons and they quickly tried to eat them. Six months later I tried again and they began creating beautiful art and have yet to stop.

    Although they are shy and humble, I know they will be happy for your recognition. They enjoy your class so much and I have enjoyed revisiting Art History by helping them study for quizzes. Thank you Dr. Tripp! You’re an inspiration.

    I hope you accomplish much today in the name art because it’s a beautiful, cool, promising morning. Perhaps I will too.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Barbara, I’ve intended to contact you ever since I learned you were the mother of the twins! I cannot begin to describe how they have lifted me, despite this challenging semester load. What a joy they must provide to your parental AND artistic life! Yes, this 61-degree morning is positively delicious. I’ve been on the back deck, dividing my reading between a book on the Impressionists and a Henry Moore biography. I plan to pick up the brush when the light picks up more.
      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


  2. Trapper Gale Says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks for the inspiration.


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