Composting in Winter

Lingering over the Small Watercolor

Lingering over the Small Watercolor

“I’ve tried through drawing to dissect the anatomy of my inner and outer world.”

Jim Dine

What a delicious day.  I cannot say that I accomplished a great deal of external, measurable progress on this watercolor.  I have poked at it, for the most part, this entire day.  But if anyone could have watched me through the window, they would have mistaken me for Willem de Kooning.  It was said by those watching from across the street at night when he was in his New York studio that he would stand there for thirty minutes in front of his canvas, step forward and add a brush stroke or two, and then step away for another 30 minutes or so.  This seems to have been my kind of day.  I have been drawing much more than painting today, constantly tweaking, erasing, correcting things as I go along.  As a watercolorist I know that I am always drawing far more than I am painting.  And that is O.K.

Actually, my mind has been overrun with ideas, all of them inspiring, and all of them making me appear to be A. D. D. (and perhaps I am).  But it has been an excellent day.  I don’t know how many books I have opened, how many pages I have written in the journal, or how many files I have added as well as edited while working at the computer.  But all day long I have been soaking ideas from art, literature, philosophy, theology, and I still haven’t stopped.  Perhaps I was taking Emerson seriously this morning when he spoke of the alembic nature of the creative spirit.

How wonderful it is, in these later years, to feel energy emerging from inumerable disparate ideas internalized from so many courses and so many books and so many lectures throughout the decades.  No longer cramming for exams or obsessing over writing original lesson plans, but engaging in the act of painting, listening to artists interviewed on DVD and experiencing all these endless configurations of thought.  How do I begin to explain that kind of education to an adolescent?  I was just as disinterested and unmotivated as they, when I sat in those public school desks long ago.  Maybe it’s because I’m no longer being tested, graded, evaluated.  Now I can pursue ideas for the pure delight of the discovery, and enjoy my education the way it should have been enjoyed from the beginning.  How is it that institutions find ways to suck out all the joy of education with their endless data?  Oops–I don’t need to go there.  I would rather stay here.

Thanks for reading.  It’s been a satisfying day.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



8 Responses to “Composting in Winter”

  1. anna warren portfolio Says:

    Ideas – that is the lifeblood. Although I love to immerse myself in a drawing or painting, the time spent thinking, listening and absorbing unconsciously (or not even realising one is thinking) is so valuable. Gradually ideas percolate through.


    • davidtripp Says:

      I love the way you stated that. As I paint, many things get “worked out” in my mind, especially ideas from disparate sources. That feeling of integration is so satisfying, and I’m always curious as to how much of a role the act of painting plays in facilitating that kind of synthetic thought. Thanks for posting your sentiments!


  2. Sharron Spence Says:

    We are snow bound and have frigid temperatures in Kansas today so I decided to inspire myself with your blog. I so enjoy reading your beautifully written thoughts and learning about Emerson ‘s writings. I find that many of your thoughts are ones that I have been experiencing recently being retired and enjoying art and creativity.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Sharron, thank you so much. I really envy your retired life and will vicariously enjoy knowing you have space to do what you wish to do. I am just coming to the end of a very satisfying holiday vacation. I return to school tomorrow. Texas will not see snow, but temperatures are now in the 20s and are expected to drop to the teens the next couple of days. I so enjoy the winter light, have been reading Emerson’s “Nature” this morning, and am at my watercolor just now. I hope your day is sublime, and thank you so much for the kind words.


  3. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Lovely , thought provoking post. When I was around 40 I worked with a PhD who loved ideas. he never approached a challenge or new concept with anything but curiousity and an open mind. I LEARNED so much by watching him. (He could also evaluate and make decisions. That’s what made him a great researcher!)


    • davidtripp Says:

      You’re playing my song, Linda! Isn’t it a fascinating world when ideas are allowed to take center stage. I’m reading Hannah Arendt’s “Life of the Mind” trying to find more ways to feed this sentiment.


  4. J Stella Says:

    Loved the post and the watercolor. I used to work for an artist. We gave tours to members of MOMA, etc. When asked what he did when he “made a mistake”, he answered: “There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”


    • davidtripp Says:

      I like that, thank you! I’ll remember it and learn now to redefine my own “miscues”. I wish I lived in the vicinity of MOMA. It would be hard to pry me out of that place.


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