Affecting the Quality of the Day

Working into the Night on this Winter Watercolor

Working into the Night on this Winter Watercolor

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.  Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

No man ever will unfold the capabilities of his own intellect who does not at least checker his life with solitude.

Antoine C. Quatremère de Quincey

There was something about today’s school day that felt it had been extended by several hours.  And I felt by day’s end that I had been treading water in an ocean of humanity.  I couldn’t drive home fast enough.  Entering my home, I turned on soft music, and sat quietly in the winter light streaming through my studio windows.  This 20 x 20″ watercolor lay waiting before me on the drafting table.  I started it on January 21st, but walked away from it after only one session.  It was only a few days ago that I returned to the composition, and attempted to revive it.  This afternoon, finally, I felt the momentum building.  I spent the entire afternoon and evening working on this, and it is nearing midnight as I pause now to write.  I certainly did not set any speed records this evening.  I worked very slowly, very deliberately, and, in Motherwell and DeKooning fashion, spent long moments in silence just gazing at it.  And I can say without reservation that I have felt a deep, deep satisfaction from this encounter.  This afternoon and evening presented me with a Gift, and I am grateful from my depths for that Gift.

An art history student today, during lunch, asked me why I thought so many famous artists throughout history were depressed.  I tried to answer honestly that I believe most people hold that stereotype for artists because of Vincent Van Gogh (we had just finished studying him in class).   However, for those artists who did suffer depression, I offered this possibility–nearly all artists work alone, and those who suffer depression do so because they feel lonely.  Paul Tillich, in his sermon “Loneliness and Solitude”, offered those words to describe our duality as a solitary species.  When we hurt from being alone, we call it loneliness.  When we draw strength and serenity from it, we call it solitude.  Tillich called the former the cross of humanity, the latter the glory.

When I’m lonely, I’m not much good as a creator, or a reader, or a writer in my journal.  But when solitude reigns, I am able to do my best work, or if the work is no good, I can still feel that I put in quality time.  And this afternoon and evening were definitely in the quality column of my ledger.  For that I am grateful.

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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6 Responses to “Affecting the Quality of the Day”

  1. reid rogers Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I try to disregard the expectations of and desire for companionship and embrace the potential of time alone. I am alone often. I am lonely seldom. Alone I enjoy the arts and exploring my creative side. Alone I enjoy nature, fishing, exploring new communities, discovering interesting people. Alone I enjoy reading, the internet, old movies on VHS, and my favorite music on vinyl (which I sometimes share with my neighbors). When those infrequent pangs of loneliness occur I have my friends. Stay productive my friend.

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    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for that response, Reid. I’ve wondered how you’ve been, and regret this long silence between us. I’ve had some trials on this end, but am coming out of the darkness. It feels good, creating again, and enjoying some space. I’m particularly looking forward to the Spring Break. I need it. Best to you in all your endeavors. Keep creating.

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  2. coreyaber Says:

    This one is coming along really well. I love the brickwork with its abstraction contained within the shape of the building and made meaningful by the structure of the window. I think this will become a great representative piece for you with some of the main characteristics I see and like in your work–the interplay of abstraction and realism with the abstraction reinforcing the realism, brilliant clear expression of the motif, and embrace of architecture as representation of humanity. I am excited to watch this one come along.

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    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Corey, for commenting on this. I am spending the first part of my Spring Break holiday from school studying composition (fabulous reading from Poussin, Ingres, Delacroix and Gauguin) and thinking about what to do next on this large watercolor. I’m glad there is not a patron waiting for it (it’s not a commission, but something I’ve been wanting to explore) and am enjoying the quiet down time to scrutinize it and think about my next move. I so love watercoloring and drawing, and the space to explore them without calendar demands.

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  3. Xraypics Says:

    I’m liking the texture of those bricks in the foreground. Looking at the bell-shaped roof and the trees in the background with wires running across – do you use a block-out or do you paint very carefully around those clear lines. If the latter, must be intricate work! Cheers, Tony

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    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for your comments, Tony. I’m on Spring Break holiday now, and am spending long periods of time just staring at this painting, figuring out my next move. I believe I’ll further enrich the bricks you’ve just complimented (I think the left side needs more transparent wash to get rid of all the stark white areas). I use a masquepen to get thos fine white lines. It is a bottle of liquid masking solution that squirts through a steel syringe. The product has its limitations (it gets stuck up in the syringe often and is hard to dislodge), but when it flows well, it gives some nice quality fine lines that later peel away and leave white. I usually wash back over them because I don’t like the pure white paper coming through–I have yet to do that on the distant power lines.

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