Taking Whitman Onto the Open Road

Plein Air Sketch in Portland, Texas

Plein Air Sketch in Portland, Texas

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.


Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”

There is a reason for my recent hiatus in blog posting.  Spring Break arrived and I drove south to Portland, Texas, adjacent to Corpus Christi.  Whitman’s poem flooded my heart with joy as I made the 6 1/2 hour road trip down state highway 77 (avoiding the Interstate), meandering my way through small towns and rolling prairie all the way.  I was scheduled to teach a two-day watercolor workshop there, and decided to spend a couple of extra days learning important details about custom framing and matting from Mike Catlin of Bowman Design and Framing.  Time spent there was filled with adventure, and I met ten new friends who took the workshop with me.  Above, I posted a small watercolor sketch I worked on during the final day.  We were scheduled for plein air activity that day, but the sun was overcast all morning and the rain was intermittent throughout the afternoon.  So, we took our easels just outside the gallery and painted/sketched as we could.  I had to bring my sketch in twice out of the rain before finishing it.  I worked on a flower-filled bush with a dramatic gnarled tree twisting upward behind it.  Time spent on it was relaxing, and I enjoyed plenty of laughter and conversations with the workshop participants as they all took joy in their painting.

More Watercolor Work while in Portland, Texas

More Watercolor Work while in Portland, Texas

Between sessions, I found some time to continue work on this large Hermann, Missouri painting that I have been chipping at for over a week now.  I spent most of my time darkening the lower left-hand portion of the composition and adding texture to the brick on the side of the main building.

Bowman Design and Framing, Portland, Texas

Bowman Design and Framing, Portland, Texas

Our workshop was held inside and outside of Bowman Gallery, pictured here.  I also learned a great deal about framing and presentation, thanks to Mike’s patience and willingness to demonstrate.  The facility offered fine studio space for quality work after business hours as well.

A Quiet Evening's Walk along the Coast

A Quiet Evening’s Walk along the Coast

On one of the evenings, after a few hours of painting in the studio (I’ll post that pair of paintings when I get further along with them–the subject is saltwater flies for fishing), I took a long, satisfying walk along the coast.  The water’s edge is only about 200 yards from the studio, and I found the vistas positively delicious.  There was a gentle, humid breeze blowing and the evening was unusually quiet for one who’s grown too accustomed to life in the suburbs.  I found a quiet place to nest for awhile and enjoyed reading from the writings of Paul Gauguin.  I am nearly finished with The Writings of a Savage.  

Today finds me back in school, rested enough to return to the weekly routine.  I’ll be forever grateful to Mike Catlin and Dinah Bowman for offering me the workshop this past week.

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 “Taking Whitman Onto the Open Road”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    That Hermann painting is taking on a wonderful texture especially on the left – the little branches over the cupoula are stunning. Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you! I wish I could give this painting more of my time. I have two major 3-day art festivals coming up over the next 3 weekends. I’m busy now with inventory and all those wingnut details that come with displaying and selling.


  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    what a lovely post! yesterday was a three-bus all-day trip through the province, and i read this ‘offline.’
    i moved away from my whitman collection about fourteen years ago, though thoreau and hemmingway are still with me!!! i always appreciate your posts when you bring these old friends into our circles!

    glad you had an enriching trip! that’s what charges our batteries! z


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for responding. I got away from Whitman myself until just recently. I need to renew my friendship with Robert Frost and a few other muses as well. I hope your bus trip was rewarding and refreshing for you.


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