The Charms of Painting a Small Texas Town

Main Street Maypearl, Texas

Main Street
Maypearl, Texas

My God, how difficult painting is when you want to express your thoughts with pictorial rather than literary means.

Paul Gauguin, Journal

The annual Paint Historic Waxahachie event has extended its activities this year in a most excellent way.  The weeklong Paint Out will actually commence on June 2 and run through June 8, but this year the organization decided to expand the painting hours to include all the weekends in May.  Today marked Day One, and the location was downtown Maypearl, Texas, a town I have been aware of for over thirty years, but never once visited.  It does not lie on any of the major Texas Interstate arteries.

I found Main Street so filled with traditional American images that I cannot wait to return tomorrow.  Every storefront was worthy of a cover illustration for a Sinclair Lewis novel.  I stopped at this Dr. Pepper ghost sign on the corner of Main and First, probably because the sun was up and hot, and there was this immense spreading oak tree directly across the street, throwing a twenty-foot cool shadow across the soft, velvety grass.  I set up my easel in the shade, and worked on this piece for a few hours at my leisure, not once having to chafe at the sun.  I saw five other plein air painters at their easels further up the street, all of them working directly in the sun.  I cannot do that.

Last night I received the benefit of the best night’s sleep in a week or more.  I suppose that was one reason I was able to stay with this piece and see it to its conclusion.  Granted it’s only a plein air watercolor sketch, measuring 8 x 10″, I still found myself absorbed with the brick exterior of this old building and the weathered, faded ghost sign running along its side, and I just couldn’t rush it.  I didn’t want to.  It’s been ages since I’ve painted outdoors, looking directly at my subject with delight, soaking in its details and trying to solve the problems on paper of composition, contrast, faithfulness to colors, detailed drawing, etc.  The small picture presented plenty of problems, but all of them worth fighting through.

As I worked through the afternoon,I found the surroundings of this sleepy Texas town very idyllic.  The occasional passerby was always friendly, and people even pulled over in their vehicles, rolling down their windows to inquire, pay complements, and chat.  I felt as though I were home for the first time in decades.  The occasional thunder of a group of cruising Harleys also added to the small town’s charm.  A cook-off was happening half a block away, and the aromas were enough to stir up anybody’s appetite.  Everything worked–the sights, the sounds, the smells, the overall serene, unhurried feel of a Texas Saturday under a bright sun.

Today was the gift that kept on giving.  Later, I was surprised while driving to find an old-fashioned diner where I could relax over a classic small-town American supper:  Liver and onions, fried okra, red beans and rice, sweet iced tea.  I pushed the empty plate aside and followed the sumptuous dinner with coffee, a good book, and a journal for scribbling the day’s highlights, and there were so many.  No appointments, no deadline, no clock.  Just what the doctor ordered.  I could not have planned a more perfect Saturday.

I’m ready to retire for the night and hope to greet such a painter’s paradise again tomorrow.   I just cannot believe the good fortune of this day.

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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8 Responses to “The Charms of Painting a Small Texas Town”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    What a lovely story, your visit sounds idyllic. And… I like the painting. That’s great. Tony


  2. Brett Says:

    Nice painting!


  3. Barbara Tyler Says:

    I love days like that! So glad you had one and shared with us, your readers. For the Paint Out event, will there be a scheduled town highlighted each weekend? If I can, I would like to come watch at some point, maybe do a little photography.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Yes, we will be notifed every Wednesday about the coming weekend assignment. I would be more than glad to forward the information to you. It would be great to see you on location again.


  4. Bertha. Says:

    What!!!! No pie?


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