Still Tugging at the Strings

A DailyExercise

A Daily Exercise


How the devil do I know

if there are rocks in your field,

plow it and find out.

If the plow strikes something

harder than earth, the point

shatters at a sudden blow

and the tractor jerks sidewise

and dumps you off the seat–

because the spring hitch

isn’t set to trip quickly enough

and it never is–probably

you hit a rock. That means

the glacier emptied his pocket

in your field as well as mine,

but the connection with a thing

is the only truth that I know of,

so plow it.

“Truth” by James Hearst

My head is finally beginning to clear after a frenetic series of days. I was thrilled to make a sale of one of my watercolors to a friend I’ve known from high school, living in the St. Louis area. My parents and siblings still live there, so I packed my Jeep and departed Saturday night, driving the entire night, to get there, deliver it, and enjoy my family. But business has also called me back to Texas, so I rose early Tuesday and drove back (about 10.5 hours each way). During all that windsheld time, followed by quality conversations with my family whom I see so infrequently, there has been plenty of time to think about what drives me the most–the creative process. I strove to practice creative endeavors while away, and continued that today, despite a busy schedule.

While in the St. Louis area, I attempted a pair of plein air watercolor sketches of a cedar growing up beside my parents’ driveway.

Cedar One

Cedar One

Cedar Two

Cedar Two

No matter how crushed my schedule, I really enjoy drawing out the simple watercolor supplies and working on fast sketches such as these. I’ve never felt that I express this properly, but there is a connection I feel with the subject I’m trying to capture, a relationship so to speak. I know I cannot reproduce the object with photographic accuracy, but that’s not what this is about. I’m simply trying to capture its essence, to record some kind of recgonizable representation of what lies at the center of my visual focus. And that relationship, that feeling, is what I enjoy so much, even if the painting or drawing turns out crappy. I would be lying if I said I fished all day and had a wonderful day, soaking up the environment, even if I never got a strike. When I’m “skunked’ fishing, I don’t call it a good day. But I do have a good day–every time–when I’m painting or drawing, even if the piece of art doesn’t work out. The finished result never rises to the excellence of the experience, no matter how fine the finished piece may look. And I am so fascinated with drawing and painting that I stare at passing landscape and objects as I drive, figuring out compositions that would make the objects into decent art.

I posted James Hearst’s poem at the top, because that theme has been running through my consciousness throughout this harried day of packing and organizing for a watercolor workshop I’ll teach soon. Recently I have made myself a promise that a day would not go by without my practicing my guitar and my art. Too many times I’ve griped about not being better at what I do, knowing full well that I will not get better, without practice, without daily application, without study, without discipline. Talent alone will not cut it. I’ve always known that, though I have not always practiced it. I am always running into people who call themselves frustrated artsists or musicians. Yet these frustrated folks never practice their craft; they only complain about being frustrated. I know there is no royal road to improvement. In spite of a harried stretch of recent days, I took my guitar and art supplies with me and got them out daily, telling myself I have no excuse and need to stop griping. The “connection” with a thing is the only thing we can know, so we should “plow it.” So today, I have plowed, with guitar and watercolor brush, even though I had a million details to tend surrounding the business I’m trying to run.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep plowing.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Tags: , ,

7 Responses to “Still Tugging at the Strings”

  1. createarteveryday Says:

    Love this. I’m so glad you’re doing both. Always enjoy your posts and artwork. “Nothing ever rises to the experience” – I’m paraphrasing from memory, but you sure have captured the act of painting in words. Have a great night!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you so much for affirming what I’m trying to to do. And I love your paraphrase and the truth that rings out in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • createarteveryday Says:

        Feeding the soul is so essential to our lives as human beings. Why do many of us have to reach midlife before we understand this (and I’m preaching to myself here)? Making the time to take care of the soul is mandatory, or should be, and our minds and bodies pay the price when we don’t do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • davidtripp Says:

        You expressed that very well. I wish I were still in midlife, because I didn’t quite “get it” then as I’m beginning to now. My quiet creative moments of the day are always the most sublime. No matter how hectic the pace, I try hard to find a refuge in the midst of all that swirl. Moments like that make it possible for me to re-enter the fray.


  2. Xraypics Says:

    I like this poem a lot. Thankyou for sharing it. Connection – that’s the thing.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thanks Tony. I have always laughed and cried over that poem. Finally I get around to putting it up on the blog. And thank you so much for emailing those images of that rustic old building, wow! Those are the kind of subjects that I cannot stop staring at in my travels.


      • Xraypics Says:

        Glad you liked them, and it’s a pleasure. I love them for what they say about the social attitudes of the place. That poem I shall keep in mind for a long time yet. Thankyou for that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: