Mental Preparations for the Laguna Madre

Drafted Ideas for my Upcoming Artist in Residence

Drafted Ideas for my Upcoming Artist in Residence

. . . we are on this crust of earth for our little moment to build our machines or think and speak our thoughts or sing our poems.

Rollo May, Paulus: Reminiscences of a Friendship

We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

Days have gone by without my posting a blog, not because I’ve been idle. The last weekend saw more monsoon weather in north Texas, and the art festival I had entered was blasted away after one tumultuous night. The rest of the weekend was spent drying out all my booth furnishings. School of course is getting crazier as we hurtle toward closing out the semester. There is still a week of that in front of us, and I will drive immediately to the Gulf once I finish the semester.

Anxieties keep trying to visit me, the closer I draw to this residency in Corpus Christi. If I were taking a personal vacation on this island in the Laguna Madre, I could do what I choose, with no accountability. And even if I did turn such a vacation into some sort of odyssey of self-discovery, no one would be listening, so no risk is involved. But this is different. Texas A&M University Corpus Christi had a vision to sponsor an Artist in Residence on their spoil island where they have built and maintained their field station. And I feel very fortunate to have been chosen to experience this. So far, there is a university, an art community, a radio station and a magazine waiting to hear back from me when this experiment is over. How did it go? What did I learn? What did I accomplish? I have an audience and even a blogging community in place. So, of course I feel the anguish. This is something I have not done before, and neither has this university.

About three weeks ago, I began building a file of ideas to support my painting, my blogging and a specific writing project I have in mind with this residency. The file has gotten extremely thick, and tonight, more layers were added. I think my biggest fear was showing up on the island on the first day, looking around, and saying, “Well, what do I do now?” The file is a contingency plan just in case my brain empties once I’m on location. I have spent weeks gazing at the photos sent me as well as the ones I took when I visited the island a couple of weekends ago. And as I’ve studied the landscape and seascape, I have made numerous thumbnail sketches, color sketches, compositional sketches and abstractions from the photos, hoping to lay a solid foundation for my painting. At this point, there is discussion of a one-man show to be held in March 2016, featuring my work on the island.

The reading has been very rich as well. I ordered from Amazon David A. Mckee’s Fishes of the Texas Laguna Madre and Kathy Sparrow’s On the Mother Lagoon. Both of these books are fascinating page-turners, and it is so hard going to class every day now when I just want to be reading these texts. Of course there are additional anxieties related to what I’m reading: I have been an avid fresh water fly fisherman for over ten years, but have never fished in salt water. Just reading Sparrow’s observations about stingrays in the opening chapters has me worried about even getting into the lagoon. But we’ll see.

The hour is drawing late, and I still have school tomorrow. 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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9 Responses to “Mental Preparations for the Laguna Madre”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    I immediately thought of Walter Anderson and his love for the barrier islands and for the birds.. If you don’t know this man’s story and his work, here’s a start:

    You’re going to have such a great time in a grand cocoon of a retreat – with total immersion in nature!


  2. Dian Darr Says:

    What an exciting adventure! I can’t wait to see the rich production that you create! When do you go?


  3. Deanna Tennent Masterson Says:

    For stingrays, they advise to shuffle your feet entering the water so they move away…..sometimes they fly in unison along the water’s edge. Perhaps you will see this wondrous sight!
    Be yourself at Laguna Madre, they chose you because you are you 🙂


    • davidtripp Says:

      What a wonderful thing to say, thank you, Deanna! I am feeling better all the time about this. I have been reading about the foot-shuffling. My understanding is that they are bottom feeders and follow anglers because they want the food kicked up, and will follow an angler’s mud trail, therefore we are not to back up! I haven’t made up my mind totally on what I am to do–I just don’t want to injure myself on the first day of the residency and spend the entire time in the hospital or requiring medical treatment! Thank you for responding!


  4. lifeofawillow Says:

    I love your writings


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