Stimulus Overload

colorado 1 (2)

First Plein Air Sketch of the Morning at Riverbend Resort

colorado 2 (2)

Beginnings of a Second Sketch

tree (2)

The present of my consciousness is itself a mystery which is also always just rounding a bend like a floating branch borne by a flood.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Annie sure nailed it with that sentence in describing my life. As an educator, I’ve encountered for twenty-eight years students diagnosed with A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder), and have felt that I would have been diagnosed with the same, had counselors in my own school youth been equipped with that handle. I have told friends for years that when I am home alone in the afternoons and evenings, that I want to work on a watercolor, read a book, and write in my journal all at the same time.  If I settle for painting, what should I paint? If reading, what book? If journaling, which thought do I want to explore, right now?

I awoke with that dilemma this morning, multiplied to the limits.  The Colorado morning light was crystal clear, the air was cold, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was lying beside my bed, my art supplies and easel were in the corner, and the journal was on the kitchen table. And I wanted to do all of it at the same time.

During breakfast with Ron and Dian Darr, friends whom I’ve known and loved since 1990, I decided to set up the plein air easel and see if I could do something with those beautiful bluffs across the highway from Riverbend Resort where I am staying. For years I have wanted to paint bluffs, and got my first real taste of a few weeks ago in Eureka Springs, Arkansas at Beaver Bluffs.  Last week, west of St. Louis, while driving back toward Texas, I saw those marvelous bluffs carved out along Highway 30 between High Ridge and House Springs–a sight I took for granted during my school years but now was just screaming to be painted.  Last year, I began a painting of one of those bluffs, and it still sits in my studio, unfinished (that’s my life–a studio littered with half-done projects).

After stopping with the first sketch above, clouds rolled up over the mountain, so I decided to begin a second one.  However, the temperatures grew quite hot as the noon hour approached, and I decided to put this second one on hold.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll return to it.  The third pencil sketch was something I dashed out while chatting with Ron under the shaded canopy.

The day has been amazing.  I haven’t yet entered the stream to fly fish, but plan to as soon as the sun drops in the early evening.  Meanwhile I’m staring at this magnificent pine tree in front of my cabin porch–the one I sketched yesterday while mosquitoes ate me.  I have the repellent today and have already bathed my body in it.  Perhaps I’ll give the pine a try in watercolor . . .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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12 Responses to “Stimulus Overload”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    It sounds and looks like you are having a wonderful time, but as they say, decisions, decisions. Your beautiful pictures illustrate perfectly something I struggled with years ago whilst trying to paint rocky cliffs; less is more. I always put in too much detail and never learned my lesson. Thanks again for sharing.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Well, thank You! I’m still trying to solve the problems of rock formations, especially the colors. But I love trying to figure it all out. I’m intrigued with the shadows and am still uncertain as to what kind of colors to put in them as well. All the same, I’m having a glorious time here.


  2. Jay Haeske Says:

    I hadn’t heard of Annie Dillard before, but I guess I’ll get Tinker Creek soon. Thanks!


    • davidtripp Says:

      You won’t regret that decision, Jay. Annie writes beautifully, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the Pulitzer Prize. She is the 20th-century answer to Thoreau’s Walden and I so wish that spiritually gifted, sensitive writers would put out such books more often. This is my second reading of Annie’s book, and I’m delighted to know you have an interest in it as well. Thank you for posting.


  3. Dian Darr Says:

    I am intrigued with what you have said about Annie Dillard. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has been ordered.


  4. Anne LaFollette Says:

    These are delightful!


  5. Eric Gitonga Says:

    Thank you for your blog. I am just starting on this journey of water colour, and I am glad yours is one of the resources I came across during my search for resources online. I like how you write honestly about your journey. I am going back to read all your posts from the very beginning, so that should keep me occupied! That, plus reading Annie’s book that is on order… Thank you and God bless you!


    • davidtripp Says:

      My goodness, Eric! I have been driving across Colorado since 4:30 this morning, and I now pull up this post of yours that sends me over the edge, thank you! I hope we can become good friends, and that you will continue to share with me your new Encounters in this world of watercolor and ideas. I am very grateful to hear from you.


      • ericgitongaart Says:

        I wrote then went silent! Life! But I’m still at it. And yes, I’ll share my progress with you. Right now, struggling through learning how to draw. Realised I that was holding me back, so the paints have taken a back seat temporarily as I latch onto the pencil.


  6. 250 Bath and Body Recipes – BloggingRocks All my Recipes Says:

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