Archive for February, 2018

David, don’t you ever finish anything?

February 17, 2018

St. Louis winter

St. Louis Snow Scene

David, don’t you ever finish anything?!

That’s exactly what a man said to me years ago when he walked into my temporary studio and saw half a dozen half-finished watercolors. Of course, he wasn’t present when I delivered all of those, plus three more a few weeks later to be framed. Long ago, I realized that if I continually start new pieces, especially when I get stuck on one particular watercolor, that I could increase my productivity. Sometimes I feel like Andy Warhol’s “factory”, especially when a show is approaching. But I consider it a luxury to finish several paintings in a day or two rather than linger two-to-three weeks on one piece, finish it, then lack the momentum to begin anew. With several pieces in progress, I can work on whichever one interests me at the moment, and anytime I get hung up on a particular composition, I can lay it aside and let it compost awhile before returning to it.

The painting above I finished after beginning it last Christmas. I just now framed it and hung it here in The Gallery at Redlands. It is an 11 x 14″ framed watercolor that I’ve priced at $100.

Little Ox

Here is the smaller “Oxbow” watercolor I began yesterday after framing the larger one. I’ve started and stopped on it a dozen times, continually questioning its direction and how to complete the composition.

Colorado

South Fork, Colorado

During one of my stops today, I returned to this piece that I began en plein air last summer in South Fork, Colorado.  The view overlooks the South Fork of the Rio Grande from the porch of the cabin I love to rent at Riverbend Resort. The stream is teeming with rainbow and brown trout and remains one of my all-time favorite places to fly fish. I just completed reservations for that same cabin this coming summer and already I am fantasizing over the adventures waiting there. This piece is also 11 x 14″ framed and priced at $125.

It is 48 degrees, rainy, dark and cold outside the gallery here in Palestine, Texas. I’m used to seeing people walking up and down the streets and sidewalks outside my window, but not today. It’s been a great day to paint.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Warm Thoughts in a Dark Morning

February 17, 2018

redlands finished oxbow

Completed Painting from Old Town Palestine

Paginini had a formula: toil, solitude, prayer.

Carl Sandburg, “Notes for a Preface”

redlands studio dark

It is Saturday.  Above me, the heavy sounds of the bells of Sacred Heart Catholic Church toll the six a.m. hour. This marks the second weekend I have spent in the basement studio recently completed at The Redlands Hotel, a place that has that warm feel of a second home for me. This still sanctuary beneath the Gallery at Redlands provides space to breathe when the daily round of activities begin to wear me down physically. And the spaciousness of this studio apartment suite with kitchen, bedroom and bath has given me a perfect place for quiet and reflection.

basquiat

For years I heard the repeated stories of Jean-Michel Basquiat in the 1980’s working in a basement studio below Annina Nosei’s gallery in New York City. Because he was African American, comments were made about his being locked in a basement to create paintings for the gallery overhead. He was offended at this, commenting that those remarks had a “nasty ring.” He argued that if he had been white they would have called him an artist-in-residence. For months I have felt deeply honored, being introduced here by Jean Mollard as Redland’s artist-in-residence. I’ll never find words to express my appreciation for being a part of this.

Almost a year ago, Wade and Gail from nearby Crockett, Texas had a dream of opening a gallery in Palestine, a town with triple the population of Crockett. They had already enjoyed their gallery, “Stories of Texas”, that they opened in their hometown, and wanted to open a second one. In March, 2017, they opened The Gallery at Redlands with my three-week solo show. Once the show ended, I was invited to remain, and have enjoyed this special place as my home-away-from-home ever since, spending most weekends here.

gallery at redlands

As 2017 drew near its close, Jean and Mike talked with me of all the changes they were about to make at this historic hotel. Now, less than two months later, I cannot believe my eyes when I enter the ground floor of this 1914 hotel.

Redlands

What used to be the hotel office has suddenly opened into a spacious lobby with comfortable seating areas.

redlands bar

A second office was reconfigured to allow room for a bar with a direct entrance to the Red Fire Grille which came under new ownership in January. Now, in addition to fine dining, patrons can move into the bar area, or into the new lobby seating area, or across the hall to The Gallery at Redlands.

redlands red fire

Redlands lobby

gallery

The change has already been dramatic. During weeknights, more people are showing up and moving about from the restaurant, to the bar, to the lobby and to the gallery. The Redlands Hotel is beginning to take on the aura it knew back in the years when it was an actual residence in the middle of a thriving downtown. And that is precisely the romantic narrative that flooded my being the first time I set foot in this building.

Redlands Wyeth

Tribute to Andrew Wyeth

Last night I said farewell to a painting that had been my companion for forty-two years. I painted this oil while a junior at Northeast Missouri State University. Throughout twenty-eight years of high school teaching, it hung in my classroom. I thought I would never sell it, as I had only two oil paintings remaining from my college years. This one was painted as a tribute to Andrew Wyeth, my patron saint. During the winter of 1975, I took my freshly-stretched canvas north of the college about fifteen miles to Queen City, Missouri, then west several miles out on Highway W to an old farm with a ragged fence line. Setting up an easel, I carefully painted one fence post with its single strand of barbed wire and crumpled mesh. Then I worked carefully on the dead grasses beneath. Returning to the art studio, I rummaged through Professor Unger’s still life objects in the store room, and settled on these remains of a nail keg, spotlighting it carefully. Once it was completed, I felt that I had turned a significant corner on my art endeavors.

Rearranging the gallery display, I decided to hang my oil to fill a large space, not really anticipating a sale. It hung for barely twenty-four hours. Amazing. Forty-two years on my living room walls from apartment to apartment, house to house, and then only one day in a gallery before it found a new home. I’m not feeling any sense of loss; I would not have hung it had I not been willing to part with it. I’m just moved at how the patron viewed it last night and continually praised it, even requesting to have it moved to a better-lighted area so he could view it more closely. The gentleman and his wife looked at absolutely every painting in the gallery, returning to several repeatedly. Seeing someone else like it so much filled me with feelings I cannot describe. I think I have always been that way–seeing someone else happy to look at something I made and wanting to own it is much more rewarding than my continued possession of it. I just hope the patron finds half as much pleasure with it in his company as I have known in the past.

Shakespeare wrote a certain amount of trash–because his theater had to have a new play next Tuesday. 

Carl Sandburg, “Notes for a Preface”

Out of the Steam

Out of the Steam

Along with the Andrew Wyeth tribute oil, the patron also purchased this original watercolor for his spouse. I completed this one just last fall for the train show I was putting together for the gallery. After the patrons departed, I was glad that I was able to go down to the basement studio and retrieve two more framed paintings to fill the gaps in the gallery display. I managed to frame and hang the Oxbow General Store painting yesterday (displayed at the top of this blog). I also have two smaller ones ready to frame and hang today. In 2010 I made a commitment to become more prolific in the event that I would need to meet an increased demand. I’m now glad I did that. Currently I have The Gallery at Redlands filled, as well as a solo show in the Hillsboro Public Library, along with two works at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and three more entered in a competition. One thing hasn’t changed–I get more pleasure out of making art than selling it. That’s why I’m happy now that some of my pieces are beginning to sell, because I cannot hang all these works in my own home, and loathe the idea of storing them in closets. I only hope that with the increase of quantity will come the increase in quality, because I only wish to get better at this.

The creative geniuses of art and science work obsessively. They do not lounge under apple trees waiting for fruit to fall or lightning to strike. “When inspiration does not come to me,” Freud once said, “I go halfway to meet it.” Bach wrote a cantata every week, even when he was sick or exhausted. Though most composers would kill to have written even one of his best pieces, some were little more than wallpaper music. Eliot’s numerous drafts of “The Waste Land” constitute what one scholar called “a jumble of good and bad passages [that he turned] into a poem.” In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Simonton found that the most respected produced not only more great works, but also more “bad” ones. They produced. Period.

Sharon Begley, “The Puzzle Of Genius,” Newsweek, June 28, 1993

palestine herald

redlands little oxbow

As with the first painting, I’ve decided now to pause and let it “compost” awhile as I turn my attention to framing some other finished pieces. I need to make some compositional decisions on this one before it gets out of hand. I’m unsure at the moment how I want to finish it out.

I started this blog at 6 a.m. Now it’s 9:53, and probably time for me to go upstairs and open the gallery. This has been a nice, quiet, rewarding morning in the downstairs studio. Thank you for sharing the moment with me.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Recovering the Rhythm

February 14, 2018

daily grind

The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Finally. After weeks and weeks of sickness and lethargy, I know this morning how it is to return to some kind of satisfying “schedule”. For many, it may seem a luxury to stay up late and sleep late, but that has not been my way for the past three decades. Thanks to a public school schedule commencing at 7:35, I could not sleep later than 6 a.m., and that routine seemed to set my circadian rhythms for life. Once I retired, I continued to rise at 6:00 without an alarm, and move through my day at a comfortable pace. The past month-and-a-half of illness found me sleeping at irregular hours throughout the day and often sitting up in a fog half the night.

Last night, I forced myself into bed early, set the clock, and when 6:00 arrived, I rose in the cold winter darkness, and began the day. And, just as it happened over the past three decades, within fifteen minutes of my being upright, ideas began percolating in my mind and I had to open my journal and scribble vigorously, trying to catch as many thoughts as possible, as fast as they flitted across my consciousness. My journals throughout the years have served as maps for organizing wonder.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

No more will I dismiss, with haste, the visions which flash and sparkle across my sky; but observe them, approach them, domesticate them, brood on them, and thus draw out of the past, genuine life for the present hour.

Emerson, “Literary Ethics”

While preparing breakfast, the jumbled ideas that had been clashing in my mind the past couple of days, refusing to be forced into a lecture outline, suddenly began to glide, like Canada geese adjusting themselves into formation while passing overhead. Funny how that happens. By the time I finished eating, I knew exactly how I was going to present today’s material, and my college class doesn’t even begin till noon. I have several hours to shred this pathetic patchwork quilt of a lecture I thought I was going to give, and re-stitch it into a better pattern.

The most gratifying element of this feeling I know this morning is this: even if today’s students tend to be lethargic, at least I have been awakened, and I’m deeply appreciative of that. At the same time, I know that there exists that possibility that someone in the classes, or even a group of young minds, will be ready to rise to the occasion. When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.

The whole secret of the teacher’s force lies in the conviction that men are convertible. And they are. They want awakening. Get the soul out of bed, out of her deep habitual sleep, out into God’s universe, to a perception of its beauty, and hearing of its call, and your vulgar man, your prosy, selfish sensualist awakes, a god, and is conscious of force to shake the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, April 20, 1834

Time to get to work. Thanks for reading; I just felt the compulsion to sit and push out this blog. I wish all of you the best this day.

I teach in order to continue learning.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Back in the Hunt

February 13, 2018

ox

The Oxbow General Store, Palestine, Texas

 

The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes—no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests.  He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad.  Like any hunter he hits or misses.  He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it.  It’s found anywhere, everywhere.  Those who are not hunters do not see these things.  The hunter is learning to see and to understand—to enjoy.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

A couple of weeks ago, I began this watercolor of one of my favorite store facades in Palestine, Texas. The watercolor began after a series of rough sketches and fumbled attempts. After I blocked in some of the major parts of the composition and added details, I got hung up on what direction I wanted to take compositionally, so I set it aside for about ten days. Today I resumed it and worked off and on throughout the afternoon and evening. I’ve decided it’s time to lay it aside awhile once again, and re-think how I want to finish it out. I am very attached to this subject, always loving the sights and memories associated with “mom & pop stores” of the 1950s that I frequented as a child. Every detail, every nook and cranny of this facade excites me, and I fear that if I paint everything rather than select an area of focus, that the entire work will be a monotonous congeries of details.

ox2

The greats in all the arts have been primarily romanticists and realists (the two cannot be separated). They interpreted life as they saw it, but, “through every line’s being” soaked in the consciousness of an object, one is bound to feel, beside life as it is, the life that ought to be, and it is that that captivates us! All great painting is something that enriches and enhances life, something that makes it higher, wider, and deeper.

N. C. Wyeth, letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Hoping to Affect the Quality of the Day

February 3, 2018

cell

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I arose this morning for the first time in this cool, spacious basement of The Redlands Hotel that Dave Shultz recently renovated into an apartment while spending the winter months living in it. Thanks, Dave, for an absolutely stunning living space! Its furnishings include this long antique table, perfect for a reading/writing desk as well as watercolor station.  The cavernous living room could serve as an artists studio as well as scholar’s refuge.

Today marks the beginning of Palestine’s observance of A Taste of New Orleans. It is a cold 40 degrees outside this morning, and we hope it doesn’t discourage the tourists from coming out and taking advantage of a full day of culinary and wine-tasting events. I was planning on continuing my plein air experience, but since I’m recovering from this lengthy bout of sinus and upper-respiratory carnage, I believe I’ll remain inside the studio where it’s warm.  I photographed The Oxbow located across the street from Shelton Hall that I painted yesterday. I’ll see what I can do, painting from this photograph.

oxbow

The facade of this popular business reminds me of a painting I did years ago, “Summer Morning Silence (Winfield, Missouri)” that you can see on my website www.recollections54.com

Thanks for reading. I hope your Saturday is filled with pleasure.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Honored by County Line Magazine

February 3, 2018

county line

I’ve been honored by an East Texas publication that I have known and followed for nearly ten years now.  The January/February issue of County Line Magazine published the following:

In its 14th year now, County Line Magazine’s annual survey keeps uncovering more and more local gems in the Upper East Side of Texas. Nominations more than doubled this year showing that our region continues to grow as a Texas treasure with delicious food, wonderful attractions and beautiful backdrops, one-of-a-kind shops, exciting entertainment, and many talented individuals.

This year’s winners represent a great selection of the Best in the Upper East Side of Texas.

. . .

Best Artist

David Tripp. Former Arlington ISD teacher David Tripp now enjoys spending time painting nostalgic watercolor scenes from small Texas towns and countryside. His latest endeavor had him spending most weekends working at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine on “The American Railroad Odyssey” train exhibit during the holidays. See some of his amazing work on his website recollections54.com.

Plein Air Painting in Palestine

February 2, 2018

Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall, Palestine, Texas

It felt good to be able to get out of the house without feeling weak or tired today. The sun was bright and the air cold with snappy winds from the north. I made the one-hour drive south to Hillsboro to check out my show hanging in the library gallery and to schedule the artist’s reception (March 8). The library invited me to extend my show until April 1 which thrilled me, since I’ve been under the weather for such a long time and unable to promote the event (I hung the show the first week in January).  I’ll have more to post about it as we get closer to the reception.

hillsboro

Solo Show, Hillsboro Public Library

After completing the Hillsboro business, I pointed my vehicle east for another long drive, this one lasting two hours. Arriving in Palestine (my home-away-from-home) I unloaded my gear into the gallery as quickly as possible, then set out for Old Town Palestine to see if I could capture this old gin on paper, now known as Shelton Hall. The coffee shop across the street was kind enough to allow me to set up my easel under their patio roof, away from the winds, yet still in place to capture the sunlight. I worked as quickly as I could, until the cold finally convinced me I had been out long enough. Back in the gallery, I applied some finishing touches and signed off on it.

Thanks for reading. I hope to post tomorrow–exiting things have been happening and I’m looking forward to reporting them.

 

Recovery in Silence

February 1, 2018

All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.

Herman Melville

Attendant Not on Duty.jpg

Attendant Not on Duty, Watercolor on exhibit Feb. 15-Mar. 1 at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Proustian Memories of the Open Door

Proustian Memories of the Open Door, Watercolor on exhibit Feb. 15-Mar. 1 at Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

In earlier blogs, I’ve explained that a lingering sinus and upper respiratory infection has sharply diminished my energy, and I’ve hardly been able to meet my obligations and appointments the past several weeks. Once I’m home, I seem to head for bed to sleep off additional hours. It’s taking a long time for this junk to clear up. I’m just grateful that it never degenerated into fever, flu, or other debilitating issues.

Today I pronounced for a district Spelling Bee, an event that began at 8:00 and ended at about 3:00 (with a two-hour break in the middle). Coming home, I crashed into bed and didn’t rise till 8:30 p.m. Now, at 2:46 a.m., sleep still eludes me, but I have no appointments tomorrow, and have been wallowing happily in these late-night hours of silence.

So much has transpired this past month that I am still very eager to report. One of the exciting events was being contacted by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts to submit two of my watercolors for their 14th biennial Art Auction. My two paintings posted above will be on display in the museum from Feb. 15-Mar. 1, and then will be auctioned. I’m providing the link for anyone interested: http://mmfa.org/support/art-auction/

Driving to Alabama proved to be a relaxing and satisfying road trip of ten-and-a-half hours, and in a future blog I’ll gladly report the pleasures I enjoyed during the return trip through Mississippi.

Again, I am grateful for all the kind responses I’ve gotten from readers and well-wishers during this lingering illness. When I’ve felt well enough to read, I’ve enjoyed thoroughly the quiet hours of thought. I finally finished Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci biography, and have less than one hundred pages left to finish his engaging work on Steve Jobs. The quote I posted above from Herman Melville was lifted from a fascinating piece I read just posted on my Facebook by a friend I’ve always admired. The piece is titled “Science Says Silence is Much More Important to our Brains than we Think”, written by Rebecca Beris. I’m sharing the link to this as well: http://www.lifehack.org/377243/science-says-silence-much-more-important-our-brains-than-thought

Again, thanks to all of you who care enough to read my thoughts and reports of things happening in my corner of the world.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.