Warm Thoughts in a Dark Morning

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.

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4 Responses to “Warm Thoughts in a Dark Morning”

  1. Ron Webb Says:

    David what a wonderful life you have made. I’m only starting my creative life after a 45 yr detour Into you name it. I’m home now, and totally envy your sense of self, place and comfort. Thanks for sharing with us all.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Ron, thank you for your post. I’d love to know what you’ve done and what you’re pursuing now. I’ve been thoroughly blessed. I retired last June after 28 years of public school and college teaching. Now with my part time schedule I only teach college a few hours Monday and Wednesday, and have fallen into this beautiful Palestine environment. I never knew it could be this way, and I’m deeply grateful.

      Like

      • Ron Webb Says:

        Well: 5 years in the military, 4 years in collage and 36 years in graphics & printing industry. Interspersed with painting, drawing and photography. I retired in 2014 to come home to Texas to be near my Daughter and her sweet family and begin the dream I’ve had most of my life. To paint and do art. I am finally home, happy and it has begun. The future looks great from here.

        Like

      • davidtripp Says:

        It sounds as though your life has been very full and rewarding. I am delighted that you are finally getting to pursue the art passion. It feels good, the feeling of having earned a retirement. I’m really happy for you.

        Like

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