Archive for March, 2018

Preparing for a Plein Air Paint-Out

March 29, 2018

azalea plein air

Historic Home on Magnolia Street in Palestine, Texas

The approaching weekend is offering a world of excitement as the Society of Watercolor Artists descends upon Palestine for a weekend of plein air painting during their ongoing Dogwood Festival. I arrived in town today and immediately went to work on the 8 x 10″ watercolor posted above. There has been plenty of rain lately, and the colors of nature are really popping in this quaint historic town.

The artists will display and sell out of The Gallery at Redlands here in the Redlands Hotel throughout the weekend, and we have plenty of fun scheduled for Saturday evening as we relax and dine at the Red Fire Grille, also located in this hotel.

If you live close enough, we hope you’ll consider a trip into town to meet us as we paint to our delight.

Thanks for reading.

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Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

plaque

Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Painting into the Quiet Night

March 25, 2018

terlingua

A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

This most exquisite, quiet evening in the basement of the Redlands Hotel has been divided between working on this small 8 x 10″ watercolor of an abandoned church in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas and taking breaks to read the soothing words of James Joyce. I cannot get out of my mind’s eye the image of this church I photographed while the sun was setting in west Texas. Waking this morning and recalling these words I had recorded earlier from my reading of Joyce made me determined to get this painting started.

Thanks for reading.

Shocking Visitation from the Past

March 25, 2018

new image of painting

Today is Sunday. Outside is gray and overcast and The Redlands Hotel is virtually empty and silent except for the occasional visitor to the Gallery at Redlands. I found it an opportune time to resume work on a commission promised long ago. In our age of smart phones, most of us have grown accustomed to the frequent interruptions as emails, text messages, facebook notifications and tweets continually pull us away from what we are focused on completing. When I demand absolute solitude, I turn the phone off, promising myself to return later to see if there is anything I need to answer.

But today an email arrived with the opening line I have encountered countless times in my past: “I just purchased a painting by David Tripp, and searching online I found you, and now want to reach out to see if you are the artist.” When opening the attached photo I always find that it is someone else’s work, especially if it is prior to the year 2000. Today’s email said the painting dated from 1974. I knew it was someone else. Opening the attachment, however, I found an oil painting from my sophomore year at the university that had been purchased at my senior show!

signature

 

 

Throughout the years, I have wondered about this work. The assignment was to paint a mobile home park east of Kirksville, Missouri, on a highway heading toward Brashear. Professor William Unger was excited about the network of TV antennas that crisscrossed high above the mobile home roofs, drawing geometric patterns into the skies. When I went to the location and began my preliminary sketches, I found no satisfaction in what I was creating. So, I decided to raise the horizon near the top of the composition, and draw the TV antennas downward from the homes, eventually turning the lines into glazes of translucent earth tones. Finally, I added a moon on the horizon and hoped the Professor would be satisfied with the piece. That was 1974.

Two years later, this painting hung in my Senior Show (it was mandatory for all art majors to hang a solo show during their final year at the university). To my surprise, the painting was purchased by the wife of a music professor at the university (Northeast Missouri State, now Truman State) who taught classes on the second floor of the Kirk Building (art department was on the third floor). When he came up to the third floor to visit with me and learned that I was at the time a Southern Baptist minister as well as an art major, he shared that he was active in church work and would be sharing the painting with his church family.

Countless times in the intervening years, I have envisioned this painting in my mind’s eye, wondering why I had never photographed it for a record, and always wondering what had become of it. Now, like a message in a bottle, the piece has washed up on my island, and the new owners were gracious enough to seek me out. In a follow-up phone conversation with these owners, I learned that they had just purchased the work from a Unitarian/Universalist minister in Dayton, Ohio. I found this amusing, because the professor of music, when learning that I was a Southern Baptist minister as well as art major in 1976, talked of the relation of art and religion, and wondered if I would find ways to fuse the two in my future work. As it turned out, I spoke from a Unitarian/Universalist pulpit for ten years at about the same time I was rediscovering my artistic muse. And yes, in the years since, I have actively sought ways to fuse religion and art.

This day, to me, is filled with wonder. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Acceptance into SWA International Juried Show

March 21, 2018

redlands finished oxbow

Old Town Palestine

I was pleased this afternoon to be notified that the painting above has been juried into the 2018 Society of Watercolor Artists International Juried Exhibition, to be held in Fort Worth April 15-May 20. I thought there was something special happening as I worked on this composition last month. The Oxbow is located in the old historic downtown section of Palestine, across the street from the popular Pint and Barrel pub. This establishment is famous for its home-baked pies. I’m thrilled that we’re able to inject some Palestine history into this upcoming show.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air Zeitgeist

March 21, 2018

redlands finished oxbow

The Oxbow. Palestine, Texas

Framed watercolor: $700

Though the time is still a week and a half away, I’m trembling this morning with anticipation over our upcoming plein air painting event in Palestine, Texas. At least a half dozen painters from the Society of Watercolor Artists (SWA) will take up residence in the historic Redlands Hotel the weekend of March 30-April 1 in conjunction with the city’s annual Dogwood Festival. For three days we will “paint the town” with enthusiasm.

These are my new and dear friends, and we’re looking forward to putting up new work in The Gallery at Redlands for display and sale over the weekend. Over the past year, I have had this delightful privilege of painting historic Palestine, and now look forward to introducing these artists to the local sights. Several of the local residents have also volunteered to serve as tour guides as needed.

gallery

Our headquarters for the weekend will be The Gallery at Redlands on the main floor of the Redlands Hotel. The artists have been invited to bring their previous framed works to put up for display and sale. Plein air watercolors created throughout the weekend will also appear in the gallery for Dogwood Festival patrons to view as they tour the hotel.

The Zeitgeist of plein air painting has been an exciting one that I have enjoyed for over a decade now, beginning with my experience of Paint Historic Waxahachie (I just registered for that event last night and will have more to say about it as the event approaches in April-May). I had no idea when I began this adventure in Waxahachie long ago that I would find myself adopting this lifestyle. The experience of painting live on site has given me the adventure of residing on an island in the Texas Laguna Madre twice as Artist-in-Residence for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. It has also taken me to canyons in west Texas, mountains in Colorado and quaint towns in northern Arkansas. I’ve had the privilege of conducting several plein air watercolor workshops across Texas and Arkansas, and now eagerly anticipate this inaugural plein air gathering in Palestine, Texas. I’ll have plenty more to report as our event draws nearer.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

El Despoblado

March 18, 2018

el despoblado

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

Today I wait for a plane to take me back to the suburbs where I will thrive only if able to sustain a life of the mind. I return from a week spent in the open country. I believe that El Despoblado could be translated “open country.” That is one of the descriptive titles of Big Bend National Park, a site that I have just visited for the first time in my life. Throughout the past week, canyons have overpowered me, embraced me, enfolded me, deeply delighted me. I was privileged to visit Caprock, Palo Duro and Big Bend over the past seven days. I believe that this is the best Spring Break I have ever known in all my decades of school employment.

Thanks to technology, by use of my phone I have been able to send a few snapshots of what I encountered this past week. Once back in the suburbs, I will perhaps have these myriad sensations sorted out and be able to post something commensurate to what I feel right now. Meanwhile, I sit and mentally, emotionally compost these rich experiences.

Thanks always for reading.

Painting Near the Border

March 16, 2018

Once I reached the Rio Grande, I found the region choked with tourists. So I chose to take a dirt road away from the masses, and set up an easel along one of the other mountain ranges in the Chihuahuan Desert. the temperatures grew hot, but I’m glad I took the time to attempt this.

Painting Near the Border

March 16, 2018

The Dawn

March 16, 2018

When the early morning light quietly grows above the mountains . . . The world’s darkening never reaches to the light of Being.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

It’s chilly this morning in Terlingua, but worth the effort to rise, pour a cup of coffee, and scribble in a journal while greeting Aurora’s slow ascent.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll visit the Rio Grand for the first time.