One Bite at a Time

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time. 

20200121_2013006201753312750113849.jpg

Working into the Night

Early this morning, when I approached my in-progress work on this Union Pacific “Big Boy”, I decided it was time to add some weight to this behemoth. For a couple of days I was experimenting with colors on the body of the locomotive, and it seemed the more I layered washes of pastel colors, the more weightless and ethereal the iron horse apppeared.

20200118_2123535569034211277690653.jpg

Experimental Pastel Colors on the Locomotive

I realized quite early in this work that I had to figure out a way to paint this enormous battleship-gray locomotive and not end up with a boring painting. Granted, the complexity of all the moving parts along with the shadows and highlights could provide plenty of contrast and interest for the viewer, I nevertheless feared that an overall flat gray would kill the painting.

I had been postponing the detailing of this subject, clearly intimidated by the complex congeries of planes and lines. Finally I recalled that line about eating an elephant and decided it was time to approach the subject, one bite at a time. Quite quickly the old feeling came back. The devil is in the details, and I really enjoy immersing myself in the variety. I really don’t know how many hours I worked at this one today, taking plenty of breaks for making coffee, reading, writing in the journal and taking exercise walks. But I continued to return to the painting and found myself working even into the evening.

20200121_2003467786331384645187962.jpg

Finally, Some Weight and Depth Occurring

I don’t know how exactly my live encounter with this locomotive translates into my painting, but I honestly believe it has the potential of becoming one of my better works. Though I am working from a photograph taken when this train pulled into Palestine, Texas last November, I was there in person to feel the concussion of this 604-ton dinosaur smoking, steaming and blasting its whistle in my presence as it glowed in the morning sun. And I believe that live encounter will prevent this from becoming a generic, saccharine picture.

I have ridden behind the steam locomotives of the Texas State Railroad between Palestine and Rusk, along with the Durango-Silverton Railroad and the Cumbres-Toltec. But those engines were tiny compared to this monster that made me shudder when it rounded the bend in the distance and chugged up to where we all stood in awe. I stayed that afternoon for about half an hour, but returned at sunrise the next morning and lingered for two hours studying it before it finally pulled away. All the while the smoke and steam never ceased billowing out of this enormous steel hulk.

There remains plenty of work to do on this project, and I am happy to know that. I can’t wait to rise in the morning and stand over it again for the day. Hopefully, I’ll have more pictures to post then.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website: www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

20200121_2013006201753312750113849.jpg

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “One Bite at a Time”

  1. Janice C. Johnson Says:

    I notice a parallel between your painting challenge and my current writing challenge. I’m working on the life story of a Liberian pastor who, as a young husband and father, got caught up in the Liberian civil war.

    How to convey the immense weight of hardship and danger he and his family, along with their fellow citizens, endured for a seemingly endless fourteen years? A relentless stream of the horrifying facts would result in something like the flat dark gray you want to avoid. Ah, but at times, the family did experience rescue, refuge, or provision. I’m trying to use the pastel colors of those moments to throw the dark times into greater contrast.

    I can see the balance you are working toward, and look forward to the next view of your progress.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Wow, thank you so much for posting that! I have really missed talking with you, and would love to know more about what you are writing. I plan to rejoin the Palestine Community soon, and really hope I will see you then. Maybe Dogwood days? Please keep me posted on what you are writing.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: