Working into the Quiet Night

. . . there was a way to avoid the pain and thrive in the global village. McLuhan said it was a matter of understanding that you were living in this new world and then adjusting to it.

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

This is so unlike me. I’m sixty-six years old, and staying up at night stopped being an option by the time I reached forty. I look with nostalgia upon those all-nighters I endured during university and graduate school years. Whether it was final exams or papers needing to be written, I lived that life, developed a thirst for coffee and late-night music. I even worked midnight shifts as a dispatcher, first for the TCU Police Dept, then later for Fort Worth PD.

So, what gives tonight? Well, Sandi is out of town and it is just me and the pups for a few days and nights here. The days have been spent painting in Studio Eidolons, but my habit has always been to shut down around dark, and then the family would gather around the television or do something together before retiring for the night. Last night found me retiring early and rising early. But late this afternoon, inspiration really bit down hard on me, and so I brewed a pot of Cowboy Coffee, decaf (I haven’t had night coffee in ages) and nestled into the studio to divide time between my second buffalo painting and reading at my desk.

Paddington is turning into quite the studio companion. All day he napped beneath my drafting table when he wasn’t chasing and tussling with Patches about the house and out into the backyard. Most of tonight he has spent in my lap, which makes reading, writing and typing ponderous.

When engaged in creative work, I often listen to something that helps my mind relax. While painting I have been listening to episodes of Mad Men. I have watched the entire series all the way through twice, and now on my third round I am already into Season 6. I am inspired by the “creative” branch of the Madison Avenue ad agency as the story unwinds. I didn’t know that Jon Hamm, the actor who played Don Draper, was a St. Louis native as am I. When the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, I was thrilled at all his appearances at rinkside, in the locker room, and at the Stanley Cup parade. I think he is larger than life in this series, and the words he utters in the script often stir me intensely.

While reading, I listen to music. Tonight I am playing cassettes I made in the winter of 1987 while dispatching on midnight shift at the TCU Police Department. One of the Dallas FM radio stations featured “Enerjazz at Night,” playing jazz from 8 till 2 a.m. It’s funny now listening to these cassettes with the DJ frequently breaking in to announce the time, temperature and local concerts on the horizon. It takes me back to those winter nights. Now that we find it getting dark shortly after 5, I’m settling into the winter mood.

The composition I am working on now measures 18 x 24″. The bison herd was photographed in the early evening just outside Zion National Park in southern Utah. With all the commissions I’ve worked on recently, I have had to lay aside the bison watercolors. I’m delighted now to have the time to engage them.

The opening quote above concerning Marshall McLuhan peaked my interest while reading tonight because it sounded the central theme of my doctoral dissertation. My topic was anchored in the Hebrew wisdom tradition, and I described it as a practical philosophy that steered the anxious mind through troublesome times by finding ways to adapt to the world forces shaping the times.

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.


3 Responses to “Working into the Quiet Night”

  1. Barbara Tyler Says:

    Hey Dr. Tripp, I’m enjoying the process of your bison work. Saw you were up late too and decided to chime in. I usually stay up until 11pm or so reading, watching videos, writing poetry, etc. Tonight finds me in my studio (sans puppies), as earlier I was participating in a virtual poetry open mic and anthology launch party. After all that excitement, I decided to catch up on my Master Class episodes as I’ve decided not to renew my subscription, due in a few weeks, and now find myself cramming like I was in college again. Watching the Ken Burns section currently. Other things I watch/listen to for background noise or entertainment are The Modern Art Notes podcast, RadioWest podcast, a takeaway from from time in Utah (host conducts great interviews with book authors, but sometimes you have to filter through LDS current events), the drama miniseries Fosse/Verdon on Hulu, and Billy Collins’ daily poetry video via Facebook. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of watercolor but have switched gears to work on a self-published book of poetry for Christmas. I know what you mean about a significant other being out of town. When my husband is in the house, I make sure he’s comfortable and content. I like it when he leaves and I like it when he comes home. It’s nice to have extended time to yourself on occasion; it can be very liberating. Guess that’s why I stay up late. Good luck with your projects! Keep posting your progress! I learn so much from it. Hope to coordinate at some point to see you in Palestine or maybe even in Arlington. Wish I could take one of your watercolor classes!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Wow, Barbara, what a pleasure to read this! I really want to follow up on all these wonderful stimuli you listed. Were you the one who directed me to the Youtube series “What Do Artists Do All Day?” That was pure gold. Another artist friend turned me on to Netflix’s “Abstract: the Art of Design.” I have watched that over and over again. I’m also a sucker for Youtube documentaries–Andrew & N C Wyeth, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzergald, along with the “Voices & Visions” that PBS presented long ago. I’m lilke a kid in the candy store now when I’m in my studio. When I’m making art I can pull on any of my DVDs or VHS tapes, cassette tapes, or anything I can pull up on the Internet and patch into the flatscreen in front of one of my drafting tables. My library also offers me all these volumes, as do my file cabinets with the documents I refused to throw away after I retired. I know of what you speak of the significant other. When Sandi and I are together, we enjoy morning coffee and dogs. She laughs along with me over my “executive time,” knowing it’s not set in stone. And on most days, I work in the studio as long as I want, but seldom past 5:00. I do enjoy unwinding in the evenings with the things we do. When she is gone for a few days then I find myself still on pretty much the same schedule, with only the dogs to manage. Tomorrow a work crew will be inside and outside the house probably all day, and I’ll just have to see how much “blissing” I can do in another part of the house, since they’ll be in my study. I do hope we meet again in Palestine if you can shake loose. Please stay in touch!


  2. Jo Seip Says:

    Dear David Tripp – I started wondering if you are the same David Tripp I knew at our little NMSU college BSU house in 1973 and before I graduated in 1974. My maiden name was Jo Wood. My husband (Mark Seip) was a basketball player on the NMSU basketball team back then, and active at 1st Baptist Church of Kirksville, MO where we were married in 1977.
    You were often leading impromptu worship at the BSU with your masterful play on your 12 string guitar. I would occasionally play old favorite hymns on the somewhat out-of-tune piano in the BSU where my Centennial roommate, Margaret “Georgi” Wheeler, would sing along with me in her beautiful voice.
    I still have a painting I bought from your junior art show. It is of thorn-crowned face of Christ with the cross radiating from several angles behind him. It hangs in our living room yet today.
    We would love to make contact with you and satisfy our curiosity about how you are doing these days. I have a photo of your painting in my phone’s Gallery, and would be glad to email it to you if you would like to contact me.


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