Putting Down the Brush and Re-Opening the Books

Artist Cecilia Bramhall and myself experimenting in watercolor

After framing the six new watercolors I created, I found myself exhausted early yesterday evening. Sleeping in late today, I descended to the gallery a little later and found the atmosphere full of activity. Mondays are ususally slow in the hotel with the restaurant and bar closed on those days. But Cecilia was ready for a refresher course in watercolor, and I found myself in the mood quite quickly. In the middle of our exercise I was surprised by an offer from Texas Wesleyan University to teach an additonal class in Ethics. I accepted. So, come Monday I will deliver my first class lecture in several years and will open up a new online course simultaneously. Time to get back to the books, and my heart is filled with enthusiasm and gratitude for this new adventure.

I want to say a few words about the paintings that held my attention over the course of this past week that now are in the gallery for sale:

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Dream, 11 x 14 in the frame. $200

Georgia O’Keeffe once said that if she painted the Peternal enough times, God would have to give it to her. A few summers ago, we rented a casita adjacent to Ghost Ranch in Abiquu, New Mexico. The Pedernal was visibe from the front patio, and I painted it every day for a week. I modeled the painting above from a plein air watercolor I did from the interior of Ghost Ranch. The Indian flute player was added at the end of the exercise, on a lark. I thought the right side of the composition needed some weight.

Desert Odyssey in an 11 x 14″ frame. $200

This is my second attempt at a mounted vaquero modeled from a painting I did of the Fort Worth cattle drive that occurs daily in the Stockyards. I decided to transport the mount to an Arizona setting since I fell in love with the Sedona region a couple of summers ago. A few weeks ago, I was pleased at the results of some scumbling I did with a soft lead pencil as I attempted a watercolor sketch of a boulder. I tried some scumbling with a dark sepia watercolor pencil as I worked and re-worked the rock formations and ground cover in the background of this piece. I feel I have turned a corner with the use of these pencils on dried out watercolor surfaces.

Watching for the Rise. 8 x 10″ in the frame. $100

Several months ago I roughed out a few fly-fishing subjects, trying something I hadn’t done before–wetting my brush and “painting” with water the contours of the fisherman and then dropping in the pigments to watch the color flow and billow. After “fleshing” out the fisherman’s body, I then went back in and laid in a few essential details and accents.

Vaquero. Sold

This was my first attempt at recreating the vaquero from an earlier painting of the cattle drive. I wanted to experiment with a night sky and try to render a rocky horizon in something more than a mere silhouette. I still have much to learn about night colors. The most enjoyable part of working on this one was the myriad of details of all the rigging draped about the horse and rider.

Longmire Stroll. 8 x 10″ in the frame $125

This is my second attempt to render Walt Longmire from my favorite television series. Again I enjoyed looking for ways to shape and model the hat and shadows on the face. I’m still trying to figure out how to use watermedia for facial shadows beneath hats. Too many times I have revised subjects such as this until the area became overworked. I’m learning to stop much sooner and leave the simplicity of watercolor wash. While making this decision I thought of Hemingway’s philosophy of writing: “The Power of Less.”

Serene Pastureland. 8 x 10″ in the frame $125

Back in 2009 I often accompanied Sandi when she went to visit her horse to ride. I made several quick plein air watercolor sketches of grazing horses, keeping things loose. All those paintings sold years ago, but fortunately I kept photos of them. Retrieving this one from the files I decided to open up and experiment with colors I’m not accustomed to using in my work. I laid down the light green wash before painting the horse over it, so you can see the green in his legs. I also allowed some of the blue sky to show through on his body. Just experimenting with some ideas . . .

It’s past 10 p.m. now as I complet this. It’s been one of those days with many, many interruptions to my blogging attempt. But at least I finally got all of it down before retiring to bed. Tomorrow is another day and I still have much work left to do for Texas Wesleyan University. I’m glad to be back in the classroom, but will find ways to continue making the art and writing about it. Thank you always for reading.

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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2 Responses to “Putting Down the Brush and Re-Opening the Books”

  1. Brenda Koegler Says:

    Loved reading about the new techniques you are trying and seeing the results. Best wishes for your new classes.


  2. davidtripp Says:

    Thank you for the good wishes, Brenda! So good to hear from you, and I appreciate that you look at my art and appreciate what I’m trying to do.


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