Archive for December, 2022

New Year’s Eve Ponderings

December 31, 2022

Selfie taken while in delightful seclusion

My watercolor of the selfie, titled “Heidegger’s Hut”

What I was painting during the Selfie, titled “Beyond the Door”

Oh god, art is forever,

And our life is brief.

I fear that with my critical endeavor

My head and heart may come to grief.

How hard the scholars’ means are to array

With which one works up to the source;

Before we have traversed but half the course,

We wretched devils pass away.

Goethe, Faust

The clock at Sacred Heart across the street has chimed nine times. That means it’s 7:00 a.m. I’ll never tire of laughing over this Palestine morning ritual I have come to adore.

The Christmas and New Year holidays have taken me unprepared. I suppose that is due partly to my parents’ coming down with COVID as we were preparing our trip back home which had to be postponed. I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas in January in St. Louis soon.

For decades now, I have enjoyed the season of turning “pensive” when the New Year approaches, and I have always burrowed into some kind of quality reading as the season arrived. But this year I have struggled to find something substantive into which to sink my thoughts. Until last night. I pulled Faust from my backpack and sat up in bed re-reading the text until time to turn out the light. And now this morning, I have opened it again.

The photographs above were taken several years back when I enjoyed days of retreat and solitude at this old country store/residence owned by my friends who opened The Gallery at Redlands just after I completed the paintings. They both hang in the gallery now, providing me with quality company while I work the gallery. One is titled “Heidegger’s Hut” because I was always absorbed by the stories of philosopher Martin Heidegger retreating to his cabin the Black Forest to write his famous books, preferring those times of solitude away from the university. The title “Beyond the Door” was selected because I spent an entire night in the old store painting the door knob that separated the residence from the store proper. As I studied the knob under the light and worked out this watercolor, I was thinking of my final year in education, wondering what would lie beyond the door of retirement.

During my final year of teaching public school, I often retreated to this old store for long weekends and holidays to get away from the rat race of school that was beginning to dog me in the final years. It was during the winter when I took the photo and worked on the pair of paintings that I began reading Faust for the first time in my life. I had read about Goethe in a number of courses throughout my education but had not actually sat down to read this magnificent work.

The wonders that rocked my soul while pondering this electric text were scribbled into my journals, and soon buried upon my return to the classroom. Until now. And with great delight, I welcome the New Year and a new chapter in life by burrowing into Goethe once again.

Thought struggling to find a book to hold my attention in recent weeks, I have gone back and re-read stacks of my personal journals, dating all the way back to 1985. Focusing on December months, I came to realize that my pangs of intellectual and artistic hunger during those years were Faustlike in many ways. The holidays of 1987 were the bleakest in my entire life, and I’m glad upon reading the journal from that period that I still believed in those years that life would improve for me. No matter how bleak my existence was in those days, I still leaned forward, believing that some kind of redemption was at hand. I’m deeply thankful for how life has turned out now, and am happy that I no longer have to eke out the existence I knew back then.

I’m making considerable headway on a large watercolor, the next installment of my “Palestine Blues” series. I haven’t posted photos yet, because the page is covered with clouds and layers of billowing watercolor, and it’s looking more like a Helen Frankenthaler painting than a Tripp watercolor. Once it comes into focus, I’ll begin posting photos of its progress.

Thanks for reading, and please enjoy a safe and happy New Year celebration!

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

December 30, 2022

To think is to confine yourself to a

single thought that one day stands

still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Greetings from The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. We will be closing our doors for a two-week vacation in January, but I am in the gallery from now till New Year’s Eve.

Palestine is quiet, dark and rainy on this Friday morning. Yesterday I began Part Two of my Palestine Blues Series. So far all I have done is draw and masque as I lay the foundations for this large watercolor. My hope is to add color before this day is through. Masquing, for me, is a very slow and tedious endeavor as I use it to highlight heavy tree foliage, block utility poles so they will be light against the dark background, and string out a myriad of power lines in and out of the tree branches. Slow work indeed. Once the masquing and drawing are complete, I plan to pour several layers of watercolor across the paper before I actually get down to the detail work of the painting.

I hope to blog some more today and tomorrow as I work in the gallery. Before I close, I want to wish all my readers optimism as you lean forward into this new year dawning.

I managed to create a new greeting card from my most recent painting of the Clydesdales. These measure 5 x 7″, are blank on the inside with my text on the back. Complete with envelope and enclosed in a plastic sleeve, these are priced at $5 each or five for $20.

Thanks for reading.

Clydesdales Completed

December 26, 2022

Christmas 2022 was altered sharply, but all has come out well. My mother was hospitalized with COVID and pneumonia, but now is back home and feeling much better. We have decided to travel to St. Louis for Christmas in January, once Mom and Dad have had time to regather their strength post-COVID. I had not experienced Christmas Day in my own home in well over a decade and I really enjoyed this one. We picked up half a cord of wood before the foul weather descended and have now spent several days in front of a fire place with coffee and TV and I got in some quality time in Studio Eidolons. The Clydesdales have been completed and I’m thrilled with the way the snow effect turned out.

From my childhood, seated in front of a black-and-white TV, I was spellbound when our local station identification featured the Clydesdales bursting out of the Grant’s Farm gates. My fascination with them has never subsided. Years ago in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, I was seated in the Barnes & Noble Cafe, which was sunken below street level. Engaged in reading over coffee (still one of my favorite past times), my eye detected unusual movement on the street outside my window. Looking up I was astonished to see the Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon, coming towards me! I could never describe the emotions and sense of awe that overwhelmed me as I saw that great sight approaching. I knew then that one day I would settle in to render them in watercolor.

From the beginning of this watercolor endeavor, I was flummoxed. I knew I wanted to begin with cold winter trees in the background. Unsure of my colors, I relied mostly on Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine, But how would I capture the network and general “movement” of the trees? I kept thinking of Xie-He and his Canons–the “spirit essence” of the cold, dense forest. Using the Richeson Medium Liquid Masque, I spattered the background with a toothbrush. Then I took out an assortment of double-end clay shapers and tried some Jackson Pollock scribbles all over the background. Once the pigments were settled and dried, I scraped off the masquing and left it alone. Then I used the toothbrush to spatter liquid masque all over the horses, hoping that once the painting was finished and masquing scraped that it would simulate blowing snow. It worked!

The most difficult part was untangling the congeries of heads, bodies, legs, and rigging of the horses. I felt like I was assembling a jigsaw puzzle, an endless tangle of shapes and colors. I tried not to think of the overall design of the horses and riggings, but rather concentrated on each fragment of shaped color, all the time hoping that once the masquing came off that it would look like a gaggle of behemoth horses high-stepping through the snow. I think my largest fear was fogging out the legs of the rear horses once I defined a few of the leaders’ legs. I finally laid the brush down and decided enough was enough; I have killed many watercolors by overworking and overdetailing them. Hopefully I stopped at the right time here.

What’s next? I’ll certainly have this custom framed and determine a price for it. The image alone measures 12 x 15.5″. I’ve decided to have signed & numbered giclee prints made of it as well. They will be the same size as the original and will be priced at $100 each.

I have also ordered signed & numbered giclee prints of my “Palestine Blues” watercolor. A number of these have already sold and are priced at $100. I’m glad for the reproductions because the original was sold even before it was completed.

Today is December 26, but it still feels like Christmas and I am glad. We put up the tree in my studio and I plan to keep it lighted for quite awhile.

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.

Happy Holiday Adjustments

December 22, 2022

Finally settled into Studio Eidolons

I have been away from the blog for the longest time. The Gallery at Redlands is extremely busy during Polar Express season and we’ve been working hard at home, making preparations for our Christmas visit in St. Louis, my home town.

Everything changed abruptly. We were loading the car yesterday to depart for St. Louis when the news arrived. My parents both have COVID. Dad is 94 and Mom is 88. St. Louis is bracing for abhorrent winter storms. We reluctantly decided to cancel. Hours later, my Mom collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Pneumonia and COVID. The night was long. But this morning I was informed that she was OK to talk on the phone, and I got to visit with her awhile. She has improved, but is expected to stay several more days. At least our worst fears are suspended.

With the knowledge that Mom and Dad are somewhat OK in spite of the circumstances, I’m finally settling into the shock of a completely altered Christmas holiday. I have relaxed most of the day in Studio Eidolons, chipping away at a watercolor that has lay dormant for over a week. I’ve always wanted to attempt a painting of the Budweiser Clydesdales coming out of the gate at Grant’s Farm near where I grew up as a boy.

Back to work on the Budweiser Clydesdales

Enjoying the frigid night in the studio

While painting, I’m enjoying watching DVDs of Paper Chase, my favorite TV show during my graduate school years. I feel spoiled having everything I need here in the studio–my art supplies, TV, books and journal. With temperatures outside now hovering at 13 degrees, we have a nice fire in the fireplace, and I’ve resumed my reading of Marshall McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy. Perhaps I’ll have more to say about his writing later.

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.

Preparation for Palestine’s Art in the Alley

December 10, 2022

Still chipping away at my Clydesdales

We’re approaching the evening in Palestine, and Art in the Alley is about to begin. There will be more than 500 people coming through the city for Wine & Whiskey-Swirl. Deanna Pickett Frye, one of our Gallery artists, will be joining me in The Gallery at Redlands. I’m looking forward to sharing studio space with another artist. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to enjoy such camaraderie.

Deanna Frye’s work place

Deanna has arrived and we’re ready to go to work. Thanks for reading.

Saturday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

December 10, 2022

This morning I discovered that 5 a.m. in The Gallery at Redlands on a Saturday is a good time to work on a watercolor. Untangling a gaggle of Clydesdales in the blowing snow is proving a slow, arduous task, at least to the eyes. I’m now pouring my second cup of coffee and settling into a little reading and journaling while waiting for the paint to dry.

Approaching Yuletide 5×7″ Watercolor Print in 8 x 10″ frame. $40

I’ve taken several breaks from painting this morning to frame a trio of prints. I have a pair in the gallery in 8 x 10″ frames for $40. I also have the same print (8 x 10″) in an 11 x 14″ frame for $60. The Polar Express season is at high tide in Palestine and our gallery is bringing out all my original watercolors of trains, many of them available in framed prints as well.

As I work through the final volume 4 of Richardson’s A Life of Picasso, I’m surprised to learn that he stopped painting for a year in 1936. His life was complicated as he worked through a divorce from his wife Olga and at the same time took up writing poetry to pour out his emotions. I’ve known that kind of suffering through a Christmas season long, long ago, but cannot imagine giving up painting for such a long period. Going several days without touching the Clydesdales seems like ages to me; how could one endure a year without art?

Tonight during “wine-swirl” I look forward to making art alongside our friend Deanna Pickett Frye. Her work is included in our gallery and she will painting at an easel here while patrons enjoy the wine-swirl event. I will also work on watercolor at the drafting table.

Deanna has a number of large canvases hanging in our gallery, but has also exploded on the mural scene in Palestine and surrounding towns in east Texas. How she manages easel painting, mural composing and college teaching astounds me. As a former teacher I managed to juggle a few balls in the air, but never worked simultaneously on tasks the way she has managed lately. If you are in the area, you will love the opportunity of meeting her while she works here tonight.

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.

Back at it . . . Holiday Musings

December 6, 2022

Studio Eidolons Waiting for Me

Cowboy Coffee & Journal at the Ready

Gertrude Stein: “You never had any feeling about any words, words annoy you more than they do anything else so how can you write?”

Picasso: “You yourself always said I was an extraordinary person.”

Gertrude Stein: “You are extraordinary within your limits but your limits are extraordinarily there.”

recorded by John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Minotaur Years 1933-1943

Reading this over coffee this morning triggered a spontaneous chuckle. I’ve enjoyed reading about artists who wanted to write and writers who wanted to make art. This cross-fertilization has always enriched me, and I’ve always hoped I could spread the enrichment to others whether it be through painting, writing, or teaching. The flow of ideas has been my constant throughout life, and I’m more aware now than previously that this has remained the greatest gift to me.

I’ve been away from the blog for quite awhile now. Life has been crammed too full with appointments, and now that things have settled for a few days I’m trying to rediscover that rhythm I’ve been accustomed to, beginning with “executive time” in the mornings. This morning I brewed Cowboy Coffee. Texas weather has been climbing to the mid-seventies every afternoon, so the fireplace has died for the time being, and I have opened the windows to Studio Eidolons to let the breezes fill this sunlit room.

I have begun the fourth and final volume of John Richardson’s A Life of Picasso. I seem to recall that he projected five volumes when the first one came out, and I was enthusiastic to read every word. I’m saddened that he didn’t live long enough to complete this great work, dying at age ninety-five. At any rate, I intend to keep my promise, and so I press on this morning to complete the 175 pages of text remaining to be explored.

Beginning Watercolor of the Budweiser Clydesdales

My thoughts turn pensive with the holidays, especially the “Proustian” notion of recalling sensations from my childhood. This Christmas as I wondered what kind of theme to pursue in watercolor, I was visited with the memories of sitting in front of a black-and-white television as a child, and seeing commercials of the Budweiser Clydesdales pulling the beer wagon out of the gates at Grants Farm. Growing up near St. Louis, we were inundated with TV commercials, magazine ads and billboards of these magnificent behemoths, complete with a pair of drivers and a Dalmatian seated beside. I’ve decided that the time has come, so I’ll be posting this painting as it emerges.

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.

Gallery at Redlands Hosting Two Artists at Work this Evening

December 2, 2022

Pastelist Grace Hessman

Watercolorist David Tripp

The weather outdoor in Palestine, Texas is dark, rainy and cold. But I’m feeling great inside The Gallery at Redlands. Tomorrow will be Palestine’s monthly art walk. Local pastelist and member of our gallery Grace Hessman will participate in art walk, and has agreed to spend an evening with me in the gallery making art and greeting patrons. I’m turning the drafting table over to her and I’ll carve out a spot for myself. It’s going to be fun making art side-by-side with a kindred spirit. If you are in the area and have time for a visit, please stop by. We stay open till 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. And coffee is always available in here!

Thanks for reading.