Archive for May, 2023

Some New Endeavors

May 31, 2023

I paint so I’ll have something to look at. I write so I’ll have something to read.

Barnett Newman

It’s a rare moment to be in Studio Eidolons this time of night. But I cannot stop thinking about this day. Time spent in Studio 48 was enriching enough that I’m convinced to continue doing this on Wednesday afternoons. I only stayed two hours, but the time flew quickly as I found myself immersed in this large watercolor. This is my third in a series of Palestine settings, the first two centered on Lightnin’ Hopkins. This one features Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I began it a few days after the passing of David Crosby. I suppose while I’m at it I’ll go ahead and post the earlier two.



Today also found me reaching back into a novel I’ve been writing, featuring Hank and Randy. I’m thinking of the life and friendship I share with Wayne White from Missouri whom I’ve known since second grade. Wayne remains the brother I’ve never had. We’ve enjoyed life as an odyssey and share many stories back and forth. These memories have spawned this book. I’m posting the rough draft of another piece I just fleshed out day before yesterday:

Finally, standing before his first university class, Randy stood behind the podium, opened his folder, looked out at the expectant faces of the students on the first day of the semester, and began . . .

“Welcome to the fall term. And allow me this moment to introduce myself and this course of study.”

Stepping out from behind the podium, he continued:

“I am the school within the school, much as eighteenth-century European Pietism sought the church within the church, ecclesiola in ecclesia. As you pass through the halls of this university, you may have difficulty sorting the rivers from the tributaries. My elective courses appear in the catalogue as tributaries. I assure you, they are rivers. Indeed I am the main channel.

“I am a university man. My very lifestyle is that of a scholar—a perennial researcher. Daily my mind sifts, sorts, and discards data from books, professional journals, and yes, even the Internet. And what I bring to my courses, every bit as important as the subject matter, is the Love of Learning.

“If you choose to walk with me this semester, or even throughout this year, I will take you through the Great Conversation. I will toss you into the river of ideas that has surged with unbelievable force and increasing momentum these past 2800 years. I will sit you at the conference table in the select company of thinkers, writers, artists, musicians—those creatives whose collective vision has shaped this present world.

“I will grant you the opportunity to put your foot into that Mississippi River and feel the pull of the undertow. I am the institution of learning. I know what I speak. More importantly I know what I don’t know.

“I am the school within the school. We are the school within the school. You have no idea what awaits you this semester. I know some of it because I have taken this tour before. But I am going to tour some streets where I have never before visited. I don’t know what awaits all of us there.”

More to come. 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 Work

May 31, 2023
In progress

I spent 2 hours in Studio 48 this afternoon blocking in a setting for the musicians. Managed to put a platform beneath them, tone the wall behind them, then plant grass beneath them. Now they’re anchored into the painting, finally.

A New Chapter

May 31, 2023

#3 of my recent series on “Palestine Blues”

I am quite aware of all the jokes that appear in The New Yorker and elsewhere showing the artist sitting disconsolately in front of the easel, brush in passive hand, waiting for the inspiration to come. But an artist’s “waiting,” funny as it may look in cartoons, is not to be confused with laziness or passivity. It requires a high degree of attention, as when a diver is poised on the end of the springboard, not jumping but holding his or her muscles in sensitive balance for the right second. It is an active listening, keyed to hear the answer, alert to see whatever can be glimpsed when the vision or the words do come. It is a waiting for the birthing process to begin to move in its own organic time. It is necessary that the artist have this sense of timing, that he or she respect these periods of receptivity as part of the mystery of creativity and creation.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

Rollo May has offered a sweet communion in Studio Eidolons throughout this morning. I nearly regret leaving him behind, but I’m excited at this new direction I’m getting ready to take: I’ve decided to designate Wednesday afternoons to working in Studio 48, our new gallery inside Gracie Lane Boutique at 4720 S. Cooper here in Arlington. I’m offering watercolor classes there, one Wednesday a month (my next one will be June 14), but think it might serve us well if I have a presence there on Wednesdays. So, today will be my first attempt, from 2-4:00. My work here in my home studio has been rewarding throughout the morning, and I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s new environment.

If you are in the area, stop by to say Hello, and enjoy all the new work hung by our new artist team. I have seventeen framed pieces hanging here as well.

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.

Shauna, this Blog’s for You

May 28, 2023

My Favorite Table Returned to Studio Eidolons

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

How satisfying to sit at this small, sturdy table once again! This was one of my favorite pieces of furniture in Studio Eidolons, but when we took ownership of The Gallery at Redlands over two years ago, we really needed furnishings, and this table went down there. I have missed it so! Yesterday, I finally brought it back “home” again, and this Sunday morning, with a grateful heart, I sit at it and work on this blog.

WARNING–This blog will be confessional. I’m usually not comfortable going into this mode, but what I’m about to write has flooded my thinking for several hours now, and I’m writing it for me. You of course are under no obligation to read all of it, or any of it. I’m writing for me . . .

I treasure every moment of my life when I’ve experienced a flood of inspiration from someone’s public speaking or presentation. My journals are packed with recorded notes of these sacred revival moments. And as a teacher and public speaker, I’ve always wished for that gift of inspiring others, touching others, as I have been touched. We don’t really know how to describe “presence” or “impact”. We just know it when it happens. Frankly, I’m a quiet guy. I’ve always wished I could fill a room with presence or electricity from the voice or physical gestures. But I’ve always known that I don’t really have that “It” factor. I even purchased Chris Anderson’s Ted Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. I used it several times for college lectures, hoping to add some kind of “punch” to what I was trying to communicate. I have no evidence that any of it worked. My epitaph should read I TRIED.

Now I must confess that I have files filled with letters from folks who have told me how much they were moved by something I said in public. I take those out and read them from time to time, and I’m touched to know that sometimes what I presented made an impact.

Now I want to share one of the most precious memories from my life of teaching. I frequently volunteered to be on the program for teachers’ In-services in our school district. Most of us chafed at attending those mandatory sessions, and I thought maybe I would enjoy some of them more if I just got to “talk” instead of sitting for hours listening to others “talk.” Over the years, I presented many, many of those sessions, most of them forgettable, to me.

But one day in the fall semester of 1996, I received a manila envelope in my teacher’s mailbox, and found within a typed letter from Shauna Carroll, an English teacher in my district. I will share that letter in full at the end of this blog.

The letter launched a friendship between the two of us that didn’t last enough years. Though we taught on different campuses, we looked forward to every district event so we could seek out each other and catch up. She was truly an electric individual. About three years after we met, I still remember the first day of summer school when an administrator came up with the brilliant idea of switching out some classrooms. I gave up long ago any attempt to understand some of these administrative decisions. I was to trade rooms with an English teacher across the hall. Why? No one knows. So. As I hurriedly gathered up the course textbooks for my English subject, I heard this voice behind me shout: “Move your ass. This is my room!” It was Shauna. We laughed. “Did you request this change?” I asked. “Hell no,” her response. And that was that. But it was a fun moment.

A week later, Shauna died while driving to summer school. She suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of her car, drove into someone’s front yard, and died seated in the driver’s seat. My guess is that she was in her forties. No one saw this coming. I cannot describe the crush that overcame me that morning as I received the news. I don’t remember that day in the classroom. Or the next. But I do remember her funeral. The testimonials coming from her students still fill my memories with profound gratitude. She was loved. Adored. And funny. And the students were so pure in pouring out their sentiments that day that frankly, I remember nothing of the eulogy.

What Shauna wrote carries much more firepower than what I am able to write. So, if you’re still with me, I’ll now let Shauna speak to you.


Dr. David Tripp

Martin High School

Date: Beginning of the new school year

Place: Lamar High School, English Teacher’s In-service

When: I don’t know, a couple of weeks ago. I’m just now doing this.

Why: Listen. Because.

You’ve been there.

You know how you feel on the morning of in-service days, like a day-old doughnut languishing in a cup of warm milk. Weak. Coffee seems to be brewing somewhere else, tantalizing your senses, not available to you, even if you don’t want it. “How will I endure the mundane? Well, I’ve got to do it, so let’s go.” You are expected to listen. You expect boredom. You anticipate mediocrity.

But I really, surprisingly, enjoyed your in-service on teaching philosophy in literature. I really needed some umph, a bagel with some substance and a whole lot of garlic, cream cheese, chives and salt. Here’s a more realistic appraisal than the “scale of 1 to 10” form that we were given that day. Go back to the experience with me from an observer’s perspective.

You are truly irritating enough to elicit this response. Good for you. I’m proud of your audacity.


There is a strange note in the air. Handel’s water music drips somewhere in my head, waiting to start. But it is really the sound of communication within the room. I’m hoping. I’m wondering.

A stray note on the board says, “Listen and Silent have the same letters.” Too cutesy. Too annoying.

It is not a note from our presenter, because we know that he doesn’t believe in this. We didn’t come here for this. We are borrowing this room for one hour. The inhabitants don’t like that concept on the board. But we have to endure the over-crowding, the restlessness. We talk. We listen. We exchange.

More chairs are hauled into the room. More teachers than the teacher-in-charge expected, than the administration that designed this holocaust-of-a-room expected. (Did they not have anything larger? What were they thinking? Do they not believe that there are so many of us interested in teaching philosophy in the classroom?!)

A small wrinkle appears on the presenter’s forehead; a wry smile, puzzled at the enthusiasm in the room, and we wonder, why? We all know why we are here, doesn’t he? Apparently he doesn’t believe in himself, because there weren’t enough copies of the outline to pass out to the participants. We chose this lecture, this in-service, because we want to know truth, that last horizon of philosophical endeavor, and how to teach it in today’s society within our curriculum. How to open-up kids’ intellectual curiosity.

But the room fills up quickly. Heat rises, that ghostly glare surfacing, dancing, from a black-top pavement in Texas August heat.

Page 2

The room is restless. Demanding.

Who would expect that there would be so many teachers interested in this particular style of teaching? Today, forty, fifty tops in the whole district of secondary education in Arlington. 52,000 students. We know that we are rare. We actually like questioning, answering, questioning again. We work a program that doesn’t have anything to do with a lesson plan. In fact, I call my lesson plan book a history book, because I write down what we have experienced that day in the classroom. Yes, we follow the curriculum guide, sort of. All of the sacred “Essential Elements” are there. But we teach to the students’ interests, abilities, expertise, desires. We care about their future. We want to see progress, and feel it and hear it, and ultimately sense it. It is there in our classrooms, and want it brought out.

We also know that we were right, because our students have increased their TAAS scores, that last bastion of credibility in Texas, particularly at Barnett Junior High, where we were awarded the mega-bucks to continue whatever it was that we were doing right. TEA didn’t know exactly what it was that we were doing or how we did it. We were just one of those schools that received this honor in Arlington. Non-specific encouragement. Just a lump-sum that said, “Oh, yes!” $20,000.00. OOOsh. Apparently, philosophy does matter in today’s materialistic society, and, in a spooky way, they are combined.

We care. We listen. We believe. We, in fact, Demand dialogue within the classroom.

Not silence.

The board that we are borrowing says, “Listen and Silent have the same letters.” It doesn’t know that it echoes ominously in our collective souls. We want to attack it. We’ve already said, “We don’t believe this.” We don’t agree with this philosophy. We expect a constant challenge that defies all odds, all principles. I’m antsy, write that preposterous slogan down on the back of my packet, and attack it with little dots from my pen. Disgusted with myself at that mindless activity, I look around the room at the other creatures. Who are we?

We came here today to hear a lecture on philosophical communication in literature. We don’t understand this concept of silence. We talk incessantly.

Because we don’t teach silence in our classrooms; we don’t adhere to that principle. We don’t even understand that anyone could teach this way. We are an annoying bunch of people that the administration doesn’t particularly understand, nor necessarily respects. To them, Aristotle is dead; Oh well. But to us, his brilliance is alive and intact. We don’t care about any negative attitudes that feed down to us when it comes to encouraging students to think, because we came into this profession knowing that what we wanted to do would not always be accepted, but that we had a goal a belief. If the administration believed in us, then we would believe in them. But ultimately, we needed for them to understand.

Page 3

I realize that I lucked out. The administration at my school is very positive. Glasser-oriented. They actually care about our classroom environments, and what we can achieve. My principal puts notes in our team’s boxes, saying, yes, you can order pillows for reading time if that keeps the students more focused and into reading and will ultimately improve their TAAS scores. She’s supportive. I have an Assistant Vice-Principal, that puts notes in my box on ways that I can better communicate with my students from a philosophical perspective. We communicate through the newspaper, magazine articles, essays, editorials, that we share with one another, and ultimately, with our students. We all actually believe in reading. We, as teachers, are given positive encouragement to work a program that is interesting, successful, and that broadens the minds of our students. We feel empowered to help our kids achieve.

I see my classroom now, before school starts. Within my room, there is a library of reading material, from science to math to history to foreign languages to government to origami to classical literature. There is a reading time, a moment in our day at school, structured in, when everyone drops everything and picks up a book to read. Mandatory reading. What a novel concept in education. Again given to us by the administration. Yep, I’m lucky.

If we talk about duality in the mainstream of life, about the need for harmony (“Practice Peace” poster in my room), and the conflicting need for uniqueness (multi-colored penguins that point to our own individuality, also in my room), then we ultimately come to some convergence in our literature, and hope that the concepts will blend. In 8th Grade mandatory-literature texts, there is a duality in harmony vs. individualism, and I see this in the literature of TOM SAWYER, FLOWERS FOR AGERNON, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and CALL OF THE WILD.

8th grade stuff.

No, college-stuff. Because these little 8th grade students are really young adults, and are figuring out their individuality (their need for acceptance as well as their rule over mankind), and their need for the pact mentality of the wolves in the CALL OF THE WILD. A blend. A wholeness.

A communication, borne out of the past, brought into a spiritual future, that has the audacity to combine that duality into the present.

And in my mindless ramblings that day that involved the charged atmosphere around me, you begin your presentation, and almost instantaneously, it ends.

Like a brief glimpse of a comet. I just thought, Wow. I felt small, like the time I was able to capture a double-rainbow on film, I wanted to be on those rainbows, both, but couldn’t. I wanted to ride on the comet, but knew that I couldn’t catch its tail. So now I am frozen in my chair, wondering how I can incorporate philosophy into my classroom.

But then I realize, I already have. Because I like conversation, dialogue, I turn to the nearest person and start talking, And in the back of my head, I begin to hear the students talking, my future students blended with the past, and know that I am now ready for the first day of school. I can’t wait for the process to begin.

Page 4

I ultimately realize that all I am doing is helping the students process information in an organizational way based on their heritage, their background, their goals.

Listen, can you hear them talking? Because I can.

They are the voices of tomorrow, and we should hear them.

Listen, can you hear them talking?

I will accept nothing that resembles silent. I adamantly refuse it.

“The two roads diverged in a narrow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled,” (Robert Frost)

I seriously believe in their future, and my own, in the cyclical rather than linear nature of life, and through as much chatter as I can irritate out of them.

Thanks for the wow. I needed that.

And I’m not even sure I understood all that you said. It was just an inspirational for me, a spur, I’m ready to go to class now.

Shauna Carroll


Barnett Junior High

Thanks for reading.

I’m Back

May 27, 2023

My latest work, now in The Gallery at Redlands

Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide whether it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they’re deciding, make even more art.

Andy Warhol

After a month’s absence, it feels good to be back in The Gallery at Redlands. And even better to have heart-to-heart talks with residents I’ve missed desperately. One of my gallery artists confided this morning that she feels as lost as I when it comes to deciding what to do next, creatively. I’ve lived long enough that I’m no longer surprised by dry spells. Nor discouraged. The creative winds will blow, and when they do, we’ll be ready. Artists make art because it is in them, and we cannot step back for very long. I’m grateful for the Warhol quote, because too often I wonder over whether or not I am making something that anybody out there would want to purchase. The only thing we can do is continue to turn the crank, and believe that what we do has quality.

My work area in the Gallery

I enjoyed our watercolor class today as we painted a bison. My demo is nearly complete, and I intend to do some more work on it tonight before we close at 9:00

Watercolor class working with studied discernment

Time to get back to painting. Thanks for reading.

Sunday Morning in Studio Eidolons

May 21, 2023

Half the world wants to be like Thoreau at Walden, worrying about the noise of traffic on the way to Boston; the other half use up their lives being part of that noise. I like the second half.

Franz Kline

I love the tension between wilderness and city discussed by Kline above. I have missed the wilderness of late, yet have enjoyed the quiet tranquility of my home and Studio Eidolons during this quiet Sunday. I managed to finish a commission I started recently, and as I worked in silence, I recalled a line from Julia Cameron that I read years ago and continue to cherish:

Artists toil in cells all over Manhattan. We have a monk’s devotion to our work–and, like monks, some of us will be visited by visions and others will toil out our days knowing glory only at a distance, kneeling in the chapel but never receiving the visitation of a Tony, an Oscar, a National Book Award. And yet the still, small voice may speak as loud in us as in any.

So we pray. Fame will come to some. Honor will visit all who work. As artists, we experience the fact that “God is in the details.” Making our art, we make artful lives. Making our art, we meet firsthand the hand of our Creator.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Thanks for reading.

A Good, Working Saturday

May 20, 2023

Saturday evening in Studio Eidolons

We cannot will to have insights. We cannot will creativity. But we can will to give ourselves to the encounter with intensity of dedication and commitment. The deeper aspects of awareness are activated to the extent that the person is committed to the encounter.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

After days of frenetic appointments and activity, it was nice to awaken to a morning where no demands were made on me throughout the day. Settling into my studio, I enjoyed my coffee, reading, journal scribbling, and finally this chance to sit down at the drafting table and concentrate on a new commission to paint a cutthroat trout and fly rod. It has been a long time since I’ve tackled this kind of a subject matter, and it feels good to return to it.

The Rollo May quote worked for me today. I put myself in the position to make art, and the inspiration and enthusiasm soon arrived.

Thanks for reading.

Picking Up the Pieces

May 16, 2023

Working at my Desk this Morning

Throughout his life, he expected much . . . and throughout his life he was disappointed . . . . But he believed deeply that the existence of art–and especially the creation of it by himself and others–was a way of embracing and yet transcending what William Butler Yeats called “the fury and the mire of human veins.” The question was: As an artist, how to be enmeshed in the human experience and yet transcend it? How is it possible to cope with the disastrous aspects of one’s own personal experience and at the same time rise above the suffering that it produces? For Motherwell, the answer lay in his art. He was quite literally kept alive by the act of painting.

Jack Flam, “Introduction: Robert Motherwell at Work,” Robert Motherwell: A Catalogue Raisonne, 1941-1991, Volume 1: Essays and References

Those who follow my blog are aware that I spent the past sixteen days in St. Louis, tending my father in St. Louis University Hospital. The struggle has been exhausting for him, both in and out of ICU. He has improved somewhat but still has not been released for rehab. I had to return to Texas because I could not let my business slide any longer. I cancelled two important events and am now feeling the pinch from those decisions.

The Robert Motherwell reference above soothed my spirits this morning, as I acknowledged about ten years ago that art, for me, was more than a hobby, more than a vocation. Throughout my St. Louis sojourn, I realized more than ever how much art feels like my life blood, my very oxygen. Picking up the brush when I returned home gave me a sense of strength and hope and a connection to life that I haven’t felt for a couple of weeks.

Completing New Work at the Drafting Table

Paddington Still Likes to Lounge in the Studio as I Work

Completed 8 x 10″ watercolor of one of my favorite New Mexico scenes along Route 66

Completed 8 x 10″ watercolor of my Friend and Fishing Buddy, Ron Darr

I managed to complete a pair of small watercolors I had started as demos for classes taught recently. I now have them in frames and ready to present to the public. I have also returned to Studio 48 here in Arlington, and replaced eight of the nine pieces I had hanging on display since the gallery went through its transformation last month. I have a watercolor class scheduled for June 14 in this gallery, and look forward to working with others in this medium.

New Display of my Work at Studio 48

The rest of the Display

There is so much still to do that has laid dormant since my departure. It feels good to put the word back out to the public that I am once again open for business and am glad to be back at the task.

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.

Sunday Morning Meditations

May 7, 2023

Experimenting in my watercolor sketchbook

It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

It is Sunday morning and I have found a measure of comfort practicing my watercolor (above), reading Annie Dillard (above) and scribbling page after page in my journal. Soon I’ll leave for the hospital, and wish I could report improvements in Dad’s health. But at this time, I cannot.

Though it is not winter, I feel every sentence of Annie’s sentiment recorded above. I’m grateful that my sister has provided lodging for me instead of my staying in a hotel room. She and her husband have kept me grounded. Every day is a rhythm of hospital sitting, awaiting news on Dad’s situation, and driving back to the house to keep myself sane with art, music (I brought my guitar and it provides comfort), reading, thinking, writing, and visiting with Bob & Cheryl. And every time I read something oracular to me, I record it in the journal and write pages of ideas born from those precious words.

At this moment in my life, I cannot make art for the market. I’m too much on the move, and the only supplies I brought were the bare bones tools for plein air work. I’ve also been sketching in the sketchbook. Doing this keeps me sane, even if the results aren’t pleasing to the eye. When I finally return to Texas, I’ll probably get back into my studio rhythm, and hopefully be better instead of worse at my craft. I’m just trying to keep the tip of the spear sharp in the meantime. And art is providing solace when all else is trying to pull me downward.

Thanks for reading.

Late Night Watercolor Study

May 6, 2023

A few of my reader friends have said they like seeing my work in progress. After a day at the hospital with Dad, I had little energy left tonight to push this one. Nevertheless, here is how much I’ve done in two sittings. I’m confident that it will be a nice sketchbook study once I get to the end of it.

Thanks for looking.