Archive for the ‘abstract’ Category

Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

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Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

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“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.

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Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Shocking Visitation from the Past

March 25, 2018

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Today is Sunday. Outside is gray and overcast and The Redlands Hotel is virtually empty and silent except for the occasional visitor to the Gallery at Redlands. I found it an opportune time to resume work on a commission promised long ago. In our age of smart phones, most of us have grown accustomed to the frequent interruptions as emails, text messages, facebook notifications and tweets continually pull us away from what we are focused on completing. When I demand absolute solitude, I turn the phone off, promising myself to return later to see if there is anything I need to answer.

But today an email arrived with the opening line I have encountered countless times in my past: “I just purchased a painting by David Tripp, and searching online I found you, and now want to reach out to see if you are the artist.” When opening the attached photo I always find that it is someone else’s work, especially if it is prior to the year 2000. Today’s email said the painting dated from 1974. I knew it was someone else. Opening the attachment, however, I found an oil painting from my sophomore year at the university that had been purchased at my senior show!

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Throughout the years, I have wondered about this work. The assignment was to paint a mobile home park east of Kirksville, Missouri, on a highway heading toward Brashear. Professor William Unger was excited about the network of TV antennas that crisscrossed high above the mobile home roofs, drawing geometric patterns into the skies. When I went to the location and began my preliminary sketches, I found no satisfaction in what I was creating. So, I decided to raise the horizon near the top of the composition, and draw the TV antennas downward from the homes, eventually turning the lines into glazes of translucent earth tones. Finally, I added a moon on the horizon and hoped the Professor would be satisfied with the piece. That was 1974.

Two years later, this painting hung in my Senior Show (it was mandatory for all art majors to hang a solo show during their final year at the university). To my surprise, the painting was purchased by the wife of a music professor at the university (Northeast Missouri State, now Truman State) who taught classes on the second floor of the Kirk Building (art department was on the third floor). When he came up to the third floor to visit with me and learned that I was at the time a Southern Baptist minister as well as an art major, he shared that he was active in church work and would be sharing the painting with his church family.

Countless times in the intervening years, I have envisioned this painting in my mind’s eye, wondering why I had never photographed it for a record, and always wondering what had become of it. Now, like a message in a bottle, the piece has washed up on my island, and the new owners were gracious enough to seek me out. In a follow-up phone conversation with these owners, I learned that they had just purchased the work from a Unitarian/Universalist minister in Dayton, Ohio. I found this amusing, because the professor of music, when learning that I was a Southern Baptist minister as well as art major in 1976, talked of the relation of art and religion, and wondered if I would find ways to fuse the two in my future work. As it turned out, I spoke from a Unitarian/Universalist pulpit for ten years at about the same time I was rediscovering my artistic muse. And yes, in the years since, I have actively sought ways to fuse religion and art.

This day, to me, is filled with wonder. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.