Archive for the ‘art gallery’ Category

Thoughts on the Lone Bison

June 12, 2021

Today we are searching for things in nature that are hidden behind the veil of appearance… We look for and paint this inner, spiritual side of nature.

Franz Marc

Vacationing in Utah last year brought me in close proximity to a herd of bison. I was moved profoundly as I gazed upon those behemoths grazing quietly on a broad plain, continually kicking up dust as they moved about. I attempted a pair of watercolors of them and was satisfied with the results. However, I found myself far more engaged as I continued sketching them in my watercolor sketchbooks and even once taught a watercolor class on bison sketching. This morning, waking in The Redlands Hotel, I determined that after breakfast I would make my way to the gallery downstairs and attempt yet another bison watercolor sketch, just a simple 5 x 7″ one.

In my most recent bison experiments, I am trying to open up and use Daniel Smith quinacridone colors more aggressively. This morning as I attempted my latest one, I thought about Franz Marc, the German Expressionist who founded the Blue Rider movement (Der Blaue Reiter), something that started as a published journal and eventually drew about it a circle of artists including Wasily Kandinsky. Marc imposed a vivid array of colors on the animals he painted, and I’ve never been able to get those images out of my head. So I decided “Why not try this on the bison?”

I’ve decided to mat this 5 x 7″ piece and place it in an 8 x 10″ frame and price it at $100 in The Gallery at Redlands. While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and post the other two already hanging in this space.

Utah Evening Serenity, 21 x 20″ framed watercolor. $450

Bison Herd in Utah, 23 x 31″ framed watercolor. $600

The Lone Bison, 8 x 10″ framed watercolor. $100

Saturday in The Gallery at Redlands is proving calm and productive for me. I’ll be here till we close at 9 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.

Waking to a New Dawn

June 12, 2021

Presumptuous is the artist who does not follow his road through to the end. But chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution.

Paul Klee, On Modern Art

I woke at 6:30 this morning feeling that I could shake paintings out of my shirt sleeves. Looking out the second-story window of my dining room in the Redlands Hotel, I felt the historic Carnegie Library looking back at me, affirming and encouraging me to follow my bliss.

Before retiring to bed late last night, I read from Paul Klee’s lecture On Modern Art, and stopped on the passage posted above. The word chosen arrested my attention as I came to the realization that I didn’t choose Art. Art chose me. From my childhood, it was the only talent I had, the only interest I pursued.

I recalled the scene from “Life Lessons”, a selection from the film New York Stories. Nick Nolte stars as Lionel Dobie, a Willem de Kooning-type artist who has dominated the New York art scene for years. Now he is deviled by his attractive assistant who frustratingly wants all the art success to come to her right now. She cries out, asking if he thinks her art is any good. His answer: “What different does it make what I think. It’s yours.” He goes on to tell her that artists make art because they have no choice.

I make art because I have no choice. Taking a page from Aristotle, art is in me, and it must come out. Does the bird singing in the morning have any idea that the sounds it makes are beautiful to the human ear, or is the bird just doing what birds do by nature? Does the spider spinning at dawn have any idea of the beauty, the geometry, the symmetry of its web, or is the spider merely spinning out the essence of its character?

My own artistic impulse was set free the day I realized that the world doesn’t need my art. The market doesn’t wait breathlessly for my next piece. That is liberating. Grateful to be retired and on an adequate pension, I can pursue my own bliss without apology or permission. And as I work (play), I am not deviled by questions such as “Is this any good?” or “Will this sell?” I make art because I have no choice. And while making it, the world is better, for me anyway.

Before closing, I would like to post Paul Klee’s remarks in full, for anyone wishing to read his powerful words:

Presumptuous is the artist who does not follow his road through to the end. But chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution.

There, where the power-house of all time and space–call it brain or heart of creation–activates every function; who is the artist who would not dwell there?

In the womb of nature, at the soure of creation, where the secret key to all lies guarded.

But not all can enter. Each should follow where the pulse of his own heart leads.

I am David Tripp. And this is what I do. 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 Features Kevin Harris Tonight

May 22, 2021
Musician Kevin Harris from 7-9 tonight at Gallery at Redlands

We are a tongued folk. A race of singers. Our lips shape words and rhythms which elevate our spirits and quicken our blood.

Maya Angelou, Order out of Chaos

Morning Watch in The Redlands Hotel

To live in recollection is the most perfect life imaginable; recollection is more richly satisfying than all actuality, and it has a security that no actuality possesses.

Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Awake since 6:30, my favorite part of weekends is sitting in the morning light from our second-story room in the historic Redlands Hotel and looking through the fire escape railings at the magnificent Carnegie Library across the street. How I wish I could have lived here in the days when that was a functioning public library! Words fail me when I try to describe the vibe of living in a railroad hotel built in 1914 and look out the windows upon a city steeped in history.

Tonight will be our second and final night of a Major Sale including art from The Gallery at Redlands as well as additonal work brought in for the sale. I always look forward to gallery nights and the public, but frankly, all I can think about this morning is the luxury of hearing Kevin Harris perform this evening. It has been too long. If you have not heard the sonorous, soulful voice of Kevin, accompanied by his amazing guitar skills, you won’t want to miss tonight’s two-hour event. Earlier this morning, I read Kierkegaard’s sentiment that words are too heavy and clumsy to describe effectively the quality of live music. Indeed. I am always tongue-tied when trying to tell people the effect Kevin’s voice has had on me since the days I shared space in this gallery with his radio station Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. Just the sound of him talking through the morning show had the power to remove any sting of anxiety or unpleasant thoughts I was experiencing. But when I heard him perform for the first time, I realized that his musicianship was just as overpowering as his conversation. So please, if you are in the area, stop by The Redlands Hotel tonight from 7-9. We are at 400 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas.

Kierkegaard’s quote above regarding recollection stirred me over morning coffee. My company is called Recollections 54, acknowledging my birth year and my body of art work that comprises my personal recollections of an America that embraced me during my early childhood in the fifties. My recollections of small-town America are filled with images of scenes dying out as history adds new chapters. These scenes are disappearing from our vision but not our memories.

My recollections from this morning have chosen to focus on the good memories, not the disappointments. And thinking back over the past four years spent with this town and its people fills me with gratitude. This community has been a veritable retirement gift for me. I continue to lean forward in anticipation of new friendships and new experiences.

Thank you for reading. We hope to see you tonight.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

New Happenings at The Gallery at Redlands

May 17, 2021
New Window Display (left to right): Stacy Campbell, John Westerhold and Tommy Thompson

“Personally,” de Kooning said, “I do not need a movement.” And that personal feeling had a way of suggesting a new kind of movement.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

After the excitement of Saturday night’s Art Talk in our gallery, followed by the next day’s drive home in a Texas Monsoon, I needed a day of down time before returning to talk about what’s happening at The Redlands Hotel.

Saturday night featured our second round of art discussions in The Gallery at Redlands, and the event didn’t disappoint. Elaine Jary and Grace Hessman made their trips into town, and their personal accounts of how the muse drives them to make art warmed me to the core. We were surprised also at the arrival of our latest artist, John Westerhold, driving in from Fairfield with his first piece of work to enter into our gallery display. We decided immediately to install it in the streetside window so people outside could see it when they drive by. Most viewers think the Harley image is an airbrushed photo, but no, it is an acrylic on canvas painting!

There is something very special in the air in Palestine, and it involves creative spirits gathering to display their work and hold public discussions. We will be letting you know what is coming down the pike in weekends ahead. We are not satisfied with the mere announcement that “We Are Open this Weekend.”

Next Friday and Saturday evenings, 7-9:00, we will have gallery selections reduced in price and placed on tables and easels in the lobby–our first Art Sale. On Saturday at the same time, local radio personality and musician Kevin Harris will be playing his acoustic guitar and singing in the lobby. You won’t want to miss that event! Members of The Twelve will be in attendance both nights so you can meet them personally and know more about the work they create.

I cannot recall a more satisfying and fulfilling time in my personal and professional life. There is something in the air here, and I believe it will continue to develop into something special. These artists at The Gallery at Redlands really have a story to share. I’m just proud to be among them.

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.

Relaxing Between Gallery Talks

May 15, 2021
Completed Watercolor of Palimpsest

“The Club was always misunderstood. We didn’t want to have anything to do with art. We just wanted to get a loft, instead of sitting in those goddamned cafeterias.”

Willem de Kooning, interview with James T. Valliere in Partisan Review.

Willem de Kooning and the Greenwich Village artists of the 1940’s finally chipped in their hard-eaerned money to rent a loft near the Rikers hamburger joint and Cedar Tavern where they used to gather for discussions. 39 East Eighth Street is now mentioned with reverence in art history as the Eighth Street Club. They were glad to leave the cafeterias and bars in favor of having their own space for creative discussion.

For years I have longed for a special place to gather with kindred spirits to discuss ideas. My last place was a La Madeleine restaurant in north Arlington, and I still cherish memories of time spent there with other artists before COVID closed things down. Elaine Jary, one of The Twelve, participated in those talks, and I’m happy that she now is heading to Palestine to chat with us this evening.

The Gallery at Redlands is now a haven for The Twelve along with anyone else wishing to gather with us for serious discussion of the creative life. We are not a Club; the door is open, even if you only wish to listen in. Last night was our first scheduled gathering, the next is tonight at 6:00. We only plan to discuss an hour. Last night we went two. I’ll say this at the outset–anyone wishing to depart early is free to do so. No one is constrained to stay the hour, or leave after an hour.

I am still dizzy with the memories of last night. Painters Cecilia Bramhall and Kathy Lamb attended along with theater director/playwright John Lamb, radio disc jockey and musician Kevin Harris, and creative social media experts Wayne and Celia Polster. I finally had to snatch up my journal and begin scribbling, because the ideas were so electric I feared I would forget some of them in the days following.

In the heat of the discussion, John suddenly had a flash of inspiration for a new play, and he could already see the set design and hear the dialogue among the characters in the plot. It is going to involve artists, and we are ecstatic to see how this one develops.

Kevin, Celia and Wayne simply smoked me with all their ideas and insights on ways to use media to bring the spotlight to Palestine, revealing this city as a genuine creative arts hub. Throughout the discussion, all I could see in my mind’s eye was a reincarnation of the spirit of the Eighth Street Club which would usher in the era of Abstract Expression and wrestle the art capital of the world title from Paris, transferring it to New York City. We already have The Twelve. Now we are expanding our circle as we listen to the ideas of musicians, dramatists, writers and creative media experts.

Sandi and I still have our home in Arlington, Texas, but we love spending Thursday through Saturday working in The Gallery at Redlands here in Palestine. And for the past four years, I have enjoyed individuals dropping in for an informal visit, this door is always open. But finally I am happy to offer opportunities for gathering the way we did last night. Tonight at 6:00 Elaine Jary will join us, travelling all the way from Bedford, Texas, and Grace Hessman from nearby Elkhart will be here as well. Anyone else is welcome as well.

It has been my dream for years to have a special place to gather and dream with other creative spirits without fear of rejection or ridicule. So, if you hunger for this kind of communion, please join us tonight. And as for the future, we will be advertising our schedule for further Gatherings in the Gallery.

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.

Mornings that begin with painting are better than those that do not

May 7, 2021
Friday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands
Two of my Favorite Writers, Whitman and Ginsberg watch me with encouragement

I force my mind to become self-absorbed and not let outside things distract it. There can be absolute bedlam without so long as there is no commotion withn.

Seneca

As the hour nears noon, I look back on the serene Friday morning that is nearing its end. Conversations with artists, friends and Redlands Hotel staff and owners have been scattered and pleasant, and with the gallery door open, the steady sounds of people checking in and out, entering and exiting the Queen Street Grille, along with the occasional sound of Union Pacific locomotives booming through town two blocks away mingle in a relaxed ambient sound for me. Seneca spoke of the continual street noise around the Roman bath houses in his day, urging that they did not prevent him from his daily Stoic morning musings. I feel the same way when I’m in the midst of a Palestine weekday morning. I love the sounds of a world waking up and going to work all about me as I tend to the tasks in The Gallery at Redlands. Watercoloring at the drafting table has been a good experience, and now I’m settling in to read for awhile.

I’m happy to announce that next weekend, May 14-15, we will launch the beginning of our series of Gallery Talks with members of The Twelve. This next Friday at 6:00, the public is invited to hear from local artists Cecilia Bramhall, Kathy and John Lamb as well as myself. Saturday at the same time will feature Grace Hessman, Elaine Cash Jary and me again. The artists are looking forward to sharing their ideas of what inspires them to create, what they are working on at present, and what they hope to see happening in the future as we work to raise our profile among the East Texas communities. We are anticipating a good time together and hope in the future to make this a regularly sechedule event so the public can enjoy intimate conversations with members of The Twelve. The Gallery at Redlands is working on a calendar of events so we can soon have more to say about our weekends than the simple declaration “We’re open”.

Making progress this morning

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.

New Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

May 6, 2021
Writing at the Desk
View from the Lobby of The Redlands Hotel
You moved out from the city?

              I don't blame you.

              In a world where they can split a tiny atom...

              and blow up hundreds of thousands of people...

              there's no telling where it's all gonna lead.

              Best to find a quiet place...

              do what you have to do.

From the motion picture “Pollock” (2000)

Seated once again in my quiet place inside The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas, I was reading some engaging material from New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century. Artist Willem de Kooning and artist/psychologist John Graham are engaging my attention at this time. Chapter Two, “The Dialectical Imagination”, discusses the various tensions the artists of Manhattan addressed concerning art as well as life in general. The world view of the most well-known creative spirits of that day believed they were living in a world divided. From John Graham:

Vulgarly speaking, time marches on and the machine-age and consequently the collective age is asserting itself from the two opposite ends of the globe. Picasso is the last vestige of hand-made art. It is the swan song to the glories of the past and the apprehension of the future for there is nothing more terrifying than the unknown.

Though I’ve been a practicing artist much longer, I have only engaged in the art market about twenty-or so years, but I have kept my ear to the ground the entire time, listening to the discussions of where art is going, where the business is going, and the role of technology and a changing ethos amidst it all. My observations on this are too extensive for a single-blog assessment, but I still want to say a few things about how I perceive things today in the art world.

First, I have been told since the year 2000 that galleries are no longer the way for an artist to go if s/he wants to make a real splash in the market. The same has been said about art festivals. Being now sixty-seven years of age, I have always known I would cut back on the festivals. There was a day when I attended an annual average of ten or so. This year I will probably have only two, but I anticipate them to be well worth the effort of travel, set up and break down. As for galleries, I never intended to quit them and seek online avenues for selling my work. Of course, retiring from teaching I have benefit of a pension and fortunately am not a starving artist; I’ll do fine even if I sell nothing.

Second, I never anticipated becoming a gallerist, and after three months am still in shock that I’ve landed this role. Balancing my life between making and selling my own art and maintaining a gallery business is still unusual for me, and I cannot say I have yet found my stride. We’re just fortunate that The Gallery at Redlands is still doing quite well. There doesn’t seem to be any fading of the honeymoon period yet. As time goes on, I will most likely have more to say about the gallery business, but it’s still too new for me to assess (I’m still glad to be in it!).

John Graham’s quote above contrasts the machine-age with the collective age. He also divides history from prospect, and in another passage cleaves asunder the societal and private lives of the creative person. I think what is weighing most heavily on my mind today is this last split–the public and the private sides of the one trying to make art.

Though three decades of my life have been public with education, and another decade with the ministry, I believe I have always been far more introverted than extroverted. I was never afraid to speak in public or represent any particular view in public. But I have always felt much more contented in the private moments. As a minister and as a teacher, I always longed for the quiet moments of introspection in the study or studio much more than the times to stand and deliver in the public arena. The same is true now in the gallery. I love meeting the public, selling to the public and conversing with the public. But I am always grateful for times like now, with this laptop, as well as time spent in books, time spent writing, and times at the drafting table (the drafting table is to my left and will be visited as soon as this blog is finished).

The quote from the 2000 Pollock motion picture that opens this blog floods my memory now. In that scene, Pollock has just moved to Springs on Long Island to get away from New York City and his constant drinking, quarreling and fighting. After Pollock entered the country store, the proprietor acknowledged the stranger and uttered those words posted above. Over the past four years, I have replayed that episode every time I saw Arlington, Texas in my rearview mirror while en route to Palestine, Crockett or any other East Texas venue for a weekend or full week. The metroplex was never able to hold me the way the small towns and countryside do. And though Palestine, Texas numbers 18,000 in population, there are never 18,000 people standing about me; there is always space and quiet for me to thrive in what I like to do best.

I am grateful every day for the lives and work of The Twelve, the collection of artists whose works now give The Gallery at Redlands life. We have decided to gather for informal gallery talks and see if the community would like to hear what some of us have to say. We find it unfortunate that we never got to gather during the weekend of our gallery opening. There was just too much to do, and before we realized it, the weekend was over and everyone split to go back to their respective cities. We’re trying to correct that.

Next Friday and Saturday evening at six (May 14th-15th), a few of us will gather to discuss our art and our views. The gallery will be open for business and the public is invited to join us in conversation of peruse the art we have on all the walls and tables. We will be open for business as usual, the only change will be conversations filling the air. I wish it were happening this weekend; I cannot wait to visit with these creative spirits, and hope you will join us as well. More details to follow . . .

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.

Pre-Dawn Musings. Life as an Artist

May 1, 2021
Redlands Hotel. Second Floor

The man who has great emotions might burst into tears–but that is as far as he will get if he has no practical side. The artist must have the emotional side first, the primal cause of his being an artist, but he must also have an excellent mind, which he must command and use as a tool for the expression of his emotions.

The idea, which is the primal thing for a picture, is all in the air; the expression on canvas is a case of absolute science as it deals with materials. A great artist is both a great imaginer and a great employer of practical science. First there must be the man, then the technique.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

After a week of frenetic loading, traveling, and unloading from gallery to home to festival grounds back to home and then back to gallery, I am finally able to stop long enough this morning to write about what is swirling about me. I woke up about 3:30 this morning in The Redlands Hotel and could not return to sleep. So I have been enjoying the quiet pre-dawn at the kitchen table in the suite I inhabit while at this residence. The Redlands Hotel has the feel, the genuine vibe I believe inhabited it since 1915. I seem to do some of my best thinking and painting here. And now in the quiet of the morning, I sense that the dam is about to break–all the thoughts I’ve harbored in my heart this past week will probably spill out onto this computer screen and then go out to anybody who cares to read.

This Robert Henri book has been like a Bible for me the past ten years or so. Teaching art history, my imagination was always stirred by the details of this amazing man’s life. Obviously his persona was magnetic as he gathered a group of newspaper illustrators around him and fired up their imaginations at meetings in his studio apartment on 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. They called themselves The Eight (hence my derivative idea of The Twelve here in The Gallery at Redlands).

For years I’ve wondered if my own life could have turned out differently had I had such an art teacher as Henri. But that is an immature and uncritical sentiment; in many ways, he has been and still is my art teacher. And the best parts of Henri’s character and philosophy were embedded in the art teachers who influenced me the most–Mr. Scucchi (high school) with his abstract theories, Professor Murray (university) with his erudite scholarship, and Professor Unger (university) with his technical focus.

I cannot improve on the quote from Henri at the top of this blog, but I wish to respond with my own sentiments. I have always been intrigued with the dual nature of the artist as emotional and intellectual. Throughout my own pilgrimage, I recall my early years as charged with emotion and imagination, and my desire to express these through the avenue of art, drawng first and painting later. Throughout public school and university I never lost that emotional charge, but being intellectually lazy and immature, I sought to improve my work only through technique, assembing as many tools for my toolbox as possible. As for academic pursuits and listening to lectures, I was completely disinterested.

Halfway through my university undergraduate years, I suddenly woke up to the world of ideas and found myself starved for academic pursuit. I guess one would call me a late-bloomer. By the time my Bachelors was completed, I regretted that I had not taken scholarship more seriously. Earning later a Masters and Doctorate did not burn me out. Rather those ten extra years of meticulous scholarship changed my life and I now find myself in retirement years just as intensely curious as I was from the beginning, but now with more time to read and reflect.

Every artist has his/her own way of pursuing this enterprise. As for myself, I spend just as much time reading and writing as I do painting in the studio. My mornings generally begin with coffee and “executive time” where I study just as intently as I did during my graduate school years (except I no longer have papers to write or deadlines to meet–a perfect world at last!). I approach the drafting table later in the day and attempt to apply what I’ve learned to the task of making visual art. My heroes from art history are those who found ways to balance their technical artistic skills with their academic pursuits of study and writing. These artists are the ones I read the most–Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Eugene Delacroix, Paul Gauguin, N. C. Wyeth and of course Robert Henri. Through their examples, I continue to find ways to balance my intellectual and technical focus with my emotional side.

Thank you for reading me.

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 Featured in Local Magazine

May 1, 2021

Enter The Twelve

We are The Twelve.

Ruminating, fashioning, presenting,

Offering creations, gifts to our brothers and sisters,

Pondering our world, we re-shape, we re-cut, we re-color, we re-invent,

Inviting prismatic light to reach diverse eyes.

We are The Twelve.

In quiet studios we dream, we feel, we cry.

We say Yes! to the impulse to create.

Our creator fashioned us in His image,

The Imago Dei, the faculty to create.

We are The Twelve.

Our paintings, pottery, photographs and sculpture weave a tapestry

Of collective lives, tightly woven fellowship of belief.

We are The Twelve.

Converging on The Gallery at Redlands, we join in chorus

To celebrate lives immersed in the arts,

Adhering to words of our patron Saint Matthew:

Art still has truth.

Take refuge there.

We are The Twelve.

David Tripp

Something is in the air. The Gallery at Redlands looks different, feels different this weekend. Three days ago, countylinemagazine.com published the long-anticipated article on our gallery. The arrival of the text and pictures flooded my heart with joy. I just knew things would be different now. Sure enough, when Sandi and I arrived on Thursday to re-build and re-arrange our space, people continued to drop by the gallery to look at the artistic creations of The Twelve, even though they had to pick their way around crates and portfolios of new work strewn about the room. Friday was no different (except visitors no longer needed to avoid debris all over the floor).

County Line Magazine is an online publication from East Texas, and our article now appears in the May-June issue: https://www.countylinemagazine.com/arts/gallery-expands-with-new-artwork-variety/article_dbd4edcc-a5e8-11eb-bf40-1fe10ec92e56.html

The Twelve wishes to extend our heart-felt thanks to author Lisa Tang for her dilligent work in interviewing a number of our artists as well as researching their websites and composing the article. Dozens of patrons the past two days have pored over the pages of the article that I printed and inserted into our gallery notebook along with all our artist bios. Lisa’s work stimulated conversation throughout the day, and a number of the gallery’s pieces found new homes!

Our hours at the gallery continue to expand. Now Cecilia Bramhall has the space open 11-2:00 on Tuesdays while Queen Street Grille across the lobby is serving lunch. Thursday I open the gallery at noon and remain there till the restaurant closes at 9 (but frequently keep it open if patrons are continuing to come in and browse). Same thing on Saturdays. Please stop by and visit us when you have the time.

Thanks for reading.

The Emotional and the Technical: Balancing the Art Equation

April 17, 2021
Opportunity to Read and Reflect while the Restaurant is Busy

The man who has great emotions might burst into tears–but that is as far as he will get if he has no practical side. The artist must have the emotional side first, the primal cause of his being an artist, but he must also have an excellent mind, which he must command and use as a tool for the expression of his emotions.

The idea, which is the primal thing for a picture, is all in the air; the expression on canvas is a case of absolute science as it deals with materials. A great artist is both a great imaginer and a great employer of practical science. First there must be the man, then the technique.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The day has been long as Sandi and I have culled out of the gallery my pieces to hang in next weekend’s festival at the Dallas Arboretum. The dinner hour has arrived, and the Saturday night crowd now fills the Queen Street Grille across the lobby from our Gallery at Redlands. It is possible later that patrons after dinner will flow across the hall and into this gallery to have a look. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the waning western light glowing through the large windows of the gallery as well as the general quiet of the lobby. (Prom pictures were being taken this afternoon. The noise, ugh!)

My pulse quickens every time I read of the life of Robert Henri as he gathered The Eight around him in Philadelphia. Henri was truly a prophet, drawing a young group of newspaper illustrators around him in his apartment at 806 Walnut Street. He read to them from Emerson, Whitman and Tolstoy to fire up their imagination and then instructed them in the proper techniques for sketching and illustration. The group went on to become known as The Ashcan School, moving to New York City and sketching live the scenes that enveloped their day-to-day lives. Later on, The Eight expanded to include a young Edward Hopper, one of my favorite American artists of all time.

The quote above engages me directly, as I look back over my earlier years when I sought training to improve my art techniques, but didn’t really feel the fire in my belly till I was finishing up grad school, enriched by theology, literature and philosophy. Returning to the pencil and brush, I was surprised that I actually had something more to say through drawing and painting than I had thought in my earlier years. Thus my newly discovered passion was easily engrafted onto the skills I had been taught while working on my art degree.

Throughout my later years, I have come up with several ways to look at this bifurcation of emotion and technique. In philosophy, I learned from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy that Greek actors on the stage sought to display to the audience the two competing forces in human life–Dionysus, the god of passion and turbulence struggling against Apollo, the god of reason and discipline. As an artist I have known for decades those two competing forces.

In art history, I have seen countless examples of those clashing tendencies. Neo-Classical art focused on the disciplines of drawing and composition. In reaction, Romanticism sprung up, crying out for passion and experimentation in art. In my own artistic endeavors, I have been told by my earlier instructors that I was too tight, too controlling, too orderly in my work, lacking in feeling, freedom and spontaneity. I am still aware of that in my current work.

I hope that before too much longer The Twelve will have opportunity to gather and talk about these matters that drive our artistic endeavors. Meanwhile I’ll just continue reading, thinking, writing, and hopefully applying what I’m discovering.

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.