Archive for the ‘bison’ Category

Working on a New Story

May 29, 2022
Watercolor Sketchbook exercise

For days now, stories have been blistering up in my imagination to add to the book I’ve been working on these recent years. I’m thinking about adding a third character to the Hank and Randy saga. Not sure of his name yet, but for now he is Sonny . . .

Sonny was in a rage this morning. Standing at the bandsaw in the maintenance shed of POCO Graphite, his blood pressure continued to surge. It wasn’t spurred by any particular incident of this day or the day before; he had merely reached the end of his rope in this careerless job that was making his graduate education possible. His Bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University was funded by his parents’ blue-collar support, and he knew that they expected more from him than landing a mere teacher’s position in a public school. So he had made the pledge to pursue a Masters of Fine Art degree in North Texas, which was going to be expensive. To support this effort, he hired in as a maintenance helper at this industrial plant, and was now in the midst of training as a welder.

As a budding artist, Sonny had hoped that acquiring metalworking skills would help him find his niche in the art world, but it wasn’t happening. Instead, every day found him standing at the bandsaw, cutting stainless steel two-by-four channel iron at forty-five-degree cuts, each one requiring forty minutes of standing and staring at the saw in case something happened–the blade binding or snapping, or the piece of stainless steel shifting under the grip of the vises holding it in position on the cutting surface. Boring. As Sonny stood there, he found himself sketching the images of bison with soapstone on the cutting table as he watched the saw grinding away. Every night after supper, he wearily sat at his apartment dining room table and sketched in watercolor herds of bison that he hoped he would one day see if he ever fulfilled his lifelong ambition to visit Wyoming or Utah, or any state preserving bison herds.

New Creations

March 28, 2022
Colorful Bison. Watercolor 11 x 14″ frame. $100

Perhaps I am more than usually jealous of my freedom. I feel that my connections with and obligations to society are at present very slight and transient.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry, January 10, 1851

This morning’s reading from the Journals of Thoreau yielded timely food for thought, for me. I have decided that this semester is my “last rodeo” with the university. The adjunct contracts began in 1985, and I feel that that is long enough. I ended my high school tenure in 2017, after 28 years, but continued to sign university contracts. But now is a good time to bring the series to an end; there are other flowers I’d like to water, with whatever time I have left on this journey.

I have always been a fan of Thoreau’s schedule, but not a participant; I have managed to work in the public for more than three decades, and now I think that the Thursday-Saturday gallery work in Palestine suffices, giving me Sunday through Wednesday to do as I please, when I please. And I’m sure that there will be times we will choose to remain in Palestine for a full week, not having to return to Fort Worth to teach college classes.

Ghost Ranch. Watercolor 8 x 10″ frame. $75

Meanwhile I’m still cranking out art to frame and put on the market. I have Artscape 2022 at the Dallas Arboretum coming up April 29-May 1.

Thanks for reading.

Call Me Knish

February 13, 2022
Studio Eidolons
Joey Knish is a New York legend.

            He's been a rounder, earning his living at cards...

from the motion picture "Rounders"

I am not a poker player. but I love good movies about the card-playing lifestyle, and I have watched none better than "Rounders". John Turturro plays the role of Joey Knish, modeled after poker legend Joel "Bagels" Rosenberg, center of the New York poker world who died in 2014 at age 58. 

Joey Knish is labeled as a "grinder", making money by playing poker his entire life, never getting rich, but grinding it out through his many connections rather than gunning for the big score at some high-stakes poker tournament. 

I consider myself I grinder in the art circle. For twenty years I have managed to cobble together a plethora of revenue streams: galleries, art festivals, workshops, public demonstrations, private art lessons and commissions. The last seventeen years of my school teaching tenure were indeed grinding years, as I determined to carve out some kind of niche for myself in the art world. Working the art circuit in additon to teaching high school fulltime and college part-time indeed sharpened my consciousness of what it means to grind. 

In the movie "Rounders", Joey Knish is a mentor to other poker players trying to find their way, offering wise counsel on how to protect their winnings and how not to throw away their hard-earned money. And I like to consider myself a mentor to other artists seeking a path into the art world. I have no secrets and plenty of advice. Above all, I know to warn others about costly mistakes I've made over the years.

Life is no longer the same kind of grind as before. I'm happy to be retired and on a teacher's pension, and happier now to own a gallery where I feel I have a showroom for my art beyond my private home. Sandi and I divide our time weekly between our home where my studio remains and The Gallery at Redlands where we also have a residence to rent in The Redlands Hotel above the gallery. Teaching only six hours at the university is nowhere near the grind that I knew in fulltime high school teaching, so life is quieter now and deadlines are not as crushing. 

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I have zero interest in the two teams playing for the trophy. With splendid light flooding Studio Eidolons, I am happy to divide my time between working on a pair of watercolors and finishing up my college obligations for tomorrow's class.
Working on the Chuck Wagon
The Lone Bison
Paddington, my Studio Companion

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.

Musing over Cave Art

February 5, 2022
5 x 7″ watercolor sketch. $100 matted

I am posting yesterday’s watercolor sketch with no changes. Looking at it repeatedly throughout today, I have decided to sign off on it, leaving it to look more like a primitive cave wall rendering. That was not my original plan. But over the years I have destroyed so many promising starts to watercolors by carrying them through to their preconceived destinies, overworking and ultimately killing them. I have decided I want this one to live. I think it is fresher as is. I can always begin another one and carry it to the conclusion I had planned for this one.

The rest of this Saturday was given over to grading the responses of my Humanities online class. I had thought that I would breeze through this process in 30 minutes, and I could have. But the responses were by far the best overall class contribution I have experienced in over 30 years of teaching. I read and re-read each submission and wrote extensive comments back to each student, and continually stopping to scribble out ideas in my personal journal. I then sent out an email to the class that I meant from the heart:

Humanities students,

Today I will introduce our next Discussion Board topic, an article from Immanuel Kant. Since the day is already well underway, I will make the deadline for this new assignment Sunday instead of next Saturday, giving you a little more than a week to complete.

What I am about to say is genuine. Teaching since 1985, I have never encountered a university class dialogue as rich as the one just completed. Seriously. I posted comments on the grade page of every single one of you because I wanted the comments to be private with you instead of read on the threads by everyone. I have never witnessed such a start to a university (or high school) course. And I pray it will continue. Immanuel Kant was a great mind and the article I assign will be shorter than Bruni’s but it may require more studied concentration. But it will be worth it, and I believe will dovetail nicely with what Bruni has started in us. 

I don’t say this lightly–no class before you has responded to the Bruni article with the maturity and interest that you provided. For that I thank you from the heart. For over ten years now, I’ve wondered whether or not I was teaching my final semester. And with that wonder came the question of whether or not the class would leave a meaningful memory. Well . . . based on what just happened, I almost wish that there would not be a semester after this one! Hours ago, I thought I would blow through this discussion grading in less than half an hour. As it turned out, I spent over 3 1/2 hours, because I could not stop pausing, re-reading, getting out my personal journal and scribbling insights and responses you offered, and then writing notes to all of you. What you have here is very special, a genuine university-level dialogue, a community of scholars, an artists’ cafe. You have so much to learn from each other as well as the great minds we will be studying. I truly anticipate a great semester of Humanities study together with you, thank you for such a beginning.

Sincerely,

David Tripp

Thank you for reading.

A Flurry of Ideas and Planning

February 4, 2022
Beginning watercolor of a chuck wagon

[Tennessee Williams described Hans Hofmann] as a bold and clear-headed man who paints as if he understood Euclid, Galileo and Einstein, and as if his vision included the constellation of Hercules toward which our sun drifts.

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

The quote above greeted me over the morning coffee and my mind immediately started grinding its gears. I love the way thinking artists like Hofmann, Motherwell, Delacroix and Cezanne twist and turn intellectual fragments of thought and then conjoin them to seemingly discordant ideas to churn out yet another unusual perspective on art.

I have re-opened New Art City as we near the one-year anniversary of ownership of The Gallery at Redlands. I feel that Sandi has outworked me 3-1 with her recent flurry of activity in preparation of our gallery anniversary as well as the approaching 84th annual Dogwood Art and Music Festival in downtown Palestine. While she has worked the phones, emails, texts and social media, I have answered with a few of my own and a number of new paintings underway.

For any of you artists in the neighborhood, we still are receiving applications for booth reservations in our upcoming festival. Dogwood Art and Music Festival will be Friday night and Saturday March 18-19. Application can be made by https://www.zapplication.org/. The Dogwood Arts Council is providing a large tent to hold 10 x 10′ booth spaces for twenty artists. Artists will only need to provide proper furniture and lighting for their reserved spaces, the large tent will provide the shelter with 24-hour security on duty.

Friday night will be the VIP event with visitors purchasing tickets to enter the tent for the presale. A bar will be set up inside the tent along with plenty of excellent food and music provided by local musician Kevin Harris along with others he has lined up to provide hourly sets of live performance. The night will also spotlight local celebrities, painter William Young who has created the promotional posters which sell on site as signed and limited editions, and sculptor Jeffie Brewer whose monumental steel sculptures wll kick off Palestine’s annual Art Tracks event.

William Young Poster from previous festivals
Dogwood Arts Council gathered with Jeffie and his body of work

Saturday will feature all day festival action with the artists under the tent and local vendors set up on the streets for several city blocks. Buskers will also be performing in select locations all over the city.

Saturday night at 7:00 our Gallery at Redlands will celebrate its anniversary. In 2017, Wade and Gail Thomas opened the venue to kick off our Dogwood Festival, then in 2021 turned it over to Sandi and me. Jeffie Brewer will be our celebrity artist for the evening reception. In addition to his monumental sculpture displayed in our streetside window, we plan to have a number of his small pieces for sale in the gallery for that evening.

5 x 7″ bison sketch underway

I might appear distracted today as I work on multiple compositions and continually stop to scribble new ideas in my journal and continue reading from New Art City. This book fueled my inspiration in the weeks leading up to the opening of our gallery last year and I’ve decided to give it a second look this year along with perusal of my scribbled journal notes from last year.

I was schocked to find a number of striking parallels between Cezanne, Motherwell and Hofmann as I read throughout the day. It has been said that Hofmann, the quintessential teacher, would hold up before his students in class a blank sheet of paper and proclaim: “within its confines is the complete creative message.” I’ve always been awed by the thought that a two-dimensional artist can gaze upon a blank picture plane and think out a composition before making a single mark. In the current book I’m reading, Perl argued the following:

What Hofmann was saying was that when you drew a line on a piece of paper, you were creating a world.

I recall Robert Motherwell describing the act of drawing as “the organization of space.” As my eye moves from painting to painting in Studio Eidolons today, I’m intrigued by the possibilities of what can emerge from the white rectangle every time I approach a blank page.

I never fail to catch my breath when I look up from my work and find sweet Paddington asleep nearby. He’s always a comforting companion when I’m absorbed in my studio work.

We return to the classroom Monday at Texas Wesleyan University. I’m glad I still have a weekend to clean up some dangling details pertaining to my classes. 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.

Slinging Hash

January 14, 2022

In the morning sow your seed,

do not let your hands be idle in the evening.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

But lest I should mislead any when I have my own head and obey my whims, let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

In the mornings when I read, I frequently find contrasting opinions and laugh. The first quote above was the sentiment with which I awakened; no sooner than I was sitting up in bed with coffee, I was journaling and plotting a trajectory for the weeks and months ahead, thinking all the while that it is already the second week into the new year, and I haven’t sufficiently set out my “business plan” for 2022. Then I read Emerson! I laughed because I had just finished sketching a bison in my sketchbook, and immediately asked “Now why am I sketching bison when I should be planning out my semester that begins next Wednesday at Texas Wesleyan University?” Hooray for Emerson.

After plenty of satisfying reading, I rose from bed and went to the studio to look for something to do next. I framed an Indian motorcycle that I sketched yesterday, then searched among my stored mats for something suitable to put around my Arkansas cabin. Now that I have it framed in an appropriately-toned mat, I’m ready to “compositionalize” the watercolor and tighten up some of the details I still haven’t addressed. It may be finished today, we’ll see.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you have an “Emerson” kind of day!

5 x 7″ pencil drawing in 8 x 10″ frame $100

Not much work left on this one . . .
Morning sketching exercise

Playtime in The Gallery at Redlands

July 23, 2021
Loosening up with some Pen & Ink Sketches

Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

Friday morning in The Gallery at Redlands finds me at play. I finally sat down to gaze upon the cover of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Charlie Mackesy, to me, is the gold standard for pen & ink as witnessed by his exquisite sketches of the characters in this lovely children’s book. I purchased a Pentel Arts Pocket Brush medium brush pen and sat down at the drafting table to see if I could possibly discard a lifetime’s practice of uptight, anal drawing. Yesterday, I sat down for my first attempt, copying Mackesy’s horse as quickly as I could with a rigger brush and bottle of India Ink. It didn’t go down very well.

First Attempt, using Rigger Brush & India Ink

Today’s attempt with the Pentel Brush Pen showed some improvement with the calligraphic style lines of varying width, but I still found myself very sloppy with the attempted hairline whips of arc-shaped lines. I think what I need to do is use the pen brush for heavier, calligraphic variety sweeps, then refine my fine lines using a tech pen. I’ll try that next.

The Momaday reading inspired me this morning, reminding me of my recent attempt to break the restraints of my former color palette. Having done more plein air work recently in canyon and mountain settings, I’ve decided to loosen up and try some of the quinacridone gold and red hues I’ve been purchasing from the Daniel Smith brand. The result has been some bison sketches of which I’ve sold several already at $100 apiece for 5 x 7″ watercolors mounted in 8 x 10″ frames.

Lone Bison, 8 x 10″ frame, $100
Friday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands

Downtown Palestine has been relatively quiet this morning, aside from drop-in visits from friends in the community whom I dearly love. Conversations with them are always warm, positive and enlightening. It looks like it could be a lovely day for experimental art work and creative eros.

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.

Saturday Experiments in the Gallery at Redlands

June 26, 2021

The tensions of “publication” had been followed by a rest–now I notice that it is over, and the demon is beginning to rummage and push me again.”

Martin Heidegger, in a letter to his wife

Saturday has been a whirlwind in The Gallery at Redlands, and now the evening is already underway. I have tried throughout the day to find space to launch a blog and finally a space seems to have opened. Last night I finished the Sacred Heart Church watercolor, framed it and put it in the window. The previous blog shows that work on display.

A strange turn has happened with the bison subject matter. About a month ago, I taught a watercolor class on bison painting, and the demo I created laid about in Studio Eidolons for weeks. Every time I noticed it “out of the corner of my eye” (Andrew Wyeth’s favorite expression for evaluating his own finished work), I liked the simplicity of an iconic bison against a white background. So, on a lark, I framed the sample in a 5 x 7″ window mat and placed it in an 8 x 10″ frame and priced it at $100. It sold the day I set it up in the gallery. A week later I decided to try another one, and it sold. Yesterday, a third one sold. So now, I have a fourth and fifth to present, prices remaining at $100 each. I have no plans to make reproductions of these; as long as I have enough imagination to experiment with color and different techniques I believe I can create an authentic image and continue to offer if for sale as an original framed watercolor. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime I am enjoying the changes in the palette as I seek ways to introduce more color into this magnificent animal.

Shelton Hall is slowly but surely taking shape. I know I won’t finish this one tonight, but will take it back to Studio Eidolons to work on the following week.

Things are getting busy again, so I’m going to close and say thanks always for reading.

Sunday Repose

June 13, 2021

All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.

Thomas Carlyle

What a serene Sunday! Dragging in at 11:30 last night after a 48-hour gallery weekend, I was quite bedraggled, but happy. Happier now, rested! My reading this morning over coffee yielded this remark from Carlyle that I had recorded 15 years ago in my journal, and forgotten (I really should spend more time digging up the old bones I’ve buried in those notebooks since 1985). I cannot exaggerate the power of books to light creative fires for me. When I’m feeling flat, someone will always pull me out of the funk with what s/he cared enough to write for others to find. I still love the quote from the film Shadowlands: “We read to know we’re not alone.”

I have decided today to push further with this “Lone Bison” series. It began in Utah last September when I encountered a herd and took dozens of photos. Not long after, I used the photos as models and began drawing and watercoloring in sketchbooks my experiments with color and composition. I am becoming more daring with my colors of late and want to see how far I can push it.

When it comes to selling my art, I often find myself talking out both sides of my mouth: I’ll sell anything. However, there are particular pieces that I’m attached to for various reasons, and while in my possession, I spend time looking at them and contemplating how I can repeat the painting or extend it into a new direction. When a new work sells quickly, I’m robbed of that contemplative, composting time that has come to mean so much more in these later years.

Case in point: The Lone Bison. Last weekend I pulled from my collection at home a solitary bison, 5 x 7″ inches, that I painted as a demo for one of my “Watercolor Wednesdays” classes. I liked the way it cropped neatly into a 5 x 7″ inch matt, so I framed it and set it on the display case in The Gallery at Redlands. That very evening, someone bought it. So . . . all week long I could not stop thinking of that small watercolor study. Yesterday, in the gallery, I painted another one, using the same model as before. Before I could get it into the frame, a dear friend I’ve known since high school texted me that he wanted to purchase it. So . . . in the evening, I painted a third one, matted and framed it, but left it in the gallery in case someone just might see it this next week and wish to purchase it. So now here I am, at home in Studio Eidolons, thinking of all the possibilities I want to pursue with that solitary bison. We’ll see what happens today. I’m grateful for the time, the space, and the quiet.

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.

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.