Archive for the ‘bison’ Category

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.


Sketching into the St. Louis Night

May 2, 2023

Thus the artists–in which term I hereafter include the poets, musicians, dramatists, plastic artists, as well as saints–are a “dew” line, to use McLuhan’s phrase; they give us a “distant early warning” of what is happening to our culture.

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

I’m much happier and relieved to report that today for the first time Dad was lucid, feeding himself, and totally alert to his surroundings. It was such a joy just to sit next to him and feel the connection of genuine communication. It wasn’t long before he became drowsy and needed sleep, so I left, but left lighter and happier. I look more forward now to tomorrow.

I opened Rollo May, trusting that this dear sage would speak to my deepest needs. And he didn’t disappoint. Before I finished a chapter in this volume, I took out my sketchbook and began sketching quickly with a glad heart. I don’t know that anything I create could ever serve as a “dew line” for our society, but I can say with clear authenticity that making art does something special to me. At this late age, art has become more important to my day-to-day living than any other task I’ve been trained to perform.

Thanks for reading.

Musings out of St. Louis

May 1, 2023

We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize

Rollo May, The Courage to Create

I received the call last Thursday. Dad was being rushed by ambulance to downtown St. Louis for emergency vascular surgery. He is 94 years old. I crumpled. Then I packed a suitcase and items I felt I would need, and began my drive to St. Louis. At age 69, I don’t possess the energy for these long road trips that I used to know. Leaving Arlington, Texas after 3 p.m., I found myself sleepy in Strafford, Missouri by 11, and pulled over at a truck stop parking lot to sleep behind the wheel for three hours. Then on to St. Louis, arriving around 6 and looking for a 24-hour restaurant for breakfast. My sister phoned around 8 and I felt comfortable going to her house where they graciously provided me a guest room. Showered and dressed, I arrived at the hospital in the late morning to find my dad in the ICU, looking small, crumpled and helpless. Now it is Monday, late. Dad is in a private room, still speaking incoherently (this is expected from the anesthetic effects on the elderly). But today he fed himself, requiring no assistance, so I found something on which to plant hope.

Tonight, sitting up in bed reading, waiting for sleep, I came across the Rollo May observation posted above. I found it timely. I know all too well the existentialist anxieties spawned by uncertain futures. The past few days have beaten me down, with twice a day travels downtown to the hospital and twice a day visits to my childhood home to check on and comfort my mom the best I can. By the time I get back to my sister’s house at night I am wrung out like a moldy sponge, and I’ve had difficulty beating back despair. My home is far away, my family, my gallery, my circle of friends. And I needed someone like Rollo May to encourage me to push forward into the abyss and do what I know how to do.

Tonight I went ahead and laid out my plans for the four watercolor classes I’ve scheduled for the rest of this month. If any of you, my readers, wish to participate in any of these classes, please notify me through this blog, or my phone (817) 821-8702, or email

My calendar is as follows:

Wednesday, May 10, 1-4:00–painting the bison in the snow at Studio 48, 4720 S. Cooper, Arlington, Texas, in the Gracie Lane Boutique building.

Saturday, May 13, 1-4:00–painting the bomber fishing lure at Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas.

Saturday, May 20, 1-4:00–painting the Oxbow Bakery, Gallery at Redlands

Saturday, May 27, 1-4:00–painting the bison in the snow, Gallery at Redlands.

Vintage Bomber lure lurking in the depths

Palestine’s historic Oxbow Bakery

Bison in the snow

Making art is the only way I know how to push into the uncertain future and assert myself in the face of the abyss. In a way beyond describing, I have found peace tonight, and invite kindred spirits to join me in these creative activities that lie ahead.

I’m looking forward to seeing Dad again in the morning, and hoping to see more progress. My thanks to all of you for the notes of encouragement you have sent my way.

And thanks for reading.

Gearing up for a Big Art Weekend

September 29, 2022

Jason Jones photograph of me in today’s edition of The Palestine Herald

We hit the ground running upon arrival in Palestine today. Our monthly Art Walk is Saturday, 10-3:00, and I’ll be teaching a watercolor class 12-2:00, and offer an additional one if needed, 5-7:00 for the same price. We’ll paint a colorful bison in our two-hour exercise. All materials are provided. Cost is $35. Students and seniors over age 55 will pay $30. I’m posting the bison below, followed by the article appearing in today’s Palestine Herald. My genuine thanks goes out to editor Penny Lynn Webb, always a supportive friend of the arts, and reporter Jason Jones who interviewed me a few days ago.

Our subject for the watercolor class

The Downtown Art Walk will once again feature painting classes during its monthly event this weekend. Classes were added to the event in August and the Dogwood Art Council is excited to continue the instructional series.

The featured instructor for October is renowned watercolor artist David Tripp of Recollections 54. He will instruct classes starting at noon on Saturday, Oct. 1 in the Redlands Hotel conference room.

Tripp, a native Missourian, grew up in St. Louis and studied art in rural northeast Missouri while earning his bachelor’s degree from Truman State University.

“I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil,” Tripp said. “I was a terrible student and had zero interest in school, but my art earned me a full ride at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Somehow during that time, I woke up intellectually.”

Tripp went on to earn his Masters and Doctorate before spending the next three decades teaching high school and college. Since retiring he has focused full time on art.

Tripp’s watercolors feature small-town American sights fading from our landscape, but not our memories.

“I like to focus my art on American nostalgia,” Tripp said. “I find inspiration in relics from the past that are still standing. Old architecture especially seems to invoke an emotional response.”

Tripp has been the owner of The Gallery at Redlands since 2021 and splits his time between Palestine and his home in Arlington every week.

The Art Walk takes place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., but the class will be from noon until 2 p.m. Cost is $35 per person or $30 for students and seniors age 55 and above.

“We’ll be watercoloring an 8 x10 bison in bright colors, ‘Southwest Art’ style,” Tripp said. “All materials will be provided.”

Seats must be reserved in advance by calling David Tripp at 817-821-8702 or emailing Seats are still available and all major credit cards are accepted.

The Redlands Hotel is located at 400 N. Queen St. in Palestine. For more information call 903-922-5794 or visit

To learn more about David Tripp visit or follow his blog at


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.


September 18, 2022
First Morning at Stone Creek Ranch. Mountain Home, Arkansas

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for people to dwell together in unity”

Psalm 133:1

The quiet of Studio Eidolons on a Sunday evening grants me this opportunity for silence and grateful remembrance for all the events of the past couple of weeks that time didn’t afford for recording and posting (wi-fi was also nil). My experience of making art with six precious souls who showed such warmth and reception to others filled me with feelings of beatification. Several times I heard remarks such as “doesn’t this beat sitting at home watching cable news?” Someone else responded, “At least artists are not hurting anybody or spouting negative remarks.” We truly felt the warmth of dwelling together in unity.

Over a year ago, I was booked to teach this watercolor workshop at the Women Artist Retreat. The day finally arrived September 7, and the picture above shows the lovely Stone Creek Ranch with the resplendent sunrise that filled me with gladness.

Lovely morning light

As I awaited the arrival of twelve artists and the other instructor (six students apiece for oil and watercolor classes), I strolled the grounds to seek out plein air subjects. It didn’t take long for me to select the one above, particularly because the separation of warm sun and cool shadows was equally attractive during the “golden hours” of morning and evening.

Oil Painting Instructor Sandy Arnault demonstrating

I found oil painter Sandy Arnault to be a genuine delight, and regret that I could not attend her classes, especially when I witnessed her demo the first evening. She will soon travel to Kentucky to pursue her equine studies. Her oil paintings of horses are superb, and she is still fervently studying this craft.

Everyone immediately set to work

It seems that every workshop has its “firsts”. This one was no different. My tenth-grade art teacher, Mr. Leo Hoeh, an ardent watercolorist, taught us to stretch watercolor paper on canvas stretchers, explaining that the paper would dry more quickly than if we used watercolor blocks or taped the paper to a board. When I returned to making art in my mid-thirties, I resumed this practice, assuming all watercolorists did. Boy, was I wrong. Every class I teach and every demo I perform before watercolor audiences brings surprise from everyone. They ask me where in the world I came up with such an idea.

I prefer 90-lb. D’Arches paper, not only because it dries the quickest, but because it is the least expensive, and proves to be a quality, sturdy surface that withstands all my abuse of masquing and scraping. So what was my “first” this time? That every single student, upon watching my demonstration, immediately got out her tools and began stretching one, two, and three surfaces for her own use, before the first class even got underway. Walking around, watching them work with such focus, brought back warm recollections of those (rare) moments in public school when an entire high school art class would enthusiastically pursue a new task.

First Session Underway

The first day scheduled a pair of three-hour sessions. I surprised the students when I presented my plan for them to create two 8 x 10″ watercolors by day’s end. Every single student completed that task. The paintings featured a lone bison and a cowboy seated under the stars, leaning back against his backpack. Throughout the day, we moved back and forth between the two works, allowing one to dry while picking up the other. It was amusing, watching the traffic flow out into the sunlit ranchland to lay paintings out to dry, and return to resume the other painting, then repeat the process. This assured that no one would overwork a watercolor by overpainting it while it was still wet. It also allowed them continually to put fresh eyes on a resumed piece that had been out of sight drying in the sun for 15-to-20 minutes. Without fail, each student presented a pair of completed, fresh watercolors by the end of the day.

All the ladies enjoyed Shiner, our studio assistant

Throughout the day, we were accompanied by an eighteen-year-old Siamese cat, the only Siamese that I have ever found to be affectionate and cuddly. The little fellow always sat in the chair next to me when I worked alone in the studio, often climbing on the table to shove his face into my hands and nuzzle my wrists and arms while I worked. I could never express adequately the gladness I felt at the women’s conversations while painting. Oftentimes, there would be silence for several minutes as everyone focused on the work before her. But then the comments would resume, and all of it was positive, engaging, and affirming. The bonding experience was one I’ll never stop recalling.

Plein Air Pleasure

The second day was plein air. As usual, several students admitted they had never tried it, had always felt too intimidated. I tried to take the sting out of it by reminding them that plein air was more about sketching, experimenting, information-gathering; many times our plein air pieces do not result in completed, frameable paintings. They help us turn corners, open new chapters. I gave about a five-minute talk, covering these points, and I could sense the enthusiasm beginning to percolate. And of course, they spread out over the acreage, forcing me to walk many, many steps in order to see their work and offer instruction. I’m glad my smart phone was able to record my steps; I went far beyond my quota on that day.

My own Plein Air Setup
My own Plein Air Experiment
Three Meals a Day

I doubt that anyone looks forward to mealtime more than I. But dining with this crowd was superb! Again, the conversations, the laughter, and oh, the jokes! But as I wrote earlier–artists don’t hurt people. The togetherness was great as was the food.

Dana Rowell Johnson, our Chef Extraordinaire, oil painter and leader
Debby Lively, our watercolorist and leader

Dana and Debby not only pulled together this complex event; they also participated in the classes, so every artist had the privilege of making art alongside a leader. Their confidence and positive attitudes kept the event lively and light-hearted. I’m very grateful to both of them for pulling off such a successful event.

And of course, Shiner

I cannot close out this blog without one last reference to Shiner, my companion in organizing and setting up our watercolor studio. He had no problem spreading his love around to all the participants, and was never bereft of attention and affection. I miss him (but don’t tell my dogs).

My notes for the plein air session

Today, while finally unpacking my gear, I came across this napkin on which I jotted my talking points for the plein air session on the second day. I decided not to throw it away, but keep it among my memorabilia on the shelves here in my Studio Eidolons. Every time I pass by this shelf I’ll be reminded of those special moments spent at the Women Artist Retreat.

Yes, today has definitely been an afterglow. My love goes out to the women artists of this retreat that I will never forget.

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.

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.


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 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.