Archive for the ‘car’ Category

Escape Velocity

February 4, 2016

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I tingled all over; I counted minutes and subtracted miles. Just ahead, over the rolling wheatfields all golden beneath the distant snows of Estes, I’d be seeing old Denver at last. I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was “Wow!”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

In 1856 Walt Whitman gave us “Song of the Open Road.” One hundred one years later, Jack Kerouac gave us On the Road. Finally completing a collage this afternoon while listening to the film “The Source”, that old itch rose again to hit the open road. But alas, it is Thursday. Another work day stands between me and a coveted opportunity to drive across open country. Though it is February, the winter is so mild here in Texas, with temperatures at this moment in the mid-fifties and sunny. Truly if it weren’t for another work day tomorrow, I would push my vehicle down some open roads somewhere if for no other reason than just to gaze across the “raw land” (Kerouac’s phrase) and enjoy the things of life that really matter.

In the second month of a new semester, school is long on demands and short on praise. No matter what one does, there is always another directive coming down the pike. We reach a point that we’re convinced we can never do enough to satisfy the demands. I don’t want to turn into one of T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” by devoting all my time to preparations, grading, paperwork and assorted tasks that satisfy account books but not souls. At this point of the late afternoon, I’m glad that tomorrow’s demands have already been met in preparation, and perhaps I can settle into making some art or reading some quality literature (but I’d rather be on the road!).

Thanks for reading.

 

Painting an Aging Desoto en Plein Air

May 20, 2011

Tripp Painting an Aging Desoto en Plein Air

My photographer friend and mentor Bill Barksdale photographed me early in the morning, painting this abandoned Desoto on the property of Helen Lacefield in Cotter, Arkansas.  It was the ideal morning for a plein air experience in painting.  The morning air was sweet, the Arkansas sunrise was gentle, cool breezes kissed the pastureland and caressed my face.  I felt an abiding Presence even while alone as the morning extended.  My profound thanks to Bill for recording this event which will last with me a very long time.

Thanks for reading.  One more day left in the Plein Air on the White River event.

Second Day of Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas

May 20, 2011

Aged Desoto on a Farm in Cotter, Arkansas

Thunderstorms and heavy rains are predicted to arrive this afternoon.  I wanted to get out in front of the weather, so I rose at 6:00 with my friend Bill Barksdale (he and Sandy are providing wonderful lodging for Sandi and me) and we drove to a farm outside of Cotter, Arkansas, owned by Helen Lacefield.  She graciously allowed us access onto the property, and I was delighted to find this aged Desoto sitting in the weeds out in a pasture.  Mrs. Lacefield shared the information that her husband arrived in this vehicle to pick her up on their first date!  I could not stop thinking about that as I worked on this composition, admiring the beautiful morning light of a rising sun that played all over the surface of this vehicle.  I got lost in the golds, reds, lavenders, and the patina of rust that was slowly taking possession of the car.  The more I looked at it, the more I felt it looking back at me in the morning silence!  From my early childhood, I looked at the fronts of cars as faces, with the headlights being the eyes and the grill being the mouth, and the logo plate on the front resembling the nose.  I always thought Desotos and Buicks and Oldsmobiles had the most interesting countenances in the early fifties.

I will probably re-post this later in the day.  Bill is a professional photographer, and he took many shots while he was on the scene.  This photo unfortunately had to be lifted from my  BlackBerry as I forgot to pack the cable that connects my digital Nikon camera to this laptop.  After shooting for quite awhile, Bill had to move on to assist some other artists in finding the locations they wished to paint today.  I remained on the scene, and had this small watercolor sketch finished in about 90 minutes.

Thanks for reading.

Summer Morning Odyssey along Missouri Highway 79

March 7, 2011

Sun Rising on Winfield, Missouri

I have completely re-written my opening blog page “Hello and thanks for entering my blog.”  That was long overdue.

I posted yesterday that it seemed unlikely that I would get into the studio today.  I have high school all day, and Open House tonight.  However, I got an early start on this day, and it now seems possible that I could get in some studio work this afternoon during the interim.  If I do, I’ll certainly post my progress.

Meanwhile here is a piece I have at the Weiler House Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I came across this location during a 2009 summer odyssey I took from my home town of St. Louis, north up Highway 79 en route to my college alma mater.  The location is Winfield, Missouri–a sleepy little Mississippi River town.  The sun was just rising over the Mississippi when I came across this abandoned store front–to me the most perfect setting for a watercolor study.  I photographed it at least twenty times from every conceivable angle, totally delighted at the warm early light of the sun and the cool shadows dancing everywhere.  The bright reds made me think of Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning. I have painted this store a second time–the other from a frontal perspective like Hopper’s painting just mentioned.  Very soon, I hope to return to this and capture it from yet another angle.  I wish there were more structures like this in our small towns.  It seems they have all been cleared away and replaced with Seven-Eleven or comparable stores.

Thanks for reading.

A Route 66 Christmas Odyssey Requires a 1940’s Diner

March 5, 2011

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood Missouri, est. 1947

The good news today was that the aunts are going to be just fine.  After only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night, I decided I needed to nap this afternoon if I had any hopes of finishing this painting today.  I’m glad I did.  Sleeping from 2:00 until 4:00, I rose and resumed work on this in the garage (my Man-Cave!) with a beautiful afternoon Texas sun shining in the open door.  The light was exquisite for working on this painting.  Once it got dark, the winter temperatures plummeted, and I was forced to lower the door and continue work under house lights (I hate that!).   But . . . I did not want to tinker with this another day.  So . . . here it is . . . signed and out of my hands!

Tomorrow I plan to take it to the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I already have my next watercolor composition lined up, and I just may get after it tonight–I’m in the mood.

I’m grateful for the companionship I felt from the Voices and Visions video documentaries of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams.  What fabulous poets!  What vision!  I felt a particular connection to them as they painted the American scene in penetrating words, as I hope to do some day with watercolor.  Both men were driven by wanderlust as they traversed the American landscape, both urban and rural.  And though I don’t look at the TV while painting, I could certainly see these poets’ images in my mind’s eye as I continually sought to refine my own.  I still hear Williams’ voice in my conscience: “No ideas but in things!”

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy this one.

On the Road Today

March 5, 2011

On the Road

I guess its only fitting that this painting goes On the Road with me today.  Late last night, my wife received the phone call that her elderly aunt had become ill, and that her roommate (recovering from a recent car accident and hospital convalescence) had to be rushed by ambulance back to the hospital with breathing issues.  We made the one-hour journey to the Emergency Room, and waited for her to stabilize and be admitted to a room.  I then took Sandi to spend the night with her sick aunt and I returned home by 2:30 a.m.  Back up at 7:15 this morning, fed the dogs, getting ready to take them to the groomer, packed fresh clothes for Sandi, and am preparing to return to the hospital, one hour north.  I’m taking this painting along with me, as I need still to draw the line of newspaper vending machines along the wall of Spencer’s Grill–the only cloud of white, undeveloped area remaining on this piece.  I expect I’ll finish the drawing sometime on the trip, and then paint it all in when I return (whenever that is).  I’m glad the two women are going to be fine with some rest and a couple of us tending their needs this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Route 66–Odyssey of the American Mind

March 4, 2011

Spencer's Grill on Route 66

At last, the weekend!  Immediately after school, I had a nice visit with my gallery director, Bill Ryan, at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I dropped off my large Eureka Springs cafe painting for framing.  Then, I dashed over to Texas Wesleyan University (my night job!) to retrieve some materials from the library.  In my garage studio, I’ve enjoyed immensely the Voices and Visions series of video documentaries on American poets.  Over the past week, I’ve listened to T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and today am listening to Walt Whitman.  I also picked up the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, two volumes of his poetry, and the Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have before me a weekend of books and painting!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will see that I have sketched in the pavement along the bottom of the composition, using a series of washes along with plenty of salt and water-soluble graphite pencil work.  I’m now waiting for all of that to dry so I can get back to work on the cars and the newspaper vending machines along the front side of this diner.  I fully intend to finish this piece over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll get back to you soon.

Route 66 Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill

March 3, 2011

Despite my earlier post today, I resolved to find a way to get into my garage studio and paint this afternoon.  It wasn’t easy, as I had a college class to teach tonight.  Nevertheless, I did get into the watercolor a bit more, and began the building on the right across the street, and continued tinkering with the horizon colors and shapes.  I think it’s realistic that I could finish this one up by the weekend.  I apologize for the poor photo, as the lights in my garage are not very good, and I didn’t have the foresight to photograph the work this afternoon when the daylight was nice and strong.  But nevertheless it gives the viewer another voyeuristic “snapshot” of a work in progress in my garage.

Thanks for reading.

Another Route 66 Service Station Relic from a Dying America

March 3, 2011

Cold Desolation, Robertsville, Missouri

I have decided to post an older work now featured on my website (and the original is still for sale at the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery http://www.weilerhousefineart.com).  A demanding school schedule has jerked me out of the studio for a minimum of two days, it appears, and I really wish to blog daily.  I’m having to work hard to make this possible.  Hopefully tomorrow I can return to my Spencer’s Grill painting and (maybe) finish it by the weekend.

My father has always taken an interest in my art work, even from my early childhood.  Once I launched Recollections 54, he was even more diligent in scouting for me these out-of-the way, forgotten towns that had once flourished throughout the fifties.  During one Christmas visit, he took me on some county roads west of St. Louis, adjacent to Route 66.  Stopping in Robertsville, I photographed this abandoned station from every possible angle.  It was about 10 degrees out, and snow was everywhere, and my 35mm camera lens was continually fogging up.  But I managed to get some decent photos, and put these images in the back of my mind’s eye to “compost” for a few years.

Of course, there were no signs left on this abused structure.  I added all of those, using props I’ve collected over the years.  The automobile was actually found alongside Route 66 in New Mexico, somewhere near Santa Rosa.  No such vehicles were to be seen on this property.

Once I finished the wintry, stormy sky and was ready to begin painting the building beneath, I had an accident in the studio.  Pushing a pile of books off my desk to clear room for an armload of “junk,” I hadn’t counted on the books bouncing along the floor and hitting this painting which was on the floor, propped against the wall.  I prefer to work on D’Arches paper, soaked in a shower and stapled on canvas stretchers, as though I were preparing a surface for oil or acrylic painting.  When dry, this surface is stretched tight as a drum skin, and delightful to work on with wet-on-wet watercolor.  Anyway, the books tore three holes in the painting.  My first reaction was to rip it off and throw it away, but it was the best sky I had ever painted!  So, I turned it over, scotch-taped the rips from behind, and proceeded onward with it.  I’m glad I did.  The painting won Best of Show in a competition the following year and a handsome check.

Something that attaches me to this painting is the reality that it was painted all over the Midwest, West and Southwest.  The summer that it was painted was a time when I decided to do a “Kerouac-style” road trip.  I loaded my Jeep and drove from Dallas/Fort Worth through SE Oklahoma, across Missouri and to St. Louis where I stayed awhile and visited with my family, painting on this from time to time.  Then I drove west to Kansas City, and onward to Denver.  From there I fly fished my way west to Kremmling, and then all the way down the Arkansas River, from its headwaters in Leadville, and on down through Buena Vista, Salida and Canon City.  Then it was on to Santa Fe, New Mexico and finally back home to Arlington, Texas.  I finished this watercolor in Canon City, Colorado, but enjoyed thoroughly working on it in St. Louis, Kremmling and Leadville as well.  All of this is to say–I saw much of this kind of “abandoned town” setting throughout my lengthy road-trip excursion that summer, and all of those sights fed this painting.

Incidentally, I had another “accident” in my garage studio day before yesterday–my French easel collapsed (a small piece of wood with 2 screws tore loose on the back leg) and crashed to the floor with “Spencer’s Grill” on it.  The result is two holes in this painting, now.  Anyway, I scotch-taped those from the back as well, and hope this will be alright.  I like the painting too much to throw it away.

Thanks for reading.

Christmas Cheer and Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri

March 1, 2011

Christmas at Spencers Grill

Though it’s been two months since I left St. Louis, my heart still stirs at the memory of a bright winter morning at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri along historic Route 66.  My wife and I had just ducked inside this historic cafe from the late 1940’s for breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and coffee.  This historic sign at Spencer’s Grill I had seen since my pre-literate childhood, and will always remember, Proust-like, as a monument from my remote past.

Recently I’ve been reading plenty of Ezra Pound, and studying his tragic life.  From his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” I found these lines:

All things are aflowing,

Sage Heracleitus says;

But a tawdry cheapness

Shall outlast our days.

For over a decade, I’ve been fascinated with the Presocratic fragments, particularly the pieces from Heraclitus.   I mused over this phenomena of traffic perennially rushing north-south on Kirkwood Road, while the ageless, changeless Spencer’s Grill remains.  With my company Recollections 54 (www.recollections54.com) I try to capture in watercolor the images of an America from the 1950’s that remains in spite of the changes that nearly sweep the ground out from under us as we live out our fast-paced, deadline-driven lives.

Thanks for reading.