Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Goethe’s Final Words: “More Light.”

December 25, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg8pN4GjvxI

On Christmas morning, I was handed a smart phone with the YouTube video from Northern Exposure featuring the local radio DJ making a stunning statement before the town before plugging in a spectacular Christmas light display. Last night, just as it was getting dark, I drove through the High Ridge suburbs to find and photograph the lawn scene that makes me laugh every year–the lighted figures are literally shoulder-to-shoulder, covering every square foot of the residence’s front yard.

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High Ridge, Missouri version of the Griswold Family Christmas

I love the Northern Exposure recitation because the DJ opens with Goethe’s final words, “More Light”. And during this Christmas season, I wish for the darkness of our nation to find light. I am reminded of the passage from the prophet Isaiah: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

Last night I went to church with my brother. The small Methodist church was packed to capacity, the service was lovely, and we closed by taking candles out into the night and standing in a large cluster, lighting up the darkness of House Springs, Missouri. The experience was a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Eve.

Back home with my parents, siblings, and our grown children, we had the best of possible evenings–abundant food and conversation, gift exchanges, and later a raucous time around the large table playing a ridiculous card game, Pounce. I surreptitiously recorded some of the rounds with my smart phone, and we laughed hard and long, listening to the replays. I will not post them on this site.

Last week I worked on four 8 x 10″ watercolors and installed them in 16 x 20″ frames for my immediate family members. I posted Dad’s then, but now post all four of them below along with what I wrote and included inside the Christmas cards accompanying them:

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Sister’s Gift

Grand Canyon Storm

The summer of 2019 invited the aged painter to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Perched high atop the gorge, he painted quickly as the dark clouds advanced, and took his chances when the first jagged branch of lightning carved its way toward the rocks below. The storm was twenty miles away and would not arrive for another hour. The only thing an artist needed to do was savor the colors and interpret the developing story approaching him.

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Brother’s Gift

Blues Jam

A pair of aging blues troubadours played deep into the night at the empty pool hall. Slouched in his chair, Donnie blew mournfully into his harp, swaying to the blues progressions dancing off the strings of Rick’s Fender Strat. No words were sung this time. The blues tune told the story to anyone listening this night.

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Mom’s Gift

No One Swings Today

No one will sit on the porch swing this summer day. Along with the house, it has received its fresh coat of paint and now hangs quietly in the afternoon porch shadows while it waits for the McNeely clan’s arrival tomorrow for the 4th of July. Meanwhile, in the quiet of the day, the flowers stretch toward the sunlight, bursting with new color to greet the family.

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Dad’s Gift

Fishing Rhapsody

The solitary figure of a fisherman stands beside the river in his overalls and wading boots, cap pulled low, white beard glowing in the morning sunlight. Canopies of verdant trees engulf him as he lingers on the sloping bank, rod held low before him. Golden sun-dappled waters flow past him and the bright sky reflects a winding path down the center of the channel. Layers of pebbles, flat rocks and bubbles shimmer below the surface of the babbling waters as schools of fish lounge in the shadows beneath. The fisherman continues to stand and survey the waters while the murmurs of the river speak its language from the foundation of time.

Now, as I sit at the hotel room desk and write these things, it is Christmas morning and I hope with all my heart that today will bring Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Thanks always for reading, and I hope your Christmas is the Best.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Sacred Holiday Solitude

December 20, 2019

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Working on Christmas Plans early in the Morning

When a summer breeze blows through an open window as we sit reading in a rare half-hour of quiet, we might recall one of the hundreds of annunciations painters have given us, reminding us that it is the habit of angels to visit in moments of silent reading.

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

The week has passed so quickly. Daily I have entered the studio before daylight and worked till dinnertime. I set out a goal to create four Christmas gift watercolors in four days, and thankfully the goal was met. My father doesn’t access the Internet, so I’m confident he won’t see this painting I did for him. The others I will keep concealed till after they’re given at Christmas. I have titled this one “Fishing Rhapsody” and wrote something about it to enclose in a Christmas card:

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“Fishing Rhapsody”

The solitary figure of a fisherman stood beside the river in his overalls and wading boots, cap pulled low, white beard showing in the morning sunlight. Canopies of verdant trees engulfed him as he waited on the pebbled sloping bank, rod held low before him. The golden sun-dappled waters of the river flowed before him as the bright sky reflected a winding path down the center of the channel. Layers of pebbles, flat rocks and bubbles shimmered below the surface of the babbling waters as schools of fish lingered in the shadows. The fisherman continued to stand and survey the waters while the murmurs of the river continued speaking its language from the foundation of time.

The other gifts also have written tributes and I believe I’ll post them on this blog after Christmas.

Though remaining relatively silent on the blog, the week has not been without its sublime moments. Every day I have worked long hours, planning, composing and painting in the studio, but I  have also taken out large blocks of time for reading, reflection and writing. Without those intermittent activities, painting, for me, becomes a mechanical chore and loses its joy. I posted the Thomas Moore quote at the top of this blog, echoing his sentiment about the loveliness of being visited by warm thoughts when reading something worthy and preparing the heart to do something creative.

I came across a passage extolling the values of film, television programs and popular music for stimulating creative eros, and would quickly add that reading quality literature could also be added to the mix:

All that is required to read them spiritually are the practices of hospitality and reverence, the ability to approach them as a religious person might enter a cathedral or temple–open to grace and mystery.

This comment mirrors what I knew long ago while serving in the pastoral ministry. I made it a practice to study the Bible daily, shutting myself off from the public and seeking ways to meditate, to ruminate over the written texts, expecting to receive a divine word. That practice has remained with me despite leaving the ministry in the mid-1980’s, only now I read widely and still meditate over what I encounter when reading texts in a spirit of reverence and expectation. The Greek word logos that we translate “word”, according to Martin Heidegger could be rendered “the gathering together.” For years I have mused over this notion of logos, or logic. I think of order, structure, arrangement, cohesion–the sentiment that life has a way of organizing itself, of coming together, of working out–this notion gives me hope and confidence from one day to the next. And this week has been so affirming to my soul as I have read, written and painted. A number of details in life that are important to me seem to be working out, and for that I am grateful. This has been a satisfying week.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will check out my blog www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Rolling in the Painting

November 18, 2019

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My newest 5 x 7″ Christmas Card–$5

And a pleasant Good Monday Morning to all of you from The Gallery at Redlands! I awoke with a rush of excitement to get back into the UP Big Boy lococmotive watercolor I’ve been building over the weekend. When I entered the gallery to see what was on the drafting table, I wasn’t completely satisfied with its overall look from a distance. So now, over coffee, I plan to spend some time contemplating it to figure out exactly what to do next. Hopefully I can post the image later in the day.

I stayed close to the watercolor all day yesterday, with an extremely narrow focus on detail. Now, I believe, the time has arrived to pull out the journal and begin recording corrective notes as I determine how to complete the overall composition of the piece. I have lost so many paintings over the years by working closely on them for hours and not stopping to view from a distance and make critical finishing decisions.

I love crawling into a painting and rolling around in it the way a dog does in the grass at the park. I recently walked my favorite dog in a Lubbock park near the overflowing playas. In the distance, I saw him rolling, rolling, rolling with great glee in one spot. He was oblivious as I called out to him, and continued tumbling. Once I got to where he was, I saw what held his attention–a rotting carp from the playa. He was rolling all over it, covering himself with decay. Yum. I made sure I walked back to the house upwind from him before stuffing him into the shower.

All this to say that I need to back away from rolling all over this painting to keep from suffocating it and ending up with a corpse. As I’ve written before, I don’t suffer much anxiety over losing a painting, but in this case, I like the way it started, and would like for it to end just as well.

More later. 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.

Post-Holiday Greetings from St. Louis

December 27, 2018

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Left Bank Books with Bronze of William S. Burroughs

I wanted to wish all my blog readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The holiday season came up on me fast this year as there was so much to do up till the last minute. I managed to squeeze in a visit with my parents and siblings in St. Louis and all of it was joyful. Included among our favorite activities were visits to the local book stores and a cruise of the neighborhoods to look at the lights and decorations. I could not resist a couple of photos of one of the neighborhood contributions that manages to grow a few more characters each Christmas.

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Over-Abundance of High Ridge Christmas Yard Art

We missed the White Christmas we knew from last year, so I decided to post a couple of photos and watercolors that I made last year while in St. Louis.  I’m happy that both paintings sold, so now I’m making plans to replace them with new snowscapes.

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Last Year’s St. Louis White Christmas

SNOWY CEDARS

St. Louis Christmas 2017

Christmas along the River

St. Louis Christmas 2017

A Pair of St. Louis Christmas Paintinngs from Last Year

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.

Morning Coffee in the Christmas Spirit

September 19, 2018

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Printing Christmas Cards for the Stores and Galleries

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains. . . .

            The world’s darkening never reaches

                        to the light of Being.

            We are too late for the gods and too

                        early for Being. Being’s poem,

                        just begun, is man.

            To head toward a star—this only.

            To think is to confine yourself to a

                        single thought that one day stands

                        still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Yesterday’s reading stayed with me, it appears. I awoke early this morning with these words from Heidegger on my mind. Of course, mountain images stir up my Colorado memories, and then as my thoughts turned toward colder weather ahead, Christmas filled my imagination. I suddenly decided, even before breakfast, to get on my computer, dig out my boxes of Hallmark card stock and begin printing off Christmas cards. Every year I get caught by the holidays, and lack the sufficient time to print my deep inventory of Christmas images.

My greeting cards are blank inside with a text on the back. They are 5 x 7″ and come with envelope in a plastic sealed bag. I sell them for $5 each or 5 for $20. This year I have a dry cleaners that is selling my greeting cards hand-over-fist!  It is Boss Cleaners in southwest Arlington, near my home, and the proprietor has been asking if I had Christmas cards to add to my inventory. So, in reality I have Kim to thank for my getting ahead of the curve this holiday season.

While printing, folding and packaging throughout this morning, I have dialed up Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas album on YouTube, and the house has been filled with Christmas warmth, even in September. I cannot describe the calm and peace that floods my being when music such as this plays throughout the house and I look at my watercolors of Christmas subjects. And of course, the French-pressed coffee is always divine!

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.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Qohelet

September 13, 2018

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Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yesterday, I graded essays from the course on Classical Judaism that I teach online. The students were to contrast the tone and genre of biblical texts from Exodus (where Moses gave the Law) and Ecclesiastes (where the Preacher assessed that life was meaningless). The responses from many of the students induced me to return to Ecclesiastes for awhile this morning. This book has held my attention since I first was directed to it when approaching the New Year back in 1973. Since then, I have always read from the text in winter time as the New Year drew close. And it has been a comfort to me in ways I have difficulty explaining. This a meditation from an aged sage who appears dissatisfied with all his worldly accomplishments. As he draws near to the end, he sees all this acts as empty, or meaningless. “Qohelet” is the Hebrew word that titles this Book, and has often been translated “Preacher”.

I’ll go ahead and drop the other shoe–though the author throughout the meditation calls life on earth “vanity”, he nevertheless concludes on a more positive note. No doubt many will insert the opinion that the conclusion was written by another hand, to take the sting out of the text, but that is another issue. Throughout the book, the author’s refrain is translated “vanity” in the King James Version. “Empty” is the author’s thrust. And in his concluding words, he urges the reader to fear God and keep his commandments, for that is what makes a person “whole.” This is why I like to read to the end. For the duration of the Book, the aged author hammers home that life has been empty, but concludes with a solution to what can make life whole.

The college-age students still assume that there is much life lying ahead of them, and I enjoy their perspectives when they grapple with readings such as this. With my own perspective drawn from a considerable distance down the road, I find myself looking both ways, in the fashion of Janus, the Roman god looking backward and forward simultaneously. Throughout yesterday and this morning, I have thought about this Odyssey I have experienced over sixty years, and have also looked ahead, resolving not to live with regrets. It goes without saying that I have encountered things that have created memories I would rather not have. But I cannot change that. On the positive side, life has overflowed with abundant gifts, providing memories that make me feel positive.

Gratitude flows from the depth of my being for the years I have been given, and I am even happier that it is not over yet. Today I meet yet another college class within the hour, and I am still glowing with warm sentiments over the encounter we had just two days ago. In fact, I have been anticipating for forty-eight hours the next time I get to see them and wrestle with these issues in Logic. Who would ever have thought that a professor and students could enjoy a period, studying Logic? Life at this age is still filled with the unanticipated, and I appreciate that as well.

Two days ago, I began work on new Christmas cards for the season approaching. Here is a photo of how two of them are coming along (they will be cut apart, making two 5 x 7″ cards). For three days in a row, I have relished time in the studio to experiment in watercolor, and that has been a gift as well.

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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.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave, Jesus and James Joyce

September 12, 2018

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Further Reading from the Parables

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Gospel of Mark 4:26-29

I am reposting the parable that I posted yesterday morning, because I am still burrowing into the Greek text, enjoying what the excavations are bringing to light.  My fascination lies with that life principle, echoed by Thoreau about something growing “like corn in the night.” The sower merely does his/her task, and as that individual continues to live out the daily and nightly cycles of life, the task composts and sometimes flourishes without further attention. And the sower, thinker, artist, teacher, or whatever the actor’s role happens to be, has no idea how these processes work.

This morning I lingered over the portion of the King James Version that reads: “the earth bringeth forth fruit OF HERSELF.” The Greek word underlying “of herself” is transliterated automatē, and focuses on the generation of activity independent of the sower. In my personal life, I have been fascinated with the mystery of ideas forming, visions of art spontaneously arising, and other related matters. Forgive me for reposting this James Joyce fragment, but right now it is too lovely for me to ignore:

Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet. Over his limbs in sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning knowledge, a morning inspiration. A spirit filled him, pure as the purest water, sweet as dew, moving as music. But how faintly it was inbreathed, how passionlessly, as if the seraphim themselves were breathing upon him! His soul was waking slowly, fearing to awake wholly. It was that windless hour of dawn when madness wakes and strange plants open to the light and the moth flies forth silently.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I awoke this morning with a visual idea in my head, and have decided to pursue it, From where the idea came, I have no clue, and am merely grateful for the gift that arrived in my sleep. And though I have tasks to perform (plenty of grading has stacked up), the loveliness of this morning grows out of the inspiration that visited me during a restful night’s sleep.

I awoke with the notion that I would begin creating Christmas cards. One of my store outlets had been urging me throughout the summer to pursue this for the coming holiday season, and I just never got around to it. Now the fire has fallen, the interest is consuming me, and I begin this morning with my first 5 x 7″ watercolor sketch of what I hope will turn into a Christmas card before the week is over.

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The Beginning of a Christmas Card Sketch

I am also going through my files, pulling up older Christmas cards I have made, and will be printing these for delivery by the end of the week as well.

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Christmas at Spencer’s Grill (Kirkwood, Missouri)

The morning hour has not yet reached 9:00, but already I feel the deadlines approaching, so I will close this out this blog and send it up the flagpole. I hope you found something in this worth reading and pondering. Thanks always for checking me out.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Settling into the Cold Nights

December 30, 2017

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“A mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

William Wordsworth

I picked up the quote above from my recent reading of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. After a hundred pages of reading, I can say I am genuinely hooked on this biography and am grateful that the frigid weather now gripping north Texas waited for my return from a St. Louis Christmas (which featured delightful snow!). Now I’m snuggled in front of my fireplace as temperatures promise to reach lows in the upper teens the next few days.  I’ve posted above a watercolor I did today (8 x 10″) from a photo I took of a Christmas eve snowstorm in St. Louis.

And . . . I seem to lapse into the habit of photographing breakfast in front of the fireplace on those rare occasions that Texas gets cold enough for a fire in the winter.

breakfast

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

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Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.

Pondering the Source in Silence

December 21, 2017

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Safely Ensconced in a Hotel Far Away . . .

Existence beyond number

Wells up in my heart. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Good day to all of you friends who read my blog. Since my last post I have been knocked down by a sinus infection and encroaching flu symptoms. Thankfully, the flu never fully materialized, though a good number of my dear friends were stricken by it. Nevertheless, I have spent hours of days and nights sleeping, and, during my waking hours, sitting in a fog. For weeks I have run nonstop from engagement to engagement, as the art business and holidays joined forces in a flurry of activities. Once those were finished, much Christmas shopping remained to be completed, plus the mailing of packages, as well as the tying up of loose ends to facilitate holiday travel and visitation. And then the dreaded fatigue and sinus infection. I’ve lost track of the past several days except for occasional errands. But today I feel good enough to read and pull together a few thoughts that have been percolating during this down time.

I regret repeating myself in posts, but some of you don’t really know my past, so I feel the urge to put this out: as a student in public schools, I was not driven academically, but extremely bored except for my art endeavors. I will forever be thankful that my art abilities landed me a scholarship to the university, and in that acid bath of academics, I finally woke to a world of ideas, and could not consume knowledge fast enough. I pushed through the undergraduate and graduate levels till I graduated with my doctorate and then taught in public schools for 28 years. All of this now seems a blur. At age 63, I have not slowed or cooled in my enthusiasm for learning, but have always had to admit that my academic foundation was not very strong once I entered the university, and I have always felt “behind.” Though in addition to my 28 years of high school teaching I’ve tacked on 31 years of college teaching concurrently, I still don’t feel academically “endowed.” I’m a mule. A plodder. Slow and ponderous. But I love thinking. I love reading for the sake of pushing back the boundaries of experience, and in the making of art, I am always questioning what it is exactly I am trying to express in these pursuits.

And so, during my recent illness, I have returned to reading Martin Heidegger. To those who know, that triggers a belly laugh. Heidegger is extremely difficult to penetrate. But I’ve been fascinated with his ideas for years, and have labored many, many hours, poring over his obdurate texts and extracting what I could of value. His translations and discussions of Presocratic texts I think are the best, and I’m always intrigued by his essays, particularly “The Origin of the Work of Art.”

For a number of days now, I have been wrestling with his essay “What are Poets For?” And early this morning, finally feeling well and sitting in a window seat of my hotel room (pictured above–I love the timer on my camera phone that facilitates selfies!), I came across his response to some of the poetic writings of Rilke:

The inner and invisible domain of the heart is not only more inward than the interior that belongs to calculating representation, and therefore more invisible; it also extends further than does the realm of merely producible objects. Only in the invisible innermost of the heart is man inclined toward what there is for him to love: the forefathers, the dead, the children, those who are to come. All this belongs in the widest orbit, which now proves to be the sphere of the presence of the whole integral draft.

Since the days of my university “awakening”, I knew that I was a slower intellect than my peers, but I also have known since those days that I am more of a romantic than a classicist (I am stereotyping those words, I know). To put it another way, I have more passion than precision. And throughout my years of study, I have sought ways to express what I’ve learned–in the pastoral ministry for a decade, in the classroom for three decades, and in my art for the past couple of decades. Throughout this life, I have tried to find connections between my head and heart, my knowledge and passion, my academics and my art.

And now, in this Heidegger essay, I am embarking on a rich discussion of the “heart” the real center of it all. And I’m happy that my head is clearing up from all the medication and my body is responding better to my commands. Christmas arrives in four days, and believe me, this year it definitely overtook me quickly. I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to blog again before that special Day, but at least I had this opportunity today to pause and send all of you the best of what I’m thinking and feeling. I’ll be going on the road soon.

Thanks always for reading, and I wish you love throughout this holiday season and beyond . . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.