Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Post-Christmas Musings from Studio Eidolons

December 29, 2020
View from my Writing Desk

Then came the sound of a musical instrument, from behind it seemed, very sweet and very short, as if it were one plucking of a string or one note of a bell, and after it a full clear voice–and it sounded so high and strange that he thought it was very far away, further than a star. The voice said, Come.

C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrims’ Regress

The interim between Christmas and New Year’s Eve proves a pensive one for me. I may sound off about 2020 in future blogs, but not tonight. Tonight I feel the pull, the invitation, to breathe in the beauty of life and attempt to create something in response.

I chose tonight to re-open a C. S. Lewis book I read in the late 1970’s that continues to whisper to me from the shadows. Though my worldview has changed profoundly from what I thought in my early thirties, the allegory remains poignant for me. Life for me has always been an odyssey. From childhood I have wondered where my journey would take me, and there is no way I could have anticipated what unfolded in the decades following. Now, in these quiet times of retirement and reflection, I still am haunted by the faint sound of a sweet musical strain.

With a calendar containing very few appointments, I have adjusted to the sweetness of leisure, and just the mere act of thinking is better than I have ever known before. It appears that the only strife I endure is finding ways to describe in writing and conversation the nature of this Quality, this I have always pursued.

While majoring in art in my early university days, I was drawn more deeply into a university Christian fellowship and found myself taking steps toward the pastoral ministry. This resulted in an internal conflict between religion and art as I thought I understood them then. One day in a studio drawing class the instructor, making opening remarks to inspire us to begin our assignment, commented that he could not find a line separating art from religion. Unaware of the smallness of my own perspectives, I vigorously shook my head. The instructor acknowledged my protest with only a wry smile.

Today I look back on that college moment with embarrassment. If the instructor were still alive, I would wish to apologize for my immaturity on that day, and acknowledge now that I can no longer separate art from religion, if indeed they are different. Twenty years ago, my art was only a tool for me, while religion was something I could not sufficiently explain to others or to myself. Today, art and religion may be different words for the same phenomena. For me anyway, they far surpass my ability to encapsulate in words.

For a week now, I have found myself reading, reflecting and journaling, but producing no art. After months of commissions I finally have the freedom and space to create whatever I wish, and frankly I wish to pursue so many subjects in watercolor as well as drawing that I find myself clogged up. Finally yesterday I sat down with a sketchbook and did a quick study of a Bighorn Sheep that I could not stop thinking about since he surprised me on the slopes of Zion National Park several months back. Maybe now the cork is out of the bottle and art work can once again flow from the tip of my pencil or brush. We’ll see. I’m packing my art supplies for both studio and plein air activity for when we reach our destination.

Bighorn Sheep Sketch
Winter 2017 in the St. Louis Region
Quick watercolor sketch, using the photograph above

I’m glad that now in the age of smart phones we carry our photo albums with us always. In looking through my photos from the past few Christmases, I came across this pair. I had done an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of a winter riverside scene I liked very much. My plan was to use this sketch to create a larger, more studied painting. But within a week, the sketch sold, and I soon forgot my plans. Oh well. Maybe this winter I’ll consider re-doing this project.

Sandi is finally recovering from an illness that dogged her for the better (or worse) part of a week. We are preparing to hit the road for another adventure, and I intend to blog along the way.

Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you a beautiful holiday season.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Studio Eidolons

Quiet Before Christmas

December 22, 2020
View from the Window at Studio Eidolons

Qoheleth: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Apocalypse: “Behold I am making all things new.”

Finally, I am rested after the St. Louis excursion. Nestled in our home, I find myself gazing at Christmas decorations throughout the house while enjoying coffee and good books. Looking ahead already at the approaching New Year, I am thinking about juxtaposing a couple of biblical texts: on one side the aged Preacher (Qoheleth) in Ecclesiastes with his jaded look at the world as no longer offering anything new for him to appreciate, and on the other side the Apocalypticist in Revelation hearing an oracle from the Triumphant Christ.

I don’t know if it is because my age has passed the mid-sixties or if it is because retirement after three years is settling into my daily perspective, or if it is a combination of both–I just find myself musing about the span of life, and glorying in this stretch I experience now. Several years ago, I really believed that turning sixty and retiring would leave me morose. Though I was weary of holding down a job, I feared that retirement would fall below my expectations of quality. I was dead wrong on both counts; the past three years have been far and above the best years of my entire life. I am not trying to say that I have been unhappy and unfulfilled for sixty years. Rather I am just saying that I love and appreciate what I experience at this stage of living far more than I have ever felt.

So Good to be Home Again

My three days in the St. Louis area were filled with loving company of family and friends, and I relished every encounter. Returning home, I got re-aquainted with Sandi and the pups, and loved sitting before a fireplace once again.

Gallery at Redlands

Yesterday, I returned to Palestine to rotate the merchandise in The Gallery at Redlands. About 40% of the paintings have been changed so any patrons dropping in won’t see the same thing they’ve seen in recent months. Many of the Palestine train paintings have been re-hung for the Polar Express season now in progress.

Redlands Hotel Lobby

The gorgeous Redlands Hotel lobby is now tricked out in lovely holiday attire. The restaurant and bar, recently damaged by fire, have been remodeled and re-opened and business has now returned to the hotel. In 2021 I will return more frequently and put in extended hours in The Gallery at Redlands. We are anticipating good things next year.

Our family is laying plans to hit the road for some holiday adventures and I intend to send news and pictures of our activities. Meanwhile, let me wish all my readers the loveliest of Christmas and New Year Holidays.

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.

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.

20191224_1730233427284631445506706.jpg

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:

20191220_1434252262666623824284279.jpg

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.

image-137092706555713176663.jpg

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.

image-146744170022959403358.jpg

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.

20191220_143402-14709595323970231788.jpg

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.

 

20191220_1434252262666623824284279.jpg

Sacred Holiday Solitude

December 20, 2019

20191220_0833268757390425501376289.jpg

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:

20191220_143402796167401227740139.jpg

“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.

 

20191220_143402796167401227740139.jpg

Rolling in the Painting

November 18, 2019

image-14739922185696408553.jpg

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

20181226_161454907225068407295127.jpg

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.

20181224_1345154568085257744849615.jpg

image6956794809158023374.jpg

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.

20171224_1127566249673856721299526.jpg

20171225_1155109058399293308492474.jpg

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

christmasz

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

qohelet

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.

qohelet 2

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

morning coffee

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.

christmas

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.

Christmas at Spencer's Grill vertical

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

snow high ridge

“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.