Archive for the ‘David Tripp artist’ Category

Quick Work on a Pair

August 27, 2021
Attempting the Lonesome Dove Pairing

I cannot believe the afternoon has already arrived. It’s been a busy Friday in the Gallery at Redlands. I began this 8 x 10″ watercolor around 9:30 and have been dividing my time between Lonesome Dove and Aristotle (painting and Texas Wesleyan ethics lecture). I know this sounds nuts, but I love it everytime two seemingly disparate fields flow into one another. While waiting for portions of the watercolor to dry, I’ve been re-acquainting myself with Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Four Causes as expounded in his Physics.

Aristotle argued that all living things have formal, material, efficient and final causes embedded in them. The efficient cause refers to the energy, the urge for one to develop, to strive, to mature toward that final, complete cause. The final cause is the target, the terminus, the realm of completion. And when people ask where the final cause resides, the answer is: within you. Aristotle (later echoed by T. S. Eliot and a host of others) held that the end is already contained in the beginning. People have their own ways to interpret this, but I like to think about my own impulses to make art. From the time I was quite small, I had the urge to draw, to color, to create my world on paper. No matter what trajectory my life followed, in education, in employment, in profession, I always came back around to art, because it was in me.

Another aspect of this Aristotelian argument that appeals to me is the notion of the painting already residing in the surface, though I’m staring at a blank piece of paper. I’m not as anxious as I used to be to touch the brush or pencil to the paper, because I can already “see” what I want to do within this white rectangle. The reason I couldn’t wait to begin today’s watercolor is because I have had this image in my eye for days after countless hours spent sorting out photos and movie clips of Lonesome Dove. My only regret with this small piece is that I left no room behind the characters; I really wished to overwhelm the composition with the Llano Estacado. Maybe I’ll attempt this again later with more background available.

Thanks for reading.

Meet Tommy Thompson, One of The Twelve

February 22, 2021
San & Friends, 22 x 28″ print on canvas framed. 1/500 $300

Statement from Tommy G. Thompson, Artist

July of 2021 will mark fifty wonderful years of my pursuing the creative life as a full time professional artist.  I was born in mid 20th-century Texas. Passion for the arts has been a part of my life from my earliest memories. Formal studies reached into college, followed by work as a graphic artist. At age twenty-two I joined the French Quarter art colony in New Orleans. Very soon I was discovered by Ron Zappe, of Zapp’s Potato Chips, which led me to a successful affiliation with Liberty Gallery on Royal Street for over thirty years. Since then I have enjoyed freelance adventures from my Texas studio.

Over those years my subjects have been ones which excite my imagination with beauty and stories that provide the natural vitality and motivation to explore and grow with ever more evocative paintings and drawings. In youth, museum masterworks opened my eyes to a deeper consciousness that art, in its many forms, can encourage awareness between mind, spirit and my world. This portal of creative vision has been a guiding spirit during my life and continues to bring joy to my work. May viewers find a bit of that magic and celebration of life through these creations.

I have used various mediums including oil paint, acrylics on canvas, board and watercolor paper, and pen & ink. My signature medium has been a hybrid watercolor using fine detailed ink-line with acrylic color wash. This allows a high development of detail and rich color pallet.

The prime purpose in my art is to seek and share the joy and beauty in this life. You may find it in the varied images of New Orleans or the Southwest. Colorful characters and vintage buildings, steamboats, pirates and saloon rogues. Spring time even inspired some fine wildflower studies.

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The Gallery at Redlands will begin introducing you to the new artists to be featured March 20 when we have our grand re-opening. We know you are going to enjoy viewing Tommy’s collection. Stay tuned for more . . .

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.

Working on the Hank Cycle

April 4, 2020

Wow, It’s a frigid, 30-degree temperature Satuday morning in west Texas! The corona caution has us staying indoors anyway; it’s just easier to do when it’s this cold outdoors. I have started my next painting of the Hank Odyssey, but there is not enough to show for a meaningful photograph at this time. So I have decided to post my Hank series as it stands to-date:

Jerry’s Texaco

Over-worked and under-rested, the aging men of Turvey’s Corner began their early-morning drive to St. Louis, twenty-three miles down Highway 30. Around the first bend of the highway out of town, they found a welcoming stop at Jerry’s Texaco. Bell cables clanged as the sedans rolled up to the gas pumps, and Hank, the young attendant, pushed aside his college books to hustle out and service the customers. The aroma of coffee brewing inside usually lured the men out of their cars and inside for caffeine stimulation and the exchange of local news stories. Visits here always seemed to make the workday go a little better. Hank enjoyed the joviality of the men jostling with one another in good humor. At the same time he knew that none of them were interested in the contents of the books that absorbed his attention, so he remained quiet but always near at hand in order to grant whatever requests were made.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Night descended and Hank was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed the place at dark but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county.  So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back of the station amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations.  The Texaco station was anchored on historic Route 66 on the outskirts of Turvey’s Corner.  Interstate commerce had all but obliterated the sleepy town, and as soon as Hank graduated from the community college, he would depart as well.  Local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young man.  His volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. 

His few camping possessions stored in this room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild.  He would be packing up his gear soon and leaving without notice.  It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world calling out to him.

Hank was restless. Last night after he closed the filling station, he packed up all his gear in the back storeroom and moved it to his apartment–the residential part of an old general store that had recently re-opened as the town’s bakery. His rent would be due tomorrow, and he had the strange notion that he would not be here any longer.

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Taking out his watercolor pad on a whim, he decided to sketch and paint the doorknob separating his residence from the bakery where he could hear the workers scuttling about the kitchen just beyond the wall. As he focused his gaze on the doorknob, his mind drifted back over Homer’s Odyssey that he had been reading in recent weeks, and he sensed a wanderlust coming over him.

What Lies Beyond the Door

Hank continued to paint deep into the night, long after he heard the crew in the bakery clean up the store, lock the door and leave him to the approaching hours of silence. As he continued to contemplate, gazing at the doorknob, he thought about the world beyond the door, and determined that come sunrise, he would be on the other side. Like Odysseus, he would be seeking a return to his primal identity, to Ithaca, to a place he could call home.

Hank’s Odyssey (still in progress)

The crisp October winds were just as delicious as the palette of Indian reds, assorted greens and bright yellows punctuating the foliage springing from the limestone bluffs towering behind him. Hank had packed his belongings and departed his apartment at daybreak. Now with Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” surging through his being, he stood alongside Route 66 on the edge of Turvey’s Corner and said good-bye to the town that had cradled him since childhood:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing . . .

As Hank stood with his thumb out, waiting for any willing passing vehicle to pull over and pick him up, he sensed that he was not alone; a spiritual Presence seemed to be watching his every move. Thinking back over the history of Turvey’s Corner that had occupied his mind in recent months, he thought about the Osage warriors that massacred the first family to move onto the site of his current town.

In 1795, Adam Turvey had moved his family from the Kentucky wilderness to settle into the hills ringing the north end of this small town. Osage warriors massacred the Turveys one day in March of 1800. The sketchy details claim some sort of dispute over the borrowing of horses. The grisly details of the slaughter haunted Hank from his childhood. But this morning, as he stood along the highway, he felt the spirit of the Osage looking down over him with approval. Hank was leaving a town where he felt he had never belonged, and as he departed, he felt a kindred spirit that understood full well the feeling of not belonging and the restless search for a place to call home.

Hank Under Oklahoma Skies

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, he had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky. Slowly drifting toward a satisfying slumber after his fireside snack of S’mores, he overheard the words he had just read from Kerouac’s On the Road in the glow of the firelight:

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Deep in sleep, Hank relived some of his most cherished memories of boating and fishing on Big River south of Turvey’s Corner. One day he would return to fish his favorite hole at the base of the huge bluff his friend had christened “Rock of David.”

(Now you know the subject on which I am working currently, and I hope to publish pictures of the in-progress painting soon . . .)

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website http://www.davidtrippart.com

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sermonizing while Sheltering-in-Place

March 24, 2020
Enjoying a Fire while Staying at Home

I have stayed away from the blog as I was feeling poorly the past week. I am happy that my symptoms are nearly gone, but still choose to stay in, considering the strange world we have suddenly inherited. The past week has been given mostly to reading and sleeping–mostly the latter because my eyes couldn’t take as much reading as I’ve been accustomed to do. But now that I’m feeling better, it’s been good to return to thinking and writing. I’ve also begun work on a new painting, and will gladly share it when there is more progress to show.

Now retired, I look back and acknowledge that my years in public education have given much more back to me than I was ever able to give to my students. A wonderful student of mine from the 1990’s reached out to me recently, sharing that she had been enriched from a sermon I posted several years back. In time I will probably repost that sermon, but have responded to her generous words by re-writing a half-dozen of the sermons I delivered about a decade ago from a Unitarian pulpit.

Having said this, I feel the need to offer the following disclaimer: I felt a welcoming presence in the Unitarian congregation because I was free to share my deepest, innermost thoughts about the religious dimension. There was no creed to chain me and I have felt a wholeness and blessedness since the days I met that congregation long ago. Prior to the Unitarian connection, I was ordained and served for nearly fifteen years congregations of the evangelical persuasion, and persuasion is a good word to describe them. I no longer crumple under their expectations, nor do I ever wish to inflict that upon my hearers or readers. So I say to you directly: if my expressed thoughts bring good will to you, then I am deeply grateful. But if they offend, I have no desire for debate, and take no joy in wounding someone’s sentiments. I ask nothing from my readers whether it be praise or rebuke. I am choosing to put these occasional meditations on the blog knowing now that there is at least one that has been touched. When she wrote me last week, she expressed that she never appreciated feeling manipulated. That is my sentiment exactly–I never respond well to a blog that I feel is being manipulative of its readers, and never wish to fall into that trap myself.

Thank you always for reading, and I hope I bring you peace and goodwill.

The Courage to Create

          On a pre-dawn morning I stepped out into the velvet, lavender darkness and drank in the delicious October cool.  The skies were brimming with crystal-bright, silent affirming stars, and that vaulting firmament overhead was so deep, so vast.  And meanwhile down here below—a quiet stillness of sleep still enveloped my entire residential block.  Only a few scattered yellow lights burned in the neighborhood windows.  It seemed that I was the only thing moving across that front lawn and out into the vacant street.   The world seemed so vast, so dark.  I felt small, lost in an expansive, enveloping cosmos.

            But of course, it was a school morning, so naturally, I was conflicted.  In one ear, I could Robert Frost muttering: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  BUT I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”  Can’t stop now!  Gotta get to school!  Gotta run off a test! 

            Fortunately, I have two ears.  So while Robert Frost was snarling in one, Henry David Thoreau was rhapsodizing in the other: “The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.  . . . Morning is when I am awake, and there is a dawn in me.”[1]  So, I paused in the predawn velvet and felt a genuine, deep-seated gratitude.  I worshiped. 

            I am much different, now as an older man, than I was as a curious child, or as an exploring adolescent, or as a developing university mind.  Having been brought up in the church, I was acquainted with the biblical writings, but they did not reach out to me then as they are capable of reaching me now.  An example I choose today, since I am following a creation theme, is the opening creation story in Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible.  These writings are believed to have originated from a Priestly tradition, so they are quite rhetorical and liturgical in their original language.  (The English isn’t half-bad either.)  Let me read a few verses from it now.  I am taking this reading from the Jewish Study Bible:

            When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.   God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.  

On my blessed pre-dawn morning, as those words rolled across my consciousness, I felt a deep gratitude, a genuine benediction.  I was on my way to school, and it was morning, the first movement at the top of the day—another day to create.  Another day to make life significant.  And I do not know the source of this prayer, but the words came to me long ago, and I can never forget them:

“Who art thou O Lord, and tell me, what am I?”  Those words again sounded out their refrain in the darkness of that particular morning, and for them I had a reply.  I am a man, created in the image of a God whose very idea overwhelms me, overpowers me and inspires me to explore life and respond creatively.  I believe God created people to be creative and thus reflect the image of God in this world.

A moment ago, I read the first day of the Priestly creation account.  Let me skip down now to that crowning sixth and final day of the creation cycle recorded in Genesis:

And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”

God created the human being in his own image.  Catholic theologians like to quote that term from the Latin Vulgate, the Imago Dei—the image of God.  Just what exactly is this Imago Dei?  What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  What is it, to be like God?  The answers to that have been manifold over the centuries, but let us take a fresh look now—as we read the initial words of this creation account, how do they identify God—what is he doing?   “In the beginning God created.”  This is a God to whom the first thing mentioned is that he creates.  He creates a wonderfully complex world, and then he crowns it with his creation of humans.  And the words testify that God makes people in his image—people made in God’s image reflect God’s image as often as they create.

Watch a child in the nursery with a pile of blocks before him, and what will that curious child do with those blocks (once he finds out they won’t fit in his mouth)?  He’ll stack them, or arrange them, or fiddle with them.  He will explore their possibilities.  From the days of our curious infancy, we begin to create.

So, to sum up—we’ve reflected this morning about a glorious world, and the confession of a God who has created this world, and has created people in his image with the curiosity and the drive to be creators.  Now let’s move on to the center of this meditation: “The Courage to Create.”  I wish now to address courage—the courage to create. 

Why is it a fearful thing to create?  What do we mean, when we say that it takes courage to create?  Well, fundamentally, the act of creation is futuristic.  When we create, we are stepping into the future, which is the unknown.  The ominous note sounded in the Genesis story we just read a moment ago relays a world enveloped in darkness, a void, described as the deep, or as the abyss.  And God moved into that void and began to arrange.

The abyss for us is the unknown, the future that is dark.  As we live, and create, we are always moving into that unknown.  I am going to quote now from the eminent American psychologist Rollo May, and some of you will recognize echoes from the ideas of Martin Heidegger:

“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.  That 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.”[2]

Now, do you notice, when people get involved in any kind of discussion involving “creativity,” that the words that arise from such conversations are words such as “talent, skill, gifts, genius,” etc., but not “courage”?  Talent, skill, gifts, genius—call these what you wish, but I am going to gather them up and put them under the category of “virtues.”  And before I began reading Paul Tillich and Rollo May, I looked at courage as just one of many virtues, alongside of love, faithfulness, skillfulness, etc.  Courage was just one more virtue among a catalogue of virtues.

Listen now to the argument of Rollo May: “Courage is not a virtue or value among other personal values like love or fidelity.  It is the foundation that underlies and gives reality to all other virtues and personal values.  Without courage our love pales into mere dependency.  Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism.

“The word courage comes from the same stem as the French word coeur, meaning ‘heart.’  Thus just as one’s heart, by pumping blood to one’s arms, legs, and brain enables all the other physical organs to function, so courage makes possible all the psychological virtues.  Without courage other values wither away into mere facsimiles of virtue.  . . . In human beings courage is necessary to make being and becoming possible.”[3] 

And courage does not mean the absence of despair.  Rollo May has written eloquently that courage is “the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”[4]  Our celebrated inventor Thomas Edison once testified: “Oh, I admit I had such times of discouragement and despair that I ached to give it all up.  But something kept me going.  I guess it was faith—the kind you have when you are young and don’t know any better.”  It takes courage to create.

Right now, when I talk of human creativity, I am not talking about creating paintings, or designing buildings or publishing novels or musical composition.  I am talking about the fundamentals of creation in which all of us take part as members of this human race: when we make daily decisions we are creating, in that we are shaping our lives.  And as we create our daily lives, we are shaping our environment; we are taking part in building our communities.  When we educate ourselves, we are creating our intellects.  When we make moral decisions, we are creating our character, and making a contribution, not only to this immediate community, but to history as well.  As written by the American poet bard, Walt Whitman: “The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.  The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”  Just imagine now: What could your verse be?

I could talk forever about the dynamics involved in the daily creative process, but I will choose just one from our biblical text.  We read at the beginning of how God divided the light from the darkness.  That is the first dynamic mentioned in this creation story—when creating the world, God first divided the light from the darkness.  There is so much that could be said in interpreting that line.  But here is what I am doing with it.  I’m not going to talk about the light and darkness in terms of good and evil, or truth and ignorance.  I understand and respect that Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and countless others have done just that, and they had their personal reasons, as well as the particular environments they addressed in their day.  Perhaps many of you also here this morning have interpreted the cosmic light and darkness in that fashion, as good and evil, or truth and ignorance. 

What I am seeing, in this choice of words, is one of the methods described in the creative action.  God creates by separating light from darkness.  He creates by dividing, discerning, and arranging things, putting them in their respectful places.  And so do we practice that in our everyday lives—we sort things; we arrange things.  We divide.  We parcel.  And so I see in this text the light and darkness as two halves making up the reality, with both having their place.  Both have their time, and it is not simultaneous.  The light separates from the darkness.  Day separates from the night.  There is a time to “make hay while the sun shines,” and there is a time to say “now I lay me down to sleep.”  There is a purpose in the day cycle and the night cycle.  They both have their value.  So I choose light and darkness in this meditation as representing two conflicting elements laying claim to our attention at the same time.  We can only deal with them alternatively, not simultaneously.  One of those will simply have to wait—it will be handled. 

Years ago, when preaching occasionally at a Unitarian Church, I enjoyed the portion of the morning worship when a retired psychology professor led us in meditation. In his guided remarks, he reminded us that right now we relax.  There could be other things right now striving for our attention, and they are important, but for now it is okay to set them aside and come back to them later.  The power we have as creators is learning to deal with matters as we see fit, this one now, that one later.

Jesus told a frustrated Martha in one of our New Testament stories that she was “distracted over many things.”  He reminded her that only one thing was necessary right now, and she had the power to choose that one thing.  The other things would follow in their time.

With our closing thoughts, I direct attention now to these words in the biblical text: And there was evening and morning—a first day.  There it is—the first day.  Every day is a first day.  Every day is a first movement.  Every day invites another chance to create.  Rollo May reminds us that “we are living at a time when one age is dying and the new age is not yet born.  . . . To live with sensitivity in this age of limbo indeed requires courage.”[5]

There is a passage in one of the early New Testament church letters testifying that we are God’s workmanship, created for the purpose of good works that improve life.  And such a work requires courage—it takes courage to create.  I encourage us all this morning to live deliberately, and cultivate our fundamental virtue of courage.  Let us go forth into our rich and varied lives and cultivate that courage to create.


[1] Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience: Authoritative Texts Background Reviews and Essays in Criticism (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1966), p. 60.

[2] Rollo May, The Courage to Create (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1975), p. 12.

[3] May, Courage to Create, p. 13.

[4] May, Courage to Create, p. 12.

[5] May, Courage to Create, p. 11

Thanks always for reading. I shall continue posting art as I create it. And occasionally I would like to post a sermon. Again, my only hope in these endeavors is to inspire not to manipulate.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.