Archive for the ‘fly fishing’ Category

Musing over Art Theories in the Studio Eidolons

August 28, 2020
Studio Eidolons

Forty-eight hours ago, while engaged in my morning watch activities before beginning the days’ schedule, I was visited in the most profound way by a hoard of ideas. Before long, I had scribbled out ten pages of longhand notes in my journal, feeling I was trying to catch a swarm of butterflies in a small net.

In Pursuit of the “Spirit” of Art

I had a watercolor class coming up in three hours and was still trying to find a way to introduce what we were going to attempt that day. I decided to work on the First Canon of Xie He’s writings about painting. It has been translated this way:

Engender a sense of movement through spirit consonance.

While trying to unpack this aphorism, I came across the notion that the word translated “spirit” refers to the Chinese chi or qi.

Opening my Art History book by Marilyn Stokstad, I found the following:

The first principle announces that “spirit consonance” imbues a painting with “life’s movement.” this “spirit” is the Daoist qi, the breath that animates all creation, the energy that flows through all things. When a painting has qi, it will be alive with inner essence, not merely outward resemblance. Artists must cultivate their own spirit so that this universal energy flows through them and infuses their work.

Two days later, my head is still spinning with this visitation. For decades I have been aware of this tension within my own perception of art, between skill and inspiration. I have possessed the skills most of my life, and continued in training to refine those skills. But inspiration is much more elusive, and I have always pondered this great divide between “work of art” and “art”. Just what exactly is the nature of this energy that animates one’s work, transforming it into “art”? This theoretical, spiritual side has driven my imagination for so long, and I still enjoy seeking it out.

In the midst of my writing, I laughed, recalling Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Dean and I sat alone in the back seat and left it up to them and talked. “Now, man, that alto man last night had IT— he held it once he found it; I’ve never seen a guy who could hold so long.” I wanted to know what “IT” meant. “Ah well”— Dean laughed—“ now you’re asking me impon-de-rables— ahem! Here’s a guy and everybody’s there, right? Up to him to put down what’s on everybody’s mind. He starts the first chorus, then lines up his ideas, people, yeah, yeah, but get it, and then he rises to his fate and has to blow equal to it. All of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he gets it— everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries. Time stops. He’s filling empty space with the substance of our lives, confessions of his bellybottom strain, remembrance of ideas, rehashes of old blowing. He has to blow across bridges and come back and do it with such infinite feeling soul-exploratory for the tune of the moment that everybody knows it’s not the tune that counts but IT—” Dean could go no further; he was sweating telling about it.

The IT factor–that is what I seek in making art. And the visitation in Studio Eidolons two days ago still has me shaking my head in wonder. I’m glad that I have nothing on my agenda today, no appointments, no deadlines. I’m ready to explore these matters further.

I’m getting closer to finishing this commission on the Royal Wulff fly pattern. It is an 8 x 10″ watercolor that has resulted in a number of new color combinations and experiments for me. It’s been a fun experience and I look forward to closing this one out and moving on to the next assignment.

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.

Serene Day in Studio Eidolons

August 25, 2020
Working on the details of a Royal Wulff fly pattern

Ever the mutable,

Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,

Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,           

Issuing eidólons.

Walt Whitman, “Eidólons

Buoyed by the spirit of Walt Whitman in my own atelier, I’ve enjoyed working on this commission requesting three popular fly patterns from the trout stream. The Elk Hair Caddis and Parachute Adams I’ve used many times, but I have yet to put a Royal Wulff in the water, though I must say I am loving the colors of this pattern.

Having named my studio after Whitman’s poem, I’ve been reading the piece daily, and decided today to post another segment from it. I love his reference to the “changing, crumbling, re-cohering” nature of the process I witness while working on a watercolor composition. And as for my personal working space, my imagination vacillates between the elegant historic French notion of a posh atelier similar to a show room and Andy Warhol’s notion of his working space being a factory, because he was always cranking out work for the next commission, much like an assembly line.

As for my dog, he has recently marked out a spot, designating Studio Eidolons as a comfy place to relax.

Patches has found a resting place beneath one of the drafting tables

Time has been divided today between painting and continuing the task of sorting out materials that have been stored for years, deciding what to discard, what to file, and what to store in a more orderly fashion. A master bathroom adjoining my studio has now been re-assigned for studio storage. Not only is it nice to have nearby sinks for water (instead of traveling to the kitchen) and ample counter space for lining out and stretching watercolor paper, there are now two walk-in closets and a built-in set of cabinets. Finally, all art supplies, paintings, papers, matting materials etc. are stored in closets, cabinets and a lateral file–NO MORE CRAP lying about the floor or leaning against walls!

I also found rolled up in a tube the presentation I made to my principal for what would become the first of many murals painted at Martin High School. This sketch eventually became a 15 x 50 foot cafeteria mural. With a sigh, I decided it was time to discard. So I rolled it out one last time and took a photo to store in my memory collection.

Design for a High School Cafeteria Mural

Time to get back to work. 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.

Saturday in the Studio Eidolons

August 22, 2020
Early Work on the Royal Wulff Pattern

I have christened my newly-developed studio space “Studio Eidolons”, inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem “Eidólons”. As mentioned in an earlier blog, I find it unfortunate that this Greek word translated “idols” has taken on a very impoverished meaning by the general public (as I perceive it). In the Greek ethos, the word referred to ideas, images, imaginings–overall a very rich word for the creative enterprise. From time to time I’ll insert a portion of this lengthy Whitman poem.

Ever the dim beginning,

Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,

Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)

            Eidólons! Eidólons!

Anytime I attempt to describe my sensations while submerged in this arena of creative eros, I feel I have tossed a word salad across my blog page (without the necessary dressing). This is one such moment. But these words from Whitman I feel in a primal sense that escape the harness of my words.

After a luxurious walk through the park on this sunny Saturday morning, I entered Studio Eidolons in a spirit of expectation, and have not been disappointed. The Royal Wulff fly pattern is slowly emerging from the tip of my brushes and pencils. What began as an 8 x 10″ white void of a rectangle is slowly yielding the image of a trout fly, and my heart quickens in anticipation with each stroke of color.

I posted the details in a previous blog about the watercolor class I am teaching Monday. I am following up with a second class on Wednesday, August 26, from 2:00-5:00. The subject will be evergreens as we will paint Colorado evergreens on an 8 x 10″ stretched sheet of 90 lb. watercolor paper. All materials will be included in the $55 fee for the class. Anyone interested in signing up will need to phone Gracie Lane at (817) 468-5263. The class will be taught on location at Show Me the Monet Art Gallery, 4720 S. Cooper St., Arlington 76017. I would love to see you there. Monday’s class is the same price, same hours, and will feature a Route 66 motel painting.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remember I am not alone.

Beginning New Work in Studio Eidolons

August 21, 2020
Beginning Second Watercolor of a Dry Fly

When Leonardo was summoned by the duke, they ended up having a discussion of how creativity occurs. Sometimes it requires going slowly, pausing, even procrastinating. That allows ideas to marinate, Leonardo explained. Intuition needs nurturing. “Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work least,” he told the duke, “for their minds are occupied with their ideas and the perfection of their conceptions, to which they afterwards give form.

cited from Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci

New work on a Royal Wulff fly pattern for my next commissioned watercolor has radically altered my studio habits. Inspired by recent readings in biographies of Leonardo da Vinci and Willem de Kooning, I take comfort in knowing that those two masters perfected the art of procrastination as they focused intently on the task at hand and how to execute it. Leonardo of course is known for the thousands of pages of copious notebooks he left behind. As for myself, my thousands of pages are comprised of journal entires, but not nearly as many art studio sketches and observations. Until now. For two days, I have been going through my storage drawers, extracting art supplies I haven’t used for years, most notably two large sets of Prismacolor watercolor pencils. Using the backs of watercolor paintings that failed, I have been covering the surfaces with various washes, color swatches and scribbled notes identifying the various combinations of colors I’ll need to copy this fly pattern that I’ve expanded to an 8 x 10″ photograph. I’ve also painted portions of the fly body, most notably the thorax and abdomen, studying the color patterns and trying to reproduce them as best I can. I would show the painting in progress, but the only thing I’ve completed to date is the bare hook–nothing really to write home about at this time.

Studies for the Royal Wulff project

My new studio space has surpassed all my dreams and fantasies for a place to make art. The studio is no longer crowded–I am able to work on the surfaces of two drafting tables, one library table and a rolltop desk. The best part of my art library is now in this same room, and the adjoining bathroom has two sinks, a long counter, two walk-in closets and built in cabinets offering an abundance of storage space. All my past watercolors, prints, pre-cut mats and drawing papers are now tucked inside a five-drawer lateral file cabinet for easy retrieval. I’ve only waited thirty years for such a space and cannot believe the day has finally arrived. I so look forward to sharing my art life with you in the pages ahead.

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.

Early Morning Slog

August 11, 2020
Early Morning Reading before Painting

Life belongs not to those who know, but those who discover.

Le Corbusier

My arguments with myself are long and wearisome. They involve theories that are not writable by me at least.

After all this vivid and intense introspection I have determined upon a couse that takes nerve above all, concentration and a long hard fight.

N. C. Wyeth, letter to his mother dated January 25, 1907

The early morning reading over coffee has been so satisfying that I hesitate to lay it aside. But I have commissions to complete and the patrons have been so patient. I owe them a respectable turnaround time. I have set a self-imposed deadline for the weekend, and believe I’ll get these done. Then, I have only three more to complete.

My love for N. C. Wyeth runs down a different track than my sentiments for his more famous son Andrew. The son has had the most profound influence on my subjects and overall technique, but I was never ingratiated by his disdainful remarks about those who spend too much time reading books. Thus, I find most of Andrew’s interviews very unsatisfying, while on the other hand, find myself continually bowled over by N. C.’s letters and papers left behind. N. C. was a lover of Thoreau and Emerson and showed an exquisite literary flourish in his own writings. His allusions to classical music are also refreshing. I grieve over the tragedy of N. C.’s end. He never reached the mark he wished to achieve as a painter, always being tagged as an illustrator. Though he achieved great wealth through his illustrating career, he grew increasingly morose in his final years because he could not make his mark as a free-lance artist, instead watched his son make his mark on history. Of course when I read I am always measuring my own life against the standards of the heroes I follow. I’m extremely happy that as a teacher I was able to earn an income that supported my habit, and now retired, have plenty of time to study and pursue art. Probably years ago I had dreams of being a well-known artist, but certainly found a good measure of sobriety in finding satisfaction merely with having an ability to make art and enjoy it so.

The two commissions that have my attention the rest of this week involve the one above and below. (Above): This is a home the patron wants to remember through an original painting. It is requiring a great measure of paintstaking detail, but I’m finding satisfaction in the process, slow as it may be. (Below): This is my first attempt at painting a trout fly of this size and scale. In past paintings, I have put a sprinkle of flies into still lifes, and the images of the flies have been close to actual size. Now I am called upon to present one in great detail. The process is requiring a number of disciplines I haven’t pursued in awhile, but so far, they all seem to be working out fine.

I suppose it is also time to return to painting fishing lures. I did a number of 5 x 7″ bass lures a few years back. They all sold rather quickly, and now one of them has been published on the cover of a new novel. I just received it in the mail yesterday and am posting a copy of it.

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.

Studio Solitude

August 6, 2020
Early Start in the Studio

Very well then, as you please. Withdraw from the world, wrap yourself in mystery, I won’t stop you.”

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

In recent communications with my artist friends, I note the common thread of our talks–the coronavirus has given us the excuse to avoid public activity and to indulge in the delicious solitude of the studio, doing what we love best–exploring possibilities in art.

My plan is to show current paintings in progress as they take shape, but at this point they are still in the very early stages of construction. One of my commissions is to paint trout flies, 8 x 10″, something I’ve wanted to attempt for at least ten years but never got around to doing. And I must say, the experience has so withdrawn me into a monastic state, that I feel the taunt posted above, Zola needling Cezanne about his need for privacy.

Over the past two days, so many ideas have surged through me that I’m wanting to engage in multiple experiments. In this little project, I’ve been pulling out all the stops–spritzing the paper and adding salt and stale bread crumbs for texturing, using fine, pointed brushes, sharpened graphite and colored pencils, watercolor pencils, tech pens, masquig pens–the works! And I feel like a kid in the sandbox attempting his first intricate sand castle with multiple stories, corridors and labyrinth configurations. Right now, I’m trying to solve the puzzle of overlapping hackles–I’ve been opening my art books to study closely the way Albrecht Dürer and Andrew Wyeth handled long stem grasses in transparent watercolor. It’s wonderful having my art library in the same room as my studio, and various work stations to pursue scattered yet related projects. I am feeling confident that these experiments are going to pay off, and I’ll continue to post photos as this painting develops.

The major problem I encountered with the trout fly commission was finding photos of flies large enough to scrutinize the details. Images I Googled off the Internet and printed always pixilated horribly when I enlarged them. How surprised I was when I took my own smart phone (Samsung Galaxy S10+) and photographed a size 12 elk hair caddis from my own fly box, cleaned up the image on my laptop, enlarged it to 8 x 10″ and printed it on my own printer. The image is sharp and the color is good. So, on my drafting table, I have both the 8 x 10″ photo I made, and the actual tiny fly lying there for me to study.

I have decided to spend all day Saturday in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine. I have missed working there and so look forward to seeing my friends again. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you. I should be in the gallery by 10 and will stay through the dinner hour that evening before returning home.

Gotta get back to work! 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.

Hunkering Down during the Heat

July 10, 2020
Beginning an 8 x 10″ watercolor

Half the world wants to be like Thoreau at Walden, worrying about the noise of traffic on the way to Boston; the other half use up their lives being part of that noise. I like the second half.

Franz Kline, Abstract Expressionist painter

The past week has been rather quiet–a long road trip, and then several days of relaxation in deep west Texas. A string of 100-degree days has kept us mostly inside, but west Texas morning temperatures hover in the comfortable seventies. This lovely morning was no exception when I stepped out shortly after daylight and walked around a quiet neighborhood, enjoying the gaiety of a myriad of birds in the trees and admiring the clouds strewn across a bright cerulean sky.

Last evening I came across the Franz Kline quote posted above while reading Jacobson’s biography on Robert Motherwell, and it made me lay the book aside and ponder for a spell. In response to Kline, I have to acknowledge that my professional life was lived out in the second half of his description, with all that noise. I cannot say I would have preferred it that way, but it’s what fell to my lot. My professional portion was spent in the public sphere, while all the while I wished to be in the other half, the Walden half. Now, with deep gratitude, I find myself in the Walden half.

The first week of our journey was relaxing, much time spent in leisure reading and making some attempts at watercolor. With no appointments, it was nice to let the days flow by at a comfortable pace. Today we landed in a home where we’ve been asked to dog sit a few days. So I guess I’ll now introduce you to the menagerie.

Hazel, helping me edit

Hazel, a Jack Russell terrier, never relaxes. She needs a job. This is the only dog I’ve ever known who fixates on any lighted screen, jumping up and down in front of the living room smart TV, settling on my shoulder to read my phone, or in the above picture, staring into my laptop. As I work on this blog, she is supervising.

Hazel staring into my phone for a selfie

Bo is as large as I am, and usually finds a quiet place next to me when I work in one place for an extended time.

Bo, asleep at my feet under the table
This is our Patches, finishing his morning coffee

Patches is our own rescue dog, so he will always be nearby. He likes the cream residue at the bottom of Sandi’s coffee mug. Every morning he lingers close by for that special moment.

Guido, the senior citizen of the pack, sleeps all day in this chair

This old boy is a genuine sweetheart. I don’t believe he can hear now, but he awoke from his slumber as I approached to take the photo, so he is still alert.

Peanut, emerging from her nap

Peanut is Miss Personality, always wanting to sleep next to me wherever I work. She only asks to be against a warm body.

I already miss Eli, the Yorkie. We stayed with him all week until this morning. (with Patches)

I always hate saying good-bye to Eli. He has been a delight all week, continually wrestling with Patches, but always willing to pause long enough to pose for a photo. He is the only one among the dogs above who is not in this space currently. As I type this, all the others are in the same room with me, but quiet.

I have started two new watercolors, both 8 x 10″ My intention was to visit the canyons for some plein air work while out here, but with daily temperatures ranging from 105-110, I don’t think so. I have a backlog of compositions saved up over the years that I’ve wanted to paint, so I’m going to take a crack at them.

With the above painting, I’m making use of a reference photo taken years ago (before smart phones took over). I’m standing in the middle of the South Fork of the Rio Grande in Colorado. I have had the photo framed and hanging in my home till I took it down while packing for this trip last week. I determined I would attempt a painting before returning to rehang the picture.

Challenges I’ve avoided for years I am finally facing–(1) the armature of Colorado evergreens along with the actual colors of their needles both in the sun as well as the shadows, and (2) the dynamics of a rapidly flowing mountain stream. Both problems are making me focus more than ever before. And if I don’t get this one right, then I’m confident I will continue trying until I get closer to the truth. At any rate, while painting it, all the luxurious memories of days spent in that stream are returning to me. During these triple-digit-temperature days I certainly would love to stand in one of those cold streams, waiting for a trout to rise.

Hazel has gotten bored with my typing. She now sleeps in a chair nearby. And as I look up, I see all the dogs, littered like carcasses all about the living room. Nap time.

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.

Finding my Way Back

March 26, 2020
Quality Moments for Reading, Recording and Painting

There is Spiritual Power in our speech. The First Worker blew His breath into the first human. He created and made him breathe and so there is Spiritual Power in our speech. Be careful in how you speak.

Baaannile (Direction of the Path of the People), White Owl

White Owl, delivering his wisdom to the Crow tribes, has struck a deep chord within me this morning. In the midst of this Stay At Home directive that has confined me to the hearth, I have tried largely to avoid the reckless waste of words tossed over the air by alleged leaders of this country–people who were appointed to their positions because of the trust that they were mature and wise. Some sound decisions are being made, I believe, but much of the rhetoric, political posturing and showmanship I can do without. Words are precious and pack much power, but diminish exponentially when used for carnival barking.

My former student, Eric Tiner, lives among the Apsáalooke (Crow) in southern Montana where he has found a rich life and work. He has graciously sent me this book handed down by White Owl, and in recent days, my soul has been replenished by words from this sage’s reservoir along with words from N. Scott Momaday and the Kiowa traditions. Not only have these wise men granted me new visions for subject matter in painting–they have also filled my journals with fresh vistas of thought.

Working on a Pair of Watercolors

Most of Wednesday was spent in my makeshift studio, working on a pair of watercolors (one of a Kiowa subject, the other a Crow). As I worked, I listened on YouTube to a pair of engaging documentaries of the life and work of our famous American illustrator N. C. Wyeth, father of Andrew Wyeth. N. C. has arrested my attention over this past year as I have learned that he was a lover of books and ideas and these were the motive power behind his magnificent paintings. As I have previously written, I have deeply appreciated the rich writings of painters including Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newmann and Mark Rothko, but I find very little in common with their Abstract Expressionist syles of painting. Now I seem to have landed in the embrace of a kindred spirit who loved books and representational painting as I do. Those who know me personally are aware that I have a deep-seated attachment to Andrew Wyeth’s art. However, I deeply resent a public remark he made in an interview that he believed his father wasted too much time reading Thoreau and Emerson. And so, though I am more attached to Andrew’s techniques and subject matter, I am much more attached to N. C.’s written words that express rich profoundness of thought.

As I have felt my strength returning to me in the past few days, I have appreciated the stamina of my eyes and mind to read, think and write once again. And now, it feels good to get out and walk in the open air (where there are not other people nearby) and feel strength returning to my body. Before this virus scare, I always felt compelled to travel and network for the purpose of increasing the visibility of my art. But frankly, I prefer the more sedentary life, and always had this inborn fear that I was being “lazy” when devoting large blocks of time to my studies and my art. This beginning of 2020 has been most unusual, as it has marked the first time in over thirty years that I have no teaching contract of any kind, and now the Stay at Home directive essentially tells me to stay in. I have read the remarks of many who are frustrated that they cannot get out and find a social life or enjoy shopping, but frankly, I have appreciated very much this respite. The life of the mind is rich enough for me, and I relish this gift.

Last evening I felt good enough to get out and walk, and decided to pack a folding chair, fly rod and good book as I made my way to the nearby park where a large playa has spawned a population of catfish and carp. I eschewed the classical manner of fly fishing, choosing instead to tie on to my leader a small strike indicator bubble and a size 18 treble hook dangling 12″ further. Three pieces of whole kernel corn were spiked onto the treble and I slung the bait out into the center of a finger of the playa, laid the rod at my feet and let the evening winds carry the line along, coming to rest about a foot from the bank. Nothing happened, as expected, but the evening winds whispered among the leaves of the shade tree overhead, and I felt very much alive and thanful. Opening N. Scott Momaday’s The Man Made of Words, I turned to my bookmarked spot, near the finish of this magnificent book. Reading and glancing up at the bubble every few minutes, I found myself soon immersed in Momaday’s world, and was surprised at one point to look up and see the bobber dancing all about. The carp was heavy for my light-weight fly rod, and bringing him in took awhile, as I didn’t want him to break off the fragile leader. His gold and green glistened in the sunset and I took a moment to admire and photograph him before returning him to his home. He sure was a stout fellow, and disappeared in a flash when I let him go.

A sturdy carp taken on a flyrod

This Thursday morning is bright and sunny in west Texas. I am choosing again to stay inside for the day. There is plenty to keep my imagination occupied, and I’m glad to start the day by sending these words and pictures to you.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website at www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Seclusion

March 16, 2020
Outdoor Fireplace at the Cabin

But the next day you know it’s no use; you know that if you went home there would be nothing there, just the empty land and a lot of old people, going no-place and dying off. And you’ve got to forget about that too.

N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn

As I was finishing House Made of Dawn, I recorded the above statement in my journal because of the way it arrested my thinking. Home. Since retirement in 2017, I have mostly lived the life of a drifter, frequently choosing not to remain in my house where I live alone. The travel, the friends, the adventures and the new stories have all combined to fuel my imagination and my art. And I would not have traded those experiences for anything. I have been fortunate in living the dream.

Currently we all live in a world that has completely morphed beyond recognition. I was not at home when the virus scare finally captured the national attention. And it happened that three of the people among whom I love most had included me in their plans to get away for a few days, renting a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. So, here we are, away from the cities and neighborhoods, with no appointments or sense of clock time, enjoying a large fire we’ve built in an outdoor fireplace, and sharing meals, stories and all-around good moments.

Relaxing Dinner with Friends

I packed my art supplies for plein air work while away at this cabin, but the weather is cold and very wet, with rains filling up most of the days and nights. Outdoors it is comparatively dark, so I laid aside the art supplies and balanced my quality time between books and fly fishing.

Evening Hole at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma
Nice Rainbow taken with a Dry Fly

The weather is windy, cold, wet and frigid for fishing, but that tends to keep the crowds down. My favorite spot (Evening Hole) is a pretty good trek upstream from where I am able to park, but the area was thinly enough populated that I found plenty of room (more than thirty feet of distance from other fly fisherman) for open waters. After landing one pretty rainbow, I was bone-chilled and ready to leave the frigid stream for the cabin, friends and fireplace. I will say though that few things (to me) are more delightful to witness than a nice rainbow rising to snatch your dry fly from the surface of a moving stream. That image is what has remained with me during this stay.

Thanks for reading, and thank you Sandi, Ron and Dian for another lovely memorable time together, away from the city life.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Velvet Silence of the Night

March 5, 2020

Disclaimer: Monday I posted a blog covering several days of meaningful events, and a few hours later deleted it accidentally while trying to correct a typo using my phone. Several days later now, going back through my journal and archive of photos, I have reached a decision to take this string of sausages and try to reconstruct the pig as best I can:

My Favorite Retreat for Solitude

When I cross the porch of this old, refurbished store, I bring my whole life with me. The anxious world appears to pause in this quiet space every time I pull back the screen door and enter the dim interior to put down roots for a day or two. The philosopher Martin Heidegger retreated to his cabin in the Black Forest to do his best thinking and writing, away from the city and university. And so I find myself content in the midst of these east Texas woodlands to find peace and quiet and pursue my best work. Henry David Thoreau had his Walden, Heidegger had his Todtnauberg, and so I have my Davy Crockett National Forest and wonderful friends who have made it possible. A spirit of well-being envelops me as the night now advances. I find this a perfect setting for reading and scribbling out pages of thoughts in my journal.

Arriving late last night, I was exhausted, but still managed to relax awhile for reading, writing and reflection. Later I turned out the light and slept a deep sleep till dawn. At first light, I rose refreshed and immediately sought out my favorite rocker on the porch. The morning was chilly and windy, but that seemed to make the coffee taste better.

The Thoughtful Cup

I frequently laugh with friends over a line from the Saul Bellow novel Herzog. The aging professor Moses Herzog was described once as lingering over a “thoughtful cup of coffee.” While ruminating over my own cup, my mind gratefully returned to last night as I was closing The Gallery at Redlands. A lady, after looking through my collection in the gallery and then the restaurant, retrieved her husband, and when it was all said and done, they purchased a pair of my paintings of Sacred Heart Church that stands across the street from the hotel. I’m pleased the paintings found a home and realize it is time now to create some new works of this majestic structure.

Faith Glowing in the Storm
Sacred Heart in the Morning

Once breakfast was finished, I began rearranging furniture to turn this bedroom into a studio, taking advantage of the natural light flowing in through the French doors. For a couple of days, I have been working on a small watercolor of a Missouri mine. My friend from school days, Wayne White, sent me a number of photos that he has taken of these subjects.

Indoor Studio

After a few hours of tinkering with the painting, I decided to seek out a restaurant recommended by a new friend I met last night in the hotel after closing the gallery.

Larry Bruce Gardens

Larry Bruce Gardens is located in the middle of nowhere: 3198 County Road 4600, Kennard, Texas, but wow, was it worth the drive! I don’t recall how long it’s been since I encountered a Sunday lunch buffet as fresh and exotic as this one. Live bluegrass music played throughout mealtime and the atmosphere was just as savory as the food.

Luxurious Buffet

Returning to the store after lunch, I felt the need to walk off the meal. Rigging up my flyrod, I hiked down the hill across the road to a large body of water on the property of the store owners. It must have been a long winter, because the bass were hungry and eager. I landed 27 fish, mostly largemouth and a small assortment of panfish. The winds were up, making it difficult to work the fly line, but the fish were nevertheless more than enthusiastic to meet me halfway.

First Fish of 2020
27th Fish of 2020

The evening was spent in sweet solitude as I read a great deal from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Carlos Baker’s Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. Sitting on the porch rocker, I felt intoxicated by the sounds of the steady winds whispering through the leafy trees and the constant chirping of the bird choruses. As the light dimmed, deer emerged from the surrounding forests and moved noiselessly across the fields and the yard surrounding the store. It was a perfect world.

Second Morning

Retiring to bed for an exhausted, heavy sleep, I awoke surprisingly at 5 a.m. and could not shut down the thoughts surging through my mind. I thought of Carlo Marx in Kerouac’s On the Road shouting in the darkness: “You can’t shut down the machine!” So I rose from my bed, and after a “thoughtful cup of coffee” on the porch, moved my studio outdoors and returned to work on the abandoned Missouri mine, eventually finishing and framing it.

Studio Moved Outdoors
Finished the Missouri Mine

Meantime he was working harder than he had ever worked in his life, often until three or four in the morning, Then he would fall asleep, his head feeling like a frozen cabbage, only to jump awake again a few hours later, with the words already stringing themselves into sentences, clamoring to be set down.

Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story

The past couple of days have been heavenly as I have moved back and forth between painting and reading/thinking/writing. From the drafting stool to the rocking chair, from the plein air easel to the writing desk. Back and forth. Painting, reading. Drawing, writing. Drafting, thinking. The rhythm I find very satisfying.

Hemingway searched for his one true sentence.

John Nash searched for his governing dynamic.

Thoreau searched for the hard bottom of reality.

And I continually search for an aesthetic, a style, an identity to my own creations.

Hemingway once wrote that “a writer is an outlier like a Gypsy.” I suppose all of us who strive to create question ourselves: are we outliers? Solitary, yes. Unconventional perhaps. As for myself, I can honestly say that during these years of retirement I have enjoyed a life on the road, a perpetual journey, an odyssey. While traveling, I have enjoyed changing perspectives that have prevented me from rutting, from becoming mired in sediment. Life has remained multi-faceted like a rare gem. And in that I have found perpetual delight.

Thank you for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.