Archive for the ‘Fort Worth’ Category

Flatiron painting in Studio Eidolons

October 15, 2020

When I walk into the art studio, my entire life comes with me. Leaning over the surface of the painting, my soul’s voice calls out over the canyon of consciousness, and the echoing cry of memories returns.

David Tripp, journal entry

With puddles of wet watercolor scattered about the surface of this 16 x 20″ painting, I need to walk away awhile and let it set up lest I lay my hand in one of the pools and screw up the painting.

Earlier this morning, over coffee, I re-opened a book, Barnett Newman’s Selected Writings and Interviews. I was rocked by the following quote from his essay, “The New Sense of Fate”–

Those who believe that classicism is possible are the same who feel that art is the flower of society rather than its root.

The context of this quote was Newman’s contrast between ancient Greek notions of art vs. a more primitive one (in this case, Egyptian). Newman concluded that Egyptian art was more primal whereas Greek was decorative. Whereas, for the Egyptians art was the root of their expression, for the Greeks, it was their flower. Newman discussed whether art was a root or flower for society. I chose to think more personally about the matter. Is art my root or my flower? To use Newman’s categories, does art flow out of a sense of tragedy, or is it decorative, for me? I began writing in my own journal about the role of art in my own history, hence the quote opening this blog entry.

Newman’s essay contrasts his own culture of art viscerally responding to the horrors of World War II with other cultures that wished to create beauty and calm. Newman, believing the world could come to an end, could not paint flowers or pretty things (he said in an interview). While reading this, I thought of Henri Matisse who endured two world wars yet refused to respond to them. Rather he chose to paint vivid, colorful compositions, hoping to emit an atmosphere of calm.

When I make art, I am calling forth my entire life. The way I see it, I endured many personal tragedies that rocked me for decades (as I’m certain most people have). But I also was conscious of beauty and calm, and have been blessed with a quality education. Hence, I truly believe my art is more romantic than tragic, more calm than visceral, and I truly believe that when I practice making art, the experience indeed flows from my root, but the calm side, not the tragic. If the result of my art is calm and beautiful, then I’m grateful for that. But the end result, to me, is never as profound as the process which springs from a primal root that has not been eroded by a life of tragedy.

If I were a more seasoned writer, I would let this one cook awhile longer and refine it. But I’m a blogger so I’m sending it up the flagpole. If I need to restate it later, I probably will. The painting is dry and I’m ready to get back after 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.

Working into the Night, Drawing more than Painting

October 14, 2020

. . . drawing is the dividing of a plane surface (parallel to Denis’s definition of painting as “essentially a plane surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order”). I personally like that dividing to be as decisive and fast as the cracking of an Argentinean’s bullwhip . . . . Painting can overcome one with its sensuousness, like the soft warm skin of a woman, in a way that drawing cannot. But drawing can be as clear-cut as one’s father’s precepts. Drawing satisfies our sense of definition, even if we cannot define “drawing” itself. Drawing is a racing yacht, cutting through the ocean. Painting is the ocean itself.

Robert Motherwell, “Thoughts on Drawing”

Tonight I feel a kinship with Motherwell because his habit was to work late into the night in his studio. That is seldom my practice, but this evening I have been drawn to this project and have been putting in good time with it.

The quote above about drawing vs. painting has preoccupied me tonight as I was aware of the tension since college days when I worked on my Bachelor’s in art. It was then that my professors told me I was much more the draftsman than painter. That bothered me for years, but in recent times I have owned it; I truly enjoy the precision of drawing much more than the swish of color. I suppose the reason I settled on watercolor as my primary medium is due to its constitution that allows drawing before, during and after the painting disciplines. I am struggling with the issues of color on this flatiron building and will not lay down the broad washes until I settle on a fitting recipe. But the drawing details relax that tension and I feel I could engage in that task for hours (in fact today and tonight I actually have).

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.

The Hollow Men

October 14, 2020
Continued details on the Fort Worth Flatiron

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

My mind wanders far and wide when concentrating on minute details of a large watercolor. Waking this morning, I felt the compulsion to seek out T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” for quiet reading over coffee. As I read, my mind drifted to the watercolor in the studio waiting my morning arrival. I thought of the towering flatiron building on the south side of downtown Fort Worth, standing sentinel there for 113 years now, presiding quietly over passing history. And I wondered over the thousands of souls who passed by quietly beneath its shadows during that century-plus, especially in days when the south side witnessed more foot traffic.

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Those lines have always haunted me. I suppose it was during graduate school days in the 1980’s that I encountered the largest number of men around me, working on doctorates, continually complaining about their sense of hollowness and their attempts to fill the void with reservations for a racquetball court, a golf outing, or dinner somewhere with someone, anyone. I never knew those days. Financially I struggled then, and could not engage in social outings, but books were my companion, and now in better days, books remain my companion when no one is around. I don’t understand hollowness, listlessness. Even if I don’t have an art project waiting on the drafting table, I have a library of volumes I will never exhaust in this lifetime, and empty journal pages waiting to be filled. Life is full, and I’m grateful for it.

At this moment, I have four paintings laid out waiting for my attention, but this flatiron has a hard target deadline, so I know what my orders are for the days ahead. But once this painting is finished, several more are already on standby, and the books and ideas will always be swarming about me like a fragrant cloud, and for that I am grateful.

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.

Ruminations in Studio Eidolons

October 11, 2020
Second Day on the Flatiron

The quality of beauty in Hemingway’s work seems to come as naturally as the leaves to a tree.

Carlos Baker, Hemingway: The Writer as Artist

For nearly two weeks I have had rewarding morning hours in Studio Eidolons, mixing my reading and writing with watercoloring. I finished Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and am nearly halfway through Baker’s work on Hemingway’s writing. Years ago I read Baker’s major biography on Hemingway and have retrieved the volume from the bookshelf to re-read key portions I underlined. This has inspired me to write more as well, though I have yet to post the new material online. Maybe later.

While painting today I have been listening (I seldom look at the TV when it plays in the studio) to the motion picture “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” I have paused to post something on the blog because I was overcome with sadness at the reminder of how deeply unhappy this writer was throughout his life. Having read two biographies and watched a handful of documentaries on his life, I am all-too-familiar with how unlikeable he was to people who knew him. I also know the stories of artists Picasso and Pollock, and countless celebrities who had their ways of making the ones around them nearly as miserable as they were themselves. I have no pity at all for unhappy people who bring nothing good into our society, but do feel a deep sense of hurt for the miserable ones who made contributions in literature, art, philosophy, music and film that enrich and inspire us. I am always saddened to know that they did not know the same enrichment in return.

Daily I receive in my email a word of the day from Word Genius. About once a week, the word is a timely one, and today provided such a word–desideratum. The Latin word depicts “something that is needed or wanted.” My long-time friend Wayne White (now recovering from a complicated surgery requiring extensive rehab–we will probably be hearing much from him in the weeks ahead, which is always a good thing) has shared a sentiment with me repeatedly: both of us hope our blogs fall under the category of desideratum. We truly want our words and images to matter, to comfort, to build people up rather than tear them down.

New member of the family. Meet Paddington
Two Amigos enjoying the Fall Morning

Full disclosure–one of the reasons for my blog hiatus is the new addition to our family. Paddington is a rat terrier we adopted when he was only nine days old, and waiting till he reached the age of two months seemed an eternity. At last he is in our home, and our four-year-old Patches has bonded well with him. Though I’ve stayed busy daily with my art, reading and writing, I have recently found myself spending very little time on social media, choosing instead to roll around on the floor and chase the little beasts around the house. Domestic life is bliss.

The Fort Worth flatiron building is coming along slowly, but thanks to a large flatscreen TV moved to my studio, I have the luxury of blowing up the image and seeing the details better than ever before. The November deadline will keep me glued to this painting for awhile, meaning I’ve had to set aside three other large works that were in progress before the flatiron commission arrived.

I need to return to my painting. 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.

Sunday Morning in Studio Eidolons

October 11, 2020
Inspirational Reading before Painting

The apple-crisp October morning found us strolling southbound on Houston Street in downtown Fort Worth. We walked along, talking little, letting the urban environment flood our sensations. Traffic is always moderate in this downtown, unlike the frantic flow of a Chicago or Manhattan. The scuffing of my boots on the sidewalk could easily be heard above the occasional murmur of passing cars. Picking my way through the cold shadows and warm yellow sunlight between the towering buildings, I adjusted my eyes to catch the first sight of the rising Flatiron building at the intersection of West 9th, posted like a sentry of the south side since 1907.

David Tripp, journal

Fort Worth Flatiron, Houston & West 9th

I realize a long stretch of time has passed since the last blog. Perhaps I’ll record the past week or two’s history in future posts, but for now I’ll just say what is happening now–I’ve been commissioned to paint the historic Forth Worth Flatiron building and am up to my elbows in this new 16 x 20″ watercolor.

16 x 20″ commission underway

I painted this building years ago and sold it out of the Weiler House Gallery in Fort Worth. Limited editions of the work have sold quite well and are still available at $100 unframed.

Previous painting (limited editions still available)

For my new painting, I’ve taken a fresh set of photos and have settled on a closer, lower-angle perspective. I plan to show this work in its developing stages in the days ahead. No limited editions will be available on this work, as agreed upon with the commission.

I’ll try and post again soon, and more often. 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 & Martin

August 29, 2018


To be old means: to stop in time at

          that place where the unique

          thought of a thought train has

          swung into its joint.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

My morning watch was filled with the warmth of Heidegger’s poem “The Thinker as Poet.” Over the past two years, I have taken that piece with me to the Colorado mountains and read it again and again, letting the words wash over my soul. I love having the quality time for thinking that has been provided me in this life of semi-retirement. I spent the best part of today with “Z”, a Czech friend I have only known a few years, and don’t seem to spend enough time with in conversation. Today, over coffee, we had a genuine heart-to-heart about this deep-seated joy we know when ideas come in our quiet, reflective hours. Z shared with me some of his own writings of late, and I hope to God he finds a way to publish his work. The world needs more good meditations to read and ponder.

In our conversations today, we mused about how we find ourselves during our senior years organizing our ideas into clusters, and how satisfying it is when a particular idea finds its place in our scheme, when the idea finally joins the train and swings “into its joint.” This metaphor from Heidegger has been a card I’ve enjoyed playing of late.

I believe I have finally finished the commission that I began earlier this summer. I was hoping to have it complete by the beginning of school. It just took a little longer.


Thanks for reading.

I paint because it helps me to think.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog knowing that I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave and Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 28, 2018


Reading Emerson’s “Experience” Essay this Morning

Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars, is a musical perfection, the Ideal journeying always with us, the heaven without rent or seam. Do but observe the mode of our illumination. When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. By persisting to read or to think, this region gives further sign of itself, as it were in flashes of light, in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose, as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals, and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains, with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base, whereon flocks graze, and shepherds pipe and dance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Years ago, while in the pastoral ministry, I set aside time in the mornings, when the mind is freshest, and lingered for as long as my schedule would allow, studying the Bible, pondering its message, hoping to draw insight for the day and for life in general. When I learned the languages in later years, I spent countless hours translating the scriptures and seeking application for daily living. When the pastoral ministry ended, and a teaching career commenced, the practice continued, but the reading was broader. Now, semi-retired, the custom is still with me, and I rejoice that I am not having to write a sermon or a lecture, but can merely scribble notations in my daily journal and seek some guiding thought for the day.

Emerson’s description of such meditation is far more eloquent than I have ever been able to put into words. I share that faith of his, that beneath jumble of life’s details are harmonizing forces that sustain the world. And I love his description of drawing close to that source of wisdom, how the message dawns slowly as though clouds were withdrawing from the source of light. What I love about reading is that shared communion, the reader drawing close to the writer and feeling that warmth of wisdom as well as experiencing a glow of illumination. Emerson has been one of my many guiding forces since I entered the teaching realm in the mid-1980’s.


Working to Finish this Commission

Today is a special day also because I found some space in my day to pick up the brush and resume work on this piece that I began in the heat of the summer. I’m moving more slowly now as I decide what to do in adding further detail, as well as deciding what to leave alone.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Morning Coffee with Dave & Joseph

August 17, 2018

jmw turner

Turner had already learnt that part of the job of the artist is to improve on the actual view as it is reimagined on paper.

Franny Moyle, Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

Reading the Joseph Mallord William Turner biography this morning over coffee yielded several of those Ah-Ha! moments for me, especially the quote posted above. I have to face the reality as a musician as well as an artist that I am often bound tightly by my subject matter. As a guitarist, I am often “page-bound”, unwilling to allow spontaneous flourishes into my music because I am focused on the notations in the book before me. I can also be “recording-bound” if I am trying too hard to copy a particular guitarist’s riffs on the song I am playing instead of trusting my own inner voice. I must learn to let the music flow within me and respond to what I hear internally.

The same goes for painting. Whether I am working en plein air or from a reference photo, I often find myself sticking strictly with the subject before me instead of trusting my “inner eye” to edit a composition on the paper before me and create a quality painting rather than a strict copy of the subject I am viewing. I needed this word from the Turner reading to remind me that this is my composition, and as the artist, the prerogative is mine to put in what I wish and leave out what I choose.

And so, returning to a commission that has held my attention for several weeks, I made the conscious decision today to excise certain details and furnishings in the original photo that I believe bring unnecessary clutter to the composition before me. I am happy that this painting is taking on a “clean” look rather than the typical urban look with its assortment of trash cans, signs, gutters and lamp posts. I learned long ago that I have the ability to render these extraneous objects. But are they necessary in this particular painting? I have decided they are not.

Santa Fe depot

Should be completed in a matter of days . . .

Another Ah-Ha! moment from the Turner reading this morning came from remarks delivered by Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy of which the young Turner was a member. In one of  the president’s discourses, he urged that “invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory.” This reminded me of Emerson’s line from “Experience”–

The history of literature . . . is a sum of very few ideas, and of very few original tales,–all the rest being variation of these.

Years ago, I gave up trying to be original and innovative. I have come to embrace the reality that “I am a part of all that I have met” (I lifted this from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”). Being an artist involves sifting and sorting among all the tricks and gimmicks we have collected over the years with hopes of finding a decent recipe for combining those elements. Yesterday, while listening to the Ken Burns documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright, a commentator, in discussing Wright’s early work at the drafting table, said that he was “developing his grammar.” I like the sound of that! In my senior years as an artist, I suppose I am still trying to develop my grammar.

jmw turner 2

Reading Turner made me feel that I’d returned to graduate school

And finally, the Turner biography discussed Edmund Burke’s notion of the “sublime” which played a role in the changing aesthetics within the Royal Academy by the time Turner studied there. In his pivotal work A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Burke attacked the classical notion of his day that assumed the most important part of a work of art was its clarity and clean definition.  I turned to The Encyclopedia of Philosophy for further discussion of  Burke’s ideas:

What is greatest and noblest is the infinite, and that the infinite, having no bounds, cannot be clean and distinct. He argued that the imagination, moreover, is most strongly affected by what is suggested or hinted at and not by what is plainly stated.

Reading those words reminded me of the advice given by the late Andrew Wyeth–the strength of a composition lays not in what you put into the picture, but what you leave out. A judge at one of my competitions years ago told me that she had a particular eye on the drawings and paintings that left “space” in the picture plane that invited the viewer in to complete the narrative. I’ll never forget that piece of advice. And so, in future watercolor endeavors, I will be exploring this idea of leaving certain areas of the composition undeveloped while choosing to detail other parts. I’m interested in seeing where this is going to lead.

This morning has been an enriching one. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

opening 2

Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

ghost ranch upright

“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.


Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.



Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Open House at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater Sunday Afternoon

July 18, 2015

Fort Worth Cattle Drive

Fort Worth Cattle Drive

A man’s life should be as fresh as a river. It should be the same channel, but a new water every instant. Some men have no inclination; they have no rapids nor cascades, but marshes, and alligators, and miasma instead.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, March 25, 1842

The more I read from this young man’s journals, dating prior to his stay at Walden Pond, the more astonished I am at his profound wisdom. He was only twenty-five when he wrote these words. For years, I have thought of bodies of water as metaphors for lifestyle characteristics. I love the statement above, because it attaches nicely to Thoreau’s Walden discussion of how he bathed every morning in Walden Pond, regarding it as a religious ritual as he followed the dictum of Confucius, to renew himself every day.

Today, I awoke with the feeling that I may not get to enter the studio at all. I have a show tomorrow afternoon at Fort Worth’s Stage West Theater, an Open House from 2:00-4:00. Today will be spent pulling together my inventory and preparing the necessary images, labels, signage, etc. that goes with my display, as well as packing and loading all the freight into the Jeep before I pull away in the morning. It tends to be an arduous, time-consuming affair. Still, there are worse fates. Thinking again of Thoreau’s line, I’m just happy to know I am not awaking today to doldrums, boredom, listlessness or frustration. I have a task to perform, it is art-related, and therefore I feel refreshed.

Here is a link to tomorrow’s Open House:

The image above I just picked up from the printers yesterday as a limited edition, signed and numbered giclee print. I have the first four available to take to the show. They measure 18 x 24″ and sell unframed for $100. They are shrinkwrapped and mounted on a foam core backing.

I am also bringing out this “Summer Morning on Sundance Square” for the second time, same size, same price:

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

Summer Morning on Sundance Square

This limited edition of the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd. has just been renewed. I have four of these I’ll be bringing to the show. Same size and price:

Ridglea Theater

Ridglea Theater

Since this is a Fort Worth venue, and it’s only open for two hours, I may as well pull out all my Fort Worth images. I’ll also have this one available, for $75 unframed, shrinkwrapped and mounted on foam core. It is the restored Sinclair station on McCart Ave.

McCart Sinclair

McCart Sinclair

I have the historic Flatiron building from downtown ready to go as well. 18 x 24″ and $100 unframed:

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

Sunlight on the Fort Worth Flatiron

St. Ignatius Academy, just south of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, downtown Fort Worth will also be there in a limited edition:

Saint Ignatius Academy

Saint Ignatius Academy

And finally, the Poly theater on Vaughn Blvd (two separate editions):

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Poly Theater Blues Revue

Vaughn Blvd Relic

Vaughn Blvd Relic

There is still much to do. As much as I hate to leave the studio, I’m glad to be participating in an art event.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.