Archive for the ‘locomotive’ Category

Drawing or Painting or Both?

January 17, 2020

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At Work on the Union Pacific “Big Boy”

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The “Big Boy”–18 x 24″ watercolor

Drawing is the probity of art. 

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Painting can overcome one with its sensuousness, like the soft warm skin of a woman, in a way that drawing cannot.

Robert Motherwell

January has provided plenty of time and relaxation to pursue a pair of commissions–steam locomotives. These are subjects I have always loved to paint, But only when I had weeks of leisure between calendar appointments. Now, with west Texas temperatures plummeting below freezing, it is nice not to have to get out and drive anywhere. I love the dim winter light in the windows, the sounds of the howling winds outside and the crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

Part of this morning was given to reading from The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell. While painting, I listened to some of his interviews on Youtube and decided I wanted to read more from him. In 1970 he published an essay, “Thoughts on Drawing”. This I have read a number of times over past years and am glad I gave it another look this morning.

I did not know until college that I was more of a draughtsman than a painter. My painting professor called my oils “colored drawings” and my student teaching advisor told me I needed to be more “painterly”. My art history professor, looking at my series of oils, remarked “nice drawings.” This may be why I eventually turned to watercolor, because in that media, one can get away with drawing with color.

In re-reading the Motherwell essay, I came up with this remarkable observation from the poet Baudelaire, whom Motherwell never tired of quoting:

Pure draughtsmen are philosophers and dialecticians. Colorists are epic poets. 

Throughout my life, I have held the deepest regard for philosophers as well as poets, feeling I lacked the gifts to be either, while always trying to be both. I always thought the philosopher anchored the left brain with reasoning and discpline, while poetry resided in the right with emotion and exploration. The Greek dramatists perceived Apollo as patron saint of reason while Dionysus advocated risk.

Personally, I feel most “in my element” in watercolor when I am feeding both sides. That is happening with this locomotive–I am exacting in the details of the machine while at the same time full of swish when dealing with the steam, smoke and general atmosphere. The entire time I have worked on this, I continually moved back and forth between the two regions, never feeling boredom or tedium. The day has been splendid while working on this piece. I am very pleased knowing I am a long way from finishing; I feel I am going to regret seeing this one come to a conclusion, so fulfilling has been the experience of pursuing it.

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

Shultz on websiteI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Juggling More than One Interest

January 15, 2020

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Nearing Completion on the KATY train

To achieve their goal, masterpieces must charm but also penetrate the soul and make a deep impression on the mind that is similar to reality. . . . Therefore the artist must have studied all the motives of mankind and he must know nature thoroughly. In short he must be a philosopher.

Jacques Louis David

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Early Stages of the UP Big Boy

Recently, my blog activity has been sharply curtailed. Scheduled events are approaching quickly: a one-man-show, a speaking engagement and a watercolor workshop. In the midst of planning and corresponding with other parties involved, I have been submerged in a pair of watercolor commissions of locomotives and, as always, much reading.

I naively thought that since I would not be teaching this semester my study hours would significantly diminish. Instead, with no assigned subject matter, I find myself spending more time in book stores and public libraries, and looking over taller stacks of books at home. Soon, I may be responding to what I’ve been reading from Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence along with Alain de Botton’s ideas on art, philosophy and life.

But today, I have found myself ricocheting among the ideas of several notable painters: Jacques Louis David, Eugene Delacroix, Robert Motherwell and Andy Warhol. Returning to my favorite hobby horses, I find myself musing over ways to balance academic study with making art. On most days of my life, I find myself holding the reins of these two horses as they pull my cart on this slippery, rutty path. I have told my friends that when I am painting, I’m thinking about what I want to read and write, and while reading and writing, I’m thinking about what I want to paint. Both activities tug at me perennially.

I opened this blog with the quote from Jacques Louis David as I have been reading of the lives of the NeoClassical artists steeped in philosophy and academic pursuits along with their painting. I followed that up with my resumed reading from the journals of Eugene Delacroix, and read this morning his criticisms of one of his most intimate colleagues, Paul-Marc-Joseph Chenavard. Whereas Delacroix, the quintessential Romantic, drew much inspiration from music, and spent quality time in the company of Chopin, Chenavard, steeped in German philosophy, believed intellect to be the main driver of the artist. Delacroix, in one of his journal entries, made reference to “the learned and unfortunately too cold Chenavard. He puts literature in the first rank, painting comes next, and music is only last.”

In a flurry of text messages with one of my artist friends this morning, we discussed the plethora of avenues of inspiration available to the artist, and agreed that we shouldn’t denigrate anyone for pursuing different stimuli from our own. Anyone engaged in the creative task should feel free to open up to the richness of sources available to us.

Long ago, when I was employed in the Protestant ministry, I struggled to balance private academic study with public expression. Frequently, I was asked by parishioners and fellow pastors what I wished to be, a scholar or a preacher. I never understood that false dichotomy, and marveled every time I encountered the sentiment that the pulpit was no place for an academician. Later when I turned to education, I no longer had to face that dichotomy; a teacher was expected to be academically driven.

But once I became active as an artist, I found the wedge once again driven between academic pursuits and artistic expression. Frequently I found myself floundering in discussions with fellow artists who wished to discuss only techniques, materials and subject matter for painting, but not theory. As I studied and taught art history, I found my kindred spirits in that world, Robert Motherwell especially. This man started out as an academician, and when he turned to painting, he brought that world with him. Throughout his lengthy career, he found a way to write, publish and lecture as well as paint and exhibit. In that balance, he has become a personal hero of mine. Every time I feel that there is a conflict between the disciplines, I return to his collected writings, fully understanding his frustrations an he spoke of the difficulty (and rewards) of striking the balance.

I have posted photos of the two paintings I’ve been working on recently. One of them might be finished; I’ve laid it aside for a few days and will look at it later with fresh eyes to determine whether I should push it further. Meanwhile I am actively working on the much larger Union Pacific “Big Boy.” The KATY is a 9 x 12″; the Big Boy an 18 x 24″. In both works, I am entering a fascinating world as I experiment with smoke, steam and atmospheric effects. I suppose the reason for such stimulation is because I do not yet have an established algorithm or series of steps to follow. I feel like a chef in the kitchen experimenting with a little of this and a little of that as I use a spritz bottle, toothbrush and variety of brushes and X-acto knife along with sprinkles of salt and stale bread crumbs to push the pigments around on the dampened paper. And I’m frequently adding new warm and cool colors to my gray mixtures that I’ve never used before, and I’m coming up with several surprises, none of them unpleasant yet. It’s fun to paint with this sense of exploration and adventure.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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Musings in the Morning Light

January 9, 2020

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. . . and the philosophical light around my window is now my joy; may I be able to keep on as I have thus far!

The poet Hölderlin writing to a friend, December 2, 1802

I feel everlasting gratitude to a friend who allows me to reside in this lovely place for an extended visit. These days of privacy are filled with hours beside the fireplace where I can read by the gray morning winter light. My makeshift studio is a mere ten paces away, and I can honestly say that, for me, days spent in watercolor activity are better than days that are not. During the intermittent spells of allowing the paintings to dry, I love to immerse myself in books and writing.

January 2020 finds me in a reflective mode, as I look back at the prior year, and then further back over my personal years and continue recording memories I believe worth holding on to. I have recently made a pleasant discovery: Alain de Botton with his lectures available on Youtube, and books I’ve been checking out of a local library. As my life is anchored by the activities of reading, writing and making art, I’m delighted to read these words from this kindred spirit:

Writing is the obvious response to the consequences of forgetting; art is the second central response.

There are a number of reasons why I have lived a life scribbling in my journals and later taking up blogging—these are records of my daily musings as I attempt to sort out and clarify what I want out of life. I cannot think of a better employment for myself than that of an educator—it was my “job” to assist students in the process of growing up, of cultivating the richest possible life. Now in retirement years, I am finally finding the time to pursue some interests that a daily job obstructed. This is probably why my blog activity has increased in frequency—this is my first semester without a contract. My normal activity lacks a classroom forum, so now I just launch my ideas into cyberspace.

Homer’s Odyssey is finally getting my attention. This was an epic I lacked interest to pursue during the years of my schooling. But now in these senior years, I am finding real treasure in these pages. The Robert Fagles translation has been a most satisfying read, and I cannot say enough about the excellent introduction authored by Bernard Knox. My heart sank when I read the sentiments of a first-century writer who thought Homer created this work after age had drained his intensity. According to this critic, this epic was “the product of Homer’s old age, of a mind in decline; it was a work that could be compared to the setting sun—the size remained, without the force.”

Sentiments such as this have always seized my attention. Throughout my earlier years, I came to terms with the reality of the ebb and flow of our creative exploits. We cannot be “on” all the time. And I have always believed that periods of creative dormancy were necessary rest and replenishment for the active soul. But now, in my senior years, I do worry about the reality of physical decline and the possibility of losing one’s edge in creativity. I feel that my own mind and imagination are more developed than ever before, but at the same time acknowledge that my powers of memory and recall are certainly not what they were. And so, I devote much of my life to re-reading and recording precious truths that have made life so meaningful.

I will never stop feeling deep gratitude that I was afforded the opportunity to learn Greek during my years of graduate study. I was taught Koinē Greek so I could translate the New Testament writings. But since those years, I have spent countless hours poring over Homeric and Presocratic texts and uncovering the most amazing ideas.

Recently, in my examinations of Homer, I have received new insights into the word “nostalgia.” The first part of this word Homer uses 245 times in his two epics. The verb nosteo and noun nostos point out the return to one’s home or country. The verb algeo and noun algos refer to pain or distress. Hence the word “nostalgia” indicates the pain of returning home. We know all too well the pangs we experience in revisiting our roots, whether it is returning home for a visit regardless of whether family members or friends are still living or not. We also know these pains when we re-open photo albums or even go back into our smart phones to review photos we have taken. We know these feelings if we re-read letters we have kept, or review diaries and journals.

Learning what I have about this word “nostalgia” has thrown a sharper spotlight on the travails of Odysseus, the “much-traveled” wanderer who has accumulated layer upon layer of experience resulting in much ambiguity as to his identity and purpose. Reading The Odyssey comes at a good time, because I’ve been working on a watercolor of a steam locomotive charging through the night, and it brings to mind many of my all-night excursions on AMTRAK from Fort Worth to St. Louis. Going back through my journals recently, I uncovered many layers of writings as I looked out the window of the moving train, surveying the back yards of impoverished neighborhoods, and backstreets of decrepit southern towns. On my headset, I was listening to acoustic, country blues guitar music accompanied by mournful voices and lyrics. And all the while, I was looking at the twinkle of Christmas lights on the shabby houses. I felt the co-mingling of warmth and sadness. Good will and poverty. I still shudder when I recall those cold, lonely nights of travel, heading home to revisit aging family members and friends.

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Work on a Commissioned Watercolor

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A man is whatever room he is in.

Japanese saying

Going back through my archive, I pulled this selfie I took in October 2016 because it was what I thought about when I sat beside the fire this morning, reading by the light coming through the windows behind me. The reason I return frequently to this photo (and I did a watercolor of it as well) is because the setting reminds me of all I’ve read of philosopher Martin Heidegger retreating to his cabin in the Black Forest to think and write his most famous works. At that time, he was a professor at the University of Berlin, but he preferred the solitude of the village of Todtnauberg and its intimate connection to nature. Every time I go back to that old store where I first sat in October 2016, I feel the connection to Heidegger in Todtnauberg, or Thoreau at Walden, or the theologian Karl Barth at his cottage in the Bergli. I am not the only one to feel that profound mental transport to other ages. I read the following recently from N. Scott Momaday:

By this time I was back into the book, caught up completely in the act of writing. I had projected myself—imagined myself—out of the room and out of time. I was there with Ko-sahn in the Oklahoma July.

In 1946, Martin Heidegger delivered his notable lecture “What Are Poets For?” Heidegger borrowed the line from a Hölderlin poem that pointed out the troublesome times Germany was facing in the nineteenth century, and Heidegger resurrected the words on the 1946 occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Rainer Maria Rilke’s death. Heidegger’s day in Germany was also a profoundly dark one, and he questioned what the role of a creator was when his/her culture faced a darkening time. I find January 2020 an extremely dark time in our world and wonder also what exactly I am to do in the face of this cultural midnight.

In the film “Pollock” there is the episode of Jackson Pollock visiting for the first time the general store in Springs, Long Island. The proprietor at the counter asks him if he’s from the city. When Pollock nods, the man responds that he doesn’t blame him for retreating to the small town. In a world where a man can invent the atom bomb the only thing one can do is retreat to a quiet place and do what you have to do. In our current darkening days I also wonder just exactly what I am to do.

January 2020 is proving to be a pensive month for me. I have a one-man-show opening in Dallas February 1, but until then, I have oceans of time around me and am glad to have the quality time and space to contemplate what to do in my next adventure.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz on websiteI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Wandering Thoughts while Painting

January 8, 2020

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Making Headway with this Commission

No one can get anywhere without contemplation. Busy people who do not make contemplation part of their business do not do much for all their effort.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

The morning started early this time, around 5:30. With my coffee, I tried to read from my “Bible” (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit), but found myself instead scribbling out a large number of pages in my journal. I recall Friedrich Nietzsche, as a classical philologist grieving for the scholar who could not think “unless he had a book between his fingers.” Nietzsche said that it was a tragedy to rise early in the morning with a mind fresh and ready for ideas, and to waste that time in other thinkers’ transcripts. I am convinced that if the nineteenth century had a problem with books standing between a thinker and his/her thoughts, today it is smart phones. Alain de Botton once said that the problem with our phones is not that we’re gaming too much, but that “they don’t allow us enough time with our thoughts.” Putting my phone on the shelf, I gave myself to good thoughts and good reading, knowing that whatever came to me over my phone could wait.

Probably the reason for my percolating mind this morning was reading Henri before bedtime last evening. I was captivated by his comments on the “powerful demarcation between the surface and the deep currents of human development.” In Platonic fashion, Henri divided the world between a surface, material realm and an underlying, foundational, spiritual one. Building on this scheme, Henri then divided artists between the two realms. Emerging from the world of the illustrator which he knew all-too-well, Henri argued that “the artist of the surface does not see further than material fact. He describes appearances and he illustrates events.”

Henri, as a sage, devotes a large section of his book The Art Spirit to inspiring artists to seek that underlying spiritual dynamic:

Event and upheavals, which seem more profound than they really are, are happening on the surface. But there is another and deeper change in progress. It is of long, steady persistent growth, very little affected and not at all disturbed by surface conditions. The artist of today should be alive to this deeper evolution on which all growth depends, has depended and will depend.

Aristotle pointed out two branches of knowledge: technē (from which we get technology) furnishes us the tools for our tasks, and sophia (translated “wisdom”) which is closer to the Delphic Oracle (“Know Thyself”), furnishing us with insight. It is this inner, self-knowledge that Aristotle said points us to the spirit of well-being or fulfilment (eudaimonia).

I have written about this in other blog posts but will write it again: I regard myself as a late bloomer, educationally. Throughout my public schooling, I lacked the maturity and discipline to apply myself to the school disciplines of study. The only skill I possessed was that as an artist, and fortunately those technical abilities (which I developed enthusiastically during junior and senior high school) landed me a scholarship to the university. At the university, I woke up to the world of ideas and could not satisfy my lust for learning. When my doctorate was completed, I did a swan dive into the classroom and remained for three decades. During these years in the educational crucible, I continued to study and reflect and examine the foundations for my artistic enterprise.

Now, retired, I find myself constantly making sketches of myself while in my element, seated, calm, and exploring my aesthetic world by making art, reading and writing out my thoughts:

Shultz reduced

 

This morning, while rendering this locomotive, I thought of Aristotle’s words, and decided that for me, technē could assist in portraying the “surface” of this painting, while hopefully sophia would percolate like my morning coffee, producing eudaimonia.

Thanks 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.

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Speeding Up or Slowing Down? Horizontal or Vertical?

January 7, 2020

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Martha. Martha. You are distracted by many things. Only one thing is necessary. Your sister has chosen that one thing and it will not be taken from her.

Luke 10:41-42, TT (Tripp’s Translation) 😊

My mind wanders over the landscape of thought while painting, and as I work on this locomotive composition, the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha keeps visiting my consciousness. If you haven’t read the account in Luke’s Gospel, I urge you to take a look at the brief story. While Mary sits at the feet of Jesus in their home, hanging on his every spoken word, Martha is prattling about the house trying to get everything in order to serve their guests. Finally, in frustration, she implores Jesus to tell her sister to get up and help with the tasks. His response is posted above. The contrast between the sisters is front and center of my thoughts this morning, and I’m going to try and work this out: charging Martha vs. contemplative Mary.

I am developing a painting of a steam locomotive charging and snorting across the landscape like a runaway steed. We can imagine a scene inside this charging vessel of iron: sedentary people drinking coffee, nibbling pastries, smoking cigars and reading newspapers. The surface appearance would suggest a calm interior contrasted with the velocity outside. But within this nexus of people we would likely find the same contrast: some of them charging impatiently toward appointments, others quietly enjoying the journey.

Suspended above the train, stars weave intricate constellations, but few inside the train are looking out the windows in admiration. Or, to draw from the observations of Pythagoras, the stars perform complex symphonies, but few will listen. The world still offers unspeakable resources to a people who will not respond.

We live in an age of sharp contrasts, but the weight seems distributed toward the frenetic. In this current digital media age, we hurtle through life at warp speed, many of us chasing every stimulus that presents itself. Restless people in our culture carry smart phones and are constantly engaged with the screens, reading, texting, flitting from platform to platform, seldom pausing to absorb many of the gifts the environment offers. One of the greatest gifts is repose.

If we are to become a more thoughtful culture, a more fulfilled people, what would we need to consider? If mature, reflective thought and response is to come from us, what do we need? How do we harness the discipline to think twice before responding? Soak time is required. Time to pause. To breathe. To center. To compost. Heidegger once wrote: “We never come to thoughts. They come to us.” How often are we willing and patient to allow fresh ideas to come to us? Why do we think happiness and contentment must be chased? Captured?

On May 6, 1963 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, theologian Paul Tillich was the principal speaker at the fortieth anniversary party for Time magazine. His audience consisted of 284 subjects of Time cover stories, including Adlai Stevenson and Douglas MacArthur. His address was titled “The Ambiguity of Perfection.” His biographer Wilhelm Pauck summarized the event:

Pointing to the ambiguous character of all high achievement, Tillich hammered home to his audience the idea that the human condition is ever ambiguous, an “inseparable mixture of good and evil, of creative and destructive forces, both individual and social . . . there is nothing unambiguously creative and nothing unambiguously destructive. They accompany each other inseparably.”

The same was true, he continued, of the one-dimensional culture of which they were all a part. It was a free society, to be sure, but one without depth: its ceaseless expansion, whether into outer space or on the production line, had created an almost irresistible temptation on the part of everyone to produce in order to produce still more.

Tillich exhorted the producers of cultural goods to stop moving in this one-dimensional direction—to come to a halt in order to “enter creation and unite with its power,” in short, to add the vertical line of depth to the horizontal line of extension. In a direct reference to his own role as a Socratic gadfly, he pointed out that the creative critics of contemporary society no longer needed to fear martyrdom, but were instead forced to “fight against being absorbed by the culture as another cultural good.”

Martha was the quintessential, spastic reactor, the embodiment of frenetic energy, always churning. Mary, the reflective one, knew that one thing mattered. One thing was necessary. Jesus said she found it, and it would not be taken away from her. May we find that resolve to figure out what matters.

Thanks for reading. Please check out my blog http://www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz reducedI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Tell Me Where the Road Is

November 23, 2019

Can anybody tell me where the road is? I’m just trying to find my way back home.

Guy Davis, Blues musician

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“Tell Me Where the Road Is” watercolor 26.5h x 24w” frame size. $500

17h x 14w” unframed signed & numbered edition, $70

The holiday season has finally arrived and my blood stirs with every thought. Descending the stairs this morning into the lobby of the Redlands Hotel, decked out in Christmas attire, I felt like a small boy again, holding hands with Mom and Dad while walking St. Louis sidewalks on frigid nights and looking in department store windows. The thought made my heart quiver, and I am thankful for many, many realities including my parents both still being alive. Thanksgiving cannot arrive soon enough, sitting around a table with those I love, talking and laughing in gratitude for all the good that has come in our many years together.

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Lobby of The Redlands Hotel, Palestine, Texas

Ten more suites are booked for tonight. The Polar Express brings 65,000 people to Palestine these final weeks of the year. Already the lobby is stirring with the exclamations of first-time guests, unprepared for what their eyes see. Last night it was my pleasure to escort a couple to their room on the fourth floor and I’ll never forget the expressions on their faces when they saw their lovely suite all decorated for Christmas. What a wonderful season.

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The Gallery at Redlands

I will never stop being grateful for being provided such a lovely space to make and display my art. I worked on the Union Pacific Big Boy watercolor at the drafting table till late last night, and am confident I’ll finish it later today.

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Union Pacific Big Boy #4014

The holiday travels just around the corner drove me to return to my reading of Homer’s Odyssey. Because of my work on the series I’ve titled “Turvey’s Corner 63050”, I have experienced many hours in recent weeks re-visiting memories and visions from childhood. Working on the watercolors and stories of that subject fill me with a depth of feeling I cannot describe adequately. While translating the Odyssey (I will never cease giving thanks to the seminary for teaching me Greek) and lingering over those ancient words, I feel such a profound connection to Odysseus navigating over that vast sea. Seafaring tales have always tugged at my heart, though I have been landbound in these United States throughout my life. My ship has always been a vehicle, and in recent years my aged Jeep has taken me over the broad seas of the rolling American landscape, my compass following a paved highway whining beneath my tires. The various islands and adventures of Odysseus have been the small towns and communities where I have moored for a temporary stay while finding my way back home.

I didn’t know until translating Homer that our word “nostalgia” comes from a Greek compound, nostos meaning return and algos meaning pain, metaphorically a pain of mind. Noun and verb forms of “return” occur 245 times in Homer’s writings, and “pain” occurs seventy-nine. Odysseus endured constant pain as he navigated the return to his roots. I know the comingled pain and comfort I feel as I recall scenes from my past and seek a return for better understanding. I consider this to be one of the finest gifts of being human and visited by memory.

I am aware that not everybody sees value in revisiting the past. In fact, Homer’s Odyssey, to many if not most, is an overrated piece of literature. Robert Fagles wrote that “one ancient critic, the author of the treatise On the Sublime, thought that the Odyssey was the product of Homer’s old age, of “a mind in decline; it was a work that could be compared to the setting sun–the size remained, without the force.” I cannot agree to this. Throughout my life, memory has been my most sacred possession, though it is probably more accurate to say it has possessed me. Either way, I am thankful to have life still in me to devote this quest to find my way back home.

I hope you will visit my new website, davidtrippart.com

Thanks for reading, and I wish you the warmest of Thanksgivings.

Shultz reduced

 

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Nearing Closure on the Big Boy

November 22, 2019

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Painting in the Gallery at Redlands this Weekend

Thanksgiving Greetings from Palestine, Texas! Entering the Gallery at Redlands this afternoon provided me quiet and space to work further on the Union Pacific Big Boy that visited us a couple of weeks ago. I really feel that I will bring this to a close tomorrow, then move on to my next adventure. Most of my attention recently has been given to adding weight to the locomotive. In my earlier attempts I had managed to create a train that looked more like a plastic water bottle. I feel that the machine is finally looking like a legitimate iron horse.

My friends Cindy and Gary will join me Sunday and Monday to resume work on the film documentary they are putting together to publish my work. I wanted to get down here early and get back into the rhythm of painting and planning for this media endeavor. I am happy that Kevin Harris from Smooth Rock 93.5 will also work with us in the future, providing voice overs for the film. Planning for this project has been going on for a number of months now, and I feel that momentum is nearly ready to kick in.

The Thanksgiving holidays are nearly here. I finished all my college grading yesterday and have only finals to anticipate in these closing weeks. I wanted to take this moment and wish all of you a most blessed Thanksgiving season, and for those of you who travel, please be safe.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Railroad Memories

November 21, 2019

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Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014

. . . when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don’t know,) it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it.

. . .

The stabler of the iron horse was up early this winter morning by the light of the stars amid the mountains, to fodder and harness his steed. 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Memories of my freshman year in college still visit me. Five hours from my parents who had nurtured me every day ruptured my routine, making sleep alone in the dorm difficult. Wakened on winter mornings before daylight at the distant sounds of a freight train whistle filled me with a sense of melancholy and homesickness. And at the same time, I felt some kind of unusual comfort. I believe it was because the railroad had fascinated me since early childhood, and hearing it on a solitary college morning provided some kind of continuity to my life. I don’t know.

Spending many nights in The Redlands Hotel in Palestine provides the same continuity. The hotel and gallery are two blocks from the Union Pacific railyard, and those constant sounds of the railroad accompany me during my stays down there. And I am still moved deeply when I experience those sights and sounds.

Two weeks ago, the Union Pacific Big Boy visited Palestine for an overnight stay. I’ll never forget the tremors I felt in the ground as that massive locomotive drew nearer to where I stood. The blast of the whistle and the smoke belching out of the stack made me tremble. At the time of this writing, I am in the midst of my first painting of that behemoth, still feeling the exhilaration of watching it steam and shudder in the predawn of the morning of its departure. I hope to finish the painting in the gallery this weekend, then move on to my next.

In recent years, I have created a number of watercolors of trains, and several of them are available in signed & numbered limited editions. You can seem them at my new website, in the “Trains” chapter: davidtrippart.com.

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.

 

Musings While Painting the Big Boy

November 17, 2019

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Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 Steaming into Palestine

The Gallery at Redlands was busier than usual last evening as some of the Polar Express riders passed through the hotel before and after their evening run. Some dear friends, Patti and Tim, gave me a drafting table they were not using, and I moved it into view of our gallery window. This seemed to offer an open invitation for restaurant, bar and hotel guests, along with the Polar Express passengers, to step into the gallery for viewing and conversation. I have never minded an audience while trying to make art.

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View of the Gallery at Redlands from the Lobby

This delicious Sunday morning brought my reading time a soothing visit from Emerson’s essay, “Experience”:

Into every intelligence there is a door which is never closed, through which the creator passes.

I recall an old proverb that promised “when the student is ready, the instructor will appear.” This morning I was ready for Emerson’s instruction. After a blissful night of painting and conversing with art lovers, I awoke this morning, approached the painting, and felt unprepared, flat, clueless. The surge of creativity ebbs and flows, I know from experience. But this morning, impatiently, I wanted to do something creative, yet as I looked over the painting, I had no clue what to approach next. So, I wisely set it aside, poured a second cup of coffee, went back upstairs and sat in a comfy chair to read in the soothing morning sunlight streaming through the window around and through the Christmas tree.

Emerson is the sage who never lets me down when I need a positive word of assurance. I love the opening of “Experience” as he described exactly where I was at the moment:

We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. But the Genius which, according to the old belief, stands at the door by which we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday.

After reading about six more pages into the essay, I felt the scales falling from my mind’s eye, and though upstairs, I could now “see” the train composition, and knew exactly what I wanted to do next. I couldn’t descend the stairs to the gallery quickly enough.

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I laid in the handrails on the left side of the locomotive to set it off against the rose-colored horizon, and then stopped long enough to draft today’s blog. I now know what to pursue next, but thought I would pause long enough to share some of the new experiments I attempted last night as I pushed out this painting. I’m glad that I abandoned the fear long ago of losing a painting and regret the myriad of “stale” pictures I cranked out in years past, following the same old tactics. Each watercolor now is an invitation to adventure as I push at the boundaries to see what is on the other side.

After using a toothbrush to spatter liquid masque from the Richeson Mediums Shiva Series, I used a spritz bottle to moisten the paper and flood the upper extremities with Paynes Gray and mixtures of Winsor Blue and Cerulean. The rosy horizon is a mixture of Quinachridone Red and Permanent Rose. Most of my smoke and steam effects, so far, has been manipulated with the use of a ragged brush I modified with an Xacto knife (I call it the “ugly brush”) and Q-tips. I am at the edge of my technical knowledge here–I prefer the white of my paintings to be the naked watercolor paper, not white gouache. I keep thinking that I could swirl white gouache over the darker areas and create whisps of smoke and steam, but I prefer to remain transparent with my use of watercolor. In my old days of acrylic on canvas, I learned many ways to create steam and smoke with white over dark paint, and would like to try and find a way to create the atmospheric effects, using the white paper instead of overlaying white paint. We’ll see how that all works out.

I’m still trying to solve the problem of the amber glow of the headlamp caught in the swirling steam in front of the train. I’m not sure how to do that yet, but the painting is still in its early stages. And at this point, I am finding it a great pleasure, exploring all these problems and possibilities.

Time to get back to the painting. Thank you for reading, and I hope you will check out my new website davidtrippart.com, still under construction but visibile already online.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Saturday Splendor at the Gallery at Redlands

November 16, 2019

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Beginning of my First Painting of the UP “Big Boy” #4014

. . . they remind you of Saturday mornings when you were six and knew the day was young and blue just by looking over the fence through pale smokes of whoever it is is always burning something on Saturday morning (and hammering on nails in the afternoon).

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Today has been a bright and sunny cold day in Palestine, Texas, lovely enough to step outside in a jacket and walk all over town. Seated in The Gallery at Redlands in the afternoon, I now muse over the entire morning divided between painting, reading, journaling, and stepping outside into the fresh air for the ocassional invigorating walk. The sounds of the city are reminiscent of the white noise I knew from my youth, described by Jack Kerouac above, that I found soothing then, and find soothing this day.

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View Outside the Gallery Window of the UP Railyards in the Distance

Two blocks away, the Union Pacific yards are back to their normal work and noise, a week having past since the Big Boy came lumbering into town for an overnight stay. I took pictures then. I begin watercolors now. At the top of this blog is the posted image of the first one, begun yesterday morning. Dave Shultz, the photographer who is also building my new website davidtrippart.com, has provided outstanding photos for me to use as reference to paint this massive locomotive.

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Lovely Christmas Tree in my Redlands Hotel Suite

The Redlands Hotel is now tricked out in its lovely holiday attire. In addition to the lobby areas, the hotel staff placed a Christmas tree in every suite of the hotel. I didn’t anticipate what I was to find when I came into my room yesterday. I cried in gratitude; Christmas trees have always overpowered me in that way, and yesterday was no different. Thank you, Redlands! I spent a large portion of this morning beside the tree in my suite, reading and scribbling notes in my journal.

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The Gallery at Redlands

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Views of The Redlands Hotel in a Walk Across Town

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Cover of my Latest Christmas Card

This year, I am adding to my holiday card collection. My 5 x 7″ cards are printed on Hallmark Card stock, blank inside with something I’ve written on the back. With envelope and packed in a plastic wrap, I sell these for $5 each or five for $20. For any of my readers living in the Arlington, Texas area, Boss Cleaners at the Arlington Green Oak Center, 5817 Interstate 20 West, Suite 410, sells these cards in their store.

In three weeks I will be displaying my work for viewing and sale at the Randy Brodnax & Friends Christmas Show: http://www.randybrodnax.com/christmas_show.html

The festival will run Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8.

Thanks for reading, and make sure you check out my new blog, davidtrippart.com.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.