Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

Living out of a Suitcase

July 23, 2017
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Fishing Louisiana Waters
You don’t choose a life Dad. You live one.
Daniel (from the film The Way)
A friend shared this film with me while I was traveling, and the central message continues to percolate in my mind.  When confronted with the choice, I believe I have lived my life more than chosen it, especially with all my changes over the past couple of decades.  The film is anchored in the plot of one’s personal odyssey, and I’ve viewed my own life since the 1970’s as an odyssey rather than a career choice. And I have lived a life with few regrets.
Since my retirement began June 3, I’ve embarked on an odyssey.  Although not planned, I have now lived out of a suitcase for thirty-one days, beginning with my trip home to St. Louis to visit my parents and siblings. Returning to Texas to find my A/C not functioning and my living temperatures hovering around 92 degrees, I began staying in hotel rooms and with friends. After a week of that, finding out that an A/C technician was not coming anytime soon, I then set out for a trip to my Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas and living quarters in the old store where the owners (precious friends) let me live when I need a place to crash.
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The Gallery at Redlands
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A Store in the Wilderness
I love The Gallery at Redlands, now housing the biggest collection of my personal work. And evenings living in the old store out in the wilderness are too exquisite to describe. The quiet is intoxicating for one who tires of city and suburban noise. I’m always deeply grateful for time spent in this part of the state.
With still no word on an A/C appointment, I accepted the offer of a friend, and next journeyed over into Louisiana for the first time in my life to spend a week fishing the waters of southern Louisiana and spending some time exploring New Orleans. The fishing was filled with excitement, especially when a seven-foot gator visited me during two of my excursions.
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I was live-bait fishing from a dock, and twice over the two days, this enormous reptile drifted across the waters and hovered about twenty feet in front of where I fished, eyeing my bobber in presumed amusement. At one point, when the bobber began bouncing, he grabbed it in his jaws and submerged. I felt like I had a Buick on the end of my line, and reached for a knife to cut it loose, but then the bobber drifted back to the surface as well as the gator, who then hovered a while longer and watched before drifting away. This is the first time in my life I’ve seen a gator outside a zoo.
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I could never successfully describe the sensations that overwhelmed me once I entered the French Quarter of New Orleans. The sounds of live blues and zydeco music pulled me from steamy, sultry Bourbon Street and into the air conditioned dark interiors of some of the most exciting clubs I’ve ever experienced. My sketchbook was with me, and I still struggle to capture the human figure on paper, especially when the subjects are not posing. Bobbing and weaving musicians are a challenge, but I felt very much in my element as I struggled to capture their essences. And the music cleansed my soul in ways I’ll never adequately describe. Musicians are usually flattered to see someone drawing them and always gracious in their assessment of the quality of the sketches. In fact, the day after, my cell phone rang (I always give out my business cards), and it was one of the guitarists wishing to purchase my sketch. We made a business deal over the phone while I sat in the cemetery sketching and he was on the road to his next gig out of town.
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Cemetery off Canal Street
I have seen pictures of New Orleans cemeteries, but wasn’t prepared for the deep feelings that seized me when I looked at acres and acres of land strewn with thousands of above-ground monuments to the deceased.  John Donne’s Meditation 17 was in my ears:
The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. 
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I made a number of sketches in the hot sun that morning, and felt a profound connection with the ones honored with these monuments as well as the loved ones who had them erected.
At the time of this writing I am back on the road.  My A/C will not be looked at until next Tuesday, but thankfully the gallery in Palestine and store out in the country are available for me to “roost” while I await repairs.  Meanwhile, I intend to continue enjoying the journey.
Thanks for reading.
I create art in order to remember.
I journal when I fee alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.
 
 
 
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Still Working on the Night Train

July 5, 2017

night train

I have had difficulty finding quality time to work on this old iron horse, but found a second wind late this evening, and decided to give it a few more nudges.  Hence I’m posting it for any of my blogging friends who have been interested in watching it take form. My biggest trials at this point are the rendering of all the details on this machine, as well as differentiating between so many shades of gray.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts Between the Rivers

June 27, 2017

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There are two things in painting: the eye and the brain, and they have to help each other; you have to work on their mutual development, but painter-fashion; the eye, for the vision of nature; the brain, for the logic of organized sensations which give the means of expression.
Paul Cezanne

I thought on this day I would be on Day Three of our planned river excursion.  However, a few difficulties ensued, and we decided to abort and begin a modified plan on Thursday. Wayne had some difficulties with the supply boat and its stability in the swifter currents, and I–I had difficulties keeping my kayak upright. We did manage to get in some quality fishing time, however.  But as nightfall drew nearer and the currents more difficult, we decided it safer (for me) and more expedient (for the packing supplies) to call off the odyssey and plan a new one.  On Thursday, we should be joined by Mark, and I’ll trade my kayak for the canoe I rode last summer.  Most likely, we will paddle and fish throughout the day, set up camp for the night, then decide on Day Two if we’ve had enough fun.

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Wayne Fishing Big River

Today I join Wayne and his grandson for some lake fishing (and I’ll stay on the shore this time) and I anticipate a scenario resembling more of a fishing team than Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday, after drying out my sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and going to a coin laundry to wash all my river-soaked clothes, I settled back into a watercolor I started two days ago.

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I have a large project before me involving trains, and should be posting many more watercolor renderings in the weeks ahead. While working on this one, I kept Cezanne’s ideas in my head, constantly adjusting my eye to my brain. I’m working from a quality photograph, so I should be able to put the necessary details in place.  However, the picture composition leaves much to be desired, and I hope I’ll be able to factor in some quality composition decisions.

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.

 

Mornings with Emerson

June 16, 2017

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(I’m going to try and paint this!)

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

This morning’s introduction to the New Day lies far beyond adequate description, but I shall try, nevertheless.  Waking around 6:30 without an alarm (thanks to retiring to bed much earlier than my custom), I rose to a beautiful eastern sun, and after making coffee, settled onto the porch of this old store where I reside while in the country.

thoughtful coffee

I decided to spend a few moments in Heidegger’s poem, “The Thinker as Poet”, and came across these words:

The world’s darkening never reaches
       to the light of Being.
We are too late for the gods and too
       early for Being. Being’s poem,
       just begun, is man. 
To head toward a star—this only.
To think is to confine yourself to a
      single thought that one day stands
      still like a star in the world’s sky.

When I lingered on those final lines, holding my thought to one steady idea, the large tree in front of me suddenly stirred with life as the morning breezes whispered through the leaves, and I felt my face caressed by gentle winds.  My thoughts immediately recalled Emerson’s lines from Nature that open today’s blog, and I felt a rush of eudaimonia, embraced by a beautiful morning.  All thoughts of driving to the city evaporated, and I sat in that rocker for I don’t know how long, savoring the gift of that sublime moment too deep for words.

From my early years of studying the Greek New Testament, I have always been fascinated with the idea of logos, and have enjoyed reading Heidegger’s rendering of that word as “gathering together” or “gathering process.”  Recently I have pondered my endeavors in making art as attempts to bring together all that I have encountered in my life’s experience and express it in watercolor compositions that have something meaningful to say.  My attempts at making art have been an engagement with the logos, an encounter that involves assembling my key ideas into some kind of creative expression. This morning was timely for me, as I knew I had a significant opportunity before me in the gallery to make art that matters to me.

As I drove through the country, I suddenly stopped, turned my Jeep around, and returned to an abandoned open mailbox shaded in the trees and engulfed in flowers. I took several photos, including the one posted above, and have plans to work on this composition as well.

Once at the gallery, I resumed work on the old Texas and Pacific #610 that remains here in Palestine.  This locomotive was built in 1927 by Lima Locomotive Works, and only seventy of this model were made.  This is the only known one still to exist today, and in 1977 it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

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If my strength holds up, I’ll continue working in The Gallery at Redlands till 9 p.m. The Red Fire Grille across the lobby brings in a sizeable dinner crowd on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t mind patrons drifting into the gallery as I paint.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Musings on the First Night of Retirement

June 5, 2017

retirement chamber

My Favorite Spot in the House

It is the sense of the sublime that we have to regard as the root of man’s creative activities in art, thought and noble living.  Just as no flora has ever fully displayed the hidden vitality of the earth, so has no work of art ever brought to expression the depth of the unutterable, in the sight of which the souls of saints, poets and philosophers live.  the attempt to convey what we see and cannot say is the everlasting theme of mankind’s unfinished symphony, a venture in which adequacy is never achieved.  Only those who live on borrowed words believe in their gift of expression.  A sensitive person knows that the intrinsic, the most essential, is never expressed.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone

At 2:22 this afternoon, I closed the door to Room 114 for the last time and walked away from my school and into retirement.  Crossing the parking lot, I couldn’t resist one last photo that I may pull up to view from time to time.  Or perhaps not.  Friday morning was the last time I saw my students, but I needed the rest of that day, along with Saturday and today to dispose properly twenty-eight years of responsibilities and memories.  I had no idea how much work it would require to bring closure.

Tonight has been truly soothing.  I posted some video footage on facebook of two of the murals I created while I was on that campus.  And I managed to get in some quality reading time.  But for the most part, I just sat and soaked up the feelings of being free from the job that has held me for so long.

There are many exciting things on the horizon and I am glad to turn my attention to them. But I wanted to post something to my blogging friends just to say, Yes, I finally retired, and am happy to open a new chapter.

Thanks for reading.

My Own Mental Map of the World

May 27, 2017

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Art on the Greene this Weekend, Richard Greene Linear Park, Arlington, Texas

. . . we each construct our own mental map of the world, its major landmarks already drawn in at birh–coded into our genes–while vast blank areas wait to be filled in from experience.

Ted Orland, The View from the Studio Door

Art on the Greene began yesterday afternoon, and once my booth was open for business, I was grateful to have a shady spot behind my display to sit in the breeze, enjoy talking to patrons as they came along, and spend some time sketching trees in the vicinity.

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Both of these drawings are 5 x 7″ mounted in 8 x 10″ white mats. I’ve tossed them into my booth with the rest of my display, priced at $40 each. I’m bringing my art supplies and easel today, and if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll do some watercolor sketching on location.

2016 MADE Layout

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I’m in Booth #30, in the center of the park

Before leaving school yesterday to finish setting up for this festival, I was called out of my classroom, saying I was needed in the gym.  I wasn’t sure what this was about, knowing the gym was filled with the senior class, preparing for their end of the year Send Out.  As it turned out, the new yearbook coming out was dedicated to me, and the assembled senior class congratulated me on my retirement. I didn’t see this coming, and now, the morning after, I am still numb with wonder over this moment.

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Caption reads: “dedicated to dr. david tripp for his positivity, wisdom, advice, guitar skills, and coffee and round table talks”

Thank you, James Martin High School, for making me feel special on this day, and for all the positive memories of the decades.

And thanks all of you for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Opening Day of Art on the Greene

May 26, 2017

Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories–Now available in limited edition

In the artist, there are two men, the poet and the worker.  One is born a poet, one becomes a worker.

–Emile Zola, letter to Paul Cecanne

An artist is developed, not born.

–Robie Scucchi, art teacher, note written to me in my ninth-grade research paper

At 3:00 this afternoon, Arlington’s Art on the Greene art festival opens for the weekend, closing Sunday night.  I am bringing out for the first time a new set of signed-and-numbered giclee prints of Fishing Memories, the original painting now hanging in a competition at the Desoto Art League.  This print is full-size and priced at $100.  The first edition has already sold (in fact, the sale is the reason the prints are actually a reality today).

I have begun reading an engaging biography, Cezanne: A Life, by Alex Danchev.  The quote from Emile Zola came from this reading.  I’m grateful that my high school art teacher wrote to me what he did when I was so young–I never forgot that statement.  In my opinion, talent is only a small part of being artistic, and one has the capability of improving and maturing over time.

After such a spastic schedule over the past several weeks, I had a dear friend help me with the setting up of my art booth last night (thanks so much, Kelly!), so I was afforded a delicious evening of rest and retirement to bed early in anticipation of a festival weekend.  Being rested now, I am festival-ready, and enthused about how my booth is shaping up.  I’ll send pictures probably later today.

waxahachie final

If any of you readers are in my area, I will be in Booth #30, in the heart of the park, and adjacent to the major walkway going through the midst. I have a prime location (thank you Steve and Janis!).  We will be open till 8:00 tonight.  I would love to see you.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Portals

April 29, 2017

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A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Finding time to blog has been difficult of late. Since my last post, I have made several journeys to Waxahachie, forty minutes from where I live, and leaving in the late afternoons after a day in school has often found me fatigued once I arrived. Still, I managed to slog through a couple of compositions, but by the time I arrived home late at night, I was too sleepy to blog, and still had school to prepare for the following day. So it goes.

The weather has been pretty uneven lately, thunderstorms alternating with bright sunshine. Sometimes I wonder if a washed earth emits different colors, as I have been fascinated with the way the Ellis Country courthouse seemed to “light up” before my eyes late in the days. As earlier stated, I seem to arrive on site, too tired to paint, and have spent much time circling the courthouse looking at it from all angles. On this particular afternoon, the sun popped out as I was gazing at the southwest corner of the building. The curvature I found fascinating, and I wanted to find a way to capture the pink marble and red granite surrounding the window.

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Once I stopped with this one, I was satisfied with the compositional arrangement, though I felt that I had “missed” on the color of the stones. A very dear friend and teaching colleague of mine who is also an architect, paid me the ultimate compliment when he looked at this sketch the day after, calling it “a poem.”

Returning a few days later in the week, I found myself tired again, and walked listlessly around this same building, looking for something to try and capture on paper. Again, the sun came out just as I was rounding the southeast corner of the courthouse, and as it had rained earlier, I again found myself smitten at the sight of the colors on the building.

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Determined this time to focus more on the color of the marble and granite, I worked more deliberately on those hues, hoping not to overwork it.

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Time has now expired for the “early bird” plein air painting of Waxahachie. The main portion of Paint Historic Waxahachie will kick off next Saturday, May 6, and will last through the following Sunday. I can use this week off, hoping to regather my strength and stamina for that following week, when painters from all around will descend on that town and crank out a high volume of work. I’m glad I chose to sign and pay up early so I could tune up with five paintings before the starting gun. I’ve definitely been out of plein air practice.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Late Afternoon Plein Air Painting in Waxahachie

April 24, 2017

Structure, I believe, is the giver of light.

Louis I. Kahn

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By the time I finished all my school responsibilities late this afternoon, I was so fatigued that I was trying to talk myself out of the 40-minute drive to Waxahachie to continue work on the Painting Historic Waxahachie project. By the time we reach the submission deadline May 11, I want to have as many paintings as possible to display and sell. But I was sooooo tired!

The weather was 81 degrees and brightly sunny, and when I parked on the courthouse square and saw the magnificence of the Ellis County Courthouse towering above, reflecting the late afternoon sun, I was glad I decided to make the trip. I set up my easel on College Street again, and like last Saturday, a strong, cold wind was blasting up the street. It felt really good on my back, and removed any discomfort that a Texas sun would try to bring.

Drawing this courthouse has always been a chore for me. I lack formal training in architectural rendering, and am always intimidated when I attack a building, one small piece at a time, with pencil on paper. I drew on this a long time, and erased plenty. Finally, when time came to flood the sky with blue hues, I felt that I had a chance at a decent composition.

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The afternoon passed quickly, and again the Waxahachie folks proved themselves to be among the most friendly on the planet. I talked to over a dozen people–artists working on this same project, couples out for a stroll, and a couple of young girls interested in becoming artists who were out with their mother. All the conversations were engaging, and I appreciated every good sentiment.

Once the sun set and the light turned to gray, I knew it was time to stop and take a day or two to evaluate whether this is finished or needs further development. Unfortunately I have meetings tomorrow afternoon and night, so I won’t be able to paint tomorrow. Hopefully by Wednesday I will have made a decsision on this one. At any rate, it turned out to be a great afternoon for painting.

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The College Street Pub has become my favorite “decompression hangout” in Waxahachie when I am in town painting. Dinner was a great experience this evening as temperatures continued to cool and I enjoyed the back patio with its soothing surrounding scenery. I spread out my three Waxahachie paintings and spent some time taking critical notes on them and making decisions on what to do next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waxahachie Plein Air Wanderings

April 23, 2017

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Louis I. Kahn

Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Edward Hopper

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The former Bailey Print and Typewriter Store, College Street, Waxahachie Texas

I awoke Saturday to a 55-degree windy morning, but was excited to have a clear calendar for plein air painting.  Paint Historic Waxahachie is now in full swing, and will end on May 14. I have been eligible to participate since April 1, but have been mired in too many retirement-and-tax-related tasks to make the forty-minute drive to this quaint town and begin painting. This was my first day to get after it. With a hot cup of coffee and three layers of clothing (shirt, hoodie and denim jacket), I set up my easel just off College Street and resumed a plein air sketch I had begun last week, but was aborted because of a heavy rainstorm. My motivation was high, and the building on my right kept the wind from reaching me. And though I was working in the shadows, pedestrians were still finding me and stopping to look at my work in progress and chat. Waxahachie has always been filled with the friendliest people, and I have enjoyed the pleasantries of their conversations without fail. I have never felt like a stranger in that town.

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I decided to stop and let the painting rest at this point. I can always set up the easel in the same spot and work further on the composition if I choose. But for now, I’m going to move on to other ideas and return to this with a critical eye next time I visit Waxahachie.

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Upper Balcony along College Street

Stepping into the sunlight on College Street, my sight was arrested by the bright morning sun on the light yellow upper balcony of this building, framed against dark rustic brick and trees. I could not stop gazing at it and thought, “Oh, why not?”  Setting up my easel, I drew for quite awhile, trying to get the proportions of the balcony and building right. By the time I began painting, my teeth were chattering as College Street had become a virtual wind tunnel for those freezing blasts of arctic air. The temperature had only risen to 57 degrees and my coffee mug was empty. Nevertheless, I tooled away on this composition for awhile, enjoying the view immensely, though the discomfort of the cold winds continued to intensify.

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Finally, around twelve noon, I had to stop. I was afraid I would make myself sick in the cold winds. This one also I am not satisfied with as a finished composition, so I intend to put it back on the easel when I return to Waxahachie for my next plein air attempts.

The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded, and reconstructed in a personal form and original manner.

Goethe

My Saturday seemed to apply Goethe’s theory of writing to painting. While moving about Waxahachie, certain sites I viewed resonated profoundly with certain emotions and memories I have treasured throughout my life. Every time I set up the easel and got out the tools, I felt that I was engaged in a dance with the subjects before me, and I hoped that my responses on the blank page were worthy of the beauty my eye beheld in front of me.

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.