Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

Morning Coffee with Dave and a New Semester

January 9, 2019

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. . . within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself . . .

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

This bright winter early morning finds me preparing for classes. College begins in a week for me and I just about have everything ready to load online. This will be my first semester to teach exclusively online. I’m curious to find out how it feels, not having to report to a classroom schedule.

For years, I laughingly told my students that teaching was my karma. That would make sense. I hated public school and was extremely lazy regarding assignments. I was bored beyond description in classes. But there was a poster hanging on one of the walls of a high school English class that I never forgot, the quote is posted above. A few years back I found out that it was a quote from Siddhartha, so I just now got around to reading it. Last night at bedtime, I came across the quote and felt the same soothing calm I felt in those lazy school days when I drew sustenance from the poster on the wall.

The Julia Cameron book I am reading has me writing my memoir for the first time, and there is a fulfilment I feel, getting the words onto a page. Currently, I can only describe my years from childhood through high school as years of listlessness. I felt lost and clueless. I had no identity, and knew of no skills except as an artist. And I felt that artistic skills would not find me employment as an adult. I’ll likely write more of that in future blogs once I get it written out more clearly.

The bottom line: I did not care about reading and pondering Ideas until entering college. Fifteen years later I graduated with a Ph.D., and after working blue-collar jobs a short time, decided to enter the teaching profession. Now, as a semi-retiree, I choose not to leave the profession totally; I have more to share with students than ever before.

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Our month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was depicted as two-faced–one looking ahead and the other looking backward. Knowing this changed my attitude about the New Year. Since learning that, I have enjoyed January periods, finding time to write more, evaluating my own past and projecting where I wished to go next. I also find more meaning teaching when the New Year commences than in August when summer is still scorching us in Texas.

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This is a famous drawing of G. W. F. Hegel lecturing his students. I have it at my desk, because this semester I will be teaching the second half of Humanities at Texas Wesleyan University, covering philosophy, literature and art from the Age of the Enlightenment to the present age. January, for me, is a great month for rehashing the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment. I will be sharing with the students online an essay from Immanuel Kant: “Was Ist Aufklärung?” (What is Enlightenment)).  My favorite portion of the essay follows:

When we ask, Are we now living in an enlightened age? the answer is, No, but we live in an age of enlightenment. 

In many ways, times have not changed since Kant laid down those words in 1784. In 2019, I personally do not feel that we live in an enlightened age, despite all the technological advances that have provided for us an age of enlightenment. I am preparing to instruct students enriched with smart phones, computer, Internet, email–all the gifts making possible a college-level education without leaving their homes. Yet we still in many ways live in a culture more fitting for donkeys than humans, with little respect for the quality of life and community.

When the curtain goes up next week and I type out my first words to the new students coming in, I will do it with the faith that improvement is still possible with education, and I shall earnestly strive to impart to these new minds life-changing truths gleaned from some of the best creative individuals from our past.

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.

 

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Memoirs

January 5, 2019

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Night Intruders

The new year has brought a number of new activites into my path, among them a series of exercises from Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. I have already enjoyed from years past her recommendations of the Morning Pages and The Artist’s Date. But now, for retirees, she recommends writing a memoir. Over the twelve-week period, the activity prescribes dividing our lives by years into twelve segments, and then fleshing out one per week.

For a long time now, I have wanted to write my memoir, particularly the early years, while Mom and Dad are still living. Since I am the oldest child, there is no one else in my family that could answer questions surrounding the sketchy vignettes of my earliest memories. I phoned Mom a couple of evenings ago to find out all the places we lived during my first six years, since that was a migratory period in our family life. Dad, a few years after his return from Army service in Korea, made the decision to leave southeast Missouri and seek more lucrative employment in St. Louis. I was eighteen months old. Over the next five years, we would live in three different places in St. Louis, then move on to Fention, then two places in High Ridge, then on to House Springs, and finally back to High Ridge to live in the home where they still reside. Eight residences in my first six years.

I am now recording a memory I’ve never been able to shake, and have spoken about only a few times to trusted friends. Mom and Dad don’t even know about this. While living in an apartment on Southwest Avenue, I was young enough that I slept between my parents at night. Later, I would have to sleep alone in a baby bed. I remember waking in the middle of the night between them, and listening to their heavy breathing. As I lay there, caravans of tiny wagon trains loaded with various objects would move silently over my blankets. Reaching out to them, I picked up the objects in the wagons, and in my fingers they always distorted and collapsed into ugly masses. Everything I touched turned to ruin. In all my years as a developing artist, I have thought and re-thought those themes of creation and destruction: creation from out of destruction as well as destruction following creation.

As I fingered these small objects, I would suddenly hear something, and already knowing what I was going to see (because this happened many, many times), I would look up at our bedroom window. Every night, Mom drew the curtains shut before bedtime, but now they were wide open, and behind the darkened glass, blinking eyes peered at me. Every time they blinked, they made a snapping sound. A husky voice called out of the darkness: “What are you doing?” And then, looking to the right, at our closed bedroom door, the voice would call out: “Open the door.” Again and again, the voice questioned and commanded while I cried, wishing my parents would awaken and chase the eyes away. I never understood how Mom and Dad could sleep through that commotion, and why they were unable to awaken and save me from that terror. Finally, as most agree that dreams are accompanied by some kind of non sequitur: a brightly-colored beach ball would come bouncing into the scene from the right and come to rest next to the blinking eyes. And then the scene of terror was over.

It feels good finally to write this. Throughout my years I have thought over the themes of creation, destruction, and opening doors to what lies beyond. I am still searching for some kind of meaning.

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.

 

 

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

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And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

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Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

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Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

Shocking Visitation from the Past

March 25, 2018

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Today is Sunday. Outside is gray and overcast and The Redlands Hotel is virtually empty and silent except for the occasional visitor to the Gallery at Redlands. I found it an opportune time to resume work on a commission promised long ago. In our age of smart phones, most of us have grown accustomed to the frequent interruptions as emails, text messages, facebook notifications and tweets continually pull us away from what we are focused on completing. When I demand absolute solitude, I turn the phone off, promising myself to return later to see if there is anything I need to answer.

But today an email arrived with the opening line I have encountered countless times in my past: “I just purchased a painting by David Tripp, and searching online I found you, and now want to reach out to see if you are the artist.” When opening the attached photo I always find that it is someone else’s work, especially if it is prior to the year 2000. Today’s email said the painting dated from 1974. I knew it was someone else. Opening the attachment, however, I found an oil painting from my sophomore year at the university that had been purchased at my senior show!

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Throughout the years, I have wondered about this work. The assignment was to paint a mobile home park east of Kirksville, Missouri, on a highway heading toward Brashear. Professor William Unger was excited about the network of TV antennas that crisscrossed high above the mobile home roofs, drawing geometric patterns into the skies. When I went to the location and began my preliminary sketches, I found no satisfaction in what I was creating. So, I decided to raise the horizon near the top of the composition, and draw the TV antennas downward from the homes, eventually turning the lines into glazes of translucent earth tones. Finally, I added a moon on the horizon and hoped the Professor would be satisfied with the piece. That was 1974.

Two years later, this painting hung in my Senior Show (it was mandatory for all art majors to hang a solo show during their final year at the university). To my surprise, the painting was purchased by the wife of a music professor at the university (Northeast Missouri State, now Truman State) who taught classes on the second floor of the Kirk Building (art department was on the third floor). When he came up to the third floor to visit with me and learned that I was at the time a Southern Baptist minister as well as an art major, he shared that he was active in church work and would be sharing the painting with his church family.

Countless times in the intervening years, I have envisioned this painting in my mind’s eye, wondering why I had never photographed it for a record, and always wondering what had become of it. Now, like a message in a bottle, the piece has washed up on my island, and the new owners were gracious enough to seek me out. In a follow-up phone conversation with these owners, I learned that they had just purchased the work from a Unitarian/Universalist minister in Dayton, Ohio. I found this amusing, because the professor of music, when learning that I was a Southern Baptist minister as well as art major in 1976, talked of the relation of art and religion, and wondered if I would find ways to fuse the two in my future work. As it turned out, I spoke from a Unitarian/Universalist pulpit for ten years at about the same time I was rediscovering my artistic muse. And yes, in the years since, I have actively sought ways to fuse religion and art.

This day, to me, is filled with wonder. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Acceptance into SWA International Juried Show

March 21, 2018

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Old Town Palestine

I was pleased this afternoon to be notified that the painting above has been juried into the 2018 Society of Watercolor Artists International Juried Exhibition, to be held in Fort Worth April 15-May 20. I thought there was something special happening as I worked on this composition last month. The Oxbow is located in the old historic downtown section of Palestine, across the street from the popular Pint and Barrel pub. This establishment is famous for its home-baked pies. I’m thrilled that we’re able to inject some Palestine history into this upcoming show.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air Zeitgeist

March 21, 2018

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The Oxbow. Palestine, Texas

Framed watercolor: $700

Though the time is still a week and a half away, I’m trembling this morning with anticipation over our upcoming plein air painting event in Palestine, Texas. At least a half dozen painters from the Society of Watercolor Artists (SWA) will take up residence in the historic Redlands Hotel the weekend of March 30-April 1 in conjunction with the city’s annual Dogwood Festival. For three days we will “paint the town” with enthusiasm.

These are my new and dear friends, and we’re looking forward to putting up new work in The Gallery at Redlands for display and sale over the weekend. Over the past year, I have had this delightful privilege of painting historic Palestine, and now look forward to introducing these artists to the local sights. Several of the local residents have also volunteered to serve as tour guides as needed.

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Our headquarters for the weekend will be The Gallery at Redlands on the main floor of the Redlands Hotel. The artists have been invited to bring their previous framed works to put up for display and sale. Plein air watercolors created throughout the weekend will also appear in the gallery for Dogwood Festival patrons to view as they tour the hotel.

The Zeitgeist of plein air painting has been an exciting one that I have enjoyed for over a decade now, beginning with my experience of Paint Historic Waxahachie (I just registered for that event last night and will have more to say about it as the event approaches in April-May). I had no idea when I began this adventure in Waxahachie long ago that I would find myself adopting this lifestyle. The experience of painting live on site has given me the adventure of residing on an island in the Texas Laguna Madre twice as Artist-in-Residence for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. It has also taken me to canyons in west Texas, mountains in Colorado and quaint towns in northern Arkansas. I’ve had the privilege of conducting several plein air watercolor workshops across Texas and Arkansas, and now eagerly anticipate this inaugural plein air gathering in Palestine, Texas. I’ll have plenty more to report as our event draws nearer.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

Back in the Hunt

February 13, 2018

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The Oxbow General Store, Palestine, Texas

 

The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes—no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests.  He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad.  Like any hunter he hits or misses.  He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it.  It’s found anywhere, everywhere.  Those who are not hunters do not see these things.  The hunter is learning to see and to understand—to enjoy.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

A couple of weeks ago, I began this watercolor of one of my favorite store facades in Palestine, Texas. The watercolor began after a series of rough sketches and fumbled attempts. After I blocked in some of the major parts of the composition and added details, I got hung up on what direction I wanted to take compositionally, so I set it aside for about ten days. Today I resumed it and worked off and on throughout the afternoon and evening. I’ve decided it’s time to lay it aside awhile once again, and re-think how I want to finish it out. I am very attached to this subject, always loving the sights and memories associated with “mom & pop stores” of the 1950s that I frequented as a child. Every detail, every nook and cranny of this facade excites me, and I fear that if I paint everything rather than select an area of focus, that the entire work will be a monotonous congeries of details.

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The greats in all the arts have been primarily romanticists and realists (the two cannot be separated). They interpreted life as they saw it, but, “through every line’s being” soaked in the consciousness of an object, one is bound to feel, beside life as it is, the life that ought to be, and it is that that captivates us! All great painting is something that enriches and enhances life, something that makes it higher, wider, and deeper.

N. C. Wyeth, letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Hoping to Affect the Quality of the Day

February 3, 2018

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To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I arose this morning for the first time in this cool, spacious basement of The Redlands Hotel that Dave Shultz recently renovated into an apartment while spending the winter months living in it. Thanks, Dave, for an absolutely stunning living space! Its furnishings include this long antique table, perfect for a reading/writing desk as well as watercolor station.  The cavernous living room could serve as an artists studio as well as scholar’s refuge.

Today marks the beginning of Palestine’s observance of A Taste of New Orleans. It is a cold 40 degrees outside this morning, and we hope it doesn’t discourage the tourists from coming out and taking advantage of a full day of culinary and wine-tasting events. I was planning on continuing my plein air experience, but since I’m recovering from this lengthy bout of sinus and upper-respiratory carnage, I believe I’ll remain inside the studio where it’s warm.  I photographed The Oxbow located across the street from Shelton Hall that I painted yesterday. I’ll see what I can do, painting from this photograph.

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The facade of this popular business reminds me of a painting I did years ago, “Summer Morning Silence (Winfield, Missouri)” that you can see on my website www.recollections54.com

Thanks for reading. I hope your Saturday is filled with pleasure.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Honored by County Line Magazine

February 3, 2018

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I’ve been honored by an East Texas publication that I have known and followed for nearly ten years now.  The January/February issue of County Line Magazine published the following:

In its 14th year now, County Line Magazine’s annual survey keeps uncovering more and more local gems in the Upper East Side of Texas. Nominations more than doubled this year showing that our region continues to grow as a Texas treasure with delicious food, wonderful attractions and beautiful backdrops, one-of-a-kind shops, exciting entertainment, and many talented individuals.

This year’s winners represent a great selection of the Best in the Upper East Side of Texas.

. . .

Best Artist

David Tripp. Former Arlington ISD teacher David Tripp now enjoys spending time painting nostalgic watercolor scenes from small Texas towns and countryside. His latest endeavor had him spending most weekends working at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine on “The American Railroad Odyssey” train exhibit during the holidays. See some of his amazing work on his website recollections54.com.

Plein Air Painting in Palestine

February 2, 2018

Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall, Palestine, Texas

It felt good to be able to get out of the house without feeling weak or tired today. The sun was bright and the air cold with snappy winds from the north. I made the one-hour drive south to Hillsboro to check out my show hanging in the library gallery and to schedule the artist’s reception (March 8). The library invited me to extend my show until April 1 which thrilled me, since I’ve been under the weather for such a long time and unable to promote the event (I hung the show the first week in January).  I’ll have more to post about it as we get closer to the reception.

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Solo Show, Hillsboro Public Library

After completing the Hillsboro business, I pointed my vehicle east for another long drive, this one lasting two hours. Arriving in Palestine (my home-away-from-home) I unloaded my gear into the gallery as quickly as possible, then set out for Old Town Palestine to see if I could capture this old gin on paper, now known as Shelton Hall. The coffee shop across the street was kind enough to allow me to set up my easel under their patio roof, away from the winds, yet still in place to capture the sunlight. I worked as quickly as I could, until the cold finally convinced me I had been out long enough. Back in the gallery, I applied some finishing touches and signed off on it.

Thanks for reading. I hope to post tomorrow–exiting things have been happening and I’m looking forward to reporting them.