Archive for the ‘painting studio’ Category

Nearing the Finish of a Commission

February 2, 2019


. . . some of the words you’ll find within yourself,

the rest some daemon will inspire you to say.

Homer, The Odyssey

While taking breaks from my painting to read from Homer’s Odyssey, I was arrested by these words Athena spoke to Telemachus when he feared that, as a youth, he did not know the proper words with which to address King Nestor. The reference to the daemon reminded me of a book I still haven’t completed reading: Allan Bloom’s The Daemon Knows. In this work, Bloom quotes an obscure reference from one of Emerson’s journals, claiming that the daemon knows where the idea is going to go. Throughout the work, Bloom extols the virtues of intuition and daring to go outside the box. He argues that we don’t know if our efforts will produce a work of genius. Nevertheless, we continue to push, continue to love the work.

I find all of this refreshing when I find myself struggling with a watercolor. With the one in progress above, I have encountered countless problems that I have not been schooled to address, and I have had to remain focused on the task. So far, nothing has happened to upset me, and the patron came in to look at it today and was pleased with the direction it is taking. Her sentiments freed me considerably, so now I am working on it with much more confidence. All the same, however, I still don’t really know what it is that makes a composition “work”, and I continue to feel this concern that I will make the wrong moves and the piece will “miss.” Even at this age, I must learn to trust my instinct and push onward.

This day has been a soothing balm, reading and painting in the gallery and greeting patrons. Soon, I’ll get to listen to my radio friend, Kevin Harris, perform a solo gig here in Palestine. Afterward, I plan to return and work late in the gallery, as the Red Fire Grille stays open late on Saturday night, and sometimes a good number of patrons come into the gallery. And who knows, maybe I’ll finish this painting tonight!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.




The Fall Season is Picking Up

October 2, 2017

Orange diesel

30 finished

Night Train Blue

Chevron Diesel.jpg

Night Train Violet

Blue & Red diesel

610 cab

I just finished a whirlwind of a weekend in Palestine, and am finishing several train watercolors at last. I just placed my first order for 1500 postcards of the historic #30 steam engine from the Texas State Railroad. In time, I will have postcards, greeting cards, and limited edition prints of all the trains of Palestine I’ve posted above. We’re trying to put on a big train show at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas this coming holiday season. I’ve been working on watercolors for the event all summer and am getting ready to make a deal with a framer to get them ready for presentation.

Thanks for reading.

A Day with the Romantic Poets

July 15, 2014
Pausing for Awhile with the McNeely House

Pausing for Awhile with the McNeely House

“When you become creative in any field,” [Paul Tillich] stated, “your creativity is released in all other fields at the same time.” . . . [Tillich] believed that if you know one thing completely, it serves as a center—like a magnet around which iron filings coalesce—for all your other knowledge.  Then what you learn about anything else will fall into pattern.

Rollo May, Paulus: Reminiscences of a Friendship

A morning spent with the British Romantic poets in a senior English summer school class fed my spirit with exquisite feelings.  We talked for a short while about Wordsworth’s sentiments when he stood in the presence of the wrecked Medieval Tintern Abbey.  Though my words probably failed me, I tried to address the dual sense of loss and presence we experience when we stand pensively in the midst of an abandoned ruin.  My own thoughts of course returned to this structure I’ve posted above–the remnants of the house where my mother lived throughout her childhood and where I visited during summers on my grandparents’ farm.  I find it difficult to describe romantic stirrings, but as the students worked on their assignments, I moved on in silence to some of the featured works of Keats: “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Ode on Melancholy,” and “On First Looking into Chaptman’s Homer.”  From that point I turned to a chapter on Shelley in Paul Johnson’s monograph Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky.  By the time I got home for lunch, I was ready for another romp in Mehville’s Moby Dick and now have passed one hundred pages in this remarkable story.  After reading awhile, I picked up the brush and worked a little more on Grandmother’s decaying house.  Then I decided to lay it aside for awhile, and began a still life, focusing on a volume I traded for back in the mid 1970’s that was published in 1756.  I have fancied for a number of years what it would be like to do a close, detailed watercolor rendering of an old leather volume.  I’m still tinting in the darkened background, and have already applied four washes of color.  It looks like I’ll be requiring two or three more washes before I can finally get down to the subject.  It’s been a good day for reading, painting and thinking.

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.


Only the First Movement

June 27, 2014
Art, Music, Writing, Scholarly Activity--all Struggling for my Attention Tonight

Art, Music, Writing, Reading and Reflection–all Struggling for my Attention Tonight

The original idea, the sketch, which is so to speak the egg or embryo of the idea, is usually far from being complete; it contains everything, which is simply a mixing together of all parts. Just the thing that makes of this sketch the essential expression of the idea is not the suppression of details, but their complete subordination to the big lines, which are, before all else, to create the impression. The greatest difficulty therefore is that of returning in the picture to that effacing of the details which, however, make up the composition, the web and the woof of the picture.

Eugene Delacroix

Ah, Friday night at last!  I bid a cheery “Hello” to any blog readers still checking in to see if anything is happening in my corner of the world.  I have barely kept my nose above the flood of torrential waters this past week.  So much has come my way, and I am still trying to sort out and shape these ideas into something beautiful.   In a nutshell, I did make the drive south to the Lighthouse Coffee Bar in Midlothian, Texas last Friday night, and listened to a young singer-songwriter sharing his art on the guitar.  I sat in the back of the audience, and began drafting words for a song of my own.  In all my years, I have composed only one complete song for my guitar that I consider okay, so I thought it time to give birth to another.  What I scratched out at the table a week ago I’ll post at the end of this blog.  It is a rough draft, of course, but I am grateful for the Friday night experience that inspired me to give this a try.

Monday morning I had to rise at 5:30, catch a commuter train, and roll to Dallas for the first of a three-day Institute.  The program I will begin this fall at school is AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), and I fully believe in the principles undergirding this endeavor.  I will have one or two classes of 11th-grade AVID students and am thus required to train for what I will teach/mentor this fall.  The commuter train experience was perfect for me–always a thirty-minute ride making it possible to read from Henry David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.  The contrast of Thoreau’s quiet, sage-like manner over against the bustle of a convention hotel overrun with thousands of educators created a great theater for this three-day week.  I met some of the most precious souls I’ve known in years during these sessions, and miss them all already.  Their students are so blessed to spend time with the likes of them.  The general public (and especially state legislators) have no idea of the passion and good will that floods the hearts of public school teachers who live to improve the lives of students entrusted to them.  Genuine teaching is indeed the pouring out of a life, the opening of a vein, and so few of the “leaders” of our society who spend so much time in front of the microphones and TV cameras, flooding our airwaves, know anything of such sacrifice.  I receive so much more in fifteen minutes over a cup of coffee from an enthusiastic public school teacher, or from the pages of Thoreau, than I could possibly get from hours of listening to the braying of a popular radio talk show host during drive time or words from a sanctimonious legislator during prime time TV.

Thursday marked my return to the summer school classroom and Shakespeare.  The bard is (for me) the highlight of the senior English curriculum.  So I was enriched, spending five hours immersed in his soothing literary waters, always grateful to have quality seniors in my room during the summer, instead of the indolent that often enter the schoolroom to re-take a course already failed once.  As soon as I exited the schoolroom, I received a call from Trinity Arts Guild in Bedford, a fascinating group of artists that featured me for a watercolor demo last fall.  They want to schedule me for a weekend watercolor workshop perhaps as early as this fall.  The details we discussed by phone excited me to the core, and now I have that element to add to my growing list of interests.

Following Thursday’s school, I was invited to join three beautiful people (all retired educators that I have know for decades) to return to Dallas and spend the afternoon and evening at the Dallas Museum of Art.  After three consecutive days of commuter train experience, this time it was nice to carpool with folks I know.  On Thursdays, the museum is open till 9:00 at night.  We perused in delicious silence the current exhibit: “Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World”.  To date, I have not given a fair amount of space in my Advanced Placement Art History course to the Islamic tradition, and I guarantee that will change this fall.  What I gleaned from this current exhibit was a marvelous reinforcement of the ideas I had taught in the past, with amazing illuminating examples that really captured my attention this time.  Part of this evening’s activity has been given to reviewing notes from past lectures and powerpoints and inserting details I gleaned from the museum exhibit.

After a lovely time strolling the Klyde Warren Park north of the museum (above R. L. Thornton freeway), we decided to re-enter the “art cathedral” and visit the permanent collection.  To our surprise, a preview was offered to museum members of the exhibit opening Sunday: “Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cezanne.”  From the moment we entered those galleries, I was stung in much the same fashion as I had been in recent months from my repeated attendance at the “Hopper Drawing” exhibit.  I will be returning to this exhibit many, many times this summer and fall, grateful for my museum partnership that allows me to park and view the collection at no charge.  I could not begin tonight to describe how my heart warmed as I gazed at drawings and watercolors by David, Gericault, Delacroix, Degas, Cezanne and many, many other giants of art history.  And the supporting texts were as equally rich as the works of art themselves.  Part of my reading over the past months has been from the Journals of Eugene Delacroix, and I could not believe the quality of the drawings selected from his hand to hang in this show.

While at the museum, my cell phone vibrated, and lo and behold, an art sale was transacted while I stood in that museum’s corridors.  That business took a chunk out of today, but I am always thankful for a sale.  Seated at last in my studio after a week’s hiatus, I am filled tonight with a spirit of good will, of delightful eudaimonia, and am happy for the quiet space in which to compose and share these musings.  Much more will follow as I sort out all the ideas that filled my journal during this past week’s daily travels and conferences.  Taking the opening Delacroix quote seriously, I am trying tonight to shape and structure some kind of aesthetic creation over these fundamental ideas that flooded my consciousness this past week.  I close with a draft of the song I am trying to compose, that began exactly a week ago tonight:

Only the First Movement

Leaning closely over the table

Peering at the horizonless mess

The pencil carving out all the boundaries

Separating form from the formless.

How does the artificer do that?

Easier on paper than life’s skies.

On paper he does.

In life he tries.

Schools taught him to use tools,

But never to create.

Churches tried to teach how to live.

But only taught what to hate.

He can only start the first movement.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

Stretching My Watercolor into a New Direction

April 24, 2013
Beginning a New Still Life

Beginning a New Still Life

You know, the real world, this so-called real world is just something you put up with, like everybody else.  I’m in my element when I’m a little bit out of this world; then I’m in the real world–I’m on the beam.  Because when I’m falling, I’m doing all right; when I’m slipping, I say: “Hey, this is interesting!”  It’s when I’m standing upright that bothers me: I’m not doing so good, I’m stiff.  As a matter of fact, I’m really slipping most of the time, into that glimpse.   I’m like a slipping glimpser.

It seems that you have to be rather innocent; if you are too advanced or learned, you won’t be able to paint.  I mean, didn’t Baudelaire say you have to be a little stupid to sit around writing poetry all the time, no?

Willem De Kooning

I was fortunate to spend four hours in a TAKS testing room today, followed by three afternoon classes.  Again, I came home, wiped out.  But I’ve been poring over some Andrew Wyeth books filled with drybrush illustrations.  Taking the De Kooning dictum seriously, I decided that I wanted to launch into another direction, and I broke my own rule about not painting when fatigued.  I at least set up another still life in my Man Cave, drew out the composition, and laid down some broad washes to get a sense of what I want to do next. I want to go after another Andrew Wyeth “look” of a dramatically darkened composition with something catching the light in the midst. I have had this antique pail of pine cones sitting at my feet for over a year, and have painted them twice outdoors, beneath the trunk of a tree, but now I wish to place them at the bottom of a darkened door, and see if I can make something attractive out of them.

I am barely underway.  Once again, I’m having trouble darkening this bright white D’Arches watercolor paper.  It’s going to require some working and re-working.

I’m exhausted to the bone and need to retire to bed early so I can be somewhat fresh to go after another horrid testing day tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


April 18, 2012

Leading Workshop at Star Harbor



These are the immortal words carved over a side entrance to the Saint Louis Art Museum.  That message has remained with me for three decades, and most especially the past five years, as I’ve sought to carve out a space for myself in the sphere of art.

I feel dry as dust today.  I’m posting a photo of my last sublime art endeavor–associating with the eighteen eager watercolorists of Star Harbor.  I cannot describe how sorely I miss them this day, and have indeed for the past week.  Since those two days we spent, exploring the dynamics of watercolor, I have been submerged in number-crunching in preparation for filing my Income Tax (made the deadline) and then the six-week grading period ended at my high school, and of course, I was behind in that task.  I made that deadline also, shortly before midnight last night.  Today has been that sick, 4-classes in 4-classrooms schedule at my day job, with no planning period in which to stop and breathe.  I have endured this sick schedule for almost an entire school year now–one that I am more than ready to forget.

I had an art business engagement in Plano, Texas this evening, but have decided now to let that one go.  I’m exhausted to the bone, and need to give my body the rest it needs this afternoon, and (hopefully) return to my neglected studio later tonight.  My need to paint has not been adequately served for much too long.  It is time for me to “cultivate my garden,” as Voltaire would have it.  Hopefully, in the sanctity of the studio, I can get my groove back (Stella?).  I could very well  be posting to this blog later tonight, if I manage to do what I intend.

Thanks, all of you, who read me faithfully.  I’m sorry I’ve had nothing to say for days, but taxes and grading are not interesting enough to write about, as far as I’m concerned–hardly worthy of blog space.  I am confident that I’ll be posting quality stuff soon.

Arranging Studio Space for a New Student

March 19, 2012

Studio Workshop of Recollections 54

This space has certainly evolved.  For about the last four years, I have been in a perpetual migration, searching for studio space to experiment in watercolors.  I have enjoyed the extra bedroom in my house that formerly served as a study for my high school and college preparations.   I have also been grateful to the Burson Gallery in Hillsboro for providing studio space during summer months over the years.  I have as well enjoyed the back of my open Jeep Grand Cherokee, the idyllic pasture lands of Lyndon Acres in Burleson, and anyplace else I could park to work in watercolor, whether en plein air or in an enclosed room.

Over the past year, I have been carving out space in my garage, laughingly calling it the Man Cave.  But recently, I have taken this space more seriously, especially enjoying its sweet solitude late at night, with the door open, and the cool evening Texas breezes filling it.  During Spring Break, I spent most nights (and mornings after midnight) in this space.

Having recently moved my art festival booth furnishings to the perimeter of this space, I hatched this wild idea last week of converting this into a studio space to accommodate more than one person.  That idea filled some of the space of my Spring Break.  I especially enjoy now the presence of a portable TV/VCR where I have been rolling interview tapes of Willem de Kooning.  I’m also benefiting from my vintage stereo and turntable (LOVE listening to Muddy Waters LPs!).  I also have several easels upon which I can put up my works in progress and view them from across the garage while I’m working on something else.  I have two bookcases filled with my art, literature and philosophy monographs, as well as a number of comfortable chairs and reading lamps, along with five tables with ample space for organizing paintings, art supplies, journal, laptop and whatever else I need.  I feel that I could compete with Robert Motherwell as to library/studio/office space, though I could no doubt have used a portion of his financial fortune for a “prettier, classier'” space.

The timing of this couldn’t be better.  An artist from Wichita, Kansas is due early this evening to take several hours of private watercolor lessons from me.  He has come to visit his daughter who lives in a nearby town.  We met at the Grapefest art festival last fall in Grapevine, he took my business card and inquired about private lessons.  So, now he is choosing to give me a chance.

I don’t know exactly how to put this–I don’t feel like a “master.”  I don’t.  I’m still a curious student of watecolor, still learning, still experimenting, still reading, still devouring museum art and trying to find myself in this wonderful medium.  But having been a teacher of academics since 1985, I will honestly say that I love teaching, I love giving, pouring out my heart and passion, in any way that will benefit someone wanting to learn new things.  And I am profoundly grateful to this man for giving me yet another chance this evening to share these things.  I cannot wait for him to arrive (and I hope my space suits him, as he will be the first “customer” to enter and use this space!).

Thanks for reading.  I still have some tidying to do, as you can see from this photo.

2011 in review, a summary of David Tripp’s wordpress blog

January 2, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Watercoloring Harleys from the Man Cave

October 11, 2011

Harleys in Blanco, Texas

I believe this is the first time I pushed a watercolor so far on the first day.  I didn’t really get after the work until after school today, but found myself chipping away at it all afternoon and into the evening.  I believe I’ll have it finished tomorrow.  It’s not like I have other things to worry about–administering a PSAT test, teaching four classes, and giving a private lesson after school, and then getting my gear ready for an art festival for which I’ll leave in 48 hours.  Oh well, I guess there is no rest for the weary.  But honestly, I enjoyed working on this piece, actually playing with this piece.  I don’t know where all the time went.

The Man Cave was a great environ this afternoon and evening.  I enjoyed Neil Young Unplugged on an old VHS I purchased years ago.  Then I listened to Prince’s Purple Rain twice.   So, the music was great company.

Time to climb into bed and face that monster tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Third Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Texas Day

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 3 of 3

And here is my third watercolor sketch from the Man Cave on a rainy Texas day.  Again, I used Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils along with my Winsor & Newton field box.  I’m ready to pop these three sketches into pre-cut 8 x 10″ white mats.  This next weekend will find me at Edom Festival of the Arts.  I’m pleased that I’ve managed to complete and matt more than half a dozen new watercolors.  My One-Man Show just closed yesterday, so I will also have some framed paintings ready to take to the Edom festival as well.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day–no school.  My sincere wish is to kick out a few more watercolor sketches before classes begin on Tuesday morning.  I’m in the mood.

Thanks for reading.