Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Hank at the General Store

April 16, 2020
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Good morning, blog readers. I’ve been away from posting the last few days, working on a new segment of my Hank series. I am posting the story below with a painting I did from my days staying in the residence of an old general store. It has inspired me to create such a story for the Hank cycle. The new painting I am creating to illustrate Hank sitting and thinking in front of the general store is still very undeveloped and not ready to put on view. As it shapes up, I will be posting the progress of it, and most likely editing this story further.

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The journey from the Caprock fire site to the city of Lubbock took most of the day. Highway 84 was light on traffic and even lighter on motorists willing to pick up a hitchhiker looking like he had just emerged from the wilderness. As evening encroached upon the college town, Hank decided on a quality night’s sleep in a small roadside motel south of town. A shower and clean shirt would also make him look less threatening in public.

The following morning surprised him. Late October in Texas was not what he had known growing up in Missouri. Here, a bright sun-splashed morning with a hint of autumn weather embraced him, not the biting frost he had known all his life this time of year. Crane’s General Store lay on the quiet southern border of Lubbock, the traffic occasional on the farm-to-market road stretched out front. On either side of the store, long stretches of farm and pastureland lay out flat as a carpet. The southern stretch, a cotton field, looked as though it were covered in freshly fallen snow under the autumnal sun, the low horizon providing a bright azure sky with no clouds. The cool winds brought acrid smells of tractor exhaust and he saw the rusty Allis-Chalmers chugging along the barren field north of the store.

Inside the dim interior of the store, Hank noticed immediately the pot-bellied stove, not yet needed for winter, but already on standby. The brightly clashing colors of canned and cartoned essentials lined the tidied shelves, ready for his restocking before hitting the road again. The sight of the meat counter took Hank way, way back to Proustian remembrances of Marlin’s store down the road from his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. The Marlin family lived in the back of the store, and Hank now noticed a door behind the meat counter that separated the Crane residence from the actual store. It reminded him of the residence he left behind in Turvey’s Corner less than a month ago.

Mrs. Crane (call me Annie) was a gracious soul in her late years, her silver-colored hair stretched tightly back into a neat bun, her white apron already stained from the foods she had been preparing for customers throughout the morning. Conversation with her was warm and inviting, and he learned that this store had been established during World War I, and had never been out of business, handed down through the generations of Cranes living on the southside of Lubbock. Hank had not entered a store such as this since the late 1950’s and the mental journey back into his personal history filled him with a warmth that he needed this particular morning.

Peering at the items beneath the glass, Hank ordered a pair of sandwiches to be prepared, one for now, the other to be wrapped in wax paper for later. Bologna and sharp cheddar cheese were sliced on the old white Hobart machine. The bread also was sliced from a loaf and slathered with mustard and mayonnaise. Each of the pair of sandwiches was completed with a slice of yellow onion, a slice of fresh tomato from the garden out back, and some lettuce. Glass bottles of Coke were collected from the big red box at the front of the store. Hank thanked Annie for the warm moment and stepped out to the front porch.

A row of freshly painted Warmack steel lawn chairs lined the shaded portion of the store, waiting for company. Setting down his backpack, Hank settled into one of the chairs, took out one of his sandwiches, and, forgetting to open his Coke, went back into the store to find an opener on the front of the red box. Now, it was time to chew the sandwich slowly and resume his reading of Emerson from the volume of essays the minister gave him a few days ago. “Self-Reliance” titled an essay that Hank thought could be appropriate for this stage of his life’s journey.

Ne te quaesiviris extra.

“Do not seek outside yourself.” Brushing back tears, Hank paused as a wave of cathartic emotion overtook him without warning. Throughout his life, he had harbored an inferiority complex. He never regarded himself as physically attractive, he was not athletic in school and not popular either. From his early childhood, his family had lived in rural settings with no neighborhoods of children with whom to bond and play. Hank, an only child, had spent his childhood years alone, and once entering school, never really knew how to reach out to his classmates. Remaining quiet during class discussions, he listened with envy to his peers answering all questions and bravely leading out with their opinions on literature assigned. And so, to add to his physical appearance and lack of sociability, Hank harbored this notion of being intellectually inferior. Time spent working in the gas station did not improve his social condition; proprietors were all old men who talked and laughed with each other, while Hank stood in the background looking on. His entire life was spent measuring himself against the standard of what he saw in others, always concluding that his own spirit had been weighed and found wanting.

And now he was here, seventeen hours from his home, afoot. Why? To think, and not be surrounded by the people he had seen all his life but who never really seemed to see him. Out west, Hank was finding time, space and a feel for destiny. No longer would he have to listen to Mom asking “When are you going to make something of your life?” or Dad commenting that Hank was O.K., just had been sheltered all his life and now had no clue what to do with it. The other day, the Reverend told Hank: “God made you, and God doesn’t make junk. Read Emerson’s Self-Reliance. It’s time to start believing in yourself.”

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,–that is genius.

One reason Hank was ready to listen to Emerson with his whole heart came from a fact the Reverend had surprised him with in conversation: the reality that Emerson was a nominal student in school, not a class standout by anyone’s standards. In college as well, Emerson did not impress his mentors. What essentially set him apart as an American sage was this indwelling determination that he had quality to share with anyone who would listen. Hank was now listening.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

Emerson was now calling out Hank in the most provocative way. In school all those years, Hank always thought his ideas were wrong and inferior because they did not match what his teachers and peers were saying aloud. Now, for the first time, he was embracing his ideas because they were his. People don’t go out on the open road with no advanced planning. But this is what Hank was doing, right now, and for the first time he was ready to believe in its value.

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More later . . . thanks for reading and please check out my website at 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.

Smitten by Archer City, Texas (Larry McMurtry’s home town)

March 13, 2019

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Enjoying a Night in the Studio

For over a month I’ve been reading the works of Larry McMurtry with great delight. I began with The Last Picture Show, moved on next to Lonesome Dove and then read Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. That final work really stirred me, as the author laments the loss of story telling in our American culture. I decided to travel to Archer City, a town I have loved for nearly twenty years now.  After enjoying McMurtry’s bookstore (Booked Up Inc.), I strolled around the historic downtown, picking out all the iconic settings for The Last Picture Show and Texasville. Before leaving town, I stood in the street and took a photo of the four-way stop intersection (the only real intersection in town), and finally got around to painting it.

About a month ago, I decided my next watercolor series would involve small town scenes and the stories they engender. On Saturday, March 23 at 1:00, I will deliver my first gallery talk in the lobby of the historic Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. This event will be part of the celebration of Palestine’s 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival that kicks off that same day. I have enjoyed spending the past several weeks putting together the presentation, and am leaning forward toward that event.

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Beginning of a Small Watercolor of Archer City, Texas

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.

 

Musing over the Creative Efforts

August 11, 2018

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Closing in on the Finish of this Watercolor (I think)

Creative algorithms undulate beneath the dark, quiet pools of solitude.

David Tripp

O.K., so I open with a post of one of my original quotes, not even half-baked, being less than an hour old at this time. This morning, at the dining room table, I was feeling creatively “flat”, and chafed inwardly that it was Saturday morning and I was still unsatisfied at the progress I was making on my preparations for this fall’s term.

After breakfast, I put on my Big Boy pants, and went out, looking for a public, yet quiet spot to work on my courses. I settled on a public library, and before roughing out my syllabus for Classical Judaism, opened Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and began reading, for about the fourth or fifth time, these marvelously personal documents.

Rilke writes so eloquently about the gift of solitude for creative exploits, and as I wrote, I began compiling a list of books from my personal library that I plan to place on my writing desk once I get back home again: Solitude, by Anthony Storr, A Sand County Almanac, by Leopold Bloom, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, The Eternal Now, by Paul Tillich, Quiet, by Susan Cain and Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers.

As I began writing from memory some of my favorite quotes about solitude, and then exploring the Internet for more quotes, I wondered why I had not by now come up with my own original line about solitude. So, I fiddled with this, and before long had a page of quotes, stopping with the one I posted above.

I plan to continue noodling with this quote because I am still wrestling with some of the ideas. To begin with, I have difficulty associating “algorithm” with “creativity”, I suppose because I cannot conceive of a set of rules or specific process that guarantees creative results. That is why I used the word “undulating” to describe these steps, because they seem always to be changing, for me as well as for all that I have read of the myriad of creative spirits who have preceded us and left behind testimonies of their processes.

The image in my memory that inspired the quote I am composing is what I saw at Beaver Creek Reservoir on a couple of occasions recently in South Fork, Colorado. While moving from place to place, seeking a decent spot to fish for trout, I happened across this location in the reservoir where the creek flowed into the enormous lake. The water was clear as crystal, the sun was low on the horizon, and with the help of polarized sunglasses, I was allowed to peer deep beneath the surface where I saw myriads of rainbow and brown trout, darting and circling deep below. I felt a calming effect as I contrasted the glassy, mirror-like surface of the quiet waters with the constantly changing configurations of trout too numerous to count, congregating, separating, clustering again, scattering again. As I watched this constant pulse, I laughed, remembering a scene from the film A Beautiful Mind. John Nash’s colleagues at Princeton were making fun of him as he walked backward, stooped over a cluster of pigeons in the grass. He responded that he was trying to determine the algorithm of the pigeons’ movements as they searched for food.

I suppose that is the fallacy of trying to write about the creative process. But at any rate, I found the inspiration to dive back into my course on Classical Judaism, and before I knew it, managed to organize the body of research I have worked on all summer into a semester’s strategy, and then arranged it into my fifteen-week schedule. So . . . the early morning’s chafing finally yielded to a satisfying conclusion.

I have posted above the watercolor commission that I began about a month ago, and recently resumed after a vacation hiatus. I feel that I am getting closer to the end, and that is a good thing. College begins for me in about ten days, and I need to begin pouring more daily hours into that endeavor. I am privileged to teach Classical Judaism (online) for the first time ever, and will also devise a way to coordinate a pair of Logic classes (one online, the other in the classroom). I am sufficiently rested from my travels and changes in perspective, and though I still have New Mexico and Colorado in my dreams, I am grounded once again in Texas soil.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

The Promise of the Dawn

April 14, 2017

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Witnessing the Dawn Breaking

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake…by an infinite expectation of the dawn

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Good Friday school holiday is already a blessing to me. After three weeks of a one-man-show bundled with gathering tax data, filing my tax return, gathering retirement information and filing my papers with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, I was finally able to leave the city behind yesterday afternoon and sleep last night in my favorite place, that I refer to as Heidegger’s Hut–a restored country store & residence in a remote area of Texas. I crashed at 9:00 last night, totally exhausted, and rose while it was still dark. When the dawn broke, I went out on the porch to sit and listen as the birds sang in worship to Aurora as he lit up the eastern sky.

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By the time it was light enough to record my thoughts in my journal, the upper-fifty degree temperatures proved a little too cool for me since I didn’t think to bring a jacket, so I moved inside the store to my favorite little corner next to the windows. For the past 48 hours, thoughts have been tumbling about in my mind, and now that I have actually filed my retirement papers, an entire new range of emotions are surging through me, and I’m glad I had this space in my calendar to get out of town and enjoy the quiet respite of the country for awhile.

Thanks for reading.

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View from the Gallery Window

April 1, 2017

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Completed watercolor of downtown Palestine, Texas

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

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, letter to friend Boehlendorf dated December 2, 1802

Saturday morning began for me on a second-story balcony with coffee and Heidegger’s essay “What Are Poets For?” I was so enriched by the ideas from the essay that I descended the stairs and opened the gallery at 9:00 rather than 10:00 so I could enjoy some time writing at the desk, and then resume work on the watercolor I have been playing with since I started it over a week ago. I finally decided to sign off on it and offer it as a watercolor sketch, unframed, measuring 11 x 11″ for $100.

The day shortly after became busy beyond description with a steady stream of patrons in the gallery, some sales, and wall-to-wall meaningful conversation. I feel that I have made a number of new friends for life. The Palestine experience has been deeply fulfilling. I can’t wait to open again in the morning.

Thanks for reading.

Drifting Thoughts of Tintern Abbey

October 6, 2016

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Abandoned Gas Station in Claude, Texas

These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet . . . 

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

In these final days, while inching closer to completing this watercolor, I have found myself spending more time gazing at it than actually painting. In many ways, the closing notes to a complicated composition are the most critical, and this one has certainly given me pause, again and again, throughout the past days.

This morning, Wordsworth’s haunting thoughts revisited me as I lay in bed, slowly waking in the predawn. I could see the image of this painting in my mind’s eye as well, comingling with all the sweet remembrances of passing through this small Texas panhandle town in the heat of past summer excursions to Colorado. And, true to the lines of Wordsworth, this quiet image has remained in my mind as a sanctuary amidst my bustling classrooms throughout the morning of this day. While growing older, recollections such as this wax sweeter, especially when I find myself in the nexus of nagging deadlines and job-related expectations. Memories and painting provide a precious sanctuary.

Thank you for reading.

I paint because I want to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

The Next Venture

February 7, 2016

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But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

As I close out this weekend, I express a special Thank You to those of you who reached out the past 48 hours with comments on my blog and facebook. Your communion was deeply felt, while at the same time I imbibed a richness from the stretch of solitude and quiet.

I am safe at home once again, and just completed all the work I needed to do in preparation for tomorrow’s classes. Before returning to the studio, I took another look at the photos I took while on this excursion, and wanted to post this one of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Windthorst, Texas (population 440). I took this photo during this morning’s return, and when I took a good look at this grotto, I realized to my regret that I never once thought about driving out here at night, to see if candles were lit. How glorious a sight that would have been. Windthorst is only eleven miles from Archer City, and though it was frigid cold last night, I would have gladly sat in the midst of this had I found that worshipers had visited and lit candles on a Saturday night.

I do not come from a Catholic background, but I was a minister long ago, and studied theology for over a decade in graduate school. I deeply enjoy Jack Kerouac’s religious vocabulary (he was Catholic) where most readers seem to be more conscious of his vulgarity. His frequent references to saints, to holy matters, and his biblical allusions are abundant enough in On the Road to get my attention.  And like Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey, I know what it is to be stirred in the presence of a church structure, and how difficult it is to articulate what one feels. I am resolved to visit this site in Windhorst at night the next time I journey to Archer City for a weekend getaway.

Thank you for reading.

Sketching Archer City

February 6, 2016

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Watching the sunset glow over Archer City fills me with a serene sense of eudaimonia. Since I left the swirling metroplex behind yesterday, I have been unconscious of time, and am surprised that this afternoon has already evaporated. I spent it in the hotel lobby, sketching the facade of one of my favorite antique establishments, and visiting with Sarah, who organizes art activities for this city and surrounding area, works as a journalist for the local newspaper, manages this hotel, and seems to have interests in many other areas as well. I thought I was busy–I wonder how she manages to wear so many hats!

Laying out the composition for this antique store was difficult for me, and I’m going to have to take it back to my studio for some further adjustments. I think it has real potential, and if this piece doesn’t work out, I’ve taken good reference photos and would love to give it another shot, perhaps larger than this 8 x 10″ attempt.

It is serendipitous that I began reading Kerouac’s Visions of Cody right before I journeyed to Archer City. The author’s graphic descriptions of New York City in his day match up perfectly with what I see around the remains of this town. I have always been intrigued with decaying buildings, debris-strewn streets and the wide-open spaces surrounding small Texas towns. Every time I cross any of the streets downtown (which are actually highways 25 and 79) I see The Last Picture Show being replayed, but now I am in the movie. it is enchanting, to say the very least. Right now, as I type this, I hear the occasional pickup truck passing below, and looking out the windows of this corner room  on the third story, I swoon at the deep orange glow that has rested on the horizon for more than thirty minutes now, past the sun’s disappearance. The flashing red lights of the intersection are more intense now, and flooding my room with light, as I have yet to turn on any lights inside. I hurt for anyone who feels loneliness when put in this kind of atmosphere–to me this is sublime solitude, a soothing balm.

Thanks for reading.

Catholic Contemplation

February 6, 2016

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Yesterday, while on the road, I had to pull over and photograph this magnificent St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Windthorst, eleven miles from Archer City. I had admired the structure for over ten years, but never found it in such beautiful light as the western sun on this day.

With the temperatures outside at 38 degrees and overcast, I thought it best to work in the Spur Hotel lobby (I’m the only resident in the hotel this weekend), relying on the photo from yesterday. Here is my quick sketch, and I’ll probably enrich the colors and details after I get it back home to the studio. There are many more trees to fill out on the sides of the church.

I don’t know how to record my feelings yesterday as I stood beneath this church which stands on the highest point of Windthorst. It was bathed in the winter sunlight and some kind of emotion came over me as I viewed it. I cannot say Wordsworthian, because I was looking at architecture rather than nature, and I cannot say Tintern Abbey, because this is not an abandoned wreck of a church, but a viable facility that serves Catholic needs across Archer County. I was not brought up in the Catholic faith, but I have studied theology and church history for most of my life, and I just felt like many streams of thoughts were coming together in the warmest way possible. I felt affirmed. And today I feel even more so, as I look at this composition and attempt to render it in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

Escape Velocity II

February 5, 2016

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My work comprises one vast book like Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed.

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Today, I gave in to yesterday’s wanderlust. I booked my favorite room in the Spur Hotel in Archer City, Texas, Larry McMurtry’s hometown. I packed last night, and loaded early this morning, so as soon as school let out for the weekend, I pulled out of the parking lot, angling north for the two hour-plus drive to this quiet, spacious part of north Texas in Archer County.  Population of this town is 1,848 and that is just about right for me. In the cold winter evenings here, the clouds emit the most marvelous array of blues and lavendars, much like what I experienced in Colorado evenings, looking across the front range of the rockies. I tried to take a picture above, but I’m not a photographer, and there just wasn’t much light left for me to accomplish what I wished.

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Larry McMurtry’s famous bookstore, Booked Up Inc., has been my mecca for shopping for over a decade. Today I found a first edition of Ezra Pound’s Cantos and could not resist the sale that was running on books currently. I’m proud now to own it and read it.

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Dinner tonight in the cafe made me feel I had retreated in time to the days of Kerouac rambling the open roads across America. With this being Friday night, and a strong Catholic presence in Archer County, fish was on the menu, and the taste was just as delightful as the aroma that filled the diner.

And now, as I write this, I’m settled into my third-story corner room, overlooking the intersection of highways 25 and 79, with a flashing red light governing the four-way stop. The light flickers patterns across the interior brick walls of my room, and the swish of traffic below will probably lull me to sleep later tonight as I soak up some coveted reading.

I cannot describe the deep-seated satisfaction settling in over me, leaving the city and school behind, the noise, the deadlines, the endless prattle. Now there is no agenda. I have a stack of books on the table beside me, and a large carry-on bag stuffed with watercolor and drawing supplies. My journal is at hand, and I am ready now to settle into a quiet posture of reading, thinking, writing, drawing and painting. This quiet space has been so long overdue for me, and I am thankful to the depths of my being that the gift has finally arrived.

Thanks for reading.