Archive for the ‘trains’ Category

Working on a Second Tower 55 Watercolor

February 23, 2021
12 x 16 watercolor in progress

With some luck, I should be finishing this watercolor before the day is through. I wanted to have it in time to share as part of my “Hank” series in Palestine when the Dogwood Festival opens. Below is the story I’ve been working on to give it a narrative.

Squealing brakes accompanied by the thundering slam of freight car couplings in the Union Pacific railyard in Fort Worth, Texas hindered Hank from sleeping soundly in the small hotel on the south side of downtown. Wiping sleep from his travel-weary eyes, he sat on the edge of his bed and looked out the second-story window of his room. February. A layer of fresh snow blanketed the parking lot, and as he gazed across the cool blue shadows from his bed, Hank once again felt that old familiar Odysseus-fueled sentiment to wander. Pulling his tattered copy of Kerouac’s On the Road from the backpack, Hank looked up the passage where Sal awoke in the Chicago railroad flophouse, wondering for the moment who he was. Smiling as he stuffed the book back into his bag, Hank reaffirmed that he knew perfectly well who he was—Hank, the wandering mendicant, exploring the world and learning its secrets.

Dawn was just breaking, and in the dim light outside, Hank was confident he could prowl undetected through the busy railyard in search of a slow-moving freight to hop near the interlocker of Tower 55. Just south of the three-story Tower, a long freight of boxcars was crawling slowly southward. Mesmerized by the slow parade, he recalled one of his favorite passages from Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl”.

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

A closer scrutiny revealed no open boxcar doors as the train slowly gathered momentum. As Hank continued to watch, he came to the realization that rail travel was not for him. Though he enjoyed the romantic stories from On the Road, hopping a freight seemed too dangerous. Leaving the railyards, he spied the lighted sign of a Rexall Drugs and decided to go inside to look for a road atlas of Texas. Finding a Rand McNally, he paid the cashier and walked out.

Further down the street was a diner, more accurately a greasy spoon. Seeking warmth inside, Hank soon found himself sipping hot coffee from a heavy stained and cracked diner mug. Unfolding his map, he spread it across the table and squinted at it while enjoying the aromas wafting from the kitchen—fried eggs, hashbrowns, sausages, bacon, the steam of coffee. Hank wanted to head south across the state, having already visited the west. But none of the towns along the sprawling highway routes captured his fancy. Turning his attention to railroad routes, he traced southward from Fort Worth’s Tower 55. Palestine appeared to feature a large railyard. It was settled. Hank would set his sights on Palestine. Leaving the diner, Hank ventured in a southeasterly direction, seeking out Highway 287. Surely a motorist would soon pick up a hitchhiker who had just exited a hotel, showered, groomed, and dressed cleanly.

Hours later, Hank emerged from a 4-door Plymouth filled with a happy family with three chatty children. The Palestine railyards lay just south of Spring Street, and Hank looked up and down the tracks, glad he had decided against hopping a freight. To the north, he saw a five-story vintage hotel and decided to walk in that direction. The Redlands Hotel, established in 1915, was a stately structure, anchoring the west end of the city adjacent to the majestic Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Entering the hotel from the west portal, Hank was impressed to see a restored lobby reminiscent of the glory days of railroad commerce. To his left was a lovely restaurant with linen tablecloths glowing in the dimly lit interior. On his right was a small art gallery and AM radio station with a live broadcast.

Pushing on ahead through the lobby, Hank found the office at the far end and decided to inquire about a vacancy. Jeanene, the red-haired proprietor of the hotel, greeted him warmly and told him the hotel featured twenty suites, each in their original apartment layout featuring kitchen, bedroom, living area and bathroom. Smiling, Hank decided to rent for a week. Room 207 was clean and well-lighted, the kitchenette featuring a small round table next to windows looking down upon the handsome Carnegie Library across the street north of the hotel. Breathing deeply, Hank wondered what it could be like to live here for a spell.

Descending the stairs into the main lobby, Hank spotted the radio disc jockey seated in a wingback chair outside the restaurant, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette. He had just completed his morning show. Carl Harris had been working at KXOK radio since the early 60’s playing top 40 tunes and inserting the occasional news and weather updates.

“So, you look like a well-traveled man. What brings you to Palestine?

“Just a whim. I was in Fort Worth yesterday looking to hop a freight but decided not to risk it.  Assuming Palestine to be a railroad town, I decided to hitchhike down here to see what you have.”

“Can’t say much for the town. It’s alright, I guess. But if it weren’t for the job, I’m not sure I’d stay.”

“How long have you been in radio?”

“Twelve years. By now I’d hoped to be in a bigger city, like Houston or Dallas. Always wanted to travel instead of staying in my hometown. But it’s a good gig. I love music, play guitar, write songs. The job supports my habit. Frankly, I don’t know how much time we still have here. Our rival station KMOX in the next county represents the new wave. I come from the old school of radio rockers, not this new breed of radio talkers. But I guess that is another story. So. What do you do, besides travel?”

“Can’t say for sure. A couple of years ago, I decided I didn’t want to stay in my hometown any longer. So I’ve been on the road, meeting people, seeing different places. Still trying to figure out what to do with my life.”

“You need a job? This art gallery is brand new and they can’t seem to find anyone willing to work for minimum wage. The main artist is from out of town and isn’t here enough to keep it going as it should.”

“I could be interested. Who do I see about the job?”

“Jeanene, in the office. She’ll set you up, I’m sure.”

Now the sun was going down, and the studio was filling with shadows, imparting a feeling of overpowering melancholy to the end of the day. When the light filtered away like this after a bout of fruitless labour it felt as if the sun had disappeared for ever and taken with it all the life and gaiety and harmony of colours.

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Hank closed the book with a bottomless sigh and turned out the lights. The day had been long and uneventful, like most recent days, and reading the novel from Zola left him feeling as lost and empty as Cezanne must have been when he struggled to find his way in the painting enterprise. Emptying his glass with the last swallow of sangria, Hank laid back on his bed, closed his eyes and waited for sleep.

Morning. With eyes remaining closed, Hank listened. Mockingbirds conversed outside his open window of the Redlands Hotel. Somewhere nearby a radio was playing. He recognized the voice of Carl on KXOK, his energized voice of the morning show using every trick to capture attention from listeners driving to work. Hank opened his eyes slowly and focused. The alarm clock showed 7:15. Stickiness from the sangria of last night lay foul on his tongue. Stale cigar smoke lingered. The only element offering good will this morning was the clear light of a winter sunrise filtering through the light curtains, exposing myriads of floating dust particles drifting above the foot of his narrow bed.

Hank had slept with his clothes on, again. Rising and shuffling into the small kitchenette, he opened the squeaking cabinet above the sink, pulled down the Eight O’Clock Bean Coffee bag, measured coffee into the basket and poured water into the percolator. Soon the kitchen was filled with his favorite morning aroma. Looking out the window as the coffee percolated, his eyes rested again on the magnificent structure of the Carnegie Library. He needed to pay the place a visit. All he had read for the past six months was the same old books he had brought along in his backpack.

Stepping onto the second-story balcony of the hotel with his mug of coffee, Hank settled into one of the chairs and gazed across Spring Street into the railyard. He had been working downstairs in the art gallery for a little over two weeks now and was beginning to feel settled into this town. He was also beginning to wonder if he could make art worthy of the gallery he sat in each day. If he was to submit his art, it would have to be very soon. February was drawing near its close, and the city’s annual Dogwood Festival would begin in just a few weeks. Artists from around the county would be setting up tents in the street and displaying their work for sale. Hank hoped by then that he would be able to exhibit out of the gallery. Drawing his coat more tightly around his neck, he savored the warmth of the coffee and allowed his mind to drift back to his ninth-grade artistic beginnings.

High School had been a new and daunting world for Hank. He found himself in a different building, four miles from his Turvey’s Corner home. His first class on that first day was Art I. Having won first-place art honors at his junior high awards assembly the year before, he thought he was going to step into a classroom, bearing an aura of respect and admiration. What he found instead was a room filled with juniors and seniors. At the end of his table sat varsity tackle Joe Bennett with his 240 pounds, full red beard, and letter jacket. Senior girls already looking like suburban women with eye shadow and lip gloss chatted nervously in his orbit. Hippies with T-shirts and shoulder-length hair, American flags sewed to the backs of their denim jackets, sulked in their chairs, dark and glum, their clothes reeking of stale cigarette smoke. Hank felt diminutive. Mr. Scucchi entered the room, looking dapper in his tweed sport jacket with patched elbows, his shirt open at the collar. Addressing the class, he spoke in a vocabulary Hank recognized as charged with art speak, little of which he understood. Hank felt himself shrinking with every word.

On the third week of school something happened. Apparently, Mr. Scucchi had been looking at Hank’s daily work. Now, looking over Hank’s shoulder this Wednesday morning while he sketched the still life arrangement in the center of the classroom, the teacher asked, “Didn’t you win the art award at North Jefferson last year?” Hank looked up from his work and only nodded, too intimidated to speak up, and embarrassed, sensing the entire class suddenly looking up and focusing on him with interested curiosity. The teacher, saying nothing, moved on to the next student. “And what exactly are you trying to do with this?”

The following day Hank continued, bent over his work, unaware that Mr. Scucchi had walked up silently behind him again. Reaching over him, the teacher laid a coffee-table sized book on top of Hank’s drawing. In giant letters, the title read ANDREW WYETH. “I think you should look at this.”

Opening the enormous volume gingerly as though it were a museum archive piece, Hank’s eyes widened at what he saw. Page after page revealed drybrush watercolors in sepia tones of ramshackle farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings, all of them looking like his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. Hank’s artistic vision, already keen at this tender age, still lacked the vocabulary to give it definition. He already had vision but lacked articulation. School had never interested him. He had read very little and listened to his teachers even less. His parents had grown up as children of tenant farmers with little schooling in one-room schoolhouses. Thus, they read little and spoke less.  Hank could not voice what it was exactly that he saw that could be called “beautiful.” What was beautiful about decrepit buildings? Where was the artistic aura in poverty? Why was Andrew Wyeth famous for painting such drab subjects? And why could Hank not stop gazing at and admiring these paintings? The artwork rang with authenticity, triggering the deep-seated emotions Hank always felt when visiting his grandparents’ farm.

As high school unfolded in the following years, Hank continued to take art, the only subject where he could thrive, relying on his talent, his eye, but taking almost no interest in theory. During his sophomore year, he visited his grandparents’ farm repeatedly, making copious drawings in his sketchbook of his grandpa’s shack. His second and third-year art teacher, Mr. Hoeh, took an interest in the drawings and encouraged him to study the shack drawings more closely. Mr. Hoeh believed they could yield quality watercolors.

Hank’s second great awakening occurred during his senior year while competing at an art show in a St. Louis shopping center. The competition categories were for student and professional. Hank by this time had grown accustomed to winning awards in student categories, and this show would be no different. What was different was the sight of a high school senior, two spaces down from Hank, competing in the professional category. And winning.

This high school senior, known only as Brad, worked in the J. C. Penney department store in the shopping center. He was not even with his display when the Best of Show ribbon was awarded him; he had to go work inside the store. With his absence, Hank lingered a long time and looked at his work—Andrew Wyeth-inspired dry brush paintings of those same subjects—farmhouses and barns and busted-down fencing. Nearly devoid of color—sepias, umbers, ochres, and warm grays. Plenty of spattering and wet-on-wet bleeding. The peripheries of each composition were left undefined, fading into the white halo of paper. To Hank’s eyes, each watercolor was exquisite, the touch of a master. But Hank still wondered, how on earth could one describe such decrepit subject matter as “beautiful”?

As he continued to drift slowly through the professional displays, Hank found an elderly gentleman in bowtie and beret seated on a stool, bent over a watercolor in progress. His body of work was also remarkable, taking second place. All watercolors. Classic landscapes charged with vibrant color. The old man Hank found to be quite approachable, so he laid aside his shyness, and asked the big questions.

“I never saw watercolor in tubes before, only in paint pans. I thought only oils and acrylics came in tubes. What brand is that?”

“Winsor & Newton, the best in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”

“And what kind of tablet is that? It looks like a sketchbook, but the paper is sealed all the way around.”

“Again, the best paper in the world—D’Arches. This is called a watercolor block. They’re costly, but worth every penny. They keep the paper from buckling while wet.”

“But your paper is wet now. And buckled.”

“While wet, yes. But as it dries, it shrinks, and when totally dry it will be flat as a board again. There is no worse presentation than a warpy watercolor, buckled within a mat and frame.”

Back at his own display, Hank spent the rest of the day thinking over what the old man had told him, and of the remarkable watercolor work of young Brad. When the festival ended and Hank had nearly packed all his gear, he looked up to see the old watercolorist standing before him with extended hand. Eagerly, Hank shook the old friend’s hand, thanking him for patiently answering all his questions. Smiling, the man said, “Just call me Herb. I hope to see you again soon, at another festival. Until then . . .” In his other hand was a leather wallet folded over three times with a thong tied around it. He was handing it to Hank. “Open it,” he said. Frank untied the thong and unfolded the wallet. A used set of watercolor pans was tucked inside. “Winsor & Newton,” Herb smiled. “Best in the world. Practice every day. You’ll get there.” Smiling, he turned and walked away.

Breakfast finished, Hank descended the hotel stairs to the ground floor and entered The Gallery at Redlands. Looking out the window at the Union Pacific railyards across Spring Street, he recalled the early morning in Fort Worth as he stood in the fog watching the trains emerge from the gloom, roaring and expelling exhaust that mingled with the fog. It brought to mind his sojourn in Utah a month ago when he stood gazing at the herd of bison on the ranch. The bison also moved in and out of a mist from the mountains, a mist that mingled with the dust they kicked up from the dirt, and the exhalation of hot breath into the cold atmosphere. Bison and mist.  Diesels and mist. New images were beginning to form in his mind.

Walking to his desk, Hank sat and quickly sketched on his watercolor pad a gathering of bison as he recalled the way they looked on that particular day.

Leaning back from his work, Hank liked what he saw. Now it was time to turn his attention back to what he saw early one morning in Fort Worth as he contemplated journeying to Palestine.

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More later. 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.

Hans Hofmann Speaks to The Twelve

February 21, 2021
cover of New Art City
Studio Eidolons. New Work Beginning

. . . he spoke of a yearning for freedom and intensity of expression, of an individualism that transcends humdrum events and aims for the experiences that are most intense, most essential.

Jed Perl, writing of Hans Hofmann in New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

As Sandi and I prepare for the opening of The Twelve at Gallery at Redlands March 20, I am personally drawing much inspiration from Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who was quite the art teacher as well as gallery artist while mid-town Manhattan was preparing to become the new art capital of the world in the 1940s-1950s. For years I have studied the contributions of Motherwell, Pollock, Rothko and DeKooning, but only regarded Hofmann as a footnote, till now. The Abstract Expressionists, also dubbed The New York School, were a highly diverse collection of artitsts who took New York City by storm.

We, The Twelve, are for the most part middle-aged-to senior in our years, and therefore more sober-minded about the effects our art will have on Palestine and East Texas. That is not the reason we are coming here. Our dream is to open a gallery space of diversity, to offer a broad selection of art to appeal to a broader range of people than my watercolors have sought to do in the past. Yes, there will still be watercolors, but we’re adding oil and acrylic on canvas work, along with pastel art, photography, pottery and sculpture. We anticipate that on the night of March 20, we will open our doors to a reception much broader than offered before.

Pictorial life is not imitated life; it is, on the contrary, a created ability based on the inherent life within every medium of expression. We have only to awaken it..

Hans Hofmann

We, The Twelve, have at least one thing in common–we are Awake. Art has been our nurturing force for years, but more recently during this Covid crisis, we have been confined to our studio spaces with more time to reflect on what we wish to do once the public is again within reach. Solitude in the studio has given all of us sacred, quality time for reflection and experimentation in our respective artistic media.

The life of an artist awakened within the dimensions of the sheet of paper was all mixed up with the awakening of mid-century New York. And Hofmann’s genius had everything to do with pushing artists to go into the studio and find, there, the world outside.

Jed Perl, New Art City

And so we, The Twelve, as we awaken to new life within our spaces, hope to awaken a slumbering world to greater possibilities. May we all emerge to find a world even better than the one we were separated from before.

New watercolor of Fort Worth Tower 55 underway . . .

Work in Studio Eidolons is still progressing, though co-mingled with new gallery business and preparations. Soon I hope to share biographical sketches of the rest of the Twelve between now and when we hold our Meet the Artists reception March 20.

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.

The Philosophical Light around my Window

February 17, 2021
Studio Eidolons on a Winter Morning

“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 written December 2, 1802

Temperatures have risen to the twenties in north central Texas, but are expected to remain below freezing today as well. Texas, while perennially boasting of its energy supremacy, has become a third world country for millions this past week. We’ve been fortunate. Why, I don’t know. Hundreds of my friends who live in this same region have been without electricity for over 72 hours now, many of them without water as well.

Our neighborhood streets remain as icy sheets overlaid with several inches of snow. Fortunately, we have not had to drive, and have chosen not to for this entire week. Quality time spent in Studio Eidolons has been refreshing to me, and the Hölderlin quote above has fit my temperament. The past week has been spent mulling over writings from Heidegger, Hölderlin, Rilke and Robert Henri. All of them have filled me with a fresh vision as we prepare to open a new chapter for The Gallery at Redlands on March 20.

I finished this painting last night, and happily, it has already found a home. I already have plans for the next one and may be able to begin it later today. The first part of today has been dedicated to tidying up Studio Eidolons–I’m embarrassed that desk and drafting table spaces have become cluttered and unworkable. So much to file, throw away and put away. But it will all pay dividends.

More later. 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.

Flitting from Painting to Painting

July 11, 2020
In progress watercolor of an abandoned caboose

Maybe I really shall finish it this time, just to show myself I’m not completely hopeless!”

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

The quote above is the self-deprecating remark of a painter to his writer friend as they looked at one of his canvases in progress. Popular opinion holds that it is Cezanne speaking to his friend Zola. After years of reading about this novel, I am finally reading the work itself and finding it very engaging. I’ve always been interested in the creative synergy between Paul Cezanne and Emile Zola, from their childhood till the rupture of their friendship right after this novel came out. However, despite decades of reading about Cezanne’s work and gazing at it in museums, I have never until now read a word from Zola.

The quote above got my attention this morning because of my own habit of leaving many, many works incomplete. Last month while moving my studio to another room, I finally gathered all my scattered “in progress” watercolors and stacked them in two drawers of a lateral file cabinet. I didn’t count them, but I estimate there are over fifty. When I saw the quantity for the first time all in one place, I recall a jibe I heard once from an acquaintance who was observing my work in the studio: “Dave, do you ever finish anything?”

Maybe I have an Attention Deficit Disorder when it comes to painting. I doubt it though, seeing that I do indeed finish many of my pieces, and do a pretty decent job of pulling one from the stacks that is several years old, and finishing it with renewed interest. At any rate, I started two watercolors on the same day recently, and now decided to move to painting #2 while the fly fisherman remains unfinished in the midst of the stream.

This old wooden caboose is on the property of E & J Smokehouse and Grill at Spirit Ranch in Lubbock. We dined there a few evenings ago while it was cool outside, and afterward strolled the property. The setting sun cast an amazing light on this old car and I’m glad I climbed the hill for a closer look.

The reason I shifted away from the Colorado landscape to this painting is because this morning I was seized with the interest to pursue detailed, painstaking work in watercolor. This is something I definitely have to be in the mood to do. I love the medium of watercolor because it allows me to be splashy and spontaneous as a painter, and at the same time allows me to focus and work more as a serious draftsman. I especially enjoy doing both tasks within the same painting. And so, as I shift between the architectural details on the caboose and the splashy clouds and foliage enveloping the composition, I enjoy feeding both sides of the artistic enterprise.

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.

Speeding Up or Slowing Down? Horizontal or Vertical?

January 7, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shultz reducedI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Rolling in the Painting

November 18, 2019

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My newest 5 x 7″ Christmas Card–$5

And a pleasant Good Monday Morning to all of you from The Gallery at Redlands! I awoke with a rush of excitement to get back into the UP Big Boy lococmotive watercolor I’ve been building over the weekend. When I entered the gallery to see what was on the drafting table, I wasn’t completely satisfied with its overall look from a distance. So now, over coffee, I plan to spend some time contemplating it to figure out exactly what to do next. Hopefully I can post the image later in the day.

I stayed close to the watercolor all day yesterday, with an extremely narrow focus on detail. Now, I believe, the time has arrived to pull out the journal and begin recording corrective notes as I determine how to complete the overall composition of the piece. I have lost so many paintings over the years by working closely on them for hours and not stopping to view from a distance and make critical finishing decisions.

I love crawling into a painting and rolling around in it the way a dog does in the grass at the park. I recently walked my favorite dog in a Lubbock park near the overflowing playas. In the distance, I saw him rolling, rolling, rolling with great glee in one spot. He was oblivious as I called out to him, and continued tumbling. Once I got to where he was, I saw what held his attention–a rotting carp from the playa. He was rolling all over it, covering himself with decay. Yum. I made sure I walked back to the house upwind from him before stuffing him into the shower.

All this to say that I need to back away from rolling all over this painting to keep from suffocating it and ending up with a corpse. As I’ve written before, I don’t suffer much anxiety over losing a painting, but in this case, I like the way it started, and would like for it to end just as well.

More later. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Musings While Painting the Big Boy

November 17, 2019

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Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 Steaming into Palestine

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

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View of the Gallery at Redlands from the Lobby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Saturday Splendor at the Gallery at Redlands

November 16, 2019

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

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

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

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

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

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

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Lovely Christmas Tree in my Redlands Hotel Suite

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

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The Gallery at Redlands

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Views of The Redlands Hotel in a Walk Across Town

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Cover of my Latest Christmas Card

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

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

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

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

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Union Pacific Glory

November 10, 2019

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The Big Boy 4014 Departing Palestine

The 46-degree November morning was worth the chill, standing for ninety minutes watching the Big Boy blow steam and enliven the gathering crowd of spectators. I’ll have more to say about this memorable weekend in the following days, but I wouldn’t have traded this morning for anything. All of us laughed at what happened as the train pulled away:

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I’m not sure why I was continuing to take pictures.  And why I was surprised to be engulfed in steam and smoke I am not sure either. But we stood and laughed together for awhile, and I still smile at the remembrance. At any rate, I have well over a hundred photos and several videos to edit in preparation for my next watercolor.

More later, thanks for reading.

I make art in order to iscover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4014 Arrives Tomorrow

November 8, 2019

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Union Pacific Big Boy Restored

Friday night has arrived and I am tucked in for the night in Palestine, Texas. Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., the restored Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 will arrive two blocks from the Gallery where I am privileged to hang my hat. When the big moment arrives, I will have my plein air easel set up to see what kind of work I can accomplish, sketching this big behemoth in watercolor with steam blowing everywhere. The locomotive will stay until 8 a.m. Sunday.

Out of the eight Big Boy locomotives that exist today, only this one is in operation, having been just restored after nearly six decades of retirement. Before service ended, the locomotive had traveled over one million miles. I have seen two of these models, in the transportation museums of Frisco, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri. This 4-8-8-4 engine is over 85 feet long, and has an axle weight of  nearly 68,000 pounds. The driving wheels are 68 inches in diameter.

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My Father standing next to a Big Boy in St. Louis

Tomorrow promises to be a special day, and I hope to have good things to report. Also, I invite you to check out my new website www.davidtrippart.com, launched just last week.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind muyself I am not alone.