Archive for the ‘winter’ Category

Further Snow Meditations

January 11, 2021
A Second 8 x 10″ Attempt

In the pocket notebook I carried is scribbled, early among the entries for that morning: “The hard thing is to get slowed down.”

What that means in relation to my activities just then is a bit mysterious to me. Probably it means I was impatient with my own dawdling slowness, prodigious and no trouble at all to attain, and that I then grew irked with my impatience. Impatience is a city kind of emotion, harmonious with “drive” and acid-chewed, jumping stomachs, and I presume we need it if we are to hold our own on the jousting ground this contemporary world most often is.

John Graves, Goodbye to a River

Three years into retirement, I still find myself at times moving about in high gear as though I have appointments to keep. And when I do slow down, I feel internally guilty, as though I am supposed to be doing something. Yesterday’s snowfall throughout the day slowed things down, and the experience was precious. It has carried over into today, though the snow has evaporated, the sun is bright, and temperatures are rising. Still, I choose to linger in my studio and experiment with a new set of paintings. The one posted above is attempt #2 of snowy evergreens, and #3 is also in progress. Two other blank surfaces are lingering on the sidelines.

I have been dizzy with freedom since spreading out five surfaces and opting to go experimental with color combinations and techniques. My assistants have been a bottle of Richeson Mediums that I use with a toothbrush to spatter the masquing for snow effects along with a fan brush intended for acrylic painting to get the splayed effect of pine needles. Sprinkles of salt and dry bread crumbs have also worked to break up the wet washes of color spread about. I’ve also been spritzing with a fingertip sprayer manufactured by The Bottle Crew.

I have spread out an assortment of colors to get a variety of greens, beginning with Winsor Blue mixed with Transparent Yellow for one base green, then Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson for a darker green. To vary the greens, I have mixed in the following: Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Sienna. Also touches of Winsor Red Deep and Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose. For the dead trees in the background, I have blended all the above colors to produce a warm gray, and have also used HB and 5H pencils along with one of my recent favorites: the Blackwing Matte pencil.

Soon I shall be leaving to spend a day on the Brazos River in search of stocked rainbow trout. I’m ready to get back into the stream with a flyrod. Also, I plan to take along sketch materials for potential drawings and watercolors of that magnificent basin that carves its way across the Palo Pinto terrain. I’ve had an itch to paint cliffs topped with cedars, and that is the nearest location I can think of that offers those views.

Stay tuned for more, and thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Snowy Meditations

January 10, 2021
Watching the snow fall from the windows of Studio Eidolons

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels, to understand a proverb and the interpretation, the words of the wise and their dark sayings.

Proverbs 1:5-6, KJV

Baby Paddington has decided to nest in his bed and watch as well

It is extremely rare in north central Texas to see snow falling. Snow may have hit my neighborhood while I was away for winter holidays, but I myself have not seen the white powder in Arlington, Texas for at least five years. This morning is making up for it–I slept in till nearly 9:00 and the snow was falling heavily when I got up. Now, at 1:30 it is still coming down in huge, wet flakes. Accumulation should be minimal as the ground has not been frozen yet this winter and the temperatures are lingering in the upper 30’s. Our low forecast is set for 32; we’re not near that yet. Still, the skies are filled with white flakes, the ground is getting covered, and I am loving my coffee, fireplace, Christmas tree and adequate windows to the neighborhood.

Occasionally on Sundays, I will take out the Bible and read for awhile. This morning I focused on the opening chapters of Proverbs, bearing in mind that the Sunday talk shows are featuring a number of elected Washington officials whose only manifestations of “wisdom” appear in dodging straightforward questions of what contributed to our current demise, and what should be an appropriate response.

As stated before, my blog is not intended to be a political forum, so I will only say that my morning so far has been divided between studying and painting. As for studying, I am devoting some time to unpack the text from Proverbs, looking at some key words beneath our English translation (learning, understanding, interpretation, dark sayings). I’m fortunate still to have a copy of the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) and have enjoyed perusing the languages.

This painting found a home quickly

I began an ended the above painting yesterday, and by nightfall it had sold. As I had said before, I tried this composition three years ago and the picture sold before I could really study it. Now that this one is leaving, I’ve decided to lay out five more compositions of the same size (8 x 10″) so I can continue to experiment and find a way to solve my issues of snowscapes and the multiple green tints I experience when viewing cedars and various evergreens. I find a real joy in exploring this composition and hope to share good ideas in future posts as I move ahead with these.

Preparing to make five more . . .

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.

A Brighter Morning

January 9, 2021
Paddington just keeps growing and stretching

Brethren preached separation from worldly pleasures, but my mother laughed at comedians, particularly Gracie Allen, who said, “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

Garrison Keillor, That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life

This morning was brighter, filled with more color, than the past two days. Sipping coffee before the fireplace, reading more of Garrison Keillor, dog snuggled under the blanket with me–yes, a much warmer morning. Entering Studio Eidolons a few hours later, I found Baby Paddington looking not so much as a baby anymore. He seems to stretch halfway across the room now when he’s looking for something beneath the tree. We’ve decided to let the tree remain through January, since we spent so little time in the house with the Christmas decorations in place. Now we can enjoy them for a few more weeks without departure interruptions.

. . . painters must devote themselves entirely to the study of nature and try to produce pictures which are an instruction. Talks on art are almost useless. . . . Literature expresses itself by abstractions, whereas painting by means of drawing and colour gives concrete shape to sensations and perceptions.

Paul Cezanne, letter to painter friend Emile Bernard

Today I have worked further on this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of winter trees I photographed in St. Louis when we visited during Christmas 2017. I painted them once before, and sold the piece before I was emotionally detached from it. That happens sometimes. For three years, the image has continued to burn on my retina, so I researched the files in my smart phone to find the photo and give it another crack.

Having stripped away the masquing, the snow seems to be showing up OK now. I have just barely begun to place the dead tree branches into the gaps on the left side of the composition. This is going to take considerable time as I’m spending more time enlarging the photo on a flatscreen TV and working on the nuances of the branches (color, thickness, direction of movement, density, and so on). I’m still trying to find the recipe for the neutral coloring of the trunks and branches as well.

Yesterday I struggled with a problem that Cezanne expressed in his writings, namely that the difficulty in painting a cluster of trees was separating out all the shades and tints of green so the painting doesn’t become dull and monotonous. I haven’t solved that problem to my satisfaction, but I think the painting is OK so far. Today I struggle with the Cezanne quote posted above concerning the relationship of literature and visual art. Last month, I had an engaging conversation over dinner in St. Louis with my high school friend Clarry Hubbard, a retired journalist. He expressed how he continually wrestles with visual images as he writes, and I countered with my own struggles, attempting to express visually the literature I read and hear. Soon, I hope I can find a way to write more lucidly about what I am trying to do with brush and paper. In the meantime, I echo Gracie Allen’s sentiments: “My mind is so fast, sometimes I say something before I even think it.”

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.

Painting through the Darkness

January 8, 2021
Beginning of an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of winter evergreens

I promise to love this life I was given and do my best to deserve it.

Garrison Keillor, That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life

For 48 hours, I have been drifting in the darkness of this nation along with everyone else. I choose not to post my perspectives on this event, but still acknowledge a profound pain over events that defy description. Waking before daylight, I found solace this morning in the opening chapters of Garrison Keillor’s recent work, and when I reached the quote above, I had to close the book and just sit in silence for awhile.

Henri Matisse’s life as an artist lived through two World Wars, yet his art never reflected the dark eras of those times. Biographer Hilary Spurling observed “His deepest instinct in the face of erupting violence and destruction was to respond with an affirmation of everything that made life worth living.”

And so I as well have immersed myself the past couple of days in a series of watercolor experiments, recording many observations in an attempt to crank out better work in 2021. In the days ahead, I hope to share some of the insights I’ve recorded along with fresh ideas I’ve gleaned from reading and journaling. Meanwhile, I urge all of my readers to look ahead, to hope, and try at every turn to contribute something of value to our communities.

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.

Hygge

January 3, 2021

Uh…what? Hy-gge. Pronounced hue-gə, which sounds a bit French, this mysterious noun,
adjective and verb resembles not only a typically Danish attitude, but also wellbeing, comfort and feeling at home.

Meik Wiking

What a wonderful start to this New Year! Sandi and I came out to Lubbock just as the winter weather turned frigid, making it difficult for her to spend quality time with her horse. Now the afternoons are sunny, pushing temps up to the fifties and sixties, so she is able to ride. And I am finding life serene in this hotel room with a pair of loving dogs, my art supplies and a fine collection of reading material.

Holiday gifts have continued to accumulate, now including warm greetings and conversations online with a host of friends whom I cannot visit during this wretched COVID era. Someone yesterday alerted me to a book by Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. I have ordered it already on Amazon. Meanwhile, I am reading everything I can pull up online from the pen of this Meik Wiking.

The Danish word hygge reminds me in many ways of the Greek notion of eudaimonia. Both point toward a general spirit of well-being, though hygge sounds to me that it is more oriented to the environment, the stage we set for quality mindfulness. In my case, the word seems to point to my own Studio Eidolons at home, or The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, or the old general store I enjoy inhabiting in east Texas. My initial perceptions of hygge may be inaccurate; I’ll know more once I receive the book and give it a thoughtful read.

Meanwhile, this Sunday morning has been sublime. I stripped off the masquing from the watercolor I started yesterday. It appears I have a decent foundation for this next painting. I have yet to get out my supplies as I’ve decided instead to look over the composition and make some plans for its development. Taking out my draft of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve decided to make some adjustments to the way I pursue my studio work this year. Having purchased for the first time a watercolor sketchbook last September, I’ve decided to put it to work as I study these snowy evergreens. Alongside the 8 x 10″ watercolor I’ll experiment with some color sketches. I’ve also decided to be more faithful in recording observational notes in the sketchbook, recording the colors and techniques employed. I brought with me on this trip a selection of watercolor pencils to layer with my tube watercolors. I also have some smaller rigger brushes. I’m in the mood for some experimenting.

I am resolved this year to pursue more Quality in day-to-day life. I have not tuned in to local or national news this day, because I suspect that venom is still coursing through the public discourse. To all my readers, I wish you success in creating more hygge in your day-to-day experiences. Hopefully, in addition to adding more color to your own life, you will play a hand in coloring your surroundings.

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 Compulsion to Make Art in the New Year

January 2, 2021

But it is just this technical formulation, which reveals the truth to our understanding, that conceals it once again from our feeling; for unfortunately the understanding must first destroy the objects of the inner sense before it can appropriate them. Like the chemist, the philosopher finds combination only through dissolution, and the work of spontaneous Nature only through the torture of Art. In order to seize the fleeting appearance he must bind it in the fetters of rule, dissect its fair body into abstract notions, and preserve its living spirit in a sorry skeleton of words.

Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man

Beginning of a snowy evergreen composition

Day two of our new year finds me in a hotel room attempting an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of snowy evergreens. I completed a composition similar to this a few Christmas seasons ago in a hotel after I had photographed a stand of trees at the edge of the snow-covered parking lot visible outside my window. This morning I felt the compulsion to repeat the endeavor. Sometimes I do grieve when a watercolor sells so fast that I didn’t have time to look at it and absorb it. The painting above went out the gallery door pretty quickly.

I’m trying to re-read some texts that I enjoyed last Christmas season concerning aesthetics. As I’ve told friends repeatedly, I worked on my skills as an artist for years but focused exclusively on the technical aspects of painting. After a few decades of teaching art history and repeated readings of Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, I have developed a fascination with the topic of aesthetics, and have thoroughly enjoyed the letters of Friedrich Schiller written to a friend around 1795. For the immediate future, I will attempt to steer a careful course between the technical and the philosophical aspects of making art and see where the conversation takes me.

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.

A Dusting of Snow

December 30, 2020
Morning in Lubbock, Texas

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual–become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. . . . At such times there is a song going on within us, a song to which we listen. It fills us with surprise. We marvel at it. We would continue to hear it. But few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their own song. Intellectuality steps in and as the song within us is of the utmost sensitiveness, it retires in the presence of the cold, material intellect.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Good morning from Lubbock, Texas. We drove out here yesterday with temperatures at 70 degrees. This morning it is 30 with a dusting of snow. The spirit of Christmas abides with me still, and the snow certainly aids and abets it.

New Mexico Pinon Coffee with Journal, Books and Cards on Standby

I am glad that New Year’s Eve is still a day away; that special day is usually given to serious reading, reflection and writing. Today I want to make art. Before we left yesterday, Dick Blick delivered these Strathmore Watercolor Cards to my doorstep. I’ve waited a month for them as they had to be back ordered. So . . . I now have a year’s head start on my next batch of Christmas cards.

I appreciate the responses that yesterday’s blog drew. One of the readers actually requested that I address further this notion of religion and art being essentially the same. I acknowledge that I feel clumsy with my words when trying to discuss this, but I am thrilled to try . . .

The Robert Henri quote above describes my sentiments much better than I feel capable of doing. When I say “religion” I am not referring exclusively to Christianity (I always tried to be up front about that in my philosophy classes). I am referring to the numinous experience in general. Merriam-Webster online covers that word quite well. The first definition of numinous I don’t find helpful. But #2: “filled with a sense of the presence of divinity: holy”, and #3: “appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense: spiritual.” These statements, to me, nail it.

Since childhood, I have experienced Emerson’s transcendental sentiment, that there is much more to life than what our five senses reveal and our words capture. And for most of my life, the avenues of religion and art were the ones I pursued to enjoy this realm. But, as Henri pointed out (and also Proust), the more we attempt to capture this prize, the more quickly it evaporates. Nevertheless, that does not prevent us from trying. It certainly does not deter me.

Among the books I’ve selected to bring along for our Lubbock adventure, I’ve included Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters and Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. I am anticipating genuine pleasure as I linger over these texts in the coming days. Now, I am ready to drag out the art supplies . . .

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.

Whittling and Weaving

January 6, 2020

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Goethe’s works, letters and diaries fill 143 volumes . . . of course by no means everything he wrote is first-rate, but – or perhaps it is because – he worked constantly and never sought the easy way out, least of all by following a formula.

Walter Kaufmann, Introduction to Goethe’s Faust

I cannot express the depths of my admiration for the writings of Goethe, and only wish I would have begun earlier in life to study his works. While working on this recent watercolor, I have been re-reading Faust during the drying periods. And as I read of Goethe’s prolific output, I am reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the way his study was strewn with unfinished manuscripts and projects. After all these years, I have hundreds of volumes of handwritten journals on the shelf, years of blog posts in the cloud and hundreds of drawings and watercolor attempts stacked in the studio and stored in steamer trunks and suitcases. Knowing that Goethe continually edited his old works, I consider the possibilities of revisiting and revising my own.

As I continue fiddling with this watercolor, the extensive network of tree limbs and layers of woven grasses have drawn my focus to matters of design not often visited, and I am really enjoying this journey while at the same time pausing to read and ponder the most engaging literature.

When I focus all my attention on a patch of grasses within just a couple of square inches, I feel I am using a penknife to whittle on a log. I am easily swallowed up in such a tiny part of our world. And my mind visits so many unrelated ideas while I work at leisure. I cannot describe the well-being I experience when I am in my element.

I suppose the reason I feel so good about all this is because I am not following a formula, I am not bored by repetition, I am not on an assembly line cranking out product. I feel like a creator, free to experiment, not needing permission to spend time doing this. The lovely gift of retirement includes rising before daylight on a Monday morning, not having to go to work for someone else, but making coffee and entering the studio to play another day.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz on websiteI 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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A Thinker’s Well-Being

January 5, 2020

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Continued Work on the Dickens, Texas Landscape

. . . they make life harder for themselves than they should. Oh, that at long last you had the courage for once to yield yourselves to your impressions, to let yourselves be delighted, let yourselves be moved, let yourselves be elevated, yes, to let yourselves be taught and inspired and encouraged for something great . . . 

Goethe, conversation with his young secretary Eckermann, May 6, 1827

I didn’t post yesterday, choosing instead to make another sojourn out to Dickens, Texas to enjoy the fabulous barbecue there and then to stroll about the landscape in a nearby roadside park that offered access to a fascinating gorge and waterfall complete with walking trails. While on site, gazing at the fields of tall dead grasses, I recognized immediately that my yellows are too warm and intense than what I actually see during these sunny winter Texas days. Once I got back home, I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not I should neutralize my warm yellows or just let them continue as they are, and try to get the colors right on a future attempt at this landscape. Already I have poured quite a bit of work into this one, and wonder if I dare make such a profound change in its overall look.

Waking this Sunday morning, I chose to spend some quiet time reading and reflecting before resuming the painting. For a few days I have enjoyed the crackling intensity and restlessness of Faust. This time I decided I wanted to read from a quieter spirit. Having worked on the text of Plotinus Enniad I, I had focused all my previous efforts on his thoughts in Book 6 “On Beauty.” This morning I spent about an hour on Book 4 “On Well-Being.” Good choice. The word translated “well-being” is ευδαιμóνια (eudaimonia).

I discovered in this morning’s study that Plotinus, after examining the works of Aristotle and Stoic writers, concluded that “well-being” can be achieved by what we call today a “Life of the Mind.” Plotinus determined that the highest good results from a “life of the Intellect, independent of all outward circumstances and material and emotional satisfactions of our lower nature” (introductory statement from the editor Jeffrey Henderson). As I worked through the Plotinus text and read comments from the editor, I was surprised to find a parallel between Plotinus’s words and those from the Parable of the Sower we read from the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament.

Plotinus argued that the accumulation of material comfort can easily distract one who has the capacity of a life of the mind from actually experiencing this richness. When Jesus mentioned the four types of soils, he referred to the one overrun by thorns and thistles. He said this was indicative of those who wished to seek higher values, but the cares and “distractions” of this age sprung up and choked out the growth of the newly planted crop, thus rendering it unfruitful. I smiled at this for a number of reasons, one of which I’ll mention and then leave alone:

I purchased a book a few days ago, explaining how to incorprate Instagram into one’s business. As readers are aware, I launched a new website recently, and since that day have been studying ways to use social media to raise my profile in the art world. As one who loves to read daily, I have found myself recently struggling to balance this study of business and marketing with my longtime love of classical learning. Today I returned to classical learning, and feel much richer for it. In fact, I am more motivated to paint now than I have been while reading and exploring Instagram. Who would have guessed.

There, I said it. Now I’m ready to return to the painting. Thanks for reading, and yes, please take a look at my website if you haven’t:   www.davidtrippart.com

Shultz on websiteI 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 Out a New Series

May 30, 2019

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Turvey’s Corner 63050 (First in a New Series)

Leaning into the polar winds that snapped through the narrow valley of the sleeping Missouri town, Denzil Tucker emerged from the Terra Lounge bar with his snow shovel. Frigid overnight winds had hardened the drifts across the walkway. As he bent to his task, the piercing cacophonous whistle from the Frisco Railroad F9 diesel signaled its approach to the crossing, half a block from the tavern, and Denzil felt beneath his boots the vibrations of the thundering freight cars as they rolled by.

Turning his head, he looked back up the empty street to regather his thoughts. It was a sixteen-degree December morning in Turvey’s Corner, and his mind was numb to the possibilities of anything memorable happening on this particular day. The Korean Conflict was two years behind him, the 38th parallel over 7,000 miles away. But his first-born son, not yet a year old, was slumbering in a dark bedroom on the second story above, and these thoughts offered him a measure of serenity in the face of the frozen morning. 

*********

My blog has been silent for several weeks, not due to writer’s or painter’s block, but because of days spent in the studio painting and at the desk researching and writing. Since the early 1990’s, I have had this compulsion to paint a series of watercolors illustrating the quintessential American town.  My inspiration has been the literary contributions of Garrison Keillor, Thornton Wilder, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Edgar Lee Masters, William Faulkner and others. In addition to the paintings, I have sought to develop a cast of characters with their own stories, hoping to come up with my own work combining painting and literature. This project has now spanned nearly three decades, with countless paintings done and just as many stories written. Now that I have begun chipping away at my memoir, I have decided to pull together these fragments from years gone by, and contribute new paintings and stories to the growing collection. Back in March, I held my first gallery talk on “Art in Small Town America” and announced to that audience my intentions for this project.

My town is named Turvey’s Corner, and the zip code falls between two Missouri towns that shaped my upbringing–High Ridge 63049 and House Springs 63051. The painting above is taken from a forgotten corner of lower House Springs, where Highway MM intersects with a recently altered old Highway 30. Over the years I have photographed this row of buildings in all seasons of the year and decided this time to focus on one of my winter compositions.

The narrative for this collection of paintings is loosely constructed from my personal life experience, the man shoveling snow above is my father (with a fake name). The Korean conflict is true, and I am the infant sleeping upstairs. The year is 1954. My father was never a tavern owner, but I thought that story would yield more character than his work as a mechanic for St. Louis car dealerships. I’m still fleshing out the details, and deeply enjoying the work as it unfolds.

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.