Posts Tagged ‘Americana’

Late Night Experiments in the Studio

January 3, 2015
Laying Down the First Washes Late at Night

Laying Down the First Washes Late at Night

As the rain continues to drench north central Texas, I find myself enjoying the quiet of the studio, save for the pelting of the rain against the garage door. After spending considerable time drawing and re-drawing the composition of galvanized pail, apples and screen door, I then worked on the tedious task of screen wire texture by dragging a masquepen along a straightedge propped above the paper with erasers, first vertically, then horizontally after the vertical strokes had time to dry.  Drying time for the masquing took a long time tonight with the humidity factor present in the cold, damp garage.  Once the fluid was dry to the touch, I mixed a stew of Winsor Green, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Red, Cadmium Red Medium, Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow to create the warm dark wash I then flooded over the masqued screen wire.  Next, I added Permanent Rose to the stew I had mixed and laid in the shadow beneath the pail. Finally, I mixed Cadmium Orange into the existing stew to create the inside rusted tone of the pail.  All this work turned my paper surface into a lake, so I realized I would not be able to continue work on this until morning.  Before I turned out the lights in the garage, I noticed to my astonishment a very unusual separation of warm and cool colors taking place in the shadow beneath the pail. Working for only my second time on hot-pressed paper, I’m finding all kinds of surprises on the surface of this paper.  The experiments are proving to be very interesting, early in this compositional study.

For years, I’ve lacked the guts to pursue still life in watercolor, though I gazed worshipfully at the drybrush renderings of arcane objects in the Andrew Wyeth ouevre.  A couple of winters ago, I took a stab at a couple of large still lifes, and since then have tried my hand at a few more.  I cannot describe my feelings when I contemplate these objects, each with its own history, its own plethora of memories.  Though I’m trying to learn the technical means to render them on paper, I just cannot stop gazing at them and thinking of what they’ve contributed to our lives.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never really alone.

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The Gift

November 5, 2014
Quick Watercolor Sketch Among Friends

Quick Watercolor Sketch Among Friends

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.

Carl Sandburg

After days of continuous teaching and grading, I determined to lay the papers aside and take only my art supplies to the Trinity Arts Guild this evening where it is my Wednesday night custom to “gallery sit” as a volunteer.  Over the past few months of Wednesday nights I have experienced only one evening in the company of another artist.  Expecting to be alone tonight, I nevertheless was determined not to grade papers, but to practice some watercolor still life sketching.  Just as I was getting out my supplies, another artist appeared.  Then another.  Then another.  The next thing I knew, a merry quartet of kindred spirits had gatthered to make art, talk, laugh, and have the time of their lives.  I could only think of the warmth I’ve always known from the Carl Sandburg quote about how a poem can elicit that feeling of “the opening and closing of a door.”  After three hours, the moment passed and the open door closed once again, but I will never forget this night and the words exchanged among friends who live for these moments of relaxing and making art.  I couldn’t have planned a better, more perfect evening if I’d tried.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Soothing, Late-Night Afterglow

October 6, 2014
Awarded "Best in Show" at Trinity Arts Guild

Awarded “Best in Show” at Trinity Arts Guild

We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores, and obligations.  I’m not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that.

Toni Morrison

Wow, Toni, you certainly hit that one between the eyes.  For years I have languished beneath that shadow, blaming my daily job for restricting my output of artwork.  Several years ago I decided to stop using my job as an excuse, and occasionally have cranked out over a hundred watercolors per year (yes, some of them small, some of them sketches, but still over a hundred watercolors worthy of matting and shrinkwrapping).

Two winters ago, I devoted some quality evening and weekend hours to assembling large still lifes in my garage (man cave). I took the dare and painted two 28 x 22″ still lifes in watercolor, then ponied up the money to have them custom framed and matted.  One them just won Best in Show tonight at the fall juried show of the Trinity Arts Guild in Bedford, Texas.  I’m pleased that the painting got the attention of a judge, and received some recognition tonight.  Following is a short story I wrote, inspired by this particular watercolor, and now displayed on the back of a 5 x 7″ greeting card that I package and sell at my art festivals:

He’s No Longer Here

When the neighbors hammered the padlock off the deceased man’s fishing shed, they peered inside the darkened room with sadness at the world of memories their dear friend had left behind.  Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dikes, waiting for catfish that would find their way to the Griswold skillet.  The Canada Dry crate served as the old fisherman’s stool for the nightlong vigils.

Bass fishing featured the Garcia Mitchell open-faced reel and the vintage wooden plugs for the area lakes and ponds.  In his retirement years, fly fishing took over, and the old man delighted in the long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would not be heard from for weeks at a time.. The battered suitcase was his lifelong road companion, as was the dark leather knapsack that he bought from an old leathershop on the dusty streets of Athens during his European excursions. 

The old man had not been heard from for more than a week, and the inquiring neighbors were saddened to enter his home and find him in his final resting place—his favorite recliner in the small front room of his ramshackle house.  His cup was still half-filled with the Dining Car Coffee he relished throughout his years working on the Frisco railroad.  Now, only his possessions remained to tell his life’s story.

Thanks for reading.  This has been a good night.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

2nd Watercolor Pencil Sketch of Church Tower

September 22, 2011

Methodist Church Tower 2

This is my second quick watercolor pencil sketch of the Provincetown Methodist Church, using as a model a watercolor Edward Hopper executed in 1930.  As yesterday, I attempted this one in a matter of minutes, with Art I classes buzzing about me.  The students were good, but it was hard to focus on this, when my real responsibility was to direct the students and “be there” for assistance in whatever way necessary.  Still, I enjoyed the stolen moments of playing with Prismacolor watercolor pencils and exploring their qualities.

The weekend is approaching.  I have no hard-set plans, so perhaps some quality time will yield itself for further study and exploration.  The Texas temperatures are cooling, and that means more opportunity for plein air activity.  I’m looking forward to that.  My next art festival is about nine days away, so I have a little time to make art.

Thanks for reading.

Musings at a Fine Arts Festival, Grapefest 2011

September 17, 2011

David Tripp's art booth at Grapefest 2011

As I write this, I’m nearing the close of the third night of a four-day art festival.  This is a first for me, and I must say the thirteen-hour days are taxing.  I’m quite numbed by all of it, though sales this evening have been brisk.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has been a sublime companion these past few days, while seated in the booth during slow periods.  His essay “Experience” somehow has escaped me over the years.  I know I have read it at least twice, but tonight it has really stirred me artistically.  I’m going to cite a passage from his essay that threw my personal philosophy of painting into bold relief:   “Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. . . . Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung.”

I had to close the book and take a deep breath, I was so rocked.  I call my company Recollections 54 because it marks my birth year, and the objects in my present day-to-day landscape which hold me are the ones that conjure up memories of my childhood in the late 1950’s.  As Proust has consistently recorded in his literary masterpiece, our senses take us back to childhood memories that are worth remembering.

The beauty of today was grounded in shared experiences as patrons viewed and purchased my watercolor compositions, and shared their memories with me.

Thank you for reading.

Lingering Ghosts of Sundance Square

September 8, 2011

Lingering Ghosts of Sundance Square

Marcel Proust reminds us in his Remembrance of Things Past that the mere sight, sound or smell of something has the power to transport us back to primal memories from our childhood that fill us with warmth and gratitude.  These are the kinds of subjects I attempt to capture in watercolor for my company that I have named Recollections 54 (http://www.recollections54.com).  This past summer, while cruising Sundance Square one morning, I saw how the sun washed the yellow, blue and red facades of the Red Goose Shoe store and what used to be the Sundance 11 theater.  Though saddened by the demise of these companies, I felt at the same time a gratitude for the memories that flooded my being.  Having grown up in St. Louis, I watched the Red Goose Shoes commercials on children’s television and fantasized about the golden eggs filled with prizes available with the purchase of a pair of shoes.  I also recall the abundance of art deco theaters that I frequented in the greater St. Louis area during those early years.  Now they are mostly gone.  When I encounter sights such as these, I linger in the moment, feeling that profound sense of loss, but also an exhilarating presence.  The memories matter, and they leave me with a comfort too profound for words.

Thank you for reading.  My One-Man Show opens Saturday night from 5:00-9:00 at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery, 3126 Handley Drive, Fort Worth 76112.  I would love to see you there.  Currently, we have about forty watercolors at the location, ready for showtime.

Rhapsodizing over Red Goose Shoes and Sundance 11 Theater Downtown

September 6, 2011

Downtown Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

Downtown Fort Worth still affords plenty of memories for the romantic who looks for remembrances of yesterday.  Over the Labor Day weekend, while perusing photographs I took of Sundance Square on a quiet weekday morning back in July, I decided to attempt a watercolor of this viewpoint of Red Goose Shoes and what used to be the Sundance 11 theater.  Though both businesses are now defunct, it is nice to see the building facades still intact, and still sporting nice color schemes from yesteryear.  It is getting harder to find yesterday’s relics, as buildings decay and face demolition.  I wonder how long downtown Fort Worth will retain this “look” I’ve come to enjoy so much.

Today was a lousy school day–four classes in four different classrooms on two floors.  Nevertheless, I took this painting to school with me, and spent plenty of time looking at it during breaks in the classroom action, and actually got to “poke” at it every now and then.  I hope to have it finished within the next two days.  My One-Man Show opens Saturday night.  I never intended for this piece to be in the show, as there are about forty works ready for display.  Nevertheless, if this one turns out O.K., it would be nice to add it as well, since the show is featured in a Fort Worth gallery (Weiler House Fine Art Gallery http://www.weilerhousefineart.com).

With the Arlington Independent School District deciding to dump an extra class on every high school teacher, I’m fighting extra hard to extract quality painting time from this disastrous work schedule.  Every other day involves teaching four 90-minute classes with no conference planning period.  Nevertheless, I’m committed to painting and blogging, and will do my best to continue creating art at the rate of past years.  Following my One-Man Show will be five art festivals, so the season is beginning to heat up.  I’m ready and motivated.

Thanks for reading.

Nearing Completion of Route 66 Zephyr Gas Station

August 15, 2011

Villa Ridge, Missouri Zephyr Gas Station along Historic Route 66

The fourth day on this work sees it nearing completion.  I had to re-draw the gas pump to align it parallel with the station.  The distant lamp post was in the wrong place and no proportioned to the rest of the composition, so I am eliminating it.  most of today was spent trying to separate the graveled parking lot from the puddles.  I still have grasses to render, poking up through the puddles as well.  The center of the parking area also needs to be tended.  But I think the end is finally in sight.  If I don’t complete it tonight, then I’m quite sure I can sign off on it before tomorrow is over.  This has been a rewarding experience.  Painting water reflections has been a trial for me, but I’m sure I’ll attempt it again some day.

Thanks for reading.

Defunct Route 66 Gas Station after a Hard Rain

August 14, 2011

Abandoned Route 66 Zephyr Station after the Rain

The painting is slowing down, now that I’m nearing the end of my third day.  Painting water reflections is completely new territory for me, and I spend more time studying the reference photos, applying masquing fluid to the paper and mixing pigments than actual painting.  But I am enjoying the process, and today is the first time I’ve felt “lost” in the painting, in a good sense.  School begins tomorrow for me, but I’ll continue with the painting daily until it’s finished, hopefully before this next week runs its course.   Tonight before retiring to bed, I hope to enrich further the shadows in the water reflections and attempt to render the grasses sticking up out of this enormous parking lot swamp.  For any of you reading this for the first time, the location of this station is Villa Ridge, Missouri, on Route 66 southwest of St. Louis.  Currently the station is at county road AT, about a mile off Interstate 44.   I saw it for the first time in the summer of 2010 and did two plein air watercolor sketches, one of the end of this building, and the other of a rusted-out, foliage-covered billboard advertising Zephyr detergent gasoline.

Thanks for reading.

A Route 66 Monument to Yesterday’s Travel and Commerce

August 13, 2011

Villa Ridge, Missouri Zephyr on Historic Route 66

Today marks my second day working on this 22 x 28″ watercolor of the Villa Ridge, Missouri Zephyr station along historic Route 66.  I have researched and found the lights and gas pumps that once stood on this location.  They are absent now.  I’m also trying to restore some of the details of this Quonset hut filling station that are now out of sight behind plywood panels.  The Zephyr gas sign is my own idea–I have no idea where the logo originally hung.

Last week when I visited this location for the second time, hard rains had fallen, and the enormous puddles in the foreground reflected the derelict structure.  I’m going to attempt the reflections once I get to the bottom portion of this composition.  So far, it has been slow to emerge, but I will hopefully chip away at it on a daily basis, and not allow school next week to interrupt my flow.

The paradox of “loss” and “presence” flooded me when I stood in the presence of this structure last week, in the moist air, and listened, recalling the sounds of bell cables being run over by cars entering and exiting the busy Route 66 station.  I recalled the smell of grease, dirty tires and of course, that ever-present gasoline scent that I loved to inhale as a child!  I still remember attendants emerging from the building, wiping their hands on red shop towels as they approached cars cars pulling into the bay.  How long has it been since full-service ended?  I’m still trying to remember the first time I pumped my own gasoline when I pulled into a station.  I suppose it was around 1973.  At any rate, last week, I felt the loss as I stood in this vacant space, waiting in silence, and then I felt the presence of the past.   I hope I can put some of that into this painting.  I laugh when I read of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth chafing every time a critic called them illustrators.  I go through that every time I do a painting of this type of subject–my soul is flooded with feelings and emotion, and yet I realize that I do not know how to paint “mood”–all I can do is illustrate what I see, and hope that somehow the “mood” emerges when a viewer looks at my work.

Thanks for reading.