Posts Tagged ‘art in the park’

Preparing for my First Festival of 2016

April 14, 2016

Still in a basic sense art cannot be taught, and we do not try to. Yet paradoxically it can be learned, in the beginning from other artists, and then from oneself.

Robert Motherwell




Tomorrow I travel to Kennedale, Texas to participate in my first art festival of 2016. I always look forward to setting up in this pretty municipal park. The venue is a small one, but I’ve had a good following of local patrons in the past, and hopefully I can enjoy the same this time around. I have selected eight watercolors to display from my Laguna Madre experience, and this will be the first time they have been shown in my locale.

I’m bone tired as I’ve spent nearly every night of this past week getting my booth furnishings and inventory in order. But I’m glad not to have fallen behind on the details.

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ll get a chance to post during the festival hours.


Preparing for the Final Day of the Art Festival

April 7, 2013
In the Man Cave

In the Man Cave

Art is the inevitable consequence of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of its origin.  The work of art is a result; is the output of a progress in development and stands as a record and marks the degree of development.  It is not an end in itself, but the work indicates the course taken and the progress made. The work is not a finality.  It promises more, and from it projection can be made.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

In the past 48 hours, I have had quality time to reflect about the enterprise of making art.  The crowds and sales have been pretty good, the the conversations and new friends and acquaintances have also been very affirming.  Still, there  has been plenty of space to think, and read.  I love this statement from Henri, and am challenged to think about which direction to evolve toward, next.  I don’t want to “whip out Tripps for the trade.”  My hope is that my curiosity will never be satisfied, that I will never reach a state where I believe I have “arrived.”  I love to look at my watercolors as works in progress, as a pursuit of the sublime.  I have one more day left in the festival.  Then, I will gladly return to the studio and see what comes out next.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday at Art in the Park, Kennedale, Texas

April 6, 2013
Art in the Park

Art in the Park

Tripp's Art Booth

Tripp’s Art Booth

I will be out of the studio for three days, but no complaints.  The weather has been perfect for Art in the Park in Kennedale, Texas.  Crowds have been steady as well as the sales.  I’m pleased to have sold four original watercolors already (I rarely sell originals at festivals, only prints and greeting cards).  The live music has been splendid, and I have met many new friends that I feel will be in my life for years to come.  Festivals are also a great time to renew old friendships, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of former colleagues I haven’t seen since their retirement.

I wish there was more time to blog, but fortunately, there are plenty of patrons continually entering my booth.  So I’ll say Good-Bye now, and thanks so much for reading, for keeping up with me.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Six New Watercolor Greeting Cards for the Festival

April 4, 2013
Lurking Bomber

Lurking Bomber

The ten-year-old boy looked bewildered as his uncle tied the red-and-white bomber onto his pale blue monofilament line.  “Why does it go backwards?”  His uncle paused, took one last deep drag before tossing his Lucky Strike, exhaled, and said “Dunno.  Maybe it’s supposed to look like a crawdad.”  The boy just shook his head, held down the button on his Zebco 202, and tossed the plug into the dark pool, just on the edge of the stand of cattails, and began his slow retrieve.

Darting Heddon Zara Spook

Darting Heddon Zara Spook

The sun rose hot that August day, on the final morning of the boy’s first fishing trip with his cousin.  They rowed the dilapidated dinghy to a quiet, shaded cove on Hunnewell Lake and anchored just on the edge of the brightly-colored lily pads.  The Zebco 202 whirred as he tossed his Heddon Zara Spook to the far edge of the floating foliage and the lure landed with a quiet plop, just six inches from the largest pad.  He began his slow retrieve, and his heart pounded as he saw the slow-moving shadow emerge from beneath the pad, closing on his lure.

Shallow Descent of the Lucky 13

Shallow Descent of the Lucky 13

“Trust me,” said the old man standing and peering over the surface of the lake.  “I’ve been on these waters my whole life.  I know these fish.  Just let that plug lay out there a full minute, till all the ripples are gone  Then jerk your rod to make her plop and go under, and reel as fast as you can for about four or five feet to make her dart back and forth.  That makes the bass mad.”  So he did it.  And sure enough, on the first cast and retrieve, he made a four-pound, nineteen-inch large-mouth bass mad.

Trolling the Tiny Lucky 13

Trolling the Tiny Lucky 13

It made no sense to the boy, tugging on a pair of oars, rowing a John boat across the spacious Hunnewell Lake. His uncle told him this is how trolling works.  “You just cast as far behind the boat as you can, prop your rod-and-reel in the stern, and let the jerking motions of the boat provide the action for the lure.”  No sooner than the uncle spoke those words, the boy let out a gasp as he saw the three-pound large-mouth bass launch from the distant wake of the boat, shaking his head back and forth, the brightly-colored lure flashing next to his gills.

"It's a Dream"

“It’s a Dream”

The Red River stills flows through my home town
Rollin’ and tumblin’ on its way
Swirling around the old bridge pylons
Where a boy fishes the morning away
His bicycle leans on an oak tree
While the cars rumble over his head
An aeroplane leaves a trail in an empty blue sky
And the young birds call out to be fed. 

(text by Neil Young, “It’s a Dream”)

Plein Air Botanical Gardens

Plein Air Botanical Gardens

The aging artist angled his Jeep into the diagonal parking lane at the Gardens.  It was Good Friday, the sun was emerging slowly from leaden, overcast skies, and the Gardens were beginning to come alive with walkers, joggers, photographers, and children at play. Setting up his easel in a stand of pines, the man trained his eye on the bark of one solitary trunk, and considered how he would go about rendering its gnarled portrait against a forest-green field of shaded pine needles.

Today concluded our four days of STARR testing.  As I walked about the room filled with ten students testing, monitoring their work, I composed five new narratives for these new greeting cards coming out at tomorrow’s festival.  It was a good way to spend the walking around time, and helped the day pass.

Time to pack and load.

Thanks for reading.

Festival Starts Tomorrow

April 4, 2013
Newest Watercolors for the Art Festival

Newest Watercolors for the Art Festival

I have had to find an extra gear this afternoon.  First thing in the morning, I will be setting up my tent at a weekend art festival opening at 4:00 tomorrow afternoon (  It will be the annual Art in the Park in Kennedale, Texas.

Unlike Andy Warhol’s Factory, I have a workforce of one in the Cave this afternoon, printing, matting, sleeving, pricing, packaging and loading.  I’m delighted that I managed to create six new watercolors in the past week, and have turned all of them into greeting cards as well.  Now, we just need to hope for a good turnout.  The weather promises to be much better than it was two weekends ago.

Thanks for reading.

Working in the Studio on a Rainy Night, Preparing for Next Festival

April 3, 2013
First of Four, 5 x 7"

First of Four, 5 x 7″

Second of Four. 5 x 7"

Second of Four. 5 x 7″

Third of Four.  5 x 7"

Third of Four. 5 x 7″

Fourth of Four.  5 x 7"

Fourth of Four. 5 x 7″

Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.


It is raining cats and dogs this evening in Texas, possibly on its way to 3 inches.  Temperatures have dropped, requiring a sweatshirt in the Man Cave.  The evening has been productive.  I have finished the four vintage lures (5 x 7″) that I’ve tinkered with the past few days, and am ready to put them into mats and plastic sleeves.  Tomorrow I load all my gear for the next festival, which begins Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday (Art in the Park, Kennedale, Texas).  The weather promises to be glorious this time (I faced a disaster a couple of weekends ago).

My reading recently from Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit has given me much to ponder, and in subsequent blogs I want to share him with you.

A Quick, 5 x 7″ Watercolor Sketch of a Vintage Fishing Lure

March 31, 2013
5 x 7" Watercolor Sketch of Bomber

5 x 7″ Watercolor Sketch of Bomber

As I come to the close of a satisfying Easter holiday, I reflect on the festive atmosphere I was invited to share with some beautiful friends in north Arlington.  Marvelous friendships were formed, thanks to a remarkable student I was privileged to have in my class back in 1989, my second year of teaching.  How fulfilling to see her again, with her family, her parents, and a large circle of friends and colleagues.

Before returning to school in the morning, I wanted to try and finish this 5 x 7″ sketch I started this morning in the Cave before attending the north Arlington Easter brunch.

I like the watercolor effect of these vintage lures better on a dark background.  Until now, I had always placed them on a white field.  I think in the days ahead (before next weekend’s Art in the Park festival I may try a few more of these smaller watercolor compositions.

Thanks for reading.

I Would Rather Be Fly Fishing

April 5, 2012

I Would Rather Be Fly Fishing

Again, I admit a blog hiatus.  After last weekend’s three-day art festival, I was exhausted, returning to school at 7:35 the next morning, still ill from the allergy symptoms suffered last week, and totally run-down. I’ve spent most of this week in school and in bed, with little in between.

Two days ago, tornadoes destroyed over 400 homes in my city, coming within 1/4 mile of my house.  Surrounded by destruction, and looking at the faces of many of my students who have lost their homes, I’m devastated at this turn of fortune.  There is no describing the loss that I see all around me now.  There is so much pain.

I think I have finished this watercolor sketch that I began while in my booth at the last festival (Kennedale’s Art in the Park).  While my Art I students are finishing an assignment before sailing into the three-day weekend, I’ve been at my desk fiddling with it.  I changed the color of my shirt in order to make me stick out a little more.  Also I darkened and salted the water more for contrast and drybrushed lightly more weeds about my feet and landing net.  More tree foliage needed to be drybrushed as well.  I think I have done about all I can.  The setting of this sketch is Troublesome Creek, northwest of Denver, and east of the town of Kremmling.  The creek flows into the Colorado River.  Trophy trout cruise those waters, and I have pulled out dozens of them–rainbows, brookies, cutthroats and browns.  I even hit a grandslam the last time I visited there (all four species caught in the same day).

Soon, I hope to pursue a series of watercolors on the fly fishing theme.  I have dozens and dozens of digital photos on file that I have taken over the years during my own excursions to Colorado, north Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in search of trout.  I am looking over a museum catalog I purchased on Winslow Homer’s fly fishing watercolors.  I attended that show when it came to Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, and saw another major retrospective of his watercolors at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years ago.  I need to  devote more time to studying his techniques.

I miss Colorado so much that I ache.  It has been two summers since I last enjoyed those mountain streams and the thrill of painting the front range.  I wish to God I could get there this summer, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Tomorrow I will visit Malakoff, Texas for the first time and experiment with some plein air painting.  I am thrilled to have been invited to teach a two-day workshop there next Thursday and Friday.  I’m going there tomorrow to “scout” the town so I can know in advance what kind of landmarks my workshop participants can sketch in watercolor.  I really hope to meet some of the participants tomorrow when I get there.

Though I have been under the weather for a considerable time (and doing very little blogging) I have been immersed in the writings of Paul Gauguin (The Writings of a Savage).  I don’t have the itch to go to Tahiti, but I would love to adopt his “savage” lifestyle in the mountains of Colorado, if only I could go there for awhile.  I have no foolish ideas about living off the land and the trout I catch–I would be satisfied with canned goods.  But I would love to study the color and light there, the mountains, rock formations, streams and Aspens.  I really need to find new directions in my work.  I hate it when I feel that I am doing “hack” work, whipping out watercolors for the trade.  I’m only happy when I’m a student of this craft, always learning new things.

Thanks for reading.


Final Day of Kennedale’s Art in the Park

April 1, 2012

Kennedale final day of festival

The Texas sun is brutal today.  I’ll be glad when this show finally closes at 5:00.  I regret that my 7:35 class in the morning will be coming on early and fast.

This festival has been slower than others.  It has provided quality, quiet, isolated time for me to kick out a pair of watercolor sketches, posted yesterday.  I have also taken advantage of reading time.  In our A. P. Art History class, we are working through the 19th century.  I have been captivated for years by the work and the  mind of Eugene Delacroix, a Romantic painter from France.  During this festival, I have opened and read for the first time from his Journal, and have been amazed at his observations.

On April 13, 1853, he recorded this:  One always has to spoil a picture a little bit, in order to finish it.  The last touches, which are given to bring about harmony among the parts, take away from the freshness.  In order to appear before the public one has to cut away all the happy negligences which are the passion of the artist.

I have wrestled with that reality my entire artistic life.  I could not begin to count the number of my watercolors that, to me, were better while in progress than when completed and signed.  The vignette look, with all the empty space surrounding the composition, is something I lifted from the Andrew Wyeth drybrush renderings that I admired since I was a dreamy high school student.  Yet, I have to force myself to stop before I get to the perimeter of my compositions.  I still have not mustered the courage to pause, reflect, evaluate over the days, then just sigh, and say: “I’m calling this one finished.”

I’m looking forward to gleaning more from Delacroix.

Thanks for reading.

Troublesome Creek Fly Fishing–2nd Watercolor Attempt

March 31, 2012

Troublesome Creek Fly Fishing, #2

I am nearing the end of day two of Art in the Park.  The sun just dropped  beneath the horizon, so I can no longer tinker with this watercolor.  But I am more enthused with the way it’s developing than the first that I did earlier today.  I am enjoying the effects of the salt in the water and foliage, and I like how the masquepen worked on the tree limbs and trunks.  I would have liked to have devoted more time to the fly fisherman, but, as I said, it’s darkened now, and I dare not try to watercolor under dim evening light.

I’m exhausted by two consecutive weekend festivals.  I supposed I’ve gotten too old to keep up the pace.  My allergies are a little better, but I’m still not at 100%.  But it feels good to be fiddling with watercolor again, and I do enjoy the festival atmosphere.  Tomorrow we’ll close at 5:00.

Thanks always for reading.