Posts Tagged ‘bison’

Working on a New Story

May 29, 2022
Watercolor Sketchbook exercise

For days now, stories have been blistering up in my imagination to add to the book I’ve been working on these recent years. I’m thinking about adding a third character to the Hank and Randy saga. Not sure of his name yet, but for now he is Sonny . . .

Sonny was in a rage this morning. Standing at the bandsaw in the maintenance shed of POCO Graphite, his blood pressure continued to surge. It wasn’t spurred by any particular incident of this day or the day before; he had merely reached the end of his rope in this careerless job that was making his graduate education possible. His Bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University was funded by his parents’ blue-collar support, and he knew that they expected more from him than landing a mere teacher’s position in a public school. So he had made the pledge to pursue a Masters of Fine Art degree in North Texas, which was going to be expensive. To support this effort, he hired in as a maintenance helper at this industrial plant, and was now in the midst of training as a welder.

As a budding artist, Sonny had hoped that acquiring metalworking skills would help him find his niche in the art world, but it wasn’t happening. Instead, every day found him standing at the bandsaw, cutting stainless steel two-by-four channel iron at forty-five-degree cuts, each one requiring forty minutes of standing and staring at the saw in case something happened–the blade binding or snapping, or the piece of stainless steel shifting under the grip of the vises holding it in position on the cutting surface. Boring. As Sonny stood there, he found himself sketching the images of bison with soapstone on the cutting table as he watched the saw grinding away. Every night after supper, he wearily sat at his apartment dining room table and sketched in watercolor herds of bison that he hoped he would one day see if he ever fulfilled his lifelong ambition to visit Wyoming or Utah, or any state preserving bison herds.

New Creations

March 28, 2022
Colorful Bison. Watercolor 11 x 14″ frame. $100

Perhaps I am more than usually jealous of my freedom. I feel that my connections with and obligations to society are at present very slight and transient.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry, January 10, 1851

This morning’s reading from the Journals of Thoreau yielded timely food for thought, for me. I have decided that this semester is my “last rodeo” with the university. The adjunct contracts began in 1985, and I feel that that is long enough. I ended my high school tenure in 2017, after 28 years, but continued to sign university contracts. But now is a good time to bring the series to an end; there are other flowers I’d like to water, with whatever time I have left on this journey.

I have always been a fan of Thoreau’s schedule, but not a participant; I have managed to work in the public for more than three decades, and now I think that the Thursday-Saturday gallery work in Palestine suffices, giving me Sunday through Wednesday to do as I please, when I please. And I’m sure that there will be times we will choose to remain in Palestine for a full week, not having to return to Fort Worth to teach college classes.

Ghost Ranch. Watercolor 8 x 10″ frame. $75

Meanwhile I’m still cranking out art to frame and put on the market. I have Artscape 2022 at the Dallas Arboretum coming up April 29-May 1.

Thanks for reading.

Call Me Knish

February 13, 2022
Studio Eidolons
Joey Knish is a New York legend.

            He's been a rounder, earning his living at cards...

from the motion picture "Rounders"

I am not a poker player. but I love good movies about the card-playing lifestyle, and I have watched none better than "Rounders". John Turturro plays the role of Joey Knish, modeled after poker legend Joel "Bagels" Rosenberg, center of the New York poker world who died in 2014 at age 58. 

Joey Knish is labeled as a "grinder", making money by playing poker his entire life, never getting rich, but grinding it out through his many connections rather than gunning for the big score at some high-stakes poker tournament. 

I consider myself I grinder in the art circle. For twenty years I have managed to cobble together a plethora of revenue streams: galleries, art festivals, workshops, public demonstrations, private art lessons and commissions. The last seventeen years of my school teaching tenure were indeed grinding years, as I determined to carve out some kind of niche for myself in the art world. Working the art circuit in additon to teaching high school fulltime and college part-time indeed sharpened my consciousness of what it means to grind. 

In the movie "Rounders", Joey Knish is a mentor to other poker players trying to find their way, offering wise counsel on how to protect their winnings and how not to throw away their hard-earned money. And I like to consider myself a mentor to other artists seeking a path into the art world. I have no secrets and plenty of advice. Above all, I know to warn others about costly mistakes I've made over the years.

Life is no longer the same kind of grind as before. I'm happy to be retired and on a teacher's pension, and happier now to own a gallery where I feel I have a showroom for my art beyond my private home. Sandi and I divide our time weekly between our home where my studio remains and The Gallery at Redlands where we also have a residence to rent in The Redlands Hotel above the gallery. Teaching only six hours at the university is nowhere near the grind that I knew in fulltime high school teaching, so life is quieter now and deadlines are not as crushing. 

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I have zero interest in the two teams playing for the trophy. With splendid light flooding Studio Eidolons, I am happy to divide my time between working on a pair of watercolors and finishing up my college obligations for tomorrow's class.
Working on the Chuck Wagon
The Lone Bison
Paddington, my Studio Companion

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.

Musing over Cave Art

February 5, 2022
5 x 7″ watercolor sketch. $100 matted

I am posting yesterday’s watercolor sketch with no changes. Looking at it repeatedly throughout today, I have decided to sign off on it, leaving it to look more like a primitive cave wall rendering. That was not my original plan. But over the years I have destroyed so many promising starts to watercolors by carrying them through to their preconceived destinies, overworking and ultimately killing them. I have decided I want this one to live. I think it is fresher as is. I can always begin another one and carry it to the conclusion I had planned for this one.

The rest of this Saturday was given over to grading the responses of my Humanities online class. I had thought that I would breeze through this process in 30 minutes, and I could have. But the responses were by far the best overall class contribution I have experienced in over 30 years of teaching. I read and re-read each submission and wrote extensive comments back to each student, and continually stopping to scribble out ideas in my personal journal. I then sent out an email to the class that I meant from the heart:

Humanities students,

Today I will introduce our next Discussion Board topic, an article from Immanuel Kant. Since the day is already well underway, I will make the deadline for this new assignment Sunday instead of next Saturday, giving you a little more than a week to complete.

What I am about to say is genuine. Teaching since 1985, I have never encountered a university class dialogue as rich as the one just completed. Seriously. I posted comments on the grade page of every single one of you because I wanted the comments to be private with you instead of read on the threads by everyone. I have never witnessed such a start to a university (or high school) course. And I pray it will continue. Immanuel Kant was a great mind and the article I assign will be shorter than Bruni’s but it may require more studied concentration. But it will be worth it, and I believe will dovetail nicely with what Bruni has started in us. 

I don’t say this lightly–no class before you has responded to the Bruni article with the maturity and interest that you provided. For that I thank you from the heart. For over ten years now, I’ve wondered whether or not I was teaching my final semester. And with that wonder came the question of whether or not the class would leave a meaningful memory. Well . . . based on what just happened, I almost wish that there would not be a semester after this one! Hours ago, I thought I would blow through this discussion grading in less than half an hour. As it turned out, I spent over 3 1/2 hours, because I could not stop pausing, re-reading, getting out my personal journal and scribbling insights and responses you offered, and then writing notes to all of you. What you have here is very special, a genuine university-level dialogue, a community of scholars, an artists’ cafe. You have so much to learn from each other as well as the great minds we will be studying. I truly anticipate a great semester of Humanities study together with you, thank you for such a beginning.

Sincerely,

David Tripp

Thank you for reading.

Sunday Repose

June 13, 2021

All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.

Thomas Carlyle

What a serene Sunday! Dragging in at 11:30 last night after a 48-hour gallery weekend, I was quite bedraggled, but happy. Happier now, rested! My reading this morning over coffee yielded this remark from Carlyle that I had recorded 15 years ago in my journal, and forgotten (I really should spend more time digging up the old bones I’ve buried in those notebooks since 1985). I cannot exaggerate the power of books to light creative fires for me. When I’m feeling flat, someone will always pull me out of the funk with what s/he cared enough to write for others to find. I still love the quote from the film Shadowlands: “We read to know we’re not alone.”

I have decided today to push further with this “Lone Bison” series. It began in Utah last September when I encountered a herd and took dozens of photos. Not long after, I used the photos as models and began drawing and watercoloring in sketchbooks my experiments with color and composition. I am becoming more daring with my colors of late and want to see how far I can push it.

When it comes to selling my art, I often find myself talking out both sides of my mouth: I’ll sell anything. However, there are particular pieces that I’m attached to for various reasons, and while in my possession, I spend time looking at them and contemplating how I can repeat the painting or extend it into a new direction. When a new work sells quickly, I’m robbed of that contemplative, composting time that has come to mean so much more in these later years.

Case in point: The Lone Bison. Last weekend I pulled from my collection at home a solitary bison, 5 x 7″ inches, that I painted as a demo for one of my “Watercolor Wednesdays” classes. I liked the way it cropped neatly into a 5 x 7″ inch matt, so I framed it and set it on the display case in The Gallery at Redlands. That very evening, someone bought it. So . . . all week long I could not stop thinking of that small watercolor study. Yesterday, in the gallery, I painted another one, using the same model as before. Before I could get it into the frame, a dear friend I’ve known since high school texted me that he wanted to purchase it. So . . . in the evening, I painted a third one, matted and framed it, but left it in the gallery in case someone just might see it this next week and wish to purchase it. So now here I am, at home in Studio Eidolons, thinking of all the possibilities I want to pursue with that solitary bison. We’ll see what happens today. I’m grateful for the time, the space, and the quiet.

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.

Thoughts on the Lone Bison

June 12, 2021

Today we are searching for things in nature that are hidden behind the veil of appearance… We look for and paint this inner, spiritual side of nature.

Franz Marc

Vacationing in Utah last year brought me in close proximity to a herd of bison. I was moved profoundly as I gazed upon those behemoths grazing quietly on a broad plain, continually kicking up dust as they moved about. I attempted a pair of watercolors of them and was satisfied with the results. However, I found myself far more engaged as I continued sketching them in my watercolor sketchbooks and even once taught a watercolor class on bison sketching. This morning, waking in The Redlands Hotel, I determined that after breakfast I would make my way to the gallery downstairs and attempt yet another bison watercolor sketch, just a simple 5 x 7″ one.

In my most recent bison experiments, I am trying to open up and use Daniel Smith quinacridone colors more aggressively. This morning as I attempted my latest one, I thought about Franz Marc, the German Expressionist who founded the Blue Rider movement (Der Blaue Reiter), something that started as a published journal and eventually drew about it a circle of artists including Wasily Kandinsky. Marc imposed a vivid array of colors on the animals he painted, and I’ve never been able to get those images out of my head. So I decided “Why not try this on the bison?”

I’ve decided to mat this 5 x 7″ piece and place it in an 8 x 10″ frame and price it at $100 in The Gallery at Redlands. While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and post the other two already hanging in this space.

Utah Evening Serenity, 21 x 20″ framed watercolor. $450

Bison Herd in Utah, 23 x 31″ framed watercolor. $600

The Lone Bison, 8 x 10″ framed watercolor. $100

Saturday in The Gallery at Redlands is proving calm and productive for me. I’ll be here till we close at 9 tonight.

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.

Resolution and Revolution

January 1, 2021
Cozy New Year on a 28-degree Morning

As they step into the same rivers, different waters flow upon them.

Heraclitus

For as long as I can remember, I have savored waking early in the morning on New Year’s Day. I have heard the sentiments repeatedly, that January 1 is an arbitrary beginning point, that our lives are linear rather than cyclical, and New Year’s resolutions are a farce. I understand that mindset, and could choose to adopt it as my own, if I wished. But I don’t wish. Heraclitus stated it well–it may be the same river we step into, but the waters are different. And I anticipate 2021 not to be a repeat of 2020. As for myself, I don’t plan to continue any kind of routine that feels like a dead routine.

For a few weeks now, I have drafted and edited resolutions, as I feel that compulsion to resolve some important matters in my personal life. And the resolution is felt more strongly when the New Year comes around. I also am fond of the idea of revolution. From my perspective, life is cyclical; not only do we revolve, but our society revolves. And I am more than ready to see my personal life, as well as the culture that surrounds me, revolve. Progress demands another turn of the wheel, another turn of the page.

Possibly finished with this #2 Bison Painting

One matter I have resolved is not only to become more prolific in making art, but to return to abandoned works to see if they can be completed. Yesterday and today, I took out a pair of bison compositions that had been tossed aside, and am now working to finish them. While lingering over the paintings, all the warm memories from that September evening in Utah washed over me. The sun was about to set. For the first time in three days as I drove past this ranch outside of Zion National Park, there were no tourists lined up at the fence. I scrambled out of the truck, crossed the pasture, and, lingering at the fence, took at least thirty photos with my phone of this bison herd. A cloud of dust hung about them (that I still cannot seem to capture in watercolor, but I’ll keep trying!), the cool winds stirred the tall grasses, and I felt for a few moments that the world had reached a stage of perfection. Moments before taking this picture, the cow and calf faced me directly, and walked toward me directly, then turned and entered the pond for a drink. I’m still contemplating the photo of them facing me, wondering if that could produce a decent watercolor.

On this first day of 2021, I wish all my readers a life filled with wonder and love going forward. And I wish for any of you seeking resolution and revolution that you are successful in pursuing them.

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.

Quiet of the Morning

November 12, 2020

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow.

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

I am out of the studio all day today as window installers are working in there and three other rooms of our house. I have posted above the second bison painting as I left it late last night. Until I return to it, I’ll let the words of T. S. Eliot seep into my consciousness and ponder just exactly how I wish to finish up the watercolor.

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.

Returning to Work on the Bison

November 8, 2020
Resuming One of my Bison Watercolors

Having put the Fort Worth Flatiron watercolor to bed, I’m glad to return to one of my bison compositions taken from a visit to Zion National Park back in September. Before painting, I engaged in my morning ritual of reading over coffee and then moved to Studio Eidolons to write in my journal for awhile, but found the move difficult.

Meet our new additon to the family, Paddington, a rat terrier we adopted when he was five days old, but couldn’t acquire till a few weeks ago, once he had all his shots. It’s been a joy having him in our household, though a few days ago he has become more “clingy.”

Hard to Journal with a Rat Terrier in your lap

I found writing difficult and didn’t have the heart to push him off my lap. I figured that soon enough he would decided to do something else, which he did.

Preparing to Nap next to my Foot

Jumping down, he began looking for a comfy spot between my foot and his baby lamb . . .

. . . but after my third trip back to the kitchen for a coffee refill, he apparently decided he would sleep better in his bed beneath the drafting table. All is well, and I am ready to return to the painting . . .

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.

Return to Studio Eidolon, but Remembering Bryce Canyon

September 18, 2020

Such is the effort of creation that goes into the work of art! Such was the agonising effort he had to make, the blood and tears it cost him to create living flesh to produce the breath of life! Everlastingly struggling with the Real and being repeatedly conquered like Jacob fighting with the Angel!

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Most readers are convinced that Zola was describing the anxieties of painter Paul Cezanne when he wrote this novel. I am enjoying the reading of this and will be sorry when the story ends. I certainly know those artistic anxieties, more from my past than my present. I find it hard to explain, but am convinced that in my later years I am more preoccupied with art theory, yet less upset with perceived shortcomings or failures; I just love the process of creating.

We are safely back home after vacationing in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. On our third day home, I am still lost in daydreams and recollections of what we experienced. My last blog recounted the day’s adventures at Zion National Park, but I have yet to record the events of the following day, in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sandi decided to participate in a ride down to the floor of the canyon. After we parted ways at the corral, I hiked to the rim of the canyon, then circled round till I found the horse trail that I knew the party would take. Once they arrived, I managed to shoot plenty of photos as they trooped by, and my favorite is this one of Sandi on a handsome mule named Clyde.

Once the riding party was out of site, I commenced working from my plein air easel, and was astonished at the violence of the winds blasting across the top of the canyon. My clip for holding open my sketchbook was attached to my journal in the truck parked far away, so I attempted to sketch in watercolor the site below with my right hand, and used my entire leftt arm to hold the book open, my open hand resting on the brushes trying to blow out of the tray and into the canyon below.

As I worked, fighting against the wind trying to blow my supplies away, a gentle Asian soul approached me and, watching calmly with great interest, began asking questions of what I was doing. I always love visiting with people when I am out painting, and this was no exception. However, being distracted by the blowing winds, I was not aware that the gentleman actually was filming me with the intention of posting on social media. Had I known that, perhaps I would have shown more composure and lest distractedness. He indeed asked permission to film, but I honestly thought the howling wind was discouraging his efforts, and was under the impression that he gave up, though he stayed and visited with me awhile and took my business card, thanking me for my time. I soon forgot about the encounter, as I visited with over a dozen people during that brief stretch of attempted painting.

Late last night, while I was home, the gentleman’s kind email arrived, with the YouTube link, and I gladly post it for you now with the disclaimer that his camera work was much more composed than I!

After painting awhile (or trying to!), I returned to the truck and let our dog Patches out for a stroll. Then I set up his portable pen under the shade of the evergreens, and had intended to spend about half an hour with him before putting him back into the truck and returning to the canyon to paint. But he was so darned affectionate, choosing to jump into my lap and remain rather than lie on his blanket in the pen. So . . . I waited for Sandi to return from her ride before packing my gear back to the canyon for round two.

Here are the two sketches I attempted in the raging winds atop Bryce Canyon.

My biggest adjustment returning to Arlington, Texas has been the temperatures. As I write this, we are sitting this afternoon at 88 degrees with intolerable humidity. On the morning of our return, it was 50 degrees in Albuquerque. Stepping outside in this Texas weather now makes me wish for the 34 degrees and foot-deep snow I enjoyed last week in Colorado!

As I continue to look over photos and sketches from our trip, I took my first shot today at sketching a bison I photographed outside Zion National Park.

I haven’t yet decided on my next major project, but anticipate that something will happen soon. For the time being, Sandi and I are going to re-visit the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth-a site we haven’t seen in way too many months.

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.