Posts Tagged ‘David Tripp artist’

Saturday Morning Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

January 16, 2021

Heraclitus attracts exegetes as an empty jampot wasps; and each new wasp discerns traces of his own favorite flavor.

Jonathan Barnes, Presocratics

Good morning from the sunny Gallery at Redlands! Every time I come back here, I am warmed by greetings from friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and last evening in the Gallery was no exception. This morning’s reading from the fragments of Heraclitus (2500 years ago) has gotten my head spinning, and just as I was second-guessing myself as to how much of my own thoughts I was reading into the writings of this ancient sage, I came across the statement posted above from Jonathan Barnes.

I will always be grateful that the seminary taught me to read Greek long ago. Lingering over fragment 80 of Heraclitus this morning spurred me to “darkening” many pages from my journal (I love Leonard Cohen’s “darkening” vs. scribbling when it comes to journaling). Heraclitus regarded the world’s dynamic as a perpetual clash of opposites. These clashes, according to Heraclitus, created harmonies the same way as happens with the bow and lyre.

They do not understand how, while differing from, it is in agreement with itself. There is a back-turning connection, like that of a bow or lyre.

Heraclitus, Fragment 51

In previous blogs, I have shared Heidegger’s philosophy of art as a strife between earth and world. “Earth”, to Heidegger, refers to the natural world as it is. “World” refers to everything the artist brings to earth when s/he attempts to create art. There emerges a struggle, because earth does not surrender willingly what it conceals. At the same time, the artist’s world does not remain unchanged during this struggle to make art. Out of the struggle, a third element, “art”, rises. Art is the result of the collision of earth and world.

Heraclitus describes the clash as one that results in harmonies. The Greek word translated “harmonies” could be rendered “construction” or “connection.” Another translator renders it “fitting together” or “attunement.” At this point, I found my imagination firing with applications to my own processes in trying to make a successful watercolor.

New work in progress in the Gallery

As I continue experimenting with 8 x 10″ compositions of evergreens in snow, the observations of Heraclitus are giving me some clarity. The collision of opposites is going on constantly, between wet and dry surface, warm vs. cool colors, contrasts of dark and light, movments between space and form, and the struggle between complementary colors.

Today I have been adjusting my colors between the complements of green and red, and feel that I have learned a great deal about how those two colors and their variations work side-by-side in these forest compositions. I’m going to continue exploring the fragments of Heraclitus to see what else I can glean about unity in diversity, harmony in conflict, etc.

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.

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.

Socrates Knew that He Didn’t Know

January 3, 2021
Looking Forward to Occupying Studio Eidolons Later Today

Reason indeed demands unity, but Nature demands multiplicity, and both systems of legislation lay claim to man’s obedience.

Friedrich Schiller,, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, Fourth Letter

I recall how flummoxed we all felt sitting in a doctoral seminar years ago when Professor W. D. Davies held up a monograph that all of us had read and deeply admired for its scholarly erudition. The professor said: “The conclusions are so clear and simple that I cannot bring myself to accept them. Nothing is simple.” A few years later, while taking a walk, another dear friend and mentor, Dr. L. Robert Stevens mused: “In a world so complex, I am convinced that it is far easier to be wrong than right.”

Now, reading Schiller’s maxim above, the words of these reflective men re-visit me forty years later. Something in our nature compels us to make sense of our complicated surroundings, and then our simplifications become canonical to us. The reason I am pondering this matter is because I have started out this New Year convinced that if I am to continue to grow in my watercolor pursuits, then I must adopt the perspective of the curious, inquisitive student in the laboratory rather than the seasoned teacher in the classroom. Being now retired, I am happy not to be called upon daily to set forth propositions that I thought were churned out by boards and committees to satisfy testing standards. I found little satisfaction over the years knowing that if I simply put numbers in the spreadsheets for grades by deadline, that I had done my job satisfactorily. Believing that educational quality could not be quantified, I remained bothered that students’ successes would depend on the damned numbers more than thoughtful letters of recommendation.

What is on my mind this morning is this: I will soon be teaching on Watercolor Wednesdays again in Arlington, Texas. And my method will be to line up steps for students to follow as they attempt to paint selected compositions in a three-hour period. I have never had a problem with that. My problem is the suspicion that I am following my own steps, convinced that the pattern is adequate for its particular subject. I don’t want to do that any longer. The next painting I pursue, once I am back in my own studio (today is a travel day–at least six hours on the road before home is reached once again), I intend to tackle a familiar subject but to try and paint it as if it were my first attempt. When I taught phenomenology, I told my students that epoché was the suspension of judgment, one’s willingness to put preconceived notions back on the shelf in order to approach a subject with more openness.

Schiller argued that nature represented multiplicity while our reasoning faculties demanded simplicity. As a teacher, I always understood the necessity of breaking complicated issues down to simpler steps for students to absorb. But I also tried to urge them that the issues were always more complex than the way we presented them. So also in making art–we approach the complexity with simpler steps, but must always admit that more is required if Quality is to be approached. So . . . in the future when I teach, I’ll try to urge my participants to stretch beyond the steps I present, to dare to explore, to stretch, to expand the possibilities.

The story is told that Socrates, when questioned whether or not he was the wisest in the land, answered this way (I paraphrase): I did not consider myself the wisest, so I went about seeking counsel from others considered wiser. When I asked about issues I did not understand, I listened to their answers and soon concluded that they didn’t know either. However, they were convinced that they did in fact know. So, I suppose that alone makes me the wisest in the land; I know that I don’t know, whereas they continue not to know that they don’t know. To know that you don’t know is the beginning of knowledge.

Beginning this New Year, I acknowledge that I know less about making art than I thought I knew in the past. With that mindset, I am ready to explore and learn. I’m excited to find out what can be discovered in the days ahead, and grateful I still have the ability to pursue this passion.

Thanks for reading, and please follow your bliss in this New Year stretched out before you.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Back Home Soon

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.

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.

Ruminations on New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2020
Resumed Work on Bison Watercolor

If you have another exciting challenging project to work on, well being stuck on one is just an opportunity to do something else.

Tim Hartford, “A Powerful Way to Unleash your Natural Creativity” TED talks

Retiring to bed last night, I lay awake awhile, musing over what to do during New Year’s Eve. Before sleep overtook me, the idea was hatched. For this trip, I had packed two watercolors that were started months ago. The first was aborted once I got stuck, hence a second one, that then was aborted when I got stuck again. Waking this morning, recalling last night’s bedtime thoughts, I felt thankful that I had packed my two “stuck” paintings. Resuming work on the one posted above, I decided I needed some company, so I dialed up TED talks. And, what do you know! Tim Hartford addressed directly what I was experiencing. For a few weeks I have been dormant when it comes to watercoloring, aside from the occasional sketchbook exercise. I’m glad now that I have two in-progress pieces while away on this trip. Who knows–maybe I’ll return home soon with one or two new completed paintings. I have worked for about an hour on the one above and am allowing it now to dry while I bring my attention back to this blog. Should I hit a snag on the painting, the other one is waiting nearby.

While painting today, a number of ruminations have flowed rather freely. Taking occasional breaks from my work (or is it play?), I revised the New Year’s resolutions I have been compiling for a little while now, and finally drafted a final document in my laptop: a list that I will print multiple times on small sheets of paper to serve as daily check lists as I go about my routines.

Today I want to address one of the major items on the list: mindfulness. When browsing the Barnes & Noble Store, I notice a prominent display under the topic of mindfulness, and recognize this as some kind of movement that has gained significant momentum, judging from the number of products on display that seem to be selling well. In all honesty, I have never stopped to examine the various books, pamphlets and journal-like volumes in the display, but I am intrigued by that title and have adopted it as one of my resolutions.

Our nation currently endures a toxic public discourse that repulses me every time I tune in to the national news. Occasionally the toxicity finds its way into my social media channels. Repeat offenders are removed, and therefore I can keep my social media positive. As before promised, I am doing my best to keep this venom off my blog. Why would anyone wish to read such vitriol? One of my resolutions vows to read quality writing and hopefully find a way to disseminate it. And when listening to audio materials, I find myself now tuning in to TED talks more frequently than news feeds.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

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.