Posts Tagged ‘Flippin Arkansas’

Making Art does not have to be an Exorcism

January 15, 2022
Framed Watercolor 16 x 20″ $400

Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires. When I came to that realization, I knew I had found my way.

Pablo Picasso, quoted in Francois Gilot’s Life with Picasso

With temperatures plummeting into the 20’s, we’ve built a nice fire and settled in for this Saturday night. I’ll be working late on my university syllabus due Monday with classes beginning Wednesday. But I wanted first to frame the watercolor that I finally completed and put it on the blog before returning to the school work.

I’ve understood Picasso’s theory of art as exorcism for about thirty years now, and always enjoy re-reading his testimony concerning it. I believe I understand his perspective, but do not myself follow it. But it gives me a chance to respond with my own views.

When I make art, I am reproducing the world I want to remember: my Proustian world with all its rich memories that delight my senses as I embrace, enfold and try to mold them back into visible form. Many people use memory, calling up mental images to hold their past, to bring their past back into their present. I draw and paint the objects, the narratives most precious to me.

In the spring of 2011 I had the privilege of judging a plein air competition sponsored by the White River Artists of Cotter, Arkansas. During that three-day venture, I was taken to this rustic cabin in Flippin, Arkansas, dating back to 1905. This was one of the first two homes built in that town. Currently it sits on the property of Ozarks Realty on U.S. 62/412 west of the town of Flippin. I spent a delicious morning sketching this cabin with watercolor en plein air. Once I returned to the studio, I created two additional paintings of it, closer to a 20 x 24″ scale. Both of them have since sold, but the image continues to abide with me. So I’ve decided to try and render a third one.

Plein Air attempt
First Attempt years ago
2nd attempt

I cannot describe every sentiment that visited me while I worked on this piece. I will happily join some of the artists from the 2011 event in September for a four-day watercolor workshop. I cannot believe that it will have been eleven years since I last visited this location. Another sentiment I felt while painting was the feeling that Andrew Wyeth was looking over my shoulder nodding his encouragement and approval as I worked. His masterful drybrush watercolor studies of rustic subjects always abide with me when I’m in the studio.

Monday night I’ll be conducting a live demonstration and giving an art talk for ARTIUM, an arts association in Mansfield, Texas. We’ll gather at the Chris W. Burkett Service Center at 620 S. Wisteria Street from 6:30-8:30.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Apple-Bug has Hatched

January 8, 2022

Everyone has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood, which had stood in a farmer’s kitchen for 60 years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts — from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn.

Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodness in the dead dry life of society, deposited at first in the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well-seasoned tomb may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society’s most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last!

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Waking at 4:30 this morning, I lay in the darkness of The Redlands Hotel and allowed my mind to embrace the new ideas visiting in the pre-dawn. This precious story from Henry David Thoreau I have not read or taught for over twenty years, yet it arrived in my half-awake consciousness to punctuate the New Year meditations I’ve been scribbling in my journal for nearly a month now. I lay there in the darkness this morning, wondering what kind of heated urn had been placed on my consciousness to hatch this story. Finally reaching for the light, I decided to begin the day and head for the kitchen to sit at the table awhile and write while the ideas are still fresh.

When I think of the sixty years it took for a “beautiful bug” to emerge from the dry wood of the kitchen table, I cannot help but look back over my own sixty years of hacking through my own wilderness of earthly experiences. The voices of teachers, words from texts, co-mingled with sights and colors of my surroundings have combined their efforts to weave a tapestry that I survey daily with hope of a fuller undersanding.

As I write this at the kitchen table in suite 207, I think of a partial watercolor on the drafting table on the floor below me in The Gallery at Redlands. I worked on it till nearly 10:30 last night before turning out the lights and coming upstairs. Now I think of the painting lying in the darkness below waiting for me to come back for today’s visit, and I am ready.

Yesterday during a watercolor class in the Gallery, Vanessa, Jessi and I mused over the perennial question asked of us about how long it takes to create a particular work of art. We concluded that the answer corresponds to the years comprising our ages–the watercolors we were making at that moment have been “under construction” throughout our entire lives. So . . . if someone asks me how long it took to create this watercolor of an Arkansas cabin, my answer would be “sixty-seven years.”

Sixty-Seven Years and Counting

I’m ready to get back to work on this watercolor, glad that the morning is early and it is still dark outdoors.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Always a New Beginning

August 30, 2020
1903 house in Flippin, Arkansas. 18 x 24″ framed $400

Yet for better or for worse we love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.

Jun’ichero Tanizaki

Sunday mornings usually draw me back to the Bible to read for creative as well as living inspiration. Again this morning, I read the creation narratives in Genesis, pondering about the world as a chaotic void until God organized it through a series of spoken words. As an artist, I am more amazed at my current age than ever before at the profound dynamics that go into any kind of creative activity.

My continued reading of Emile Zola’s The Masterpiece feeds my daily creative eros. Recently, I have returned to drawing and watercolor sketching in a diary to break out of the routine of working on commission pieces (I have two more to complete before all orders are finally filled). What I read this morning certainly set off a string of musings. The words come from an older, seasoned artist in his studio:

“It may suprise you,” he said, for he had been successful from an early age and his place in French painting was now firmly established, “but there are days when I question my ability to draw a simple thing like a nose. . . . Every picture I paint, I’m as excited as the rawest novice; my heart thumps like mad, my mouth goes dry out of sheer emotion. “

Some years back, when my watercolors began selling more successfully and I took blogging and marketing more seriously, I developed this fear of “whipping out Tripps to feed the market.” Not only did I worry about being locked into a particular style to keep up with demand; I still wondered exactly what my “style” was. I have posted a painting above from my earlier years when I focused on aged, decaying subjects. I still work on those kinds of images, but not exclusively. Rather, I have tried to broaden my subject matter to pick up some themes I’ve always wished to pursue but never took the time to do so (Hence, my recent trout fly patterns).

I believe all of us hope to live out our lives free of regrets. However, recently, I do look back on my college years with regret–I was an art major, but relied on my talent and listened very little to what my instructors tried to teach me. I had excellent instructors, and wish to this day I had been more mature and open to what they had to offer. Now at my present age, I am attempting to learn things I should have learned long ago as I experiment daily in the studio, and truly try to be “open” to experimenting. As the days proceed, I will most likely post the drawings and watercolor sketches I’m attempting, along with the commissioned work in progress.

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.

Keeping the Motor Running

January 2, 2016

image

The creative geniuses of art and science work obsessively. They do not lounge under apple trees waiting for fruit to fall or lightning to strike. “When inspiration does not come to me,” Freud once said, “I go halfway to meet it.” Bach wrote a cantata every week, even when he was sick or exhausted. Though most composers would kill to have written even one of his best pieces, some were little more than wallpaper music. Eliot’s numerous drafts of “The Waste Land” constitute what one scholar called “a jumble of good and bad passages [that he turned] into a poem.” In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Simonton found that the most respected produced not only more great works, but also more “bad” ones. They produced. Period.

Sharon Begley, “The Puzzle of Genius,” Newsweek, June 27, 1993

Today has been a rewarding Saturday.  As I near the end of it, I recall that I made a sketch from a large watercolor I did a few years ago of a 1902 cabin in rural Arkansas.  I used the watercolor as a model for a 5 x 7″ drawing. Then tonight, I decided to knock out a 5 x 7″ watercolor sketch of the same composition. I’m not finished with the watercolor, but I’m getting sleepy and will shelve it until a later time.

The piece I posted above is from an article that I have never been able to forget.  I took it out today and re-read it, encouraging myself to make more art in this New Year, and not worry about whether or not the works is good or not, frameable or not, marketable or not. I love the observation that creators just create, period.  They create a large body of good work and bad work.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, discussing the writing experience, said that a pump brings up muddy water before it gets to the clean water, and that a writer has to write through the mud before reaching clarity. I think the same can be said for making art. Perhaps we start out cold and clumsy, but we’ll warm up to the occasion, provided we care enough to stay with it.

Thanks always for reading, and Happy New Year.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

David Tripp watercoloring a 1903 cabin from Flippin, Arkansas

September 10, 2011

Tripp painting historic cabin in Flippin, Arkansas

 With watercolor pad and digital camera at his side, Texas watercolor artist David Tripp drives his Jeep along meandering county roads, seeking small towns and open countryside to paint.  Every day presents a new opportunity for discovery of some artifact reminiscent of earlier decades of energy and prosperity.  Today, only the shells and husks remain of filling stations, general stores, movie theaters and other public buildings formerly stirring with conversations, stories and glimpses of life. David’s watercolors feature subjects drawn from 1950’s America, now present as mere relics of a once-thriving civilization fading from our American landscape, but not from our memories.

David received his Bachelor’s degree in art from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in 1976, focusing on drawing, painting and art history.  Graduate school took David’s curiosity down a more academic path, focusing on philosophy, religion, literature, and art history, finally earning him the Ph.D. in 1987.  Since then he has been a full-time educator in high school and part-time at the university. 

Every derelict commercial structure or private residence leaves this artist with a feeling of profound loss, but at the same time an exhilarating presence. The writer Marcel Proust has pointed out the thrill of beholding an object capable of triggering profound memories from our youth, and our being filled with a sense of warmth and gratitude.  Pausing before these subjects allows space to re-live important elements from our past, the recollections that create what we are now.