Posts Tagged ‘Jackson’


March 12, 2013
Inspired by WInslow Homer's "The Whittling Boy"

Inspired by Winslow Homer’s “The Whittling Boy”

We must reserve a little back-shop, all our own, entirely free, wherein to establish our true liberty and principal retreat and solitude.”


I have borrowed (again) from a Winslow homer oil painting, “The Whittling Boy.”  I needed a fishing subject, so I took the jack knife and stick out of his hands, replacing it with a fishing pole.  This could very well be a portrait of myself, holding a cane pole, age eight, fishing one of the holes of Little Indian Creek down the slope from Aunt Bea’s house in rural Jackson, Missouri.  It was there that my father, of Cherokee descent, taught me to fish, and instilled in me the love for the solitude that accompanies it.  I still remember the first time he took me to the creek, threaded a grub worm on my hook, and showed me how to toss the line out into the current.  The bobber immediately went under, and my very first fish was a blue catfish.  I caught ten fish that day, thinking they were all giants, until I noticed all of them swimming comfortably in a single jar filled with water.  We had no stringer with us.  But that was O.K.  I had the privilege of releasing them, watching all of them scurry back to their dark refuge in that waist-deep hole.  I painted this boy in memory of my first time on the creek.

I am happier with the simultaneous contrasts in this composition.  I had struggled with them in the prior work.  I relied on my standby–Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson for the darker areas.  In the mid-tones I tried Winsor Blue (Red Shade) with Transparent Yellow, then glazed Winsor Red over the top, once the colors underneath had dried.  The results were tints of gold and bronze.  I’m going to try this again with a different composition.

It’s been another good Spring Break day for painting.  Thank you for reading.

Ready to Deliver Christmas Watercolor Gift

December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas, Uncle Paul

The painting has been picked up from the frame shop.  I’m ready to pull out at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow, en route to St. Louis to deliver Uncle Paul’s Christmas gift, and spend Christmas with Mom, Dad and the siblings.  Still have plenty of packing to do, so I cannot linger here, though I wish I could.

Merry Christmas to all of you who keep my blog alive.  I cannot thank you enough for your visits and kind sentiments.  You truly are my inspiration to continue painting.  Have a fabulous and safe holiday season!

And thanks always for reading.

Finished the Christmas Watercolor

December 19, 2011

Grandpa Tripp's Dwelling

I’m feeling a sense of satisfaction and closure, now that I have completed this watercolor for my Uncle Paul.  He has been admitted to a nursing home facility, and his health is failing.  He has fond memories of his father’s cabin, so I’m happy to have this one ready to surprise him this Christmas.  I’m taking it to the framer today.

Thanks for reading, and for staying with me, helping me see this one through its stages.  On to the next one!

Christmas Watercolor Activity in the Man Cave

December 17, 2011

Uncle Paul's Christmas Present

Saturday has been a good day to spend in the Man Cave.  I have jokingly referred to my garage as my “man cave” though I have no power tools or table saws in place–just my drafting table, easel and watercolor supplies.  The winter light is really terrific now in Texas, and the temperatures today have hovered about the mid-fifties.  The sun is bright and the lighting is quite cool and clean.

I am hoping to finish this painting by Monday so I can get it to the framer.  It is for my Uncle Paul, an amazing man now in his 90’s and in failing health.  Paul lived in San Mateo, California since the 1950’s and did well out there.   He lived a quite life, working for Greyhound all those years, mostly night shift.  That was so he could support his habit as a writer.  The night shifts were quiet for a supervisor, and Paul loved to write and publish.

Paul was always a terrific humorist and story teller.  I had my own Garrison Keillor in the family while growing up, and never quite appreciated what a treasure he was.  In his final years, he re-lives the memories of rural Jackson, Missouri, where he lives now, and loves looking upon the monuments of his growing-up years.  This picture is one of them–the cabin where his father resided for the final decades of his life, about 20 paces from the main house on the farm.

I am trying to cool the colors as much as possible, because Paul always appreciated the blues and lavenders visible in the shadows of the snowdrifts that piled up on the family farm.  I am going to regret seeing this painting come to an end.  I’ve been chipping away at it slowly and methodically, enjoying every nuance of the decaying timbers of the cabin and every branch of the naked trees hovering overhead.  One day I hope to approach the “Andrew Wyeth” standard of dry brush as I continually explore rural winter landscapes.  The world indeed takes on a beautiful aura during those months of quiet.  I am so glad school ended yesterday.  The Christmas holidays are a splendid time to relax, enjoy the quiet, and attempt a few watercolor experiments.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring Grandpa’s Cabin

December 16, 2011

Grandpa's Cabin

I am returning to a scene I’ve painted several times, yet haven’t seen in over thirty years.  This is the converted “brooder house” where my Grandpa Tripp resided during the final decades of his life.  The main house was only about 20 or so paces away, but he spent his nights in this cabin, while taking all his meals with Grandma in the main house.  He passed away when I was in elementary school, and the memories grow fainter.  Still I recall the smell of the interior of this structure, and recall his card table, pot-bellied stove, large bed, and B&W TV.  Those were all the creature comforts he desired.

I sold a watercolor of this when I was in high school, perhaps my first watercolor ever to sell.  I remember a truck driver making deliveries pulling over on the highway and trotting down to our high school campus to see the sidewalk display our art department set up.  He asked if any of the pieces were for sale.  My teacher said “Yes.”  He said, “I want that one,” and bought mine on the spot.  I was in another class, and didn’t even know until hours later!

During Christmas 1988, I made another watercolor of this and gave it to my dad.  It is framed and hanging in his special room in High Ridge, Missouri.  Now, dad is welcoming back one of his older brothers from California whose health is in decline.  He has returned to his original stomping grounds in rural Jackson, Missouri.  He loved my dad’s watercolor, so we’ve decided to surprise him with one of his own for this Christmas.  I need to move quickly so we can have it custom framed in time to deliver for Christmas.

This is the painting in its beginning stages.  It’s not coming along as quickly as I had anticipated, but many of them don’t.  I just have to get used to that.  It will develop at its own pace, I suppose.

Thanks for reading.


Grandmother’s House again, January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010

the Old McNeely House

I have returned to my Grandmother McNeely’s farmhouse so many times, that I feel an affinity with Andrew Wyeth’s obsession with Kuerner’s Farm and the Olson Place.  I spent summers here and holiday vacations.  I still miss the old place with its sights and smells.  This is one of my watercolor studies of the back of her house after the back porch had been removed.  The gas pump and tractor I added from photos I had taken of such subjects in other similar settings.  The old house is in rural Jackson, Missouri not far from the Mississippi River.  The gas pump and tractor were photographed in rural Texas locations.

Captain Jug’s Tavern, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Captain Jug's Tavern

I’ve received favorable comments on my compositions arranged from various sites and photographs.  This one is comparatively clumsy, and it precedes the one I posted two days ago.  In fact it is one of my first “composites.”  The hotel is along historic Route 66, west of St. Louis.  It no longer stands–even the sign has been removed.  I looked at that place for twenty years on my travels back and forth between Fort Worth, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri.  I’ve watercolored the hotel several times, and may post some other renderings of it in the future.  The derelict brick building covered in growth was my Uncle “Jug’s” tavern called Riverview Inn.  It faced the Mississsippi River front at Neely’s Landing in southeast Missouri.  The tavern was backed up against a limestone cliff, and the cooler room where beer was stored was actually a hollowed-out cave in the face of the cliff.  The building had no back wall of its own–it was the stone bluff itself.  Of course the building is gone now.  My uncle has been dead for decades, and the river flooded it enough times that it finally came down.  But everytime I look at this painting, I still smell the stale cigarette smoke and the beer, and remember the blinking lights and bells sounding from the miniature bowling lane that operated when you put dimes in the vender.  I spent many a night on the Mississippi River dike across the railroad tracks from my uncle’s tavern, fishing for catfish and alligator gar.  Occasionally I would cross the tracks for Cokes, candy, popcorn, and to listen for a few moment’s to one of my other uncles playing steel guitar in the band that played there every weekend (first time I heard “Your Cheatin’ Heart”).  I don’t know what the liquor laws were, back in those days, but the remoteness of Neely’s Landing guaranteed that the music would go on and the beer would continue to pour long past 2:00 a.m.  I know that because I always fished the river till the sun came up, and sometimes the last of the cars would be leaving about then.

Because of the railroad tracks that were there, and because Neely’s Landing is probably now completely gone, I chose to add a switcher locomotive I found at an abandoned mine in Pacific, Missouri.  So–the hotel from Route 66, the switcher from Pacific and my uncle’s tavern from southeast Missouri combined for one of my first attempts at creating a fictional environment.  I don’t find this composition as convincing as my later work, but at least it marks for me an early attempt at creating a space that could appear to the casual viewer as real.  Thank you for pausing to look.

Oh!  One more thing!  For any of you who have been following my recent blog entries, I just looked at this watercolor, and there is something else–my uncle’s tavern has a wing attached to it in this picture.  It doesn’t belong there.  If you will look, you will find this wing attached as a front porch to an old two-story house in my entry about my “First Gallery Sale.”  The house near Union, Missouri.  The wing attached to this tavern actually was the front porch of that house inUnion.  So–this picture combines Route 66, Pacific, Neely’s Landing, and Union.

“McNeely Farm” January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010

McNeeley Place

I have resolved to do my best to blog daily my watercolor activity and theories.  This is turning into a chore.  School has resumed with all its responsibilities, and currently I am working on three acrylic canvases for a hotel commission.  Acrylic is not my preferred medium.  I may put up images of the canvases, if I find satisfaction in them.

Meanwhile, here is another old one–late eighties probably.  Those of you following my blog will recognize it as my grandmother’s house.  I’ve posted other watercolor studies of it.  This one attempts to show the surroundings and how isolated the farmhouse always appeared to me as a young child.  The second story window on the right is where my bed was when I stayed there in the summers.  One of my earlier posts has a closeup of that window.

On the right I tried to sketch in the rolling hills about 1,000 yards back, where Indian Creek cut through the farm acreage.  That creek marked my rite of passage as I learned to fish there as a child, and I still remember–in Proust fashion–memories of all those mornings and afternoons when I pulled out of those waters bluegill, sunfish, perch, catfish, largemouth bass and buffalo.  The trek across those fields was a long one for a small child, but well worth the effort.  Now little remains besides that two-story house.  Bu the memories will never die.  Sometimes I’m sorry that I don’t live in rural Jackson, Missouri.

“Willis Crossing” January 7, 2010

January 8, 2010

Grandpa's Cabin

This remains the only watercolor I executed on a full-size page of D’Arches 300# rough paper.  I worked on it for weeks, having no idea how much surface there was to cover!  (Lots of dybrushin’!).  I was happy with the results, but never again enthused to work on such a large scale.  The majority of my works are done on a half page or even a quarter.  This was the cabin my grandfather converted from a hen house and stayed in at nights (I posted these details on an earlier post of a front view of this same building).  He dwelt about 50 feet from the main house where my grandmother stayed.  Surgeries had disrupted his ability to sleep well at nights, so he chose to spend his evenings in this “man cave” with his TV, cardtable and bed.  He continued to spend his days at the main house and took all his meals there.   The overall technique of this painting of course was influenced by the drybrush sketches by Andrew Wyeth at Kuerner’s Farm.  The only difference was that I chose to lean heavilyy on the lavendars for shading, rather than neutrals.

A Return to Grandmother’s House, January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010

The McNeely Farm

As I posted yesterday, I have a desire to put a blues musician on a sagging porch in front of this house.  The house I have painted several times since around 1990, and I was fortunate to sell one of these (“Abandoned”–posted on my website) last year to one of my high school acquaintances.  Several years back, while reading the Foreword to a biography of Muddy Waters (Can’t Be Satisfied), I got this vision in my mind’s eye to paint a blues guitarist in a setting much like this painting.  I have lost track of the original painting posted above.  To this day, I honestly do not know what became of it–I don’t recall selling it, and haven’t seen it among my own holdings.  I am quite certain that it was rendered around 1990 or shortly thereafter.  I’m not sure I ever even signed it.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to have an image of it, and would like to pursue again a blend of drybrush and deeper colors.