Posts Tagged ‘palestine texas’

Relaxing in The Gallery at Redlands

March 17, 2021
Wayne & Sandi Relaxed in Conversation

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

Wednesday night, forty-eight hours before our Art Alley under the tent outside The Redlands Hotel, the three of us have checked into the Redlands, unloaded most of our freight into the gallery, and have decided to relax into the rest of this night and get an early start to work in the morning.

Wayne and I drove all day yesterday from Missouri back to Texas, arriving last night exhausted. Then the three of us pushed ourselves all day today, completing tasks, packing, loading and then making the two-hour journey to Palestine.

As I write this, I am enjoying Wayne and Sandi’s engaged conversation in their shared passion of horses. Both of them ride, and Wayne is a retired farrier. Wayne has brought a relaxed presence into the midst of our recent frenetic schedule. So much still to accomplish. Friday night will be Art Alley. Details are below. We hope you will attend.

We invite you to join us again Saturday night when we hold our Gallery at Redlands reception for The Twelve.

Wayne, Sandi and I were so worn out when we arrived that we almost went upstairs to decompress and not even enter the gallery till the morning. But somehow we decided to come on in, turn on all the lights and sit surrounded by all this new art and just relax awhile and enjoy good conversation. Soon a man entered the gallery and began perusing the exhibit with intense enthusiasm. He visited with me a great deal in front of one of my watercolors of a defunct fireworks stand. As it turns out, his first real business venture involved owning a string of fireworks stands, and now, decades later, he was glad to stand before a painting and remember. I felt a kinship with him immediately as we both discussed how important it was for us to remember our formative past with gratitude and as much detail as possible. It now looks as though I will painting another fireworks stand in my future, and I’m thankful when someone else puts a significant idea in front of me like this. How fortunate that we chose to spend some time in the gallery this evening.

It’s been an exhausting but terrific day. I hope I can keep up the pace and send out daily reports on what we’re doing here in Palestine. Wayne, Sandi and I won’t be departing this place till Sunday. Tomorrow, Stacy Campbell comes down to join us and stay through the weekend. Lorraine McFarland is flying in day-after-tomorrow. The Twelve are beginning to gather and I feel enthusiasm rising. What a lovely world is being woven as we approach this weekend.

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.

Weekend Work in The Gallery at Redlands

March 1, 2021
View of The Gallery at Redlands from the Lobby of The Redlands Hotel

The artist must cultivate his own garden as the only secure field in the violence and uncertainties of our time.

Meyer Schapiro, Modern Art–19th and 20th Centuries, Selected papers (letter written in 1957)

From Friday through Sunday night, Sandi and I kept busy in The Gallery at Redlands, hauling in furniture, installing lights and hanging new artwork. The weekend proved just as rewarding as tiring. Today if feels good to do absolutely nothing but read and relax at home. The Twelve are happily producing new work as I write this, and throughout the weekend we heard from over half of them, expressing their anticipation for a great event when we convene March 20 from 7-9 pm. The Meyer Schapiro quote I recognize from the concluding pages of Voltaire’s Candide, and the words have been my comfort for years. Art has been my refuge through decades of turmoil and change, and again I fall back on those immortal words from Matthew Arnold:

Art still has truth

Take refuge there

I am working at introducing a member of The Twelve every other day. The response has been very warm and we thank you for that. We shall keep you updated on our 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.

Meet Lorraine McFarland, member of The Twelve

February 26, 2021
Peaceful Path Pastel 12 x 9″ Framed $350

Statement from Lorraine

I am beyond happy to be invited by my friend and mentor, David Tripp, to be one of “The Twelve” of the new Gallery at Redlands and show my pastel paintings there.

When it comes to my art, I am a late bloomer. The path has been a long and crooked one. I was raised in St. Louis, where I took every art course offered by my high school. Then I went to University of Missouri – Columbia with a declared major in art and hopes of a related career.

Alas, my path swayed, and I had various occupations, eventually becoming a Wildlife Biologist. I loved the freedom of being outdoors, getting paid mostly to watch birds. It was a dream job, and my camera went with me wherever I went. I became a nature girl and a believer in our responsibility to take care of our Mother Earth.

It was my love of nature and my environmentalist leanings that influenced me to attend my first plein air painting competition in 2007. These events, some juried and some open, draw some of the best plein air artists in the world to compete for coveted awards and recognition. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I cried every day for three days, out of sheer frustration.

The practice of painting en plein air, a French term meaning in the open air, became popular with the invention of paint tubes and French easels – paint boxes with telescoping legs and storage compartments for paints and brushes. These boxes (still used today by many artists) and paint tubes allowed 19th-century artists to move their practice from their studios into the great outdoors.

When I was young, I was attracted mostly to the works of the Impressionists and the Hudson River School painters and to this day they are among my most important influences. They embraced plein air painting as it gained popularity. When I heard Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine speak at the annual Door County plein air event, he said the present-day plein air movement is the largest movement in the history of art. When he said that, I looked around at my fellow artists in awe and I had chills. Wow, we are all making art history!

Now I spend a good deal of time traveling the country, painting outdoors. Plein air is not for sissies. I face, on any given day, wind, rain, heat, cold and even snow and sleet, insects, poison ivy, sunburn, spectators (some kind and some not so much), traffic, pastel-eating horses, unfriendly dogs; did I mention insects? I have AAA auto club on speed dial. There are unique challenges, not the least of which are the three P’s of plein air painting: “Where’re ya gonna paint?” “Where’re ya gonna park?”” “Where’re ya gonna pee?”  I love it! It satisfies my need to stay connected to nature and invokes a bit of an ache in my competitive bone (but in a good way), which, until I began going to plein air events, I did not know I had! You must paint fast, not overthink your subject matter, forget about detail, capture the fleeting light before it changes and edit, edit, edit! The challenges nearly defeated me in the beginning, but the ache kept me going. I am proud and humbled by what I have learned from these experiences and from the (mostly) friendly competition with my fellow plein air competitors. My work has improved faster and more furiously than it ever could have in the studio. I consider myself, first and foremost, a plein air painter and, having spent many years as a field biologist, I have a leg up on dealing with all the challenges. I have no problem with peeing behind a bush if the nearest public restroom is 20 minutes away! I’ve become very resourceful about making sure I eat and hydrate properly. I’ve converted my Toyota Sienna into a rolling studio that could double as a place to sleep if absolutely necessary.

So how did I get to this stage in my art journey?

When I was 47, I made the scary decision to quit my job to take care of my mother-in-law, Bertha, who had Alzheimer’s dementia, in our home. I had some time on my hands and I began thinking about art again.

My father, who was a gifted artist, passed away in 1993 and I inherited all of his art supplies. Although our relationship was strained at best, I do remember feeling close to him when I sat by his side, watching him paint a mural on the wall of our living room. I asked him endless questions and got insightful answers that stuck in my mind. He taught me to draw and how to use a grid. Those were my first art lessons. I think I was about nine. He always told me you don’t have to have inborn talent to become a good artist. He said I could learn everything I needed to know by reading, practicing, and watching master artists paint whenever I could. Back then, I thought that was crazy talk.

When I quit my job to care for my mother-in-law, my life reached a real turning point. With some time on my hands, and freedom to do what I wanted in my spare time, I finally took my Dad’s advice to heart and started reading a great deal about art history and technique. In 1997, I pulled out the supplies he left me from their hiding place in the basement and began drawing and experimenting. I took some drawing classes and a watercolor class. The Internet was a rich resource for information and free lessons. I realize those years observing nature and learning composition through the camera lens proved to be excellent training for this artist’s eye! Slowly, my drawing skills improved, and I began having “eureka” moments of seeing like an artist.

Maybe Dad was right?

In addition to my Dad, I owe a lot to Bertha. The eight years I spent taking care of her were a huge blessing for me in many ways, not the least of which was my reconnection to my artistic side. My self-study paid off.  When Bertha passed away, my husband, Norm, encouraged me not to get a job, but to continue working on my painting skills. I owe a lot to Norm, too!  I took my first real art workshop in 2009 with Maggie Price, the founder of Pastel Journal magazine, and that was when my right brain really lit up. I began identifying as an artist, a pastel artist.  I was off and running!

Robert Genn said, “True mastery involves a kind of driven skill-building”. This quote guides my art practice. Honestly, I don’t want to achieve mastery in my art because then I would have to stop pursuing it – and that would be, well – boring! I have no plans to stop in my driven skill-building, so I continue to take workshops with master artists whenever I can, and I try to give back now by teaching others – I always learn something when I do. Now I know my Dad was not crazy. He was absolutely right. You don’t need inborn talent. You only need desire. This is why I am now so passionate about teaching others how to paint!

You can find more info about me and see more of my art on my website www.lorrainemcfarlandart.com/ but I hope you will come to the opening of the Gallery at Redlands on March 20 so I can show you my work in person and tell you some of the stories behind the paintings and about some of my crazy plein air experiences. I look forward to meeting you!

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We are excited to welcome Lorraine to our fold. Our Meet the Artist reception will be 7-9 p.m. Saturday March 20. We hope to see you there!

Continuation of Painting and Gallery Preparations

February 25, 2021
Fort Worth Tower 55 in the Mist 16 x 20″ framed $500

Artists and writers who choose to live in a city are always living in two cities at once. Even as they are walking the streets of this particular place, they are also moving through a city of the imagination. And they may be so exhilarated by the overlap of these two cities, but the sense that the imagination is fortified by the facts, that they are hard put to disentangle the two.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

Working in Studio Eidolons this morning, I am loving the vibe I feel from The Twelve as we draw closer to our Opening Reception at The Gallery at Redlands, March 20 at 7 p.m. Each of us works out of our own particular city: Rolla and Bonne Terre in Missouri, along with the Texas cities: Amarillo, Arlington, Bedford and Fort Worth. each in our own special studio, our own atelier of visions and dreams. But all of us anticipate with enthusiasm the day we finally gather in Palestine, Texas, an historic railroad town with a beautifully restored Redlands Hotel established in 1915. The Dogwood Festival will kick off its three-week event on the day we gather, Saturday March 20. Booths will fill the streets downtown and people will be everywhere throughout the day and night.

I finally finished and framed my second railroad painting of Fort Worth’s Tower 55, this time in a misty environment. I got the idea while reading New Art City: “With Hofmann, each angle, each splatter, each color was a spark tossed off by life’s wild unpredictability.” In my mind’s eye, I envisioned the angles of Fort Worth’s rails at the interlockers adjacent to Tower 55. I decided I wanted to spatter ink and watercolor around the masqued rails, then add salt and stale bread crumbs to see how the colors would break up. Stripping away the masquing, I then refined the globs with a ruler, using sharpened graphite pencils, colored pencils, and a Micron tech pen. I also wanted to create a misty environment and worked carefully to dilute the pigments, occasionally using QTips to scrub away colors that were too dark or too intense.

I have decided to include this new watercolor with three other of my pieces when our show opens. The Gallery will look different to me, with only four paintings among the collection, but I’m thrilled now to show diversity in our space. Hopefully now there will be something for everyone when patrons enter The Gallery at Redlands to shop.

Painted looking out the Window of The Gallery at Redlands when we opened March 2017

I have decided that as soon as possible I will create another watercolor looking out the window of our Gallery at the Chamber of Commerce building and the Union Pacific railyards on the other side of Spring Street. This watercolor sold quickly. I followed with another and it sold as well. I hope soon to have another one on hand in the Gallery.

We are thrilled at the prospects of the Dogwood Festival and our Artists Reception in March. We hope you will come help us celebrate the event.

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.

Working on a Second Tower 55 Watercolor

February 23, 2021
12 x 16 watercolor in progress

With some luck, I should be finishing this watercolor before the day is through. I wanted to have it in time to share as part of my “Hank” series in Palestine when the Dogwood Festival opens. Below is the story I’ve been working on to give it a narrative.

Squealing brakes accompanied by the thundering slam of freight car couplings in the Union Pacific railyard in Fort Worth, Texas hindered Hank from sleeping soundly in the small hotel on the south side of downtown. Wiping sleep from his travel-weary eyes, he sat on the edge of his bed and looked out the second-story window of his room. February. A layer of fresh snow blanketed the parking lot, and as he gazed across the cool blue shadows from his bed, Hank once again felt that old familiar Odysseus-fueled sentiment to wander. Pulling his tattered copy of Kerouac’s On the Road from the backpack, Hank looked up the passage where Sal awoke in the Chicago railroad flophouse, wondering for the moment who he was. Smiling as he stuffed the book back into his bag, Hank reaffirmed that he knew perfectly well who he was—Hank, the wandering mendicant, exploring the world and learning its secrets.

Dawn was just breaking, and in the dim light outside, Hank was confident he could prowl undetected through the busy railyard in search of a slow-moving freight to hop near the interlocker of Tower 55. Just south of the three-story Tower, a long freight of boxcars was crawling slowly southward. Mesmerized by the slow parade, he recalled one of his favorite passages from Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl”.

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

A closer scrutiny revealed no open boxcar doors as the train slowly gathered momentum. As Hank continued to watch, he came to the realization that rail travel was not for him. Though he enjoyed the romantic stories from On the Road, hopping a freight seemed too dangerous. Leaving the railyards, he spied the lighted sign of a Rexall Drugs and decided to go inside to look for a road atlas of Texas. Finding a Rand McNally, he paid the cashier and walked out.

Further down the street was a diner, more accurately a greasy spoon. Seeking warmth inside, Hank soon found himself sipping hot coffee from a heavy stained and cracked diner mug. Unfolding his map, he spread it across the table and squinted at it while enjoying the aromas wafting from the kitchen—fried eggs, hashbrowns, sausages, bacon, the steam of coffee. Hank wanted to head south across the state, having already visited the west. But none of the towns along the sprawling highway routes captured his fancy. Turning his attention to railroad routes, he traced southward from Fort Worth’s Tower 55. Palestine appeared to feature a large railyard. It was settled. Hank would set his sights on Palestine. Leaving the diner, Hank ventured in a southeasterly direction, seeking out Highway 287. Surely a motorist would soon pick up a hitchhiker who had just exited a hotel, showered, groomed, and dressed cleanly.

Hours later, Hank emerged from a 4-door Plymouth filled with a happy family with three chatty children. The Palestine railyards lay just south of Spring Street, and Hank looked up and down the tracks, glad he had decided against hopping a freight. To the north, he saw a five-story vintage hotel and decided to walk in that direction. The Redlands Hotel, established in 1915, was a stately structure, anchoring the west end of the city adjacent to the majestic Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Entering the hotel from the west portal, Hank was impressed to see a restored lobby reminiscent of the glory days of railroad commerce. To his left was a lovely restaurant with linen tablecloths glowing in the dimly lit interior. On his right was a small art gallery and AM radio station with a live broadcast.

Pushing on ahead through the lobby, Hank found the office at the far end and decided to inquire about a vacancy. Jeanene, the red-haired proprietor of the hotel, greeted him warmly and told him the hotel featured twenty suites, each in their original apartment layout featuring kitchen, bedroom, living area and bathroom. Smiling, Hank decided to rent for a week. Room 207 was clean and well-lighted, the kitchenette featuring a small round table next to windows looking down upon the handsome Carnegie Library across the street north of the hotel. Breathing deeply, Hank wondered what it could be like to live here for a spell.

Descending the stairs into the main lobby, Hank spotted the radio disc jockey seated in a wingback chair outside the restaurant, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette. He had just completed his morning show. Carl Harris had been working at KXOK radio since the early 60’s playing top 40 tunes and inserting the occasional news and weather updates.

“So, you look like a well-traveled man. What brings you to Palestine?

“Just a whim. I was in Fort Worth yesterday looking to hop a freight but decided not to risk it.  Assuming Palestine to be a railroad town, I decided to hitchhike down here to see what you have.”

“Can’t say much for the town. It’s alright, I guess. But if it weren’t for the job, I’m not sure I’d stay.”

“How long have you been in radio?”

“Twelve years. By now I’d hoped to be in a bigger city, like Houston or Dallas. Always wanted to travel instead of staying in my hometown. But it’s a good gig. I love music, play guitar, write songs. The job supports my habit. Frankly, I don’t know how much time we still have here. Our rival station KMOX in the next county represents the new wave. I come from the old school of radio rockers, not this new breed of radio talkers. But I guess that is another story. So. What do you do, besides travel?”

“Can’t say for sure. A couple of years ago, I decided I didn’t want to stay in my hometown any longer. So I’ve been on the road, meeting people, seeing different places. Still trying to figure out what to do with my life.”

“You need a job? This art gallery is brand new and they can’t seem to find anyone willing to work for minimum wage. The main artist is from out of town and isn’t here enough to keep it going as it should.”

“I could be interested. Who do I see about the job?”

“Jeanene, in the office. She’ll set you up, I’m sure.”

Now the sun was going down, and the studio was filling with shadows, imparting a feeling of overpowering melancholy to the end of the day. When the light filtered away like this after a bout of fruitless labour it felt as if the sun had disappeared for ever and taken with it all the life and gaiety and harmony of colours.

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Hank closed the book with a bottomless sigh and turned out the lights. The day had been long and uneventful, like most recent days, and reading the novel from Zola left him feeling as lost and empty as Cezanne must have been when he struggled to find his way in the painting enterprise. Emptying his glass with the last swallow of sangria, Hank laid back on his bed, closed his eyes and waited for sleep.

Morning. With eyes remaining closed, Hank listened. Mockingbirds conversed outside his open window of the Redlands Hotel. Somewhere nearby a radio was playing. He recognized the voice of Carl on KXOK, his energized voice of the morning show using every trick to capture attention from listeners driving to work. Hank opened his eyes slowly and focused. The alarm clock showed 7:15. Stickiness from the sangria of last night lay foul on his tongue. Stale cigar smoke lingered. The only element offering good will this morning was the clear light of a winter sunrise filtering through the light curtains, exposing myriads of floating dust particles drifting above the foot of his narrow bed.

Hank had slept with his clothes on, again. Rising and shuffling into the small kitchenette, he opened the squeaking cabinet above the sink, pulled down the Eight O’Clock Bean Coffee bag, measured coffee into the basket and poured water into the percolator. Soon the kitchen was filled with his favorite morning aroma. Looking out the window as the coffee percolated, his eyes rested again on the magnificent structure of the Carnegie Library. He needed to pay the place a visit. All he had read for the past six months was the same old books he had brought along in his backpack.

Stepping onto the second-story balcony of the hotel with his mug of coffee, Hank settled into one of the chairs and gazed across Spring Street into the railyard. He had been working downstairs in the art gallery for a little over two weeks now and was beginning to feel settled into this town. He was also beginning to wonder if he could make art worthy of the gallery he sat in each day. If he was to submit his art, it would have to be very soon. February was drawing near its close, and the city’s annual Dogwood Festival would begin in just a few weeks. Artists from around the county would be setting up tents in the street and displaying their work for sale. Hank hoped by then that he would be able to exhibit out of the gallery. Drawing his coat more tightly around his neck, he savored the warmth of the coffee and allowed his mind to drift back to his ninth-grade artistic beginnings.

High School had been a new and daunting world for Hank. He found himself in a different building, four miles from his Turvey’s Corner home. His first class on that first day was Art I. Having won first-place art honors at his junior high awards assembly the year before, he thought he was going to step into a classroom, bearing an aura of respect and admiration. What he found instead was a room filled with juniors and seniors. At the end of his table sat varsity tackle Joe Bennett with his 240 pounds, full red beard, and letter jacket. Senior girls already looking like suburban women with eye shadow and lip gloss chatted nervously in his orbit. Hippies with T-shirts and shoulder-length hair, American flags sewed to the backs of their denim jackets, sulked in their chairs, dark and glum, their clothes reeking of stale cigarette smoke. Hank felt diminutive. Mr. Scucchi entered the room, looking dapper in his tweed sport jacket with patched elbows, his shirt open at the collar. Addressing the class, he spoke in a vocabulary Hank recognized as charged with art speak, little of which he understood. Hank felt himself shrinking with every word.

On the third week of school something happened. Apparently, Mr. Scucchi had been looking at Hank’s daily work. Now, looking over Hank’s shoulder this Wednesday morning while he sketched the still life arrangement in the center of the classroom, the teacher asked, “Didn’t you win the art award at North Jefferson last year?” Hank looked up from his work and only nodded, too intimidated to speak up, and embarrassed, sensing the entire class suddenly looking up and focusing on him with interested curiosity. The teacher, saying nothing, moved on to the next student. “And what exactly are you trying to do with this?”

The following day Hank continued, bent over his work, unaware that Mr. Scucchi had walked up silently behind him again. Reaching over him, the teacher laid a coffee-table sized book on top of Hank’s drawing. In giant letters, the title read ANDREW WYETH. “I think you should look at this.”

Opening the enormous volume gingerly as though it were a museum archive piece, Hank’s eyes widened at what he saw. Page after page revealed drybrush watercolors in sepia tones of ramshackle farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings, all of them looking like his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. Hank’s artistic vision, already keen at this tender age, still lacked the vocabulary to give it definition. He already had vision but lacked articulation. School had never interested him. He had read very little and listened to his teachers even less. His parents had grown up as children of tenant farmers with little schooling in one-room schoolhouses. Thus, they read little and spoke less.  Hank could not voice what it was exactly that he saw that could be called “beautiful.” What was beautiful about decrepit buildings? Where was the artistic aura in poverty? Why was Andrew Wyeth famous for painting such drab subjects? And why could Hank not stop gazing at and admiring these paintings? The artwork rang with authenticity, triggering the deep-seated emotions Hank always felt when visiting his grandparents’ farm.

As high school unfolded in the following years, Hank continued to take art, the only subject where he could thrive, relying on his talent, his eye, but taking almost no interest in theory. During his sophomore year, he visited his grandparents’ farm repeatedly, making copious drawings in his sketchbook of his grandpa’s shack. His second and third-year art teacher, Mr. Hoeh, took an interest in the drawings and encouraged him to study the shack drawings more closely. Mr. Hoeh believed they could yield quality watercolors.

Hank’s second great awakening occurred during his senior year while competing at an art show in a St. Louis shopping center. The competition categories were for student and professional. Hank by this time had grown accustomed to winning awards in student categories, and this show would be no different. What was different was the sight of a high school senior, two spaces down from Hank, competing in the professional category. And winning.

This high school senior, known only as Brad, worked in the J. C. Penney department store in the shopping center. He was not even with his display when the Best of Show ribbon was awarded him; he had to go work inside the store. With his absence, Hank lingered a long time and looked at his work—Andrew Wyeth-inspired dry brush paintings of those same subjects—farmhouses and barns and busted-down fencing. Nearly devoid of color—sepias, umbers, ochres, and warm grays. Plenty of spattering and wet-on-wet bleeding. The peripheries of each composition were left undefined, fading into the white halo of paper. To Hank’s eyes, each watercolor was exquisite, the touch of a master. But Hank still wondered, how on earth could one describe such decrepit subject matter as “beautiful”?

As he continued to drift slowly through the professional displays, Hank found an elderly gentleman in bowtie and beret seated on a stool, bent over a watercolor in progress. His body of work was also remarkable, taking second place. All watercolors. Classic landscapes charged with vibrant color. The old man Hank found to be quite approachable, so he laid aside his shyness, and asked the big questions.

“I never saw watercolor in tubes before, only in paint pans. I thought only oils and acrylics came in tubes. What brand is that?”

“Winsor & Newton, the best in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”

“And what kind of tablet is that? It looks like a sketchbook, but the paper is sealed all the way around.”

“Again, the best paper in the world—D’Arches. This is called a watercolor block. They’re costly, but worth every penny. They keep the paper from buckling while wet.”

“But your paper is wet now. And buckled.”

“While wet, yes. But as it dries, it shrinks, and when totally dry it will be flat as a board again. There is no worse presentation than a warpy watercolor, buckled within a mat and frame.”

Back at his own display, Hank spent the rest of the day thinking over what the old man had told him, and of the remarkable watercolor work of young Brad. When the festival ended and Hank had nearly packed all his gear, he looked up to see the old watercolorist standing before him with extended hand. Eagerly, Hank shook the old friend’s hand, thanking him for patiently answering all his questions. Smiling, the man said, “Just call me Herb. I hope to see you again soon, at another festival. Until then . . .” In his other hand was a leather wallet folded over three times with a thong tied around it. He was handing it to Hank. “Open it,” he said. Frank untied the thong and unfolded the wallet. A used set of watercolor pans was tucked inside. “Winsor & Newton,” Herb smiled. “Best in the world. Practice every day. You’ll get there.” Smiling, he turned and walked away.

Breakfast finished, Hank descended the hotel stairs to the ground floor and entered The Gallery at Redlands. Looking out the window at the Union Pacific railyards across Spring Street, he recalled the early morning in Fort Worth as he stood in the fog watching the trains emerge from the gloom, roaring and expelling exhaust that mingled with the fog. It brought to mind his sojourn in Utah a month ago when he stood gazing at the herd of bison on the ranch. The bison also moved in and out of a mist from the mountains, a mist that mingled with the dust they kicked up from the dirt, and the exhalation of hot breath into the cold atmosphere. Bison and mist.  Diesels and mist. New images were beginning to form in his mind.

Walking to his desk, Hank sat and quickly sketched on his watercolor pad a gathering of bison as he recalled the way they looked on that particular day.

Leaning back from his work, Hank liked what he saw. Now it was time to turn his attention back to what he saw early one morning in Fort Worth as he contemplated journeying to Palestine.

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More later. 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.

Manifesto from the New Group of Creative Spirits at The Gallery at Redlands

February 9, 2021
Partial Installation of New Work at The Gallery at Redlands

Enter the Twelve

We are The Twelve.

Ruminating, fashioning, presenting,

Offering creations, gifts to our brothers and sisters.

Pondering our world, we re-shape,  we re-cut, we re-color,

Inviting prismatic light to reach diverse eyes.

We are The Twelve.

In quiet studios we dream, we feel, we cry.

We say Yes! to the invitation to create.

Our creator fashioned us in His image,

The Imago Dei, the faculty to create.

We are The Twelve.

Our paintings, pottery, photographs and sculptures weave a tapestry

Of collective lives, tightly woven in a web of belief.

We are The Twelve.

Converging on The Gallery at Redlands, we join in chorus

To celebrate lives immersed in the arts,

Adhering to words from our patron Saint Matthew:

Art still has truth.

Take refuge there.

We are The Twelve.

Poem by David Tripp

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Stay tuned, more to come. 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.

The Redlands Twelve

February 8, 2021

Soon I will introduce our merry band of twelve artists featured at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. Our opening reception to meet the artists will happen sometime in late March. Details will be posted as soon as they are solidified. Meanwhile, Sandi and I have returned home, and this morning’s quiet in Studio Eidolons has been soothing.

My inspiration for the number twelve derives from America’s first known art movement, popularly labeled The Ashcan School. The artists of that “school” referred to themselves as The Eight. They drew inspiration from their leader Robert Henri in his studio at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. In those quarters, the young Henri fired up his group as they discussed ideas drawn from Emerson, Whitman, Ibsen, Checkhov and Tolstoy’s essay “What is Art?”. The Eight believed they could bring their vision to their Philadelphia neighborhood. We, now refered to as The Twelve, hope to bring our inspiration to the citizens of Palestine and East Texas, to those who seek inspiration to color their daily lives. It is our hope that The Gallery at Redlands will become a hub of creative activity where people dare to dream dreams and improve their lives through creative vision and response.

We agree that 2020 was a forgettable year, with art activities essentially shut down, restricted to online presence. We hope now to emerge victorious in 2021 with renewed faith in the artful life.

Baby Paddington, my companion, naps at my feet while I work in Studio Eidolons

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.

Preparing for Return to Palestine

September 25, 2020
Studio Eidolons early Friday Morning

Then, one morning, he got up with a violent thirst for work.

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

That sentence describes every day of this past week. Entering the studio, I swan-dove into a pile of books, reading for inspiration, and then moved over to one of the drafting tables to resume work on a large watercolor. At this point I don’t feel comfortable showing the 18 x 24″ because the bison in the herd are the size of dimes and so little has been done to the surrounding landscape; the only decent part of the composition is the precision I have laid into the broken windmill towering over the scene.

Tomorrow (Saturday) I return to the Redlands Hotel in Palestine to spend the day and evening working in the Gallery. I have been away such a long time and feel enthusiastic about rearranging the art work in the gallery and beginning a new watercolor composition featuring bison (larger than dimes). The creative eros has been surging all week and I see no reason why it should not spill over into the weekend.

Today will be spent packing and making arrangements for my travel tomorrow. I’m happy to send this note out to my readers, and truly hope I’ll get to see my Palestine friends tomorrow.

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.

Railroad Memories

November 21, 2019

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Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014

. . . when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don’t know,) it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it.

. . .

The stabler of the iron horse was up early this winter morning by the light of the stars amid the mountains, to fodder and harness his steed. 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Memories of my freshman year in college still visit me. Five hours from my parents who had nurtured me every day ruptured my routine, making sleep alone in the dorm difficult. Wakened on winter mornings before daylight at the distant sounds of a freight train whistle filled me with a sense of melancholy and homesickness. And at the same time, I felt some kind of unusual comfort. I believe it was because the railroad had fascinated me since early childhood, and hearing it on a solitary college morning provided some kind of continuity to my life. I don’t know.

Spending many nights in The Redlands Hotel in Palestine provides the same continuity. The hotel and gallery are two blocks from the Union Pacific railyard, and those constant sounds of the railroad accompany me during my stays down there. And I am still moved deeply when I experience those sights and sounds.

Two weeks ago, the Union Pacific Big Boy visited Palestine for an overnight stay. I’ll never forget the tremors I felt in the ground as that massive locomotive drew nearer to where I stood. The blast of the whistle and the smoke belching out of the stack made me tremble. At the time of this writing, I am in the midst of my first painting of that behemoth, still feeling the exhilaration of watching it steam and shudder in the predawn of the morning of its departure. I hope to finish the painting in the gallery this weekend, then move on to my next.

In recent years, I have created a number of watercolors of trains, and several of them are available in signed & numbered limited editions. You can seem them at my new website, in the “Trains” chapter: davidtrippart.com.

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.

 

Chaotic Dreams

March 11, 2019

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View of Palo Duro Canyon

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Beginning of a Plein-Air Watercolor Sketch

You know, there’s a philosopher who says: as you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on? And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. but at the time, it don’t.

Joe Walsh, History of the Eagles, 2013 documentary

Blame it on the one-hour time change? Who knows? All I can think of this morning is the night’s attempted sleep just completed: an entire night blistered by an annoying, chaotic, sustained dream. I was put in charge of a community event: a reading of Molière’s play “Tartuffe”. The event was staged in a bowling alley/roller rink, and all of us tried our best to look composed on roller skates as we tried to figure out how to configure the seating: a circle? Rows? Groups? I was put in charge of the reading. Others entered the fray to take charge of casting, costuming, stage props. No matter how hard we tried to organize the event, something always intruded to disrupt whatever flow was initiated. And someone continued to shout from offstage: “Donnie, you’re out of your element!” When I finally awoke, it was still dark (time change) and I just lay there in the pre-dawn, taking the dream seriously. It rang true. We move through life, attempting to organize the chaos enveloping us. We schedule, we keep appointments, we tend to our biological necessities, and continue to move through the 24-hour cycle, handling whatever approaches us. As I write this, I fear my tone will read as one of panic. It isn’t. In fact, when I was a full-time employee, I never really collapsed under this kind of a schedule; I just accepted it as life. Now, being semi-retired, I do indeed feel that I am living a much fuller, more satisfied life, and wish I could have about 500 more years of it. Life is a gift, and I’m grateful for its abundance, even when the abundance comes as an avalanche of chaos.

The weeks ahead will indeed be stuffed with activity. My plan for teaching a 3-hour beginning watercolor workshop next Saturday in Palestine has morphed into back-to-back workshops, since the twenty we restricted the enrollment for has now grown to thirty (and still counting, perhaps?). I’m delighted and shocked to find such an interest. We will hold the event in the lobby of the Redlands Hotel, just down the hall from our gallery. The first session will be at 10:00, the second at 1:00. The first session has filled, but there is still room in the afternoon session. If you are interested, just contact me (you can text me at 817-821-8702) or respond to this blog. We are expecting an exciting day of activity.

The following week will be even busier as we kick off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival in downtown Palestine. Artists will be featured under a large tent on the parking lot across the street from the Redlands Hotel. Friday night from 7-9, a V.I.P. pre-sale event will feature a meeting with the artists. Tickets are $10 as wine & cheese will be served, and a classical guitarist will provide music. Already we have a good number pre-registered to attend.

The next day from 9-4:00 will be the actual festival, the crowds will be enormous, and the artists are hoping for an excellent day of sales. At 1:00, I will hold my first scheduled Gallery Talk in the lobby of The Redlands Hotel. The topic will be “Art in a Small Town” and my presentation will feature nostalgic portrayals of small-town America in art and literature. The lobby has a large flat-screen TV on which I’ll be able to project visuals during the talk. I have been excited over this opportunity for weeks and have enjoyed immensely the experience of putting the presentation together. This will be my first public presentation on art since retiring from all those years teaching art history in the schools. How nice, finally to present something that is not curriculum-driven (restricted)!

I am posting the beginning of a plein air watercolor sketch I started a couple of evenings ago while visiting Amarillo’s Palo Duro Canyon. The afternoon had been spent in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. For years I had wanted to visit that institution, knowing that Georgia O’Keeffe had taught at West Texas State Normal College and that this museum had at least one of her early paintings in its collection. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing holdings the museum has, not only in Texas panhandle history (this is Texas’s largest history museum), but in paintings. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing amazing landscape paintings from Inness, Moran and N. C. Wyeth. And then spent a long time lingering in a gallery filled with the amazing work of Frank Reaugh. Upon leaving the museum, it was only fitting to travel to the canyon and spend some time sketching the horizon as the sun dropped low in the sky.

My past weeks have been devoted mostly to traveling, reading and journaling. I finished Virginia Woolf’s engaging Mrs. Dalloway and am now nearly 200 pages into N. C. Wyeth: A Biography by David Michaelis. I also have four small watercolors in progress that I hope to post on the blog soon.

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Completed Watercolor Sketch

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.