Posts Tagged ‘Sherwood Anderson’

Watercoloring a Custom Bamboo Flyrod with Thougths of Hemingway

December 17, 2012
Vintage Fly Fishing

Vintage Fly Fishing

Soon I’ll be posting new images of watercolor sketches and drybrush attempts done over the weekend involving kerosene lanterns, vintage suitcases and coffee cans.  Tonight in the Man Cave I have chosen to focus on this vintage fly rod I began sketching last week.  A Colorado man gave this gift to me years ago.  He was an amazing Renaissance man–fishing guide, horseman, farrier and story-teller.  His equestrian ranch and bed-and-breakfast businesses took him completely away from fly fishing, so I he gave me two custom bamboo rods made for his father and him back in the 1940’s, along with an assortment of fiberglass fly rods and vintage reels.  I leaned one of his rigs against this Pepsi case and immediately got lost in all the dynamics of it.

Reading the Hemingway biography over the weekend by Carlos Baker has also been enlightening.  I am amazed at the theories spun by Hemingway in the company of Ezra Pound and Sherwood Anderson.  Reading those while perusing drybrush illustrations by Andrew Wyeth, and then turning to the sketchbook and watercolor field box has had my head spinning for several days.  As I posted earlier, rainbow trout are already being stocked near where I live here in Texas.  It looks as though I may have to wait until Saturday or Sunday, but I have my own fly fishing gear, waders and boots packed, and I’m ready to get out there.  But until then, I’ll keep chipping away at this 8 x 10″ watercolor and see what emerges.  I’m already excited over the possibilities.

Only four more days of school left until we leave for the holidays.  I really hope I have a surge in watercolor interest when there is the time to pursue it then.

Thanks for reading.


My Town 63050 (Switzer’s Licorice St. Louis)

September 21, 2012

Switzer’s Licorice, St. Louis

If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll know that I have toyed with reviving a project I abandoned about a year ago–a series of watercolors titled “My Town 63050.”  My inspiration came from Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Garrison Keillor and any other brilliant mind who created their own fictitious town and grew wonderful stories about them.  I once thought I would do the same with watercolor.  Yesterday evening, I began a small watercolor sketch of the old Switzer’s Licorice building on the St. Louis riverfront that has since been demolished.  I grew up looking at that lone sentinel of a building sitting north of the gateway arch, above the Mississippi River.  I figured it was time to re-do a painting of it.  Formerly it had stood in the background of a 1999 watercolor I had titled “Turvey’s Corner.”  I look forward to finishing this and matting it to put in my booth next week when I attend Taste of St. Louis art festival.

Thanks for reading.

Watercoloring the Hot Summer Town of Hico, Texas en Plein Air

June 29, 2011

A Hot Summer Afternoon in Hico, Texas

After the morning plein air excursion into Granbury, I next turned my Jeep further south, and arrived in Hico, Texas as the sun waxed hotter.  What a fabulous town for painting!  Ghost signs were everywhere to be found on the sides of buildings of brick and rusticated stone.  I turned down a major street, and was delighted to find it divided, with a tree-shaded island featuring park benches and gazebos.  I found plenty of space to set up my easel on the island, without blocking sidewalk traffic (not that there was much, in that small town!).  As I painted, I found the residents of Hico to be exceedingly friendly.  A number of men and women approached me, looked at my work, said affirming things, and chatted with me about life in the small town, and also asked how things were in my large city, and I found it pleasing to cover a number of conversational subjects with them, all of the talk pleasant.  I even had the pleasure of meeting an acrylic studio painter who owned a business on the street where I painted.  A lady in a passing car rolled down her window, took a look at my work, and expressed admiration for my attempt at architecture.  She was a painter of animals and thought it would be difficult to paint buildings.  I guess I should have mentioned to her that I find it difficult, painting animals!

I loved this street intersection vista.  The light rusticated stone building contrasted nicely with the darker buildings across the street on the left, and I was fascinated with the tree on the right invading the compositional space.  I took a reference photo of this site and am seriously considering taking another shot at this in the studio.

The day was hot, the travel exhausting, but I’m glad I got out and did this.   Last night I looked at the website of the Weiler House Gallery ( and saw that my Solo Show for this fall has been posted.  My first reaction was that it was time to “find another gear” in producing art work.  Showtime is in two months.

Thanks for reading.


A Summer Victorian Experience in Granbury, Texas

June 29, 2011

Granbury, Texas Victorian Home on a Summer Morning

As a vacationing Texas school teacher, I refuse to give in to the hot summer doldrums.  Yes, today was another triple-digit day, with plenty more in sight.  Nevertheless, I set set my sights on yet another plein air excursion that would take me 226 miles down hot Texas roads, and would burn up the entire day.  But by day’s end I consider the excursion worth it, though I’m bone tired as I post this.

I hadn’t visited Granbury in a little over a year, never forgetting what a good experience it was, watercoloring in that Victorian town.  Though this Victorian was built only eleven years ago, it has that delightful “look” that holds my gaze and makes me want to paint.  Fortunately there was a huge tree throwing its shadow across the cross street, and I found the morning temperatures (in the shade) to be quite pleasant for the painting experience.  Granbury is a friendly town, and the neighbor to this residence walked down the street to greet me and to visit for awhile.  He gave me excellent background to the architecture surrounding me, and I hope to get back before long to paint the rest of the neighborhood with its beautiful architecture, fencing and landscaping.

After about 90 minutes, I decided that this one was finished enough and that it was time to find some lunch and move on to the next painting.  That would turn out to be in Hico, Texas.  That painting I’ll reserve for the next post.

Thanks for reading.


Sun Slanting over Vespers at a Quiet Presbyterian Church

June 13, 2011

First Presbyterian Church Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The first day of class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is in the books.  I was so excited that I set my alarm for 5:30 and arrived at the school by 8:00.  Class began at 9:00.  Six students this year, same number as last year, and I love them all.  All of them talented, all of them enthusiastic, and all of them wanting to push their skills further by exploring plein air watercolor.  We worked our first day at the school.  Tomorrow we meet in the historic district of Eureka Springs, and will paint the town, literally.

Class went from 9 to 4.  I gave myself about an hour to decompress in this lovely living facility (Twilight Terrace at Sweet Spring), then returned to the site about 2 blocks from here where I began this plein air sketch yesterday at this same time.  I spent one more hour on it today and declared it finished.  After all, it’s just a plein air sketch, not a finished, polished studio piece.  Maybe I’ll do that some other day.

This is the First Presbyterian Church of Eureka Springs on Spring Street.  When I decided to work on it yesterday, I was fascinated with the rustication on the exterior of the structure, thought about how the ancient Romans introduced that to the Western world, and fancied this as a Roman Catholic Church.  Now today I read the sign and saw it was actually Presbyterian (sorry Jean!).  Nevertheless, it has that Roman look (to me).  And I am aware that Vespers came from the Roman Catholic tradition, drifted to the Greek Orthodox, and was later adopted by the Lutherans.  But I believe the word just means “evening” and I know that Presbyterians, Unitarians and other church bodies today use that word “vespers” to refer to some of their liturgical practices.

This was truly a “vespers” moment for me as I spent this evening’s hour finishing this piece.  The slanting rays of the sun continued to wash the environment, and chase lavender shadows across the recessed areas of this scene.  I really did not want to stop painting on it.  But alas, I have overworked far too many watercolors (and may have this one as well!).  So, I decided to let it go, and rest up this evening so I can teach another class tomorrow, and (hopefully) kick out another plein air watercolor at tomorrow’s vespers.

Thanks for reading.  Eureka Springs is a beautiful place to paint!










Evening Plein Air Watercolor Start on a Eureka Springs Church

June 12, 2011

Eureka Springs Church

This morning, my wife and I rose at 5:00 to make the four-hour drive to Little Rock so she could catch a flight back to Texas.  She begins teaching summer school in the morning, and I begin my one-week class here in the morning as well.  The return to Eureka Springs capped eight hours of driving, and I felt it.  However, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts has provided me with a place to stay this week, and when I moved in this evening, I could not believe my eyes!  I’m in a luxurious space, and feel so unworthy!  All I could hear were the dying words of Tom Hanks to Private Ryan: “Earn this.”  (Incidentally I did not care for the movie, but always remembered that “hook”).  And so, with “Earn this!” on my conscience, I hastily unpacked my gear in this beautiful dwelling, then headed out into the surrounding neighborhood at 6:00 p.m. to paint something, anything.  I just felt I needed to “earn this!”

The sun was setting on this beautiful church, about a block from where I will be residing.  I only had 45 minutes of light with which to work, so this is as far as I could go.  I believe I will set it out as a sample for my plein air students in the morning, showing them how I begin an on-site work.  Then, when 6:00 p.m. rolls back around, I’ll return to the site, and hopefully complete it.  I begin with four students tomorrow.  We’ll practice plein air watercolor for five days, 9:00-4:00.  I’ve waited a year for this, and can hardly believe that the inauguration of this experience is just hours away now.

About this start to the church painting–I was much more fascinated with the beautiful sunset colors filling the trees and foliage to the right of the church, than the actual church structure, although I look forward to (trying) to solve the problem of the rusticated exterior.  I love such cut-stone buildings and their Roman predecessors.  Finally I get to attempt a watercolor of one.  Hopefully I’ll render the stop sign and street signs with enough detail that they emerge from the overwhelming, colorful foliage.  I also love the slant of the street downward, much like what I saw with that Victorian cottage bathed in yellow that I attempted a few days ago (posted).

Thank you for reading.  Wish my class (and me) good luck tomorrow as we begin this week.


A Winsor Lemon Victorian Cottage in the Morning Sunlight at Eureka Springs

June 9, 2011

Second Morning in Eureka Springs

How could a life of plein air painting get any better?  I woke before my 7:00 alarm, found Eureka Springs bathed in yellow sunlight, and decided to give this perspective a shot.  I loved the Winsor Lemon color of this Victorian in the slanting yellow rays of the morning sun, and the longer I gazed at this setting, the more “taken” I was by the lemon yellow sunlight that washed the atmosphere, and the complementary lavender shadows that flowed out from the foreground pavement.  I did not want to stop painting on this composition!  I finally made myself stop, pencil in some refinements on the house, sign it and leave it alone!  This one was hard to release.

The Carnegie Public Library, as it turned out, is right around the corner from this lovely home on Spring Street.  How convenient to step into this air-conditioned ambiance, enjoy the aged, classic architecture of the interior, and post this blog!  How could it get any better?

Thanks for reading.  More tomorrow, as the plein air odyssey continues.


Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside shacks in Waxahachie, Texas

May 30, 2011

Kansas City Southern Railway Trackside in Waxahachie, Texas

The winds got up again this afternoon, making it difficult to paint and hold supplies in place.  But it also kept the heat from rising.  I found a tree that offered plenty of shade, and went to work on this trackside structure, stopping occasionally to allow passing freight trains to obstruct my view (one Kansas City Southern, one Union Pacific).  I painted this shack at last year’s Waxhachie Paint-Out, but this time decided to paint it larger (11 x 14 instead of 8 x 10) and incorporate more of the surrounding trees.  I did not time myself, but estimate that I had this one finished in less than 90 minutes.  Two paintings in one day has exhausted me.  School resumes tomorrow (one more week of it) and I will return to Waxahachie for a new plein air adventure as soon as that final bell rings!

Thanks for reading.


First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas

May 19, 2011

Billingsley House - Cotter

Tripp Demonstrating at the Plein Air on the White River EventBillingsley House - Cotter

Thursday, May 19, 2011, First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas.  The first day is in the books.  My eyelids are heavy, but I really wish to get this information on the blog.  Yesterday, Sandi and I made the nine-hour drive from Arlington, Texas to Cotter, Arkansas to begin this event this morning at 8:00.

Twenty-seven artists registered today, and quickly dispersed throughout the thirty-mile designated radius of small Ozark Mountain towns in search of subjects to paint en plein air.  It is my privilege this year to judge the competition, and I found it difficult to avoid seeing the artists’ paintings (I am supposed to judge the works without signatures and without prior knowledge of who painted what).  It seemed that everywhere I turned throughout the day, there was an artist working at an easel!

The town of Cotter was bathed in yellow sunlight throughout this afternoon, and I think I felt some of that joy that Winslow Homer knew in 1878 when he figured it out that transparent watercolor offers a magnificent way of experiencing the effects of light shimmering off the white paper as it glows through the washes of transparent watercolor.  This afternoon I was privileged to experience the excitement of layering washes of transparent color and experiencing the changes in light that appeared through the layers from the paper surface beneath.  I cannot wait to get in on this some more tomorrow.  I have quite a few experimental ideas percolating this night.

My only responsibility today was to present a 3:00 demonstration of the plein air process in watercolor.  I chose this house built around 1914, today known as the Billingsley House.  As I looked across the backyard and attempted to paint what I saw, and enjoyed the participating artists gathered to watch the demonstration, I could not help but wonder what kind of personal history this property carried with it.  I was to find out later that evening.  Mrs. Billingsley lived alone in this house during the 1950’s and the story is that she would stand inside her fenced-in yard and visit with students walking by on their way to school.  She would walk the entire property, talking with the children all the way to her furthest boundary, and continue talking as they journeyed further and further away, en route to the school house.  No doubt much of what they were learning from textbooks contained a diminished value compared to what she had lived, witnessed and was willing to share to anyone who would listen.

Cotter was launched with the coming of the railroad around 1902 and the erection of a lumber company between 1903 and 1904.  With the lumber company came the construction of the most famous landmark houses of this small town, now with a population slightly under 1,000.

Hopefully I will be able to recover some lost sleep tonight and put in a productive day of painting tomorrow.  I already look forward to posting more tomorrow evening when the day is done.

Thanks for reading.


A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.