Posts Tagged ‘watercolor workshop’

Gearing Up for the Next Workshop

June 4, 2019


In Progress Watercolor for Workshop Reference

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”
This coming weekend, I will be working with some of my favorite artists in east Texas. Every time they invite me to judge an event or conduct a workshop, I count the days till I get to see them again. They recently sent me a reference photo of a location in Italy that they wish to paint. Before settling on the composition, they had already decided that they wanted to be instructed in architecture and foliage. I began work on this yesterday and poked around with it for a few hours, then returned to it today, spending more time looking at the reference photo than actually painting the composition. I felt like the carpenter who followed the dictum: Cut once. Measure twice. I always feel dissatisfied when my brush goes on automatic pilot because I am painting something I had attempted many, many times before. With this particular subject, I encountered many first-time objects and surfaces and had to concentrate on how to render them on paper. I always receive so much more enjoyment when engaged this way, constantly questioning, second-guessing. I am reminded of the sentiment of T. S. Eliot–the shadow falls between the conception and act of creation. And I feel something deeply satisfying when I linger in that shadow.

I am preparing to go on the road again, so I am not sure when I will post the next blog. But I always appreciate knowing there are people who look forward to the next installment. Thank you always for reading.

I make art, hoping to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am not alone.


How About Joining Me for an Island Workshop?

November 1, 2016



I have great news.  The Center for Coastal Studies has covered expenses to where they can now offer a reduced price for my Island Watercolor Workshop on the Texas Laguna Madre just prior to Thanksgiving. The three-day adventure is now offered at a price of $350 that covers meals and lodging. This will be my third time to reside on this island where my adventure as Artist-in-Residence began in 2015.  Last spring I was delighted to offer our first workshop to a group of five participants.  The Center is now accepting applications and will take up to eight particpants to the island.

For anyone interested in joining us November 20-22, the information is posted below:

Dr. Tripp’s specialty is painting his surroundings “en plein air” (outdoors) and he will be teaching a workshop November 20-22, 2016. If you are an aspiring artist, or an artist already, we highly recommend that you sign up for a workshop to spend some quality time with him. He is truly a unique individual!

November 20-22, 2016 at the Laguna Madre Field Station

For registration information on this 3 day workshop at the LMFS please call the Center for Coastal Studies at 361.825.2736 or email

Cost $350.00 and seating is limited (8 people) so sign up now! Deadline to sign up is November 13.

Registration costs cover:

  • Transportation and lodging at the LMFS
  • All meals and drinks

Please plan on bringing your own bedroll, pillow, and personal care items. The field station has electricity, running water for showers, bunk beds and composting toilets.

Dr. David Tripp will be your guide to this unique experience in the Laguna Madre. For more about the man and his art please visit the links below.


David Tripp’s Suggested Watercolor Supplies for Workshop

If you already have your own watercolors, brushes, palette and paper, then bring them to the workshop and we will work with them. If you have no supplies, or wonder what I prefer, then continue reading.

Watercolors. I prefer Winsor & Newton (I know, they are pricey, but professional, and you get back all the value you invest in them). I use the professional pigments, not the Cotman brand (which is a “school boy” substitute). I avoid the use of gouache, and go with the pigments.

My restricted palette is:

  • Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson (for mixing black)
  • Winsor Red
  • Winsor Blue (this comes in Red Shade and Green Shade-I use both)
  • Transparent Yellow

The above colors are all I need to make a decent painting. I will occasionally throw in the following colors: Winsor Violet, Quinachridone Red, Permanent Rose, Cadmium Red, Cerulean Blue and Winsor Lemon. I will have extra colors in tubes if you need to squirt some onto your palette. I always have these available in workshops at no extra charge.

BRUSHES: For the kind of paintings I do, I require a good liner brush (one that will give me the sharpest details possible), and a good round brush of size 10 or 12. For large washes, I generally use a cheap flat brush or a large round (as large as I can afford). I also find flat brushes helpful, between sizes ¼” to ½”. For the bare minimum (especially if I’m painting in the field), I use a liner brush and a size 12 round. Sometimes I complete an entire painting outside, using one brush, a size 12 round. For foliage, I use what I call an “ugly” brush-one that I have modified. It begins as a flat brush and I alter it with a razor. If you would like an “ugly” brush for foliage, then bring a flat brush that you can abuse, and I’ll be happy to help you make it. The flat brush should be at least ¼” and ½” is probably better. I always let workshop students use mine (but they often fight over it-there is only one!)

PAPER: I prefer cold-press paper. 140-pound is good, if l can keep it flat (by soaking and stapling it to plywood or around canvas stretchers, or if it is attached to a watercolor block, like a tablet fastened on all four sides). If using single paper without attachment, I use 300 pound (again that is quite pricey-about $20 for one sheet 22 x 30″. My favorite brand is D’Arches (again pricey), but I’ll use any paper I can acquire. I have discovered that when using brands such as Utrecht or Canson, that I have difficulty getting a flat wash, as in a blue sky for instance.

You will need a white palette to hold your pigments. I use a butcher’s tray (I purchase mine at Asel Arts) because they are quite low-cost. I also have a large watercolor palette (but they’re not cheap). When desperate I can use a paper plate or a ceramic plate, but it has to have a white surface-watercolor pigments are transparent and you cannot really see their colors on surfaces that are not white.

If you like to work from reference photographs, feel free to bring them to the workshop. I will bring a box of my own (all of them 8 x 10″, and over a hundred of them-all suitable watercolor subjects). I will also bring a Jeep load of antique still life objects if the class is interested in working in that genre during the indoor studio time. If weather permits, then I would love to get us outdoors on one or both days, for some of the time. Anyone who has not participated in plein air watercolor activity has really missed out on something special. I regret that I never started that until I was over fifty years of age-now I’m addicted to outdoor water coloring on site.

There is not space here in writing to tell of all the splendid benefits that come from plein air studies-those disciplines revolutionized my still life and reference photo watercolor endeavors. If we do get outdoors, you will want something for seating. Perhaps you have folding chairs in the studio, but they are rather cumbersome for carrying around. Lawn chairs and camping stools are much lighter and often have a shoulder strap for toting.

And of course, you need a container to hold your water. The larger the container the better, as you will constantly have to refresh it with clean water-larger ones “dirty” slower than small ones.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you will consider joining us!

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



Relaxing in Good Memories

March 18, 2016

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Pablo Picasso


The Remarkable Art Center Staff (L to R):

Sindi Alvarado, Education Coordinator; Dianna Bluntzer, Director; Sierra Shamblin, Exhibits Coordinator/Creative Manager

artist in residence friends

My Dear Friends in the Laguna Madre Experience (L to R):

Brien Nicolau, Asst. Dir. Center for Coastal Studies; Dinah Bowman, Bowman Design and Framing; Beth Almaraz, Center for Coastal Studies

final look

One final look at the show before closing

Words fail to convey my deep appreciation to all the people who enriched my life over the past year with the Artist-in-Residence experience at the Texas Laguna Madre. I posted my favorite photos of the ones who worked closest with me in getting this exhibit off the ground. Though I’m now more than six hours away, I feel their spirits and treasure every thought of them. The show will come down March 26.

My first day back was spent pursuing art matters. I traveled to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center to view their exhibit of over 300 artists. The reception will be tomorrow night during Gallery Night. The Center is located at 1300 Gendy St. in Fort Worth, 76107. I look forward to meeting several of the artists with whom I am close friends, and am honored to have one piece hanging in the exhibit:Tarrant County Courthouse Cupola

After viewing that exhibit, I enjoyed an evening in the Kimbell Art Museum and Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, viewing the works and making quick sketches in my journal.

In closing, I’m posting photos of some of the highlights of the workshop I enjoyed Tuesday through Thursday at the Art Center of Corpus Christi:










The enthusiasm and drive of this group of workshop participants was beyond belief. I walked among them in a state of perpetual amazement during the two-and-a-half days we spent together. When I return to my work schedule next week, I’ll carry every good memory from the coast with me in gratitude.

Thanks for reading.

Opening Day Workshop in the Books

March 15, 2016

day one

Watercolor Workshop in Art Center of Corpus Christi

The Watercolor Society of South Texas has shown an abundance of professional-level skill with their 46th annual exhibit now featured at the Art Center of Corpus Christi. And today they demonstrated that they know how to run a workshop. I love leading workshops in watercolor, and I have had a few. But there is no describing the speed and skill I saw on this first day of painting, with overflowing enthusiasm among these members. This group of artists had me wanting to go out and paint until dark when our session ended at 4:00 this afternoon. I cannot wait to meet them again in the morning.

Tomorrow is going to be a longer day: we have our session from 9:30-4:00, and then the Art Center extends its hours into the evening, with the Watercolor Society of South Texas holding a reception for their exhibit that just opened, and I in the neighboring gallery having my own artist’s reception for the “Week on the Laguna Madre” exhibit.  We will be there till 7:00.  Outside the Center, the Farmer’s Market will hold its weekly event, and food trucks will line the street.  We’re hoping for a large, enthusiastic crowd.

Thanks for reading.

Here We Go . . .

March 15, 2016

Here we go

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

This will be the third time I lead a watercolor workshop in the Corpus Christi area. And I just realized that my mental/emotional preparation has always been the same–to rise while it’s still dark, repair myself to the neighborhood Starbucks, sip my coffee, nibble at my sandwich, and scratch out on small pieces of paper the ideas beginning to percolate, hoping that they will resonate in a few hours when I face a room full of strangers who have trusted me enough–a stranger–to help them become better watercolorists.

I’m reading the Bible this morning. The opening verse in Genesis records that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” St. Augustine, poring over those words, concluded that the first thing God created was time. God, an ocean of eternity, pure Being, created time, and then simultaneously created space. Then God began organizing the space–dividing light from darkness, land from water–manipulating the space before him. Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell said that drawing was a way of dividing and organizing space; the artist manipulates space.

Twenty-seven verses into Genesis, the words testify that God finally created humans “in his own image.” The Imago Dei, image of God. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? When the first thing the Bible records about God is that he is a Being who creates, then creates humans in his own image, I like to conclude that humans were created with the essential capacity and will to create. We create because it is in us. Humans create, whether they be artists, laborers or executives–humans manipulate the space before them.

Does a bird singing in the morning realize the beauty of its song, or is the bird just doing what birds do?  Is a spider aware of the beauty and symmetry of the web it spins, or is the spider just doing what spiders do?  Why do artists create? Because it is in them; people are constituted to create.

I hope my workshop participants will appreciate that they will improve as artists by making art and more art. When one continues to create, s/he cannot help but to improve. Bach wrote a cantata a week in the service of the Church, and some of the pieces weren’t that good. But had he not had the courage to compose inferior music, he never would have gotten to the good work. Emerson said that the pump brings up the muddy water first, before the clear water follows. Likewise, writers and artists have to get the junk out on the paper before the good stuff follows. There is plenty of debris-clearing that precedes good art. T. S. Eliot created a great deal of good poetry, but also a great deal of bad poetry. But he created.  He is T. S. Eliot.  Artists create a large body of good work and bad work.  Artists create, period.

My hope (prayer) for this workshop is that I hand the artists several more tools for their toolbox.  Every workshop makes me a better artist, because I learn a great deal from the participants’ suggestions and techniques, and I hope they are learning more from the suggestions and techniques I offer in return–a gift exchange.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Looking Ahead, to Making Art and Workshops

February 27, 2016

long dock

The little stump of candle left by the memory of his predecessors casts no light on the way ahead, only on what lies behind. The artist is so made that he can’t go back without giving himself up for dead. He must go forward in whatever direction his efforts may carry him—for every generation the ground behind you is a quicksand.

Henri Matisse

Though my body resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex this weekend, my spirit has soared ahead to Spring Break and my return to Corpus Christi for my one-man show, “A Week on the Laguna Madre,”showing March 3-26. The artist’s reception will be held Wednesday evening March 16, from 5 till 7:00. I have been invited to conduct two plein air watercolor workshops while there that week. The first will be for two and one-half days, March 15-17 at the Art Center. Tuition for this one is $250. Details for this show are on the following link.

Immediately following that workshop, I will take six applicants for a two-day (0ver night) workshop on the spoil island in the Laguna Madre, where I served my residency in June of last year. Tuition for this is $290. Anyone interested in applying for the island workshop may go to the following link:

AiR Program News

Below is a cool link of a helicopter video taken while flying over that island:

I have spent most of this Saturday morning writing, an activity I wish I would practice more often, like my poet-friend. But I awoke with so much on my mind and had to find a way to get it on paper. Below is a portion of what I’ve written:

You won’t find Poussin in Cézanne.

You won’t find Cézanne in Matisse.

You won’t find Matisse in Motherwell.

And you won’t find Motherwell in me. But the passion, the ideas are still there, undulating beneath the placid surface waves of my consciousness. When I make art, I enter a different world. And it is the act of drawing and painting—the dance—that moves me more than the image that emerges from the white picture plane. And the dialectical struggles inherent in composition also energize me. One stroke calls out for a second. A warm color coos for a cooler one. A dark tone whispers for a lighter one to conjoin. I hear this conversation among the elements as I arrange them like a little boy arranging his miniature soldiers on the field of combat. And I feel that in this action I am partaking in something cosmic and historical—I am part of this web of current existence as well as an extension from the past. And my directional light comes from the past, from behind. It is never found out front.

(Matisse) “The little stump of candle left by the memory of his predecessors casts no light on the way ahead, only on what lies behind. The artist is so made that he can’t go back without giving himself up for dead. He must go forward in whatever direction his efforts may carry him—for every generation the ground behind you is a quicksand.”

And then there is this, lifted from a journal entry dated August 19, 2007, following a 3200-mile road trip from Texas to Missouri to Kansas to Colorado to New Mexico and back home. I was seated on the front porch of the Peter Hurd Ranch in San Patricio, New Mexico:


I am the artist. Like Andrew Wyeth I now focus on the close-up leaves and plan to study Albrecht Dürer. Remember [my high school art teacher] Mr. Scucchi’s crow quill pen and ink wash of the corn stalk. Amazing! I will study these. Now, I am more artist than teacher or philosopher or musician. My imagination is flooded with images of the beautiful world which I have always loved, always scrutinized. But now, somewhere between Thoreau and Wyeth, I let nature seep through my pores.

Somewhere Between Wyeth and Thoreau

Somewhere, between Wyeth and Thoreau, I pause. Like Wordsworth I pause. My Grandma Tripp’s yard with all its odd fencing, vegetation and brooder house, comes back to me in waves. Ghosts. Voices. Whispers. I pause. Epiphany is there. The drawing and watercolor emerge from the white void, the white cloud of the paper plane. Surely there is Oriental thought here as well. Explore. Gaze. Contemplate. Ruminate. Let the images emerge. In the words of William Carlos Williams, “Let it come to you!” Myriads of images. And when the dust settles, package them and store them for future display or studio use.

Thanks for reading my wandering thoughts . . . It’s been a most pleasant Saturday morning over coffee.

Video of the Laguna Madre Field Station

February 9, 2016

I just found this cool 41-second video filmed from a helicopter approaching the Laguna Madre Field Station where I did my artist-in-residence in June 2015. This will be the site of our island watercolor workshop March 18-19. Enjoy! Hope you can join us. Remember, only six will be selected to participate.

Puttin’ on the Show

January 29, 2016


Beauty in art reminds one what is worthwhile.

Ezra Pound, “The Serious Artist”

I don’t know where the week went, seems yesterday was Monday and yet today is already Friday. School has been a joy despite the work crunch. Engaged students really make a difference in a teacher’s daily attitude.

I’ve posted above the final four watercolors I have shipped to the coast for framing. They will complete my one-man-show to be held at the Art Center in Corpus Christi during the month of March. I suppose this will close as well my memorable chapter of experiences at the Laguna Madre last summer. Whether or not I continue painting the Texas coast beyond this show still remains to be seen.

I am pleased to announce that I have been asked to teach two watercolor workshops while I’m in Corpus Christi for a week of my show. The Art Center of Corpus Christi has already posted one of the workshops on their website.

This show will run March 15-17, and the fee is $250 for the 2 1/2 days of instruction.

An additional workshop will be held on the island in the Laguna Madre where I served my residency last June. Only six artists will be accepted for this one, as a boat is required to transport everyone along with gear on the 20-minute trip. The overnight adventure will last two days and cost $290. Anyone wishing to sign up for that one needs to contact the Center for Coastal Studies, and make a check payable to the Laguna Madre Field Station.

Before the weekend is over, I plan to return to the studio, but first I have a considerable amount of work to do for this weekend’s Academic Decathlon meet to be held in our city. This is an annual event for me, and I love working it, love seeing the dedication and enthusiasm of young minds striving to excel.

Thanks for reading.


Rebuilding My House Afresh

March 23, 2015
A Walk in the Cool of the Evening

A Walk in the Cool of the Evening around Stovall Park

 . . . put no trust in any thought that is not born in the open . . . 

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Reader beware: With this blog entry, I’m filling in the gaping chasm of the past couple of weeks.

The past two weeks have kept me, for the most part, on the road and out of my house. Hence, the blog hiatus. But now I’m clawing my way back to the life that eluded me. Most of the past two weeks have been good, indeed sublime. But I have missed the sweetness of solitude and stillness. This evening the weather was so delicious that I dropped all my school work, pulled on my walking shoes and drove to the nearest park for a leisurely two-mile stroll. Nietzsche certainly called this one right: there is indeed an invigorating pulse to the kinds of thoughts we produce when we are ambulatory and feeling physically stretched. As I breathed the clean air, thought better thoughts, and considered the possibility of working this exercise into a disciplined routine, I remembered, “Oh yeah, the Blog.”

When spring break commenced two weeks ago, a high school friend whom I last saw in 1972 contacted me, purchasing one of my watercolors.The timing could not have been better. I chose to drive the painting to St. Louis to deliver to him personally, and visit my parents for the first time since Christmas. The windshield time from Fort Worth to St. Louis was soothing to a great degree, as I chose to drive through the cool moist night, arriving about 8:00 in the morning. Visiting with my family and then seeing my high school comrade for the first time in over forty years was unspeakably wholesome. I wish I could have chatted with him for a week, as age had not subtracted from him one iota of his mental quickness and interest in the same matters of life that keep my attention.

Cedar Two

Cedar Two

Cedar One

Cedar One

While in St. Louis, I attempted a pair of plein air watercolors of a cedar growing adjacent to my parents’ driveway. It had been awhile since I had done this kind of watercolor sketching, and the time spent working on these gave me a deep-seated sense of satisfaction.

Bowman Gallery

Bowman Gallery

Driving back to Texas, I allowed myself one day of rest before hitting the road again, this time south to the Gulf. The small town of Portland, just east of Corpus Christi, is where the Dinah Bowman gallery is that carries some of my work and invites me on occasion to do a watercolor workshop. Nine enthusiastic students were awaiting my arrival and we spent two days together in perpetual wonder. I am still moved by what I saw of their creations.

Watercolor Workshop

Watercolor Workshop

The two days were splendid, as we worked together, exploring watercolor and talking of its possibilities. My former student Mike Catlin now manages the gallery and is the one who brought me into their fold. Dinah is a very well-connected artist in the artist and university circles in south Texas and her energy and ideas kept my head spinning. I was sorry to have only two days to invest in that territory, as so many artistic possibilities thrive there.

Returning to Arlington, I resumed high school and college duties, and devoted every hour of the evening till midnight, getting ready for a major festival: Art on the Greene, held at Richard Greene Linear Park in north Arlington.

My Booth at Art on the Greene

My Booth at Art on the Greene

The weather for this Friday-through-Sunday festival sucked beyond all description, with heavy rains and cold weather soaking the park Friday and Saturday, successfully driving away nearly all the potential patrons. Sunday was a better day, weather-wise and patron-wise, but not enough to make up for the dreary pair of days preceding. I did manage a pair of plein air watercolor sketches of winter trees as I sat outside my booth with nothing better to do.

First Plein-Air Watercolor Sketch

First Plein-Air Watercolor Sketch

2nd Plein Air Watercolor Sketch

Second Plein Air Watercolor Sketch

Watercoloring never ceases to bring me abundant pleasure, and I never tired of focusing on the trees towering above me, thinking of all those splendid Andrew Wyeth drybrush studies that have always peaked my enthusiasm.

A new week has commenced today, and with it another series of grading deadlines, meetings, and professional development requirements. Tomorrow will be a strenuous day with two meetings added on to the normal teaching schedule. Scheduling disasters such as that leave me in a grouchy mood, but I figure if I get enough sleep tonight, having exercised pleasantly with the evening walk, that I may perhaps be sufficient for tomorrow’s demands.

Closing Out a Beautiful Night in my Favorite Spot

Closing Out a Beautiful Night in my Favorite Spot

Thanks for reading. I anticipate that I’ll be more consistent in blogging this week.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

New Video Advertising My Plein Air Workshop at Eureka Springs School of the Arts

June 7, 2013

Eureka Springs School of the Arts has just released this promotional video of my scheduled one-week plein air watercolor workshop beginning June 17.