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Meet David Tripp

David, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
From the time I’ve been able to hold a pencil in my hand, I have been drawing. Art was the only talent I had throughout school, and it earned me a scholarship to the university. Once I arrived there, I awoke to the world of ideas, and pursued academics, earning a Masters and Ph.D. in academic fields, but no longer making art. Upon graduation, I took up the brush again, and was astonished to discover ideas pulsating behind my talent; for the first time, I actually had something meaningful to express. Since those days, I have sought ways to integrate literature and philosophy into my art, hopefully creating a narrative that will resonate with others.

Having studied theology in graduate school, I like to apply the Genesis creation narrative to the act of painting: the painter begins with a void, a rectangular white space. And slowly, a world flows out of the tip of the brush, foggy and indistinct initially, then emerging to crystal clarity, a world created in the image of the artist’s mind.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
With watercolor, I create scenes of American nostalgia, the America of the 1950’s disappearing from our landscape, but not our memories. My company, Recollections 54, is named after my birth year and illustrates that era of our country, with settings including route 66, cafes, taverns, churches, gas stations, mom & pop shops and residences we now find in disrepair. Standing in the midst of these structures, we feel the dual sensations of loss and presence—loss because of what is no longer there, presence because of the memories that bring back those phantom actors. I seek to render these subjects in exacting detail (watercolor, for me, is an extension of a drawing), and also choose to leave portions undeveloped, allowing the viewer’s imagination to enter the composition and complete it.

My hope is that the viewer will feel “drawn in” as s/he stands in front of my watercolors; I wish for my subjects to resonate with them, and resurrect memories worth revisiting. Marcel Proust wrote of how particular subjects exert power to take us back to warm, primal memories of our past, filling us with a sense of gratitude. That is what I hope my art will do for others.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities, and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
A successful author I know has responded in this fashion to those who have asked what it takes to be a successful writer: do you wish to be a writer or do you wish to be famous? If they choose the former, he says: “then you will probably be a great writer.” This is similar to what I have to say to artists: what is it that you wish? To those wishing to make good money from their art, I genuinely wish you well. My main word of advice is: stay with your art. Do not lose hope if you do not get an immediate positive response. And for those who are more interested in being artistic than making good money from their craft, I offer the following:

Success for the artist, I believe, requires two things: prolificacy and evolution. I believe one leads naturally to the other. If an artist is not prolific, she/he will not improve. And if an artist is not prolific, no one cares about his/her talent. I regard myself as successful, not because of exposure or sales, but because I find joy in the work itself. If my work did not sell, I would still be creating it because of the calm I experience when in the midst of creating. And from my experience I have discovered that If I continue to push the edges of my art, I will evolve, improve. I have no other options.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My home gallery is The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, where I spend weekends when I am not at another art event. The gallery has taken on new life recently as Smooth Rock 93.5 FM has joined me, installing their broadcast studio inside the gallery. Together, we reach out to the world with daily broadcasts promoting music and the arts. Our hope is to put Palestine, Texas on the map as a creative arts community. Recently, the Adobe Western Art Gallery at 2400 N. Main Street in Fort Worth has added my work to its collection. I also participate in local art festivals, my next one is at the Randy Brodnax Christmas Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm Street, Dallas.

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  1. David A.

    December 6, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Wow! Love the watercolors. I don’t have a clue how someone can control that medium to create art as beautiful as this. Thanks for sharing this story and the great photos.

    • David M Tripp

      December 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      David A., thank you for posting your comment. I am able to control the medium when the paper is dry; watercolor only runs and spreads on wet paper. I also work in layers–once the paint dries, I can continually go over it with new layers of detail. In all my work, I try to balance the spontaneous spread of the wet medium with exacting detail when it is dry.

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