David Tripp

With watercolor block and digital camera in the seat beside him, Texas watercolor artist David Tripp drives his Jeep down county roads, seeking small towns and open countryside for settings to paint. From childhood, David’s eyes have been filled with wonder and a sense of curiosity, taking in the world around him and seeking ways to record these sensations.

David received his Bachelor’s degree in art from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in 1976, focusing on drawing, painting and art history. Graduate school took David’s curiosity down a more academic path, focusing on philosophy, religion, literature and art history, finally earning him the Ph.D. in 1987. Since then he has been a full-time educator in high school and part-time at the university.

David’s watercolors feature subjects drawn from 1950’s America, now present as sere relics and husks of a once-thriving civilization fading from our American landscape, but not from our memories. Every abandoned service station, general store, movie theater and private residence leaves this artist with a feeling of profound loss, but at the same time an exhilarating presence. Pausing before these subjects allows space to re-live important elements from our past—a past that created what we are now.

Marcel Proust noted in his writings that the presence of these aging monuments can surprise us with that shock of recognition, frequently transporting us back in time to primal memories of our youth. These memories are warm and engaging, often filling us with a sense of profound gratitude.

In the 1930’s, William Carlos Williams, small-town doctor from Rutherford, New Jersey, drove his car about town throughout the day, making house calls. As he took in the sights between visits, he frequently pulled his car over, rifled through his doctor’s bag, drew out a prescription pad, and quickly recorded a poem of what arrested his sight and thoughts at that moment. Though a different kind of doctor, David today takes his Jeep through the communities and across the open countryside, frequently stopping to snap photos with the camera, or take out watercolor supplies to record a painting on location en plein air. These watercolors serve as maps for organizing wonder as he follows these meandering highways, and reflects with gratitude on the contributions of the earlier literary giants, Proust, Williams and Wordsworth, along with the watercolor masters Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer.

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