Dr. David Tripp, a Watercolorist from Arlington, Texas, is nearing the end of his six-day stay away from the distractions of technology. During this time, from June 7-12, he has observed thriving plant and animal habitat to create art reflective of the surroundings at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Laguna Madre Field Station. So far, Tripp has worked on 10 paintings and could have as many as 14 done by the end of the week.
This is the first Artist-in-Residence Program which was developed by the Center for Coastal Studies.
Tripp is painting his surroundings “en plein air” on the island. He is also keeping a journal, posting daily blogs, and later, will present a one-man show of his work. Tripp’s past watercolors feature subjects drawn from 1950s America, as well as the surroundings from trips down country roads seeking small towns and open countryside settings.
The artist was selected by Dr. Paul Zimba, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies, and Associate Professor for the College of Science and Engineering, who accompanied Tripp during a preview visit in May.
Tripp says this program is a new experience for him.
“I usually paint small towns and urban settings and farms, but I have never painted water or this kind of cloud formation before,” said Tripp. “This is my first time to paint in an island setting, and I absolutely love the lagoon. This experience has gotten me out of the library and away from books; it has made me look nature in the eye. I am spending more time trying to understand the structure of the wildflowers and the cacti.”
The Laguna Madre, one of the largest hypersaline lagoons in the world, has been recognized as a fragile ecosystem requiring study since the early 1980s. As part of the efforts to expand knowledge about the field station and surrounding environment, the Center for Coastal Studies established the Artist-in-Residence Program patterned after what is done at national parks.
“Getting the public to be aware of what is in their own backyard is one of the main goals of this program, as well as help make a link between art and science,” said Capt. Jay Tarkington, Aquatic Education Program Director at the Center for Coastal Studies. “Not many people know about the Laguna Madre because it is so remote and I am always surprised to learn how many of our local citizens have never been on a boat or even visited our beaches.”
Dinah Bowman, a University of Corpus Christi (now Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) alumna, received her bachelor’s degree in biology (marine biology) in 1972 and is a well-known Coastal Bend artist. She worked with the Center for Coastal Studies to initiate the Artist-in-Residence Program and introduced Tripp to Zimba as the first artist for the program.
“When we started discussing this program six months ago, I thought, “Let’s have David launch this because he is a watercolor artist, a blogger, a philosopher, and fly fisherman,’” said Bowman. “This venue would be good for all types of artists such as musicians, photographers, and even sculptors to continue sharing their island experiences.”
Tripp, who has presented nearly 40 showings of his paintings of which he has won several awards for, teaches at Arlington Martin High School and is an Adjunct Professor of Religion and History at Texas Wesleyan University.
Tripp received his education from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State).
A one-man show of Tripp’s paintings is in the works for spring 2016; however, he is actively publishing his journal entries and works-in-progress on his personal blog at https://davidtripp.wordpress.com/.