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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Why I am an Artist, A Personal Thank You: This is for the Malamute

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derrick white 2 eguide mag tyler txBy Derrick White

An Alaskan Malamute is a large breed of dog used for hauling, much like an Alaskan sled dog. They are strong, big, and playful dogs similar to Siberian Huskies. Please indulge me a few moments of your time.

Life is so strange and so short. As an art professor I basically try to teach two skills – appreciation and perseverance. As an artist, I spend time making paintings and objects. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it does not. Everything in your life that is good (art, health, friends, family, etc.) will not last. “Value what you have while you have it.” Please stop, go back and read that last sentence again. Furthermore, the tribulations we all experience in human life (illness, heartaches, layoffs, etc.) will not last. “Persist and don’t ever give up.” You need to keep chugging along, working towards your goals, and living each of your days to the best of your ability using that wonderful human stubbornness of perseverance.

My ability to appreciate comes from my dad, a man who instilled the great qualities of dreaming, absurdity, fascination, imagination, the beauty of a moment, and creativity. I also learned powerful lessons from the foibles of my father, and I have tried hard not to repeat some of the same mistakes. The reason why I am an artist is because children instinctively draw, play, and create. This does not have to be taught. I have just never stopped in my exploration and fascination of art and processes.

derrickI remember as a preschooler, I craved the praise of my mother by scribbling on sheets of paper in the haphazard chance of making a cursive letter or recognizable symbol while my brothers were away at school. Lovingly, she could always find an E in there somewhere. I beamed. She would always tenderly staple my crudely drawn and misspelled handmade comic books together and proudly share and recite them. Her warmth and encouragement still compels me artistically, at a very core level, to this day. Throughout her life I witnessed the strongest person I can imagine conquering challenges head on, getting knocked down, but never failing to get back up. I learned organization, diligence, unconditional love, and patience. I learned perseverance.

As a romantic, my dad involved himself in many unique ventures. He owned a gas station along historic Route 66 in the early 1970’s, located in Shamrock, Texas, and one day a van of traveling hippies stopped. They were unable to pay for their gas so my dad bartered a deal to trade a tank of gas for them leaving an enormous Malamute dog as collateral. Dad bringing stray or wounded animals home was not uncommon, but my mother was forced to deal with this large and unruly canine wreaking havoc upon her home.

Weeks later, after the hippies reached their California destination, they wired Dad the money for the gas and Mom was asked to please drive the dog to the Amarillo airport. This was also not uncommon, dad gets into a messy, complicated situation, and mom bails him out. She said the road trip was awful, traveling 90 miles with a hairy beast in her car to get him onto an airplane and send him home. Years later Mom jokingly said that when she arrives in Heaven she wants to thank God for the blessings in her life, but she would be curious to know which specific blessings were in return for the Malamute – the feeding, cleaning, not killing her husband, and the horrific road trip with a gigantic, car-roaming dog. With a belief and understanding of God’s grace over human acts of kindness, she was still curious as to why she was subjected to such a ridiculous life event. She hoped God would point to something specific in her worldly existence and say, “This is for the Malamute!”

derrick white tyler tx eguideMy mom affectionately, diligently, and patiently raised four boys (seven, if you include my dad and my friend Daryl who lived at our house for many years, and Paul who practically lived there, too). She was the indisputable keystone of our family. I have credited many people for influencing my artwork, from famous art movements to inspiring professors and friends, but deep down I still want the thrill of the affectionate approval and acceptance only a mother can provide.

In short, I am still trying to make my mom proud. She was generous with her praise, proudly kept all my press clippings and art show announcements. She saved scrapbook drawings from when I was 2 years old and instilled in me an “I believe in you” confidence from which I still pull (sometimes desperately) today. I’m not attempting to fill a void, but rather match a very high model for living life tolerantly, with intensity, strength, appreciation, and tenacity..

My mother recently passed away after suffering through years of Alzheimer’s disease, and I am sure she is getting all of her earthly questions answered. As for me, I like to believe that all the things I get ‘right’ – devotion to my wife, volunteering to help others, raising and loving our kids, when I remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ artistic determination, and a devotion to teaching, are in some way a dedication to my mom as an indebtedness specifically for the Malamute and for so much more.

Every student who just happens to be inspired by something they learned or understood in my art class, or any viewer gleaning insight about oneself or life from one of my paintings, gets traced directly back to my mom in a hot car with an annoying dog.

Thank you for the Malamute. Thank you for the dauntless example of how to live without resentment or complaint, meeting challenges as opportunities and for being the best example of perseverance. I hope a trace of this positive spirit continues exponentially through all of the thousands of people I have known throughout my teaching, my art, and my life as well as the thousands of people they encounter…and so on, and so on, and so on.

When you find yourself in those chaotic moments of life, where you seem to have an immense dog slobbering on you as you drive down life’s highway, remember to persevere, and hey, at least you have some company. So never overlook the appreciation in your life. Value what you have while you have it …Goodbye Mom.

By the way, I would have let that dog out of the car just outside the city limits. But after feeling the convictions of disappointing my mother, I also know that I would have gone back to look for it.



Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps Begin

Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps 2018

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. M-F * Ages 6-12 * $40 per day/$175 per week

TMA World Tour 2018      June 25-29

We’ll expand the visual arts to include music and performance. In addition to our visual art activities, our young artists will make musical instruments, learn a song, and play a mini-concert at the end of the week.

Upside-down and Backward      July 9-13

Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when we change the way we make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and our young artists will help us brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

Beachcombers’ Paradise     July 16-20

Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art! Biology, art and fun merge into one great experience as we learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express our new knowledge through art.

5 Days Away from Rose City   July 23-27

Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. We will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.


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6×6@110 Continues at Gallery Main Street

Skip the line, purchase tickets in advance HERE.
Purchase VIP tickets HERE.

The annual 6×6@110 is an art fundraising project to benefit Gallery Main Street in Downtown Tyler, Texas. The gallery is a City of Tyler facility operated with the cooperation of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition, an all-volunteer group of artists who schedule and jury fine arts exhibits and organize projects. All of the net proceeds of 6×6@110 will go to support those activities.

The annual 6×6@110 fundraising project will be held June 6th at 6pm. Each piece will be sold for $20, with all proceeds going to help fund the City of Tyler Main Street Department, which operates Gallery Main Street.

The name “6×6@110” reflects the fact that all artwork sold in the show will be 6”x6”, and will be shown at Gallery Main Street at 110 W. Erwin, Downtown Tyler.

For more info on this project go to, call (903)593-6905, or follow the Downtown Tyler Facebook Page.

The 2017 6×6@110 featured over 1000 works by hundreds of participants. The project earned the distinction of receiving the Best Promotional Event award from the Texas Downtown Association.

First Solo Show Opening

Help celebrate the opening of Gallery Main Street’s first fine art solo artist exhibit on Saturday, May 12th, 5:30-8pm. This free event will feature the opportunity to meet the artist and be among the first to see and purchase pieces from the exhibit. The exhibit will run through June 4th.

The jury will select the top three groups of submittals and then additional information and show descriptions will be submitted. The jury will review all additional information and will announce the solo artist on April 28th.

Other Upcoming Exhibits

Remaining shows this year are:

  • Solo Show #1 – Opening May 12th
  • “6x6x10” – Deadline June 1st, opening June 6th
  • Solo Show #2 – Deadline June 17th, opening July 14th
  • “Assemblies” – Deadline July 29th, opening August 11th
  • “Alternate Perspective” – Deadline September 30th, opening October 13th
  • Holiday Market – Deadline November 25th, opening December 8th

You can enter your art at For more info call (903)593-6905 or go to

Gallery Main Street features a new exhibit of original art approximately every eight weeks. Each exhibit opens with a Saturday evening reception that features music, an opportunity to meet the artists, refreshments, and more. The Opening Receptions are free and open to the public.

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Art Events Warming Up For Summer


Events & Classes

June 16th (11am-11:30pm) June 17th (11am-4pm) – Junebug Art and Music Festival – Calling all artists! Junebug is an annual community Art and Music festival with an afternoon farmers market. This event encompasses art in its many forms. There will be teachers of weaving and soap making, along with hands on pottery wheel demonstrations. Attendees’ senses will be engulfed by the sights, sound, smell, and feel of all that is to be offered at this very unique art event in a very quaint little artsy community. The show will offer up a stage filled with eclectic musicians, bands, and songwriters. Saturday there will be a community Farmers Market where locals can sell their organic and/or locally sourced products. Vendor and artist applications are available at The family-friendly festival, which is located in the tiny art enclave of Ben Wheeler,TX, highlights the work of artists, musicians, and artisans from the Lone Star state. Headquartered on the three-acre park-like property surrounding the FORGE (a local restaurant, bar, and music venue), the festival will give attendees an opportunity to witness the creative process through “live art” displays as well as the chance to actively join in the process. For more information email

June 22nd (7-9pm) – Paperbark Studio Pop Up will be held at Strada Caffe, 302 E. Front St., Tyler. Come join us for a pop-up art show featuring Paperbark Studio as well as craft beer, wine, and small plates, espresso bar and pastry case. Come enjoy a wonderful summer evening of local art!

June 26th (6-8pm) – Kids Canvas Paint Party – Tyler Parks and Recreation is hosting a Kids Paint Party at the Glass Recreation Center for children ages 7-12 years old. For more information, please visit

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