As is my custom I set out to paint a favorite spot to mark the last day of the old year. Rounding the bend to cross the river, I saw the bridge was closed.

I could have gone the long way around, but I like the idea of coming in to my old haunts from the sea side, gently rising above the river, then gliding down into the marsh like a bird.

Closed bridge, turn around. I did and painted a park road trailing off into the scrub, habitat of the friendly blue Scrub Jay, with hope I would see a pair. No luck, but a fat raccoon waddled across the road.

I painted the road in the diamond light. Then I scraped it off. Scraping off a painting is satisfying work. Some painters see it as another failure but I think its just part of the process. If the work is not singing, scrape it down. Better to have remembrance of beauty than inferior remainders of the day lying around the studio.

Its part of the ritual, a secular posturing of the elaborate sand mandalas of monks, which they destroy the moment of completion. The idea being to symbolize the transitory nature of the material world and the impermanence of life.  A theme I employ in my work.

On the way home, mulling over the delicate pinks, purples and golden jeweled hues that I scraped off earlier and knowing they are now embedded not in paint but in memory, I came to a scraped off house.

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End of Neptune House. Photograph

A beach house I had been studying for many years, was gone. A pair of bulldozers parked in its place.,

It hadn’t been much of a house, added on and architecturally unattractive. But I admired it because it had weathered a few hurricanes on its own, vacant. A balcony projected from the upstairs room. After studying the house for many years and not knowing why I was drawn to it blandness, I decided to paint it in tempera to see if I could figure it out, as tempera is slow and helps me think. So I began a painting then put it aside to wait for renewed inspiration, intending to return to finish it someday, perhaps next year.

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Start of Neptune House. Egg tempera in progress.

Ahh . . . Someday. Note to self — in the New Year don’t wait for Someday. You should know better by now.

Grateful now for painting it, for having something to keep. If not for itself than for all the other places I’ve returned to paint and found not as I left them last.

So now I leave this last day of the year to you my artist brothers and sisters, family and friends. Thank you for visiting and in the coming year I wish you peace, good health and joy.

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