A middle-age, well dressed man runs by me on the island.
A moment later. . .”That would be great if you could catch that dog!”
A few minutes later, he huffs by me with a dejected looking dog tucked under his arm.
Andrew Wyeth said, “if you wait for it, life will come to you.”
I find myself here, painting this small watercolor sketch of flowers and cottage, because two weeks ago, I was beginning another painting and life in the form of a man came up to me and said:
“You know there’s going to be wedding right where your standing, don’t you?”
I had just set my easel up and was starting to paint. I’d been waiting all day for the light to get right. My subject was an immaculately restored 1920’s Florida vernacular house. It’s rocker and screen door were the inspiration for “Morning Coffee” and I’d been wanting to paint more of the house.
“So, when is this wedding?”
“In about two hours, but we’ll be setting up here.”
Two weeks later, I’m back again. Same time, good light. No wedding in sight. I set up my easel, get out my brushes, and go back to my van for paint. No paint. I left them at home.
Pack up, get back in the van, and sit thinking and drinking my coffee.
I decide to go look at a small cottage that’s drawn my eye for awhile.
The bougainvillea flowers draped over the picket fence are catching the sun. I realize I have a few watercolors with me. And a new sketchbook. I love breaking in a new sketchbook. Flipping through the pristine pages, imagining it filled with notes, color, and inspiring ideas always gives me hope—a book filled with life. Life recorded with the the oldest tools; pencil, a few pigments, water and a stick with a bit of hair tied to the end of it. Purity of expression. I use my sketchbook for exploration, letting the subject speak to me.
Maybe it’s the cottage with it’s metal roof, blue in the evening shade. Maybe it’s the pair of flowers, red and purple, or palms or picket fence. Maybe it’s all these things. Associations begin to form, memories of planting flowers and palms and cottage building. Maybe it’s a dream I’m painting, or an idea for the future.
I work over the paper. With pencil and drybrush watercolor recording with hand what catches my eye, and there at the base of the picket fence, are these delicate ferns. Their fine texture thrills me. I don’t know why. Maybe because they echo the palms in miniature. Maybe it’s the way they touch the weathered gray fence—feathery soft against splintery rough.
It began with flowers and comes down to ferns. And this is how I go. Riding on a feeling, instead of painting the obviously picturesque. Searching for the undefinable qualities of a thing. Something beautiful that can only be expressed in the language of art.
I end the sketch here, before I say to much. Better to leave the table slightly full than with a belly ache.
This little sketch is on it’s way to a new home. However, if you are an original collector of mine and you email me your physical address, I might surprise you with one of these sketches in the mail someday. Or go to my Facebook Studio page and “Like” it. I will be doing a random drawing soon, and the winner gets an original sketch.
Art from life will come to you.