That moment of completion is also, inevitably, a moment of loss–the loss of all the other forms the imagined piece might have taken.
David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
What a day. I closed out an art festival late last night, getting into bed around 1:00 a.m. At 7:30, I was up with the alarm, packing my gear to head forty minutes south to Waxahachie, Texas. Today marked the official start of the week-long event Paint Historic Waxahachie. I knew before I drove out of my driveway that I was already weary from the schedule of the past two days. But I could not pass on the opportunity of plein air painting without working around a school schedule. Memorial Day was a gift to me, and I had to accept it.
I arrived in Waxahachie, and began by completing a painting on the square that I had begun last Saturday afternoon, and was not entirely happy with its look. After spending an additional thirty minutes on it, the work looked better, and I called it complete. I then drove south of town, to a railroad shack and oil tanks I have painted twice before. But I couldn’t get interested in them this third time. Walking down the tracks a short distance, I came across this shanty and was immediately drawn to the darkness of the woods beyond a cyclone fence. Having fiddled around with the masquepen, attempting screen door paintings recently, I thought “Why not”? The weather was overcast, and a real deal-breaker for plein air painters wishing to paint sun-splashed Victorian and Gingerbread homes. Everything was quite flat throughout the day. So, I chose to focus on these deep, dark woods, the accents of a cyclone fence, and hoped I could manage the texturing and weathering of this sad building. I was glad to frame the bottom of the composition with railroad tracks as well, and try my hand at drybrushing the road bed and weeds rising to meet the fence.
I worked very quickly on this, and really got to the point that I was enjoying the process when suddenly, I realized it was near completion. There have been so many times that I did not want a watercolor session to end. This was one of them. When a freight train came between me and the subject matter, I stepped back, waiting for it to pass, and in viewing the painting from a distance, realized I had done about all I could to it. So I signed it and walked away. The work is now in the Ellis County Art Association office, awaiting the competition judging Friday, and then the Saturday-Sunday sale at Gezendaner Park. It is an 8 x 10″ composition, inside a white 11 x 14″ matt. I have priced it at $125.
Thanks for reading. I can’t wait for school to end tomorrow so I can return to the Waxahachie scene and attempt another painting.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal because I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.