Note to reader: The following is the article I composed on my laptop last Friday as I was preparing to depart from the Texas Laguna Madre. There was no Internet access then, so I saved and edited it for now.
F R I D A Y
Waking at 3:45 a.m. was not my plan. Unable to return to sleep, lying in the darkness, listening to the winds whipping through the screened windows and knowing I would depart in a manner of hours, I finally rose and pulled up a chair to the long conference table. With no lights available, I fitted my LED flashlight between the eyepieces of the field glasses at my elbow, and adjusting it to a 45-degree angle, fashioned a perfect desk lamp. Adjusting the second flashlight in similar fashion to fan out over the rest of the table, I then spread my eighteen watercolors across the surface so I could see them all and write. After about an hour of musing and writing, I returned to bed around 5:00 and slept till around 6:00.
Today is departure day. The boat is expected to arrive around 11:00. Tugging the rope to the gas-powered generator, I fired up the coffee maker and made my two cups, drank them slowly while gazing across the western waters, then took out a sketch I had begun the evening before while looking off the back porch of the field station. My technique was attempting the Albrecht Dürer style as I had tried with painting #4, with alternating layers of green washes and masquepen applications. Stripping off the masquing applied the night before, I again found too many white weeds, and so tried to tweak them by flowing pale warm green washes over the strands.
Once it dried, I positioned my coffee cup on the workbench on the west side porch of the field station, and drew it in pencil, using the circle templates I keep on file. Coffee cups are still the worst still life object for me to render. I can never seem to get that perfect oval on the top, or capture the edge of the rim. Any part of the drawing that dents or flattens the contour of the top of the cup draws my eye to it immediately and I feel incensed.
This time I got the mechanical oval in place alright, but painting on a Fluid watercolor block, I was impatient letting it dry (blocks never dry quickly as stretched paper does) and continued to work on the layers of wash on the cup that ran into each other because of the moisture. I didn’t care. I know better, and plan to try this one again once I get home, letting it dry so I can control the details better.
The boat arrived on schedule (funny to use the word schedule, considering I’ve been on “island time” nearly a week—there was no such word in my thinking), and Bobby Duke, Chriss Shope and Beth Almaraz got out with a bundle of technical equipment. Efficiently they walked about the island using their instruments and recording scientific data for the records they keep on the island’s ecosystem. They also followed a list of procedures in shutting down the field center and removing the gas-powered generator as well as the propane tank. All windows were closed, locked, blinds closed, doors locked, and bagged trash taken to the boat. In the midst of this, all three were pleasantly conversant and in good spirits. I don’t like to parody science personnel with their seriousness and uncommunicative airs. Let me just say that this trio was a genuine pleasure to have in company on this of all mornings. I found that true with all science personnel I have met in connection with this Texas A&M University Corpus Christi project.
And now, let me talk about the mood of this morning. It wasn’t the downer that I thought could happen. My internal clock adjusted to a six-day cycle, and when departure time came, I was ready. Maybe it was because I had accomplished my objectives. I managed to create a large body of work that was up to my standards, and made a number of discoveries that I plan to follow up in the studio. I wrote a great deal, managed to get blogs and facebook information launched, read, thought a great deal, and fly fished. I slept long and well every night (except last night) and was never tired or irritable. There were no negatives. And I am not returning home to something unpleasant. Compared to past travel excursions, my Colorado fly fishing vacations always ended on a depressing note, because I was not ready to stop fishing, and always returned to the first day of a fall semester of mandatory inservice training. That was always a downer. Right now, I have the rest of the summer stretched out before me, and that is a positive.
Thanks for reading.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.