Friday, March 16, 2007

Wallflowers and such

Once upon a time I painted with a group of watercolorists in Denver. One of our usual haunts was the Denver Botanic Gardens, but no matter where we went it always took me a long time to settle down and choose my subject.

I was lamenting this fact one day to another woman in the group, and she promptly informed me that the problem was my approach. "First I decide where I want to SIT," she declared. "THEN once I'm settled I decide what to paint." It always seemed a little backward to me, but then she never got sunburned as I did.

Day Three of The Great Eastern Expedition we were at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon's first home in America. It was sunny, but cold and windy and once again I wasn't sure what I wanted to paint. Suddenly the ghost of that woman (whose name I have sadly forgotten) was standing beside me again, speaking words I now knew to be wisdom. I plunked myself down on the sheltered side of the house, looked around, and was happily surprised to find the interesting textures of winter vines clinging stubbornly to the wall.

The next day I discovered that an equally good option was to sit indoors and look out the window of a nearby home towards JJA's house on the hill. Comfy chair and tea. Not exactly field work, but some days it doesn't pay to be a purist.

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