I am a Slow Painter in a that and another sense. Jon has given up asking me what I painted each day. The answer is inevitably along the lines of “so-and-so’s eyes” or “that tree on the far right.” Today, if I am diligent, it may be “the value study for In the Gorge” #3. I even did the focal point yesterday; today brought the endless blur of dead cedars partially or fully emerged in the river. Darned it there aren’t quite a few more than I noticed at the time.
I took the reference shot from a bridge above a lovely section of the gorge on a clear summer’s day. Jon had been instructed to fish as usual. No trouble selling that assignment. I leaned out and took forty or fifty shots, of which several were worth using. But there they sat. The famous story I’ve told before about Winston Churchill bears repeating here. A Sunday painter, he sat gazing at his blank canvas one week; his friend grabbed a brush and made a dark swipe across the expanse of white: “The enemy is vanquished.”
It took the pressure of three upcoming shows to summon the courage to vanquish my own enemy. This is not unusual. And, as usual, a slow horse I remain. Last night when I broke down and asked Jon to come see what I’d accomplished, his first comment was “Oh, I wouldn’t have chosen that one.” And only then did he tell me that his left arm was on an awkward angle because he was trying to keep his prized Hardy bag out of the water. Normally he would not carry it while wading deep, but the prospect of being immortalized must have inspired his inner fashionista. Dang. Hadn’t noticed that the arm was in a funny place until he mentioned it. Note that once I'm painting, it is no longer Jon's arm. MINE! But I decided he was right anyway. So today’s first act of regret was to tuck the forearm in front where it belonged. The rest of today has been spent rendering the complex calligraphy of the downed trees in white and burnt umber. It's 5, I’m cross-eyed and my arches collapsed several hours ago. Both I and the light are failing.
Once in a while, some well-meaning soul suggests that I enter an Art Battle, which is essentially a speed test.