I am a studio painter. End stop. And it took a good year to do even that with any degree of efficiency. As many have noted, I'm clumsy. Brushes roll off tables, tubes leak, medium gets knocked over and then I step in it. Now imagine all the usual painting gear outside in a gusty wind or a rain shower. Plein air painting is my private recipe for disaster. But I do love the tradition of sidewalk artists and sometimes that feeling overwhelms my good sense.
Luckily I have many friends who can produce good art outside. Mike and Cathy are two of them and we had a perfectly lovely time together in old Cambridge last week. I decided to up the plein air ante by bringing acrylic paint, a medium which has never cooperated with me. Any fool could have predicted the outcome. By afternoon the heat had turned it to cement on my brush and I had to manhandle the sky blue. You are not likely to see this painting, if you can call it that.
The day was saved, however, not only by the good conversation but also by a stroke of luck. I had arrived early and taken myself for a walk. Cranking my head back to take a shot of the spire on the huge 19th century stone Presbyterian church I noticed a loose bundle of sticks about halfway up. Like an idiot, I lowered my camera to take a better look, only to see a huge wing stretch out. A peregrine nest!!! Who else would build a nest on a tall building! Missed the shot, of course, but when we three met on the other side of the river and ended up painting that church, we watched the parents working the sky to feed the two growing youngsters. At least one snake slithered its last that day. And all bets are off for pigeon longevity in Cambridge.
One bird, however, was doing just fine, thank you very much. The mallard drake was sound asleep in the shade under a secluded footbridge There might have been a beer tucked under his wing. Later I ran into his wife, who was frantically trying to keep track of their nine ducklings on the river. Might paint those two photos as a diptych, if the women's movement ever sponsors an art show. Guaranteed to sell.
(As further proof, check March 25th, 2014 in the “Archives” section. Note absence of offspring.)