Saturday, March 15, 2008
When I left for Coolidge and the Phoenix Art Museum on Tuesday one of the last birds I saw was a beautiful male Gambel’s quail perched on the railing outside the den window. When I arrived home late yesterday afternoon I spotted one yet again in the same position as I drove up to my house past the wash. An appropriate welcome home, don’t you think?
This morning I awake at 5:30 am and step out the back door with my cup of green tea steaming in my cup. The sky is just beginning to lighten but a few stars are still visible in this quiet pre-dawn moment. A gentle breeze tickles the branches of the Palo Verde tree still sitting in its box, waiting to be planted. I’m struck by how still it is; not a manmade sound in the world. Overhead a triangle of stars hangs in the blue-black sky. I lift my heart in thankfulness to be alive, something I haven’t done in a very long time.
I stayed in Coolidge longer than originally planned. As usual, this project took much longer than I anticipated and I went much grander than I thought I would. As a result I will have to travel back to finish my painting, but here’s a brief peek at the progress.
Day one: sketch the drawing, paint the background. The water took longer to paint than I thought it would and more paint than I thought it would. I discovered that painting on a textured surface makes it really hard to paint a straight line.
Day Two: Paint lighthouse and the dolphin. The lighthouse is an artistic representation of the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, ME. My son and his wife are both from the east coast and they are missing the ocean and access to the beach. I’m trying to give them and their son a sense of that here in the middle of the desert.
Day Three: Finish the arctic tern and a few other details in the morning, then drive home before traffic in Tucson gets bad.
I will have to return to Coolidge next week to finish my painting, but for now I need to get home. I need to rest my arms and give the painting a time to stew in my mind before I fill in the rest of the details. It’s warm and sunny as I head out. I have to turn the air conditioner on in the car. We’ve had temperatures in the 80’s the past three days that I have been here. All along the highway wildflowers are blooming, especially near Picacho Peak, which is one of the best wildflower viewing areas in the state. On my drive home I spot a turkey vulture soaring overhead in this location. I hope to visit soon before they are all gone by and capture some photographs of this amazing display. (Note: More postings on this trip to follow.)