I have been wondering how you all are doing. Are you back into the swing of things now that the kids are back in school? Did you get your oldest one off to college? Have you been hiking the mountains pondering your next move? Well these are the things I have been doing.
I have hiked with and without friends... somehow, though, my chubby little self is ALWAYS last and lagging far behind. Makes for good photos, though. I spent the first couple of months blaming it all on the altitude, but I have come to face the music and realize that anyone, in my "well padded", chubby state would be panting along side me. Those kind of people don't seem to exist up here, so I just take my place at the end of the line and am grateful to be up there with the FFs (chubby girl code speak for the "Fit Folks.".)
The other day I went up Vail Mountain... good thing I have a year round pass for the gondola... it would have been a very long day without it.
Now, on some days, I will hitch my pack on and give it a good hike before settling on a spot to paint.
But on this particular day, I am telling you about now, I only made it 50 meters beyond the gondola landing zone to where the viewing deck is located.
Now, you have to understand, this view, from the viewing deck is spectacular. In the distance I can spot the peak where I nearly had a heart attack a few weeks back. Up there, looking out at the Sawatch Range, it feels like THAT is the view to paint. But it isn't. It is almost too daunting. Maybe some day I will tackle it. Anyways, on with the story. I clicked in the plastic buckles of my backpack and turned to begin my hike to find a more "reasonable" painting location. I think I took only four or five steps and stopped dead in my tracks. There it was- the ugliest part of the entire mountain, the top of one of the lifts, showing itself off to me in all it's glory. How many times had I dismissed this view? But I was unable to shake it. I walked a few feet more and then returned to my spot near the viewing platform, unpacked my gear and began.
So what was so different this time? The CLOUD. I had to paint it.
I made a sketch in my sketchbook and, when I got home, painted it with my pastels. As I told you a few posts back, I have fallen in love with the pastels. However, I must admit, it is a love/hate relationship. The pastels are heavy to carry with me on my hikes. That would be bad enough, but they also have another drawback - once you are done with the pastel painting, you just can't fix it and forget it. Spray fixative does nothing to prevent it from smearing if you rub up against them (or stack them, even.) so the ONLY solution is to frame them... read "EXPENSIVE". Being that this whole living-in-the-mountains experiment is only temporary, I can assure you that none of my artwork is going to get framed. Packing that, at the end, would be cumbersome to say the least. So I have started to do two things: one is to take my little sketchbook along with me (definitely lighter load) and then do the pastels back at the house, but... BUT... it is a rental... I would freak out if I ruined the floors so I have to be uncharacteristically careful when I paint. So the other thing I have been doing is learning how to paint with oils, en plein air, out there in nature, on the spot.
This one, above, is oils done on paper (read:"cheap, cheap"), it is about 12"x12" and is of my favorite rock (don't you have a favorite rock?) If a rock could smile, I think this rock would have a really wide grin as the sun comes up in the east and warms it to the point of being hot to the touch, no matter how cool the day. Now I know that oil painting is not my "thing." My mother (bless her heart, I love her more than she can imagine) thinks I should just stick to what I am finally seeing some success in - that is pastels. My husband (I love him too) thinks my pastels "have more subtleties" to them. Granted. But what about the 80/20 rule?
The 80/20 rule states that you should do what you are good at 80% of the time! but that 20% of the time you should push yourself way out of your comfort zone otherwise progress is not only slow, but you risk screeching to a standstill without noticing it. This applies to everything. Cooking - 20% of the time you should be cooking something that forces you to learn something new, wether it is a new technique, a new cuisine from afar, or a simply new vegetable. If you are an athlete (I am speaking out of supposition, here, OBVIOUSLY), if you just run around the same track over and over again, you will get exercise, but your progress will be stunted. Changing up your routine just 20% of the time forces your muscles, and your muscle memory, and of course your brain, to LEARN... and that is what life is all about, isn't it?
Sure, we can say that life is all about those we love... true... but is that all there is to life? When we were little, we grew by leaps and bounds. I am not talking about physically. Everything we did, every moment, was a learning experience. We need to keep that up... until our last breath.
Ok. I am getting a little too deep, perhaps, let's lasso it back in to the title of this post - Painter of Dirty Skies. So, this morning I went out on a hike... backpack, easel, water bottle, & cowboy hat... all the gear my little pack mule self could carry and I risked all self conscious thoughts and painted down on the Miller Ranch trail. I must have had more than twelve people come right up to my easel and look between it and my view and then (hold on tight) ... comment on what I was doing. Tonight, in my prayers, I have to remember to thank God for making them all such gentle folk. Bless their hearts. At one point a pack of elementary school kids on an educational outing appeared out of nowhere. They were an energetic and inquisitive bunch, but oh so unexpectedly gentle.
They brought back good memories of my teaching days - children, of all ages, are so generous in their spirit.
So this is the painting I did:
So why am I thinking I might someday be known as the "painter of dirty skies"? Because when I was finally done cleaning up and re- packing up my stuff...
I DROPPED THE PAINTING IN THE DIRT
Yup. I could have kicked myself. In fact, I am pretty sure all those sweet little children, who were by then quite a ways down the trail, heard the "painter with the cowboy hat on" cussing and swearing like a drunken sailor. GRRRR. You can't imagine how mad I was. All that glorious morning painting out there in heaven-on-earth ended in me cussing. The bad part, I must confess, is that this is not the first time this has happened. I have no idea why I was first in line when they were handing out the klutziness genes, but trust me, I was the first one up for the doling out. So here I sit, staring at my dirty painting waiting for it to dry so I can attempt to fix it. I don't think the worst thing in life is to drop a painting in the dirt after all that effort. The worst thing would have been to never try to paint it in the first place.
Love to all of you, hugs and kisses too.
Your painter of dirty skies,