Sunday, May 31, 2009
My friend Galen was let go by the newspaper chain I used to work for. She was the editor of one of the company's weeklies and they eliminated her position. After I left, they eliminated my position, editor of one daily and two weeklies. Last month, they eliminated the position of managing editor, too. Makes me wonder how these papers will be published. Luckily for me, that's no longer my worry.
Once many laid-off journalists are over the initial shock, they're finding that life outside of newspapers is better than life inside newspaper. Also, from outside, it's miles easier to see why newspapers are failing. But that's for some other posting on some other blog.
Galen has landed on her feet, found a better job, and had a long vacation. She's also started a wonderfully amusing blog, galenmcgovern.blogspot.com - and she's getting a new dog.
This pup, part Wheaten terrier, part who knows what, (my guess would be bouvier) is coming from a shelter in Plainfield, Conn. He looks like a beautiful guy, mischievous, fun, bouncy.
I will donate this painting as part of the Art for Shelter Animals Project (artforshelteranimals.blogspot.com) - but it's going to be hard to part with this one!
Friday, May 29, 2009
My friend Mary Ann lives in South Paris, Maine, a lovely but very cold place. We worked together in the Norway, Maine, bureau of the Sun Journal, and we got to be good friends.
We found that we share lots of opinions, lots of leanings. One big one is that we both love animals. Mary Ann, at the time, had a basset hound named Bozzlee. He was a lovable cuss, but a badly behaved dog. One Thanksgiving, Bozzlee jumped up and pulled a piece of turkey off Peter's plate!
Bozz also never became fully housebroken. We were having similar issues at the time with Gus and Najim, two now-deceased males. Gus was a bichon, Najim a Pekingese. They struggled for dominance all their lives.
Finally, it got so bad that we began putting them in side by side crates when we couldn't keep a close eye on them. One day, I found them peeing on each other through the bars of the crates.
Bozz died last year, after ingesting a plastic shopping bag. Mary Ann was heartbroken, and his death was not the only traumatic event in her life at the time.
She's healing, and partly because she plucked up her courage and went out and got another dog. I can't remember his name, but I painted this picture of him, and his sweet droopy face.
Don't forget! If you're around on Saturday, stop in at Pet Supplies Plus in Groton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I'll be painting there, to promote the Art for Shelter Animals Project. I'd love to see you! You can find a map and directions to Pet Supplies Plus in the lower left corner of the home page of Jacobson Arts.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
For all of you in the area (or wanting to take a drive somewhere!), I will be painting at Pet Supplies Plus in Groton on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I'll be set up right in the store, painting shelter animals and promoting the Art for Shelter Animals Project.
If you're new to the project, click the hyperlink above and visit the blog. Artists make portraits of animals in shelters or with rescue groups, and donate the art to the shelter or rescue group. It's making a difference already, but we need more people to participate. You don't have to BE an artist, professionally or even in your own mind - just have some love for animals and be willing to try your hand at capturing them with paint or pencil or ink or markers or crayons or ...
This will be my second paint-in at the pet store, and I feel safe inviting all of you to drop in.
The store is on Long Hill Road in Groton, in the shopping center by Goodwill and TJ Maxx. (Where the Ground Round used to be).
To map yourself right to the front door, go to jacobson-arts.com. The map is on the home page, in the lower left-hand corner. I'd love to see you and your dogs, too! Far as I know, you can bring cats, birds, iguanas or turtles, as well, but most folks just brought their dogs last time.
It's been raining here for days, or for eternities, it's hard to tell. This morning has dawned gray and wet and drizzly, and I know that all of this is good for everything that grows, but it's not that good for humans. Everything is starting to smell, inside the house and out, and I am looking forward to sunshine and my litany of complaints about the heat.
I made this painting in my basement studio. I've been trying to push my landscapes more toward abstraction, and with this painting, I believe I took my first step. Broader shapes, fewer colors, richer darks, brighter lights. Painting like I've gone a little blind.
Same deal here as with the following three azalea paintings. If you buy it, I will give 25 percent to the Kinney Azalea Garden, and shipping is on me.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
(Yes, you've seen this one already. Read on, Macduff!)
An artist was talking on the radio as I packed my paint bag for the outing. He was saying that he was older now, and past what he termed his "apogee." He wasn't as smart as he'd been as a young man, he said, nor as vigorous, nor as enthusiastic.
My bag was packed then, and I shut off the radio and left, so I don't know if he redeemed himself. I don't know if he talked about the gifts that take the place of that crackling youthful cleverness I once considered "intelligence." I don't know whether he talked about the patience that wakes up when vigor takes its rests. I don't know if he talked about experience, and how it cuts a path beyond enthusiasm.
As I walked through the garden, and looked into the shadows, I saw that my first impressions had been off base. Not all the color had passed. The pathways curled and curved into the woods, and I followed them, seeking. And deep in the shade of the tall trees, I found azaleas still blazing, brighter in their late bloom than all the rest had been.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
For years now, I've been coming home with paintings, holding them up and asking Peter, "Do you know where this is?"
For years, I've been crushed when he didn't recognize the spots.
How can you not recognize the road you drive on every single day, coming back to our house? How can you not recognize the place in the river where you've fished for most of your adult life? How can you not recognize that field where we stopped to let Gus pee 15 years ago?
Well, no, you're right, the road isn't actually purple on that stretch. And, OK, no, that place in the river does have trees along the far bank; they were in the way, and I just didn't paint them in. And yes, I know, that field where we let Gus out doesn't really have orange and blue flowers in it, but wouldn't it be great if it did?
So when I came home from a day of painting on Saturday and asked my poor, beleaguered husband if he recognized the scene in this painting, I was thrilled nearly beyond words when he said, "Sure. It's Crandall Field."
When I was a kid, I spent my summers at Guthrie Beach. We went every day. My dad would go off to work, and my mother would pack beach towels and soda, coffee and lunch, and off we'd go.
When we arrived, always driving the five or so blocks - they were long blocks - the beachboy would already have the low sand chairs set up for my mother and her friends.
They would sit in a semi-circle, facing the sun, and facing the water just enough to keep an eye on us. They'd drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and slather themselves with tanning lotion. "SPF"? Isn't that the stuff you put in engines to keep them running clean?
When they went in the water, they all kept their heads and hair out, even if they were swimming.
All day, women from other beaches, and other areas of our beach, would walk past and stop to talk. All day. From about 8 in the morning to about 4 in the afternoon, this was their lives.
At the time, I thought nothing of it. My mother was gorgeous, and all her friends were gorgeous. They had great tans and great figures, and they talked and laughed all day. The rest of the year, their lives were about taking care of the kids and the house, a job whose huge dimensions I now recognize. But in the summer, it seemed that Mom and her friends spent the days just goofing off at the beach.
And really, maybe, they did. Maybe that was one of the reasons she loved Guthrie Beach so much.
Mom asked that we gather at Guthrie to remember her, and to scatter her ashes, and so we did. My guess is that when she thought of all the places where she'd been happy, it was this place, with the surf and the sun, the wide, bright summer days, her kids safe and happy, and her tanned, talkative friends around her, this is what she held warm and close in her heart.
The day I made this painting, the wind was blowing in cold and crisp off the Sound. The sun was bright, but the air chilly. The two women walking could have been mother and daughter, or they could have been friends. Or they could have been both.
Monday, May 25, 2009
If you can believe it, this painting is even brighter in person than is the image that you're seeing. I've tried to match the colors and values three times in Photoshop and twice in iPhoto, and this is the closest I can get.
There's something intensely liberating about these abstracts I've been making. There is the strong pull of the colors themselves - this is a gut-level sensation that has been with me from the instant I picked up a brush. I just love color. Bright color, dark color, color that has no name, I love it all.
Beyond that, I love paint. The smooth, creamy edge of it, the way it layers like icing in the thick spots, and spreads translucent as a dream in the thin spots. I love the way wet paint works into wet paint, announcing its meeting spots in lines and curves of blended colors. I love the way the dry brush whispers color onto the canvas, and the way the palette knife streaks and streams color, controlled and uncontrolled at the same time.
All of this is in landscapes, yes, but in these abstracts, it comes to the very front. It's exciting!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Saturday, Jill Blanchette and I traveled to Kingston, Rhode Island, near URI, to paint in the Kinney Azalea Garden.
There's color everywhere! Pink and red, white and cream, orange and lilac and magenta and fuscia, salmon and crimson and yellow - the color streams out in cascades, curves down beckoning paths, cuts through dark green foliage. When you walk into this garden, it feels like you're walking into the heart of spring itself.
Here are a couple of links to the azalea garden: www.gdeb.com/organizations/EBAC/garden_club/kinney.htm and kinneyazaleagardens.com/
If you live around here, or can get here in the next week or so, you really should see this place. It's open every day, during daylight hours, and it's free. They accept donations, and you can buy azaleas there to plant, too.
Jill and I had a great day, exploring and painting. It was her first plein-air experience and she enjoyed it, for sure. For me, no other paint experience approaches the joy of standing in a breathtaking landscape, soaking it up and and bringing it to the canvas. I think Jill got a good taste of that on Saturday.
To see her marvelous paintings and fascinating portraits, check out her spot on the Hygienic's website: http://hygienic.ning.com/profile/JillBlanchette
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
It had been a long, hot day of driving when I pulled into Deming, New Mexico, on my way to Tubac, Arizona, to see my dad.
I'd started the day in Midland, Texas, after a virtually sleepless night. The wind buffeted the van all over the highway, and when I stopped at Sand Hills State Park in Monahans, Texas, I could hardly see, let alone paint (I got one cool photo of this place, though. You can check it out at jacobson-arts.com. Go to "Carrie's paintings," and look at " some cool photographs").
I kept at it, though, pushing past El Paso, and then climbing up to Las Cruces just as the afternoon sun began to warm the colors of the fields. By the time I got to Deming, I was aching to paint, and so I did.
To the left of where I stood to make this painting, a house/restaurant sat, sagging into deterioration. But even that building looked like it had potential, in the warm light and clean, high-prairie air.
People who know the area couldn't quite understand my interest. But I think this painting says it all.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Jojo, one of our dogs, is just a tad enthusiastic in her adoration of me. Her world doesn't simply revolve around me - her world IS me. And this is great for both of us.
Well, most of the time.
Yesterday, I came racing into the house after being out painting for a while. I had to pee wicked bad, as my Maine friends would say, and so I said hello to the dogs and sped by, without pausing to pet them or even close the door to the bathroom.
In they came, with Jojo leading the pack. As they crowded into the tiny space, begging for attention and a proper greeting from me, blobs and streaks of crimson began to appear. Was someone hurt? Cut? Spraying arterial blood? The color appeared on the door, on the wall, on the Samoyed. It made no sense.
Then I realized what had happened.
Jojo, in her joyous enthusiasm, had wagged her way from the kitchen to the bathroom, and smacked her tail into one of my not-yet-dry paintings. Every time she wagged, in our clean, white bathroom, wham! Alizarin crimson everywhere.
Sheesh. Sometimes, I'd be happier to be just part of Jojo's universe, not the entire thing.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Finally, after about a million days of rain, the sun came out. I drove my little old paint-stained Miata through the brilliant day. Yes, I shivered a little, but who cares? It was sunny, it was May, the world was green, the day was big and broad and open.
It was, however, too cold and windy to paint at the beach, so I turned inland and found myself in what I consider a quintessential Rhode Island landscape - the turf farms along Route 2 in West Kingston.
The land stretches out, flat and unbroken, for about as far as you can see. It's all different shades of green, and above it, the sky is enormous. I know Rhode Island is the Ocean State, and I know how environmentally unsound turf farms are, but still, I'd cast a vote for renaming Rhode Island the Turf State.
On a different note, one of my paintings was accepted into the South County Art Association's regional juried show. All three of Peter's photographs were accepted! I am happy for him, but happier for myself, really. It's been a long, long string of rejections. As one friend in a similar situation said, "I guess I can put away the pills and razor blades..."
Thanks for reading!
Artist Sandy Sandy (check out her delightful website, where you can find her many blogs - including one detailing ways to attract hummingbirds!) has given me the "Noblesse Oblige" blog award. That translates to "nobility obligates." Or with great power comes great responsibility.
The award was given to Sandy by Sheila Tajima, through whose lively and varied blog, From Forensic to Fine Art, the Art for Shelter Animals Project was born.
Here is a description of the attributes this award recognizes:
1) The blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances of different cultures and beliefs.
2) The blog inspires, strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the blog, and it is one that fosters a better understanding of social science, politics, economics, the arts, culture, science or belief.
4) The blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
Bloggers who receive this award will need to perform the following steps:
1) Create a post with a mention and link to the blogger who presented the award to you.
2) Display the award conditions.
3) Write a short post about what your blog has thus far achieved.
4) The blogger must present the award to blogs in concurrence with the award conditions.
5) The blogger can display the award at any location on their blog.
So... what this blog has achieved? Who the heck knows. It's given me an outlet, that's for sure, a way to share my paintings and offer them for sale. It's given me a daily schedule, a daily challenge. It's a fun way to communicate and keep in touch.
What it's done for the good people who read it, I can't begin to guess.
So. I'd give this award to Sandy and Sheila, but they already have it. One of them has given it already to Liz Holm (check out her blog!)
I will award it to Jala Pfaff, not only for having the coolest name on the planet, but also because her work is tender and lovely and her blog takes me to a place I like very much. Check it out! http://jalapfaff.blogspot.com/
Also, I will award this to Robin Weiss (http://inpleinair.blogspot.com/), whose plein-air paintings continue to amaze and inspire me, and whose blog restores my faith.
Also, I will award this to r. garriott (http://rgarriott.blogspot.com/), who makes gorgeous paintings and offers tremendous help to artists at all levels of development.
I reserve the right to give this award to other bloggers, as I'm so moved. After all, with great responsibility comes great privilege.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The church down the street has drawn me since we moved to Whalehead Road. It's a brick church, and it sits on a rising piece of land that overlooks the Thames River. The church faces west, and so, at pretty much any time of day, the sun does interesting things to its brick sides.
A week or so ago, dogwoods were in high bloom all over the place. Look into any glade, and you'd see the horizontal flowers of white dogwood, bright in the thin spring greenery.
The cultured variety burst into bloom, as well, and so it seemed that everywhere I went, I was treated to one of springtime's graceful shows. Between the pink and white dogwoods and the ornamental cherry trees, the azalea and early lilacs and a neighbor's surprise of wisteria, Whalehead Road came alive with color.
I'd set out to make more of a fuss about the dogwoods in this painting, but as I painted, the whole landscape made its way onto the canvas. The dogwoods are there, though!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
as part of the Art for Shelter Animals Project.
Also, I've revamped our website, jacobson-arts.com. I'm not gifted with this digital stuff, and while I often have good ideas about what I want, I rarely have an idea how to get it. So there's always a lot of work involved, and a lot of learning and a whole lot of luck. Please take a moment to check out the site and let me know honestly what you think, positive or negative, and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any ideas you have for improvement.
I spent a good chunk of yesterday (my birthday!) painting in Pet Supplies Plus in Groton. This is a nice, medium-sized pet store, one of eight in the state owned by the same group of people. I approached them a couple weeks ago, hoping to get the word out about the Art for Shelter Animals Project (artforshelteranimals.blogspot.com). My stepdaughter Erika and my brother Rand have been pushing me to paint in pet stores for a long time. Sheila Tajima, my ASAP co-founder, has had a good reception painting in a pet store out in California.
I think it was successful, for a first go. People were a little afraid that I was going to try to sell them something, so I ended up approaching them with materials about the project, and that was fine. I'm going to paint there every other Saturday for a few months, so I think they will get used to me. It was fun!
Thanks for reading, and for all your support.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I painted anyways, a bright and sunny piece that I liked. I left it on the easel, and left the easel on our deck.
In the afternoon, the sky clouded up and thunderstorms rolled in. Peter brought my painting inside and put it on a chair, sitting on the seat and leaning on the back.
Hours later, I noticed that Eunice, one of our cats, had curled up on the pillow on the chair. She'd smeared and smudged the center of the painting to a point where I doubt that it can be repaired.
So today, I found myself awake early. I went out into the yard at 5:30, and painted. This time, I didn't miss the mist.
Within the week, two friends have told me about the dissolutions of their marriages. A part of me was stunned. Another part of me was not.
No one but the partners themselves knows what happens inside any marriage - and I'd guess that even the partners are somewhat in the dark. Really, who among us can look at anyone - including ourselves - and say, "I understand you completely."
If only there were a way to redo a marriage as easily as redoing a painting.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Sometimes, I wonder about the forces behind the apparent randomness of life. I was thinking about this question when I made the painting at the top of this post.
Sometimes, I can see the correlations. If I hadn't misplaced my purse on Saturday, and spent 10 minutes looking for it, I would have been on Route 2 precisely when that driver swerved and hit the guardrail and then catapulted into the woods. I might have been on the lane beside him.
If I hadn't stumbled into a show at the Lighthouse Gallery in March, and then stopped in to talk to Chris Rose, and if he hadn't been worried about his April artist and invited Peter to show in that artist's place, well, if all that hadn't happened, I'd have left for Arizona in the middle of March, and potentially been involved in a shooting in Tennessee and a huge flood in Texas. Both were right on my route.
Most of the time, life just unfolds around me and I don't wonder so much about the underlying weave. But sometimes, the correlations show their very tips and get me to thinking.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I spent most of the afternoon yesterday working in the garden. Among other tasks, I pruned my roses. And thought of my mother, who was never happier than when she was cutting away at dead wood, metaphorically or in reality.
At the house where we grew up, one edge of the driveway was marked by a row of weigelia. These are bushes that grow, bouquet-like, with graceful limbs that bend in the wind and are covered, for a few weeks each summer, with (in our case) pinkish flowers.
Every year, my mother would spend days pruning the weigelia. It was hard to tell whether she loved those bushes or hated them, sometimes, her pruning was so intense. She would end up with a pile of branches nearly as big as the bushes that remained. Those bushes thrived from it, and she did, too.
I know that roses need space in their centers. They need to feel the breeze and the sun in their hearts. I gathered my courage and pruned them so that they could have what they want, and what they need. It hurt to cut some of those branches. It always does. But what remains will be stronger and healthier for it.
Thank you for reading!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
It is Mothers Day, and I've felt a wealth of emotions. Erika and John took Peter and me out for Mothers Day breakfast, and showered me with presents. I felt loved and treasured as a mother. It's a clear, sweet feeling - and one that has come to me in pieces and in parts, late, perhaps, but with no less import or depth than if it had come at the very beginning of Erika's life.
It is also my third Mothers Day without my own mother. It is a day that will never pass without my feeling the joy of having been my mother's daughter, and the sadness of living on in this life without her.
She taught me how to love, how to share, how to give. She taught me what it means to be a friend and a mother. She taught me that being generous gives me joy, that working hard gives me pleasure, and that speaking and living my own truth gives meaning to my life.
I'd give anything to have one more day with her.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I am home, and it's spring, and there's joy for me in both of those statements. And yet, I find I already miss the power and the bulk and the colors of the Southwest.
Sure, there's color here, but it's spare, sprinkled through the spring landscape. The cherry trees and dogwoods showed their pretty, lacy, dancing clothes for a few days, and I nearly drove off the road, staring. But those colors are already gone. Forsythia bloomed and passed while I was traveling. Lilacs and azaleas have yet to blossom - and anyways, these colors all are transient.
What I find pulling at me now is the very earth out there in Arizona. The colors in the ground itself are all that any painter ever could want - and that's before you even think of sky or wheat or grasses or trees or flowers or mountains.
The afternoon before I made this painting, I pulled off the road and, entranced by fields of wheat at sundown, I painted "Blue-Plate Special," (Monday, April 20).
As dusk wound into evening and then spun into night, I cut through the countryside to find a hotel. I'd turned off the main road and onto a side road, and as I drove, and the sun lowered, the land around me grew more enchanting. Small golden hills sloped into blue shadows. The sky and the wheatfields became pink and then lilac and then slipped into darkness. Cows watched me skirt their pastures.
The next day, I found the road but I couldn't find what I had seen the evening before. I drove up and down the length of that road, and still, the gentle landscape I had seen refused to reappear.
It was then that it dawned on me that what I loved was not the wheatfields themselves, but the wheatfields at dusk, picking up the colors of the sun setting across the huge, open plains.
And so, I stopped to paint.
The sun beat down on this Texas roadway as I painted. The temperature climbed to more than 100 degrees, and bugs swarmed as I painted. Not a car passed, and there was no noise beyond the singing of the birds and the buzzing heat of a Texas noon.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
It's time to clear out the corners of my life. Time to get in order things that should have been in order years ago, and to stop worrying about things I just can't ever get in order. It is long past time to rid myself of stuff I haven't used or seen or needed in years. Time to be brutal, as my mother would have said - and did say - with everything that doesn't matter. In other words, it's time to find the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Same with my painting, I think. With every canvas, I need to strive to make every stroke matter.
Whether the paint is thin or thick, whether I'm using one color or three or five mixed together, when I put that brush down, it should come down as content, as flesh or as bone. It can be play, it can be amusement, but it should not be frosting, decoration, needless filling in. This doesn't mean I am necessarily on a path of minimalism, just that I am on a path of conscious determination.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It was near the end of the summer when I had the first go at this painting. I'd gone to Barn Island, at the end of Palmer Neck Road in Stonington, on a mid-week day in August, thinking I'd be alone.
Instead, there were dozens of fishermen there, with their boats and trucks and cars and friends and kids and dogs and trailers, and the whole parking lot reeked of pee, human and canine. Still, the morning had dawned quiet and calm, with a light haze over the water, and so I stood my ground and painted, ignoring everything except what was right in front of me.
I came home with a painting that I half-loved. The sky intrigued me. The clouds looked like they were bursting into day, and they had light and air and the color of dawn. But the water, ouch, it was bad. It looked like concrete, like something that had never moved and never would.
So I kept the painting, and kept staring at it and thinking about it and contemplating. And yesterday, as the rain fell, I reworked the water, taking special care not to touch the sky.
Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I've been down and out for more than a few days here. First, it was the flu - thankfully, not the swine flu, just some sleep-logging illness - that kept me groggy around the clock for days on end.
Then, I took my little laptop in to get it souped up, and that took days and days.
Meantime, it's been raining and raining and raining. So I've spent time in my basement studio, organizing and cleaning and trying some new things. This painting is one that I made over these past few days.
It's a scene I painted last summer, on a plain outside of Wisdom, Montana. I loved the way the Big Hole River curls and curves through the thick, green grass, and how the earth seems to stretch away forever. This time, I tried a darker version, and tried glazing (using small amounts of paint in a glazing medium) to add translucence and depth.
Also, I made this painting on top of another. Come to think of it, that other one was one that I made on top of yet another painting. I like painting on the rough surface of another painting. I like putting new paint over the veins and bones, the ridges and wrinkles of another painting. I like the rough textures, the unexpected highs and lows, the way the painting that's being covered maps the new work.
Thanks to all of you who called, worried. I will call back soon. And thank you, all of you, for reading.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I've been flat on my back with some sort of whole-body illness since Tuesday. Mostly, I've been sleeping. And sleeping and sleeping. I was, of course, terrified that I had swine flu - the route I drove through America took me to nearly all the places where there have been outbreaks - but whatever I had has pretty much passed, and I am up and moving again.
While I was sleeping, spring came to Gales Ferry. Branches that had been bare now have budding leaves. The yellow lawn has turned green. Shoots have appeared on my roses, and there are flowers on the apple trees and the skinny four-pear tree.
I made this painting on the road from Ganado, Arizona, to Canyon de Chelly. A storm was blowing in from the west and taking the light with it. As I painted, the air grew colder, and I painted more quickly, increasingly intent on the moody scene. When I finally looked up, I saw that a Navajo police car had parked at the other end of the pull-off where I'd set up. He drove away when I'd packed up and gotten into the car. It was a little frightening to know that I hadn't noticed him at all, and a little creepy to know that he'd sat there, silent, watching me paint.