Oil on canvas, 12x12. Commission
Saturday was my last day painting in West Hartford for a while, and as the day wore down, I found myself feeling a little wistful about it.
It's not an easy gig. It means getting up at the crack of dawn, packing the van, making sure to bring all the right stuff for all contingencies. It means driving nearly an hour and a half, finding a place to park (right in front of the gallery, really, if I am going to make it work all day) and loading up the meter with quarters.
By the time the store opens at 10, I am all set up. I plug in my little iPod music machine and begin painting. I stand for five or six hours. If it's hot, I swelter. If it's cold, I freeze. I paint - good, bad, and everything in between - in public, with all the world watching. Sometimes, I am miraculously lucky, and can't make a bad stroke. Sometimes, the painting comes very hard. (This Saturday was like that).
So it is hard, and tiring, and frightening. But there is something magical in it, something life-affirming and joyous. And I am aware that, in a funky and American-eccentric way, I am carrying on the long tradition of the European street painter.
The painting is fun, and when I make a good one out there, it's great. But for me, the best part is the people I've met. Lizzie and Al are my special favorites. They are a father and daughter who have come to visit - and paint - for most of the Saturdays I've been out there. Lizzie was a little nervous, at first, to paint - and that is understandable. It's scary, to put brush (or knife) to canvas, while all of West Hartford walks by and watches. But with some urging from her dad and myself, she began to paint with me, and she was superb.
This Saturday, no urging was needed. She stepped up to the canvas and painted with ease and happiness.
Thea is another friend I've made there in the Center. She's a tall, exotic beauty who adores dogs, and really gets my paintings. She commissioned me to make one of her mother's aging dog, and while my painting brought tears to her eyes, her gift brought tears to mine.
So I'm out of the Center until some time in July. Next weekend is Erika's wedding. Then there's my birthday. Then our yard sale. Then Paradise City. Then I go to Canada, painting. Then, July 3 and 4, the Niantic Art Festival. Then, with luck, and if Center Framing will have me, I'll be back on LaSalle Road.
p.s., I'm making postcards with my summer schedule of shows and outings. If you're not on my mailing list, please send me your street address and I'll make sure to add you.
Meantime, thank you for reading!