Great Horned Owl / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68
ON MY FIRST PAINTING TRIP, which was well more than 10 years ago, I drove to Wisdom, Montana and back, painting all along the way.
At that point, I was using brushes, and putting on the oil paints very thinly - almost like watercolors. I was often not bringing the painting to the edges of the canvas, a thing I still do now, but in a different way.
I have a number of paintings from that trip that have never sold - but they're good paintings, ones I love, and ones that I believe have value.
Since Peter died, I have been clearing my life and my house and my studio of things that don't work for me. Things that make me unhappy. Some of that clearing out has involved paintings. I have thrown them away, covered them over, even burned a couple.
But I've saved some, too. The other day, I took the painting below, of an alfalfa field near Sandusky, Ohio, and I painted over it with heavy paint and my palette knife. In the process, I remembered that trip, and how liberating it was. And I remembered falling in love with yellow.
That area of Ohio was rich with yellow. Overloaded with yellow. It was summer - July, I think, or maybe August - and the fields were full of wheat and alfalfa and who knows what all else. The sun up there, by Lake Erie, shone golden and brilliant, especially in the late afternoons, and the world took on a rich yellow hue that I'd never noticed before.
On that trip, yellow entranced me. Delighted me. Warmed me. Romanced me. I painted as much yellow as I could, used all the yellows I had, mixed them, pushed them, begged them to hold the light and shine that brilliance from the canvas. I lived in a whirl of yellow, and I was in love.
All of that came rushing back to me when I painted over the Sandusky canvas. And it crept into the owl, too - a happy blur of yellow on a warm May afternoon.
"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff.
If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A.A. Milne