Sunday morning, Sept. 15
I am outside on the Commons deck, where the lawn and ponds and playa are quite beautiful and the laptop is almost readable in the sun.
It’s only 11 AM but I’ve already worked on a large painting on-site up by cabin 1.
Cabin 1 from the front. The back looks out on the playa, and that’s where I painted, of course. There’s a wrap-around porch.
I got up about 6, heated up yesterday’s coffee, put on my boots, gathered my painting stuff and put it into the cart that Rachel found for me, the one that pushes like a dream. Rachel says it was made especially for her (along with all the others around the property) by a guy in Eugene. It can be converted into a bike cart just by unscrewing a couple of wing nuts and adding a bicycle widget.
I started this painting with oil bars yesterday, and that turns out to be a good way to get a beginning — my version of the preliminary sketch. When I went back this morning I could see (and correct) some large shapes that were too large and then turn the oil bar contours into an oil painting proper.
I talk about Rachel a lot because she’s the only human around most of the time. No animals of note have appeared today. I see that the ducks who come close to the cabin have dark heads and brownish bodies. This group travels in 3s. They may be different from the others who stay on the other side of the bridge. There’s a clever bridge across the north pond, which has two benches for sitting and contemplation; the bridge is a kind of zigzag with a Japanese feel to it.
The bridge across the north pond in the sunrise
I had macaroni and cheese last night for dinner — doctored it with a bit of Jarlsberg, which I’m sure would make the Jarlsberg people roll their eyes. It certainly improved the Kraft’s pretend cheese, however. The green apples from the trees on the Playa site continue to delight me. And the ginger tea, cold, is my mainstay, after my coffee, of course.
No more interesting night events. The moon was bright, so I could see a lot.
A wind has come up from the south and west and there’s a good-sized dust storm blowing away from us right now. No grand excitements on this Sunday in the desert.
Monday, Sept 16. 2013
Many good painting “things” happened today. Early this morning I went up Winter Ridge on a track that leads to an ancient airstream trailer sitting on what I’m calling “The Hill.” At what seemed to be the top of the small knob near the trailer, I found a clump of juniper trees, ancient looking from the size of them. And a picnic table. And a woodrat’s nest.
I liked the grove instantly. The trees would shade the painter from the heat and wind. The picnic table gives a place to park stuff that won’t get scattered through the grass.
but then I got to the view – ah the view. Beyond 180 degrees, more like 210, more than I can spread my arms to my side, more than I can encompass, even with my mouth wide open. Truly, my heart leapt up, although my feet stayed earthbound. This is the view I want!
Looking northwest. The north end of winter ridge and the beginning of Summer Lake and its playa.
Looking south, toward the other end of Winter Ridge, and the south playa of Summer Lake
Straight ahead across the playa of Summer Lake from The Hill
The playa of Summer Lake with morning light. That’s the Playa Art Residency in the middle ground
Rainbow Over Summer Lake playa, toward Diablo Mountains. These are a mere sampling of the photos I took.
A couple of “small” problems exist: I don’t have the proper kinds of support boards or canvases for the vast landscape that the playa presents. It’s likely I don’t have enough paint to cover them. And getting the supports or canvases up here every day (and it will take days to manage this painting challenge) is likely to be a problem.
Track up The Hill over which art stuff would have to be carted. “Carted” is not a metaphor
But, but — we are working on it. By “we” I mean Rachel, the on-site caretaker, who knows a whole lot about whole lot of things. Rachel and I talked over the possibilities for painting up the hill. We may find some paintable boards in what they call the “bone yard”, the stack of stuff left over from when they dismantled the old buildings here. She would cut them for me. She laughed when she realized the scope of my notion. She had brought over some painting supports of various kinds but none were as big as even my medium-sized boards. She clearly didn’t realize what a nutcase she had encountered. But she’s game.
So tomorrow early, at her suggestion, we will go out to look at some potential painting boards. She has already suggested both that she might be able to take the art supplies partway up the hill in a vehicle, and that the airstream might supply a place for me to stow the materials until I’m finished. So if this works out, I could walk up in the morning, start to paint without a lot of hassle, and walk down in the afternoon, brain-dead, but content.
We’ll see. It’s just a notion at this point but it turns a “notion” into an “idea,” closer to realizable.
This afternoon, I started yet another painting. It may rain tomorrow, so I want to have some things to work on in the studio. This is the big canvas, one of two I brought along, a 30 x 40″ piece — the second big painting of the day.
Two paintings in progress (the 30 x 40″ on the right) protected, inside my studio at Playa
The shapes here are so big and broad that the first lay-in goes quickly. I’m struggling with figuring out how to get the texture of the ridges across the playa. The playa itself is smooth but the ridges, in addition to being a different color, have a texture that I can’t quite figure out how to achieve. But I’m working on it.
The start seemed to be good. The wind did not blow the canvas to the town of Summer Lake, nor did it smash it into my nose. I count that as a success. And I’m getting something of a better feel for the playa and the painting of it.
The light both this morning and this evening was spectacular. Rachel and I sat and chatted as the twilight drew nigh. The moon, almost full, was glorious just after the dark started to draw in. It’s enough to make even the most sardonic among us think poetic thoughts. —June