“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa
Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador — Using a clothes-drying rack as my ‘supply’ table, I spent several hours outside adding details to two paintings. Many times the support-cast of items take more time to paint than the subject of the painting! With my feet propped against the tree trunk, and the painting taped to a drawing board, I added watercolor details to the orchid leaves.
Sundays are often ‘family days’ when my neighbors visit loved ones, so the neighborhood was extremely quiet. An eclectic chatter of backyard birds provided a calming soundtrack. A Great Antshrike added its chortling rhythm to the afternoon chorus, which made my soul smile; I was painting that same species!
Our dry season has been extremely dry this year, and it followed a not-so-wet rainy season. The landscape is parched, and even the birds display their distress:
Even the squirrels are acting strange – or perhaps they often eat grasses?
The watercolor pigments evaporated almost as fast as I mixed them. Reaching a stopping point, I critiqued details and was about to add another layer of depth (darker) to one area when my own counsel to students spoke softly: “Always stop before you think you are finished.”
No one (except me!) would note or care if one more layer of blue pushed some of the foliage to the back, which nudged other details forward. I rinsed my brush, mixed a new batch of blue-green and signed the painting.
I moved to a new location to study the Carambola (Starfruit) foliage and resume work on a watercolor of Tropical Gnatcatchers. Mixing paint for a study of a long slender branch, I noted a knocking/rattling sound near the house or fenced garden behind me. Assuming that Melissa and Joselo had returned home and were tending to outdoor tasks, I pulled a brush of clear water to prep the paper. Focused on the limb, I loaded the brush with pigment and began the initial process of ‘floating’ the paint. The rattling increased, and I realized that my chair was also moving! Earthquake!
I could be in no better place than where I was – grounded in Nature, and I paused until it stopped, then resumed painting. The quake rattled me more than I thought, as my hand trembled, and my concentration was horrible! The clear yellow-green colors of my pigments veered toward muddy colors, confirming that I should never paint when preoccupied or troubled. As paint flowed along that area of the painting, I wondered, “Where?” and “How strong?” and “Is everything OK?” I decided if things were not OK, a neighbor would soon inform me.
“Drive out tomorrow and check,” I counseled myself, “Because if it did make headlines, people might be worried if you don’t send a smoke signal!’
So here I am, one day earlier than planned to be online! I also ignored my self counsel and worked on the Great Antshrike painting last night!
With foliage completed, I fine-tuned the tree and vine, then added tiny white feather details in acrylic. Finished, I wrote this post, waded through a weekend’s worth of photos then went to sleep just about the time the chickens were awakening! (I slept until almost noon and will go to sleep early tonight!)
Tomorrow I’ll spend the night in Portoviejo because on Wednesday the 24th, there’s a morning ‘press conference’ for the artists in the Nomadas Exposition! That should be an interesting event!
I’d best publish this, then return home and hopefully finish the Tropical Gnatcatcher painting.
Have a good week; see you again soon via cyberspace!