Sunday, June 22, 2014

Anniversary at the abbey

We spent our anniversary at St. Andrew's Abbey, an anniversary destination that has immediately become a tradition.  Why didn't we think of it before?  It is a place we both like to be, for the prayer, the quiet, the monks with their ordered, present, happy lives, the bookstore (for Bob), Seth's grave (for me), the dry, grey-green beauty of the high desert, and the chance to go striding about in the hills.  I can paint there undistractedly, small desert landscapes that have no purpose except as exercises in putting on paper what I see.
This little painting was done in one of those 5 1/2" square Moleskine knock-off books, with a tiny watercolor box, and a couple of paintbrushes that hold water in a reservoir in the handle. Lightweight and easy to carry about, and fast to get started and clean up.

I started the first afternoon and went back to finish the following morning.  Bad to do if you are an Impressionist, but I'm not, and I was quite satisfied with the colors.

As I sat in the sand, I was accompanied both times by a small creature rustling about in a cluster of dry bushes nearby. It could have been a family of quail, or possibly a squirrel, though usually both of those appear at some point as they dart about doing their housekeeping. Whatever it was, it scratched and scrunched in the brush the entire time I painted, with noises so regular that it seemed as though it must be building something: maybe a palace just the size and form to suit the builder and its family.  I kept hoping it would appear, but it was evidently as consumed with its work as I was with mine, and had no interest in meeting a large intruder from the world of humans.  So the small creature and I concentrated on our work, side by side, each perhaps dimly aware of the other, but each with our own project to complete before the time came when it had to be finished now or never.