Early yesterday I got a call from Ed Buonvecchio, who is painting at Ocean Park’s Art in the Park with me. He planned to paint along the railroad tracks on the road into town. I told him it sounded, frankly, awful. I’d find my own darn painting spot.
Ambling along Temple Avenue, I ran into Frank Gwalthney, who was walking purposefully up the street. “Could you let me into Jakeman Hall to sharpen my pencils?” I asked.
“I need to run down to the tracks first,” he responded. “I got a call that Ed’s car is too close to the tracks. He needs to move it before it gets hit by a train.”
Happily, I can report that neither Ed nor his car was harmed, although he was close enough to the tracks that he seemed a little, well, stunned the rest of the day. I was so wrong about the subject. Ed’s painting is one of those rare things that make me think, “I wish I’d painted that.”
Art in the Park has been redesigned to be an invitational event with just five painters. This means we get to know our fellows much better than at the typical event, where 30 painters swarm across the landscape. I took my lunch break under a spreading maple with Christine Mathieu. Our paths have crossed over the years, but this was the first time we’ve ever really had a chance to talk.
The storm which rolled across Maine yesterday rumbled and threatened but eventually skipped over us. It arrived conveniently a few moments before our opening reception at Porter Hall. I enjoyed chatting with a woman who regularly reads my blog at home in St. Martins in the Caribbean.
In the evening I took a few minutes to jump into the sea. “Why not?” I asked myself as I pondered how gorgeous the surf always looks from the water side. The tide was rising, so I had to move my easel every few minutes, but painting from the water worked just fine—until I tried to get the salt-water out of my tripod. It’s carbon fiber, so it isn’t going to rust, but I’m worried about the fittings.
We ended the day at the Temple, where Ed, Russel Whitten and I set up perilously late to paint a nocturne. (It helps if you do the drawing when it’s still light.) This was a little hard on Russ, whose watercolor paper wasn’t drying in the night air, and who has to “dance backwards,” leaving openings for the light areas instead of painting them in at the end.
The three of us grumbled and laughed about the absurdity of what we were doing but in the end we all turned out respectable attempts. Fourteen hours after we’d started working we folded up for the night. Today we do it again. It’s a fascinating life, although sometimes it’s grueling as well.