Sun Worshippers

by Alden Cole on June 2, 2013 · 0 comments

SunWorshippers12″ x 20.5″ acrylic on plywood panel

May 18: Shortly before dinner on Saturday night, flush with excitement about the quality of the work created earlier that day (thanks to the positive feedback of friends J&C, family M&D, and neighbor Jan), I made a statement regarding painting-while-on-vacation: my projected aim was to focus on creating a single painting or drawing per day, seeing it as an encouragement to treat each day as truly new.

So the following morning, Sunday, I chose a totally different perspective from which to explore my evolving abilities with acrylic paint. Looking for a shadier spot than yesterday’s location so I could paint without a hat, and not have to deal with the sunlight drying out the paints on my palate, I discovered the perfect spot in which to enjoy the beauties of sunlight from a position of shade. Out on the deck with its awesome view of the river, directly adjacent to the octagonally-shaped house is a smaller octagon, a protectively roofed screened-in porch. I centered myself in the space, set up the easel and started painting, trying to capture as much detail including architectural elements, as was available in a 90° panorama. It was a lot to see and try to capture on the relatively small surface I was working on.

Joyce came out to the deck sometime afterwards, checked out what I was doing, and sat down to do a little reading in the sun. Her presence was such a serendipitous addition to the composition. Soon thereafter, Charlie joined her, and for some time the three of us bantered about the gorgeous weather, about our good fortune to be in such a beautiful spot, on and on, into eventual silence. J&C relaxed in their chairs, warming their bones in the delightful spring sunlight. The composition became even richer with two figures. Words popped into my head: Sun Worshippers! There was a rather Egyptianesque quality to them, medieval French funerary sculpture even. I realized with a kind of elated shock that I was working on the most complex composition I’ve yet attempted plein air. And it was turning out even better than expected. What a delight!

By mid-afternoon I was beginning to realize that there was still a lot of painting to be developed. Not wanting to rush the painting through to a poor finish that same afternoon in accordance with The Plan, I decided to reverse the statement of the night before about “only doing one-day-paintings while on vacation.” Plus I was ready for a break: I spent the next hour or more taking numerous photographs of the wondrous green environment we were surrounded by on all sides. Late in the afternoon, I returned to the easel, added a few more touches, then put the brushes away for the day, knowing I’d return to it on the morrow with renewed vigor.

That night a storm rolled in from Iowa. After a simple dinner combining excellent local pizza with a fine wine from their impressive cellar, M&D had gone off to attend a get-together with old friends just down the road a piece, leaving Joyce, Charlie & I sitting comfortably out on the deck watching the approaching storm. And what a storm it was. Nothing quite like nature in its rawer forms to instill a sense of respect for the unknown. More on that later…

On Monday, the undeveloped areas seemed to pour off the tip of my brushes with amazing spontaneity. By mid afternoon when J&C checked my progress, and the compliments started fllying, I knew I had a winner. By dinner it was done.

More later…

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