It was 2005. I was practicing figure drawing at open studio every week but didn’t go out to draw in plein air yet.
My daughter, Sarah went to Perth, Australia as an exchange student. She stayed 3 months, I went along and stayed 3 weeks. We did some sight seeing before her classes started. Before we left I was thinking how cool it would be to hear and see a kookaburra. I must have had my hands on the rungs of my headboard that night because I dreamt I had a hold of a huge bird by the legs. I thought, this isn’t a kookaburra, what is it? Oh No! It’s a phoenix! The bird lifted me off the ground and I hung on.
This is my watercolor illustration of my dream.
The phoenix went above the clouds. I saw strange constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. I dipped my toes in the clouds.
This is my pastel illustration of my dream.
I almost lost these two when my art got stolen but was happy to see them when I got my stuff back, even though they might not be my best work, since I did them from my imagination.
I did hear a kookaburra in Adelaide. Crazy birds.
I woke up from a dream of the desert. It felt like my subconscious came to some profound understanding about the places of strange beauty and the places of strange mystery.
This photo came from a tour book of sites for the plein air artists.
I don’t know if I can express it in words, but I’ll try.
The time I spent at the Ghost Ranch and the time I spent on the road must have had an effect on me. I was glad I took the time to sit there and stare at it. One thing about the plein air week was that the artists are expected to make lasting friendships and go to another plein air event to feel part of the plein air family, but I didn’t do that, alas. The group was rushing around to as many beautiful places and whipping out as many oil or watercolor sketches as they could every day and I, with my weak social skills and slow way of working, still kept to myself too much. I didn’t want to try to go fast with it like they did. I wanted to sit there in the beautiful spots and commune with nature every day as I worked on my painting.
How can an artist get the most out of it if they hurry through it? How can they pick up the vibe of the desert if they’re socializing with so many people? Can they see the mystery in the empty spaces if they fly over it? When I woke up I felt like out of all the 100 or so artists at the event, I was definitely the slowest, but something else. I have my doubts that any of the others felt it like I did. Could I ever give up painting the way I do so that I could fit in better socially? Should I change my style? Should I do unfinished paintings that are sketchy and have no depth or detail? No. I remember it well, at least for now. It’s not a fast food hamburger, it’s a piece of prime rib to be savored. Do you know what I mean?