Today, it is raining. I have scouted a few locations for painting in the rain (a picnic shelter, under a bridge, and such) but opt to paint at the visitors’ center instead. It’s time to put the finishing touches on the paintings I am giving to the park as part of my residency. Because they are small, I am giving two: a water piece from Newhalem Creek, and a view of the Pickets from the visitors’ center.
The painting of the Pickets seems fine, as is. The creek painting needs a few touches. The question I ask myself is: What would make this a better painting? In this case, I want to pull attention away from the hard edge of the rock and down toward the spilling water. I also want to emphasize the diagonal line of the rock ledge. These things I accomplish with a few brushstrokes of saturated dark colors along the ledge, and some light areas on the foreground rocks. The changes are subtle, but significant.
I am standing in the main room of the visitors’ center where a table has been set up for me. Outside, rain is falling among the cedars and Douglas-fir. I keep watching the mist pull back and forth across the nearby hills, like a curtain opening and closing. I pull a canvas from the car and paint the trees in the mist.