Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Cindy and I are headed out to paint at Ruby Creek. A change has come over the mountains. The rain that pattered on my roof last night fell on the higher peaks as the first snow of the season. Colonial Peak looks like it has a five-o’clock shadow. The clouds are breaking up, and the sun will set to work melting the snow.

The creek is fresh and lively and filled with varying shades of turquoise. We set up on the bridge to paint the flow of water across a cobble-bottomed pool, down a drop, and around the bend. The cedars on the far bank look vivid yellow-green next to the water. Sunlight glints off the river bottom in ripple-focused gold lines. I try futilely to capture the glow in paint, but it looks dead. Will have to think later about how to do that.

Cindy is painting in watercolor, and I in oil. It’s wonderful how different our two pieces come out, as if the universe were processed differently in our two brains. Just one of the many things that makes art so refreshing. We could both take photographs, and our efforts would have technical differences, but be recognizably the same place. But interpretation in paint is dependent, not only on our technical variations, but differences in what we decide is important, what we leave out, and even the way we name and mix the colors we see.

The creek has offered its multi-colored water for us to interpret. We head to the Environmental Learning Center, where I hike up Sourdough Creek to the waterfall that isn’t (only a trickle left after the summer). On the way down, I enjoy the view of high peaks over Diablo Lake. The new snow is already gone.

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