For 80 or 90 years– probably even longer– the jumble of logs in the photographs had been a beautiful oak that lived at the end of our driveway next to the road. This magnificent creature had been the home of countless squirrels, insects and birds, especially ravens and crows, who for some corvid reason, seemed especially attracted to it. It also gave shade and comfort to generations of humans equally– to the good, the bad, the in-between.
Here in Northern California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the cusp of Winter and Spring occurs during the months of March and April. Raw winds, rainfall in showers and downpours, brilliant sunlight, slate-colored skies and snow storms are part of daily life; sometimes all of them arrive on the same day. Back in March, the first flowers to poke up out of the snow were daffodils, delicate and tough at the same time. Now in the middle of April, having graced us with their elegant presence, they have gone back to sleep under the earth. I admire their resilience and loved painting them. Now irises and tulips bloom in our green world and when a high wind blows, the air is white with apple blossoms.
An artist who draws or paints on the street– and who expects to survive– learns of necessity to develop a kind of radar, an early warning system. An indoor studio is a space you can control; it has a door you can close, and if necessary, lock. Out on the street however, you’re vulnerable to whomever is passing by, to someone who simply wants to strike up a conversation, or to offer a critique of your painting, or of your life– or of their life. Or perhaps they want to harangue you about whatever might be bothering them, or if your back is turned, to sneak off with some of your brushes or your water bottle or a couple of tubes of paint.