Thursday, June 8, 2017

Along the way to the Marina

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
Here's a painting made last week. It was a warm summer day and lots of people had headed to the lake. So many in fact, that parking in the state park had filled up and spilled out onto surrounding roads. I was lucky enough to find a good spot to park, and hiked a short ways to an area just north of the marina and campground. The park was crowded, and there were watercraft galore out on the lake, but there was no one else where I went to paint. Cottonwood trees were shedding flurries of fluffy seeds, which could be a problem because they stick to wet paintings. Thick swarms of midges were near the lake shore. They also stick to wet paintings. The open area between the cottonwoods and the marshy lake shore was mostly free of both problems. Besides, it had the visual angle on the trees I wanted to paint. So that's where I set up for the day.

The marshes, trees, and fields near the lake are some of my favorite places to paint, or even just go for walks. Wildlife is one of the attractions there. On the day of the painting, six big white pelicans circled in a thermal not far behind me. The pelican's long black-tipped wings lent grace to their otherwise ungainly bodies and huge orange-yellow beaks. Four seagulls circled with the pelicans. I had to stop painting and watch the show. Three more seagulls joined the pelicans, then two more gulls joined in the dance. I wondered why the seagulls seemed to want to be with the pelicans. It soon became apparent, however, that the seagulls were not there for the pelicans. The gulls were there for the thermal, which the six big white showy pelicans had inadvertently advertised to them. The seagulls gained altitude faster and much higher than the pelicans, then slid off the top of the column in twos and threes heading north. The pelicans labored to gain altitude, rising maybe a hundred feet above the ground. They circled for a few minutes before heading off together southward. The show was over. I returned to painting.

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