Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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And the Wind Cries !!!!!!


It starts out okay, breezy, but not too bad. It's in the 60s, and the sun is shining. Along the road, I meet a small group of painting buddies. The Garden of the Gods stretches to the south, its stone fingers poking the sky. An extension of fins and hogbacks shoots past us along the foothills. It's beautiful painting country, even in the browns and grays of winter.

On the open hillside to the east is a stone bridge, built as part of an access road to the mesa-top reservoirs above us. Today, it's part of the local trail system. We head toward the bridge. After a quarter hour of scouting the hillside and shooting reference photos, I set up near the bridge. But it's not the bridge I want to paint. It's the rugged country to the west, the hogbacks and rocky ridges stepping up into the foothills.

I set up my gear and start in on a 6 x 8 panel. All goes well for the first hour. It's actually warm. I strip to my t-shirt. I barely notice the breeze steadily increasing. Then, bam! A gust lifts the front leg of the easel, pushing the whole setup into me and sending by brush skittering across the canvas. Nice technique. I get things back into place and splay the easel's legs out until it looks like a spider doing deep-knee bends.

I resume painting. Bits of dirt and grass swirl into the wet paint. My hat lifts from my forehead, ready to take flight. The easel bucks in the wind. Sharp gusts are actually moving my brush hand, directing my strokes to unwanted places, taking over the painting process. As I chase escaped paper towels through patches of cactus, I decide to call it a day.


"Foothills Study" oil, 8" x 6"
(after a little cleaning up in the studio)


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