Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life is a fountain

Today's painting site was at DeAnza College campus. They have a beautiful white building called La Petit Trianon and a sunken garden with a fountain. I wasn't drawn to the building with the greek style columns, but to the fountain, which has beautiful contrasting rectangular and oval stone shapes. The water wasn't flowing, but even so it looked very paintable. I settled down on a strategically placed bench which just had a gorgous view of the fountain silhouetted against the dark trees.
I think when you sit still for a long period of time you become invisible. Certainly the young, tattooed woman, chain-smoking on the terrace above didn't notice me. She was yelling animatedly into her cell phone and everyone on campus must have learned of her pregnancy and that one of her friends was jealous because the friend couldn't get pregnant even without birth control (life's ironic like that!). Fifteen minutes into the call we almost got to learn her boyfriend's social security #, but I think someone shushed her up at that point. Shortly after the cell phone left a young father suddenly appeared and plopped his toddler son on the wet grass directly in front of me and proceeded to change his diaper. Fortunately he obscured my view of his son, so I was spared the worst, but his excited cry of "oh what a big poo!" gave me more information than I really needed.
Such are the pleasures of painting outdoors. Not only do you experience the changing light and atmosphere from the beginning to the end of your painting, but you learn something about the world around you. It's never dull!Over lunch our little trio of plein air enthusiasts discussed the difficulties of using color, painting shadows and the myriad other problems that have to be solved every time you put paintbrush to paper. We came to the conclusion that sometimes the complexities of creating art can do your head in - thankfully we can just go out again the next week and have another go.
The fountain sculpture, called La Vita E Una Fontana (Life is a Fountain), is by Salvatore Pecoraro. (check him out at My sketches really don't do it justice.

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