Oil on Panel, 8" x10"
Actually the solution was . . . to do nothing. Being a long time meditator, I was all too familiar with the phrase “don’t just do something, sit there” to gain clarity on a situation but normally don’t “practice” on vacation because, well, I was on vacation . . . . . . . from everything. But not today. Grabbing a beach blanket, I walked down to the end of a string of cottages away from the fray, stopping in front of a unit being rented by my brother-in-law. I went inside and grabbed a couple of pillows, placed them on the blanket and settled into a folded leg position on the ground overlooking a lake canopied by a brilliant blue sky and let my mind settle. The wind was gusting with enough force to rock me gently back and forth, with trees rustling white noise and waves beating the shore at the base of a bluff 20 feet or so below me. Dropping my gaze towards the ground I quickly slipped from the sticky bonds of thought, anger evaporating, leaving me in an internal space to contemplate what was actually going on. It is hard to say for those that don’t meditate what happens next, but it is a lot of nothing, demarcated by thoughts and feelings, followed by a larger expanse, followed by more thoughts. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes boring, painful, exhilarating, terrifying but never predictable.
From there I sketched one of the many cousins in the family who was herself drawing and after snapping her picture, went in search of other prey. I pounced on one of the cooks grilling ribs behind the Inn in anticipation of a barbecue that evening. I have to laugh as I think back on the fact that I blurted out that I wanted to do her portrait and she was the one that wanted to “interview” me first. Note to self: modify how you approach your subjects. We spent a fair amount of time talking, after which I took some photos and was on my way. And so it went over the next couple of days, covering a range of guests and one of the carpenter/handyman on staff. All in all not so hard to overcome my initial trepidation and a lot more fun than I had ever imagined.
My last interview was with the waitress that had been serving us all week in the dining room of the resort. She agreed to meet with me between work hours, so we met up Friday morning after the breakfast tasks had been completed and walked out to a picnic table under a couple of shade trees out behind the Inn. While taking a couple of reference photos, she shared a little about who she was, where she was from and a bit about her family. As I struggled with the sketch (I find it hard enough to try to draw someone precisely not to mention carry on a conversation at the same time) we talked about what she wanted to do upon graduation and other future plans, including grad school followed by the possibility of being a museum curator. I continued drawing as I shared a story about a friend that I knew who had curated an art museum in Kohler, WI where I had just visited with my wife a few months before. Over the years, during my time as a science illustrator, I’ve had a number of opportunities to go behind the scenes to conduct research for projects of some sort or another and have always loved museums and research institutions in general. We continued to talk for a bit as I finished the sketch which had a passing resemblance to her.
We parted ways and I watched as she headed back to the kitchen while the idea of museum curation still rattled around in my head. I turned back to the sketch and continued to refine it while I smiled to myself, remembering the smell of moth balls that emanated from the trays of insects in the entomology department at the Field Museum in Chicago so many years ago. “No one goes into something like that these days; how cool. THAT was a Dream with a capitol D”.
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