Early Evening at Lazy W, Father and Son, 2017 – Curtis Green
In painting there are sketches, studies, and full paintings. This one would probably be classified as a sketch. This unplanned painting was done within a half an hour to forty minutes in the early evening at a Methodist family retreat camp called Lazy W. There are several cabins, creeks and trails among the camp grounds.
Just before dinner, I went to do a fast sketch at one of the creeks. Walking towards my intended location, I spotted two fellow campers, a father and son. Ray Roulette (right) and his son Mark (left), were enjoying a little lingering sunlight in their outdoor chairs. Immediately struck by the scene I paused momentarily, ready right then to abandon my plan for the creek. I didn’t want to intrude or bother anyone, so I kept walking past. My original destination on the creek side no longer had any effect from the low sunlight. The thought came back to me, “Your real subject was back there with the father and son.”.
I headed back and set up my easel behind the two men. I saw the two figures in shadow against the two brilliantly lit trees in front of them, (I later reflected on the possible symbolic relationship between the trees and the two men). The casualness of them seated there was a primary nuance I wanted to capture. I also liked the structure of the main subjects weighted to the left side, which is why I switched the canvas from vertical to horizontal at the last moment before I started painting. I knew I only had a few minutes and therefore quickness was important. Sure enough, after about ten minutes, the two got up to get ready for dinner. Fortunately, I already had them blocked in and the basic structure set up before their movement, and I finished painting the rest of the scene, the chairs the trees and the light and shadow around them.
Knowing the dinner bell was about to start ringing at any moment, I was painting furiously all the way up to the third ring calling everyone to the table. After a few last strokes, I set my palette and brushes down into my paint box on the ground beside me and just walked away from the canvas, returning after about an hour to clean up and put everything away.
In my mind, this is what a sketch is supposed to be. It’s quick, loose, lacking details yet still communicates the idea and essence behind the physical aspects being depicted. I am happy that the Roulette family will be able to enjoy this painting, hopefully, for years to come.