To walk around a small quiet town at about three-thirty in the morning is to feel a bit other worldly. This is what I did on a night walk during my recent week painting at Mendocino MOPO 2018, Mendocino, CA.
I was restless from an idea I had the other night while driving back from another painting location after a sunset. Earlier, I was driving up this road and saw this scene. It was the single street lamp and one light in the window of the house across the street. I registered it in my mind and kept on driving. But, that instant glance was like a polaroid.
That night, I was awake and under some snug covers but I knew the street light was still out there. What did it look like now, how it would look on canvas? I had to go see.
My first walk was to just go have a look. The air was warmer than I thought it would be. That made me happy because I was going to have to walk about a quarter mile to get to that intersection where the light was. The streets were abandoned at that hour. I felt like I was an apparition peeking in on the physical world undetected.
Giddy is the Night
With no one around, a humorous mood came over me. It’s was that hour of night where we are either sleeping, about to turn in or about to get up. Who was to know I was wandering around at that unexpected hour. What would I say if someone had asked me? Would I tell them I was looking to see how the street light looks down the road? I looked up and was stunned and delighted at the sight of so many stars overhead.
After a while, I went back and retrieved my easel and drove back to the spot. I put on my miners headlamp and set up my palette in the usual way and started painting as if it were the afternoon, except that, it wasn’t.
Humble is the Night
Maybe the early hour had some groggy thoughts in my head. I considered the streetlight in it’s continually lonely service, lighting a road hardly used at that hour but is there anyway. It’s only partner is the nearby tree throughout the night. Just a humble observation I made while painting in deeper blues and blacks. How absurd that I was even out there at all! Yet there I was, quietly working for whatever reason.
Every sound I made seemed louder than it really was. The quiet stillness of the night enveloped my curious activity. At some point, I looked up again and saw arched over my head and behind me the milky way. It shows up easily there on the Mendocino coastline. The street light somehow reminded me of my attachment to Earth. In the street lights warm orange glow, I saw above me an arm of our home galaxy, as it reached around the sky and touched the sea.