Perhaps one of the closest ways to feeling other worldly is to walk around a small quiet town at about three-thirty in the morning. This is what I did one night during my recent week at MOPO 2018 in Mendocino, CA. I was restless from an idea I had the other night while driving back from another painting location after a sunset. I came up this road and saw this scene with the single street lamp and one light in the window of the house, and kept on driving. But, that instant glance was like a polaroid. That night, I was awake and under the snug covers but I knew the 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 there, now I could maybe wander around a little and see what everything looks like. The streets were so abandoned at that hour, I felt like I was an apparition peeking in on the physical world undetected. With no one around, I sensed the humor in observing our human habits, almost like being a character in a Wim Wender film. It’s was that hour of night where we are either sleeping, about to turn in or about to get up, depending on some individual habit, inclination or duty.
After a while, I went back and retrieved my easel and drove back to the spot. I looked up and was stunned and delighted at the sight of so many stars overhead. 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. I was impressed by the streetlight in it’s continually lonely service, lighting a road hardly used at that hour but is there anyway, in commune with the open meadow throughout the night. The light post, an apparatus of infrastructure, adding order to our environment, making it more useful for us to live, even as anyone hardly notices. A humble observation I made while painting in deeper blues and blacks. Absurd, that I was even out there at all quietly working for whatever reason. I looked up again and saw arched over my head and behind me the milky way, an arm of our home galaxy, as it reached around the sky and touched the sea.
This little painting was a favorite at the show that week.