If you paint plein air, you have probably observed this: that early in the day or toward sunset, the light changes more quickly. I was doing this painting at Belle Isle close to sunset and working furiously. I kept rubbing my eyes. I could not believe the amazing light on the grasses; it was as if they were on fire. No color I had in my pastel box was even close to the color of the glorious light. If I added white, it looked too cool; if I added any other color, it looked too dark. So I began darkening the other colors around the grasses to get the effect, working as quickly as possible as I began to lose the light.
Inevitably, this is always the moment when somebody stops by and wants to chat. A very nice woman came up to me, complimented the work in progress and kept talking away. I told her I would chat, but I had to keep painting. Most people leave after watching for a couple minutes, but she did not. So after about 10 minutes, I told her I had an exhibit currently and handed her a postcard inviting her to my reception at the Scarab Club. The postcard features nudes, btw. She looked surprised, hung around for a couple more minutes, then handed me a pamphlet. At which point I realized that I had solicited a Jehovah’s Witness before she had the chance to solicit me, lol! I think she appreciated the irony as well, because she and her husband were laughing really hard as they drove off. My brother is a Witness; I don’t mind them. They’re always respectful; just trying to live up to their faith. I hope someone is being nice to my brother and his family when they go door-to-door.
Anyway, it’s been a couple weeks, and I cannot stop thinking about the fiery light that night and how my colors were so inadequate for the task. It was astonishingly beautiful. I felt some kinship with Van Gogh, and how he wanted to gouge his eyes out because his paint colors couldn’t describe what he saw. I guess it was close enough; this piece sold at my reception to a fellow painter and a wonderful supporter of the arts in Detroit.