art, Life

What you make of it

This is a painting of what we were looking at while our car was being stolen at the beginning of October, as we hiked in a lonely, empty desert park. Ours was the only car in the parking lot, and it was visible from the highway. When we came back from our walk, the car was gone. Fortunately, we found some rangers right away. They not only took the report, but kindly drove us to a spot with cell service, so we could call a taxi and start the long process of dealing with insurance, credit card companies, and locksmiths.

(Yes, I was kicking myself for leaving my wallet and keys behind. But I was thankful the car was otherwise empty. We were on vacation and it might have been packed with all kinds of stuff.)

Anyway, to get back to the picture. I’m not exactly telling the truth about what we saw on that short hike. In real life, the sky wasn’t visible through the rock window. But I’m slowly learning that art isn’t just about representing what’s there. It’s also about choosing what to change. Scrambling among the rocks and crouching down in the sandy dirt, I tried in vain to find a spot where I could see sky above the landscape through that opening. Finally I snapped the picture anyway, and I thought it was pretty good, even if not exactly what I wanted. When I started painting, though, I realized (duh!) that I had control of the brush and I could paint the scene however I wanted.

So that’s what I did.

Is there a metaphor in all this? Maybe. I’m not convinced that life is entirely what we make of it. But there are ways we can tweak what we see through that window. If a canopy of blue sky is what you’re after, why not go ahead and paint it?

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