Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Exceeding Expectations

Color possesses me.
That is the meaning of
this happy hour:

Color and I are one.
I am a painter. —Paul Klee

Last weekend I drove up the canyon on the brink of tears.
This was not sadness, people. I was exulting in all the beauty that surrounded me. Fall colors will do this to me, without warning! Sometimes the intensity just overwhelms me. On top of it all, I was embarking on an adventure: A whole week away, with just me and my paint...and Charles Reid.

The Reids said they haven't been to Jackson Hole for 25 years. (That's a long time.) And I'm so glad they decided to come back. As I sat in the classroom on that first day, I had that same brink-of-tears feeling overcome me. The green dot on my nametag placed me on the front row, and I could hardly believe I was in a studio with Charles Reid, watching him paint, sitting so close I could watch every nuance unfold! Sometimes the entire class would hold its collective breath as we watched him work a few colors together on the paper...and then we'd all let out a collective, simultaneous, deeply satisfied "Hmmmm" or "AAhhhhh" when we saw him turn it into something particularly beautiful.

Charles and his wife, Judy, are the loveliest people. He is quite possibly the world's greatest living watercolorist, and yet was unerringly kind in his critiques, always very encouraging, and looking to find something praiseworthy in every piece. She is a former kindergarten teacher, and ran the workshop with just the right balance of kindness and efficiency needed to keep 18 artists on track.

Here's what I painted this week:
(The first three were done live, from posed models, and the rest are from historical photos in and around Jackson Hole. The last one isn't finished.)

As the workshop came to a close, and I watched Charles paint for what could be the last time, I was again overcome with joy—just the sheer awe of watching him work, doing things so daring we'd never think to attempt them ourselves, and then watching the sensational results that followed: The touch of the master's hand. That afternoon I had the distinct impression that this was a tiny glimmer of what we all must have felt as we watched The Creator shape the earth, spinning the universe into existence with a mere stretch of his hands. We knew we were witnessing something glorious.

I hope I never lose what I gained this past week. I hope I never see a face or horse or a landscape in the same way after watching Charles Reid paint. I hope all that wonder and expression and confidence and genius will somehow insinuate its way into my own work.

Jeff and the kids joined me in Jackson Hole on Friday morning, and we spent most of the weekend swooning over the grandeur of the Grand Tetons. Followed by a long drive back to reality.

Sigh. Deep Breath. I'm home.

p.s. If you missed Mr. Cool's commercial (it aired between conference sessions) here's a link to view it on vimeo:


LisAway said...

Welcome back! Yes, a drive through the canyon in the fall seems a very fitting way to start the type of trip you were embarking on! So beautiful. And so are your paintings. I'm glad you had such a wonderful experience.

Jenny P. said...

THAT IS SO AWESOME!! (I yelled that just then.)

Kristina P. said...

You having such an amazing way with words. And a paintbrush!

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm so glad you're back. And what beautiful treasure you brought with you.
What an experience. What a gift. I'm so happy for you, I can't begin to describe it!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Wow, Charette, that is SO cool. And he's lucky (really) that you have chosen him as an inspiration. You're very talented.

Luisa Perkins said...

I am AGOG with wonder at your talent. I look at those watercolors and marvel. I'm so thrilled that your week away was as amazing as you hoped it would be!

Kimberly said...

Oh loveliness! You yourself are loveliness incarnate and somehow you pour some of that sweet essence into everything you create.

I know all too well the sudden upswelling of tears at the sight of autumn touching the world with its own paintbrush. I wish I lived somewhere where it is more brilliant, and less short lived.

Reading this post, reading of your joy, stretched my heart a little. It feels full now with happiness in knowing what a sweet gift you found this life experience to be.

Heather said...

Awesome! You are so talented. That is way cool!

Heather of the EO said...

I am so glad you got to do this!! I love the happiness exuding from this post, and of course I love your paintings.

welcome home.

Barbaloot said...

Those are amazing! You're amazing and I'm so glad you got to go to the class you've been so excited about.

DeNae said...

Ha, ha everybody! I have been in Charrette's HOUSE and have seen so many of her beautiful paintings! AND I have been in her STUDIO!! Why? Because I am THAT cool!

Your work is amazing, my friend. I am not exaggerating when I say I struggle with stick figures (do they require necks? That's where I get hung up), and I've often thought that watercolors would be the most challenging of all paint media to use. Of course, for me, crayons pose enough of a challenge...

Oh, Jackson Hole in the fall. What a gift straight from heaven.

And your suggestion that we all watched the Creator pull together the earth was so beautifully stated. How many talents does one woman need, I would like to know?

Sandy M. said...

It sounds like you have had a magnificent time. I'm so glad for you! The paintings are beautiful. Is that one of yours at the top of the page?

Melanie J said...

I'm thinking the same thing I do every time you post your art work: I LOVE the way you use color.

You are so talented!!!

And I'm so happy for you that you got to have this experience.

Kazzy said...

You do wonderful things with that brush and those paints. I love your work!

And I loved Mr. Cool in that commercial. What a natural!

Glad you are home safe.

Eowyn said...

Yippeee!! You're back!!!

Those pictures are beautiful Charette! Can I come over again and see all the new stuff?

(The commercial was awesome!

Jessica said...

Ah, this post took me away with you! I love love the passion in your writing, I can feel the excitement along with you . . . what a magical time! So glad you got to go, and what beautiful work you created!! This expresses the kind of joy that only someone fully given to her work can describe . . . it is a passion we all long for, so few seem to find. YOu are blessed!

Lee of MWOB said...

Gorgeous - what a gift you have. And Jackson Hole - it is glorious.

The Mom said...

How incredibly lucky you are! Sounds like an amazing time!

Brillig said...

I'm so happy for you that you had this opportunity. No one in the world could deserve it (or appreciate it) more than you. So stinking cool.

How is it that your words are as exquisite as your paintings? How is such a thing possible? Is there ANYTHING you can't do?

I adore you. I'm SO GLAD you shared the paintings with us.

Brillig said...

Oh, and I LOVED seeing Mr. Cool's commercial! His nickname is SO perfect for him. What a doll. That kid is going to break SO many hearts.

deb said...

I only wrote about colours running into me... I couldn't possibly ever know how to put them onto canvas , but you are truly gifted. And in that rarest of ways where the art is wrapped up in a beautiful soul that loves to share and make others feel it too.
I'm so glad the trip was everything you could have only dreamed it could be.

type type type said...

wow: these are fantastic! thank you for the wonderful journey. I feel like I was there on the front row with Charles, just from your beautiful description. (and thanks for the real invite to join you–that would have been a dream come true)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Your talent with both the written word and the canvas are amazing! God truly has blessed you!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Holy cow, what a glint in the eye that little guy has! Super cute commercial, too! (You manage to keep up TWO blogs? Wow!)