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: