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This is the final version of my painting before I gave it away.

You may recognize the image above. It’s similar to a photograph I took when I was in Myanmar in February:

Our first view of the Golden Rock from a distance.

I’ve been wanting to paint more, but hadn’t been making time for it. So I tricked myself into it. For me, overcoming challenges in life is often a matter of using the correct psychology on myself. Self-care and personal health don’t seem to motivate me enough. However! I am very good at keeping obligations to others. I signed up for a night class at the local community college, and now at a bare minimum, I paint once a week on Wednesday nights. My responsible brain goes to class because I respect the teacher’s time. A bonus is that I paint, which I love, and it fills my heart and makes me happy.

The instructor recommended we paint from a photo, and as a helpful suggestion, said that his students in the past painted scenes from their travels. I had been thinking of this one for a long time, but was avoiding it because it seemed too ambitious. When no other ideas came to mind, I started it.

This much I did at home, prior to classwork. One of the instructor’s first suggestions was to fill in all the white area. Paint the background a dark colour, and complete the sky. I should paint the tree and rock over the top of the sky, rather than inside the white areas.

So I did.

Each Wednesday night I painted at class. Usually I painted during the week also, because the painting was still on my mind.

I particularly love how the sky turned out. There was a lot of burning happening in the region, as local people cleared land and burned the brush piles. The sky was hazy from smoke and I think you can see that in the painting. It was sunrise as we arrived at the rock, and in the photo, the sun had only reached halfway down the rock. Everything else in the photo remains in the shadow of morning.

It was suggested that I paint the things farthest away first, then move to the foreground.

It’s hard for me to paint in class because the flourescent lights are terrible and 5-8 pm is my lowest productivity period of the day.

My artistic friend Lloyd saw my very first draft (with all the white parts) and was excited about the painting, and asked me to keep him updated. I sent him new pictures of my progress every time I painted, which was usually twice a week. He was ecstatic with enthusiasm each time, and that helped me stay motivated. It felt like we were doing the project together.

Almost done!! I added people, landscaping, and finally began plodding through the masses of foliage in the foreground.

I sent Lloyd this close up. Look! People!

Lloyd and Genevieve got married over the weekend, and I had a gift in mind that they would both love. There was really no question who was getting the painting when I finished it.

I grabbed a couple of quick photos before I headed to the wedding.

Comparing the painting to the photo here in this post, I see that I needed to add glints of sunlight to the rock. It is not bright enough where the morning sun touches it. I’ll have to bring some paint next time I visit my friends.

Mt. Adams peeking over the trees, as viewed from the deck

Good Morning!

It’s one of my favourite expressions. I try to “collect” good mornings as I collect I love yous. The above is “good morning,” taught to me by my Lithuanian friend Ieva, the only Lithuanian I am aware of ever having met.

This may be evidence of my desire to learn a foreign language and my embarrassment at having never done so adequately. I studied German in high school, Spanish recently, and I’ve memorized portions of French and Turkish, but it never sticks but for the key phrases.

I get such a rush when for two seconds I am mistaken for someone who speaks the language. Once at Brandeis by the Shapiro fireplace I called up the stairs to Ieva, tromping to the library amongst a group of other students. “Lavas Rytas!” Four of them came alight and spun around with big smiles and greetings all bubbling incomprehensibly at me. I recognized instantly the release of tension that imperceptibly collects and gathers around the shoulders of one visiting a foreign country, the shadows that may someday become wrinkles in those beautiful young faces suddenly vanished. Ieva saved me by making introductions in English and they returned to climbing the stairs.

Another such rush I gained in central Anatolia on a frigid day where I apparently ordered a hot cup of tea in perfect Turkish, because the man who served me casually strolled over to serve the tea and rolled off twenty syllables with a smile, while I returned only wide blinking eyes. I love Turkish. It’s the most beautiful language to me. All those syllables strung together, crisp and hard, but with soft edges so they tumble and bump together but never in a harsh way. Like marbles in molasses.

Mt. Hood at dawn

Where was I when I began this? Oh yes! Look at these lovely views, so stunning as to almost make up for my amateur camera skills. I have Mount Hood rising above the city of Portland, and Mount Adams in the sunrise (It’s a much better view from the kitchen window, but I couldn’t find a high enough spot outside to capture it.) Good Morning. Gunaydin. Bon Jour.

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