I suffer from a condition which I call the “Grass is Greener Syndrome”. The symptoms include assuming that something better lies just ahead. While searching for subjects to paint, sometimes I pass something up that inspires me because I wonder, “What is just around the bend?” So after pausing for a moment, I keep moving, lured by the “what if something better is waiting for me just ahead”.
Sometimes, I am fortunate and my patience rewards me with great subject matter. Sometimes I feel regret having missed the opportunity a few miles back. Fortunately, I have found an anecdote that helps to alleviate the symptoms of my condition: the handy dandy sketch book. When I can get myself to actually stop for a few minutes, I pull out my sketch book and do 4 or 5 thumbnails. Usually, when I do this, I become excited by the possibilities. I look deeper into the subject and myself. Most often, I find that I do want to paint the scene. If, after 4 or 5 thumbnails sketches, I am not excited, I then continue with my quest for the perfect scene.
Earlier this spring was one of many occasions when my sketchbook helped me overcome this trait. I was on the westerns side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. I was driving down the narrow valley following the headwaters of the Colorado River. The beauty was spectacular. This was my first visit to this area of the park and I was wide-eyed taking it all in. I thought several times, “I should stop to paint that.” But the lure of the undiscovered urged me on around bend after bend. Finally I convinced myself to stop. My daughter, who joined me on this trip, and I walked out into the open meadow and followed the river for a few hundred yards. Elk were resting and grazing nearby. Anglers were testing their luck in the frigid waters. The sun was quickly giving way to afternoon rainclouds and the winds began to pick up.
I chose a spot and did some thumbnail sketches. I became more excited as I saw the possibilities. Soon I was setting up my easel and painting the scene. It did begin to rain lightly and the wind was chilly. I love the effect that I was able to capture in the painting. Forcing myself out of the truck was the first step. Then doing the thumbnails was the clincher. As a result, I had to paint the scene. Had I remained in the truck, the rains would have deterred me and I would have passed up yet another splendid opportunity.
Sketch for "Light Spring Rain" by Keith Bond
"Light Spring Rain" by Keith Bond, 8 x 10, oil on linen board
Painted on location, Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado