After dropping Winnie off at dance the other night, I drove to Spiker Park and set up my easel next to the duck pond. I drive through this park on the way home, and I always feel like I take it for granted. It really is a pretty urban park and it gets a lot of foot traffic because of the disc golf course that they put on it.

While I sat there painting, a woman came and sat on the bench with her daughter, but I didn’t bother trying to add them in because I had already added the shadows by that point, and I couldn’t go back without adding a lot of gouache.

I did use my little view finder for this, which has been a big help when painting plein air. I often find myself painting something and then take a photo of it and realize how tiny the subject really is compared to everything else. Part of this is because of how cameras flatten a three-dimensional space into a 2-dimensional surface. But a bigger part is because I don’t take careful enough measurements, and end up including things that shouldn’t actually be included. By cutting a small 2 inch by 3 inch hole in a piece of cardboard, I can frame a scene, right there by simply looking through that viewfinder. Then, I can use that viewfinder to measure the elements in the scene against each other and achieve more realistic proportions.

In this example, I wanted to paint that big tree on the left, and the bench beneath it. I was also hoping to include some ducks in the water, and maybe I should have, but I forgot about them when I painted the water. In order for the ducks to really work, I needed to reserve some white of the paper to serve as the reflection ripples beneath their bodies, and I forgot to do that – so the ducks didn’t make it into the painting.

When I was wrapping up, my friend Lloyd called me. He was on his way home, and ended up surprising me my stopping and chatting with me in the park for a bit. It was a really pleasant day, and made me appreciate my community of friends. Lloyd, and his wife Suzi have been friends of mine for a very long time. I value that relationship very highly, so it meant a lot to me that he came and stopped to say hi.

His wife Suzi has always been incredibly encouraging and kind to me as well. She compliments my writing, and has commissioned some paintings. Every time I see her, I feel like I’m worth something – which is not something I feel easily or often. After Lloyd and I talked a bit, I told him I wanted to give it to Suze, so we drove to their house and I gave her the painting. Sure enough, she was enthusiastic, and encouraging, and just made me feel like a million bucks. So, thanks Lloyd and Suzi, you guys are more valuable to me than you might know.

Here’s the painting.

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