My Fate in a Fortune Cookie

I have always been a believer in fortune cookies. More times than I can count, I’ve opened one, pulled out that little slip of paper, and found a message than couldn’t have been more perfect for me and my current situation if I’d written it myself.

My easel is always littered with fortunes. Whenever we have Chinese food and I break open a fortune cookies, those little slips of paper have to go somewhere. I never throw them away. There messages are always too meaningful.

And so it was that one day recently as I was cleaning my easel, I thought about this marvelous art journey, wondering if this was truly meant to be my life’s path, and wondering, too, just how far I could really go on this road.

We had a few fortune cookies still sitting in a nearby bowl, and I knew the best way to determine my fate as an artist was to reach in, grab a cookie, and break it open. I held my breath in anticipation.


I had been spending a lot of time at my easel, diligently studying oil painting techniques, and practicing, practicing, practicing. I was actually beginning to see improvement in my paintings, and so I expected encouraging words from the wise fortune cookie I held in my hand.

Perhaps it would assure me that I was on the right path. Maybe it would encourage me with the thought of achieving success in the future. Surely it would at least praise me a bit for my indomitable spirit and determination, if not for my creative talents.

I did a double-take when I read the message, and yes, my heart sank a bit:

“Leave what you’re doing behind. Pack your bags and move on.”

This was not what I had expected. I don’t want to leave my art behind and move on to anything else. I may not be a very good artist, but I am an artist now, and I have lots of drawings and paintings to prove it.

Searching for some way to turn this defeat into a victory, I decided that the message wasn’t telling me to give up what I was doing. Maybe I really should pack my bags and do a bit of traveling. I thought of all the places I might want to go, places where I could take my sketchbooks or even my brushes and paints. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to visit new places, to paint en plein air, and to return home filled with new ideas and inspirations!

Truth be told, however, I’m not much of a traveler. I’ve been a few places, and sure, there are places I might like to go, but when it comes right down to it, I’d rather save the money, stay home, and sleep in my own bed at night.

The next best thing, I decided, would be to paint scenes from other people’s vacations, and so I messaged my daughter in California. She loves to travel, and she soon sent me a few beautiful photographs. I will probably paint several of the scenes. Here is the first:

Costa Rica Sunset Framed
Costa Rica Sunset by Judith Kraus- Oil on 9 x 12 Canvas Panel

I like that I was able to get a sense of light over the water, but overall the colors are too dark. I plan to do a bit of tweaking later on, and I would love to hear suggestions from other artists. I might even try painting the scene again to see if I can do it with lighter and brighter colors.

So, even though I’m not boarding any flights or setting sail to exotic ports of call, I’m still enjoying a bit of a summer vacation. Indeed, the sunset in Costa Rica is beautiful. Now, if only I can find a way to capture it on canvas.

What about your summer vacations? Are you drawing or painting on location? I’d love to hear where you’ve been and how your travels have inspired you in your art.




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