On Monday evening I attended one of the first art club meetings since the start of the pandemic. The meeting was held at our nearby city park, so we had lots of fresh air, and lots of room for social distancing. We met at a shelter house close to the lake and enjoyed a bit of plein air painting and sketching. Since I’ve been practicing using graphite to quickly capture landscape scenes, I opted for a pencil and paper. One tree in particular caught my attention, so it became the center — literally — of my drawing.
Earlier this morning I added a bit of watercolor to create this image:
Since I painted over the graphite drawing, I suppose this could qualify as a “mixed media” piece. I didn’t attempt to add all the details of the landscape. I didn’t add in other trees surrounding this one or any of the landscape on the other side of the lake. I just wanted to focus on the tree and its foliage.
As I was sketching and other members were drawing and painting, a young woman strolled by. “Well, this looks like a lively group,” she called out with a bit of a laugh. Was she being derogatory? I’m not sure, but that was the impression I got. We are, after all, mostly older people. I’d guess that every member there was at least sixty with the possible exception of one woman who is probably in her fifties. So, no “spring chickens” among us, I suppose you’d say.
I think most of us gave her a rather puzzled look, and then she added, “So what do you do? Are you just nature lovers getting together?” Again, I’m not sure if she meant this to be derogatory or not, but our club president stood up then.
“We’re artists,” she said in a firm voice. “We’re here to draw and paint.”
“Oh,” said the woman. Her voice sounded a little different now, a little more interested, almost even a little more respectful. “It must be nice to be able to do that.” With that, she walked away. Did I sense a slight sadness? A smidgen of envy?
I looked down at my drawing, knowing that simple though it may be, it’s more than many people ever do, and I felt good to be there among that “lively group”, that group of “nature lovers” gathered together. At that moment, I was proud to be counted as an artist, because I am.
It was one of those rare moments when I felt I truly belonged. I was happy to be a part of our art club, happy to be sitting outside on a lovely evening, and very happy to be sketching that little tree by the lake.
I like being an artist. How about you?