I had the opportunity to collect shells in the Bahamas in 2011. This was an exploratory trip to the Exuma Islands which are about 300 miles southeast of Miami. At that time there was not much development for tourists, but was attractive to people who had money to build a secluded tropical home. The island had one gas station and one general store which were not open on Sunday, the day we arrived.
The people on this island are descendants of slaves who were moved there in 1783 by John Rolle, a “Loyalist,” who set up a cotton plantation to protest the Revolutionary War because he was loyal to King George. Upon his death, Rolle, freed his slaves and bequeathed his land to them.
Driving along the main roads of Exuma we saw many colorful old homes and abandoned buildings, some with thatched roofs, some overgrown with vines, but many still in use. I became fascinated with these buildings.
At one beach we parked next to an abandoned home with open windows and doors where part of the roof had been torn off and sunlight was streaming in through the rafters. When I noticed the house, I wanted to paint it.
This is unusual for me. I don’t often have a strong desire to paint things I see when I travel. We were loading the van to leave the site and I couldn’t get a picture. I kept thinking about the house. A few days later I had the opportunity to go back and take photos.
Did I get out my paints as soon as I got home? No. I did print out my photos and set them on my work table where I saw them when I was doing something else. And I kept telling myself – “Someday I will paint this house.”
In the fall of 2014, I decided to take a watercolor class in the Life Long Learning program at the University of the Pacific. I had been doing occasional small acrylics in the last year and did one of the house exterior. In the class we were supposed to select a subject and make several small paintings before we did a larger one. I had taken photos of other houses along the road on the Exuma trip, so I used those for the small studies.
I think I tend to be a tight painter whether I work in acrylic or watercolor.
And working that way takes a lot of time to get things just right. And I wasn’t used to having the pressure to get things done for the next class. As I recall, I was writing the first draft of my memoir and learning to participate in a critique group at the time I took the watercolor class.
As usual, too much going on. But I was working on that desire to paint the house.
More on how this worked out next week.